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A Mosaic of Traditions - One Virtual Sangha => The Dharma Express => Topic started by: Spiny Norman on December 06, 2011, 07:41:18 am

Title: What is consciousness?
Post by: Spiny Norman on December 06, 2011, 07:41:18 am
We've touched on this question in other threads but I thought it would be useful to have a thread specifically on this.

Up to 8 types of consciousness are recognised in Buddhism - the first five relate to the senses (sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing), the sixth is mind-consciousness, the seventh is manas, and the eighth is alaya-vinana.

So there is some classification of consciousness in Buddhism - but what actually is it? 

Is it best described as awareness, or knowing, or cognising?  And how is it different from perception?

CP
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: ground on December 06, 2011, 08:21:02 am
Quote
"Feeling, perception, & consciousness are conjoined, friend, not disjoined. It is not possible, having separated them one from another, to delineate the difference among them. For what one feels, that one perceives. What one perceives, that one cognizes. Therefore these qualities are conjoined, not disjoined, and it is not possible, having separated them one from another, to delineate the difference among them."

[url]http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.043.than.html[/url] ([url]http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.043.than.html[/url])



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.'

[url]http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.065.than.html[/url] ([url]http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.065.than.html[/url])
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Spiny Norman on December 07, 2011, 08:06:28 am
Quote
"Feeling, perception, & consciousness are conjoined, friend, not disjoined. It is not possible, having separated them one from another, to delineate the difference among them. For what one feels, that one perceives. What one perceives, that one cognizes. Therefore these qualities are conjoined, not disjoined, and it is not possible, having separated them one from another, to delineate the difference among them."

[url]http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.043.than.html[/url] ([url]http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.043.than.html[/url])



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.'

[url]http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.065.than.html[/url] ([url]http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.065.than.html[/url])



Thanks, but do these quotes get us any closer to what consciousness actually is?
CP
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Hanzze on December 07, 2011, 09:06:23 am
Currently Name-&-form ? *smile*
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: ground on December 07, 2011, 12:02:49 pm
Quote
"Feeling, perception, & consciousness are conjoined, friend, not disjoined. It is not possible, having separated them one from another, to delineate the difference among them. For what one feels, that one perceives. What one perceives, that one cognizes. Therefore these qualities are conjoined, not disjoined, and it is not possible, having separated them one from another, to delineate the difference among them."

[url]http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.043.than.html[/url] ([url]http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.043.than.html[/url])



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.'

[url]http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.065.than.html[/url] ([url]http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.065.than.html[/url])



Thanks, but do these quotes get us any closer to what consciousness actually is?
CP


You mean the real essence, the real substance of consciousness?  :lmfao:

Sorry but consciousness has no weight, no color, no form ... so what "is" it? A mere term. It is a noun which refers to being concious but it does not refer to an object. It may be a linguistic issue you have trouble with.

Can you observe being or becoming conscious of something? Its part of mindfulness acc. to MN10. If yes, you should know what the term refers to.
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Optimus Prime on December 07, 2011, 09:59:14 pm
The Buddha used the word "consciousness" in varying ways and in addition, the teachers of today use it in varying ways.  This meaning varies from being just "sense impressions" that arise and cease... up to the Buddha Nature consciousness.  And in the western world, we can also use consciousness as in conscious vs unconscious.  So it's very important to understand first of all the context in which it was used and then understand the relevant meaning within that context.

Ajahn Amaro gives a good overview of the different ways in which "consciousness" is used in the Buddhist world:

The final, and perhaps most significant, term to look at in this light is “consciousness.” The Pali word “vinnàna” is almost invariably translated into English as “consciousness.” In Buddhist psychology “vinnàna” generally means a discriminative consciousness that acts via one of the six sense-doors: eye, ear, nose, tongue, body or mind. It means the act of cognising a knowable object.

However, this is not the only way that the Buddha uses the term.

As Ajahn Sumedho mentions on p.134 there are two places in the discourses where a substantially different set of qualities are associated with the term.  The phrase that he quotes (vinnànaü anidassanam anantam sabbato pabham) Diga Nikàya 11.85, in the Kevaddha Sutta and, in part, at Majjhima Nikàya 49.25. The former passage comes at the end of a colourful and lengthy teaching tale recounted by the Buddha. He tells of a monk in the mind of whom the question arises:

“I wonder where it is that the four great elements – Earth, Water, Fire and Wind – cease without remainder?” Being a skilled meditator, the bhikkhu in question enters a state of absorption and “the path to the gods becomes open to him.” He begins by putting his question to the first gods he meets, the retinue of the Four Heavenly Kings, the guardians of the world; they demur, saying that they do not know the answer, but that the Four Kings themselves probably do: he should ask them. He does, they do not and the search continues.

Onward and upward through successive heavens he travels, continually being met with the same reply: “We do not know but you should try asking...” and is referred to the next higher level of the celestial hierarchy. Patiently enduring the protracted process of this cosmic chain of command, he finally arrives in the presence of the retinue of Maha-Brahmà, he puts the question to them; once again they fail to produce an answer but they assure him that The Great Brahmà Himself, should He deign to manifest, is certain to provide him with the resolution he seeks.

Sure enough, before too long, Maha-Brahmà appears but he too does not know the answer, and he chides the monk for being a disciple of the Buddha yet not going to his own teacher with such a question. 

When he finally meets the Buddha and asks him, he receives the reply:

“But, monk, you should not ask your question in this way: ‘Where do the four great elements – Earth, Water, Fire and Wind – cease without remainder?’ Instead, this is how the question should have been put:

‘Where do earth, water, fire and wind,
And long and short, and fine and coarse,
Pure and impure no footing find?
Where is it that both nàma (name) and råpa
(form) fade out,
Leaving no trace behind?’
“And the answer is:

‘In the awakened consciousness –
the invisible, the limitless, radiant.
[vinnànam anidassanam anantam sabbato pabham]
There it is that earth, water, fire and wind,
And long and short, and fine and coarse,
Pure and impure no footing find.
‘There it is that both nàma and råpa fade out,
Leaving no trace behind.
When discriminative consciousness comes to its limit,
They are held in check therein.’”

The term anidassana-vinnàna has been translated in various other ways: “where consciousness is signless” (Walshe) “the consciousness that makes no showing” (Nanamoli) and, most helpfully, by Bhikkhu Nànananda, in his book Concept and Reality (p 59), as “non-manifestative consciousness.” It is unlikely that the English language has a single term that can accurately convey the constellation of meanings that anidassana-vinnàna possesses, however it is generally this set of qualities that Ajahn Sumedho is referring to when he uses the simple term consciousness.”

As he says, also on p 134, it is “a mouthful of words that point to this state of natural consciousness, this reality.” So it should be borne in mind by the reader that, most of the time, he is quite deliberately using the single word “consciousness” as a shorthand for “anidassana-vinnàna.” Naturally, the word is also used in various places with its customary scriptural meaning of discriminative cognising, as well as in the sense of “re-birth consciousness” (patisandhi vinnàna), for example, on p138, “When we are born into a physical birth, we have consciousness within this form…”. In addition, Ajahn Sumedho also occasionally uses the word in the ordinary English sense, i.e. describing the state of not being unconscious, being awake and aware of one’s surroundings and identity. 

An obvious parallel to Ajahn Sumedho’s usage of the word “consciousness” is the Thai phrase “poo roo” as employed by many of the Forest Ajahns. The literal translation is: “poo” = “person” + “roo” = “knowing.” It has been variously rendered as “knowing” “the one who knows” “awareness” or even “Buddha wisdom.”

It is also a term that can be used to convey a large spectrum of meanings from, at one end, the simple act of the mind cognising an object (as in classical definitions of vinnàna), through varying levels of refinement (as in being the witness of phenomena arising and passing away), up to the utterly unobstructed awareness of the fully awakened heart.  So it can mean everything from simple “cognition” to “the wisdom of a fully enlightened Buddha.” And, just as with Ajahn Sumedho’s employment of the word “consciousness,” it is necessary with the term “poo roo” to look at the context, and to take into account the favourite expressions of the Ajahn in question, in order to discern the intended nuances of meaning – ergo, caveat lector!

Since there are such a variety of meanings contingent upon the one word “consciousness” in this book, it would thus be wise for the reader always to reflect on the circumstance that the word is being used in. In this light, it might be felt by some that it would have been more helpful not to have used “consciousness” in such a broad range of ways, that perhaps sticking to more familiar terminology might have been easier on the listeners and readers – perhaps using a word like “citta,” the heart, as defining the agent of pure awareness, instead of “anidassana vi¤¤àõa” – however this is not the way that such organic and freestyle methods of teaching usually work.

p13-17 Intuitive Awareness by Ajahn Sumedho
Source:  http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/intuitive-awareness.pdf (http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/intuitive-awareness.pdf)
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Hanzze on December 07, 2011, 10:09:03 pm
Quote
Since there are such a variety of meanings contingent upon the one word “consciousness” in this book, it would thus be wise for the reader always to reflect on the circumstance that the word is being used in. In this light, it might be felt by some that it would have been more helpful not to have used “consciousness” in such a broad range of ways, that perhaps sticking to more familiar terminology might have been easier on the listeners and readers – perhaps using a word like “citta,” the heart, as defining the agent of pure awareness, instead of “anidassana vi¤¤àõa” – however this is not the way that such organic and freestyle methods of teaching usually work.

