Author Topic: What is consciousness?  (Read 17036 times)

Offline Hanzze

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Re: What is consciousness?
« Reply #15 on: December 08, 2011, 02:09:11 am »
There is no "my" mind. *smile* How "pure" it might ever be. There is nothing which would die beyond as there is nothing that becomes. Seen (by penetrating), the deathlessness (in penetrating all the aspects/attributes of 5 Skandhas as anicca, dukkha, anatta /empty of self/of substance) their is no further thing to do. *smile*

Offline Hanzze

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Re: What is consciousness?
« Reply #16 on: December 08, 2011, 06:37:15 am »
Maybe another useful comment from Thanissaro Bhikkhu in Kevatta (Kevaddha) Sutta: To Kevatta

Quote
Viññanam anidassanam. This term is nowhere explained in the Canon, although MN 49 mentions that it "does not partake in the allness of the All" — the "All" meaning the six internal and six external sense media (see SN 35.23). In this it differs from the consciousness factor in dependent co-arising, which is defined in terms of the six sense media. Lying outside of time and space, it would also not come under the consciousness-aggregate, which covers all consciousness near and far; past, present, and future. However, the fact that it is outside of time and space — in a dimension where there is no here, there, or in between (Ud 1.10), no coming, no going, or staying (Ud 8.1) — means that it cannot be described as permanent or omnipresent, terms that have meaning only within space and time. The standard description of nibbana after death is, "All that is sensed, not being relished, will grow cold right here." (See MN 140 and Iti 44.) Again, as "all" is defined as the sense media, this raises the question as to whether consciousness without feature is not covered by this "all." However, AN 4.174 warns that any speculation as to whether anything does or doesn't remain after the remainderless stopping of the six sense media is to "objectify non-objectification," which gets in the way of attaining the non-objectified. Thus this is a question that is best put aside.


and from a commentary in The Brahma Invitation:

Quote
Consciousness without surface (viññanam anidassanam): This term appears to be related to the following image from SN 12.64:

"Just as if there were a roofed house or a roofed hall having windows on the north, the south, or the east. When the sun rises, and a ray has entered by way of the window, where does it land?"

"On the western wall, lord."

"And if there is no western wall, where does it land?"

"On the ground, lord."

"And if there is no ground, where does it land?"

"On the water, lord."

"And if there is no water, where does it land?"

"It does not land, lord."

"In the same way, where there is no passion for the nutriment of physical food ... contact ... intellectual intention ... consciousness, where there is no delight, no craving, then consciousness does not land there or grow. Where consciousness does not land or grow, name-&-form does not alight. Where name-&-form does not alight, there is no growth of fabrications. Where there is no growth of fabrications, there is no production of renewed becoming in the future. Where there is no production of renewed becoming in the future, there is no future birth, aging, & death. That, I tell you, has no sorrow, affliction, or despair."

In other words, normal sensory consciousness is experienced because it has a "surface" against which it lands: the sense organs and their objects, which constitute the "all." For instance, we experience visual consciousness because of the eye and forms of which we are conscious. Consciousness without surface, however, is directly known, without intermediary, free from any dependence on conditions at all.

This consciousness thus differs from the consciousness factor in dependent co-arising, which is defined in terms of the six sense media. Lying outside of time and space, it would also not come under the consciousness-aggregate, which covers all consciousness near and far; past, present, and future. And, as SN 35.23 notes, the word "all" in the Buddha's teaching covers only the six sense media, which is another reason for not including this consciousness under the aggregates. However, the fact that it is outside of time and space — in a dimension where there is no here, there, or in between (Ud I.10), no coming, no going, or staying (Ud VIII.1) — means that it cannot be described as permanent or omnipresent, terms that have meaning only within space and time.

