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Thread: Exploring 'rebirth' in the Pali suttas

  1. #1
    Forums Member Element's Avatar

    Exploring 'rebirth' in the Pali suttas

    Dear dhamma friends,

    In the Pali suttas, there are many words the translators translate as 'rebirth', such as the following:

    • 'abhinibbatti'
    • 'opapātikā'
    • 'paccājāyati '
    • 'upapannā'
    • 'upapajjamāne'
    • 'upapajjissati'
    • 'sopapajjati'
    • 'upapajjare'
    • 'upapattiṃ'
    • uppajjati
    • 'upapajjati'
    • 'ponobbhavikā'
    • 'punabbhavo'
    • 'jati'

    In this thread, I will start an ongoing exploration of these various terms.

    Naturally, direct relevant contributions or inputs about Pali words & sutta passages by other members are welcome.

    Last edited by Element; 20 Feb 17 at 12:20.

  2. #2
    Forums Member Element's Avatar
    SN 12:10 is a good beginning point because it includes pre-enlightenment & post-enlightenment views of the Buddha.

    The highlighted Pali words here are: (i) jāyati; (ii) upapajjati; & (iii) jāti.

    SN 12.10 states:

    Pubbeva me, bhikkhave, sambodhā anabhisambuddhassa bodhi*sattas*seva sato etadahosi: ‘kicchaṃ vatāyaṃ loko āpanno jāyati ca jīyati ca mīyati ca cavati ca upapajjati ca. Atha ca panimassa dukkhassa nissaraṇaṃ nappajānāti jarāmaraṇassa. Kudāssu nāma imassa dukkhassa nissaraṇaṃ paññāyissati jarāmaraṇassā’ti?

    Tassa mayhaṃ, bhikkhave, etadahosi: ‘kimhi nu kho sati jarāmaraṇaṃ hoti, kiṃpaccayā jarāmaraṇan’ti? Tassa mayhaṃ, bhikkhave, yoniso manasikārā ahu paññāya abhisamayo: ‘jātiyā kho sati jarāmaraṇaṃ hoti, jātipaccayā jarāmaraṇan’ti.

    Monks, before I attained supreme Enlightenment, while I was still a Bodhisatta, the thought occurred to me: 'This world, alas, has fallen into sore distress. There is being born (jāyati), growing old, dying, passing over and being reborn (upapajjati). But from all this suffering, from decay and death, no way of release is apparent. Surely there must be some way of release discoverable from this suffering, this decay-and-death.'

    "Then, monks, this thought occurred to me 'What being present does decay-and-death come to be? What conditions decay-and-death?' Then, monks, as I considered this thoroughly, the insight and comprehension dawned on me: 'Birth (jātiyā) being present, death-and-decay comes to be; decay-and-death is conditioned by birth (jāti).'
    The language initially used here by the unenlightened Bodhisatta is the same as used by the unenlightened Rohitassa in AN 4.45:

    Then Rohitassa, the son of a deva, in the far extreme of the night, his extreme radiance lighting up the entirety of Jeta’s Grove, went to the Blessed One. On arrival, having bowed down to the Blessed One, he stood to one side. As he was standing there he said to the Blessed One: “Is it possible, lord, by traveling, to know or see or reach a far end of the world where one does not take birth, age, die, pass away or reappear?”

    Yattha nu kho, bhante, na jāyati na jīyati na mīyati na cavati na upapajjati, sakkā nu kho so, bhante, gamanena lokassa anto ñātuṃ vā daṭṭhuṃ vā pāpuṇituṃ vā”ti? “
    About the terms 'jāyati' & 'upapajjati', the following can be said:

    1. Suttas, such as SN 37.3, MN 38 & MN 56, when explicitly referring to a mother or woman giving childbirth, use the term 'vijāyati'. Therefore, the term 'jāyati' as used in SN 12.10 & AN 4.45, may not explicitly refer to 'childbirth'.

    2. Suttas, such as AN 3.112, AN 4.200 & SN 35.97, use the term 'jāyati' to refer to the birth/arising/bringing forth of an emotion, such as:

    Cattārimāni, bhikkhave, pemāni jāyanti. Katamāni cattāri? Pemā pemaṃ jāyati, pemā doso jāyati, dosā pemaṃ jāyati, dosā doso jāyati.

    Monks, these four things are born. Which four? Affection is born of affection. Aversion is born of affection. Affection is born of aversion. Aversion is born of aversion.

    AN 4.200
    Pamuditassa pīti jāyati: is born; arises. (jan + ya) When one is gladdened, rapture is born. When the mind is uplifted by rapture, the body becomes tranquil.

    SN 35.97
    In addition, the word 'mīyati' or 'miyanti' is used (as shown above) together with 'jāyati'. 'Miyanti' is found in the Dhammapada, in relation to spiritual or psychological 'death':

    Appamādo amatapadaṃ, pamādo maccuno padaṃ; Appamattā na mīyanti, ye pamattā yathā matā.

    Heedfulness is the path to the Deathless. Heedlessness is the path to death. The heedful die not. The heedless are as if dead already.

