Discernment, consciousness, perception,feeling

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Discernment, consciousness, perception,feeling

Postby chownah » Sun Oct 06, 2013 4:08 pm

MN 43 PTS: M i 292
Mahavedalla Sutta: The Greater Set of Questions-and-Answers

Along with a bunch of other stuff there are two portions of this sutta which, when considered together raise a question.

THE FIRST PORTION IS:

"Discernment & consciousness, friend: Are these qualities conjoined or disjoined? Is it possible, having separated them one from the other, to delineate the difference between them?"

"Discernment & consciousness are conjoined, friend, not disjoined. It's not possible, having separated them one from the other, to delineate the difference between them. For what one discerns, that one cognizes. What one cognizes, that one discerns. Therefore these qualities are conjoined, not disjoined, and it is not possible, having separated them one from another, to delineate the difference between them."

"Discernment & consciousness, friend: What is the difference between these qualities that are conjoined, not disjoined?"

"Discernment & consciousness, friend: Of these qualities that are conjoined, not disjoined, discernment is to be developed, consciousness is to be fully comprehended."[1]

AND THEN JUST TWO SECTIONS LOWER IT SAYS:

"Feeling, perception, & consciousness, friend: Are these qualities conjoined or disjoined? Is it possible, having separated them one from another, to delineate the difference among them?"

"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."

------------//--------------//-----------///--------
So, are we to take this to mean that all four (discernment, consciousness, perception, feeling) are conjoined?.....or are we to take this it mean that consciousness arises in two different capacities (at least two, might there be others?). I am leaning toward consciousness having two different capacities with one being associated with intake of sense stimulus from the sense media and the other being associated with proliferative thought processes.

Or maybe there is another option?

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Re: Discernment, consciousness, perception,feeling

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Oct 06, 2013 6:09 pm

Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation, quotes from the Commentary (MA) and his own commentss (BB) may be helpful:

“Wisdom and consciousness, friend—these states are conjoined, not disjoined, and it is impossible to separate each of these states from the other in order to describe the difference between them. For what one wisely understands, that one cognizes, and what one cognizes, that one wisely understands. [293] That is why these states are conjoined, not disjoined, and it is impossible to separate each of these states from the other in order to describe the difference between them.”
    MA: This statement refers to the wisdom and consciousness on the occasions of both insight and the supramundane path. The two are conjoined in that they arise and cease simultaneously and share a single sense base and object. However, the two are not inseparably conjoined since, while wisdom always requires consciousness, consciousness can occur without wisdom.
6. “What is the difference, friend, between wisdom and consciousness, these states that are conjoined, not disjoined?”

“The difference, friend, between wisdom and consciousness, these states that are conjoined, not disjoined, is this: wisdom is to be developed, consciousness is to be fully understood.”
    BB: Wisdom, being the path factor of right view, is to be developed as a factor of the path. Consciousness, being included among the five aggregates that pertain to the noble truth of suffering, is to be fully understood—as impermanent, suffering, and not self.

“Feeling, perception, and consciousness, friend—these states are conjoined, not disjoined, and it is impossible to separate each of these states from the others in order to describe the difference between them. For what one feels, that one perceives; and what one perceives, that one cognizes. That is why these states are conjoined, not disjoined, and it is impossible to separate each of these states from the others in order to describe the difference between them.
    BB: MA says that the question and reply refer to mundane feelings that are the objective range of insight. The Pali construction here, sukham pi vedeti, etc., shows feeling as simultaneously a quality of the object and an affective tone of the experience by which it is apprehended. MA points out that feeling itself feels; there is no other (separate) feeler.
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Re: Discernment, consciousness, perception,feeling

Postby daverupa » Mon Oct 07, 2013 12:33 am

chownah wrote:I am leaning toward consciousness having two different capacities with one being associated with intake of sense stimulus from the sense media and the other being associated with proliferative thought processes.

Or maybe there is another option?

chownah


Perhaps: consciousness is always conjoined when it arises. Conjoined with what? Conjoined with content. This, in fact, is how consciousness is to be known, i.e. whether as eye-consciousness, or mind-consciousness, and so forth.

This should serve to deconstruct assumptions of consciousness as a self-persistent container which experiences a spectrum of perceptual flows; memory tends to knit these together into a continuous (self-)narrative.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Discernment, consciousness, perception,feeling

Postby lyndon taylor » Mon Oct 07, 2013 12:39 am

I think conjoined means linked to, or intertwined with, not equal to, in another discussion people were using a similar scripture to try to claim Samsara=Nibbana, which to me at least seems a bit ridiculous.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John
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Re: Discernment, consciousness, perception,feeling

Postby Sylvester » Mon Oct 07, 2013 1:56 am

mikenz66 wrote:Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation, quotes from the Commentary (MA) and his own commentss (BB) may be helpful:

“Wisdom and consciousness, friend—these states are conjoined, not disjoined, and it is impossible to separate each of these states from the other in order to describe the difference between them. For what one wisely understands, that one cognizes, and what one cognizes, that one wisely understands. [293] That is why these states are conjoined, not disjoined, and it is impossible to separate each of these states from the other in order to describe the difference between them.”
    MA: This statement refers to the wisdom and consciousness on the occasions of both insight and the supramundane path. The two are conjoined in that they arise and cease simultaneously and share a single sense base and object. However, the two are not inseparably conjoined since, while wisdom always requires consciousness, consciousness can occur without wisdom.


Urgh! That funny creature again.

