Om arapacana dhîh

Discussion on the Intermediate State
in the Mahâvibhâsha

Translated from the Chinese version by Xuanzang
Apidamo da pibosha lun, T 1545, vol. 27, p. 356-64
玄奘譯阿毘達磨大毘婆沙論卷第六十九-七十
結蘊第二中有情納息第三之七-八

– Why have the venerable ones included a discussion about the intermediate state 中有 in this varga (納息 category) ?
– In order to put an end to heresies and manifest the right view. Indeed, some, like the Vibhâjyavâdins 分別論者, maintain that birth in the three worlds does not imply any intermediate state. Others explain that it is sure that birth in the Worlds of Desire and Form imply an intermediate state : such is the view of the Logicians ( ? 應理論者).
– What, then, are the criteria of the Vibhâjyavâdins allowing them to assert the non-existence of the intermediate state ?
– They refer to textual evidence 至教量 by quoting a sûtra 契經 which says that one who has committed one of the five actions « with immediate retribution » 五無間業 will for sure be immediately reborn in hell. This immediate rebirth in hell is a clear proof of the non-existence of any intermediate state. A gâthâ 伽他 says :
« You who are reborn today, you quit your lofty position
And utterly decline to approach Yamarâja 琰魔王.
You’d like to go forwards but have no provisions 資量,
And if you want to rest in between, you’ll find no place to stop over. »
This « no place to stop in between » 中間無所止處 allows them to ascertain the non-existence of this intermediate state.
Answering to our objections, they also prove 說過難證 this non-existence saying : as there is no gap between a form and its reflection 影光中無間隙, in the same way there is no gap between death and rebirth. How do you, Logicians, they say, prove the existence of an intermediate state with valid criteria ?
– We use a valid cognition derived from an authoritative text which says that « the one who enters its mother’s womb must have a direct experience of three things : 1) the mother’s body must be in time and fit 時調適 ; 2) father and mother must unite ; and 3) the gandharva 健達縛 must appear right in front of them. » So, what gandharva could it be if not a being in the intermediate state ? Who or what could make this experience once the previous aggregates are destroyed ? A being in the intermediate state is thus referred to as the gandharva.
Moreover, since texts mention « parinirvâna in between » 中般涅槃, if there is no intermediate state, how is such a parinirvâna possible ?
Another text reads : « When this body is destroyed and the next is not yet born, a mental sentient being, stopped by desire, engages in appropriation. » 意成有情依止於愛而設施取。
If the Bhagavân spoke thus, we can be definitely sure that there must be an intermediate state. If it were not the case, what would this « mental sentient being » refer to ?
Moreover, their denial can be countered by other evidences, for instance : if an individual dies here [in Jambudvîpa] to be reborn in the Northern Continent of Uttarakuru, etc. 北俱盧等, and if there is nothing like an intermediate state, there will be an interruption between the destruction of its present body and the birth in the next one. In that case, the next body would exist unpreceded and this one would be nothing in spite of its existence – thus goes the nature of things 法亦應爾. What basically does not exist would exist and the existing would return to nothingness. But as such defect is impossible, we have another evidence of the necessary existence of the intermediate state.