I guess this sentences carry the most important message if we listen to teachings of maybe liberated "beings". Its like "why is it proper that a Buddha speaks of "i"" *smile*

Where ever is name(&from), there is a consciousness and where ever is consciousnesses there is name (&form), birth and death. So simply let go.
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: ground on December 07, 2011, 10:11:35 pm
So simply let go.

Great insight, Hanzze.

Can you keep this samaya? :wink1:
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Hanzze on December 07, 2011, 10:19:06 pm
(http://t2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQ9VNgYwUkGMQmOza25G-FTMaBcTFLR88d8wL4wT4V-WRD9jNOL)

*smile*

Guess what is consciousness on this picture.
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: ground on December 07, 2011, 10:21:23 pm
Nice to learn how you are looking like :)
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Hanzze on December 08, 2011, 12:08:17 am
Understanding one self means understanding others. No more need to quarrel about it. Understanding others to understand one self would be like looking in a mirror and thinking that there is somebody different. *smile*

The surface of the mirror we can call consciousnesses. Only if we penetrate it, we face reality. Ever tried to sit in front of a mirror for a long time and investigate your impressions of self.

(http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSBM18_0rFDe10K6lCZdrbWeTAGGdsWWuJYFkaJM_y6RkFye85P)
That is a sample of a Dharma friend. *smile*
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: ground on December 08, 2011, 12:12:06 am
Understanding one self means understanding others.

You got the message of the Mahayana :teehee:

There is no way to liberate yourself without liberating others :wink1:
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Hanzze on December 08, 2011, 12:29:06 am
What conditions what? *smile*

(http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTkX-rQysW0NxK_AnFpN3pIHm4HVlwl3EUaNz4Op9KMGL5X6D82QA)
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Hanzze on December 08, 2011, 01:21:35 am
From the Shurangama Sutra (http://www.cttbusa.org/shurangama/shurangama4.asp)

Quote
“The reason those who cultivate cannot accomplish unsurpassed Bodhi, but instead reach the level of a Sound-Hearer or of one enlightened to conditions, or become accomplished in outside ways as heaven-dwellers or as demon-kings or as members of the retinue of demons is that they do not know the two fundamental roots and are mistaken and confused in their cultivation. They are like one who cooks sand in the hope of creating savory delicacies. They may pass through as many aeons as there are motes of dust, but in the end they will not obtain what they want. 1:231

”What are the two? Ananda, the first is the root of beginningless birth and death, which is the mind that seizes upon conditions and that you and all living beings now make use of, taking it to be the self-nature. 1:234

”The second is the primal pure substance of the beginningless Bodhi Nirvana. It is the primal bright essence of consciousness that can bring forth all conditions. Because of conditions, you consider it to be lost.


So the bright "primal bright essence of consciousness" is something that can bring you forth all conditions. If I understand this right in the context of this Sutra, it means that this kind of consciousness many might be attached to, is a last tool, vehicle but not any essence of personality. So can it be considered as the base condition to contentiouslessness, a consciousness (realm - jhana) that need to be reached to get beyond. *smile*
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Optimus Prime on December 08, 2011, 01:47:51 am
From the Shurangama Sutra ([url]http://www.cttbusa.org/shurangama/shurangama4.asp[/url])

Quote
“The reason those who cultivate cannot accomplish unsurpassed Bodhi, but instead reach the level of a Sound-Hearer or of one enlightened to conditions, or become accomplished in outside ways as heaven-dwellers or as demon-kings or as members of the retinue of demons is that they do not know the two fundamental roots and are mistaken and confused in their cultivation. They are like one who cooks sand in the hope of creating savory delicacies. They may pass through as many aeons as there are motes of dust, but in the end they will not obtain what they want. 1:231

”What are the two? Ananda, the first is the root of beginningless birth and death, which is the mind that seizes upon conditions and that you and all living beings now make use of, taking it to be the self-nature. 1:234

”The second is the primal pure substance of the beginningless Bodhi Nirvana. It is the primal bright essence of consciousness that can bring forth all conditions. Because of conditions, you consider it to be lost.


So the bright "primal bright essence of consciousness" is something that can bring you forth all conditions. If I understand this right in the context of this Sutra, it means that this kind of consciousness many might be attached to, is a last tool, vehicle but not any essence of personality. So can it be considered as the base condition to contentiouslessness, a consciousness (realm - jhana) that need to be reached to get beyond. *smile*


You refine your mind down with Jhana so that it becomes more and more subtle.  Refine it down so that the mind sort of approaches emptiness.  Then the deathless is easier to see.  Whilst within Jhana, you see the 5 Skandhas as anicca, dukkha, anatta and then you turn your mind towards the deathless.  This is the process that the Buddha recommended.
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Hanzze 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*
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Hanzze on December 08, 2011, 06:37:15 am
Maybe another useful comment from Thanissaro Bhikkhu in Kevatta (Kevaddha) Sutta: To Kevatta (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.11.0.than.html#fn-1)

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 (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.049.than.html#fn-9):

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 (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.038.than.html#fn-1) 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
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Ron-the-Elder 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.   

(http://www.pilotfriend.com/training/flight_training/met/images2/7.jpg)

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.

(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/4e/Meniscus.jpg/150px-Meniscus.jpg)

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.).

(http://amazingdata.com/mediadata6/Image/amazing_fun_featured_2971054310104237032S600x600Q85_200907232003598587.jpg)

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.
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Hanzze on December 08, 2011, 08:16:54 am
Sounds a little nihilistic. *smile* Material attached nihilistic.

Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Ron-the-Elder 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?
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Spiny Norman 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
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Spiny Norman 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
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Spiny Norman 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.'

[url]http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.065.than.html[/url] ([url]http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.065.than.html[/url])



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
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Ron-the-Elder 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.'

[url]http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.065.than.html[/url] ([url]http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.065.than.html[/url])



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."

(http://fishusa.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/small-stream.jpg)

(http://www.staygolinks.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/river400x195.jpg)

(http://www.mcelroy.ca/bushlog/images/10b-7469.jpg)

(https://www.sinohotel.com/images/2008/01/03/110343843.jpg)

(http://images.travelpod.co.uk/users/franpaul.os/1.1285150744.the-horseshoe-falls-niagara.jpg)
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: ground 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.'

[url]http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.065.than.html[/url] ([url]http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.065.than.html[/url])



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.
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Spiny Norman 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.'

[url]http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.065.than.html[/url] ([url]http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.065.than.html[/url])



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
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: ground 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.'

[url]http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.065.than.html[/url] ([url]http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.065.than.html[/url])



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.

Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Optimus Prime 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 (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 (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 (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 (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.
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Hanzze on December 10, 2011, 08:18:46 am
(http://t1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQNp3nU4IUv_YbiqW6KR6T6oMZe40vVoHk6Nsn2x00qkQdWwlJ8)
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Spiny Norman 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
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Spiny Norman on December 11, 2011, 03:33:42 am
Reification leads to such kinds of views.

We are discussing basic logic here.

Spiny
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: ground on December 11, 2011, 05:26:03 am
Reification leads to such kinds of views.

We are discussing basic logic here.

Spiny

No. You want to support your views with what you fabricate as "basic logic". Obviously what you call "basic" is not so basic as it may appear to you.
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: catmoon on December 11, 2011, 10:41:31 pm
Funny I thought we were discussing consciousness. The question framed in the topic title is not a new one. It has been used as a Zen koan for centuries in the form "What is this?" Short of a stunning direct insight, I don't think the question can be answered.
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Hanzze on December 12, 2011, 08:52:58 am
Maybe from interest:

Quote
EIGHTH CONSCIOUSNESS

In Yogacara theory everything is "mind only" and this consciousness is divided into eight sections. The principal part of consciousness is the alaya or "storehouse consciousness" which is the basis of the seven other consciousnesses. All eight comprise the mind dharmas and the fifty dharmas that interact with the mind.

The alaya consciousness is also known as the "repository of impressions." From the alaya arise all of our ideas of self, ego, and their respective functions in the external world. If the alaya is imagined as a vast ocean, then the seven other consciousness are waves on its surface. The seven are not separate from the eighth, nor do they disturb the stillness of its depths; all eight are essentially one.



from BASIC IDEAS OF YOGACARA BUDDHISM (http://online.sfsu.edu/~rone/Buddhism/Yogacara/basicideas.htm)

So is alaya independent of physical existence, ie a human form?

Spiny
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on December 12, 2011, 02:10:36 pm
Thank you, Hanzze.  This commentary seems to have identified "the watcher" -ego which seems to be the attachment of some traditions.  The storehouse is also interesting in that it is the integrator of all memories/past experiences and the current real time sense-consciousnesses.

Never seen this before. :pray:
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Hanzze on December 12, 2011, 10:34:33 pm
Similar approaches like in Yogacara we find in most forest traditions, but we need to be careful that consciousnesses is at least only a tool to escape from suffering and not any eternity. *smile*

Quote
LUSTHAUS, DAN (1998). Buddhism, Yogācāra school ([url]http://blog.mindandreality.org/files/yogacara.html[/url])

Yogācāra is one of the two schools of Indian Mahāyāna Buddhism. Its founding is ascribed to two brothers, Asaṅga and Vasubandhu, but its basic tenets and doctrines were already in circulation for at least a century before the brothers lived. In order to overcome the ignorance that prevented one from attaining liberation from the karmic rounds of birth and death, Yogācāra focused on the processes involved in cognition. Their sustained attention to issues such as cognition, consciousness, perception and epistemology, coupled with claims such as ‘external objects do not exist’ has led some to misinterpret Yogācāra as a form of metaphysical idealism. They did not focus on consciousness to assert it as ultimately real (Yogācāra claims consciousness is only conventionally real), but rather because it is the cause of the karmic problem they are seeking to eliminate.

