Intermediate skandha body

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Intermediate skandha body

Postby Inge » Thu Jul 14, 2011 12:46 am

Once I read in a text attributed to Hsuan Hua about how the intermediate skandha body leaves the body at time of death at specific points, or parts of the body. The place of exit then corresponding to the realm where rebirth is to take place. I don't remember the details, and I have not been able to relocate the text, but I think it said that for rebirth into hell realm the intermediate skandha body would leave through the sole of the feets, hungry ghosts I don't remember the location for, animals I think was through genitals. Rebirth into the three higher realms took place from the upper part of the body. I think it was said that rebirth into deva realm was from crown of the head, and I also think that it was said that if exit was from the heart, this was for attaining buddhahood.

Do you have this text, or know where to find it?

How does this relate to the type of phowa where the crown of the head is the exit point?

In the following quote from the commentary to the Shurangama Sutra the intermediate skandha body is equated with the eight consciousness and also with "Buddha nature", and "soul":

"When they are on the verge of dying, but when the final warmth has not left their bodies, all the good and evil they have done in that life suddenly and simultaneously manifests. "The final warmth has not left their bodies" means that the six consciousnesses and the seventh consciousness have passed out of the body, but the eighth consciousness still remains. Its passage will be marked by warmth, that is, the place on the body where the eighth consciousness leaves will be warm to the touch. For instance, if the eighth consciousness leaves through the soles of the feet, that spot will be warm. If it leaves from the legs, the legs will be warm. If it departs from the waist, the waist will be warm. If it goes out the top of the head, the top of the head will be warm. That's the "final warmth" that's mentioned here in the text. Before the eighth consciousness goes, it is referred to as the "present skandha body." Once it leaves the body it is the body between the skandhas, or "intermediate skandha body." So the text here refers to the present skandha body, before it has left the physical body. If one cultivates well, the skandha body is a Buddha. If one does not cultivate, it is a ghost. So when people ask, "Are there really ghosts?" they must first ask themselves if there are Buddhas. If they know there are Buddhas, then of course there are ghosts as well. If you are not sure that there are Buddhas or ghosts, ask yourself if there are people. If you acknowledge the fact that there are people, then you will know that there are also Buddhas and ghosts, because they are all different aspects of the same thing.

After one dies then, the eighth consciousness is called the intermediate skandha body. Before one dies it is called the present skandha body. It is also known as the "soul" and as the "Buddha nature." When a person is on the verge of death, the good and evil he or she has done is revealed and a reckoning is at hand. Depending on what one did, one will have to undergo retribution or reward. If one did good, one can get rebirth in the heavens; if one did evil, one falls into the hells. If you did more in the way of good deeds and meritorious acts, then you can leave from your head. If you did more in the way of committing crimes and creating offenses, then you'll leave from your feet. Obviously then, to leave from the upper part of one's body means one will gain a higher rebirth, whereas to leave from the lower part means one is going to fall. One's kind of rebirth is evident at death. They experience the intermingling of two habits: an abhorrence of death and an attraction to life. They are repelled and attracted when confronted with death and birth." (

Do you agree that skandha body = intermediate skandha body = Buddha nature = soul?

Also I wonder if you have experience with dying people, have you ever noticed a warmth and/or a spot at the place where the eighth consciousness left the body?

Is the eighth consciousness a thing located somewhere inside the body?

How is all this explained in Tibetan Buddhism?

Could you refer me to any English, non-restricted, texts where such things as mentioned above is explained in detail?

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Re: Intermediate skandha body

Postby ronnewmexico » Thu Jul 14, 2011 2:19 am

Certainly one of the scholors could give better answers than mine, as a uneducated layperson.
Till one appears maybe my partial answers will suffice. :smile:

My source of handy reference is liberation through hearing refered to in its total form as the Tibetan book of the dead. Many prints are available.
I use the Gyurme Dorje translation.

One will attain liberation if ones awareness exits the crown fontanelle, Through this exit the consciousness departs to the pure realm of the skyfarers.
Eyes--universal monarch, left nostril-- unimpaired human body, right nostril--yaksa, ears--god of the world system of form, god of the world system of desire--navel, animal--urethra, anguished spirit--sexual passage, hell being--rectum...that generally is found in page 214 of that text.

One lies on the right side or in meditational posture and by hand and other position blocks all the passages one can. One may also visualize a sacred syllable to rest in all intended to be blocked places.
Where the body heat leaves first may indicate the rebirth. Hot head good hot feet cold head not good. Right side calms the excitable to desire passages ways of the body. ONe should sleep on this side as well.

Soul infers permenance by most commonly defined terms in english. So I would say the term may approximate somes defination of soul but is not generally used as it infers a permenant quality to soul or mind which it does not posess.
HHDL if considered as a representative of tibetan thought on the issue generally does not use the term soul in his published writings. Some american authors like Robert Thurman do.
A continum of consciousness is for all intents and purposes permenant but that is not as soul is commonly defined.

There are various powahs to enable consciousness transference of varying places depending upon ones anticipated spiritual progress or best area of progress. The preferred place being the Buddha body of reality, then buddha body of perfect resource, then Buddha body of emanation. A ordinary person may hope to go to such places but will most likely be liberated from inferior existances only.

The eighth consciousness is called the all base consciousness which is composed of two parts, the all base that seizes karmic imprints and the all base of complete ripening. A reference for this is Everyday Consciousness and Buddha Awakening by Khenchen Thranbgu Rinpoche.
IN the process of death it appears in relationship to drops. Various appearences present depending upon the locations of the drops. In the final stage which has the mind of clear light presenting the white and red drops dissolve into the indestructible frop at the heart. For normal peoples this subtlest level of mind presentation is the moment of death. A reference for this is Advice on Dying by HHDL.

I think of consciousness as resideing perhaps in relationship to the internal drops but actually don't think of the parts of consciousness resideing in different places. There are some say 2 sets of 4 drops each. They work together to create different states of consciousness. Each drop contains two potencies pure and impure.The material drops are supports only as our body supports our mind.

Just a layperson and a uneducated view, and a partial explaination, but reading those references will tell you about it if that is your interest. All are commonly available.
It's probably best to read each.

A successful powah will leave bodily evidence in a dead person. Signs such as blood or emissions from certain places can be fortituous or negative.
Very generally any thing at or about the crown fonatanell is a very good sign.
Those practicing Powah will occasionally have a temporary weakening of the skull at that spot. Some say to much practice of certain powahs and one can weaken ones lifespan.

I'm certain there exists variance to a degree in this thing as described depending upon school and level of training.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.

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Re: Intermediate skandha body

Postby Tilopa » Thu Jul 14, 2011 5:29 am

Inge wrote:Do you have this text, or know where to find it?

How is all this explained in Tibetan Buddhism?

Could you refer me to any English, non-restricted, texts where such things as mentioned above is explained in detail?

This is a good book that explains it all in detail:

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