    Dhp 21
    3. The terms 'upapajjati' & 'uppajjati' appear to not necessarily mean 'rebirth', as shown in the following context:

    'Cakkhucakkhu attā’ ti yo vadeyya taṃ na upapajjati. Cakkhussa uppādopi vayopi paññāyati. Yassakho pana uppādopi vayopi paññāyati, ‘attā me uppajjati ca veti cā’ ti iccassa evamāgataṃhoti. Tasmā taṃ na upapajjati: ‘cakkhu attā’ti yo vadeyya. Iti cakkhu anattā.

    If anyone says, ‘The eye is self,’ that is not tenable. The rise and fall of the eye are discerned, and since its rise and fall are discerned, it would follow: ‘My self rises and falls.’ That is why it is not tenable for anyone to say, ‘The eye is self.’ Thus the eye is not self.
    The phrase 'taṁ na upapajjati' literally means 'this does not arise' (maybe 'this does not occur'), which Bhikkhu Bodhi has conveniently rendered 'this is not tenable' (which is discussed, PDF page 7).

    4. The term 'jati', which is very important & central to Buddha-Dhamma, means the mental conception & production of the view of a "being" ("satta"), "self" or a "person", as set out in the following suttas:

    Katamā bhikkhave, jāti? Yā tesaṃ tesaṃ sattānaṃ tamhi tamhi sattanikāye....

    And what, bhikkhus, is birth? The birth of the various beings into the various orders of beings...

    SN 12.2
    Why now do you assume 'a being' (sattoti)?
    Mara, have you grasped a view?
    This is a heap of sheer constructions:
    Here no being (sattū) is found.

    Just as, with an assemblage of parts,
    The word 'chariot' is used,
    So, when the aggregates are present,
    There's the convention 'a being.' (sattoti)

    SN 5.10
    satto sattoti bhante, vuccati kittāvatā nu kho bhante, sattoti vuccati?

    'A being,' lord. 'A being,' it's said. To what extent is one said to be 'a being'?

    Any desire, passion, delight or craving for form, Radha: when one is caught up there, tied up there, one is said to be 'a being.'

    Any desire, passion, delight or craving for feeling... perception... fabrications...

    Any desire, passion, delight or craving for consciousness, Radha: when one is caught up there, tied up there, one is said to be 'a being.'

    SN 23.2
    Today, in India, the word 'jati' means 'self' or 'social-identity', as follows:

    Jāti (in Devanagari: जाति, Bengali: জাতি, Telugu:జాతి, Kannada:ಜಾತಿ, Malayalam: ജാതി, Tamil:ஜாதி, literally "birth") is a group of clans, tribes, communities and sub-communities, and religions in India. Each jāti typically has an association with a traditional job function or tribe. Religious beliefs (e.g. Sri Vaishnavism or Veera Shaivism) or linguistic groupings may define some jatis. A person's surname typically reflects a community (jati) association: thus Gandhi = perfume seller, Dhobi = washerman, Srivastava = military scribe, etc. In any given location in India 500 or more jatis may co-exist, although the exact composition will differ from district to district. Wikipedia
    'Jati' as 'social-identity' (of a monk) is found in MN 86, as follows:

    Angulimala, go to that woman and on arrival say to her, 'Sister, since I was born in the noble birth, I do not recall intentionally killing a living being'.

    ‘yatohaṃ, bhagini, ariyāya jātiyā jāto, nābhijānāmi sañcicca pāṇaṃ jīvitā voropetā, tena saccena sotthi te hotu, sotthi gabbhassā’
    That 'self-idenity' is a product of 'becoming' ('bhava') is also explained in MN 44:

    The craving that makes for further becoming — accompanied by passion & delight, relishing now here & now there — i.e., craving for sensual pleasure, craving for becoming, craving for non-becoming: This, friend Visakha, is the origination of self-identification described by the Blessed One. MN 44
    Conclusion to SN 12:10

    Both SN 12.10 & AN 4.45 seem to refer to a common held view of the Buddha's society that the world is subject to 'jāyati ca jīyati ca mīyati ca cavati ca upapajjati', which is commonly translated as 'being born, growing old, dying, passing over and being reborn'. This superficially sounds like reincarnation however this phrase appears to not refer to reincarnation because:

    1. It does not refer to childbirth (vijāyati).

    2. It possibly refers to a cycle of instinctual &/or habitual emotions, including the re-arising of those emotions, since the word 'jāyati' is often used in this context.

    3. It does not refer to individuals but to the 'world' or 'society' at large.

    4. This unenlightened sense of 'jāyati' (possible emotional birth) as a problem is later specifically identified in enlightenment as 'jati' or 'self-identity-birth'.

    5. The word 'upapajjati' does not necessary mean to be 'reborn' or 'reincarnated' in the physical sense.

    6. These different words used obviously each have a different meaning.

    Last edited by Element; 03 Sep 17 at 09:43.

  3. #3
    Forums Member Element's Avatar
    Remaining with the word 'jati', a sutta that depicts the pre-enlightenment period however from a post-enlightenment perspective is MN 26.

    In MN 26, 'jati-dhamma' are discussed, as follows:

    Kiñca, bhikkhave, jātidhammaṃ vadetha? Puttabhariyaṃ, bhikkhave, jātidhammaṃ, dāsidāsaṃdāsidāsa jātidhammaṃ, ajeḷakaṃ jātidhammaṃ, kukkuṭasūkaraṃ jātidhammaṃ, hatthi*ga*vāssava*ḷavaṃ jātidhammaṃ, jāta*rūpa*rajataṃ jātidhammaṃ. Jātidhammā hete, bhikkhave, upadhayo. Etthāyaṃ gathito mucchito ajjhāpanno attanā jātidhammo samāno jātidham*maṃ*yeva pariyesati.

