MN 120: Saṅkhārūpapatti Sutta – Rebirth Based on Thought

Translated by Bhante Suddhāso
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Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Sāvatthi, at Jeta’s Grove, in Anāthapiṇḍika’s Park. There the Blessed One addressed the monks: “Monks.” “Auspicious sir,” those monks replied to the Blessed One. The Blessed One said this: “Monks, I will teach you about rebirth based on thought. Listen to this and carefully pay attention; I will speak.” “Yes, Bhante,” those monks replied to the Blessed One. The Blessed One said this:

“Monks, here a monk has faith, morality, learning, generosity, and wisdom. He thinks, ‘When I am separated from my body, after dying, may I be reborn as a wealthy aristocrat!’ He sets his mind to this, he resolves his mind on this, he develops his mind for this. Since his thoughts and behaviors are developed and frequently directed in this way, they lead to that kind of rebirth. Monks, this is the practice which leads to that kind of rebirth.

“Again, monks, a monk has faith, morality, learning, generosity, and wisdom. He thinks, ‘When I am separated from my body, after dying, may I be reborn as a wealthy brahmin!’ He sets his mind to this, he resolves his mind on this, he develops his mind for this. Since his thoughts and behaviors are developed and frequently directed in this way, they lead to that kind of rebirth. Monks, this is the practice which leads to that kind of rebirth.

“Again, monks, a monk has faith, morality, learning, generosity, and wisdom. He thinks, ‘When I am separated from my body, after dying, may I be reborn as a wealthy householder!’ He sets his mind to this, he resolves his mind on this, he develops his mind for this. Since his thoughts and behaviors are developed and frequently directed in this way, they lead to that kind of rebirth. Monks, this is the practice which leads to that kind of rebirth.

“Again, monks, a monk has faith, morality, learning, generosity, and wisdom. He has heard, ‘The angels in the realm of the Four Great Kings have longevity, beauty, and a lot of pleasure.’ He thinks, ‘When I am separated from my body, after dying, may I be reborn as an angel in the realm of the Four Great Kings!’ He sets his mind to this, he resolves his mind on this, he develops his mind for this. Since his thoughts and behaviors are developed and frequently directed in this way, they lead to that kind of rebirth. Monks, this is the practice which leads to that kind of rebirth.

“Again, monks, a monk has faith, morality, learning, generosity, and wisdom. He has heard, ‘The angels in the realm of the Thirty-Three… the angels of Time1… the angels of Contentment… the angels who delight in creating… the angels who control the creations of others have longevity, beauty, and a lot of pleasure.’ He thinks, ‘When I am separated from my body, after dying, may I be reborn as an angel who controls the creations of others!’ He sets his mind to this, he resolves his mind on this, he develops his mind for this. Since his thoughts and behaviors are developed and frequently directed in this way, they lead to that kind of rebirth. Monks, this is the practice which leads to that kind of rebirth.

“Again, monks, a monk has faith, morality, learning, generosity, and wisdom. He has heard, ‘The Brahmas of One Thousand have longevity, beauty, and a lot of pleasure.’ Monks, a Brahma of One Thousand is pervasive throughout and focused on one thousand worlds, as well as any beings that are reborn there. Monks, just as a person with eyes might pick up a piece of fruit in his hand and look at it, in the same way, monks, a Brahma of One Thousand is pervasive throughout and focused on one thousand worlds, as well as any beings that are reborn there. The monk thinks, ‘When I am separated from my body, after dying, may I be reborn as a Brahma of One Thousand!’ He sets his mind to this, he resolves his mind on this, he develops his mind for this. Since his thoughts and behaviors are developed and frequently directed in this way, they lead to that kind of rebirth. Monks, this is the practice which leads to that kind of rebirth.

“Again, monks, a monk has faith, morality, learning, generosity, and wisdom. He has heard, ‘The Brahmas of Two Thousand… Three Thousand… Four Thousand… Five Thousand…’ …Just as a person with eyes might pick up five pieces of fruit… He sets his mind to this, he resolves his mind on this, he develops his mind for this… Monks, this is the practice which leads to that kind of rebirth.

“Again, monks, a monk has faith, morality, learning, generosity, and wisdom. He has heard, ‘The Brahmas of Ten Thousand…’ …Just as a shining beryl gem, pure, eight-faceted, well-polished, and placed on a yellow cloth shines, radiates, and glows, in the same way, monks, a Brahma of Ten Thousand is pervasive throughout and focused on ten thousand worlds… He sets his mind to this, he resolves his mind on this, he develops his mind for this… Monks, this is the practice which leads to that kind of rebirth.

“Again, monks, a monk has faith, morality, learning, generosity, and wisdom. He has heard, ‘The Brahmas of One Hundred Thousand…’ …Just as a gold ring skillfully smelted and wrought by a master goldsmith and placed on a yellow cloth shines, radiates, and glows, in the same way, monks, a Brahma of One Hundred Thousand is pervasive throughout and focused on one hundred thousand worlds… He sets his mind to this, he resolves his mind on this, he develops his mind for this… Monks, this is the practice which leads to that kind of rebirth.

“Again, monks, a monk has faith, morality, learning, generosity, and wisdom. He has heard, ‘The Luminous Angels… the Limited-Luminosity Angels… the Immeasurable-Luminosity Angels… the Luminosity-Stream Angels have longevity, beauty, and a lot of pleasure.’ He thinks, ‘When I am separated from my body, after dying, may I be reborn as a Luminosity-Stream Angel!’ …Monks, this is the practice which leads to that kind of rebirth.

“Again, monks, a monk has faith, morality, learning, generosity, and wisdom. He has heard, ‘The Limited-Radiance Angels… the Immeasurable-Radiance Angels… the Pervasive-Radiance Angels have longevity, beauty, and a lot of pleasure.’ He thinks, ‘When I am separated from my body, after dying, may I be reborn as a Pervasive-Radiance Angel!’ …Monks, this is the practice which leads to that kind of rebirth.

“Again, monks, a monk has faith, morality, learning, generosity, and wisdom. He has heard, ‘The Vehapphala Angels… the Aviha Angels… the Atappa Angels… the Sudassa Angels… the Sudassi Angels… the Akaniṭṭha Angels have longevity, beauty, and a lot of pleasure.’ He thinks, ‘When I am separated from my body, after dying, may I be reborn as an Akaniṭṭha Angel!’ …Monks, this is the practice which leads to that kind of rebirth.

“Again, monks, a monk has faith, morality, learning, generosity, and wisdom. He has heard, ‘The angels in the domain of infinite consciousness… the angels in the domain of infinite space… the angels in the domain of nothingness… the angels in the domain of neither perception nor non-perception have longevity, beauty, and a lot of pleasure.’ He thinks, ‘When I am separated from my body, after dying, may I be reborn as an angle in the domain of neither perception nor non-perception!’ …Monks, this is the practice which leads to that kind of rebirth.

“Again, monks, a monk has faith, morality, learning, generosity, and wisdom. He thinks, ‘From the elimination of the corruptions, may I attain and dwell in the incorruptible mental liberation – liberation by wisdom – having personally realized it here and now with higher knowledge!’ He attains and dwells in the incorruptible mental liberation – liberation by wisdom – having personally realized it here and now with higher knowledge. Monks, this monk is not reborn anywhere.”

This is what the Blessed One said. Satisfied, those monks delighted in the Blessed One’s speech.

1 Yāma. This can also mean “restraint,” “death,” or “twin.” Since this particular variety of devas is only mentioned in passing in the suttas, and never explained in detail, it is not clear which meaning is intended.