– Explain to us then, Logicians who admit the existence of the intermediate state, how you can show that the Vibhâjyavâdins are wrong even though they refer to an authoritative text.
– The text they quote does not have a definitive meaning 不了義 and obviously shows a particular intention 有別義趣 in that, when describing the five greatest crimes, it denies other realms and karmas but not the intermediate state. It denies other realms in that the « criminals » can only fall in hell and cannot go into any other realm of existence. Those who have committed one of the five greatest crimes can only, at the moment of death, fall into naraka 捺落迦. As for « denying other karmas », the immediate karmic result 無間業 refers in this case to the next life 順次生 and not to this one 順現, nor to the lives following the next one 順後次. These crimes have such a strength that at the moment of death it is sure that the dead will fall into naraka where he or she will endure retribution. Such is the intended meaning of this text. If we were to take this text litterally, we would have to admit that the five of those crimes have to be committed to fall immediately into hell, whereas it is the case if only one, two, three or four of them are committed. Moreover, this « immediate » fall in hell would have to happen just at the second instant after the effective accomplishment of the crimes. But we have heard of individuals who fell into hell one century after they committed such a crime. So one must not hold to the letter of the text in order to cling to the non-existence of the intermediate state. The previously quoted gâthâ can be explained in the same way inasmuch as it denies other realms and karmic consequences but not the existence of the intermediate state.
– How do you, Logicians, explain the Vibhâjyavâdins’ objection and affirm the positive existence of the intermediate state ?
– Their objection is not valid because it does not pertain to the Three Baskets, as the dharma of the ordinary people is not the dharma of the wise and sublime beings. One must not use vulgar truths in order to object to the truth of sublime beings. Otherwise, one would have to admit the validity of invalid examples, and that would bring no evidence 若必須通應說喻 過喻,既有過為證不成。Thus it is not possible to compare a form and its reflection with sentient beings who belong to a totally different category : what relationship is there between something deprived of sense faculties and mind, and something endowed with life and death ? Moreover, if form and reflection are simultaneous, how could death and rebirth happen at exactly the same time ? Moreover, this very example of form and reflection having no gap in between is a good proof of the existence of the intermediate state, because this absence of a gap in between describes the immediacy of the intermediate state after death, and the same thing related to the intermediate state and conception. So we can see that there is an intermediate state.
– How can the Vibhâjyavâdins still hold on to the non-existence of the intermediate state if they understand the textual interpretation of the sûtra by the Logicians ?
– If a text has no definitive meaning, it has to be interpreted. Such is the case with the text mentioning the three things (i.e. mother, sexual union and presence of a gandharva). Here, the gandharva is not a musician with a drum, etc., but an aggregate (or a set) of mental factors 蘊行. Because of this aggregate of mental factors, the Logicians explain that, either called gandharva or mental factors, this is a proof of the existence of the intermediate state. Besides, what could it denote if not a set of mental factors ?
But the Vibhâjyavâdins answer objectingly :
– You say that the four kinds of birth 四生 necessarily follow an intermediate state. Concerning births from a womb or an egg, the three things of the above quoted sûtra are possible, but how could they work for births through humidity or miracle 濕化二生 ? So your quote is no sufficient proof.
To that the Logicians answer :
– The explanation with the three things has been given [by the Buddha] according to his listeners. The idea of being valid for the four kinds of birth has come afterwards in the minds of those who are searching proofs against the existence of the intermediate state 三事入胎隨應而說,誰令三事要遍四生?
非設此言便遮中有。
The Vibhâjyavâdins explain the second quote as follows :
– You say there are « intermediate gods » who enter nirvâna while in that [intermediate state] 有中天住彼入滅, and that is what the sûtra calls « parinirvâna in between » 中般涅槃. This can fit in the case of those [non-returners] who leave the World of Desire and enter nirvâna before they have reached the World of Form. But the same name applies not only to all those who have the same karma to be reborn in the World of Form 受色界眾同分 and enter nirvâna within a short period of time, but also to those who have been reborn in the World of Form and enter nirvâna before their span of life has been exhausted 壽量未盡而入滅. Therefore this name is no proof of the existence of the intermediate state.
They also ask the Logicians where has the Buddha spoken of « intermediate gods » 中天 ? The texts only mention twenty-eight classes of gods, beginning with the Four Great Kings and going up until the gods in the sphere of Neither Perception Nor Non-Perception, but no « intermediate gods ». Since they also mention « parinirvâna during life [in the World of Form] » 生般涅槃, you should also admit the existence of gods called « life » who enter nirvâna while in that [intermediate state]. Furthermore, as sûtras also speak of [non-returners] « who enter parinirvâna through practice » [in the World of Form] 有行般涅槃, etc. up to those « who enter parinirvâna through progressing higher and higher » 上流般涅槃, you’ll have to admit the existence of gods called « who practice », etc., up to « who progress higher and higher ». Therefore, since there are no gods with such names, how could there be gods called « intermediate » ?
[The Vibhâjyavâdins go on arguing :] Neither is logical your assertion that « those who enter parinirvâna in between » refer to the [non-returners] who have left the World of Desire but have not yet reached the Realm of Form because, as there is no intermediate state, in what bodily support could they enter parinirvâna ? Your assertion is empty of reality. The same applies to the other definitions you give of « attaining parinirvâna in between » because those who have the karma to be reborn in the World of Form but have not yet reached the time to do so and enter parinirvâna are precisely the beings described as « those who enter parinirvâna during life [in the World of Form] ». Moreover, you’d have to admit that there are individuals who « enter parinirvâna in between » in the Formless World, since there are some who have been reborn there and enter nirvâna before long as their « knots » (or « bonds », 結 samyojana) are exhausted. But if it were the case, one should also say that the Formless World is a place for the « seven good brave ones » 七善士 – which would contradict the sûtras, because those non-returners only go to the World of Form [except the so-called highest samâdhi-loving non-returners in the Peak of Existence 有頂樂定不還]. Finally, your calling « having reached parinivâna in between » the [non-returners] who enter nirvâna before the end of their span of life in the World of Form is neither logical, because many sentient beings experience untimely death 夭, with the exception of the human inhabitants of Uttarakuru and the bodhisattvas experiencing their last rebirth from Tushita heaven 都史多天. All the others who enter nirvâna with untimely death should be called « having reached parinirvâna in between » – then the thing would not be exclusive to the non-returners in the World of Form, and that goes against logics.
Going through the third quote, they say that « mental sentient being » 意成有情 refers to a being in the Formless World. They tell the story of a religious Vâtsîputrîya Brahmacârin 出家犢子梵志 who, bereft of the stains of the World of Desire 已離欲染, had obtained the power of the divine eye 得天眼通. He had a fellow student who had already left the stains of the World of Form 色染 and, before the end of his present life, had been reborn in the Formless World. The Vâtsîputrîya Brahmacârin used his divine eye but could not see his friend either in the World of Desire nor in the World of Form. He therefore thought that he must have been annihilated 斷滅. In order to clarify his doubts, he went to the Buddha and told him : « Venerable Gautama, for one who wants to attain liberation, when the present body has been destroyed and the next one has not yet been born, on what dharmas does the mental sentient being take support in order to engage into appropriation ? » The Bhagavân answered : « You should know, Brahmacârin, that after death and before rebirth, a mental sentient being can engage into appropriation by taking support on desire (愛 thirst for becoming, trishnâ). What the Buddha meant was : « The fact that your fellow student, when he was dead in this life and wanted to be reborn in the Formless World, has engaged into appropriation with the support of desire, only means he has not been annihilated 非謂斷滅. »
The Logicians explain this by saying that the expression « mental sentient being » (ssk. manomayasattva) used in the text has many meanings. It may go for the intermediate state, the manifestation body 化身, the first human beings in a kalpa 劫初人, or the two upper worlds 上二界.
– So, [they ask the Vibhâjyavâdins,] how can you know it refers to the Formless World and not to the intermediate state ?
The Vibhâjyavâdins answer :
– How can you know it refers to the intermediate state and not to the Formless World ?
– Precisely because of this text 即以此經 which says that when this body is destroyed and the next one has not yet been born, a mental sentient being engages into appropriation with the support of desire 依愛立取. When this body is destroyed and the next one has not yet been born, tell us where else than in the intermediate state could this mental sentient being find itself. It is impossible that the expression « has not yet been born » 未生 goes for the Formless World. Your way of understanding this text is definitely not logical 定不應理.
Someone asks the Vibhâjyavâdins :
– How can you explain this position of the Logicians who answer to your objections and still assert the existence of the intermediate state ?
– In the process of going from death to birth, there must be some way of gaining a new life in order to abandon the previous one, in the same way *Câruka 折路迦 was walking along the grass and trees : placing first the front foot and only then moving the rear one. That is why there is no interruption between death and rebirth 死生中無斷過.
The Logicians say that this statement is very mistaken. They explain that when a human being is going to be reborn in hell, (s)he must first get the aggregates of a denizen of hell, and only then can (s)he abandon his/her human aggregates. If things happened like you say, the destination would be defective and the body it supports would also be defective 若爾趣壞所依身 壞 ; two minds would be simultaneous within one body. By « defective destination » we mean that one would pertain at the same time to both the realm of hells and the human realm. « Defective body » : a simultaneously hellish and human twofold body. « Two minds in one body » 一身內二心俱生 : the simultaneity of the mind at the moment of death and the mind at the moment of birth. If two minds arise within one sentient being, his or her body cannot be one. Thus we can see that the Vibhâjyavâdins’ proposition does not release them from our objection.
– If these two commentators [of the Three Baskets] say, or hold on to, two opposite opinions about the intermediate state, which one is the best ?
– The explanation of the Logicians is the best. Their opponents do not understand the textual authority nor what has been answered to their objections. The Vibhâjyavâdins are just experiencing the fruit of ignorance, the fruit of darkness, the fruit of non-recognition and the fruit of their not having eagerly practiced. That is why they reject the existence of the intermediate state. This state is a reality in accordance with the essence and attributes of realities. We have thus debated in order to stop heresies and show the perfect logics of our school [i.e. Sarvâstivâda]. Moreover, it was not only to stop them and expose our views, but also to manifest the truth about everything and enlighten students.

