What is proliferation, and why is it a problem?

Yes. It’s quite difficult for me to make it fit with a lot of the rest of the EBTs, e.g. sotāpannas having no more than seven lives left before arahant. Does that mean seven “ignorant sense contacts”? How does that fit with the Buddha talking about sotāpannas after what appears to be physical death? Anyway. I haven’t yet read the pdf @Thito posted yet, so maybe my questions are answered satisfactorily there.

It seems like you’re conflating mundane view with Supermundane view. They don’t cancel eachother out, and both can be equally true. It’s possible that rebirth can exist while equally dependent origination has nothing to do with rebirth.

So to answer your question

Ignorant sense contact leads to suffering in the moment, it has nothing to do with physical death, rebirth, or seven lives.

Even for a non returner ignorant sense contact could arise, and suffering can ensue. It won’t arise through sensual desire or ill will, since the non-returner has destroyed those fetters, but it can still arise through restlessness, a non-returner can have ignorant sense contact at the time of boredom/restlessness which would allow dependent origination to manifest and turn a cycle of Suffering.

@stu @Martin

Overall the biggest confusion for people seems to be differentiating between mundane and Supermundane view.

Even though there’s 31 planes of existence which fall into the 3 classifications of beings, the Buddha defined a being as the 3 poisons. So to an Ariya, to Supermundane view, those are just varieties of different manifestations of the 3 poisons at different levels.

I think this is why Bhikhku Buddhadasa is also often misunderstood and misrepresented. He actually doesn’t deny rebirth existing, but he recognizes that it’s a mundane view, and that to stop suffering you need a Supermundane view.

Here’s a metaphor I told my spouse when trying to explain to her:

If you go to a doctor and tell him “fix me”, that will be completely useless to doctor. The doctor doesn’t see “human being” he penetrates that classification/convention to see muscles, heart, brain, etc… and then he penetrates those conventions deeper to see blood, hormones, enzymes, plasma, and then he penetrates those conventions deeper and sees cells, and then deeper, and sees chromosomes, and then deeper and sees telemeres.

If the doctor wants to solve the problem he can’t just fix mr. Human he needs to penetrate to the right depth and find the problem which can only be found at a certain classification. To detect cancer he might have to look at Igf-1 and cortisol levels, not merely touch your armpit. He needs to “see things as they really are”, he needs to penetrate conventions.

The same with the dhamma, to stop Dukkha, one needs to penetrate classification/convention to the right level. Being a deva, a human, yakka, is a useless convention for stopping dukkha, however instead of seeing a being one sees the 3 poisons then they can understand the causation and solve the problem. So conventions/concepts need to be penetrated to see things as they are. Mundane view is insufficient at stopping the problem of dukkha.

Hope that helps.

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Where did you get this quote in Sutta?

For a stream enterer, they have mundane right view. Surely they can stop some dukkhas, not all of course.

If one has supramundane that mean one has all 8 factors of N8FP, This is impossible for a puthujjana or even a stream enterer.

If one needs to stop dukkha, they need to stop at Tanha (source of dukkha). Once it reached Upadana, the rest is automatic become dukkha.

One can’t stop at Bhava yet, only an arahant can stop at Bhava level.

Please see SN 56.11.

Mundane Right view is not a factor of the path, anyone can have it, see great forty sutta. Whereas only Ariyans have Supermundane right view.

OK. So have I got this right? Gotama Buddha (and all the arahants) are still around in a mundane sense - i.e. they (mundanely) get reborn and that just carries on forever (I might cheekily say “for eternity” :wink: ), but they are now not suffering anymore - saṁsāra, but not as we know it, because contact is not ‘ignorant sense contact’ anymore? So when an arahant says, this is my last birth they are talking in a supermundane way? Or is there some connection that isn’t stated?

Edit: Actually. I think I need to read that pdf that you posted to see if my questions are answered there.

Edit2: Just dropping this link in here as I think it’s relevant.

I wonder why they also don’t say this is my last death? Why only birth?