Yogācāra introduced several important new doctrines to Buddhism, including vijñaptimātra, three self-natures, three turnings of the dharma-wheel and a system of eight consciousnesses. Their close scrutiny of cognition spawned two important developments: an elaborate psychological therapeutic system mapping out the problems in cognition with antidotes to correct them and an earnest epistemological endeavour that led to some of the most sophisticated work on perception and logic ever engaged in by Buddhists or Indians.

Although the founding of Yogācāra is traditionally ascribed to two half-brothers, Asaṅga and Vasubandhu (fourth–fifth century bc), most of its fundamental doctrines had already appeared in a number of scriptures a century or more earlier, most notably the Saṃdhinirmocanasūtra (Elucidating the Hidden Connections) (third–fourth century bc). Among the key Yogācāra concepts introduced in the Saṃdhinirmocanasūtra are the notions of ’only-cognition’ (vijñaptimātra), three self-natures (trisvabhāva), warehouse consciousness (ālayavijñāna), overturning the basis (āśrayaparāvṛtti) and the theory of eight consciousnesses.


You might also find more explaining here: Eight Consciousnesses from Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eight_Consciousnesses)

Don't get attached to metaphysics! Just be mindful. *smile*
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Spiny Norman on December 13, 2011, 07:16:46 am
Funny I thought we were discussing consciousness. The question framed in the topic title is not a new one. It has been used as a Zen koan for centuries in the form "What is this?" Short of a stunning direct insight, I don't think the question can be answered.

I was rather hoping for a stunning direct insight. :wink1:

Spiny
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on December 15, 2011, 08:14:14 am
Funny I thought we were discussing consciousness. The question framed in the topic title is not a new one. It has been used as a Zen koan for centuries in the form "What is this?" Short of a stunning direct insight, I don't think the question can be answered.


I was rather hoping for a stunning direct insight. :wink1:

Spiny


Here are some stunning insights regarding "consciousness" as evidenced by Near Death Experiences.  Four Interviews with Cardiologist, Pim van Lommel. :

Part 1:  The Cardiologist on the Near-Death Experience 1 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICdizzVY5h4#)

Part 2: http://nhneneardeath.ning.com/forum/topics/cardiologist-pim-van-lommel (http://nhneneardeath.ning.com/forum/topics/cardiologist-pim-van-lommel)

Part 3:   Pt.3 of 4 - Dr. Pim Van Lommel - Consciousness Beyond Life (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RX1OkVM-WbA#ws)

Part 4:  Pt.4 of 4 - Dr. Pim Van Lommel - Consciousness Beyond Life (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJyY52jG-mY#ws)
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on December 16, 2011, 10:09:16 am
Another thought just arose regarding consciousness, especially with regard to non-local consciousness or non-local mind, which I would like to put out for discussion:

If the senses were not associated with the brain, then why would five of them:

Sight, Hearing, Taste, Smell, Mental Processing be located on the head?  Seems like that would be a perfect place from an evolutionary strategy to locate them?

Again, if you support the notion of non-local consciousness, or non-local mind please cut off your head and tell us what happened.
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Spiny Norman on December 17, 2011, 03:51:57 am
Again, if you support the notion of non-local consciousness, or non-local mind please cut off your head and tell us what happened.

I also have some difficulty with the idea of disembodied consciousness somehow floating round in the ether.  However I'm not that the 7th and 8th types of consciousness ( manas and alaya-vinana ) are actually described in this way?

Spiny

Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Wonky Badger on December 17, 2011, 03:22:30 pm
This is how I, as a computer engineer, imagine it (sorry for all the techy details).

I imagine the body as the hardware of the computer. Power unit as the heart, hard drive, RAM and processor as the brain, network card, mouse, and keyboard among other as the senses. I imagine the operating system, like Windows or Linux to be the consciousness.

A computer without an operating system looks just the same as a computer with one installed, but still it's silent and unresponsive while the other is fully functioning and responsive. If you tear apart a computer, you will not be able to actually find the operating system, just as you will not be able to find the consciousness in a human body.

Now, if we just assume the hardware to be the material body, and the point of birth when the operating system enters the computer, and let's just for the sake of argument assume that the operating system is Windows Vista (with some modifications for sentience). Let's also assume that at point of death, the computer owner makes a backup of the operating system to be able to install on their new computer and that the system is otherwise not rebooted during it's life cycle. And unfortunately our operating system cannot be copied. It has to reside either on the hard drive or on backup media, never in two places at the same time.

During the computer's life cycle, it's decisions and experiences might alter the operating system. Bad decisions might downgrade it to Windows XP, good decisions might upgrade it to Windows 7 and a great realization might just convert it to open source Linux.  :cheesy:
And of course, all major software changes require reboot to fully take effect.

Regarding Ron's note about cutting of one's head, surely one can pull out the hard drive, RAM or processor, and the computer will lose it's consciousness, but that does not mean that the hard drive, RAM or processor IS the consciousness. The operating system is lying somewhere on a backup DVD which, in this example I would label as neither hardware or software. The hardware is just the interface between the operating system and the input devices of the computer.

It might be a flawed example, but that is the closest I can come to make sense of it all.
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on December 17, 2011, 03:41:26 pm
Right!

Right now, conceptually, I am stuck between:

1. Local Mind dissipates when all forms of dependently originated consciousnesses subside.

and,

2. Mind, luminous and pristine, free of all taints, delusions, khandas, fetters, shackles, .....etc. is all that is left once unbound, and extinguished.

Each reportedly seem to result in some sort of a timeless, spaceless, state free of kamma, and unseen by death: nibbana. So, is non-local consciousness, but an endless sea of consciousness? And, is our individual "share" of consciousness dependently arisen, or but a small part of the sea with a delusion that it is somehow become isolated between me and thee?

It seems to me that the latter is but another visualization or characterization for the idea of an eternal ego, or soul, which by the way, had to be learned from someone else: a guru, teacher, master, or Buddha.

In a recently viewed lecture regarding The Four Noble Truths, HHDL stated that nibbana "was dependent upon" proper understanding and practice of The Noble Eight Fold Path.  I have read exactly the same thing in The Suttas, which state that The Noble Eight Fold Path, The Middle Way, is "the singular path to nibbana", which seems to me makes nibbana conditional upon the correct interpretation, understanding, and practice of The Nobel Eight Fold Path.  "What else could it mean?"

So, I guess that I will just have to wait for my next NDE, or better yet,
DE to see what happens.  Do I remain locally conscious and unconscious, or do "my dreams" take me into flight, or across the universe as my imagination allows.

What struck me as the most cogent of Dr.  Lommel's statement had to do with the plasticity of the brain, which he saw as consciousness driving brain function and determining which regions of the brain were utilized for various sensory and mental functions. This struck me hard, because I have seen many documentaries regarding brain plasticity, and studied folks with literally "half a brain" learning to function acceptably. But, even those with half a brain who function OK, would rather have a whole brain. And, to date, all those who have proposed that consciousness is independent of brain have refused to cut off their heads for me and to report back as to how things worked out .

I am not so sure about this independent consciousness idea, because brain plasticity seems more likely to be driven by exterior stimulus combined with sense consciousnesses rather than by an interior consciousness such as mental factors. However, Buddha was clear with his instruction that we "see" with our interior faculties and not with those which are responsible for supporting contact.

I am beginning to think that any resolution or understanding of this issue is beyond my ken.

OP & CP stated this dilema quite well:
http://www.freesangha.com/forums/gen...iousness-3111/ (http://www.freesangha.com/forums/gen...iousness-3111/)


[Quote:]
Re: What is consciousness?
« Reply #28 on: December 10, 2011, 04:14:32 am »
Quote
Quote from: CP Gumby on December 09, 2011, 07:27:20 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.


Quote
OP: 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, [url]http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipit...15.0.than.html[/url] ([url]http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipit...15.0.than.html[/url]) . 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: [url]http://www.palicanon.org/en/sutta-pi...igination.html[/url] ([url]http://www.palicanon.org/en/sutta-pi...igination.html[/url])

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, [url]http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipit...15.0.than.html[/url] ([url]http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipit...15.0.than.html[/url]) . 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: [url]http://www.palicanon.org/en/sutta-pi...igination.html[/url] ([url]http://www.palicanon.org/en/sutta-pi...igination.html[/url])
It occurs to me that "both" could be the case dependent upon the pressing ambient conditions. For example in samsaric condtions the mind certainly conditions behavior in response to exteriors conditions. For example an athlete focuses his mind on training, which in turn conditions attitude, his musculature and stamina.


In nibbana there should be not such exterior stressors, or if they exist, they are handled with equanimity.