– Are all manners of intermediate state included in the realms or not ? What are the defects of these two alternatives ? Indeed, if they are icluded in the [five] realms of existence, one must theoretically explain why. This would mean that the five realms include the four births and/or the four births include the five realms.
– The four births include the five realms but the five realms do not include the four births. And if they do not include them [the births ?], in what does it mean that they do not include the intermediate state ? How does the Dharmaskandhashâstra [by Shâriputra] understand this point ? On could ask in the same way as this treatise : « What is the realm of the eye ? »
– [It includes] the eye as a pure form derived from the four elements, and the eye faculty (organ), the eye source, the eye realm (or element), the eyes of the denizens of hell, animals, hungry ghosts, gods and men, the eyes obtained through practice, and the eyes of beings in the intermediate state.
– Then, how does the Prakaranapâda [by Vasumitra] understand this point ? One could ask in the same way as this treatise : « What is the the eye faculty ? »
– A pure forme derived from the four elements which can look and see the realm of the eye and the sources of vision included in (= pertaining to) the eye (or visual) faculty.
– Then, if the eyes of the denizens of hell, animals, hungry ghost, gods and men, as well as the remaining eyes, such as the eyes of beings in the intermediate state, are not included in the realms of existence, how shall we understand what the venerable Dharadatta 達羅達多1 explains when he says, for instance, that « the intermediate state belongs to the realm one is heading for 中有趣向彼趣即彼趣攝, in the same way as a sprout of rice which is not yet rice can be called rice » ? This means that the intermediate state, leading to all realms of existence, is included in (or belongs to) all realms of existence.
– If that is what Dharadatta means and we understand him correctly, how shall we understand what is explained in the Prajñaptishâstra [by Maudgalyâyana] ?
– The Prajñaptishâstra must explain it this way : The four births and five realms mutually integrate little by little according to categories and species. If such is not the case, one should know this text is faulty.
– Then, what about the Dharmaskandhashâstra ?
– It should explain that it will not mention again all the kinds of eyes we saw before but pay special attention to the eyes of beings in the intermediate state as belonging to the realms of existence in terms of their peculiar subtlety. Like the general of the robbers who belongs to the gang but whose crimes are heavier : when admonishing the robbers, their general must be admonished with more strength. Or like women, who are more sensitive to desire and therefore sin more because of desire, should be admonished with more alacrity than men when it is time to rid people of the defects of desire. The same happens with the intermediate state : it belongs to the realms of existence but because of its subtlety it must be shown in a peculiar way. Thus can we understand what the Dharmaskandha means when saying that the intermediate state does not belong to the realms of existence.
– If thus we should understand the Dharmaskandha, what about Dharmatrâta’s statement ?
– He must not be taken literally because his works are not part of the Three Baskets. Stanzas are sometimes right, sometimes wrong, and Dharadatta is a stanza writer. Many a word of his exceeds the real and must not be clung to. One should look for his intention in order to understand what he really means : that beings in the intermediate state have a shape (appearance) analogous to the general appearance of the beings in the realm they are heading for. This means that a being in the intermediate state on its way to hell will have a hellish figure, etc. The same for those heading for the human realm of existence. Nevertheless, a being in the intermediate state does not belong to any of the five realms.
Some critical remarks : the second thesis is valid, because a « realm » refers here to a destination, the place where one is going to, and the intermediate state is no destination in itself in the same way a road is not a goal in itself. Moreover, the realms are not disorderly (confused) but the intermediate state is. Therefore the intermediate state is not one of the five realms. Furthermore, the realms are fixed, and the intermediate state is not, like wind, sun, or flame : thus the intermediate state is not one of the five realms.
Again, if the realms of existence are effects (results, consequences), the intermediate state is a cause, and as a cause is not its effect, the intermediate state is not one of the realms. In the same way a cause is not an effect, the doer is not the done, the taker is not the taken, nor the goer the place he or she is going to. All that should be well known. Furthermore, everything in the realms of existence is « visible » (gross), but in the intermediate state is invisible (subtle) 相麤相細 : the subtle being invisible, the intermediate state is not one of the realms of existence. In the same way the subtle is not visible, the subtle cannot be seen. What is not crisp and clear is not crisp and clear : this should be well understood.
Moreover, the intermediate state taking place between two realms (or destinations) of existence, it is neither one nor the other. Like spaces between fields, cities, or worlds are not part of the fields, etc. Moreover, as realms are attracted by the good and bad actions done in the basic (here = previous) existence(s), and their preparatory karma is attracted by the intermediate state 彼加行業招於中有 since their causes are different, realms and intermediate state are not mutually inclusive.

– In what world, level, or realm does the intermediate state take place ?
– To this question some answer the following :
There is no intermediate state for the beings with a violent (strong) karma, but it takes place for those with a slow and blunt karma. So, heavens and hells « have » no intermediate state because of the strength of the karma they imply. Men, animals and hungry ghosts sometimes have an intermediate state, sometimes not, since their karma is not fixed [in terms of strength or softness].
Some say sentient beings born miraculously do not have any intermediate state because of the strength of their karma. « Three lives » [三生 before arhatship] sometimes have an intermediate state and sometimes not, because their karma is not fixed.
Some other teachers say those who call for rebirth through actions with fixed results will have no intermediate state, and those who call for it through actions with uncertain effects will have an intermediate state.
One must say that birth in the Worlds of Desire and Form have an intermediate state, because these different places are set in a continuity (or series) which is not interrupted by the becoming-of-death nor the becoming-of-birth 連續處別死有 生有令不斷故.
– Why is it sure that [rebirth in] the Formless World has no intermediate state ?
– Because it is not a vase nor a field 田器 for such a state. Dharmas with form are such fields and vases, but a rebirth in the Formless World has no form whatsoever. Furthemore, we have just seen that the continuity of the different places [for existence] was not interrupted by death and rebirth, and that allowed for the existence of the intermediate state ; as there is no such thing as a « different place » in the Formless World, no intermediate state is possible in that condition.
Moreover, if worlds, levels and realms 界地處 depend on two kinds of karmic retribution, there must be an intermediate state. These two kinds of karmic effects can be : 1) immediate karmic results, and 2) results in the next life ; or 1) immediate retribution, and 2) full maturation effect [I don’t understand well the differnce between 受業 and 異熟] ; or 1) subtle karmic results, and 2) gross karmic results. However, as in the Formless World there is only one kind of karmic retribution, then intermediate state is impossible in that condition – and this retribution can only be of the « next life » type 順生有受業乃至 順麤果業.
Moreover, if these places are conditioned by fundamental karmic retributions [i.e. the full maturation effects of killing, stealing and sexual misconduct] and results derived from practice, there can be an intermediate state. In the Formless World, one only gets retributions of fundamental actions, thus there is no intermediate state.
Moreover, if two kinds of of karmic results are possible, the intermediate state is also possible. These are : 1) karmic results with form, and 2) karmic results without form ; or 1) karmic results similar to their cause, and 2) karmic results not similar to their cause 相應不相應業 ; or 1) karmic results with support, and 2) karmic results without support ; or 1) karmic results with object, and 2) karmic results without object ; or 1) compounded karmic results, and 2) uncompounded karmic results ; or 1) karmic results with precaution, and 2) karmic results without precaution (? 有警覺無警覺).
As in the Formless World, one gets the full maturation results of only one type of karma, there is no intermediate state. This one type of karma ranges from the karmic results without form to karmic results of actions done with precaution.
Moreover, there must be an intermediate state if the worlds, levels, and realms get the full maturation results of the actions of the subject and object of the realm of existence. Now, in the Formless World, one only gets the full maturation effect of the the destination karma, so it is not preceded by any intermediate state. It should be known that the case is the same with the subject of destination and continuation, and their objects – whereto and along what.
Moreover, the intermediate state is possible if the world, level, and realm are full maturation effects of physical, verbal, and mental actions. Thus there is no intermediate state before rebirth in the Formless World, because it is only the full maturation effect of mental actions.
Moreover, the same reasoning applies with the positive actions of the five aggregates : as the Formless World results from only four aggregates [excluding the aggregate of form], it cannot be preceded by any intermediate state. The same applies with the ten positive actions : the Formless World results from the last three of them [of mind] : no intermediate state. The same applies with the black-black, white-white, and black-and-white actions. As neither can result in the Formless World, there is no intermediate state before that condition. The same applies with the « fresh and white » causes and effects (? 鮮白因果). The Formless World has such causes but no such effects, so it is not preceded by an intermediate state. And the same applies with coming and going : as there are no such movements in the Formless World, rebirth in that condition is not preceded by any intermediate state.
[359b 6-16] If one dies here and is reborn here [the same place ? 若此處死還生此處 I don’t understand], as we have heard ? ? ? 如聞有死生自屍中既無去來, why would an intermediate state be necessary ? Both becomings [or states, i.e. death and birth] would not interrupt the continuity ?
When a sentient being is dead, it can be reborn in the lower realms, or in the human realm, or amongst gods, or it can enter parinirvâna. If it is going to be reborn in the lower realms, its consciousness disappears 滅 in its feet ; in the human realm, it disappears in its navel ; among heavenly gods, in its head ; and if it is going to enter parinirvâna, in the heart.
The dead and ? ? ? commit suicide by poisoning etc.( ? ? ? 諸有死已生自屍中為蟲等者) as long as they are not dead, they love their own face (自面 themselves ?) very much, and so, when they are dead, they (simultaneously ?) are reborn on ( ?) their face ( ? ? ? 故彼死已生自面上). So, they come from their feet and are reborn on their face : if there were no intermediate state, who could continue ( ? !) There are no dying and being reborn in the same place 無此處死還生此處. Because, in order to leave this body and get another body, ther must be a shift (a moving 移轉). If that were possible, there would be no form, and therefore the Formless World is definitely not preceded by an intermediate state ( ? 設有是事無色亦無故無色界定無中有).
– Those who die in the Formless World and are going to be reborn in the World of Form can directly see 現前 the intermediate state according to their future rebirth, so there is no kind of future : then, what is the use of an intermediate state ?
– They have made, before, actions that attract their intermediate state. Even if there is no [projection in the] future, they are pulled by the strength of this intermediate state and will follow it.