They could be speaking both ways, mundane and Supermundane.

The former being the literal understanding, that they are no longer physically reborn, which the pali word is punabbhava, and not jati.

The latter being they destroyed the last 5 fetters and conceit “I am” is destroyed, there will be no further “I am”'s being born from now on, in this life nor in the future.

And they can make the connection between the Supermundane and mundane, and that’s how they could know for themselves that they will not have future lives (punabbhava) by seeing that conceit doesn’t arise, without needing psychic powers.

Jati has several definitions and usages

Over here it refers to the birth of phenomena

They regard form as self. That regarding is just a mental formation. And what is its source, what is its origin, from what is it born (jātiko), and inception of that mental formation? When an uneducated ordinary person is struck by
feelings born of contact with ignorance, craving arises. That mental formation is born from that (tatojo)

Over here gold and silver are subject to birth

And what may be said to be subject to birth (jātidhammaṃ)? Wife and children are subject to birth, men and women slaves, goats and sheep, fowl and pigs, elephants, cattle, horses, and mares, gold and silver are subject to birth. These acquisitions (upadhayo) are subject to birth; and one who is tied to these things, infatuated with them, and utterly committed to them, being himself subject to birth, seeks what it also subject to birth.

Are we to take that literally and assume gold and silver have a womb?

So words can be expressed in different ways, but like I said, in that statement about last birth, they could be referring to both mundane and Supermundane.

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Sure, jati is used metaphorically on some suttas, but here the focus is on jati in dependent origination. In DO birth, aging and death are described in physical terms, ie with the literal meaning. The sutta descriptions in SN12.2 don’t support the idea of jati as the birth of self-view.

And they are literal because by that point, the point past bhava, one is overcome by mundane view (classification of beings), as I said earlier a few times now.

I don’t see bhava and jati as equivalent. Bhava is like the “places” (realms or planes) that beings can inhabit, while jati talks about different types (classes) of being that are born. In modern terms a “class” of being might be a species.
The suttas describe how beings end up in various destinations (realms), according to their actions, ie kamma.

Sorry, but I still don’t see how bhava and jati depend upon ones view. They look like descriptions of places (realms) and events (births).

Sure. I was just questioning about the connection. You seemed to be suggesting that there was no connection when you said:

Yeah. In English too:

From a whippoorwill
Out on a hill
They took a new note
Pushed it through a horn
'Til it was worn
Into a blue note
And then they nursed it, rehearsed it
And gave out the news
That the Southland gave birth to the blues!


But in relation to DO we have other passages such as from DN15 (4) for example

‘Jātipaccayā jarāmaraṇan’ti iti kho panetaṁ vuttaṁ, tadānanda, imināpetaṁ pariyāyena veditabbaṁ, yathā jātipaccayā jarāmaraṇaṁ.
‘Rebirth is a condition for old age and death’—that’s what I said. And this is a way to understand how this is so.

Jāti ca hi, ānanda, nābhavissa sabbena sabbaṁ sabbathā sabbaṁ kassaci kimhici, seyyathidaṁ—
Suppose there were totally and utterly no rebirth for anyone anywhere.

devānaṁ vā devattāya, gandhabbānaṁ vā gandhabbattāya, yakkhānaṁ vā yakkhattāya, bhūtānaṁ vā bhūtattāya, manussānaṁ vā manussattāya, catuppadānaṁ vā catuppadattāya, pakkhīnaṁ vā pakkhittāya, sarīsapānaṁ vā sarīsapattāya, tesaṁ tesañca hi, ānanda, sattānaṁ tadattāya jāti nābhavissa. Sabbaso jātiyā asati jātinirodhā api nu kho jarāmaraṇaṁ paññāyethā”ti?
That is, there were no rebirth of sentient beings into their various realms—of gods, fairies, spirits, creatures, humans, quadrupeds, birds, or reptiles, each into their own realm. When there’s no rebirth at all, with the cessation of rebirth, would old age and death still be found?”

