Buddhist Dictionary By Nyanatiloka Mahathera – Bh

Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines,
By Nyanatiloka Mahathera


bhangānupassanā-ñāṇa: ‘knowledge consisting in contemplation of dissolution’ (of all forms of existence), is one kind of insight: s. visuddhi (VI, 2).

bhava: ‘becoming’, ‘process of existence’, consists of 3 planes: sensuous existence (kāma-bhava), fine-material existence (rūpa-bhava), immaterial existence (arūpa-bhava). Cf. loka.

The whole process of existence may be divided into two aspects:

(1) Kamma-process (kamma-bhava), i.e. the kammically active side of existence, being the cause of rebirth and consisting in wholesome and unwholesome volitional actions. See Kamma, paṭiccasamuppāda (IX).

(2) Kamma-produced rebirth, or regenerating process (uppattibhava), i.e. the kammically passive side of existence consisting in the arising and developing of the kamma-produced and therefore morally neutral mental and bodily phenomena of existence. Cf. Tab. – (App.).

bhāva: (feminine and masculine) ‘nature’, refers to the sexual characteristics of the body, and belongs to the group of corporeality (s. khandha). It is a commentarial term for the faculties of femininity and masculinity (s. indriya 7, 8). (App.).

bhava-diṭṭhi: ‘belief in being’ (eternal personality); s. sassatadiṭṭhi, diṭṭhi.

bhāvanā: ‘mental development’ (lit. ‘calling into existence, producing’) is what in English is generally but rather vaguely called ‘meditation’. One has to distinguish 2 kinds: development of tranquillity (samatha-bhāvanā), i.e. concentration (samādhi), and development of insight (vipassanā-bhāvanā), i.e. wisdom (paññā).

These two important terms, tranquillity and insight (s. samatha-vipassanā), are very often met with and explained in the Sutta, as well as in the Abhidhamma.

Tranquillity (samatha) is the concentrated, unshaken, peaceful, and therefore undefiled state of mind, whilst insight (vipassanā) is the intuitive insight into the impermanence, misery and impersonality (anicca, dukkha, anattā; s. tilakkhaṇa) of all bodily and mental phenomena of existence, included in the 5 groups of existence, namely, corporeality, feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness; s. khandha.

Tranquillity, or concentration of mind, according to Saṅkhepavaṇṇana (Commentary to Abhidhammatthasaṅgaha), bestows a threefold blessing: favourable rebirth, present happy life, and purity of mind which is the condition of insight. Concentration (samādhi) is the indispensable foundation and precondition of insight by purifying the mind from the 5 mental defilements or hindrances (nīvaraṇa, q.v.), whilst insight (vipassanā) produces the 4 supra mundane stages of holiness and deliverance of mind. The Buddha therefore says: “May you develop mental concentration, o monks; for who is mentally concentrated, sees things according to reality” (S. XXII, 5). And in Mil. it is said: “Just as when a lighted lamp is brought into a dark chamber, the lamp-light Will destroy the darkness and produce and spread the light, just so will insight, once arisen, destroy the darkness of ignorance and produce the light of knowledge.”

Vis.M. III-XI gives full directions how to attain full concentration and the absorptions (jhāna, q.v.) by means of the following 40 meditation subjects (kammaṭṭhāna):

10 kasiṇa-exercises (s. kasiṇa). These produce the 4 absorptions

10 loathsome subjects (asubha, q.v.). These produce the 1st absorption.

10 Recollections (anussati, q.v.): of the Buddha (buddhānussati), the Doctrine (dhammānussati), the Brotherhood of the Noble Ones (saṃghānussati), morality, liberality, the heavenly beings, death (maraṇasati, q.v. ), the body (kāyagatāsati, q.v.), in-and-outbreathing (ānāpāna-sati, q.v.) and peace (upasamānussati, q.v.). Among these, the recollection (or mindfulness) of in-and-out breathing may produce all the 4 absorptions, that of the body the 1st absorption, the rest only neighbourhood-concentration (upacāra-samādhi, s. samādhi).

4 Sublime Abodes (brahma-vihāra, q.v.): loving-kindness, compassion, altruistic joy, equanimity (mettā, karuṇā, muditā , upekkhā). Of these, the first 3 exercises may produce 3 absorptions, the last one the 4th absorption only.

4 Immaterial Spheres (arūpāyatana, s. jhāna): of unbounded space, unbounded consciousness, nothingness, neither-perception-nor-non-perception. These are based upon the 4th absorption.