– Can one change the intermediate state or not 可轉不 ?
– Yes, the Dârshtântikas [譬喻者 the future Sautrântikas] say, it is possible because all karmas can be changed. If the karma of the five « immediate crimes » can be changed, so much the intermediate state. If the five greatest crimes could not be changed, those who have committed them [i.e. everyone] could never overpass the Peak of Existence (應無有能出過有頂 or Summit of Becoming). As the positive karma [that leads] to the Peak of Existence is most sublime [according to the Lesser Vehicles], there must be individuals who can overpass that Peak. Thus the five greatest crimes can be changed 故無間業亦可移轉.
– The Âbhidharmikas 阿毘達磨諸論者 say that the intermediate state cannot be changed in terms of world 界, realm 趣, nor place [處 within a realm] because the karmic results in the intermediate state are very powerful 極猛利.
– If you say that the intermediate state cannot be changed in terms of the world [it leads to], [it means that] you have not understood the story of the bhikshu who was born in a [high] caste and became a monk of the Buddha. He did not attend to many teachings and only stayed in an aranya (阿練若 forest retreat), firlmy keeping his vows and enjoying dhyâna 寂靜. Because of causes created in past lives, he practiced « mundane samâdhis » 世俗定, and thought that by achieving the first mundane dhyâna 起世俗初靜慮, he woud reach the fruit of Entering the Stream 預流果, etc., and that if he achieved the fourth mundane dhyâna, he would gain the fruit of arhatship 阿羅漢果. Such was the pride of his whole life : he called an achievement what he did not achieve, a finding what he did not find, an understanding what he did not understand, and a realisation what he did not realise : thus he did not look for further progress. At the moment of his death, he saw the intermediate state of the Fourth Dhyâna Heaven, and thought : « Having cut all the bounds forever, I shall pass into parinirvâna and never be born again. Why do I have this experience of the intermediate state ? If one follows wrong views, one denies liberation. If liberation exists, I must have reached it. » Because of the wrong view of criticizing nirvâna, the intermediate state leading to the Fourth Dhyâna Heaven disappeared and the monk experienced the intermediate state leading to Avîci hell. His life ended and he was reborn in that hell. This is an example of how the intermediate state can change in terms of realms. How can you think differently ?
– This change happened when he was still alive. So we are right. The monk did not see his future intermediate state, but he just had signs of his next rebirth, etc.
– Now if you deny the possibility of change in terms or the realms of existence themselves, what do you understand of the story of those men who did good and bad actions ? The story goes there were two men in the kingdom of Shrâvasti : the one was always practicing virtue and the other always practicing non-virtue, to the point that for their whole life the good-doer never did anything wrong, and the wrong-doer never did anything good. When the time came for the good-doer to die, the negative karmic results he had to experience during his second next life [not the next one, but the one after] were so strong that he suddenly had a vision of the intermediate state that precedes a rebirth in hell. He thought : « During my whole life, I have always done positive things, never did I commit any wrong. I should then take birth in the realm of gods : why does this hellish intermediate state appear to me ? » Thinking of that, he said : « It certainly means that the bad karmic effects I’ll have to experience within two lives are ripe today and thus appear to me in the form of this hellish intermediate state. » Then he remembered all the good he had done during this ending life and deeply rejoiced at it. Because of this superiorly positive thoughts, the hellish intermediate state dissolved and suddenly the intermediate state that precedes a rebirth among the gods appeared to him. Then his life ended and he was reborn in a heaven.
As for the bad-doer, when his last moments arrived, he had the opposite vision : the karma causing his after-next rebirth was so positive that he had a sudden vision of a heavenly intermediate state. So he thought : « I’ve done negative things during all this life, and I should be reborn in hell ; why do I have such a vision ? » Then he allowed wrong views to arise, and rejected good, bad, and the full maturation effects of acts. « And should this story of the retribution of good and bad be true, I’ll never comply with it ! » So, because of the strength of this wrong view that denies karmic causality, the vision of the heavenly intermediate state disappeared as suddenly as the vision of the hellish intermediate state manifested. Therefore, his life came to an end and he was reborn in hell. Isn’t it a proof that the intermediate state can change in terms of realms ?
– This change happened when the men were still alive and not when they were in the intermediate state : this does not contradict our position. When sentient beings reach the end of their lives, they have signs of their next rebirth, do they wish it or not 有愛非愛生相現前. This we can read in the sûtras, for instance : when a practitioner who has trained in virtue reaches the end of his life, he sees wonderful palaces and pavilions, gardens, woods, ponds, etc., as well as dancers and musicians carrying incense and flowers, nice rows of richly adorned carts, etc., and all those behave as if they were welcoming him. But the one who has done wrong all his life sees at that time deep gorges and ravines, moats of blazing fires with smoke, knife-mountains and sword-trees, shrubs with poisonous thorns, foxes, wolves, wild dogs 野干 and cats, and graves ; dirty and bad crowds seem like approaching to welcome him [etc., etc., like in the previous story. Don’t know which sûtra they come from…]
If  the intermediate state cannot change in terms of places, then how do you understand the story of « Solid Shadow » 影堅 ? He was an ancient king of Magadha who accumulated positive acts which allowed him to be reborn in Tushita. When he was dead, on his way to Tushita, his intermediate state body passed along the Bahushrutîya heavenly abodes on the slopes of mount Meru, where precisely at that time nice and fragrant foods were being prepared : the king smelled these perfumes and was very attracted to them. He thought : « I think I’ll stop here for the time being, and I’ll go to Tushita only in my next life. » The Tushita-ward intermediate state vanished instantly and changed into the intermediate state preceding a rebirth in the Bahushrutîya heaven : there he was reborn. Isn’t this story a proof that the intermediate state can change in terms of place ? How can you maintain the contrary ?
– This is a long story which goes thus : [<abridged, p. 360 b> I don’t understand quite well, but at one moment, the jailed king asks Mahâmaudgalyâyana who has miraculously come visit him in jail in which of the six divine realms of the World of Desire food is the best. Being answered in the Bahushrutîyas, the starving jailed king vows to be reborn there as the prince heir, etc.] So, this change in the intermediate state is just a karmic consequence of something which happened before, outside the intermediate state.