Some have objected to the equation of this consciousness with nibbana, on the grounds that nibbana is no where else in the Canon described as a form of consciousness. Thus they have proposed that consciousness without surface be regarded as an arahant's consciousness of nibbana in meditative experience, and not nibbana itself. This argument, however, contains two flaws: (1) The term viññanam anidassanam also occurs in DN 11, where it is described as where name & form are brought to an end: surely a synonym for nibbana. (2) If nibbana is an object of mental consciousness (as a dhamma), it would come under the all, as an object of the intellect. There are passages in the Canon (such as AN 9.36) that describe meditators experiencing nibbana as a dhamma, but these passages seem to indicate that this description applies up through the level of non-returning. Other passages, however, describe nibbana as the ending of all dhammas. For instance, Sn V.6 quotes the Buddha as calling the attainment of the goal the transcending of all dhammas. Sn IV.6 and Sn IV.10 state that the arahant has transcended dispassion, said to be the highest dhamma. Thus, for the arahant, nibbana is not an object of consciousness. Instead it is directly known without mediation. Because consciousness without feature is directly known without mediation, there seems good reason to equate the two.


More about the ordinary consciousness see also: The Greater Craving-Destruction Discourse and the commentary to it.

Which also contains the a more important thing: The way to archive limitless awareness for putting suffering an end. *smile*

Quote
The Path to Unlimited Awareness

"Now, there is the case where a Tathāgata appears in the world, worthy and rightly self-awakened. He teaches the Dhamma admirable in its beginning, admirable in its middle, admirable in its end. He proclaims the holy life both in its particulars and in its essence, entirely perfect, surpassingly pure.

"He [the person discussed above], hearing the Dhamma, gains conviction in the Tathāgata and reflects: 'Household life is confining, a dusty path. Life gone forth is the open air. It isn't easy, living at home, to practice the holy life totally perfect, totally pure, a polished shell. What if I, having shaved off my hair & beard and putting on the ochre robe, were to go forth from the household life into homelessness?'

"So after some time he abandons his mass of wealth, large or small; leaves his circle of relatives, large or small; shaves off his hair and beard, puts on the ochre robes, and goes forth from the household life into homelessness.

Virtue

"When he has thus gone forth, endowed with the monks' training & livelihood, then — abandoning the taking of life — he abstains from the taking of life. He dwells with his rod laid down, his knife laid down, scrupulous, merciful, compassionate for the welfare of all living beings.

"Abandoning the taking of what is not given, he abstains from taking what is not given. He takes only what is given, accepts only what is given, lives not by stealth but by means of a self that has become pure. This, too, is part of his virtue.

"Abandoning uncelibacy, he lives a celibate life, aloof, refraining from the sexual act that is the villager's way.

"Abandoning false speech, he abstains from false speech. He speaks the truth, holds to the truth, is firm, reliable, no deceiver of the world.

"Abandoning divisive speech he abstains from divisive speech. What he has heard here he does not tell there to break those people apart from these people here. What he has heard there he does not tell here to break these people apart from those people there. Thus reconciling those who have broken apart or cementing those who are united, he loves concord, delights in concord, enjoys concord, speaks things that create concord.

"Abandoning abusive speech, he abstains from abusive speech. He speaks words that are soothing to the ear, that are affectionate, that go to the heart, that are polite, appealing and pleasing to people at large.

"Abandoning idle chatter, he abstains from idle chatter. He speaks in season, speaks what is factual, what is in accordance with the goal, the Dhamma, and the Vinaya. He speaks words worth treasuring, seasonable, reasonable, circumscribed, connected with the goal.

"He abstains from damaging seed & plant life.

"He eats only once a day, refraining from the evening meal and from food at the wrong time of day.

"He abstains from dancing, singing, instrumental music, and from watching shows.

"He abstains from wearing garlands and from beautifying himself with scents & cosmetics.

"He abstains from high and luxurious beds & seats.

"He abstains from accepting gold & money.

"He abstains from accepting uncooked grain... raw meat... women & girls... male & female slaves... goats & sheep... fowl & pigs... elephants, cattle, steeds, & mares... fields & property.

"He abstains from running messages... from buying & selling... from dealing with false scales, false metals, & false measures... from bribery, deception, & fraud.

"He abstains from mutilating, executing, imprisoning, highway robbery, plunder, and violence.

"He is content with a set of robes to provide for his body and alms food to provide for his hunger. Just as a bird, wherever it goes, flies with its wings as its only burden; so too is he content with a set of robes to provide for his body and alms food to provide for his hunger. Wherever he goes, he takes only his barest necessities along.

