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Thread: the gandhabba

  1. #1
    Forums Member daverupa's Avatar
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    the gandhabba

    Just a quick FYI:

    Quote Originally Posted by srivijaya View Post
    Perhaps there is the possibility that the process has no need of a spirit being.
    Possible, but not according to the EBTs.

    As far as I know Buddha never taught that any such 'thing' transmigrated. He seemed to be quite against that scenario.
    Go have a look at MN 38 for how the gandhabba fits right smack in the middle of things. MN 93 further clarifies that this is a term for the mechanism of kamma-transitioning - ongoing bhava, as you said in another thread.

    (Moment-to-moment rebirth ideas are also contrary to this EBT idea, as it happens. Rebirth is the basic reincarnation we all know about, except for the anatta stuff, so it's quite simple in the basic shape. Moment-to-moment "rebirth" is change-while-standing, not rebirth.)

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    Forums Member srivijaya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by daverupa View Post
    Just a quick FYI:



    Possible, but not according to the EBTs.



    Go have a look at MN 38 for how the gandhabba fits right smack in the middle of things. MN 93 further clarifies that this is a term for the mechanism of kamma-transitioning - ongoing bhava, as you said in another thread.

    (Moment-to-moment rebirth ideas are also contrary to this EBT idea, as it happens. Rebirth is the basic reincarnation we all know about, except for the anatta stuff, so it's quite simple in the basic shape. Moment-to-moment "rebirth" is change-while-standing, not rebirth.)
    Thanks Dave. In the 1st sutta he refutes Sati who claims that it's the same consciousness which transmigrates. I think Sati is espousing a fairly logical view, if we consider re-birth to be the re-emergence of 'something'. If it is, then why is Buddha displeased? You answer that by reference to anatta, Buddha's unique approach, which renders Sati's metaphysical construct utterly irrelevant.

    In the second sutta I feel Buddha is using his oponent's terminology to dismantle that position. The concept of the gandhabba was around at the time and it was a useful way of pointing out the inconsistency. My point is that I don't see any need to posit a gandhabba within the teachings of dependent origination. Buddha doesn't give teachings on purifying the gandhabba for its journey into a future life or some such, which speaks for itself.

    Moment-to-moment rebirth ideas are fine if they help reconcile a disbelief in rebirth with what is in the suttas but I don't believe that Bhava is rebirth in any sense we would understand it in the west, where the gandhabba can be a convenient substitute for the soul.

  3. #3
    This article by Bhikkhu Analayo might be of interest (15 small pages which include 6 pages of end notes):


    REBIRTH AND THE GANDHABBA


    ABSTRACT

    The present article examines the concept of rebirth in early Buddhist canonical discourses preserved in the Pāli Nikāyas and the Chinese Āgamas from a set of related angles, after which it explores the implications of the gandhabba as one of the three conditions for conception to take place.*

    https://www.buddhismuskunde.uni-hamb...-gandhabba.pdf


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    Forums Member ancientbuddhism's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by daverupa View Post
    Possible, but not according to the EBTs....
    The presence of gandhabba and other theoretical metaphysical treatments in the Pāḷi Nikāyas that Western approaches would render as ‘rebirth’ or ‘reincarnation’ represent a common terminology held by diverging philosophical systems of the time that were breaking away from established Vedic tradition. Said simply, they were borrowed terminology and theoretical structures that were used as part of a common dialog with, although not central to, the philosophical aims of the Dhamma of the Tathāgata or the thinkers of the Upaniṣads and others of the emerging śramaṇa systems of thought. Anālayo suggested as much in his paper, however he also suggests rebirth as a “…central element of the teachings given by the Buddha…”, rather such that would be considered core-teachings of the Nikāyas give us the arising and falling of dukkha supported by Dependant Arising (paṭiccasamuppāda) frameworks, modalities of contemplative praxis, and that “anatta stuff”.

    Quote Originally Posted by daverupa View Post
    Moment-to-moment rebirth ideas are also contrary to this EBT idea, as it happens. Rebirth is the basic reincarnation we all know about, except for the anatta stuff...
    “Moment-to-moment rebirth ideas…” are as common to the Nikāyas as Dependant Arising (paṭiccasamuppāda) which indicates the process of sentience along degenerative or refined pathways. Let’s not forget what DA is there for and why it was framed the way it is. Because the Thathāgata’s audience was preoccupied with notions of a substantial, metaphysical entity, a ‘self’ (atta), and were engaged in religious ritual out of “…hope in present existence…” (āsīsamānā) for “…surpassing [the vexations of] birth, aging and death” (atāruṃ jātiñca jarañca mārisa – Sn. 5.3), he removed the basis for such a preoccupation by unpacking what a sentient being actually is in a simple schedule of five bases (pañcakkhandha) viz. material form, sensations, perception, intentions and cognition. When the pañcakkhandha are taken up by one enveloped in ignorance of this fact it is pañcaupādānakkhandha as the ‘five bases of identification’ where the individual reifies the five and their respective ranges as intrinsically personal. Now, if the Tathāgata simply left the analysis of the sentient being at that he would easily be considered an annihilationist (ucchedavādī) which brings us to the role of DA that instructs how cognition plays-out through pathways that lead to vexation or peace pivotal on ‘craving’ (taṇhā).