So, now I am left wondering if "nibbana" is simply a state of mind in which all eventualities, even hellish conditions, are handled with equanimity.
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on December 17, 2011, 03:43:58 pm
A neurosurgeon's view of consciousness:

http://www.ted.com/talks/vilayanur_ramachandran_on_your_mind.html (http://www.ted.com/talks/vilayanur_ramachandran_on_your_mind.html)
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on December 17, 2011, 04:23:52 pm
HHDL re. The Nature of Mind:  HHDL re. The Nature of Mind:  Nature of the Mind (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gO7RQi55asY#ws)
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: catmoon on December 17, 2011, 11:55:50 pm
Funny I thought we were discussing consciousness. The question framed in the topic title is not a new one. It has been used as a Zen koan for centuries in the form "What is this?" Short of a stunning direct insight, I don't think the question can be answered.

I was rather hoping for a stunning direct insight. :wink1:

Spiny

Such insights are available, but not communicable. For insight, get out a cushion and sit on it.
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Spiny Norman on December 18, 2011, 06:53:32 am
So, is non-local consciousness, but an endless sea of consciousness? And, is our individual "share" of consciousness dependently arisen, or but a small part of the sea with a delusion that it is somehow become isolated between me and thee?

Perhaps consciousness is like electricity, which would make us like long-life light-bulbs. :wink1:

Spiny
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Hanzze on December 18, 2011, 09:17:58 am
Another thought just arose regarding consciousness, especially with regard to non-local consciousness or non-local mind, which I would like to put out for discussion:

If the senses were not associated with the brain, then why would five of them:

Sight, Hearing, Taste, Smell, Mental Processing be located on the head?  Seems like that would be a perfect place from an evolutionary strategy to locate them?

Again, if you support the notion of non-local consciousness, or non-local mind please cut off your head and tell us what happened.
Does the head continue to live and only the torsos breaks apart? Thinking on the body (physical touch) it's maybe for quite more dukkha responsible as the other five sense organs could "produce". Why do you like to get the consciousness located and maybe even "real" (eternal/nihilistic)? *smile*
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on December 18, 2011, 01:16:34 pm
Another thought just arose regarding consciousness, especially with regard to non-local consciousness or non-local mind, which I would like to put out for discussion:

If the senses were not associated with the brain, then why would five of them:

Sight, Hearing, Taste, Smell, Mental Processing be located on / in the head?  Seems like that would be a perfect place from an evolutionary strategy to locate them?

Again, if you support the notion of non-local consciousness, or non-local mind please cut off your head and tell us what happened.

Does the head continue to live and only the torsos breaks apart? Thinking on the body (physical touch) it's maybe for quite more dukkha responsible as the other five sense organs could "produce". Why do you like to get the consciousness located and maybe even "real" (eternal/nihilistic)? *smile*


The question my dear friend is:  " Is consciousness local, dependent upon brain, and therefore impermanent?", or, Is consciousness non-local and "eternal"?

My guess is that it is local, dependent upon brain, and impermanent.  I guess this based on my experience with folks who have died.

Although I cannot "disprove" that a non-local consciousness is out there, none of the folks with whom I was closest (so far) ever came back to me to say hello or to tell me where they hid their money. 

According to Buddha's teachings, only advanced practitioners are capable of non-local mind:  http://what-buddha-said.net/library/DPPN/wtb/g_m/iddhi.htm (http://what-buddha-said.net/library/DPPN/wtb/g_m/iddhi.htm)

However, HHDL has noted that during an experiment with an advanced practitioner, another monk, his body remained fresh for over sixteen days, and when they checked his brain activity, they found electrical activity, which HHDL associated with what he called a most subtle, purified mind.

He did not name names, but he discusses it in his "The Nature of Mind" talk.

Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Hanzze on December 18, 2011, 06:36:50 pm
Quote
The question my dear friend is:  " Is consciousness local, dependent upon brain, and therefore impermanent?", or, Is consciousness non-local and "eternal"?

I would say that the consciousness is very flexible. Sometimes it appears very local and sometimes nearly eternal. Sometimes it's part of somebody outside, sometimes its in your little toe when you have pushed a stone. Sometimes it's in the sky and sometimes it seems to hide and often is far away, especially regarding time. *smile* Sometimes it's strong and potent, sometimes small, smaller then an end, sometimes it gets hurt and sometimes you can not break it down. It seems to be dependent on so many things, like dust in the wind forming a cloud.
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Spiny Norman on December 19, 2011, 07:23:59 am
According to Buddha's teachings, only advanced practitioners are capable of non-local mind:  [url]http://what-buddha-said.net/library/DPPN/wtb/g_m/iddhi.htm[/url] ([url]http://what-buddha-said.net/library/DPPN/wtb/g_m/iddhi.htm[/url])


In the suttas there are references to the formless realms, which presumably is consciousness only.

From Wiki:

The Formless Realm or Ārūpyadhātu (Sanskrit) or Arūpaloka (Pāli) (Tib: gzugs med pa'i khams) is a realm in Buddhist cosmology.[1] It would have no place in a purely physical cosmology, as none of the beings inhabiting it has either shape or location; and correspondingly, the realm has no location either. This realm belongs to those devas who attained and remained in the Four Formless Absorptions (catuḥ-samāpatti) of the arūpadhyānas in a previous life, and now enjoys the fruits (vipāka) of the good karma of that accomplishment. Bodhisattvas, however, are never born in the Ārūpyadhātu even when they have attained the arūpadhyānas.
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on December 31, 2011, 02:30:58 am
From this morning's readings:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.15.0.than.html (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.15.0.than.html)
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Lobster on January 01, 2012, 06:10:43 am
The sense of consciousness from my experience is dependent on conditions.
Being awake for example.
Also any sense of the unformed, eternal requires human (or similar) consciousness for its arising.
Would a synthetic human produce the sense of consciousness? I should imagine so. Would the cyborg be easy to tweak for a sense of the Clear Light?

Enlightened operating system reboot . . .  :D
http://tmxxine.com/yy/teaching.html (http://tmxxine.com/yy/teaching.html)
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on January 08, 2012, 05:36:31 pm
From this evenings readings:

The Magic of the Mind (http://www.scribd.com/doc/50505402/The-Magic-of-the-Mind#)
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Spiny Norman on January 09, 2012, 06:21:18 am
I've pinned this thread, thanks to Bodhisatta2011 for suggesting it.

Spiny
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Spiny Norman on January 09, 2012, 06:24:05 am
The question my dear friend is:  " Is consciousness local, dependent upon brain, and therefore impermanent?", or, Is consciousness non-local and "eternal"?


I recall watching a TV documentary on consciousness, where there was a suggestion that according to quantum mechanics consciousness isn't necessarily local - something to do with probability waves I think.

Spiny
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on January 09, 2012, 11:17:27 am
The question my dear friend is:  " Is consciousness local, dependent upon brain, and therefore impermanent?", or, Is consciousness non-local and "eternal"?



I recall watching a TV documentary on consciousness, where there was a suggestion that according to quantum mechanics consciousness isn't necessarily local - something to do with probability waves I think.

Spiny


Yeah!  I've read that too, but the problem is that "spooky action at a distance" as Einstein called it has to do with pairing of electrons, which somehow get separated from their initially paired orbitals.  This is called "quantum entanglement".  Scientists have been experimenting to see if this principle could be used to produce communications perturbations, such as that found with Morse Code, across vast distances.  Here we are talking galaxial distances.  This is what would be required if mind was somehow made non-local.

http://www.nature.com/news/2008/080813/full/news.2008.1038.html (http://www.nature.com/news/2008/080813/full/news.2008.1038.html)

Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Spiny Norman on January 10, 2012, 02:45:03 am
I've read that too, but the problem is that "spooky action at a distance" as Einstein called it has to do with pairing of electrons, which somehow get separated from their initially paired orbitals.  This is called "quantum entanglement".  Scientists have been experimenting to see if this principle could be used to produce communications perturbations, such as that found with Morse Code, across vast distances.  Here we are talking galaxial distances.  This is what would be required if mind was somehow made non-local.

I think in the TV programme they were only talking about short distances.  And I don't think it was to do with quantum entanglement but with probability, a fuzziness of location.  That thing where at the quantum level particles only "make up their mind" where they are when they are actually observed...observed by consciousness... :wacky:

Spiny
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: anata123 on July 18, 2012, 04:32:38 pm
From the SURANGAMA SUTRA:

Let me ask you, is this consciousness that is dependent on the eyes, developed solely by means of the eyes and limited by the eyes, or is it developed solely by means of sight and bounded by sight?

If the consciousness of sight is developed by means of the eyes only, then as it is independent of sight and space, it cannot make any discrimination and thus, in spite of your consciousness, of what use (avail) will it be?
Moreover, as the perception of sight does not belong to colors-green, yellow, red, and white-it cannot manifest any appearance and, thus, what shall be its boundary lines?

Or if the perception of sight is developed by means of sight then, as there is only space and sight, your consciousness of it will be annihilated and how can you know anything of the nature of space?

And if, when the sight changes, you are consciousness of the change, it would mean that the sight itself is changing, but as your consciousness does not change, what will be the line between it and your perception of sight?
Or if your consciousness is subject to change along with the change of sight, then any phenomena of differences will disappear.
Or, if your consciousness is permanent and unchangeable, then, as it developed from sight, it should not recognize any location of space.
Or, if consciousness is developed by both eyes and sight, then one part of your consciousness, the part developed from the eyes will be sensitive, and the other part developed from the sight will be sensitive. So when the sense of your eyes and the sight are contact, one part of your consciousness will be perceptive and one part unperceptive, it would mean that if these two parts of consciousness become separated from each other, then they must both be independent of the mind.