    And what may be said to be subject to birth? 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 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.

    MN 26
    'Jati-dhamma' is also the subject of SN 35.33, in relation to the 'salayatana' ('sense spheres'), which refers to each of the six sense organs, six sense objects, six consciousness and the resultant six sense contacts and six feelings. SN 35.33 states:

    sabbaṃ, bhikkhave, jātidhammaṃ. Kiñca, bhikkhave, sabbaṃ jātidhammaṃ?

    All is subject to birth. And what is subject to birth? The eye...Forms...Eye-consciousness...Eye-contact...Whatever feeling arises in dependence on eye-contact...that is subject to birth.

    SN 35.33
    Another common phrase in the suttas is "beings subject to birth", for example in SN 45.2:

    Mamaṃ hi ānanda, kalyāṇamittaṃ āgamma jātidhammā sattā jātiyā parimuccanti

    It is in dependence on me as an admirable friend that beings subject to birth have gained release from birth...

    SN 45.2
    That MN 26 refers to 'jati-dhamma' as 'acquisitions' ('upadhayo') is also found in SN 12.66, which states:

    ‘The many diverse kinds of suffering that arise (uppajjati) in the world headed by aging-and-death: this suffering has acquisition (upadhi) its source, acquisition as its origin; it is born (jātika) and produced from acquisition. When there is acquisition, aging-and-death comes to be; when there is no acquisition, aging-and-death does not come to be.’...Then, engaging further in inward exploration, he explores thus: ‘What is the source of this acquisition, what is its origin, from what is it born and produced? When what exists does acquisition come to be? When what is absent does acquisition not come to be?’ As he explores he understands thus: ‘Acquisition has craving as its source, craving as its origin; it is born and produced from craving. When there is craving, acquisition comes to be; when there is no craving, acquisition does not come to be.’

    SN 12.66
    Here, in SN 12.66, the Dependent Origination links of 'birth' ('jati'), becoming & attachment are not mentioned. Instead, 'birth' ('jati'), becoming & attachment are all substituted with the term 'acquisition' ('upadhi'), of which the preceding cause is craving. This again seems to show the word 'jati' ('birth') is inherently related to 'acquisition', 'appropriation', 'possessiveness' or 'taking ownership' (rather than related to 'rebirth' or reincarnation).

    Conclusion to MN 26:

    The suttas cited above appear to explain 'jati-dhamma' or 'things subject to birth' are 'mental acquisitions' which the mind is 'tied to, infatuated with & utterly committed to'. Since these things subject to birth include material objects, such as gold & silver, the sense organs & the physical body, it again seems obvious the word 'jati' does not refer to 'rebirth' or 'reincarnation'.

    In addition, that a 'being' ('sattā') is subject to birth is inherent in the definition of a 'being' ('satta') in SN 23.2, which defines a 'being' as:
    Any desire, passion, delight or craving for form, feeling, perception, formations &/or consciousness, Radha: when one is caught up there, tied up there, one is said to be 'a being.'
    Last edited by Element; 21 Feb 17 at 04:10.

  4. #4
    Forums Member Element's Avatar
    Before moving on, another use of the word 'jati' ('birth') is found in SN 22.81 and SN 12.66 (already posted), as follows:

    Here, bhikkhus, the uninstructed worldling ... regards form as self. That regarding, bhikkhus, is a formation. That formation—what is its source, what is its origin, from what is it born (jātika) and produced? When the uninstructed worldling is contacted by a feeling born of ignorance-contact, craving arises: thence that formation is born.

    SN 22.81
    Acquisition has craving as its source, craving as its origin; it is born (jātika) and produced from craving.

    SN 12.66
    Therefore, it appears quite clear the word 'jati' ('birth') when used in the term 'jātika' does not refer to 'rebirth' or 'reincarnation'.

  5. #5
    Forums Member Element's Avatar
    The terms 'ponobbhavikā' and 'punabbhavo' are found in the 1st sermon of the Buddha on the Four Noble Truths.

    There was a tendency in the past to translate these words as 'rebirth', as follows:

    The Noble Truth of the Origin (cause) of Suffering is this: It is this craving (thirst) which produces re-becoming (rebirth) accompanied by passionate greed, and finding fresh delight now here, and now there, namely craving for sense pleasure, craving for existence and craving for non-existence (self-annihilation).

    And a vision of insight arose in me thus: 'Unshakable is the deliverance of my heart. This is the last birth. Now there is no more re-becoming (rebirth).'

    SN 56.11 translated from the Pali by Piyadassi Thera
    Tīhitīhi vijjāhi sampanno,
    santo khīṇapunabbhavo;
    Evaṃ vāseṭṭha jānāhi,
    brahmā sakko vijānatan”ti.

    Possessed of Triple Knowledges,
    at Peace, rebirth come to an end—
    know Vāseṭṭha, such a one
    is Brahmā and Sakra for those who Know.