    Quote Originally Posted by daverupa View Post
    Moment-to-moment "rebirth" is change-while-standing, not rebirth.
    And yet in the Nikāyas we find example given in DA and other frameworks where cognition rises to the full potential of either peace or self-reification and their respective pathways to fall and rise again as a form of jāti.

    “Atthi bhikkhave mano atthi dhammā, atthi avijjādhātu avijjāsamphassajena bhikkhave, vedayitena phuṭṭhassa assutavato puthujjanassa asmīti'pissa hoti, ayamahamasmīti'pissa hoti bhavissanti pi'ssa hoti, rūpī bhavissanti'pissa hoti, arūpī bhavissanti'pissa hoti.

    “There exists, bhikkhus, the mind; there exists its phenomena and there exists the factor of ignorance. Born of ignorant contact, bhikkhus, the untaught-commoner is affected by sensations; thus it occurs to him ‘I am’, thus it occurs to him ‘I am this’, thus it occurs to him ‘I exist’, thus it occurs to him ‘I shall not exist’, thus it occurs to him ‘I shall be composed of materiality’, thus it occurs to him ‘I shall not be composed of materiality’, … (SN.22:47)

    Tassa (rūpa...vedanā...saññā...saṃkhāra...) viññāṇavipariṇāmānuparivattijā paritassanā dhammasamuppādā cittaṃ pariyādāya tiṭṭhanti. Cetaso pariyādānā uttāsavā ca hoti vighātavā ca apekkhavā ca upādāya ca paritassati.

    And so with agitation and the arising of mind-states, born out of engagement in this changing material-form (sensation, perception, intention, cognition), the mind is fixed in obsession. Mental intentions become obsessed with fear; and with this taking-up and agitation there is mental-distress and anxiousness. (SN. 22:7)

    Again, the intent of the Dhamma is to surpass a very real and present vexation over ‘birth, aging and death’ which encompass all the distresses of living here and now.

  5. #5
    Forums Member ancientbuddhism's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by srivijaya View Post
    Moment-to-moment rebirth ideas are fine if they help reconcile a disbelief in rebirth with what is in the suttas but I don't believe that Bhava is rebirth in any sense we would understand it in the west, where the gandhabba can be a convenient substitute for the soul.
    Dependant Arising bhava = ‘becoming’ is Vedic bhāva. In DA, bhava represents the coming into existence of the objects of desire and attachment (taṇhā, upādāna). Because in DA bhava is the precursor to birth (jāti) it is interesting to find in the early Upaniṣads that bhāva is the act to ‘strive’ in copulation and conception:

    Then he embraces her, (saying), ‘I am the vital breath and you are speech; you are speech and I am the vital breath. I am the Sāman and you are the Ṛg. I am heaven and you are the earth. Come, let us strive together, let us mix semen that we may have a male child.’ [Radhakrishnan]

    athainām abhipadyate – amo 'ham asmi sā tvam |
    sā tvam asy amo 'ham |
    sāmāham asmi ṛk tvam |
    dyaur aham pṛthivī tvam |
    tāv ehi saṃrabhāvahai saha reto dadhāvahai |
    puṃse putrāya vittaya iti || BṛhUp_6,4.20 ||

    I’m not sure how this note informs our present understanding of bhava in DA but doesn’t it make it kind of fun to compare?

  6. #6
    Forums Member srivijaya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ancientbuddhism View Post
    Dependant Arising bhava = ‘becoming’ is Vedic bhāva. In DA, bhava represents the coming into existence of the objects of desire and attachment (taṇhā, upādāna). Because in DA bhava is the precursor to birth (jāti) it is interesting to find in the early Upaniṣads that bhāva is the act to ‘strive’ in copulation and conception:

    Then he embraces her, (saying), ‘I am the vital breath and you are speech; you are speech and I am the vital breath. I am the Sāman and you are the Ṛg. I am heaven and you are the earth. Come, let us strive together, let us mix semen that we may have a male child.’ [Radhakrishnan]

    athainām abhipadyate – amo 'ham asmi sā tvam |
    sā tvam asy amo 'ham |
    sāmāham asmi ṛk tvam |
    dyaur aham pṛthivī tvam |
    tāv ehi saṃrabhāvahai saha reto dadhāvahai |
    puṃse putrāya vittaya iti || BṛhUp_6,4.20 ||

    I’m not sure how this note informs our present understanding of bhava in DA but doesn’t it make it kind of fun to compare?
    Splendid and fascinating ancientbuddhism. Many thanks for contributing that.

    Great definition:"In DA, bhava represents the coming into existence of the objects of desire and attachment (taṇhā, upādāna). Because in DA bhava is the precursor to birth."

    And amazing to contrast with the Upanishads.

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