Hadaya Vathu:

Heart Base for Consciousness


Visuddhimagga Ch. XIV


60. 13. The heart-basis has the characteristic of being the (material) support for the mind-element and for the mind-consciousness-element. Its function is to observe them. It is manifested as the carrying of them. It is to be found in dependence on the blood, of the kind described in the treatise on the mindfulness of the body (Ch. VIII, 111), inside the heart. It is assisted by the primaries with their functions of upholding, etc.; it is consolidated by temperature, consciousness, and nutriment; it is maintained by life; and it serves as physical basis for the mind-element and the mind-consciousness-element, and for the states associated with them.26

Vism. VIII, 111.


This is the heart flesh. As to colour, it is the colour of the back of a red-lotus petal. As to shape, it is the shape of a lotus bud with the outer petals removed and turned upside down; it is smooth outside, and inside it is like the interior of a kosataki (loofah gourd). In those who possess understanding it is a little expanded; in those without understanding it is still only a bud. Inside it there is a hollow the size of a punnaga seed's bed where half a pasata measure of blood is kept, with which as their support the mind element and mind-consciousness element occur.


All of us are much conditioned by an age where scientific discoveries seem so testable and provable. It is natural that doubts arise on this matter. The visuddhimagga (viii, 111) says about hadaya-vatthu (heart basis): they describe the heart and then note that inside the heart "there is hollow the size of a punnaga seeds bed where half a pastata measure of blood is kept, with which as their support the mind element and mind-consciousness element occur." Note that it is not the heart itself that is the hadaya-vatthu NOR is it the blood inside the heart but rather as the Paramatthamanjusa (see vis.xiii note 5 ) says "the heart basis occurs with this blood as its support". You see the actual hadaya-vatthu is incredibly sublime - in scientific measure it wouldn't even amount to a tiny fraction of a gram. It might even be so refined as to be unmeasuarable by scientific instruments.

This applies also to the other sense organs (pasada rupa). The Atthasalini remarks that the very purpose of using the term pasada is to dismiss the popular misconception of what we think an eye or an ear is. (see karunadasa p45)The actual sensitive matter in the eye and ear is very refined. If someone dies then the ear-sense and eye sense (sotapasada and cakkhu-pasada ) are immediately no longer produced (they are produced by kamma only) yet one would not notice much outward change looking at the eye and ear(at least for the first few minutes before decomposition sets in). The same applies to the heart - the blood in the heart would have the same volume after death and yet the hadaya-vatthu is no longer present.

I think you accept that consciousness arises soon after conception. The fetus at that stage is so tiny as to be invisible to all but the most trained eye (if even that large). yet consciousness is arising and passing away dependent on some matter (rupa) somewhere. There is certainly no brain yet but according to the commentaries the heart basis (hadaya-vattu ), that extremely subtle, rupa is already present - conditioned by kamma. This shows how extraordinarily subtle this type of rupa is. There is more that I could write about this. However, I think one can see how heart transplants etc. make no difference to the arising and passing of this subtle conditioned rupa.

What does the brain do then? It does something, it is like wiring center needed for functioning of the body mind - Sure if you pull out a few wires, just as with a computer, things aren't going to work so well. One will always be confused about these problems if one thinks in stories about people and hearts and medicine and brain- Even detailed scientific explanations cannot approach the nature of the true reality of the evanescent conditioned phenomena we call life. There are only rupas and namas arising and passing away, and just as with the tipitaka the commentaries lead us to see this truth.



Source : http://www.abhidhamma.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=40&mode=threaded&pid=124


Source: Buddhist Dictionary, Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines,


hadaya-vatthu: 'heart as physical base' of mental life. The heart, according to the commentaries as well as to the general Buddhist tradition, forms the physical base (vatthu) of consciousness In the canonical texts, however, even in the Abhidhamma Pitaka, no such base is ever localized, a fact which seems to have first been discovered by Shwe Zan Aung (Compendium of Philosophy, pp. 277ff.). In the Patth. we find repeatedly only the passage: "That material thing based on which mind-element and mind-consciousness element function" (yam  rūpam nissāya manodhātu ca manovi˝˝ānadhātu ca vattanti, tam rūpam).


Source: Buddhānusmrti - A Glossary of Buddhist Terms


hrdaya-vastu [hadaya-vatthu] heart-basis. The heart is considered as the physical support of all citta-s other than the two sets of fivefold sense consciousness which take their respective sensitivities as their bases. The hṛdaya-vastu is described as the seat of thought and feeling -- the basis of mind. It is the seat of the divine intuition and of the Buddha-nature.


Page: Atthasālinī. I. 247.


Source: http://glossary.buddhistdoor.com/en/word/3707/hadaya-vatthu


Video by Sayalay Dipankara on hadaya-vatthu / heart-basis

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