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I have noticed that every thought that goes through my mind has a direct psychical reaction in my body.  I can actually see how my own thoughts cause me to suffer.  Would it be correct to say that the mind is the generator of suffering, and the physical body is the receiver.  It appears that we experience suffering in the physical body, not the mind.  What I would like to know is how does an entity (stream of consciousness) experience suffering if it doesn’t have a physical body? Like say in the ghost realm or any of the lower formless lower realms where there is no physical body.

I have read that the human realm is the only realm in which an entity is able to make progress.  Is this because in the human realm we experience physical suffering, where as in all the other realms except for the animal realm there is no physical body suffering?

Answer
Good evening Jim,

Every action starts from thought.  Even impulsive and instinctive actions begin with thoughts.  Thoughts are generated by our mind.  So if we have an untrained mind, our careless thoughts will lead us to careless actions.  If we are only talking about thoughts, it is just the same.  Negative thoughts generate negative feelings inside us.  This causes the body to respond accordingly.  For example, extremely angry thoughts will generate extreme bodily reaction.  We often see very angry people shaking their bodies uncontrollably. Not only the physical body responds to the thoughts, the mind is likewise affected. In fact the mind reacts first and then the body follows the reaction.   On the other spectrum we see very calm people when they are at peace. Both mind and body are at peace.

What about those beings without physical bodies?  Here I can only make a calculated guess, as I am in no position to know for sure. I would say that so long as consciousness exists, feelings will exist.  Take for example, if a person is not conscious, this person will have no feeling, neither happiness nor suffering.

Humans have greater opportunity to make progress because we have the ability to control our lives to a certain extent.  We have a wider choice to actions.  Whereas, beings in other realms are either destined to suffer or just to enjoy. It is not because of the presence of physical bodies or not.  It is because certain realms are either happy realms or unhappy realms.  It is the human realm that beings are more exposed to both happiness and sufferings.  Because of this dualism, humans have a greater choice and opportunities to progress.  

Hope this helps.

Regards,
Justin Choo  

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Justin Choo

Expertise

All your questions will be answered, and you may not have to agree with the answers. Such is the beauty of Buddhism. I follow the Theravada tradition, and have been studying Buddhism for more than 50 years. As I am not a Buddhist scholar, I answer in simple language, and I prefer answering general questions rather than textual.

Experience

I was brought up in the 50's as a Buddhist. For the past 50 years I have read numerous books on Buddhism and listened to numerous talks on Buddhism by well-respected and learned monks and lay teachers. I have conducted Buddhist classes for parents of Sunday School children in a Theravada Buddhist Temple. My teacher was the late Chief Reverend, The Ven. K Sri Dhammananda of The Brickfields Buddhist Mahavihara, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. You can view the relevant website in memory of my revered late teacher @ http://www.ksridhammananda.com and my blog posting at http://blackandwhite999.blogspot.com/2008/08/my-revered-teacher.html

Organizations
I am a life member of the Buddhist Missionary Society Malaysia.

Publications
YOU ARE INVITED TO VISIT MY BLOG @ http://lifeislikethat999.blogspot.com/ Published a book called "The Rainbow And The Treasure". It is a compilation of extracts from various sources to introduce Buddhism to beginners. (Currently out of print)

Education/Credentials
Bachelor of Commerce And Administration, Victoria University Of Wellington, NZ.(1974)

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