And when the sense of your eyes and the sight are in separation, one part of your consciousness will return to your eyes and one part will return to the sight. That would mean that these two parts of your consciousness are in separate contacts with your eyes and the sight. Thus, the body and its attribute are confusingly mixed and what shall be their boundary lines?

Therefore, Ananda, you should know that these three localities where the perception of sight is under the condition of the sense of the eyes and the sight, and where the perception of sight arises from your consciousness dependent upon the eyes are all devoid of any substantial existence, so these three phenomena of the perception of sight, the sight itself, and the sphere of mentation about sight are neither manifested by cause and conditions, nor spontaneously by their own nature.

Again Ananda, you have understood that the perception of the thinking mind are under the condition of the thinking mind and of its conception of phenomena, and that it is manifested from the consciousness dependent upon the thinking mind.
Is this consciousness that is dependent upon the thinking mind developed by means of the thinking mind and bounded by the thinking mind? Or is it developed by means of its conceptions of phenomena and bounded by its conception of phenomena?

If consciousness is developed by means of the thinking mind, then within your thinking mind, there must be some consciousness that discovers your thinking mind.
Should there be no such kind of thoughts, the thinking mind would not have been developed.
Should consciousness then be independent of any such conditions, it would have no appearance of thinking and what, then, would be the use of consciousness?

Moreover, in referring to your conscious mind and to all its attributes of the thinking and discriminating are they in unity, or are they different things?

If your conscious mind and all its attributes of the thinking and discriminating are in unity with the thinking mind, then they are no different from the thinking mind and how could they have any other manifestation?

If your conscious mind and all its attributes of the thinking and discriminating are not in unity with the thinking mind, then they are different things and separated from one another, in which case the thinking mind would be unconscious of them.

Should the thinking mind be unconscious of your conscious mind and all its attributes of the thinking and discriminating, then how could the thinking mind be developed?

If the thinking mind is conscious of your conscious mind and all its attributes of the thinking and discriminating, then what is it that is conscious of the thinking mind?

Thus, whether consciousness and its attributes are in unity with the thinking mind or in separation from it, there is no such kind of existence and how can consciousness then be bounded by spheres?

If this consciousness that is dependent upon the thinking mind is developed by means of thoughts about phenomena, then all the phenomena of the world belong to the five sense objects.

For instance, supposing you are attending to the five phenomena of sight, sound, odour, taste, and touch, which are very distinctive in their manifestations, and if these five kinds of phenomena go with their respective sense organs, it shows that they are not managed by the thinking mind.

If it is asserted that consciousness must be developed by conception of phenomena, then please concentrate your reflections and tell me what is the appearance in your thinking mind of these conception of phenomena.

If you set aside all such phenomena as sight, space, motion, silence, transmissibility, non- transmissibility, combination, separation, death, rebirth, then you will never be able to think out the appearance of consciousness.

As soon as consciousness appears, then all such phenomena as sight, space, motion, silence, transmissibility, non- transmissibility, combination, separation, death, rebirth, will be manifested also; and as soon as consciousness disappears, all such phenomena as sight, space, motion, silence, transmissibility, non- transmissibility, combination, separation, death, rebirth, will disappear too.
As there is thus, no substantial existence of the object of the phenomena of conception, which we are regarding as the cause of consciousness, it shows clearly that there is also no substantial nature and manifestation for the consciousness that is manifested by means of the objects of the phenomena of conception.

Since consciousness possesses no substantial nature, manifestation, nor existence, how can its sphere be revealed? Therefore, Ananda, you should know that these three localities where the perception of thinking mind, as being under the condition of the sense of the thinking mind and of its conceptions of phenomena, developed its thinking process, the thinking process, the consciousness, and its sphere, are all devoided of any substantial existence.

So these three phenomena, the perception of the thinking mind, its conceptions about them, and its sphere of thinking, are neither manifested by cause and conditions, nor spontaneously by its own nature.
Ananda! Consciousness has no originality of its own.



Consciousness is an illusive manifestation developed by means of the six objects of sense.



Suppose you were looking over this assembly, without making any particular distinctions, letting the different persons present be reflected in your mind as in a looking glass. Your consciousness would, nevertheless, make acknowledgement of the different ones, saying in orderly succession:-This is brother Manjusri, this is brother Purna, this is brother Maudgalyayana, this is brother Subhuti, this is brother Sariputra, etc.
What think you, Ananda? Is this discriminating consciousness manifested from the phenomena, or is it manifested from space, or is it manifested spontaneously without any cause?
If the nature of your consciousness is manifested from the perception of eyes, let us suppose there is no brightness, no darkness, no sight and no space. If these are not existent then, naturally, there will be no perception of sight, and if there is no perception of sight by your eyes, how can any consciousness arise?
Or, if the nature of your consciousness is manifested from phenomena, but not from the perception of your eyes, then as there can be no perception of brightness, there can be no perception of darkness, either.
If there is no perception of either brightness or darkness, there can be no sight and no space. If there is no phenomena of either sight or space, from what can consciousness be manifested?
Or, if the nature of your consciousness is manifested from the emptiness of space, then, as there is no phenomena, so there can be no perception of eyes and nothing to distinguish, and of course, consciousness could not say, this is brightness, this is darkness, this sight or this space.
If consciousness belongs to non-phenomena, then there will be no condition in its presence and, thus, all perceptions of sight, hearing, understanding, feeling, will be devoid of location and therefore devoid of all existence.
If there can be no existence under these two conditions of no phenomena and no perception of sight, is it possible to have existence under any other condition?
If it is possible, then the conditions must be different in nature from the phenomena of sight, or the phenomena of space and resulting consciousness will be something different from consciousness based upon distinctions of sight, hearing, understanding, feeling.
Or if the nature of your consciousness is manifested spontaneously without any particular cause, why do you not see the bright moon in some abnormal way?
Ananda! You should ponder upon this question very carefully, concentrate your attraction, make use of your profound insight, scrutinizing such details of conditions as the teaching that perception of seeing is dependent upon eyes, perception of phenomena is derived from conditions within one’s presence, that existence means describable forms and that non-existence means the absence of phenomena.
These conditions of consciousness:-from what cause are they developed? It cannot be that they come from nowhere. As those disciples who have not yet attained to the state of absorption into the Womb of Tathagata, their consciousness belongs to activity and the perception of sight to tranquility. So accordingly, perception of sight and consciousness dependent upon it are neither manifested by means of conformity to something, nor by combination with something; and it is just the same with the other perception of hearing, understanding, and feeling and with their corresponding consciousness.
 Ananda! If your conscious mind is not manifested from any source, then you should know that both discriminative consciousness and the different perceptions of seeing, hearing, understanding, feeling are all existing in perfection and tranquility the nature of which is unmanifested from any outer source, and that all of them-perceptions, consciousness, together with earth, water, air, fire and space-are to be regarded as the Seven Great Elements. Their essential nature is perfect and in unity within the Womb of Tathagata and, therefore, they are free from deaths and rebirth.
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: J. McKenna on July 18, 2012, 05:12:05 pm
life    love     the universe   
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: FallingLeaf on September 14, 2012, 10:25:00 am
I think it was David Chalmers who suggested consciousness should just be accepted as something fundamental to the Universe, like gravity or electromagnetism, since as noted above, there is a point at which the question 'What is it?' becomes unanswerable. Then we can at least move on and ask the not so hard secondary questions such as how and why do we have (access to) it?
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Spiny Norman on September 15, 2012, 01:43:11 am
I think it was David Chalmers who suggested consciousness should just be accepted as something fundamental to the Universe, like gravity or electromagnetism...

Maybe it's an emergent property rather than a fundamental one?
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: FallingLeaf on September 15, 2012, 08:39:33 pm
Quote
Maybe it's an emergent property rather than a fundamental one?

Yes, perhaps it is. What do you think it is emergent from? Here is a quote from Wiki to clarify my previous post, emphasis mine:

Quote
Some philosophers, including David Chalmers, argue that conscious experience is a fundamental constituent of the universe, a form of panpsychism sometimes referred to as panexperientialism. In the paper "Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness,” Chalmers wrote:
It is undeniable that some organisms are subjects of experience. But the question of how it is that these systems are subjects of experience is perplexing. Why is it that when our cognitive systems engage in visual and auditory information-processing, we have visual or auditory experience: the quality of deep blue, the sensation of middle C?... It is widely agreed that experience arises from a physical basis, but we have no good explanation of why and how it so arises. Why should physical processing give rise to a rich inner life at all?[12]
Chalmers argues that a ‘rich inner life’ is not logically reducible to the functional properties of physical processes. He states that consciousness must be described using nonphysical means. This description involves a fundamental ingredient capable of clarifying phenomena that have not been explained using physical means. Use of this fundamental property, Chalmers argues, is necessary to explain certain functions of the world, much like other fundamental features, such as mass and time, explain significant principles in nature. 