“No hetaṁ, bhante”.
“No, sir.”

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That sutta quote works with the interpretation I stated though.

Of course there would be no death of a convention (human, bird, gorilla, demon) if that convention isn’t born in the first place.

Yes, because mundane view has nothing to do with Supermundane view. Just like a doctor can see both a human and a heart, lungs, hair, immune system, etc…

It doesn’t necessarily mean that dependent origination is about rebirth, it’s more likely to mean it’s about stopping Suffering in this very life, which the Buddha states several times as well.

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I don’t see how the death of a human or a bird is a “convention” - isn’t it just an event? Obviously if you’re not attached to the human or bird then their death is less likely to be a source of suffering, but that’s another matter.
By the way, I’m not arguing for a particular interpretation of DO here, I am trying to understand what it really means, given the nidana “definitions” in SN12.2. And in particular, what cessation of DO means, practically speaking.

@Thito Above is Bhikkhu Buddhadasa’s understanding, could you please state clearly your understanding instead for the below questions?

  1. Is rebirth mundane view or supramundane view?
  2. Is rebirth suffering?
  3. Is suffering mundane view or supramundane view? And why suffering is mundane view (or supramundane view)?
  4. The first Noble Truth is about suffering, is the First Noble Truth about mundane view or supramundane view?

Also, for clarification: please define what you meant by mundane view and supramundane view.


Mundane right view is defined in the great forty sutta, it is non-ariyan (aka non-noble) and anyone can have it including puthujannas, it has nothing to do with the core dhamma (dependent origination)

And what is the right view with effluents, siding with merit, resulting in acquisitions? ‘There is what is given, what is offered, what is sacrificed. There are fruits & results of good & bad actions. There is this world & the next world. There is mother & father. There are spontaneously reborn beings; there are contemplatives & brahmans who, faring rightly & practicing rightly, proclaim this world & the next after having directly known & realized it for themselves.’ This is the right view with effluents, siding with merit, resulting in acquisitions

Notice all the classifications? mother, father, good, bad, spontaneously arising beings, contemplatives, brahmans, etc… When your parents die, it’s not merely the 5 aggregates it’s “my” parents, hence there is suffering. So yes, rebirth is mundane.

Now here’s Supermundane right view, which unlike mundane right view, is a factor of the path and is unique to the dhamma and is only held by Ariyans.

And what is the right view that is noble (Ariyan), without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path? The discernment, the faculty of discernment, the strength of discernment, analysis of qualities as a factor for awakening, the path factor of right view[1] in one developing the noble path whose mind is noble, whose mind is without effluents, who is fully possessed of the noble path. This is the right view that is noble, without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path.

The key word here is “analysis of qualities as a factor for awakening,”, which is dhamma vicaya of satta sambojjangha, in other words stopping the 3 poisons and overcoming the 5 hindrances. Supermundane right view is “visible here and now” as the Buddha defines sandiṭṭhiko as seeing the 3 poisons. The average sotapanna can’t see beings being reborn with psychic power, but he can see the 3 poisons, 5 hindrances, and factors of awakening, arising within himself and this is dhamma-vicaya.

And how does the view that is noble and emancipating lead one who practices it to the complete ending of suffering? It’s when a mendicant has gone to a wilderness, or to the root of a tree, or to an empty hut, and reflects like this, ‘Is there anything that I’m overcome with internally and haven’t given up, because of which I might not accurately know and see?’ If a mendicant is overcome with sensual desire, it’s their mind that’s overcome. If a mendicant is overcome with ill will, dullness and drowsiness, restlessness and remorse, doubt, pursuing speculation about this world, pursuing speculation about the next world, or arguing, quarreling, and disputing, continually wounding others with barbed words, it’s their mind that’s overcome. They understand, ‘There is nothing that I’m overcome with internally and haven’t given up, because of which I might not accurately know and see. My mind is properly disposed for awakening to the truths.’ This is the first knowledge they have achieved that is noble and transcendent, and is not shared with ordinary people.