Rather than adopt the Abhidhammic method, I prefer the simpler lexical method and notice that pañña is discussed earlier in the sutta as such -

Duppañño duppaññoti āvuso vuccati. Kittāvatā nu kho āvuso duppaññoti vuccatī" ti?

Nappajānāti nappajānātīti kho āvuso, tasmā duppaññoti vuccati. Kiñca nappajānāti? Idaṃ dukkhanti nappajānāti, ayaṃ dukkhasamudayoti nappajānāti, ayaṃ dukkhanirodhoti nappajānāti, ayaṃ dukkhanirodhagāminī paṭipadāti nappajānāti. Nappajānāti, nappajānātīti kho āvuso, tasmā duppaññoti vuccati.


Ven T translates this as -

"Friend, 'One of poor discernment, one of poor discernment': Thus is it said. To what extent is one said to be 'one of poor discernment'?"

"'One doesn't discern, one doesn't discern': Thus, friend, one is said to be 'one of poor discernment.' And what doesn't one discern? One doesn't discern, 'This is stress.' One doesn't discern, 'This is the origination of stress.' One doesn't discern, 'This is the cessation of stress.' One doesn't discern, 'This is the practice leading to the cessation of stress.' 'One doesn't discern, one doesn't discern': Thus one is said to be 'one of poor discernment.'"


This is one of those sememes that have slightly different meanings, depending on context. If pañña is given its standard reading as wisdom, then the preceding passage would yield a rather odd animal "wrong wisdom" or "poor wisdom". BB had to compromise and gave an idiomatic rendition "unwise" (adjective instead of a substantive) and tying it to the definition, which he translates as "does not wisely understand". Rather unnecessary, given that nappajānāti simply means "one does not see".

I think Ven T's translation is just fine.

I wonder how BB would translate this passage today?
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Re: Discernment, consciousness, perception,feeling

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Oct 07, 2013 3:18 am

Hi Sylvester,

You make some useful points.

However I thought that the really interesting thing was Bhikkhu Bodhi's comment:
However, the two are not inseparably conjoined since, while wisdom always requires consciousness, consciousness can occur without wisdom.

Which is interesting even if you translate wisdom as discernment.

:anjali:
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Re: Discernment, consciousness, perception,feeling

Postby chownah » Mon Oct 07, 2013 3:52 am

Sylvester,
I agree, "wrong wisdom" is not "awfully good" but there is a similarity.
chownah

mikenz66,
Looks like BB and I are leaning in the same direction. Thanks for bringing his views.
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Re: Discernment, consciousness, perception,feeling

Postby Sylvester » Wed Oct 09, 2013 1:49 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Sylvester,

You make some useful points.

However I thought that the really interesting thing was Bhikkhu Bodhi's comment:
However, the two are not inseparably conjoined since, while wisdom always requires consciousness, consciousness can occur without wisdom.

Which is interesting even if you translate wisdom as discernment.

:anjali:
Mike



Hi Mike.

It's hard to tell with certainty if Ven T's rendition of pañña as "discernment" was meant to endow pañña with a vipassanā flavour, or something less. The vipassanā context does come through in many other places, where the proxy vipassanā verb pajānāti appears, especially when paired with yathābhūta. Eg the stock phrase associated with the insight into the 4 Noble Truths that arise with Stream-Entry -

Idaṃ dukkha’nti yathābhūtaṃ pajānāti, ‘ayaṃ dukkhasamudayo’ti yathābhūtaṃ pajānāti, ‘ayaṃ dukkhanirodho’ti yathābhūtaṃ pajānāti, ‘ayaṃ dukkhanirodhagāminī paṭipadā’ti yathābhūtaṃ pajānāti


But pajānāti does appear to have a much broader linguistic range than being a vipassanā proxy verb. It crops up famously in the 2 expanded Satipaṭṭhāna Suttas. Depending on how one interprets and understands the function of satipaṭṭhāna (is it insight practice, or is it tranquility practice), see how MN 10 has been translated on ATI. Ven T translates pajānāti as "discerns", Ven Nyanasatta renders it as "knows", while Ven Soma's rendition has a clear "vipassanā" flavour in the rendition "understands". BB also renders this as "understands" in the MLDB, but this could simply be an artefact of Ven Nyanamoli's translation discipline of "one English word for each Pali term".

Elsewhere, the causative form of pajānāti is clearly intended to point to a delusion, rather than insight. We have the verb paññapeti in DN 15, translated as "delineates" by Ven T and as "describes" by BB. As a causative, it basically means "causes to be seen". As used in the section on the "delineation of self", this verb clearly has a less than salutory bent. It's hard to see how it could possibly be related to wisdom.

Now, of course, if the Abhidhammic model of supramundane cittas were correct, there would certainly be some basis for the Comy to peg this pañña to the sort of knowledges that arise with each of the 4 stages of Awakening. If, however, the model is untenable, must pañña and its verb pajānāti be linked to vipassanā? Why not "seeing" simpliciter?

:anjali:

PS - I'm largely driven by concern over one of the consequences that follow from the thoughts in this thread - viewtopic.php?f=16&t=15952
Taken to its logical conclusion, it might suggest that a puthujjana's (eg moi) meditation are all pointless, since it is bereft of the Ariyan knowledge that arise with the "supramundane". This does not seem to be consistent with the tenor of the suttas in SN 25, where the Faith-Follower and Dhamma-Follower are contrasted with the Stream-Enterer. There, the Dhamma-Follower is described as someone who has pañña. Obviously, this sutta usage of pañña does not quite fit in with the Abhidhammic model that the Comy uses to explain MN 43's pañña, since a Dhamma-Follower will not have touched any of the supramundane cittas...
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