Author Topic: Consciousness as an element?  (Read 1629 times)

Offline Spiny Norman

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Consciousness as an element?
« on: April 09, 2010, 01:39:09 am »
Usually in the suttas there is reference to 4 elements ( dhatu ) - earth, water, fire and air. 
However in MN 112.7, 6 elements are listed: earth, water, fire, air, space and consciousness. 
It seems odd that here consciousness, a key aspect of mentality ( nama ), is grouped with the elements of form ( rupa ).  Any thoughts on the significance of this?  It seems to suggest that consciousness is an aspect of the material world.

Spiny

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Consciousness as an element?
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2010, 09:17:32 am »
(I) made a lame attempt to look up the citation in The Tipi Taka, but my online resource doesn't have the specific citation, and it uses a totally different system than yours for some reason:

Quote
1. Sammādiṭṭhi, syā. 2. Saddhammaṃ, machasaṃ 3. Tena hi āvuso, machasaṃ. Syā 4. Katamaṃ panāvuso kusalaṃ, syā. 5. Kusalamūlaṃ, machasaṃ. [T.]

MNI [BJT Page 112 [\x 112/] ]

8. Katamañcāvuso kusalaṃ ? Pāṇātipātā veramaṇī kusalaṃ, adinnādānā veramaṇī kusalaṃ, kāmesu micchācārā veramaṇī kusalaṃ, musāvādā veramaṇī kusalaṃ, pisuṇāvācā veramaṇī kusalaṃ, pharusāvācā veramaṇī kusalaṃ, samphappalāpā veramaṇī kusalaṃ, anabhijjhā kusalaṃ, abyāpādo kusalaṃ, sammādiṭṭhi kusalaṃ, idaṃ vuccatāvuso kusalaṃ.

9. Katamañcāvuso kusalamūlaṃ ? Alobho kusalamūlaṃ, adoso kusalamūlaṃ, amoho kusalamūlaṃ, idaṃ vuccatāvuso kusalamūlaṃ.

10. Yato kho āvuso ariyasāvako evaṃ akusalaṃ pajānāti, evaṃ akusalamūlaṃ pajānāti, evaṃ kusalaṃ pajānāti, evaṃ kusalamūlaṃ pajānāti, so sabbaso rāgānusayaṃ pahāya paṭighānusayaṃ paṭivinodetvā asmīti diṭṭhimānānusayaṃ samūhanitvā avijjaṃ pahāya vijjaṃ uppādetvā diṭṭheva dhamme dukkhassantaṅkaro 1 hoti. Ettāvatāpi kho āvuso ariyasāvako sammādiṭṭhi hoti. Ujugatāssa diṭṭhi, dhamme aveccappasādena samannāgato, āgato imaṃ saddhammanti.

11. Sādhāvusoti 2 kho te bhikkhū āyasmato sāriputtassa bhāsitaṃ abhinanditvā anumoditvā āyasmantaṃ sāriputtaṃ uttariṃ pañhaṃ āpucchuṃ 3: siyā panāvuso aññopi pariyāyo yathā ariyasāvako sammādiṭṭhi hoti, ujugatāssa diṭṭhi, dhamme aveccappasādena samannāgato 'āgato imaṃ saddhammanti?.

12. Siyā āvuso 4 yato kho āvuso ariyasāvako āhārañca pajānāti, āhārasamudayañca pajānāti, āhāranirodhañca pajānāti, āhāranirodhagāminiṃ 5 paṭipadañca pajānāti. Ettāvatāpi kho āvuso ariyasāvako sammādiṭṭhi hoti, ujugatāssa diṭṭhi, dhamme aveccappasādena samannāgato [PTS Page 048] [\q 48/] āgato imaṃ saddhammanti.