"Endowed with this noble aggregate of virtue, he is inwardly sensitive to the pleasure of being blameless.

...continue
« Last Edit: December 08, 2011, 06:52:14 am by Hanzze »

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: What is consciousness?
« Reply #17 on: December 08, 2011, 07:55:04 am »
I work this question, "What is consciousness?" from two different directions:

1.  Mind contents down to contacts.
2.  Contacts up to Mind.

Mind Regions:

For the purpose of this discussion I will define mind as a region of mental factors. The best analogy for me, the one that makes most sense to me, is like that of a storm front, or pressure zones in climatology.  There is no actual containerization, no material container, only a meniscus between zones of varying pressure.  Mind arises when mental factors arise.  Mental factors arise, when consciousnesses arise.   



What is a meniscus?  In chemistry for example there are zones where materials are separated by density, or by polarity, such that the two different compounds do not mix.



Another analogy might be the edges of a herd of animals.  Imagine flying over a herd of water buffalo.  The herd has definite limits and dimensions, but there is nothing corraling the herd.  The individual animals would represent the mental factors / mental consciousnesses ( thoughts, emotions, memories, feelings ), or physical consciousnesses (sight consciousness, sound consiousness, etc.).



Consciousnesses:

All of the physical consciousnesses are dependent upon exterior contact forms & physical phenomena, biological physical sensory mechanisms ( tissues, nerves, nerve transports, and sensory organs ).  When exterior contacts are present, which register on biological sensory pathways, consciousnesses arise, first the physical, then the mental arise, where they are sorted, discriminated, compared, evaluated, intentions formed, and then orders sent out to initiate actions or inactions.

In this model, the only one which I have personally been able to validate and verify, physical events drive biophysical responses, drive consciousnesses to arise, cause mental factors to arise, cause mental processing to occur, causes intentions to be formed, causes physical responses to occur.

The mind arises and collapses along with the mental factors.  And, when consciousnesses end, mind disappears.

It is from validation and verification of this model that I have concluded that the idea of mind entering nibbana to be but a delusion.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2011, 08:03:00 am by Bodhisatta2011 »
What Makes an Elder? :
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But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline Hanzze

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Re: What is consciousness?
« Reply #18 on: December 08, 2011, 08:16:54 am »
Sounds a little nihilistic. *smile* Material attached nihilistic.


Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: What is consciousness?
« Reply #19 on: December 08, 2011, 09:14:45 am »
Sounds a little nihilistic. *smile* Material attached nihilistic.

Perhaps.  I can understand that conclusion.  What do you offer "from your own experience" as an alternative explanation or model?
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: What is consciousness?
« Reply #20 on: December 09, 2011, 03:50:47 am »
Sounds a little nihilistic. *smile* Material attached nihilistic.

Perhaps.  I can understand that conclusion.  What do you offer "from your own experience" as an alternative explanation or model?

Either consciousness is an emergent property of ( biological ) life, or life is an expression of consciousness.
 
I think broadly science supports the former view, and broadly religion ( including Buddhism ) supports the latter view.

But I'm not sure either science or religion really understands what consciousness actually is...

It's a bit of a mystery really. :wink1:

CP
"My religion is very simple - my religion is ice-cream"

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: What is consciousness?
« Reply #21 on: December 09, 2011, 07:24:08 am »
Either consciousness is an emergent property of ( biological ) life, or life is an expression of consciousness.
 

Or both, or neither..... :wacky: :teehee:

CP
"My religion is very simple - my religion is ice-cream"

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: What is consciousness?
« Reply #22 on: December 09, 2011, 07:27:20 am »
Quote
'Name-&-form exists when what exists? From what as a requisite condition is there name-&-form?' From my appropriate attention there came the breakthrough of discernment: 'Name-&-form exists when consciousness exists. From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form.' Then the thought occurred to me, 'Consciousness exists when what exists? From what as a requisite condition comes consciousness?' From my appropriate attention there came the breakthrough of discernment: 'Consciousness exists when name-&-form exists. From name-&-form as a requisite condition comes consciousness.'

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.065.than.html



The suttas appear to be inconsistent on the relationship between consciousness and name-and-form.  In some suttas, like the one above, a mutual dependence is described between consciousness and name-and-form.  But in other suttas name-and-form arises in dependence on consciousness, and not the other way round.