    Snp 3.9 (also in MN 98) translated by Laurence Khantipalo Mills
    However, it is quite obvious from many suttas that the term 'bhava' ('becoming') does not refer to 'rebirth' or 'reincarnation' but, instead, is a mental state, as follows:

    The craving that makes for further becoming (ponobbhavikā) — accompanied by passion & delight, relishing now here & now there — i.e., craving for sensual pleasure, craving for becoming, craving for non-becoming: This, friend Visakha, is the origination of self-identification described by the Blessed One. MN 44
    He discerns that 'Whatever disturbances that would exist based on the effluent of sensuality... the effluent of becoming... the effluent of ignorance, are not present. And there is only this modicum of disturbance: that connected with the six sensory spheres, dependent on this very body with life as its condition.' He discerns that 'This mode of perception is empty of the effluent of sensuality... becoming... ignorance. MN 121
    'Becoming' ('bhava'), similar to the terms 'jati' ('birth') & 'a being' ('satta'), is defined as the mind 'established', 'caught up' or 'infatuated' with a sense object:

    And what is becoming? There are three kinds of becoming: sensual becoming, fine-material becoming & immaterial becoming. This is called becoming.

    SN 12.2
    Lord, this word, ‘becoming, becoming’—to what extent is there becoming?

    The consciousness of living beings hindered by ignorance & fettered by craving is established (patiṭṭhitaṃ) in/tuned to a low (hīnāya) ...middling (majjhimāya) ...refined (paṇītāya) element (dhatu).

    AN 3.76
    MN 9 seems to clearly state 'becoming' is another mental defilement, similar to ignorance & sensual desire:

    There are these three fermentations (āsavā): the fermentation of sensual desire, the fermentation of becoming (bhavāsavo), the fermentation of ignorance. From the origination of ignorance comes the origination of fermentations.

    MN 9
    It follows that the terms 'ponobbhavikā' and 'punabbhavo' seem unrelated to 'rebirth' or 'reincarnation' since the arising, passing & extinguishing of 'becoming' are noted in many suttas to occur in the here-&-now, while the mind remains fully consciousness, as detailed below, together with 'birth' ('jati').

    On seeing a form with the eye, he does not lust after it if it is pleasing; he does not dislike it if it is unpleasing. He abides with mindfulness of the body established, with an immeasurable mind, and he understands as it actually is the deliverance of mind and deliverance by wisdom wherein those evil unwholesome states cease without remainder. Having thus abandoned favouring and opposing, whatever feeling he feels, whether pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant, he does not delight in that feeling, welcome it, or remain holding to it. As he does not do so, delight in feelings ceases in him. With the cessation of his delight comes cessation of clinging; with the cessation of clinging, cessation of becoming; with the cessation of becoming, cessation of birth; with the cessation of birth, ageing and death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair cease. Such is the cessation of this whole mass of suffering.

    MN 38

  6. #6
    Forums Member Element's Avatar
    The next term to try to strike off the 'rebirth' list is 'opapātikā', which is a strange term.

    'Opapātikā' means 'spontaneously arisen', 'spontaneous birth' or something similar.

    In my explorations of the suttas, I have found 'opapātikā' used in three contexts:

    1. As a constituent of the defiled mundane morality-only 'right view' for householders & other unenlightened people, as found in MN 117 & MN 60:

    And what, bhikkhus, is right view that is affected by the taints, partaking of merit, ripening in the acquisitions? ‘There is what is given and what is offered and what is sacrificed; there is fruit and result of good and bad actions; there is this world and the other world; there is mother and father; there are beings who are reborn spontaneously (sattā opapātikā); there are in the world good and virtuous recluses and brahmins who have realised for themselves by direct knowledge and declare this world and the other world.’ This is right view affected by taints, partaking of merit, ripening in the acquisitions. MN 117
    2. As a type of 'generation' ('yoni') in MN 12, together with egg-born generation, womb-born generation & moisture-born generation.

    Sāriputta, there are these four kinds of generation. What are the four? Egg-born generation, womb-born generation, moisture-born generation and spontaneous generation. MN 12
    3. As something that happens to non-returner, such as found in MN 22, MN 118 or AN 3.141.

    ...those bhikkhus who have abandoned the five lower fetters are all due to reappear spontaneously in the Pure Abodes and there attain final Nibbāna, without ever returning from that world. MN 22
    Bhikkhus, living in this community there are bhikkhus who are Non-Returners through having ended the five lower fetters, who are spontaneously arisen*, who will realize perfect coolness in that existence and by nature will never return from that world. Bhikkhus such as these are living in this community of bhikkhus. MN 118

    *Oppatika, born instantly and fully mature without going through the process of conception, gestation, infancy and childhood-that is, instantaneous mental birth (not necessarily "re-birth")

    Bhikkhu Buddhadasa
    How is a person like a good horse with speed but not beauty or the right proportions. With the destruction of five fetters, a bhikkhu becomes one of spontaneous birth... This is his speed. But when asked questions about Dhamma, he falters or does not answer. This is his lack of beauty. Or he does not gain requisites (food, clothing, shelter, medicine). This is his lack of right proportions.

    AN 3.141
    My personal impressions about the above three contexts of 'opapātikā' are as follows:

    1. 'Opapātikā' as a constituent of a secondary mundane morality-only right view appears to be a later teaching entered into the suttas. Many scholars (for other ulterior purposes) have commented how MN 117 contains some belated language of Abhidhamma. Similarly, MN 60 contains bizarre contradictory views, such as the view of 'continued existence' is a 'right view' (which contradicts SN 12.15). In general, it seems strange that MN 60 (to householders) & MN 117 (to monks) expect householders & ordinary people to have a view about something as complex & vague as 'opapātikā'. In other words, it seems questionable the Buddha himself would have spoken these teachings about 'opapātikā'.