13. Katamo panāvuso āhāro ? Katamo āhārasamudayo ? Katamo āhāranirodho ? Katamo āhāra nirodhagāminī paṭipadāti 6 ?.

14. Cattāro me āvuso āhārā bhūtānaṃ vā sattānaṃ ṭhitiyā sambhavesīnaṃ vā anuggahāya. Katame cattāro ? Kabaliṅkāro 7 āhāro oḷāriko vā sukhumo vā, phasso dutiyo, manosañcetanā tatiyā 3, viññāṇaṃ catutthaṃ 9. Taṇhāsamudayā āhārasamudayo, taṇhānirodhā āhāranirodho, ayameva ariyo aṭṭhaṅgiko maggo āhāra nirodhagāminī paṭipadā. Seyyathīdaṃ: sammādiṭṭhi sammāsaṅkappo sammāvācā sammākammanto sammāājīvo sammāvāyāmo sammāsati sammāsamādhi.

Not much help.

My thought is that if we can find it in Pali we may be able to see if it is a translation issue.  Different authors sometimes disagree regarding translation.  Based on my experience the emphasis has to be on context as well as denotation and connotation.



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Offline TongueTied

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Re: Consciousness as an element?
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2010, 05:28:42 pm »
That's strange.  Usually the elements are categorized as subsets of form.  I can't tell what categorization scheme is being used to include space and consciousness as elements.  Maybe it's not just form, but all the "basic stuff" up to and including form?  It seems strange because they are on different levels of hierarchy.

Offline Spiny Norman

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Re: Consciousness as an element?
« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2010, 01:23:36 am »
That's strange.  Usually the elements are categorized as subsets of form.  I can't tell what categorization scheme is being used to include space and consciousness as elements.  Maybe it's not just form, but all the "basic stuff" up to and including form?  It seems strange because they are on different levels of hierarchy.

I'm not sure.  Including consciousness with form seems to suggest that there is a difference between consciousness and the other 3 mental aggregates ( feeling, perception and formations ).  As if consciousness is primary and the other 3 mental aggregates are secondary or derived?

Spiny

Offline Spiny Norman

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Re: Consciousness as an element?
« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2010, 01:26:45 am »
(I) made a lame attempt to look up the citation in The Tipi Taka, but my online resource doesn't have the specific citation, and it uses a totally different system than yours for some reason:
My thought is that if we can find it in Pali we may be able to see if it is a translation issue.  Different authors sometimes disagree regarding translation.  Based on my experience the emphasis has to be on context as well as denotation and connotation.


Thanks Ron.  I have an MN anthology in book form, and the notes suggest that consciousness is being used in it's usual meaning in MN 112 - but yes, there are always translation issues.  I noticed that MN 112 isn't on Access to Insight for some reason. 

Spiny

Offline vinasp

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Re: Consciousness as an element?
« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2010, 06:27:08 am »
Hi Spiny,

 The Discourses contain many classification sets called 'dhatu' - elements.

1. The four great elements (mahaa bhuuta), earth, water, fire and wind.
2. the six elements, which add space and consciousness to the above.
3. The eighteen elements, eye, forms, eye consciousness, ear, sounds ... etc.
4. The three realms are also called elements, kama-dhatu, rupa-dhatu, arupa-dhatu.

 Some of these are not 'material' or 'physical' things.

 Consciousness is also used to mean the mind/heart as a whole - citta.

 The aggregate system is a late development, many discourses use earlier classification sets.
 The nama-rupa distinction pre-dates Buddhism by many centuries.
 The best description of the six element scheme is found in MN 140.

 Best wishes, Vincent.

Offline Spiny Norman

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Re: Consciousness as an element?
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2010, 02:30:46 am »
The Discourses contain many classification sets called 'dhatu' - elements.

1. The four great elements (mahaa bhuuta), earth, water, fire and wind.
2. the six elements, which add space and consciousness to the above.
3. The eighteen elements, eye, forms, eye consciousness, ear, sounds ... etc.
4. The three realms are also called elements, kama-dhatu, rupa-dhatu, arupa-dhatu.

 Some of these are not 'material' or 'physical' things.
 The best description of the six element scheme is found in MN 140.

Good summary Vincent - I'll look more closely at MN 140 - the description of consciousness from that sutta is as follows:
"There remains only consciousness: pure & bright. What does one cognize with that consciousness? One cognizes 'pleasure.' One cognizes 'pain.' One cognizes 'neither pleasure nor pain.' In dependence on a sensory contact that is to be felt as pleasure, there arises a feeling of pleasure." 

Spiny

 


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