  • mn 48

Notice “Pursuing speculation about this world, next world” are a hindrance, why? because it’s falling for mundane view. You don’t need to speculate about rebirth (which is ritualistic like most conventions) if you see the 3 poisons directly for yourself.

Furthermore, ariyans/Supermundane view doesn’t assume that the 5 aggregates = self or being, as that is identity-view and ritualistic from a stopping dukkha perspective. Instead the Buddha defined beings as the 3 poisons that cling to the aggregates.

So to summerize, mundane view = assumes beings/self = 5 aggregates. Supermundane view = know that beings/self = 3 poisons, with “self” being the poison of delusion, and beings being the poison of greed for the 5 aggregates. Therefore mundane view sees beings as the 5 aggregates being reborn, and Supermundane view sees nothing but the 3 poisons (aka Suffering) arising and ceasing at any moment, not just physical birth and death. 3 poisons = suffering

It’s only suffering that comes to be,

Suffering that stands and falls away.

Nothing but suffering comes to be,

Nothing but suffering ceases.

In other words, ariyans don’t see merely beings born and dying aka rebirth (mundane view), they see suffering arising and ceasing everywhere (Supermundane view), and not just at physical birth and death but at any time like when craving arises within themselves and others.

  1. The 3 poisons are suffering, rebirth in and of itself is not really relevant. But yes, anything that is subject to conditions is suffering, including rebirth.

  2. Seeing suffering requires Supermundane view, but everyone, except for Arahants, are affected by suffering regardless of their view

  3. The first noble truth requires Supermundane view to understand. The suttas say that when one clearly sees one noble truth he sees them all, including dependent origination, which is the same thing.


With your answers to questions #2, #3, #4, it seems logically for me to conclude that rebirth is supramundane view (or belongs to supramundane view or depends on supramundane view). This is in contradiction to your answer to question #1 that rebirth is mundane view.

How to resolve this?

Interesting discussion. Mmm… the above seems to place the human or bird before the attachment. My impression is Thito is making a case for the opposite, i.e., a convention of ‘human’ or ‘bird’ is born of attachment. It seems DN 15 quoted is saying the same, i.e., birth occurs after attachment rather than attachment occurs towards the objects of birth. Its seems the suttas say attachment occurs towards the objects of sensory sensation. MN 38 says “relishing feelings is grasping”.

Interesting quote, which I never read before. It seems to offer some support for your case. :thinking:

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Only problem is to have view without effluent (supramundane), one needs to have jhana all the time.

Otherwise there is no way to maintain supramundane view in daily life without jhana.

No Asava = mind in jhana

As you know stream enterer doesn’t even fully developed jhana (sati/samadhi). There is no way, stream enterer or once returner to have supramundane view all the time. Hence there is mundane right view until they fully developed sati/samadhi that can spring them with supermundane right view at any time.

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Beings as in the 5 aggregates being reborn is mundane view, the 3 poisons arising and ceasing is supermundane view. It’s all relative to dukkha and what solves dukkha.

Hence sotapannas still suffer.

That’s why ignorance-sense contact can still arise for any aryan except for the Arahant. For a sotapanna it can arise from any of the hindrances except doubt, for a non-returner it can arise through restlessness.

Hence the Buddha saying they just need to apply Supermundane view to where it’s coming from to put an end to that stream of defilement. In the example below he’s saying to apply Supermundane view to the hindrance of doubt for someone on the verge of becoming a sotapanna.

I.e. they should view doubt as conditioned, anicca, dukkha, anatta, and they have to apply the path and Supermundane view over and over until all gaps (hindrances, fetters, mundane views) are eliminated. In short, it’s a process of switching every cognition arising from sense contact from ignorant conventional mundane view to seeing things as they are wise Supermundane view.

When this is done, for that moment, craving is averted, pamojja (joy) arises instead, which can develop into jhana, whether for a length of a finger snap, if the next sense contact is ignorant, or longer, if the next sense contact is not ignorant.

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