– How long does one stay in the intermediate state ?
– At least as long as one has not found a new rebirth. While in the intermediate state, one looks for circumstances of birth with the six gates of the sources of perception 六處門, hurrying to their gathering 速往和合.
– So, if in the intermediate state one meets circumstances of rebirth which are all gathered, one hastes to them until conception happens. But if one does not meet with their coming together, which is indispensable for birth, how is it possible for that situation not to last too long ? For instance, if the father is in Kashmir and the mother in China – or the opposite –, the circumstances of birth will hardly unite. How then can the being in the intermediate state haste to conception 如何中有速往結生 ?
– It must be known that as the parental karma of sentient beings can be fixed or not [certain or not], the parents can sometimes change and sometimes not. In the case when parents can be any, one goes to another place where parents unite until conception happens. If the father can be anyone and the mother cannot, it means that even if the woman is a virgin who has taken the five vows and keeps them, she will unite with any man, so that the being in the intermediate state can haste towards conception. In the opposite case, even if the man is a honest fellow who has taken the five vows and keeps them, he will have to unite with any kind of woman so that the being in the intermediate state can haste to conception. If both parents cannot be replaced, the sentient being who has reached his/her last moments will be led to them by his/her karma. Even if (s)he does not like them in spite of these fixed circumstances, (s)he will head for them willing their union. And while (s)he will be heading for them, poison will not harm him/her, blades will not wound him/her, fire will not burn him/her, water will not drown him/her, and none of all the possible unlucky biased circumstances will be able to impede him/her reaching to their union, so that this being, as soon as dead, will be ready to enter the appropriate intermediate state and haste to conception.
– Beings who are always excited 欲常增者 can follow the intermediate state being in its haste towards conception, but those who are rarely excited, how can they be up to the intermediate state being’s haste towards conception ? Thus, horses are rutting 欲心增盛 in spring but not in other seasons ; buffaloes in summer, dogs in autumn, and bears in winter : how can beings be ready for the intermediate state being and what can cause them to unite so that it can be conceived ?
– It is the strong karmic power of the being in the intermediate state which causes its parents to be excited when it is not the usual time for that so that it can head for their union and be conceived.
Other teachers say that the being in the intermediate state can also be conceived by other members of the same family so that no chance be lost. For instance, if horses rut in spring and not in any other season, donkeys are always excited, so much so that one who was to be reborn as a horse will be reborn a donkey for a matter of time. The same applies to one who had to be a buffalo – which ruts in summer –, but for reasons of time will be reborn, let’s say, a wild bull – which is constantly rutting. The same with dogs and raccoon dogs ; the same with bears and « silvertip bears » 熊犤… All those look alike and we can say that there is no fundamental change [of direction] in the intermediate state just because changes are impossible while in the intermediate state. Thus, beings do not stay long in the intermediate state where they head for conception in order to be quickly reborn.
The venerable Sharmadatta 設摩達多 (?) says that the intermediate state lasts 49 days for the most, because this is the maximum time it takes to be conceived 四十九日定結生. The venerable Vasumitra explains that the stay in the intermediate state lasts 7 days at the most, because the gains and losses 贏劣 of the body there do not last long.
– If all the circumstances of rebirth are gathered within 7 days, conception is possible. Such being the case, if they are not gathered in time, is the being in the intermediate state destroyed 斷不 ?
– No, its is not. The intermediate state lasts as long as these circumstances of birth are not gathered : because it dies and is reborn [in the intermediate state] without being destroyed.
A bhadanta [大德 a meritorious monk] says :
This state has no fixed limitation. For those whose circumstances of birth are quickly gathered, the intermediate state does not last long. For those whose circumstances of rebirth take a long time to be gathered, the intermediate state lasts until conception is made possible through the coming together of these circumstances. Thus, the stay in the intermediate state has no fixed limitation.

– Are those in the intermediate state big or small ?
– Those who head for a rebirth in the World of Desire look like 6 or 7 year old children. Those heading for a rebirth in the World of Form have the same size as the beings they are going to be reborn amongst.
– But if the beings in the intermediate state who are heading for a birth in the World of Desire look like 6 or 7 year old children, how can they desire or hate their [future] parents because of hallucinations 於父母起顛倒想 ?
– Although they appear that small, their faculties 根 are strong. They can do the same things they could do before [本有 seems sometimes to mean past life, sometimes next !] : the old man you see in the [small] picture hanging on the wall is still old even though the picture is small.
– How do the bodhisattva look like in the intermediate state ?
– As he was in his flourishing years during the life he has left : he is adorned with the 32 major marks, and the 80 minor marks are like his jewels ; he has a golden aura which radiates eight feet 尋 around him. Therefore, the bodhisattva in the intermediate state sheds light on a hundred koti of worlds with 4 continents, just as if 100 000 suns were shining at the same time. His deep and marvelous Brahma voice makes men enjoy listening to him ; like beautiful singing birds, his voice is pure and clear. He knows and sees without obstruction, far away from all confusion and impurity.
If such is the intermediate state for the bodhisattva, what does this stanza by Dharmasubhûti 法善現 mean for you ?
« The white elephant, majestic and auspicious,
With his six tusks and four legs (feet),
Perfectly knew the way to his mother’s womb,
Where he slept like a rishi in the forest. »
This has not to be « believed », as it is no part of the Three Baskets. What the stanzas ( ? free poems) say can be correct or not. Many a verse by a poet has gone beyond truth. In order to understand it, one must look for its hidden meaning : here, according to the omens in a dream. That is to say, in that kingdom [i.e. Kapilavastu], such omens in dreams are seen as auspicious. Therefore, the bodhisattva’s mother who dreamed that went to the soothsayer (or seer) for an interpretation. All the brahmins who heard it declared it was very auspicious, and for this reason, what Dharmasubhûti wrote does not go against what we explained. The bodhisattva had not fallen in the lower realms for 91 kalpas – so much for his last incarnation he got this intermediate state and entered his mother’s womb. That is why the wise should not think the bodhisattva’s form in the intermediate state must necessarily be a white elephant’s.

– Are the faculties in the intermediate state complete or not 諸根為具不具 ?
– Yes, they are. And it is the case for all beings in the intermediate state, because the first full maturation effect must be complete and wonderful (? = perfected 初受異熟必圓妙 ?). Some explain that there can also be defective faculties in the intermediate state (or : there can also be a/ some missing faculties in the intermediate state 中有諸根亦有不具), and those will be the same [defective or missing faculties] as in the previous life, because, as the imprint of a seal has the form of the seal, a being in the intermediate state is « projected » by the life he or she has just left (ambiguous : 如是中有趣本有故). If, during his or her life, this being had some defective faculty, our first proposal is logical, inasmuch as in the position of the intermediate state, the faculties must not be defective while using the six sources-doors of perception to look everywhere for a birth-place. Here we speak of the faculties of the eyes, etc., and not of male and female « faculties » (organs, functions), because these last two do not happen in the intermediate state preceding rebirth in the World of Form. But those are not fixed in the World of Desire’s intermediate state. Those who are going to be born either from an egg or a womb do not have these sexual characters until they are settled in the egg or the womb. If it were not the case, this would mean that they are not going to be reborn in either way.

