About the skandhas and rebirth in Advayavada Buddhism.

Traditional Buddhism presupposes that the human being is composed of some five skandhas or clusters of which, at death, the one physical rupa skandha disintegrates and dissolves completely and the non-physical arupa skandhas simply cease to occur altogether. And according to Advayavada Buddhism, there is further no human rebirth other than by sexual reproduction and the so-called new life that is produced in this manner is again, or yet, traditionally composed of some five khandhas or skandhas. Sexual reproduction is by definition a karmic activity. Karma is, in Advayavada Buddhism, how interdependent origination or pratityasamutpada operates here and now at the sentient level, including personal choices and responsibility. Karma is neither the cause nor the effect, but the everchanging knot of ongoing events as such. Our own share of this karma is the everchanging knotlet of biopsychosocial (bps) events in which we are personally embedded. In the case of human rebirth, the main event is the division or concatenate multiplication of the mother as a result of the fertilization of her egg or eggs by the father.

The main karmic activity is here, in other words, the wondrous event of physical love, pregnancy and parturation. The genetic and social factors transmitted to and inherited by the so-called new human being are all fully reflected at birth with minor changes or variations in its own set of skandhas. There are no so-called karmic seeds in the vijñana cluster that will ripen as yet in this or a future life, as is implied in the Yogacara vipaka theory – there is no evidence at all of an alaya-vijñana or store-house consciousness that might contain and carry such seeds forward into the future. Nor is there any evidence of a patisandhi-viññana, the connecting consciousness encountered in Theravada ontology, nor of any other form of re-incarnation, transmigration, or of afterlife or resurrection. Instead, everything is already there in the skandhas or clusters of the so-called new being produced sexually by the parents, geared and ready to grow into an adult human being. Modern scientific investigation in the field of genetics must yet supply many answers. The khandhas or skandhas theory is but a very rudimentary presupposition of the actual process of heredity and mutation. Biophysics must in fact yet uncover how exactly a living organism, indeed any biological system, can generate, copy and eventually transmit its data.

But we can safely state that from the moment of conception onwards everything that happens in the whole of existence, including, though not primarily, what this so-called new human being does or does not do itself, will affect it accordingly in its further life. This includes the mechanical action of switching on or off of a light: if somebody trips over a chair in the dark and breaks his or her neck, this is most certainly the result of how interdependent origination operates at the sentient level, the result of karma. This event will at the very least modify to a considerable extent the structure and relative arrangement of this particular conventional set of skandhas. Also his or her cetana (will or volition), which formally forms part of the human being’s samskara (forces) cluster, will no doubt be affected by the challenge in accordance with its intensity and the endurance the person can muster.

Karma, we must stress, is, in our view, pratityasamutpada or interdependent origination at our sentient level, including personal choices and responsibility – it is the immanent universal dynamic principle of existence as it also operates incessantly within the human being, in the relations between all sentient beings and in their interaction with the environment. Wholesome human activities are necessarily those which are in agreement with the overall otherwise indifferent pattern and direction of existence. It is, indeed, for this reason that they are experienced by us as such. You will no doubt agree that there cannot be two sets of rules at play, one for totality and one as devised by humankind itself for its own affairs only. ~ from advayavada dot org