    2. 'Opapātikā' as one of four generations ('yoni') seems to be only found in MN 12 and in a series of unusual suttas about naga-snakes, garuda (birds of prey), gandabbha & cloud-gods found in Chapters 29 to 32 of the Samyutta Nikaya, which Bhikkhu Bodhi has conveniently dismissed as 'mythology'. When reading these Samyutta Nikaya suttas, they are certainly incomprehensible at first glance. They do state spontaneous-birth is better than moisture-birth, which is better than womb-birth, which is better than egg-birth. They are also difficult to reconcile with MN 12, which includes 'hell' as a spontaneous birth.

    What is egg-born generation? There are these beings born by breaking out of the shell of an egg; this is called egg-born generation. What is womb-born generation? There are these beings born by breaking out from the caul; this is called womb-born generation. What is moisture-born generation? There are these beings born in a rotten fish, in a rotten corpse, in rotten porridge, in a cesspit, or in a sewer; this is called moisture-born generation. What is spontaneous generation? There are gods and denizens of hell and certain human beings and some beings in the lower worlds; this is called spontaneous generation. These are the four kinds of generation. MN 12
    3. 'Opapātikā' as spontaneous arising into a pure abode by the living non-returner sounds reasonable & is not related to 'rebirth' or 'reincarnation'. Suttas such as MN 118 & AN 3.141 appear to unambiguously state 'opapātikā' occurs to a living non-returner.


    The apparent rare use of the term 'opapātikā' in the Pali suttas in both obscure & probably post-Buddha-Abhidhammic suttas appears to show 'opapātikā' is not an important term. Apart from this, the use of 'opapātikā' in relation to non-returners appears to be valid, spoken by the Buddha and not related to 'rebirth' or 'reincarnation'.

    Last edited by Element; 03 Sep 17 at 09:55.

  7. #7
    Forums Member Element's Avatar
    'Abhinibbatti' is another term translated as 'rebirth'. As with most of the terms listed in the opening post, the PTS Dictionary translates 'abhinibbatti' as 'rebirth'.

    PTS Pali English Dictionary
    becoming, birth, rebirth
    Similarly, translators, including Bhikkhu Bodhi (page 1420) & Nizamis (below), have followed this:

    Rebirth (abhinibbatti), friend, is painful; non-rebirth is pleasant. When, friend, there is rebirth, this pain is to be expected: cold and heat, hunger and thirst, excrement and urine, contact with fire, contact with punishment, contact with weapons, and anger caused by meeting and associating with relatives and friends. When, friend, there is rebirth, this pain is to be expected.

    "When, friend, there is no rebirth (anabhinibbattiyā), this pleasantness is to be expected: neither cold nor heat, neither hunger nor thirst, neither excrement nor urine, neither contact with fire, nor contact with punishment, nor contact with weapons, and no anger caused by meeting and associating with relatives and friends. When, friend, there is no rebirth, this pleasantness is to be expected.

    AN 10.65
    The problems with the above translation of AN 10.65 include the following:

    1. In many places, such as MN 2 & MN 21, it is said 'patience' or 'tolerating' is the way to overcome cold, heat, angry words, weapons, etc. Therefore, 'non-rebirth', as translated in AN 10.65, is not required to be free from the affects of these potential hazards.

    And what are the fermentations to be abandoned by tolerating? There is the case where a monk, reflecting appropriately, endures. He tolerates cold, heat, hunger, & thirst; the touch of flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun, & reptiles; ill-spoken, unwelcome words & bodily feelings that, when they arise, are painful, racking, sharp, piercing, disagreeable, displeasing, & menacing to life. The fermentations, vexation, or fever that would arise if he were not to tolerate these things do not arise for him when he tolerates them. These are called the fermentations to be abandoned by tolerating. MN 2
    Monks, if you should keep this instruction on the Parable of the Saw constantly in mind, do you see any mode of speech, subtle or gross, that you could not endure? No, Lord. Therefore, monks, you should keep this instruction on the Parable of the Saw constantly in mind. That will conduce to your well-being and happiness for long indeed." MN 21`
    2. 'Abhinibbatti' is included in the definition or as a sub-component of the word 'jati' ('birth') in SN 12.2, thus cannot mean 'rebirth' itself, since many of the same translators also regard 'jati' to mean 'rebirth'. A 'sub-component' cannot be the same is the whole component or thing.

    Katamā ca, bhikkhave, jāti? Yā tesaṃ tesaṃ sattānaṃ tamhi tamhi sattanikāye jāti sañjāti okkanti abhinibbatti khandhānaṃ pātubhāvo āyatanānaṃ paṭilābho. Ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, jāti.

    And what, bhikkhus, is birth? The birth (jāti) of the various beings (satta) into the various orders of beings, their [mental] conception (sañjāti), entering/development (okkanti), production/coming forth into existence (abhinibbatti) due to the manifestation/appearance of the aggregates & the seizure (paṭilābho) of/by the sense objects. This is called birth.

    SN 12.2
    3. 'Abhinibbatti' is used in other contexts in the suttas that do not mean 'rebirth', such as:

    Yo kho, bhikkhave, cakkhussa uppādo ṭhiti abhinibbatti pātubhāvo, dukkhasseso uppādo...