Personally, not being either a scientist or a philosopher, I have no strong opinion on any of the hard questions regarding firstly, why there is something instead of nothing, and secondly, why there is experience of it. Although its a challenging and enjoyable distraction at times.
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: FallingLeaf on September 16, 2012, 09:49:40 am
Proximately, one could argue that consciousness is emergent from the brain but there aren't any biological brains without a cosmos. All life depends on fundamental forces of the universe such as electromagnetism and the strong nuclear force so perhaps the recipe for consciousness includes an as yet undiscovered ingredient tapped from the cosmos at large that mediates consciousness in some way. I think that is what Chalmers is saying his own way. Cosmologists seem to have no problem acknowledging that 95.4% of the matter and energy in the Universe cannot be directly observed, hence the mysterious names dark energy and dark matter. So why not mysterious ingredients in biological processes that could account for what we call emergence? My simple mind tells me that when a+b adds up to more than 'c' the obvious thing to do first is consider if we have missed something on the left side of the equal sign. That is standard scientific methodology. Too bad the neuroscientists are too busy drilling holes into the skulls of caged laboratory animals and inserting electrodes deep into their brains in their endless search for NCCs, the so called neural correlates of consciousness, to give it a try.
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: FallingLeaf on September 30, 2012, 06:52:54 pm
Just finished reading Christof Kock's new book, Consciousness: Confessions Of A Romantic Reductionist. The neuroscientist's conclusion is that the cosmos is conscious, or at least infused with it.  According to Koch, consciousness is a fundamental feature of the universe.

 
Quote
Consciousness comes with organized chunks of matter. It is immanent in the organization of the system. It is a property of complex entities and cannot be further reduced to the action of more elementary properties. You and I find ourselves in a cosmos in which any and all systems of interacting parts possess some measure of sentience. The larger and more highly networked the system, the greater the degree of consciousness.   

Integrated and differentiated information processing results in the most consciousness, and the human brain does that better than anything else we know of. But dog brains do it, too. Even worms, bees and fleas would have some some sense of what it subjectively feels like to be itself, as consciousness would theoretically infuse anything that could be defined as a 'system of interacting parts'. Might this include rocks and water? They have molecules which have interacting parts. Integrated information theory is an elaborate, contemporary version of panpsychism.

Quote
Once you assume that consciousness is real and ontologically distinct from its physical substrate, then it is a simple step to conclude that the entire cosmos is suffused with sentience. We are surrounded and immersed in consciousness; it is in the air we breathe, the soil we tread on, the bacteria that colonize our intestines, and the brain that enables us to think... 

An interesting read and somewhat unexpected from a neuroscientist.
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: BlueSky on November 01, 2012, 11:14:41 pm
For someone who have an idea of @&$1, they will have a problem of what is @&$1.

Same thing with consciousness.

Scientist or us can make a very very complicated definition of what is consciousness. But what is the point if at the end you will soon or later see there is no such thing.

You simply waste your time.

What is the point to make a very robust, a very detail, or to think in a very complicated way the description of water from mirage?

It just strengthening your illusion the existence of water from mirage.

Same way, looking for a definition of consciousness will simply drag you down into samsara even deeper, because your this effort will further make you believe there is such thing.




Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: former monk john on November 01, 2012, 11:32:15 pm
with the cessation of conciousness, comes the complete cessation of posting on the internet........
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: BlueSky on November 02, 2012, 12:00:49 am
There is no such thing as the cessation of consciousness.

If in the first place, there is consciousness, you are right to say my consciousness has ceased.

But, if you never have it even now, there is no such thing called cessation of consciousness.

Water of mirage never cease, because it is never there in the first place.
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: anando on May 09, 2013, 04:16:59 am
 :r4wheel:
Helo,
i want to refer to the notion of buddhist consciousnes.
1. Consciousness is alreday implated from the beginning of life.
2. Consciousness is fed by the six senses but on the other hand the senses depend on consciousness. The last sentence is contradictionary, but  it works for both sides.
By dissolving the perception in the 8th freeing / Jhanas) also the consciousness is being dissolved.

sakko
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: brahmacharya on November 12, 2013, 11:16:36 am
We've touched on this question in other threads but I thought it would be useful to have a thread specifically on this.

Up to 8 types of consciousness are recognised in Buddhism - the first five relate to the senses (sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing), the sixth is mind-consciousness, the seventh is manas, and the eighth is alaya-vinana.

So there is some classification of consciousness in Buddhism - but what actually is it? 

Is it best described as awareness, or knowing, or cognising?  And how is it different from perception?

CP

Different words are used for explanations, but there's really just one consciousness which manifests as all of those. The root of those consciousness - the mind, the senses - is the "I" thought-feeling or awareness. By staying in that awareness, the mind will be stilled automatically and it will be relatively easy for one to concentrate and meditate.
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on November 14, 2013, 06:55:33 am
Ran across this thread during my morning tour.  It reminded me of a period a few years back when I began a personal study of the topic in earnest, because I sensed that I had no definitive understanding of it, nothing concrete, nor with which I felt the comfort of competence.  Turned out most scientists working in the field of neurological research were experiencing the same syndrome of incompetence, as I discovered when I reviewed the following Ted Talks:

http://www.ted.com/search?cat=ss_all&q=Consciousness (http://www.ted.com/search?cat=ss_all&q=Consciousness)

Buddha describes "consciousness" by associating six types with each of the six "sense doors" already mentioned in this thread.
Buddha taught that each of these sense doors required vigilance so as to attenuate and eliminate the effects of the hindrances upon our minds and subsequently upon our behaviors, as a certain monk remarked repeating this teaching when talking about the failure of another, who had recently renounced his training as a follower of The Vinaya Rules for Monks:

Quote
[At Saavatthii a certain monk said to the Ven. Saariputta:]

"Friend, Saariputta, my companion has renounced the training and reverted to the lower life."[1]

"This is what happens, friend, with one whose sense-doors are unguarded, who is immoderate in eating and not given to wakefulness [like that monk]. As long as he lives it will be impossible for him to maintain the holy life in all its fullness and purity. But if a monk guards his sense-doors, is moderate in eating and given to watchfulness, then it will be possible for him, as long as he lives, to maintain the holy life in all its fullness and purity.

"And how, friend, does one guard the sense-doors? In this a monk seeing an object with the eye, does not seize hold of either its general appearance or its details. Because anyone dwelling with the eye-faculty uncontrolled could be overwhelmed by cupidity and dejection, evil and unwholesome states of mind, therefore he practices to control the eye-faculty, guards it and gains control over it. So one guards the sense-doors.

[Similarly with ear, nose, tongue, body (touch), mind]

"And how, friend, is one moderate in eating? In this a monk takes his food properly considering,[2] not for sport, for intoxication, for adornment or beautification, but purely for the maintenance and nourishment of this body, for keeping it unharmed, as an aid to the practice of the holy life, thinking: 'I shall put an end to the old feeling,[3] and not produce any new feeling.[4] Thus I shall keep going, incur no fault, and live at ease.' That, friend, is how one is moderate in eating.

"And how, friend, is one given to watchfulness? In this a monk walks up and down by day and then sits,[5] thus cleansing his mind from obstructive states.[6] [Similarly for the first watch[7] of the night.] In the middle watch of the night, lying on his right side, he adopts the lion posture,[8] resting one foot on the other, mindful and clearly aware, with his thoughts fixed on rising. In the last watch of the night he rises, walks up and down, and then sits, thus cleansing his mind from obstructive states. That, friend, is how one is given to watchfulness.

"Therefore, this is how you should train yourselves: 'We will guard the doors of our senses, be moderate in eating and given to watchfulness.'

"This, friend, is the way for you to train yourself."

source:  [url]http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn35/sn35.120.wlsh.html[/url] ([url]http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn35/sn35.120.wlsh.html[/url])


And, what are these hindrances which assault us through our senses?:

Quote
Many are the obstacles which block the road to spiritual progress, but there are five in particular which, under the name of hindrances (nivarana), are often mentioned in the Buddhist scriptures:

Sensual desire (kamacchanda),
Ill-will (byapada),
Sloth and torpor (thina-middha),
Restlessness and remorse (uddhacca-kukkucca),
Sceptical doubt (vicikiccha).

They are called "hindrances" because they hinder and envelop the mind in many ways, obstructing its development (bhavana). According to the Buddhist teachings, spiritual development is twofold: through tranquillity (samatha-bhavana) and through insight (vipassana-bhavana). Tranquillity is gained by complete concentration of the mind during the meditative absorptions (jhana). For achieving these absorptions, the overcoming of the five hindrances, at least temporarily, is a preliminary condition. It is especially in the context of achieving the absorptions that the Buddha often mentions the five hindrances in his discourses.

source:  [url]http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nyanaponika/wheel026.html[/url] ([url]http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nyanaponika/wheel026.html[/url])

Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on November 14, 2013, 07:04:54 am
This talk given by Jill Bolt Taylor describes what happens when the central organ of consciousness, the brain, is damaged.  I could relate to this particular talk since I had recently experienced a series of over 100 right brain strokes.

http://www.ted.com/talks/jill_bolte_taylor_s_powerful_stroke_of_insight.html (http://www.ted.com/talks/jill_bolte_taylor_s_powerful_stroke_of_insight.html)
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on November 14, 2013, 08:48:56 am
The Fire Sermon (Aditta-pariyaya-sutta)

Quote


Thus I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was living at Gaya, at Gayasisa, together with a thousand bhikkhus. There he addressed the bhikkhus.