– How is the appearance (« bodily shape » 形狀) of all beings in the intermediate state ?
– They all look like what they are going to be in the life to come 中有形狀 如當本有. That is to say : one who is going to be reborn in the hell realm will have the appearance of a hell being, etc., and one who is going to be reborn as a god will have the appearance of a god. This is because intermediate state and « basic state » 本有 are propelled by one and the same karma 一業引.
Some explain it is not logical to say that a being who enters the intermediate state when « this » life has taken end has the appearance he had in « this » life, like the imprint of a seal, because what would be the form of a being who died in the Formless World on its way to its next rebirth in the World of Desire ? And how would it be possible for gods to have in the intermediate state the appearance they are going to have in the hell they are falling into ? The same question applies for a hell being going to a divine heaven.
Furthermore, those who die in the World of Form to be reborn in the World of Desire will not be man or woman in the intermediate state 所受中有應非男女. Those who die in the World of Desire to be reborn in the World of Form will necessarily be man or woman. Therefore the first proposal is logic [i.e. the being in the intermediate state looks like it will be].
– If the being in the intermediate state has the appearance it will have in its next life 如當本有 [I doubt again the meaning of 當本有 : next or past, because :] the womb of a bitch, for instance, will contain the sudden arising of either one of the 5 realms, and if a hellish intermediate state being appears, how wan’t she be burnt in her womb – as we know there are many burning fires in hell ?
– The intermediate state being does not burn long during its intermediate state : it is just as if it paid a short visit in hell. The Vijñaptishâstra says : Sometimes, in the hell of Resurrections 等活捺落迦, a cold wind arises and a voice is heard that says :  « Ressuscitate ! Ressuscitate ! » Then the beings come instantaneously back to life. If it happens thus in the « basic realm », how much more in the intermediate state. We can suppose that if a lasting burning is not seen nor felt there, it is because the beings in the intermediate state have an extremely subtle body 身極微細. The same for fire [i.e. subtle ?]. If the intermediate state of all the realms dwell in one womb, they do not burn each other because that is impeded by karma. The same with the mother’s womb : so she is not burned.
– If a being staying in a small place dies to be reborn in the World of Form, how can it have a big form in the intermediate state leading to the World of Form ?
– The body of form in the intermediate state is subtle and cannot be obstructed : how couldn’t it hold in a small place ? Although the appearance of a being in the intermediate state is the same as in its « basic becoming », what happens to it, its karma, etc. are not necessarily of the same kind.

– How do the beings move (walk, etc.) in the intermediate state ?
– Those promised to hell go there head below and feet above. A gâthâ says :
« Falling into hell,
Feet above and head below :
From having despised the rishis
And practiced austerities in love with solitude. »
The beings promised to heavens go feet below and head above. For men going there, they are like an arrow shot in the sky which rises until it reaches the celestial realms. The beings in the intermediate state going to other realms move like animals 皆悉傍行, like a bird flying in the sky, they go to their birth-place.
Furthermore, like the rishi (or « immortal ») on the picture that flies upwards, the [future] animals head for their birthplace.
– Are the ways of moving in the intermediate state always like that ?
– This is to be explained : not necessarily. This fits with someone who ended its life among human beings 依人中命終者. Those who die in hell to be reborn in hell do not necessarily move head below and feet above. Those who die among the gods to be reborn in a heavenly realm do not necessarily move feet below and head above. Those who die in a hell to be reborn in the human realm will rise head first. Those who die amongst gods to be reborn in the human realm will topple over. As for hungry ghosts and animals, the intermediate state depends on the destination in order to be known.
Other teachers explain that moving in the intermediate state is always the same because the perceptible karmas 表所造業 are different. Since the hellish karma is extremely vile 穢下, at the beginning of the intermediate state 初受中有, the head is necessarily under the heels ; afterwards, according to destination, the position while moving is not fixed. As the karma of those who have been born amongst gods [or who are going to be reborn as a g. ? 生諸天業] is extremely superior, the intermediate state begins head above but afterwards it will depend on the destination. The three remaining karmas (i.e. human, animal, and hungry ghosts) are not that extremely high or low. Thus in the beginning a being in the intermediate state will move like an animal [flying, crawling, etc.] and then it will depend on its destination.
Some explain that all beings in the intermediate state have different perceptible karmas (= results ?) because they first get the full maturation effect of their actions : as the hellish intermediate state beings experience the effects of an extremely vile karma, they will move feet above and head below. As gods enjoy the results of the highest karmas, they will move feet below and head above. As the three remaining intermediate state beings experience the effects of medium karmas, their heads and feet will not be above or below in a fixed way, but according to the destination they are aiming at.

– Does one wear clothes when one is « living » in the intermediate state ?
– In the intermediate state of the World of Form, everyone is wearing clothes, because in that world the sense of shame and modesty (慚愧 shrî-apatrapâ) is strong. Shame and modesty are the clothes of the dharmakâya 法身衣服, and since the dharmakâya, there, wears the best of clothes, the sentient beings also do. So in that intermediate state one is always wearing clothes.
In the intermediate state of the World of Desire, most do not wear clothes, because in that world, shame and modesty do not prevail. Only the bodhisattvas, and « white and pure [i.e. perfectly keeping their vows] bhikshunîs » 白淨苾芻尼 always wear supreme clothes when they are in the intermediate state.
Other teachers explain that in the intermediate state the bodhisattvas do not wear clothes, and only the white and pure bhikshunîs do wear their whole set of [religious] clothes.
– Why don’t bodhisattvas wear clothes in the intermediate state but white and pure bhikshunîs do ?
– Because white and pure bhikshunîs have offered clothes to monks coming [to beg] from everywhere.
– In that case, as bodhisattvas have, in their past lives, offered wonderful clothes to the monks, and the clothes offered by nuns, which become dust, cannot compare with the bodhisattvas’ offerings, why don’t the latter wear clothes in the intermediate state ?
– Because the prayers of aspiration of the nuns are not the same as the bodhisattvas’ prayers. When such a nun has offered clothes to monks, she makes a vow saying : « May I throughout all my lives wear clothes, etc., and even in the intermediate state, may I never be naked ! » So, because of this kind of vow, she will always be reborn in places which are rich in clothes. When she will be in the intermediate state of her last rebirth 彼最後身所受中有, she will be wearing clothes. She will enter her mother’s womb and get out of it without her clothes having left her even for a while. The more she will grow, the more her clothes will grow in order to fit her. When, later, she will have right faith in the Buddha-Dharma and become a nun, the clothes she was wearing will turn into nun robes 變為法服, and when she will have taken the full set of vows, her clothes will be the five elements of a nun’s robe 五衣. She will eagerly practice genuine dharmic meditation and quickly realize the fruit of arhatship. Then, when it will be time for her to pass into parinirvâna, she will be wrapped in her same robes on her cremation pyre.
As for the bodhisattvas, during three immeasurable kalpas 三無數劫, they have been practicing an immense variety of eminently sublime positive actions which they have entirely dedicated to the unsurpassed Bodhi in order to benefit beings and establish them in peace and happiness. Because of these practices and vows, when the bodhisattvas reach their last body (incarnation), their position is the most venerable among all beings. There is not one being who does not derive immense benefit from only meeting them. Therefore, even though they have all the major and minor marks in the intermediate state, the bodhisattvas do not wear clothes : their and the nuns’ prayers of aspiration not being the same, one should not object to this difference. All those who have made the same prayers than nuns will wear clothes in the intermediate state. So, our first proposal was the right one. As the merits of the bodhisattvas are very strong in terms of shame and modesty, to the extent that no other beings in the World of Desire can compare to them, they should all wear clothes in the intermediate state.