    The continued arising, creation of existence & acquisition/seizure in respect to the eye is the arising of suffering.

    SN 26.1
    āyantuāyati bhonto ye tattha khattiyakulā brāhmaṇakulā rājaññakulā uppannā, sākassa vā sālassa vā salaḷassa vā candanassa vā padumakassa vā uttarāraṇiṃ ādāya, aggiṃ abhinibbattentu, tejo pātukarontu

    Let the good sirs come; and let those who are of noble, priestly and royal families, bringing an upper piece of fire-stick of teak or sāl or of a sweet-scented tree or of sandal or lotus, light a fire and get it to produce heat.

    MN 93
    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ ___________

    What does the word 'abhinibbatti' mean?

    One place to start is MN 96, for which Bhikkhu Bodhi provides a concealed & inaccurate translation in his Majjhima Nikaya of: "If he is reborn in a clan of nobles...brahmins...merchants...workers... he is reckoned as a noble...etc".

    In his footnote, Bhikkhu Bodhi reveals the translation of 'attabhāvassa abhinibbatti' literally should be: "wherever the reconception of his individuality takes place".

    In MN 96, this paragraph about the four castes is as follows:
    Khattiyakule ce attabhāvassa abhinibbatti hoti ‘khattiyo’tveva saṅkhyaṃ gacchati;
    brāhmaṇakule ce attabhāvassa abhinibbatti hoti ‘brāhmaṇo’tveva saṅkhyaṃ gacchati;
    vessakule ce attabhāvassa abhinibbatti hoti ‘vesso’tveva saṅkhyaṃ gacchati;
    suddakule ce attabhāvassa abhinibbatti hoti ‘suddo’tveva saṅkhyaṃ gacchati.
    The term 'attabhāvassa' is found elsewhere in the suttas, in relation to the 'paṭilābho' (acquisition) of individuality or personality based on internal ('self') & external ('others') intentions. The term 'attabhāvassa' literally means 'self-becoming'. Thus MN 96 appears to be stating the production (abhinibbatti) of individuality, personality or social identity (attabhāvassa) of a person is classified according to the way (gacchati) he acts or thinks (recollects). This is similar to MN 98, which states:

    In human bodies as they are,
    such differences cannot be found:
    the only human differences
    are those in names (verbal designations) alone.

    Among humankind whoever lives
    by raising cattle on a farm,
    O Vāseṭṭha you should know
    as farmer not as Brahmin then.

    Among humankind whoever lives
    by trading wares here and there,
    O Vāseṭṭha you should know
    as merchant not as Brahmin then.

    Among humankind whoever lives
    by work of many arts and crafts,
    O Vāseṭṭha you should know
    as craftsman not as Brahmin then.

    MN 98
    Thus, 'abhinibbatti' obviously does not mean 'rebirth' but is related to how various aggregates are 'named' or 'classified' into views or conventions of this & that 'beings' (such as 'noble', 'worker', 'farmer', 'doctor', 'mother', 'father', 'Buddhist', etc), per the definition of 'birth' ('jati') in SN 12.2.

    Thus, SN 22.100 states:

    Seyyathāpi, bhikkhave, rajako vā cittakārako vā rajanāya vā lākhāya vā haliddiyā vā nīliyā vā mañjiṭṭhāyamañjiṭṭha: crimson. (adj.) vā suparimaṭṭhe phalake vā bhittiyā vā dussapaṭṭe vā itthirūpaṃ vā purisarūpaṃ vā abhinimmineyya sabbaṅgapaccaṅgiṃ; evameva kho, bhikkhave, assutavā puthujjano rūpaññeva abhinibbattento abhinibbatteti, vedanaññeva … pe … saññaññeva … saṅkhāreyeva … viññāṇaññeva abhinibbattento abhinibbatteti. Taṃ kiṃ maññatha, bhikkhave, rūpaṃ niccaṃ vā aniccaṃ vā”ti? “Aniccaṃ, bhante”. “Vedanā … saññā … saṅkhārā … viññāṇaṃ … pe … “tasmātiha, bhikkhave … pe … evaṃ passaṃ … pe … nāparaṃ itthattāyāti pajānātī”ti.

    Suppose, bhikkhus, an artist or a painter, using dye or lac or turmeric or indigo or crimson, would create the figure of a man or a woman complete in all its features on a well-polished plank or wall or canvas. So too, when the uninstructed worldling produces anything, it is only form that he produces; only feeling that he produces; only perception that he produces; only volitional formations that he produces; only consciousness that he produces.

    “What do you think, bhikkhus, is form permanent or impermanent?”—“Impermanent, venerable sir.”…—“Therefore … Seeing thus … He understands: ‘… there is no more for this state of being.’”
    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ __________


    It appears obvious from MN 96, MN 98, SN 22.100 & SN 12.2 the term 'abhinibbatti' means the 'production' of views of 'beings', 'self', 'identity' or 'personality' from the basic beguiling appearance of the five aggregates, just as a painter uses different colors to create a picture of a man or a woman. In short, the term 'abhinibbatti' obviously does not mean 'rebirth' or 'reincarnation'.

    Last edited by Element; 03 Jun 17 at 13:01.

  8. #8
    Forums Member Element's Avatar
    'Paccājāyanti' & 'paccājāyati' are two more words commonly translated as 'rebirth'.

