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Buddhist view of Mind and Body

By Panduka Mahanama
Courtesy : Vesak Lipi

All living beings according to the Buddha have a mind and body. The exceptions are those beings in the formless sphere - Arupa Loka. They have no body but only a mind. Those beings in the Asannasatta Brahma loka, have no mind but only a body. Theistic religions refer to an Atma or soul, which is permanent and has been gifted by an Almighty God who created this world and control the destiny of the human beings. Buddhism does not accept the existence of a soul. The mind controls human behaviour.

The body without the mind is a dead body. It cannot move even an inch or act without the mind. This shows the importance of the mind. Mind has been defined by the Buddha as a series of elements of thoughts, occurring only one at a time. Buddha has clearly shown that the mind is not something permanent but changes every moment. One element of thought has two major components, the Citta or consciousness and Cetasika, the associated mental factors. This is explained fully and clearly in the Abhidhamma, the most important and special teaching of The Buddha.

Most human beings spend much of their time in looking after the body. They spend time and energy in doing exercise, such as running, walking, swimming etc., to keep the body healthy. When sickness strikes, all go to the doctor and get advice and medicine to recover from that illness. Some illnesses like diabetes and heart conditions can be mind caused. Sick people often have to restrict their diet and take medication till they die. Most people are not aware that the mind is more important than the body and that the body is much influenced by the mind. The psychosomatic diseases are caused by an impure mind.

However much one cares for the body, it will decay with age and time. At time of death the mind leaves this body and gets reborn with another body, suitable for the place one is reborn. The place one is reborn depends on one's kamma or kamma nimitta which is the object of the death proximate thought series, maranasana cilia veethi. At death the body goes to decay but the last mind thought does not stop. It continues as a Karmic energy looking for a suitable mother's womb ie. to the next places of rebirth, until one becomes a non returner, an Arahat.

Fundamental Elements of Rupa
According to modern science the body is a collections of cells. The cells are not the final components of the body. The Buddha has explained that, matter in our bodies are formed of 'rupa', the fundamental elements of matter. They exists in groups called 'kalapa. The smallest kalapa is known as pure-octad called sudastaka. It is formed of four primary cells mahabuta rupa and four of their derivatives which are vanna, ganda, rasa and oja, or colour smell, taste and nutrients. The four fundamental elements of rupa are patavi, apo, thejo and voyo. Patavi is the quality of hardness or softness. Apo is the quality fluidity. Tejo is quality of heat and cold, and vayo is the quality of the air element.

Rupa or matter Buddha states are formed of four causes - kamma, citta, utu, and ahara. Kamma is the cetana or intentions of past thoughts. Citta are present thoughts. Utu is the climate (heat) and Ahara is the nutrient in the food one takes.Outside matter is only caused of utuja or heat. Our bodies have matter formed of all four causes, out of which, two are mind based. Namely kammaja and cittaja. This indicates the importance of controlling developing the mind, to have a healthy body.

The mind of an ordinary being is usually defiled by kilesa or akusala or unwholesome thoughts. They are caused by urwholesome mental factors called akusala cetasika. The roots of evil thoughts and actions are three unwholesome mental factors. They are Lobha or attachment, Dosa or resentment and Moha, ignorance of reality. Most beings in the kamavacara or sensuous planes seek happiness by enjoyment through the five senses. That enjoyment Buddha has stated lasts only for that moment or is not permanent. Hence leads to sorrow. Further they create akusala thoughts based mostly on lobha or attachment. Lord Buddha has advised those who are on the path to happiness to have restraint on the senses. This is called Indriya-samvara-sila. It will prevent the proliferation of akusala thoughts through senses. Contd>


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