CP
"My religion is very simple - my religion is ice-cream"

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: What is consciousness?
« Reply #23 on: December 09, 2011, 01:52:03 pm »
Quote
'Name-&-form exists when what exists? From what as a requisite condition is there name-&-form?' From my appropriate attention there came the breakthrough of discernment: 'Name-&-form exists when consciousness exists. From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form.' Then the thought occurred to me, 'Consciousness exists when what exists? From what as a requisite condition comes consciousness?' From my appropriate attention there came the breakthrough of discernment: 'Consciousness exists when name-&-form exists. From name-&-form as a requisite condition comes consciousness.'

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.065.than.html



The suttas appear to be inconsistent on the relationship between consciousness and name-and-form.  In some suttas, like the one above, a mutual dependence is described between consciousness and name-and-form.  But in other suttas name-and-form arises in dependence on consciousness, and not the other way round.

CP


Yes!  'Tis a puzzlement, but still it has been described to me in yet another verifiable way:  "Consciousness builds upon consciousness, just as a rivers turbulence builds upon turbulence, causing ever more turbulence."









« Last Edit: February 08, 2017, 12:44:09 pm by Ron-the-Elder »
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline ground

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Re: What is consciousness?
« Reply #24 on: December 09, 2011, 08:36:25 pm »
Quote
'Name-&-form exists when what exists? From what as a requisite condition is there name-&-form?' From my appropriate attention there came the breakthrough of discernment: 'Name-&-form exists when consciousness exists. From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form.' Then the thought occurred to me, 'Consciousness exists when what exists? From what as a requisite condition comes consciousness?' From my appropriate attention there came the breakthrough of discernment: 'Consciousness exists when name-&-form exists. From name-&-form as a requisite condition comes consciousness.'

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.065.than.html



The suttas appear to be inconsistent on the relationship between consciousness and name-and-form.  In some suttas, like the one above, a mutual dependence is described between consciousness and name-and-form.  But in other suttas name-and-form arises in dependence on consciousness, and not the other way round.

CP


There is no contradiction therefore "inconsistent" does not apply. It depends on context what is said but not saying something is not negating it.
Saying that a car has one wheel does not negate it's having four wheels because since a car has four wheels it is also having one wheel.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2011, 08:41:05 pm by TMingyur. »

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: What is consciousness?
« Reply #25 on: December 10, 2011, 02:26:38 am »
Quote
'Name-&-form exists when what exists? From what as a requisite condition is there name-&-form?' From my appropriate attention there came the breakthrough of discernment: 'Name-&-form exists when consciousness exists. From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form.' Then the thought occurred to me, 'Consciousness exists when what exists? From what as a requisite condition comes consciousness?' From my appropriate attention there came the breakthrough of discernment: 'Consciousness exists when name-&-form exists. From name-&-form as a requisite condition comes consciousness.'

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.065.than.html



The suttas appear to be inconsistent on the relationship between consciousness and name-and-form.  In some suttas, like the one above, a mutual dependence is described between consciousness and name-and-form.  But in other suttas name-and-form arises in dependence on consciousness, and not the other way round.

CP


There is no contradiction therefore "inconsistent" does not apply. It depends on context what is said but not saying something is not negating it.
Saying that a car has one wheel does not negate it's having four wheels because since a car has four wheels it is also having one wheel.


I disagree.  A arising in dependence on B is not the same as A and B being mutually dependent.

CP
"My religion is very simple - my religion is ice-cream"

Offline ground

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Re: What is consciousness?
« Reply #26 on: December 10, 2011, 02:47:24 am »
Quote
'Name-&-form exists when what exists? From what as a requisite condition is there name-&-form?' From my appropriate attention there came the breakthrough of discernment: 'Name-&-form exists when consciousness exists. From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form.' Then the thought occurred to me, 'Consciousness exists when what exists? From what as a requisite condition comes consciousness?' From my appropriate attention there came the breakthrough of discernment: 'Consciousness exists when name-&-form exists. From name-&-form as a requisite condition comes consciousness.'

