Which Pali term transaltes into "becoming"?

I’m reading a book by Thanisarro Bhikkhu.

Thanisarro Bhikku has his own unique way of putting things.

I’m hitting a passage of his that doesn’t make sense, but he wrote that his idea is a concept from the Buddha translated as “becoming”.

I tried looking it up and got nowhere.

What is the Pali word which is translated into “becoming” ?

What does it mean?


The passage, for context:

The committee of the mind. One of the first things you learn about the mind as you get started in meditation is that it has many minds. This is because you have many different ideas about how to satisfy your hungers and find well-being, and many different desires based on those ideas. These ideas boil down to different notions about what constitutes happiness, where it can be found, and what you are as a person: your needs for particular kinds of pleasure, and your abilities to provide those pleasures. Each desire thus acts as a seed for a particular sense of who you are and the world you live in.

The Buddha had a technical term for this sense of self-identity in a particular world of experience: He called it becoming. Take note of this term and the concept behind it, for it’s central to understanding why you cause yourself stress and suffering and what’s involved in learning how to stop.

Typically it would be this, although I am unfamiliar with the particulars of the venerable’s views:


Maybe his book below on this particular subject of “bhava” can help you?
TheParadoxofBecoming_181215.pdf (754.1 KB)

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I updated my post with the relevant passage. Does it make a difference in your answer?

I updated my post with the relevant passage. Does it make a difference in your answer?I updated my post with the relevant passage. Does it make a difference in your answer?

I did know that my reply didn’t address your question. I think it’s more to head off a connection between becoming and bhava before it gets out of hand.

What is the Pali word for “becoming” that he is referring to here?

I don’t see how bhava fits into that passage about the “committee of the mind”, differing hungers generating different “minds”, world views.

Just my views.

Saying a committee of the mind can help to dispel the notion of self as mind or mind as self, or one mind doing things.

See the dependent origination links, none of them needed to refer to a self concept. Feelings arising due to contact arises in the present moment, which then has cravings and clingings which might arise due to it inhabiting a certain part of the mind, to guide future behaviour. Many different instances of feelings, makes many different cravings and clinging, which when the conditions are right manifest themselves as becoming.

Example, when I was a very small kid, I enjoyed destroying spiderwebs, as I don’t see spiders as dangerous and it’s so easy to destroy them. They are so weak (despite being stronger than steel, supposedly). My father warned me about spiders, I didn’t care. He told me to check for spiders hiding inside shoes before putting my foot into it. I didn’t care, I just put them in. Until one day, he again reminded me to do so, I ignored, a real large spider made me withdraw my foot and I cried. My father laughed at me. Hence started my fear of spiders.

What happened in terms of dependent origination is feelings due to the contact of spiders, and the humiliation of laughter, creates the craving for not wanting to have spiders touching my feet every again, and the clinging onto the aversion to spiders, fear of spiders. Becoming manifests itself as I collected the property of fearing the spider as part of self identity.

I also had watched the 90s spiderman animated series cartoon, so I liked spiderman way back then. Was looking forward to the 2002 spiderman movie, years seemed so long for a kid. So there’s a different kind of feelings of pleasent feeling, leading to craving for more spiderman, then clinging to it as identity, I am a spiderman fan. Becoming manifest too as I watch spiderman movies! So it’s a sort of sad thing for me as a fan to miss out on Spiderman no way home because I am a monk now!

So strange, one person can fear spiders, but like spiderman. I also have fear of heights. So different minds, it’s just wandering thoughts putting them all as a self identity.

Remembering clearly the causes and conditions for these becoming might not be enough to uncling. One still has to meditate to unbind, to see the impermanence, suffering and not self nature of these clinging and becoming. And how such clinging causes suffering. One cling based on feelings. One way to uncling is to see feelings, do I feel the same way now towards spiders and watching spiderman stuffs?

Edit add on:

I also had a profound feeling when I first started to be serious in Buddhism in my teens, vowed to become a monk. Took 17 years, and that’s another becoming! So this becoming conflicts with the fan of spiderman identity. Is there a consistent entity called self? Or rather it’s just a group of minds (short hand for complicated web of craving and clinging), waging battles to influence the volitional formations to become this or that?

I also had a book where I wrote 12 different fictional characters, each choosing a different sort of career or life focus, I based most of them on myself, during my teenage years. Now looking back I can see that it is a beautiful example of how there’s no self, it’s all just competing cravings and clingings, which ones wins, depends on which ones we feed. One of the 12 has focus on marrying the perfect girl, another on travelling the world on foot, another on environmentalist, another on kung fu guru, another on becoming a superhero. I was actually serious about the superhero thing when I first entered university until the extend that I was careful not to tell people about this ambition for fear of exposing clues to my secret identity. I called them dreams back then.

And indeed, it’s an apt description. For it’s merely profilerations of the mind, based on craving and clinging, when becoming manifest them into the world. If not eradicated upon death, rebirth is a natural result of such power of clinging, becoming. Haven’t gotten sick and tired of the world thinking of wanting to be this or that, end up, reality complies, another stay in samsara. Becareful what we wish for.


Not too much of a difference. No doubt that he is explaining bhava as “becoming”, but it is still not very easy to know precisely what he is saying. I tend to think “becoming” conflates the principles of papañca (proliferation) and anicca (impermanence) with that of bhava (existence/being). No matter what degree there is that diffusion and change, there is that “being”. It certainly can become more or less intense, or cease altogether (be cut off like a palm stump), but that capacity to change directions would not be possible if it wasn’t already there in some condition. Also, that “sense of self-identity” seems more in line with attavādupādāna (clinging to the doctrine of self), which, according to DO, plays a supporting role in that bhava.

There’s a number of very specific ideas packed close together in that passage. Like I said, I’m not very familiar with his views and he is known to have a unique way of describing things. Superficially speaking, that is what I’m gathering from that short passage. Please take it with a grain of salt.