1 Perception of the Loathsomeness of Food (āhāre paṭikkūla-saññā), which may produce neighbourhood-concentration

1 Analysis of the 4 elements (catudhātu-vavatthāna, s. dhātu-vavatthāna), which may produce neighbourhood-concentration.

Mental development forms one of the 3 kinds of meritorious action (puñña-kiriya-vatthu, q.v.). ‘Delight in meditation’ (bhāvanā-rāmatā) is one of the noble usages (ariya-vaṃsa, q.v.) .

bhāvanā-bala: s. paṭisaṅkhāna-bala.

bhāvanā-maya-paññā: wisdom based on mental development’; s. paññā

bhavaṅga-santāna: ‘continuity of subconsciousness’; s. santāna

bhavaṅga-sota and bhavaṅga-citta: The first term may tentatively be rendered as the ‘undercurrent forming the condition of being, or existence’, and the second as ‘subconsciousness’, though, as will be evident from the following, it differs in several respects from the usage of that term in Western psychology. bhavaṅga (bhava-aṅga), which, in the canonical works, is mentioned twice or thrice in the Paṭṭhāna, is explained in the Abhidhamma commentaries as the foundation or condition (kāraṇa) of existence (bhava), as the sine qua non of life, having the nature of a process, lit. a flux or stream (sota). Herein, since time immemorial, all impressions and experiences are, as it were, stored up, or better said, are functioning, but concealed as such to- full consciousness, from where however they occasionally emerge as subconscious phenomena and approach the threshold of full consciousness, or crossing it become fully conscious. This so-called ‘subconscious life-stream’ or undercurrent of life is that by which might be explained the faculty of memory, paranormal psychic phenomena, mental and physical growth, kamma and rebirth. etc. An alternative rendering is ‘life-continuum’.

It should be noted that bhavaṅga-citta is a kamma-resultant state of consciousness (vipāka, q.v.), and that, in birth as a human or in higher forms of existence, it is always the result of good, or wholesome kamma (kusala-kamma-vipāka), though in varying degrees of strength (s. paṭisandhi, end of the article). The same holds true for rebirth consciousness (paṭisandhi) and death consciousness (cuti), which are only particular manifestations of subconsciousness. In Vis.M. XIV it is said:

“As soon as rebirth-consciousness (in the embryo at the time of conception) has ceased, there arises a similar subconsciousness with exactly the same object, following immediately upon rebirth-consciousness and being the result of this or that kamma (volitional action done in a former birth and remembered there at the moment before death). And again a further similar state of subconsciousness arises. Now, as long as no other consciousness arises to interrupt the continuity of the life-stream, so long the life-stream, like the flow of a river, rises in the same way again and again, even during dreamless sleep and at other times. In this way one has to understand the continuous arising of those states of consciousness in the life-stream.” Cf. viññāṇa-kicca. For more details, s. Fund. 11. (App.).

bhava-taṇhā: ‘craving for (eternal) existence’; s. taṇhā.

bhavāsava: ‘canker of existence’; s. āsava.

bhayatu paṭṭhāna-ñāṇa: ‘knowledge consisting in the awareness of terror’, is one of those kinds of insight-knowledge that form the ‘purification by knowledge and vision of the path-progress’ (s. visuddhi, VI.).

bhikkhu: A fully ordained disciple of the Buddha is called a bhikkhu. “Mendicant monk” may be suggested as the closest equivalent for “Bhikkhu”, literally it means “he who begs” but bhikkhus do not beg. They silently stand at the door for alms. They live on what is spontaneously given by the supporters. He is not a priest as he is no mediator between God and man. He has no vows for life, but he is bound by his rules which he takes of his own accord. He leads a life of voluntary poverty and celibacy. If he is unable to live the Holy Life, he can discard the robe at any time.

bhojane mattaññutā: ‘knowing the measure in eating’.

“Now, o monks, the monk wisely reflecting partakes of his almsfood, neither for pastime, nor for indulgence, nor to become beautiful or handsome, but only to maintain and support this body, to avoid harm and to assist the holy life, knowing: ‘In this way I shall dispel the former pain (of hunger, etc.) and no new pain shall I let arise, and long life, blamelessness and ease will be my share ‘ This, o monks, is knowing the measure in eating.” (A. III. 16). “How o monks, would it be possible for Nanda to lead the absolutely pure life of holiness, if he did not watch over his senses and did not know the measure in eating?” (A. VII, 9).

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