Brahmavihara Dhamma

Part III by Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw

(53) How to practise to be liberated from entering into a womb

Then, kamesu – desirable sensation of kamaguna (sensual desires), gedham clinging pleasurable attachment called kamatanha, vinaya having been rejected by the knowledge of anagamimagga, or rather, when rejected, so – such a person after becoming a Sotapanna, will reach the stage of sakadagami-magga-phala if continuous contemplation is practised. Again, when further contemplation is carried on after becoming a Sakadagami, he will attain anagamimagga, which will totally eradicate kamatanha. He will then proceed to achieve anagami-phala to become an Anagami. An Anagami person, after his death, will be reborn in Suddhavasa Abode of the Brahma World. He becomes an inhabitant of Aviha Abode, the last of the five Suddhavasas. There are some who enter Parinibbana after achieving Arahatship. If he does not as yet become an Arahat in that abode. he will reach an abode called, Atappa after expiry of the life-span of one thousand kappas. There are some who, after attainment of Arahatship while living in that abode of Atappa, enter into Parinibbana. If Arahatship is not yet attained in that abode, after two thousand kappas of his life-span, he will be reborn in the abode of Sudassa There are instances where some who die at the end of their life span there after becoming Arahats. Again, if he still fails to attain Arahatship in that abode, he will meet with his death after four thousand kappas, and reach the abode of Sudassa There too, some might pass away, i.e. enter into Parinibbana after attaining Arahatship. Similar course of events will be gone through up to akanittha, the highest abode of Suddhavasa, where the life period runs very. long to the extent of sixteen thousand kappas. During this extraordinary length of lifetime, one will definitely become an Arahat and then finally enter into Parinibbana. Parinibbana means the Ultimate and complete cessation of all rupa-nama-khandhas on the demise of an Arahat. This is the last of his round of existences in samsara. All human passions and desirable attachment which bind mankind to existence and all that lead to rebirth, will be wholly extinct. This is the end of all miseries, a Blissful State, the lamp of life having been burnt out. On death, he will forever be released from becoming, thereby misery and suffering of old age, sickness and death, which are the concomitant effects of the life existence, will be escaped. It is the – absolute extinction of a being whereby eternal bliss is gained.

After reaching the abodes of Suddhavasa as stated, he comes to a road-end culminating in death known as Parinibbana. Human existence is no more for him and there is no likelihood of his entering into a mother’s womb. This has been elucidated in the following manner:

So – That a person who has achieved metta-jhana, “ditthinca anupagamma” – being undesirous of clinging to this attaditthi, nay, since attaditthi has been expelled by Vipassana knowledge, “silava” – is not only accomplished with the insight-knowledge of Vipassana. As such, “kamesu” – the sensations of sensual pleasures, “gedham” – to which the desires of kamatanha, human passions, are clinging, “vinaya”” – being rejected with anagami-magga-nana, nay, having been already rejected, “gabbhaseyyam” – formation of new existence which requires conception in a mother’s womb, “puna” – again, “na hi jati eti” – will not definitely take place, or in other words, he will enter into Parinibbana without again conceiving in a mother’s womb.

The gist of it is that jhana will be achieved by developing Metta through meditation. If Vipassana contemplation is made based upon this jhana, one will reach up to the stage of Anagami, and no further rebirth will therefore take place by entering into a mother’s womb. He, will be elevated to reach the Brahmaloka called Suddhavasa Abodes, and will become an Arahat, and from there, will enter into Parinibbana. The meaning of it is unambiguous up to that extent only. However, Lord Buddha wishes to see people reach the stage of arahatta-magga-phala even in the present life existence and attain the final goal of Nibbana on their demise. Therefore, based on the matter of pregnancy which would require conceiving in a mother’s womb, some hold the presumption that all new existences or rebirths have been rejected. It may be stated that this presumption appears appropriate since it falls in line with the wish of the Buddha. However, it is pretty difficult to make an interpretation to arrive at this meaning. In accordance with the expression – “kamesu,”, it may be possible to accept the transliteration as “the desirable rupa and arupa bhavas” without assuming the sense of the term “‘kamaguna”. Hence, the meaning of the last two phrases may be furnished as follows:

Kamesu. In respect of all desirable sensations, gedham – the clinging passionate attachment, tanha, vinaya – after rejecting with the four ariyamaggas, nay, since rejection has been made, gabbaseyya – coming into a new existence by entering into a mother’s womb such as, patisandhi (conception), puna – again, na hi jati eti – will not surely happen, nay, will enter into Parinibbana in this present life existence without having any more rebirths.

This explanation is in consonance with the wish of the Buddha though it is not in agreement with the usual translation from the viewpoint of grammar. It also conforms to the statement that the five hundred Bhikkhus who, after listening to this Metta Sutta Paritta, become Arahats through meditation (in the same year Vassa), and then it falls in line with the desanas, Noble Teachings, that it can reach up to the stage of Arahatta-magga-phala by Vipassana contemplation based upon metta-jhana. It is rational and natural and conventional too. This explanation, therefore, is considered to be most appropriate.