Power of the Human Mind – Introduction

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Power of the Human Mind – Introduction

Revised August 27, 2018; April 19, 2024

1. Most people know about Buddha Gotama as a knowledgeable and compassionate human being. In “Dhamma and Science – Introduction,” I pointed out the similarities and differences between a scientist and a Buddha. Here I want to discuss in detail the incomprehensible complexity of the human mind, and how a Buddha achieves the peak performance of that complex entity.

As I pointed out in “Gōdel’s Incompleteness Theorem,” an average human mind works within the sense sphere of an average human and is thus inherently incapable of providing a complete theory about our world; but the mind of a Buddha can transcend our sensory experience and see the whole of existence.

Here I point out, in a systematic way in a series of posts, the progression of the human mind to higher levels achieved by purifying the mind (not by merely learning), and why a Buddha is at the very pinnacle. At the end of this series you will see why no other human being, no matter how intelligent, can even remotely approach the mind of a Buddha.

2. In the “The Grand Unified Theory of Dhamma,” we discussed the 31 realms of existence laid out by the Buddha.

Out of these, the human realm is at the fifth level (and our knowledge base is limited to our sensory experience within it, and Gōdel’s Incompleteness Theorem applies to any theory derived within it). There are four realms below the human realm, and 26 realms above.

Out of the 31 realms, we can see only the human and animal realms (one of the four lower realms or the apāyā). But we can access the thoughts enjoyed by the beings in the higher realms, and the transcendental (lokuttara) cittā too. Please do not give too much significance initially to the number of cittā in each realm, etc. Be patient with me as I need to lay out the “big picture” first.

As we proceed systematically in a few posts, you will see various connections to concepts discussed in other parts of the site, eventually all fitting together. This is why I keep saying it is a complete and self-consistent worldview on a scale unimaginable to a normal (unpurified) human mind.

3. The types of thoughts (cittā) that can be experienced in the whole of existence (31 realms) is 89 (or 121 depending on the scheme); see, “The 89 (or 121) Types of Cittas.” In the three main lokas (or planes) of kāmaloka, rūpaloka, and arūpaloka, different types of cittā are of common occurrence. While most of the 89 cittā are possible in all three lokas, normally a subset of cittā operate primarily in a given realm.

For example, in the kāmaloka, only 54 cittā are mainly experienced. The kāmaloka consists of the lower eleven realms, with the sixth through eleventh shells representing the realms of the devas. Beings in these 11 realms have all six sense bases, and in the deva realms the sense pleasures are higher than in the human realm.

4. Out of all 89 types of thoughts, only 12 are immoral or akusala cittā and these are experienced only in kāmaloka; see, “Akusala Citta and Akusala Vipāka Citta.”

In the higher 20 realms belonging to the rūpaloka and arūpaloka, only jhānic cittā are mostly present, and akusala cittā usually do not arise.

So, as one can imagine, beings in the lower realms entertain more immoral cittā, and with higher frequency, too. The human realm is kind of in the middle, with both moral and immoral cittā.

Mainly vipāka citta arise in the lowest four realms; they basically “pay for their previous kamma.” It is said that the beings in the lowest realm, niraya (hell) experience basically two immoral cittā based on hate, because of the high degree of suffering there.

5. The human realm is unique in that the human mind can access not only the cittā in the rūpa and arūpa lokas, but also the eight types of cittā that transcend the 31 realms. These cittā are the four path (magga) cittā for the four levels of Nibbāna (Sotāpanna, Sakadāgāmī, Anāgāmī, Arahant), and the corresponding resultant (phala) cittā. Thus all 89 types of citta are possible for humans.

Beings in the higher realms can also attain the eight magga/phala citta, but do not usually experience the cittā typical of the lower realms.

Furthermore, the most potent cittā are those with the highest javana (impulse) power in “mahā kusala citta.” They are accessible primarily by humans and those in higher realms; see,“Javana of a Citta – Root of Mental Power.” More posts will follow in the future.

This is the basis of the power of the human mind. A human can attain the mindset of a being in the lowest realm (niraya) and it is also possible to go all the way up to the mindset of a Buddha.

6. The cittā in the rūpaloka and arūpaloka are easily categorized according to the jhānic states. These are the same jhānic states attained by humans via meditation.

A human can attain all eight jhānic states, and the lower four correspond to the rūpaloka and the higher four to the arūpaloka.

By the way, the Buddha never referred to the arūpāvacara states as jhānā. Rather they are referred to in the suttā by their names: ākāsānañcāyatana, viññāṇañcāyatana, etc.

Each jhānic state corresponds to three types of cittā: wholesome (kusala) citta and the corresponding vipāka (resultant) citta are two; when the same jhānic kusala citta experienced by an Arahant it is called a kiriyā (functional) citta, because it does not lead to a vipāka citta.

7. In the 16 realms belong to the rūpaloka, where only two physical sense faculties (eye and ear) are active. These beings have very fine (less dense) bodies.

In rūpaloka 15 types of thoughts (citta) are mostly experienced corresponding to the five jhānic factors: vitakka, vicāra, pīti, sukha, ekaggatā; see, “Power of the Human Mind – Anāriya or Mundane Jhānā.” These are the lower five jhānic kusala cittā, corresponding five vipāka cittā and five kiriyā cittā (the last five are effective only for the Arahants who get into these jhānic states).

The highest four realms represent the arūpa lokas, where beings have ultra fine bodies and only the mind faculty, with no physical senses. Here, only 12 types of jhānic cittās are mainly present. These are the higher four (fifth through eighth) jhānic kusala cittā, corresponding four vipāka citta, and corresponding four kiriyā citta (which are effective only for the Arahants who get into these jhānic states, which do not have corresponding vipāka citta).

8. The rūpaloka and arūpaloka are collectively known as Brahma realms, which comprise the higher 20 realms. In the Brahma realms, beings are mostly devoid of both greed and hate, but they have dormant ignorance (moha) in their kamma seeds; see, “Saṅkhāra, Kamma, Kamma Bīja, Kamma Vipāka.” In the deva worlds (which belong to kāmaloka), those beings are mostly devoid of hate-rooted cittā but have greed-rooted cittā since they enjoy sensual pleasures.

It is possible for a human to attain any of those jhānic states via samatha meditation, and one does not have to be a Buddhist to attain those mundane or anāriya jhānic states.

Those anāriya jhānic states are temporary; a yogi in a jhānic state can be “taken out” of the jhāna; see the next post. They may be lost if one does not keep practicing, and the ability to enter such jhānā is lost when one dies, i.e., he/she may not have the ability to get into jhānā in the next life, even if they are born human.

However, if one dies while in even an anāriya jhānic state, he/she will be born in the corresponding rūpaloka or arūpaloka. Yet, a being who gets into even the highest arūpaloka via anāriya jhānā will end up eventually in the four lower realms (apāyā).

However, Ariya jhānā are permanent. Once one gets into an Ariya jhāna, it will hold through future lives.