Is there any mind in the unconscious being of 4th Jhāna brahma realm?

Just curious, as I haven’t got the chance to properly ask this before. Now that this is a resource for commentaries, subcommentaries and abhidhamma, I want to ask if there’s any mind left of the 4 aggregates of mind for the unconscious beings in the 4th Jhāna brahma realm. There’s not much info about this in sutta.

How do they differ compared to a person in cessation of perception and feeling absorption?

Why don’t they get insight into Nibbāna if the two are roughly the same?


Being born in the asaññasatta bhumi is a result of
the fifth jhana - there is only rupa , no citta or cetasika during this entire duration.

Sammohavinodanī (dispeller of delusion vol II)

  1. Asaññasatta <425.23> (“of the non-percipient beings“): of the beings devoid of perception. For some, after going forth in a sectarian sphere and seeing a fault in consciousness because lusting, hating and being deluded depends upon consciousness, imagine that: ‘The consciousnessless state is good, this is nibbăna in the present existence; [521] and they generate the fading away of greed for perception and, developing the fifth attainment in conformity therewith, they are rebom there. At the moment of their rebirth the materiality aggregate alone is rebom. If he is rebom standing, he stands only; if rebom sitting, he sits only; if rebom lying down, he lies only. They remain for five hundred aeons like painted statues. At their end the material body vanishes; sense-sphere perception arises. Through the arising of that perception here [in this sphere] those deities notice that they have passed away from that [material] body

so it is a complete dead end - not nibbana , or the way to nibbana. No relation with nirodhasamapatti.


I agree that it doesn’t lead to Nibbāna. The thing is, if it’s also without 4 aggregates, is it not the same as cessation attainment? Only body, no mind.

This I think is important to clarify, in case some people who thinks of something after Parinibbāna would ask these differences as well. From the text you quoted, I would imagine they might say, since the “consciousnessless state is good, this is nibbāna” is false view or dead end, would it imply that parinibbāna is some sort of consciousness?

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Simply becuase the 4 khandas are absent does not mean that cessation attainment and Asaññasatta are the same.
A cat has 5 khandhas and so the Buddha - yet are they thus the same?

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. The term khandha parinibbana - utter cessation of the aggregates obviously includes vinanna (consciousness). But wrong view will grasp anything to justify itself even such a wrong sphere as this.
Take the Sallekha sutta:

The Eight Attainments
“It is possible here, Cunda, that quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, some bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the first jhāna, which is accompanied by applied and sustained thought, with rapture and pleasure born of seclusion. He might think thus: ‘I am abiding in effacement. ’ But it is not these attainments that are called ‘effacement’ in the Noble One’s Discipline: these are called ‘pleasant abidings here and now’ in the Noble One’s Discipline.

and so on with all the jhanas.
But all elements, jhana or not, need to be undersatood as anatta:

It is only Cunda, as to those various views that arise in the world associated either with doctrines of a self or with doctrines about the world: if the object in relation to which those views arise, which they underlie, and which they are exercised upon is seen as it actually is with proper wisdom thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self,’ then the abandoning and relinquishing of those views comes about.

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The mind and body of cat are different from Buddha. We can point to the absence of defilements, delusion for the Buddha and not for the cat.

For those with just body, the mind is absent, does the nature of the body holds the key to one has ignorance, and the other doesn’t? Or is there somewhere else that delusion is hiding if not in the 4 aggregates of mind?

What’s the abhidhammic model of the mind moments for those reborn into the Asaññasatta realm? Cut off like the cessation absorption? For the cessation absorption, the life faculty of the body seems to make the mind arise again.

So only for an arahant after death that there’s no body to “revive” the mind thus there’s total cessation without remainder.

Maybe it is the life faculty that records down if this mind has already attained to path and fruit?

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It is just that the unusual result of this kind of jhana development is rebirth in that bhumi.
The 4 asava (kamasava, bhavasava, dithasava and avijjasava) remain the same as the day that the result of being reborn in the asaññasatta bhumi, and once that existence ends they are reborn in a 5 khandha existence with all the asava once again functioning as they have always done in samsara…

For the arahat who attains nirodhasamapatti there are already no asava . Once they exit that attainment there is just the normal process of mind (asava free of course).

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asaññasatta beings do not have any consciousness because there are no bases. There are kammaja rūpa kalāpas present though… it is jīvitindriyanavaka kalāpa (not sure the name is correct, but it is jīvitindriya as the 9th). The cause is 5th jhāna in the previous life.
The perceived amount of life would not exist. So it does not matter how long you get to live there.