– Does one rely on pinda food 段食 in the intermediate state ?
– In the World of Form’s intermediate state, one does not rely on food. In the World of Desire, one must.
– How is the pinda food in the World of Desire ?
– There are several explanations. Some say that in the intermediate state of the World of Desire, the beings eat what they find when they reach a place with food, and they drink the water they find when they reach a place with water. Thus are they relieved [from hunger and thirst]. But this is not logical, because there are many beings in the intermediate state, and it is very difficult to give charity to them all 中有極多難周濟故.
A sûtra says that the intermediate state is as crowded as, for example, the grains of rice spilled from a bag and placed in a granary or a cauldron 如從袋等瀉粳米等置倉鑊中. The sentient beings of the five realms who are in the intermediate state are dispersed in all kinds of places in exceeding numbers. If everything that can be eaten and drunk in the world was gathered to give them, one could not even feed only those who entered the intermediate state from the species of dogs. So much less could one feed all the beings in the intermediate state.
Moreover, the body of a sentient being in the intermediate state is extremely light and delicate 極輕妙, thus if it is given heavy gross food, this body will fall apart 散壞.
The right explanation is : as beings in the intermediate state eat odours and no gross matter 食香非食麤質, we are free from the above defects.
So, those who have merits 有福者 take sustenance on the light and grateful odours of pure flowers, fruit, and food which have been offered them 歆饗 ; and those who do not have merits take sustenance on the light and subtle odours of dirty, foul smelling foods that have been offered them. Furthermore, even if the odours they eat are very little and there are many intermediate state beings, they will all be relieved.

– So, the intermediate state and the beings in it have many different names : they are called beings in the intermediate state, gandharvas, in-search-of-existence, and mental beings.
– What are the reasons of the name « intermediate state » ?
– Because it comes after the becoming-of-death and before the becoming-of-birth : in between these two « becomings » (有 âbhava), its « own body » [自體 i.e. itself as something] arises. As it is included in the realms (有 becoming) of Desire and Form, it is called « middle becoming » [中有 literally].
– There are other « becomings » between two becomings (or existences) the « own body » of which does arise. Why isn’t it an intermediate state included in the three realms (worlds of existence) ?
– This name « intermediate state » means that this in-between-two-(other)-states is light and subtle to the extent it is difficult to see, explain, and understand. Whereas there are other « intermediate states » between other states that are gross and heavy, and therefore easy to see, explain, and understand, and those are not THE intermediate state.
Again, it is a state between two existences (becomings, states), a sphere and a « life » (birth) which are not included in the [five] realms of existence, thus its name. Other intermediate states, with their limits and modes of life, being included in the five realms of existence, do not deserve this name.
Again, « intermediate state » means that, in that in-between, you have abandoned the previous realm but have not yet reached the one coming after. Other states can happen in between two others but they have not yet abandoned the previous one, or they have already reached the next : they do not thus deserve this name.
– What about the name gandharva ?
– It is because they « survive » eating odours. This name works only with beings in the intermediate state of the World of Desire.
– What about the name « in-search-of-existence » 求有 ?
– It is because they are looking for a becoming-of-birth through the six sources-gates of perception. If in the intermediate state the thoughts of searching next existence flow in a strong continuity, it does not seem like one is going to stay there long : whence this name.
– What about the name « mental » (litt. « made of manas », manomaya in ssk.) ?
– It is because [this being] is born from « mind » (manas).
The sentient beings can be born from mind, karma, full maturation of acts, and sexual desire.
Among beings born from mind, one can count 1) the human beings at the beginning of a kalpa ; 2) the beings in the intermediate state ; 3) the beings in the Form and Formless Worlds, as well as the miraculous bodies.
Those born from karma are the denizens of hell, as the sûtra says : « The beings in hell are bound by their karma and cannot escape it. They are born from their past deeds and not according to what pleases their minds. »
Those born from the full maturation effects of their actions are the flying birds, and hungry ghosts and spirits : it is because of the retribution of their light and vigorous actions that they can fly in the air or cross walls with no obstruction.
Those who are born from sexual desire are the six classes of gods in the World of Desire, and human beings.
As all beings in the intermediate state are born from manas, they move « riding their manas », and thus are called « mind-made ».

In a text, the Buddha explains that « entering a mother’s womb depends on the coming together of three factors. The parents must have the impure thought of uniting ; the mother’s body is ready for that, has no illness, and it is the right time. The gandharva appears in front of them. It then has two thoughts that arise little by little until it enters the mother’s womb. »
The « coming together of three factors » : father, mother, and gandharva, which must unite.
« The parents have the impure thought of uniting » : they both are sexually aroused and unite.
« The mother’s body is ready for that, has no illness » : she is ready when she has desire and enjoys it.
Here, the Discipline Holders 持律者 explain : because the mother has desire, her body and mind are entirely « murky » 渾濁, like in spring and summer waters flow « entirely murky ». This phrase refers to the not refraining herself [of the mother].
« No illness » means that the mother’s belly is « pure », with no wind, heat, nor phlegm which could oppress her through their interaction. So that during the next 9 or 10 months she will be able to bear a child without harming it.
The « right time » : all mothers have dirty and bad affairs. Every month they have blood flowing out. If this is too abundant, she will not be wet enough to conceive. She will be able to when her blood is not too little, nor too abundant, nor too dry, nor too wet.
At the time when the being in the intermediate state is ready to enter its mother’s womb, it is said that there will be two drops of her blood left – and these two drops will slowly unite with the last drop of the father’s sperm until conception happens (the embryo begins).
« The gandharva appears in front of them » : easy to understand.
« Then it has two thoughts that arise little by little, and it enters the mother’s womb » : at the moment before entering the womb, the gandharva will have two different thoughts, of desire and hate, towards its parents, which will little by little appear in its mind, and only then will it enter the womb.
If it is a male intermediate state being who is going to enter the womb, he will have desire for the mother and hate for the father, thinking : « If this man leaves the place, I shall unite with this woman ». After that thought, he will have a hallucination : he will see the man exiting and going away, and he will see himself unite with the woman. When the couple has united and sperm and blood are emitted, he will consider the father’s sperm as his own ; then, rejoicing, he will faint. Because of this fainting, he will become « gross », and once he is gross, he will enter the womb : he will see himself squatting on his heels in the right part of his mother’s chest, facing her spine. At that time, the aggregates of the intermediate state will disappear, and the aggregates of the becoming-of-birth will appear : this is called conception.
In the case of a female intermediate state being, when she will enter the womb, she will have desire for the father and hate for the mother, thinking : « When this woman will have left the place, I shall unite with this man. » Having thought thus, she will hallucinate and see the woman leaving and going away. Then she will see herself in union with the man, and when the parental sperm and blood are emitted, she will think the mother’s blood is hers. She will be full of joy at this thought and faint. Having fainted, she will turn gross, and as soon as gross, she will enter the mother’s womb. She then will see herself squatting on her heels in the left part of the mother’s chest, facing her belly. At that moment, the aggregates of the intermediate state will disappear and the aggregates of the becoming-of-birth will appear : conception will have happened.
Many sentient beings have this kind of hallucination before entering the womb. Only bodhisattvas, when they enter it, conceive their fathers as their fathers and their mothers as their mothers, and even if they can have right wisdom, they will develop the wish to go closer to their mothers. Pushed by this wish, they will enter their mother’s womb – and the rest will be as above.