"Bhikkhus, all is burning. And what is the all that is burning?

"The eye is burning, forms are burning, eye-consciousness is burning, eye-contact is burning, also whatever is felt as pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant that arises with eye-contact for its indispensable condition, that too is burning. Burning with what? Burning with the fire of lust, with the fire of hate, with the fire of delusion. I say it is burning with birth, aging and death, with sorrows, with lamentations, with pains, with griefs, with despairs.

"The ear is burning, sounds are burning...

"The nose is burning, odors are burning...

"The tongue is burning, flavors are burning...

"The body is burning, tangibles are burning...

"The mind is burning, ideas are burning, mind-consciousness is burning, mind-contact is burning, also whatever is felt as pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant that arises with mind-contact for its indispensable condition, that too is burning. Burning with what? Burning with the fire of lust, with the fire of hate, with the fire of delusion. I say it is burning with birth, aging and death, with sorrows, with lamentations, with pains, with griefs, with despairs.

"Bhikkhus, when a noble follower who has heard (the truth) sees thus, he finds estrangement in the eye, finds estrangement in forms, finds estrangement in eye-consciousness, finds estrangement in eye-contact, and whatever is felt as pleasant or painful or neither-painful- nor-pleasant that arises with eye-contact for its indispensable condition, in that too he finds estrangement.

"He finds estrangement in the ear... in sounds...

"He finds estrangement in the nose... in odors...

"He finds estrangement in the tongue... in flavors...

"He finds estrangement in the body... in tangibles...

"He finds estrangement in the mind, finds estrangement in ideas, finds estrangement in mind-consciousness, finds estrangement in mind-contact, and whatever is felt as pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant that arises with mind-contact for its indispensable condition, in that too he finds estrangement.

"When he finds estrangement, passion fades out. With the fading of passion, he is liberated. When liberated, there is knowledge that he is liberated. He understands: 'Birth is exhausted, the holy life has been lived out, what can be done is done, of this there is no more beyond.'"

That is what the Blessed One said. The bhikkhus were glad, and they approved his words.

Now during his utterance, the hearts of those thousand bhikkhus were liberated from taints through clinging no more.

— SN 35.28
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on November 14, 2013, 08:56:33 am
Awareness of Consciousness through The Meditative Mind:

In the first paragraph of the following commentary the author points out that one of Buddha's Main Adversaries is the accretion of the senses, Mara.  Therefore, I conclude that the accumulation of the consciousnesses, which arise from the sense contact is equally distracting from the goal of unbinding and release hindered in no small part by what passes through our sense doors:

source:  http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/khema/herenow.html (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/khema/herenow.html)

Quote
To develop a meditative mind, we also need to calm our senses. We don't have to deny our senses, that would be foolishness, but see them for what they are. Mara the tempter is not a fellow with a long tail and a flaming red tongue, but rather our senses. We hardly ever pay attention to what they do to us when they pull us from an interesting sight to a beautiful sound, and back to the sight, the touch, the idea. No Peace! Our constant endeavor is to catch a moment's pleasure.

A sense contact has to be very fleeting, because otherwise it becomes a great dukkha. Let's say we are offered a very nice meal which tastes extremely good. So we say to our host: "That's a very nice meal, I like it very much." The host replies: "I have lots of food here, please stay around and eat for another two or three hours." If we did, we would not only get sick in body but also disgusted in our mind. A meal can last twenty or at the most thirty minutes. Each taste contact can only last a second, then we have to chew and swallow. If we were to keep it in the mouth any longer, it would become very unpleasant.

Maybe we feel very hot and go to take a cold shower. We say to our friend waiting outside: "Now I feel good, that cold water is very pleasant." Our friend says: "We have plenty of cold water, you can have a shower for the next five to six hours." Nothing but absolute misery would result. We can enjoy a cold shower for ten or twenty minutes at the most.

Anything that is prolonged will create dukkha. All contacts pass quickly, because that is their nature. The same goes for sight, our eyes are continually blinking. We can't even keep sight constant for the length of time we're looking at anything. We may be looking at a beautiful painting for a little while and really like it. Someone says: "You can stay here and look at the painting for the next five hours, we're not closing the museum yet." Nobody could do that. We can't look at the same thing a long time, without feeling bored, losing all awareness, or even falling asleep. Sense contacts are not only limited because of their inability to give satisfaction. They are actually waves that come and go. If we are listening to some lovely music, after a few hours the same music becomes unbearable. Our sense contacts are mirroring a reflection of satisfaction, which has no real basis in fact. That's Mara constantly leading us astray.

There's a pertinent story of a monk in the Buddha's time which relates the ultimate in sense discipline. A married couple had a big row and the woman decided to run away. She put on several of her best saris, one over the other, wore all her gold jewelry and left. After a while the husband was sorry that he had let her go and followed her. He ran here and there, but couldn't find her. Finally he came across a monk who was walking along the street. He asked the monk if he'd seen a woman in a red sari with long black hair and lots of jewelry around her neck and arms. The monk said: "I saw a set of teeth going by."

The monk was not paying attention to the concepts of a woman with long black hair, a red sari, and lots of jewelry, but only to the fact that there was a human being with a set of teeth. He had calmed his senses to the point where the sight object was no longer tempting him into a reaction. An ordinary person at the sight of a beautiful woman with black hair, a red sari and lots of jewelry, running excitedly along the street, might have been tempted to follow her. A set of teeth going by, is highly unlikely to create desire. That is calming the senses.

If we come upon a snake, it's not an object of dislike, or destruction, but just a sentient being that happens to be around. That's all. There's nothing to be done, nothing to react to. If we think of it as a snake that could kill us, then of course, the mind can go berserk, just as the monk's mind could have done, if he had thought "Oh, what a beautiful woman."

If we watch our senses again and again, this becomes a habit, and is no longer difficult. Life will be much more peaceful. The world as we know it consists of so much proliferation. Everywhere are different colors, shapes, beings and nature's growth. Each species of tree has hundreds of sub-species. Nature proliferates. All of us look different. If we don't guard our senses, this proliferation in the world will keep us attracted life after life. There's too much to see, do, know and react to. Since there is no end to all of that we might as well stop and delve inside of ourselves.

A meditative mind is achieved through mindfulness, clear comprehension and calming the senses. These three aspects of practice need to be done in everyday life. Peace and harmony will result, and our meditation will flourish.
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: francis on November 14, 2013, 02:02:32 pm
This talk given by Jill Bolt Taylor describes what happens when the central organ of consciousness, the brain, is damaged.  I could relate to this particular talk since I had recently experienced a series of over 100 right brain strokes.

[url]http://www.ted.com/talks/jill_bolte_taylor_s_powerful_stroke_of_insight.html[/url] ([url]http://www.ted.com/talks/jill_bolte_taylor_s_powerful_stroke_of_insight.html[/url])


Thanks Ron,

That is an amazing insight into how the brain works. 

Hope you recovery is going well.
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: NepalianBuddhist on November 16, 2013, 06:36:25 am
Quote
Re: What is consciousness?


The psychological manifestation of the Mind.
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on November 16, 2013, 08:53:16 am
Quote
Re: What is consciousness?


The psychological manifestation of the Mind.

Hi, Wesley.  Not a bad definition, but as both Buddha and neuroscience has pointed out:  There are both physiological and mental components of consciousness as well as the both physical and mental processes and interactions, which cause consciousness to arise.  Then there are other closely related components called awareness, and also understanding.  Another, Buddha called "penetration" as though we were making an effort to "understand", but were meeting with resistance due to some intrinsic weakness, lack of effort, resources, prerequisites, or skill, and/or perhaps not having the right combination or key to entry. All of these are hindrances or deficits, which prevent penetration.

When thinking of penetration during meditation or contemplation I often visualize an exterior object protected by a force-field, which requires some mental effort in order for me to break through.  The same when contemplating Koans, math  or logic problems, or when troubleshooting failed electric/electronic, or mechanical problems which are preventing various systems not to function as designed.

All of this, while perhaps making life interesting and providing temporary satisfaction or even joy or happiness when the problems are surmounted, do nothing to permanently end our dukkha.  Even consciousness itself Buddha pointed out was but a hindrance and should not be in any way an object of fascination or clinging.   :dharma:

Even so, without the mental facility of consiousness and its underlying organic physiological supports could we find our way to The Noble Eight Fold Path and therewith our exits to freedom?  I wonder. :eek:
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on November 16, 2013, 02:09:25 pm
"John Searle: Our shared condition -- consciousness"

Dr. Searle seems to have a good handle of what consciousness actually is and how it arises as a biological phenomenon.:

http://www.ted.com/talks/john_searle_our_shared_condition_consciousness.html (http://www.ted.com/talks/john_searle_our_shared_condition_consciousness.html)

Question is, "What is our experience?"  The practice of Meditation and Mindfulness helps us to "observe" and characterize our actual experience with consciousness.  For example, when we pay attention during walking meditation we become aware of the volitional energy and direction of mind required to arouse our motivation to move in any given body part in any desired direction.  Searle addresses this and many other aspects of consciousness.

resource:  http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/silananda/bl137.html (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/silananda/bl137.html)

Buddha recommended that we raise our awareness of even such mundane autonomic functions such as breathing and heartbeat in The Anapana Sati  Meditation on Breathing:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/ariyadhamma/bl115.html (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/ariyadhamma/bl115.html)

But, what about consciousness itself?  Many meditators confuse the aspect of mind which watches the mind itself as different than, or separate from the mental consciousness, where, after many years of experience in meditation and mindfulness we find that it is not, just as Buddha warned us, and that once we realize this fact, we can abandon any attachment to that particular aspect as well, and we gain insight into his lessons / teachings regarding emptiness. :dharma:

Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on November 17, 2013, 09:54:27 am
Dan Dennett: The illusion of consciousness

Dr. Dennett raises the specter, which has always plagued us  as summarized in the following time tested trite truism:

"Believe nothing of what you hear and only half of what you see!"  Benjamin Franklin.....and  he demonstrates why.

http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_dennett_on_our_consciousness.html (http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_dennett_on_our_consciousness.html)
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on November 17, 2013, 10:19:21 am
Buddha recognized the inconstancy of our various forms of consciousness and is quoted:

[quote]Viññana Sutta: Consciousness
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
© 2004
At Savatthi. "Monks, eye-consciousness is inconstant, changeable, alterable. Ear-consciousness... Nose-consciousness... Tongue-consciousness... Body-consciousness... Intellect-consciousness is inconstant, changeable, alterable.