It is like closing your eyes for a moment and waking up 500 aeons in the future. You can miss a Buddha or his teachings, and so it is considered a wasted life, especially with 5 jhāna pāramī to get there in the first place. It is also considered a waste to go to the arūpa realms for the same reasons. Not sure where it is written, but they are considered as “dangerous” because you can miss your chance to hear the dhamma.

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This realm is widely talked about and a great example where the Suttas briefly mention something that is briefly mentioned in the mūla texts, as you mentioned.

Google easily knows this and it is in books. It would be good if you should said, “I was curious about this topic and found this answer, is this correct? If so, we are very lucky that the commentaries and abhidhamma have been preserved and properly explain what is glossed over in the suttas.”

The asaññasatta being is a great example of how the bases are causes for consciousness, and how they do not have those causes, but they still have kamma for future lifespans. This circles back to what the basic teachings mention about the bases and arammaṇa and viññāṇa.

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Other moments where there’s no mind would include the cessation of perception and feeling, after the death of an arahant and close to or actual fruition attainment?

Question, when there’s no mind, there’s no experience, how does one know there’s a gap there of cessation at fruition attainment when no mind is in the gap to see it? of couse there’s the knowledge mind which arises afterwards… maybe it’s that the knowledge mind is conditioned to arise only at those conditions?

I just read some practise book by Burgs, where he posited a dhammakaya, which is bare awareness where the mind and body appears to, and this is the witness to cessation that is nibbana. And it’s what remains after parinibbāna. And dhammakaya not nibbana itself. He reasoned that there must be some witness to cessation or else no mind how to have experience.

Sad thing is, his books are great and he even studied the Theravada abhidhamma when he was young. Although from his biography, he did studied it alone, in an island, by himself, meditating and reading it for months.

Maybe he got it wrong or is influenced by tibetan teaching later.

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This type of speech makes me raise one or both of my eyebrows.

The arahant has no khandas that arise again after death…never and never ever. This is is a classical theravada teaching and “fundamental teaching”. There is nothing outside of the 5 khandas. You can read this post here: Does The Buddha live in Nibbana - American Buddhist Monk: Bhante Subhūti

Uneducated self righteous young monks and lay people alike believe this fundamental is ucchedadiṭṭhi. They have even publicly criticized an abhivaṃsa pa-auk meditation teacher once. Like… you don’t get much higher than that. But somehow, they think they know better than such highly educated and practical practice monks.

As for Burgs… I know him very well and have known him when he was starting at pa-auk, which makes about 23 years in a few days. I have only read his autobiographical book which he sent to me, but not the others. A couple of monks have told me he strays from the classical theravada teachings. I just have not had a lot of time to read his other stuff.

As far as I know, only the determination that the anagami or arahant makes, “knows” the determined time or proper other occasions times to emerge from nirodha samapatti. Since there is no mind, it cannot know.

Fruition attainment is different. This is when the mind takes nibbāna as the object. There is sati present during this consciousness. You can read about it in the abhidhammattasaṅgha.

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Yes, I read that and many others.

Don’t worry, I am actually debating with others on this issue.

It seems that I was right in declaring that: “The only time(s) without mind are in the Asaññasattāvāso, cessation of perception and feelings, and parinibbana.”

I think I got confused by a comment of a fellow young monk here who talked about attainment got a bit of lost awareness, then I go back to read Bhante Aggacitta’s new book:

He did said the fruition and path apparent cessation has the mind aware that it wasn’t aware or something like that. Thus still some mind there.

I wasn’t very well versed in the classical Theravada teachings on this. Thanks for helping to clarify.

Cool that you knew Burgs. It’s so sad that such a talent get into wrong view. He got it better than a lot of mahayana practitioner as he did declared parinibbāna is not dhammakaya but cessation. And those who just are content with dhammakaya would be reborn again until they fall off it or get sick of it and choose to be liberated. Which is what I think what would actually happen to those Mahayana practitioners who personally think samsara=nibbana and that’s it. They wish to come back to the world and help sentient beings. Indeed they would be able to, since they are not even a stream winner, just that whatever state they get to, it’s impermanent, there’s a danger of falling from there and they become helpless suffering sentient beings again, instead of their level of samadhi protecting them from seeing suffering as concrete. So they suffer less.

I am amazed at the number of different wrong views about something after parinibbāna. Burgs is higher level than a lot of mahayana practitioner, and he might not be similar to B. Bodhi as well.

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Glad to see you explaining the orthodox (true) position Venerable.