– What is the entrance way of the intermediate state being into its mother’s womb ? Some explain that, as the beings in the intermediate state cannot be stopped by anything, it can enter it the way it likes.
– But if this being cannot be stopped by anything, how can it stay in its mother’s womb ?
– It is blocked there by the strength of karma. The power of karma in beings is unconceivable and can even block unblockable things or beings. So there is no such theoretical problem here. It must be explained that an intermediate state being must follow the gate of birth (i.e. vagina) in order to enter the womb, because it is what he or she desires. And it is for this reason that the elder of two twins is the last-born. Yes, because the one who has entered the womb first will go out last.
– And what is the way taken by a bodhisattva ?
– He enters it by the right armpit because he perfectly knows how to enter the womb, and towards his mother he has an idea of mother entirely free from any sexual desire.
Some others explain the passage by the gate of birth goes along with the things of sex like organs and glands, as well as the things of birth itself.
Other teachers explain that, because of the extreme strength of the bodhisattvas’ merits and wisdom, when they enter their mothers’ wombs, they do not have any perverse idea of uniting with their mothers. The kings with a wheel and the Solitary Buddhas have many merits and much wisdom, but not as extremely powerful [as the Buddhas’], and at the moment of entering the womb, although they do not have any perverse idea [nor hallucination], they have sexual desire. Therefore, the way to the womb is the gate of birth.

– The Vijñaptishâstra explains that if the parents have a karma with powerful merits, but the child has a humble karma in terms of merits, it will not enter the womb. If parents have a humble merit-karma, and the child a superior karma, it will not be able to enter the womb. This entering is possible only when father, mother, and child have equal merits.
– Will an intermediate state being enter the womb if its father is a rich man and its mother a poor woman ? Or if its father is a poor man and its mother a rich woman ?
– When a rich man and a poor woman unite, the man must contempt himself and overestimate the woman. Vice versa for a poor man and a rich woman. The child ready to enter the womb knows these feelings and will bring them along.

– As beings in the intermediate state are extremely tenuous, they can cross walls, mountains, trees, etc. But do they obstruct each other?
– Some explain that beings in the intermediate state do not obstruct (= bump into) each other. Being extremely tenuous, when they touch (brush against) each other, they do not feel it.
Others explain that they obstruct each other because when they meet, they begin to speak.
– In that case, why say they do not obstruct each other ?
– One does not call « intermediate state » other cases of non-obstruction ( ? 於餘無礙非謂中有).
– Then, do all beings in the intermediate state obstruct each other ?
– Those of the same « species » do, others don’t. Thus, hellish intermediate state beings obstruct (cannot walk across) other hellish intermediate state beings, etc., and gods realm intermediate state beings obstruct other gods realm intermediate state beings only.
Some explain that inferiors can be blocked by superiors because they are (more) gross. Superiors do not block inferiors because of their tenuousness. So, the hellish intermediate state beings block ( ? are blocked by ?) the five realms’ intermediate state beings. The animal realm intermediate state beings block four ; the hungry ghost intermediate state beings block three ; the human intermediate state beings block two ; and the divine intermediate state beings only block gods.

– Which are the quickest : the super-knowledges or the beings that move in the intermediate state ?
– Some say that the intermediate state beings are quick because a text says that « karma is stronger than magical powers ». In that case, the super-quick-walk of the abhijñas is not worth the intermediate state beings’.
– In that case, for what reason does the above quote say thus ?
– It speaks of the non-obstructive aspect of the intermediate state beings’ run, not of its speed. Thus, the magical powers of the Buddha can stop any power of any sentient being. The Solitary Buddhas can overcome all those but the Buddha’s. Shâriputra can triumphate over them all except the Buddha’s and Pratyekabuddhas’. Maudgalyâyana the Great can block all magical powers, except those of the Buddha, the Pratyekabuddhas, and Shâriputra. The powers of beings with acute faculties can block the powers of those with numb faculties. No Buddha, nor Pratyekabuddha, nor any of the Listeners, nor any magical charm or drug can block a being in the intermediate state so that it does not head for the place where it will be reborn. But it must go where conception will happen according to the (right) species. And as this text says that the powers of karma are superior to those of super-knowledges, if one were to say something about their speed, one should say that the abhijña walking speed is (far) greater than the intermediate state being’s.

– Can beings in the intermediate state see each other ?
– They can.
– Who can see whom ?
– Some explain that hellish intermediate state beings can only see hellish intermediate state beings. Animal intermediate state beings can see the intermediate state beings of two realms ; hungry ghost intermediate state beings can see the intermediate state beings of three ; human intermediate state beings can see the intermediate state beings of four ; and the divine intermediate state beings can see the intermediate state beings of the five realms.
Others explain that the hellish intermediate state beings can see the intermediate state beings of the five realms, etc., and the same until the divine intermediate state beings included.
– Can the eyes of a being in a « basic state » see beings in the intermediate state ?
Some explain that the eyes of hell beings, animals, hungry ghosts, and men cannot see beings in the intermediate state. Only the eyes in the gods realm can.
Some explain that the eyes of the Four Great Kings and their retinue can see all the intermediate state beings, except those from the states above them ; the eyes of the Gods Enjoying the Miracles of Others can see all beings in the intermediate state below, but not above themselves. The same with the Gods in the First Dhyâna Heaven, etc., until the Fourth.
Some others say that the eyes of the gods in the World of Desire cannot see beings in the intermediate state. The eyes of the gods in the World of Form can see beings in the intermediate state, with the only exception of those above their respective levels. In that case, no « natural » eyes can see the intermediate state beings of the Fourth Dhyâna Heaven.
It must be explained here that the fact that, in its basic state, no natural eye can see beings in the intermediate state means that only divine eyes which have been acquired through extremely pure practice can see beings in the intermediate state.
– How can we know that ?
– Because one can read in a text : « All men and women which keep pure shîla and cultivate positive dharmas will get a mental body when their life is finished, which will look like a white cloth shining or a bright night, and extremely pure divine eyes will be able to see it.
» All men and women who violate pure discipline and practice negative dharmas will get a mental body when their life is finished, which will look like a black… light or a dark night, and extremely pure divine eyes will be able to see it. »
According to this, it is known that beings in their basic state cannot see the bodies of those in the intermediate state with their natural eyes.

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