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.065.than.html



The suttas appear to be inconsistent on the relationship between consciousness and name-and-form.  In some suttas, like the one above, a mutual dependence is described between consciousness and name-and-form.  But in other suttas name-and-form arises in dependence on consciousness, and not the other way round.

CP


There is no contradiction therefore "inconsistent" does not apply. It depends on context what is said but not saying something is not negating it.
Saying that a car has one wheel does not negate it's having four wheels because since a car has four wheels it is also having one wheel.


I disagree.  A arising in dependence on B is not the same as A and B being mutually dependent.

CP


Reification leads to such kinds of views.


Offline Optimus Prime

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Re: What is consciousness?
« Reply #27 on: December 10, 2011, 04:14:32 am »
The suttas appear to be inconsistent on the relationship between consciousness and name-and-form.  In some suttas, like the one above, a mutual dependence is described between consciousness and name-and-form.  But in other suttas name-and-form arises in dependence on consciousness, and not the other way round.


Yes, normally, in Dependent Origination, you'll see consciousness conditions nama-rupa (name-form or mind-body).  But you do sometimes find him saying the opposite.  I have provided 2 translations of each part of this Sutta in an effort to see if the meaning can be clarified:
- The first one is the Thanissaro Bhikkhu translation. 
- The second one is the Maurice Walshe translation.

The Buddha explains it like this:
Consciousness conditions name and form:  Means a consciousness descending into the womb - giving rise to the new mind-body (i.e., 5 Skandhas) of the new person in this life.
And this is the way to understand how from consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-and-form. If consciousness were not to descend into the mother's womb, would name-and-form take shape in the womb?" "No, lord."
-  "If, after descending into the womb, consciousness were to depart, would name-and-form be produced for this world?" "No, lord."
-  "If the consciousness of the young boy or girl were to be cut off, would name-and-form ripen, grow, and reach maturity?"  "No, lord."

Source:  "Maha-nidana Sutta: The Great Causes Discourse" (DN 15), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight, 8 June 2010, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.15.0.than.html . Retrieved on 1 December 2011.

-  If consciousness were not to come into the mother's womb, would mind-and-body develop there?' 'No, Lord.'
-  'Or if consciousness, having entered the mother's womb, were to be deflected, would mind-and-body come to birth in this life?' 'No, Lord.' 'And if the consciousness of such a tender young being, boy or girl, were thus cut off, would mind-and-body grow, develop and mature?' 'No, Lord.'

Source:  http://www.palicanon.org/en/sutta-pitaka/transcribed-suttas/digha-nikaya/172-dn-15-mahnidna-sutta-the-great-discourse-on-origination.html

So consciousness enters the womb - that's how the Buddha explained birth.  If that consciousness departs the womb - there would be no mind-body arising as a result of it in this life - and so, there would be no person to grow to maturity.



Name-and-form conditions consciousness:
And this is the way to understand how from name-and-form as a requisite condition comes consciousness. If consciousness were not to gain a foothold in name-and-form, would a coming-into-play of the origination of birth, aging, death, and stress in the future be discerned?  "No, lord."
Source:  "Maha-nidana Sutta: The Great Causes Discourse" (DN 15), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight, 8 June 2010, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.15.0.than.html . Retrieved on 1 December 2011.

If consciousness did not find a resting-place in mind-and- body, would there subsequently be an arising and coming-to- be of birth, ageing, death and suffering?' 'No, Lord.'
Source:  http://www.palicanon.org/en/sutta-pitaka/transcribed-suttas/digha-nikaya/172-dn-15-mahnidna-sutta-the-great-discourse-on-origination.html


However, the use of consciousness in these contexts still isn't the primary meaning of consciousness, which is different yet again.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2011, 04:19:02 am by Optimus Prime »

Offline Hanzze

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Re: What is consciousness?
« Reply #28 on: December 10, 2011, 08:18:46 am »

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: What is consciousness?
« Reply #29 on: December 11, 2011, 03:32:25 am »
However, the use of consciousness in these contexts still isn't the primary meaning of consciousness, which is different yet again.

So how in your view is consciousness being used in teachings on DO?   Is it not the standard 6-fold version?

Spiny
"My religion is very simple - my religion is ice-cream"

 


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