    'Paccājāyanti' is more interesting so I will start with it.

    'Paccājāyanti' is found in only two yet identical places in the suttas:

    (i) AN 1.333 to 377 (Jampudipa Repetition Series) in the Anguttara Nikaya.

    (ii) SN 56.102 to 133 (Five Destinations Repetition Series) in the Samyutta Nikaya.

    These exact two series refer to the myriad falling away & reappearance into the various realms of human, godly, animal, ghost & hell.

    The peculiar characteristic of these series is they refer to 'animals', 'ghosts' & 'hell' beings being 'reborn' ('paccājāyanti') into the 'human' state by realising the Four Noble Truths. Since it would seem impossible for an animal such as a dog, cat, elephant, fish or chicken to realise the Four Noble Truths, it would seem the term 'paccājāyanti' here does not refer to 'rebirth' or 'reincarnation' but, instead, to a psychological transformation of an immoral/heedless ('animal'); addictive ('ghost') or 'hellish' (angry; suffering; unhappy) person into a moral & wise (reflective, considerate) person.

    __________________________________________________ _____________________________________________

    'Paccājāyati' is found in AN 4.197 Mallikādevīsutta, MN 129 Bālapaṇḍitasutta and in the notorious MN 135 Cūḷakammavibhaṅgasutta.

    AN 4.197 Mallikādevīsutta is a temporal sutta. It does not contain complex dhamma language that immediately infers 'rebirth' after 'death'. It only contains the term 'paccājāyati' and, unlike MN 129 & MN 135, does not contain the term 'upapajjati'. AN 4.197 states:

    Here, Mallikā, a certain woman, is angry, often irritable. Even over a trivial remark, she is cross (abhisajjati), shaken, vexed, stubborn, and shows her temper (byāpajjati), anger and sulkiness. She is not a giver of food, drinks, cloth, vehicles, garlands, scents, ointments, beddings, dwelling or lightings, to recluses or brahmins. Furthermore, she is jealous in her heart; jealous of others‟ receiving gains, honour, respect, esteem, homage and worship; she is vengeful and holds grudges. If she falls away (cutā) & returns (āgacchati) to such a state, wherever she is reborn (paccājāyati), she is ugly, deformed, of very mean appearance, and she is poor, having few things, of little wealth and little influence.
    Note: What is also interesting about AN 4.197 is it includes the terms abhisajjati & byāpajjati, which refer to here & now phenomena. 'Byāpada' means 'ill-will' and is in the compound 'byāpajjati', which, like upapajjati, ends with the term 'jjati'. These terms appear to be verbs.
    __________________________________________________ _________________________________________________

    MN 129 Bālapaṇḍitasutta, despite its length & vivid descriptions of the various realms, contains the word 'paccājāyati' only twice, as follows:

    Bhikkhus, it is more likely that the blind turtle would put his neck in the plough share and yoke the eye to the hole to see light rather than the fool once fallen to hell would gain humanity. What is the reason? Here, there is no righteous living, good conduct, merit or a pleasant mind. Here they eat each other, the weaker one is eaten up. Bhikkhus, even if the fool regains humanity after a very long time he is born (paccājāyati) in a low clan such as with the out castes, the hunters, with the bamboo weavers, chariot builders, rubbish collectors or in such other low family. Born into a poor family without eatables, drinks and clothing, gains them with difficulty. He too is not with pleasant appearance has a deformed body and is with many ailments, either blind, deformed, lame or paralysed, or does not gain eatables, drinks, clothes, conveyances, flowers, scents, ointments, beds, dwellings and illuminations. He misbehaves by body, speech and mind and after death goes to decrease and is born (upapajjati) in hell.

    In the same manner bhikkhus, the pleasantness and pleasure experienced by the Universal Monarch on account of the seven treasures and the four powers cannot be reckoned as a comparison, not even as a quarter, nor even as a sign for the pleasantness and pleasure experienced in heaven. Bhikkhus, if that wise one after a long lapse of time was to regain humanity he would be born (paccājāyati) in a rich, warrior clan, brahmin clan or householder clan, or such other high clan with much wealth, riches, sovereign gold and silver, with much grains. He would be handsome and pleasant to look at. a gainer of eatables, drinks, clothes, conveyances, flowers, scents, ointments, beds, dwellings and illuminations. Conducts well in body, words and mentally after death he would be born in heaven. Bhikkhus, it is like the gambler, who at the first throw wins a great mass of wealth. It would be a more lucky throw if the wise one conducting well by body, speech and mindwould after death be born (upapajjati) in heaven Bhikkhus, now the wise one’s sphere is completely told.’ Sister Uppalavanna
    Both uses of 'paccājāyati' refer to a 'fool in hell' and a 'wise Universal Monarch' that 'paccājāyati' (paṭi + ā + jāyati) to the 'human state'.

    Since MN 129 (similar to SN 56.47) describes the human state (manussattaṃ) as: "righteous living, good conduct, merit, a pleasant mind, not eat each other or the weaker one", it seems the term 'paccājāyati' does not refer to 'rebirth' or 'reincarnation' but, instead, the reformation or transformation of a person's present life.