"One who has conviction & belief that these phenomena are this way is called a faith-follower: one who has entered the orderliness of rightness, entered the plane of people of integrity, transcended the plane of the run-of-the-mill. He is incapable of doing any deed by which he might be reborn in hell, in the animal womb, or in the realm of hungry shades. He is incapable of passing away until he has realized the fruit of stream-entry.

"One who, after pondering with a modicum of discernment, has accepted that these phenomena are this way is called a Dhamma-follower: one who has entered the orderliness of rightness, entered the plane of people of integrity, transcended the plane of the run-of-the-mill. He is incapable of doing any deed by which he might be reborn in hell, in the animal womb, or in the realm of hungry shades. He is incapable of passing away until he has realized the fruit of stream-entry.

"One who knows and sees that these phenomena are this way is called a stream-enterer, steadfast, never again destined for states of woe, headed for self-awakening."[/quote]

source:  http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn25/sn25.003.than.html (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn25/sn25.003.than.html)
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Dharmakara on November 25, 2013, 12:14:15 am
Notice of Split Thread

Several posts have been split from the "What is Consciousness" thread because they were more specific to the Dzogchen tradition and then slowly went off-topic, requiring that the posts in question be relocated to the Dzogchen section:

http://www.freesangha.com/forums/dzogchen/re-what-is-consciousness/msg70503/#msg70503 (http://www.freesangha.com/forums/dzogchen/re-what-is-consciousness/msg70503/#msg70503)
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: anata123 on February 23, 2014, 03:47:30 pm
Sati:
Exactly so, friend. As I understand the dhama taught by the blessed one.
It is the same consciousness that goes through the round of the endless rebirths.

Bhikkus:
Friend Sati, do not misrepresent the blessed one. The blessed one would never speak of consciousness in this manner.
In many ways the blessed one has stated that consciousnes is dependently arising, for without conditions there would not be origination of consciousness.

Bhikkus:
Venerable sir, since we couldn't detach pernicious view from Sati, we report this matter to the blessed one.

Buddha:
Come bhikku, tell the bhikku Sati in my name that the teacher calls him.

Buddha:
Is true the following pernicious view has arisen in you Sati; as I understand the dhama taught by the blessed one, it is this same consciousness that goes through the round of this endless rebirths?

Sati:
Exactly so venerable sir.

Buddha:
What is that consciousness Sati?

Sati:
 Venerable sir, consciousness is which that feels and experiences, all the results of good or bad karmic actions.

Buddha:
Misguided man, to whom have you ever known me teach the dhama in that way?
Not only have you misrepresent the Sangha by this wrong grasp of the dhama, but you also injured yourself by storing up much demerits, for this will lead you to the harm and sufferings for a long time.

Misguided man have I not stated in many ways that consciousness is dependently arisen and that without conditions there would be no origination of consciousness.

With ignorance is condition comes volitional formation.

With volitional formation as condition comes consciousness.

Bhikkus,  consciousness is recognized by the particular conditions dependent upon which it arises.

When consciousness arises dependent on the eyes and form it is reckoned as eyes consciousness... Same for ear, nose, tongue, body and mind is paired with mind objects in the same way eyes is paired with form.

Just as fire is reckoned by the particular conditions dependent upon which it burns.

When fire burns dependent on log it is reckoned as a log fire.

When fire burns dependent on hays it is reckoned as a hay fire.

When fire burns dependent on forest it is reckoned as a forest fire.........
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Atanavat on February 24, 2014, 08:17:59 am
 - "If the alaya is imagined as a vast ocean, then the seven other consciousness are waves on its surface. The seven are not separate from the eighth, nor do they disturb the stillness of its depths; all eight are essentially one."


I see that as in complete accordance with numerous thought system, philosophies and religious mysticism around the world, past and present. Even a lot of scientific theory is alluding to similar descriptions and ideas. It is the most adequate description that I have personally heard of what is the prime motive drive for there to be consciousness at all, and it explains reincarnation as something that should be taken very seriously in the view of karma and its influence on experience. It strikes at the heart of the reasons to walk the path.

Here is a (to me) cool description of implications of many-world theory: http://themindunleashed.org/2014/02/10-mind-bending-implications-many-worlds-theory.html (http://themindunleashed.org/2014/02/10-mind-bending-implications-many-worlds-theory.html)

Thought it would fit well with the above.  :namaste:
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Ananda10 on April 12, 2014, 06:48:18 am


Dependent on eye and form, eye consciousness arises...ear and sound, nose and odors, tongue and flavors, body and tangibles...Dependent on mind and dhamma mind consciousness arises.
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: NoEssentialNature on May 20, 2014, 05:46:43 pm
Even so, without the mental facility of consiousness and its underlying organic physiological supports could we find our way to The Noble Eight Fold Path and therewith our exits to freedom?  I wonder. :eek:

Without them we would be awake. But having them, we need to use them to untangle ourselves. Through developing consciousness of what consciousness is, it is untangled, and we return to our original state of freedom and awakening.
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: flaneur on April 06, 2015, 06:05:37 pm
"The Mystery of Consciousness"
Sam Harris

http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/the-mystery-of-consciousness (http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/the-mystery-of-consciousness)
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: NoEssentialNature on April 02, 2016, 05:20:08 pm
I think it was David Chalmers who suggested consciousness should just be accepted as something fundamental to the Universe, like gravity or electromagnetism...

Maybe it's an emergent property rather than a fundamental one?

Yogacara schools, including all of Mahayana Buddhism, hold the mind-only doctrine https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yogachara#Yog.C4.81c.C4.81ra_and_Madhyamaka

The assumptions of reductionist experimental science make it difficult to see consciousness as anything but a derivative emergent phenomena of simpler systems. But that ignores the philosophical debates deep within the scientific worldview, which often happens because scientists don't generally like being drawn into them, being mostly practical people :)
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthropic_principle
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fine-tuned_Universe
Now these are not solid theories or settled debates. I only point to these ideas, like observation in quantum mechanics,  as showing how consciousness may be fundamental to the universe, rather than 'just' emergent.

So: many schools of Buddhism hold Mind to be fundamental.
And it is is respectable and widespread view among scientists that choose to think about it, that minds and the existence of the universe may be co-dependent and have neccessarily emerged together.
An extension of that second,  follows from probably the most significant insight of the whole of the last centuries Western philosophy:
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_language_argument
Understanding and thought do not occur for isolated abstract thinkers, mathematics and experimental scientific method included. They occur only, through the collaboration and agreement over signs of communities of thinkers.
This suggests an evolving, emergent, dynamic reality, that responds and develops from experiences. Not Reality, an unchanging set of equations existing outside and independently of  inds percieving It. That perspective, and the core but discredited assumptions of much of scientific thought, is actually a hangover of monotheism.

I think the Private Language Argument is a great way to navigate using Western thought, to how to understand Buddhist concepts of Store House Consciousness https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eight_Consciousnesses
Buddhism does not need to catch up with Western thought. Western thought needs to catch up with and integrate the profound insiggts into consciousness of meditators and the subtle and complex debates they had based on the direct experiences of applying meditation to understanding Mind. Imho.
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Solodris on December 28, 2016, 12:54:08 pm
 :buddha:
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: IdleChater on December 28, 2016, 04:32:12 pm
Consciousness (Vijñāna in Pali) is one of the 5 Skandas.  As such it can be seen as conditioned phenomena. It arises from mental formation.  The Buddhha spoke of it as that which "cognizes" (SN 22.79).  Consciousness is also associated with sense faculties so we have eye consciousness, nose consciousness and so on.

ālāyavijñāna or "storehouse consciousness" is said to be the basis of all consciousness and is used to explain rebirth.
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Solodris on December 28, 2016, 05:44:21 pm
 :buddha:
Title: Re: What is consciousness?
Post by: Solodris on February 08, 2017, 11:40:47 am
What would you think about consciousness as the cosmic manifestation of time?

Time is consciousness, consciousness is time.

Recognition is awareness, but not time?

This isn't Dharma though, maybe this post is better suited somewhere else.
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