As per your request, I am replying to your on-group post. I am CC'ing it to
the Pali Group. Note that you will still have to send replies directly to
me as I really am off the list :)
> > The term "antarabhava" seems less than usable, because it
> is clearly
> > just another bhava, not in-between anything. Why do you call it an
> > antaraabhava when it is clearly a bhava?
> The term itself is not important -- it was not me who coined
> the term. The existence or not of some kind of transitional
> phase between death and rebirth is. As far as I understand
> the orthodox Theravadin take on this is, briefly, one of
> immediate rebirth. To represent this crudely in a graphic
> form, we have a terminating sequence of thought moments and a
> beginning sequence of thought moments: .... WXYZABCD ...
> where Z is the last thought moment of one life and A is the
> first thought moment of the next life, and it is claimed that
> there is absolutely no gap between one life and the next.
> Have I got this right ? If so, I am mightily puzzled when
> the Buddha speaks of the gandhabba in the suttas. If my
> understanding of the Theravadin doctrine of death/rebirth is
> correct, there is no role or need for a gandhabba. Please
> elucidate why the Buddha speaks of the gandhabba as a
> necessary factor for conception to occur but do first look
> carefully at all the data the Nikayas give on the gandhabba.
Right, I see your point... there clearly needs to be a heavenly musician at
hand during the birth, and the mind of the being to be reborn is not
necessary. Does this mean that we were all heavenly musicians in our past
DN, Sakkapa~nha Sutta, Pa~ncasikhagiitagaathaa:
"Ekamanta.m .thito kho pa~ncasikho gandhabbadevaputto beluvapa.n.duvii.na.m
,01 assaavesi, imaa ca gaathaa abhaasi buddhuupasa~nhitaa dhammuupasa~nhitaa
sa"nghuupasa~nhitaa arahantuupasa~nhitaa kaamuupasa~nhitaa- "
"Devo no bhava.m bhavissatii"ti? "Na kho aha.m, braahma.na, devo
bhavissaamii"ti. "Gandhabbo no bhava.m bhavissatii"ti? "Na kho aha.m,
braahma.na, gandhabbo bhavissaamii"ti. "Yakkho no bhava.m bhavissatii"ti?
"Na kho aha.m, braahma.na, yakkho bhavissaamii"ti. "Manusso no
bhava.mbhavissatii"ti? "Na kho aha.m, braahma.na, manusso bhavissaamii"ti.
105. Neva devo na gandhabbo, na maaro saha brahmunaa;
jita.m apajita.m kayiraa, tathaaruupassa jantuno. (Dhp 105)
As I think we clearly agree upon, the Lord Buddha used many words with
established meaning to mean many different things. Karma, dharma,
"'Jaananti pana bhonto- taggha, so gandhabbo khattiyo vaa braahma.no vaa
vesso vaa suddo vaa'ti? 'Na maya.m, bho, jaanaama- taggha so gandhabbo
khattiyo vaa braahma.no vaa vesso vaa suddo vaa'ti. 'Eva.m sante, bho,
jaanaatha- ke tumhe hothaa'ti? 'Eva.m sante, bho, na maya.m jaanaama-
kemaya.m homaa'ti. (MN 93)
To me this implies that the gandhabbo could indeed be a khattiyo or a
braahma.no or a vesso or a suddo. Otherwise I would personally not expect
"jaananti" and "na maya.m jaamaama" here. Since He was talking with
Brahmins in this sutta, it makes sense that He would use terminology that
the Brahmins were familiar with.
The three factors are:
1) the copulation
2) the mother's ovum
3) the gandhabba
Is that correct? If so, the gandhabba is, according to Theravada doctrine,
the mind that is about to pass away from the last existence (gantabba) and
looking for a future rebirth (sambhavesi) as opposed to the arahant who has
already become free (bhuta). Without this craving mind as a third factor,
rebirth cannot take place. Please remember that Theravada doctrine deals
with absolute realities. No matter how you look at it, a gandhabba doesn't
exist, in just the same way that neither did the Lord Buddha and neither do
you or I. These are concepts made up to represent certain ruupa and naama
phenomena. Surely this accords with meditation practice, wherein all one
sees is the incessant arising and ceasing of body and mind.
XYZABC - the Z is the last moment of the mind in this life, the A is rebirth
either as a peta or gandhabba or otherwise, but it is still ruupa and naama,
arising and ceasing, so from a Theravadin viewpoint, it is still a bhava,
not between anything. I find a hint of the idea of self in the concept of
antaraabhava... do you believe in a soul?
> > I think it is a problem that you have so many texts to choose from,
> > none of which you really trust.
> Could I please remind you here of your earlier words "please
> point out where they are invalid without including such
> personally depreciative statements".
> What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander ! You
> really have no
> idea which or how many texts I trust, so would you please
> refrain from these unfounded personally depreciative statements.
This was not an insult like saying you were immature, it was an assumption,
based on your reaction to my statement:
> >[Yuttadhammo] What is at stake? The millions of people who rely on these
> texts for
> > their peace and happiness and meditation practice. If people start
> > doubting this or that teaching over some meditative
> experience, they
> > might start doubting more important teachings like
> nibbaana, or just
> > give up in their confusion over what is the real teaching of the
> > Buddha.
> [Stephen] Wow ! You really sound like a Christian here ! Have you always
> Buddhist or are you a convert ?
By this I assume that you associate faith in texts with Christianity (the
latter of which seems displeasing to you)... so, I assume (rightly or
wrongly as it may be) you to be like many Westerners who don't like to take
anything at all on faith. And yes, I have read the Kalama Sutta (before it
becomes the next post :) ) and I like it a lot. But, I also like apocryphal
stories, and I don't care so much whether they're true or not. I am happy
to say that Theravada Buddhism is the most consistent religion that I know
of, both internally consistent and consistent with ultimate reality, and it
leads all sorts of good people to become free from all sorts of defilements
in this very life. My wish is to practice Theravada Buddhism in a way that
makes harmony for me and those around me, which indeed it seems to do. If
instead of practicing it, I just went on arguing about the seemingly
contradictory parts, I would never get anywhere and would die before I
> > I too hope you stop insulting people on public forums
> Tu quoque ! Look to the beam in your own eye first.
Then, for my part, I apologise to you for any intentional or unintentional
insult to your person, either on a public forum or in private.
> Out of interest, where in the Thervadin Abhidharma is the antaraabhava
explicitly denied ?
In the paragraph following where it explicitly denies the existence of a
horned hare. Also in the Kathavatthu, but I assume you are referring to
that Abhidhamma which deals with the four ultimate realities of citta,
cetasika, rupa and nibbaana. Please, first tell me which one the
antaraabhava fits under.