    As mentioned in the 2nd post, the term 'jāyati' appears to not mean 'physical birth' but an 'emotional state'. 'Paccājāyati' seems to mean 'paṭi + ā + jāyati', thus to return or go to another 'emotional state' (jāyati).
    __________________________________________________ ____________________________________________

    MN 135 seems to support the above view about 'paccājāyati'. MN 135 states:

    Here, student, some man or woman kills living beings and is murderous, bloody-handed, given to blows and violence, merciless to living beings. Because of performing and undertaking such action, on the dissolution of the body, after death, he reappears (upapajjati) in a state of deprivation, in an unhappy destination, in perdition, even in hell. But if on the dissolution of the body, after death, he does not reappear (upapajjati) in a state of deprivation, in an unhappy destination, in perdition, in hell, but instead comes back (āgacchati) to the human state, then wherever he is reborn (paccājāyati) he is short-lived. This is the way, student, that leads to short life, namely, one kills living beings and is murderous, bloody-handed, given to blows and violence, merciless to living beings
    Again, 'paccājāyati' does not refer to experiencing 'heaven' or 'hell' but a transformation or change in temporal human status.

    Also, the word 'āgacchati' is used here in reference to 'coming back' to the 'human state'. Thus, 1st the person 'comes back/āgacchati' to the human state and 2nd when in that 'human state' is short-lived wherever he is 'paccājāyati/reborn'. There are so many different Pali words used here, such as 'āgacchati, which give the impression upapajjati means changing into a different state (such as human to hell) where as āgacchati means returning to the same state (such as human to human). Note: This requires more research.

    Note: As for the term 'short-lived' and other worldly conditions in MN 135, such as rich, poor, beautiful, ugly, etc, there are many suttas that distinguish between spiritual life, wealth, health, etc, vs physical life, wealth, health, etc. In other words, MN 135 appears to refer to being 'short-lived' in the 'humane state' due to killing living beings.

    __________________________________________________ ________________________________________________


    While this exploration is now heading towards the pointy end of the exploration, with the most commonly used words 'upapajjati' & 'upapannā' yet to be discussed in detail, it appears the terms 'paccājāyanti' & 'paccājāyati' do not refer to 'rebirth' or 'reincarnation' but, instead, to changes in the psychological states of individuals in the present life.

    Last edited by Element; 03 Sep 17 at 10:26.

  9. #9
    Forums Member Element's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Element View Post
    'Abhinibbatti' is another term translated as 'rebirth'.
    To add:

    Aṭṭhānametaṃa bhikkhave, anavakāso yaṃ kāya*su*cari*tassa aniṭṭho akanto amanāpo vipāko nibbatteyya.

    It is impossible a disagreeable result could be produced from good conduct....

    AN 1.287

  10. #10
    Forums Member Element's Avatar
    Before proceeding to the core words of 'upapajjati' & 'upapannā', it may be helpful to examine 'uppajjati' (u + pad + ya) & 'uppanna'.

    PTS Pali English Dictionary

    to come out, to arise, to be produced, to be born or reborn, to come into existence

    born, reborn, arisen, produced
    pp. of uppajjati
    The PTS Dictionary is unsure about these words:

    doubtful whether a legitimate form as upa + pad or a diaeretic form of uppajjati = ud + pad. In this case all passages ought to go under the latter. Trenckner however (Notes 77) defends upa˚ & considers in many cases upp˚ a substitution for upa. The diaeresis may be due to metre, as nearly all forms are found in poetry. The variant reading upp˚ is apparently frequent; but it is almost impossible to distinguish between upap˚ and upp˚ in the Sinhalese writing, and either the scribe or the reader may mistake one for the other
    Therefore, examination of the context may help:

    A thought of sensuality, bhikkhus, arises (uppajjati) with a cause, not without a cause; a thought of ill-will arises (uppajjati) with a cause, not without a cause; a thought of violence arises with a cause, not without a cause. And how, bhikkhus, does a thought of sensuality arise with a cause, not without a cause; a thought of ill-will arise with a cause, not without a cause; a thought of violence arise with a cause, not without a cause?

    SN 14.12
    Kāmarāgaṭṭhāniyānaṃ, bhikkhave, dhammānaṃ manasikā*ra*bahu*līkārā anuppanno ceva kāmacchando uppajjati, uppanno ca kāmacchando bhiyyobhāvāya vepullāya saṃvattati.

    Bhikkhus, by frequently giving attention to things that are a basis for sensual lust, unarisen (anuppanno) sensual desire arises (uppajjati) and arisen (uppanno) sensual desire increases and expands.

    SN 46.23
    Nāhaṃ, bhikkhave, aññaṃ ekadhammampi samanupassāmi yena anuppannā vā kusalā dhammā uppajjanti uppannā vā akusalā dhammā parihāyanti yathayidaṃ, bhikkhave, kalyāṇamittatā. Kal*yāṇa*mittassa, bhikkhave, anuppannā ceva kusalā dhammā uppajjanti uppannā ca akusalā dhammā parihāyantī

    Monks, I do not see even a single thing that so causes unarisen wholesome states to arise and arisen unwholesome qualities to to decline as good friendship. For one with good friends, unarisen wholesome qualities arise and arisen unwholesome qualities decline.

    AN 1.77

    Although the PTS Dictionary seems to equate (the discussed) 'uppajjati' with (the undiscussed) 'upapajjati', it seems 'uppajjati' (and 'uppanna') do not refer 'rebirth' or 'reincarnation' (at least in the contexts examined).

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