the great Nibbana = annihilation, eternal, or something else thread

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
justindesilva
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Re: LP Sumedho "consciousness is permanent" - thoughts?

Post by justindesilva » Fri Jul 28, 2017 2:18 pm

JohnK wrote:It seems like he is using the English word "consciousness" here as a translation of the deathless (for whatever reason) -- though I only listened to the first minute or so after the question -- perhaps he goes on longer to explain.
[Yes, he goes on to repeat a few times that all sankharas are impermanent; that sense consciousness is impermanent; so he has some other meaning of "consciousness" as he's using it here, so it seems.]
Sense consciousness and mind with brain activity are the prime instruments which create formation or sankhara or fabrication. The term vingnana is instrumental in forming or fabrication of rupa. As vingnana is directly linked with consciousness and vingnana is explained as a momentarily changing phenomenon , it is obvious that its link consciousness too is momentarily changing.
As of today many universities in UK and America has set up research areas with neuro science and consciousness we are now blessed with the idea that consciousness is a phenomenon similar to gravity but it is to do with neural aspects with brain and mind.
Ven. Dalai Lama is seen in " Lion roar" in discussions explaining such situations with high intellectuals of recognised universities.

Bakmoon
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Re: LP Sumedho "consciousness is permanent" - thoughts?

Post by Bakmoon » Fri Jul 28, 2017 3:10 pm

chownah wrote:Thanks for that. I should have been more specific about what I was requesting. I meant to ask for a sutta reference. If you saw my last post it brings some sutta related stuff to the discussion but no one seems to care much that there doesn't seem to be clear evidence there. What I brought relates the term to a specific sutta passage about light not having any surface on which to land.

I guess it is more fun to construe than to see that in the suttas this consciousness without surface seems to be just an analogy without a broad meaning......but in this case it is not clear exactly what is being analogized......seems pretty flimsy data to extrapolate all the way to any kind of a statement about consciousness being permanent.
chownah
The verses at the end of the Kevaddha Sutta are one place where it is mentioned, and they say:
Where do water, earth, fire, & wind
have no footing?
Where are long & short,
coarse & fine,
fair & foul,
name & form
brought to an end?

"'And the answer to that is:

Consciousness without feature,
without end,
luminous all around:
Here water, earth, fire, & wind
have no footing.
Here long & short
coarse & fine
fair & foul
name & form
are all brought to an end.
With the cessation of [the activity of] consciousness
each is here brought to an end.'"
It is also mentioned briefly in the Brahma-nimantanika Sutta. To my knowledge, these are the only places the term occurs in the Suttas.

I don't think that there is any basis in these texts for saying that consciousness is permanent, or self, or anything else like that. Ajahn Thanissaro's view is that when Nibbana occurs, consciousness doesn't take hold of an object, so it is like a light that doesn't land anywhere, and it is without feature, and it is free from time, space, coming, going, etc... But it is not a permanent entity or self.
The non-doing of any evil,
The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
This is the Buddhas' teaching.

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CedarTree
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Re: LP Sumedho "consciousness is permanent" - thoughts?

Post by CedarTree » Fri Jul 28, 2017 5:51 pm

aflatun wrote:Interesting offerings from LP Sumedho, thanks for sharing.

In the Thai Forest tradition they tend to say things that can sound as if they're positing a transcendent mind or consciousness at times. This, and a great many other things about the tradition I think, strikes me as similar to Chan/Zen/Seon.

In the latter traditions when you dig a little deeper into what this "Mind" is it starts to look less and less like a transcendent consciousness and more and more like "code" for emptiness, anatta, etc, and this will of course vary with author.

With respect to the Thai Forest tradition I'm not as sure, but many of you all know the tradition way better than I do!

Here's a rough transcription, sorry for any mistakes, and make sure to listen for yourself!

***************************

26:47

Q: Um, I just have a question about um...It just keeps coming up about consciousness. Um, it sounds like what you're saying is that consciousness is continuous, but its not permanent. Is that...correct? And could you maybe expand on that.

LPS: No I'm saying consciousness is permanent.

:::Laughter:::

Its not about permanency, its about reality. Because impermanent and permanent but...Can something impermanent know something that's not impermanent? ...I mean like consciousness as unbounded unmeasurable...it has no beginning or end. All sankharas have beginning and ends. You know all conditions are impermanent. Sensory experience, consciousness through the senses is impermanent. But in terms of consciousness itself, its not. So its... and this is where you have to stop thinking about it and...and accept it. Because its like this. Because when you think about it then you'll start doubting it.

...

28:26

...consciousness through the senses, is impermanent. And so when we experience life only through the senses...through the seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, thinking, feeling, emotional conditions, then, you know, its changing all the time, its very impermanent. All conditions are impermanent. Sabbe sankhara anicca. And so, what is aware of impermanence? Can an impermanent condition be aware of another impermanent condition?

******************************
As someone who has some footing in the Theravada tradition but now is practicing in a style of Zazen similar to Gyobutsuji Zen Monastery and Antaiji I can say I think you really hit it on the head.

We each have a special language and style in our traditions. To be honest I think Theravada because of the Pali Canon is one of the most systematic and well organized presentations but in the Mahayana Sutras, Zen tradition, and even Tantric schools like Dzogchen one finds these subjects really delved into and discussed.

Sometimes not such a good thing as it can lead to confusion and mis-emphasis where the Pali Canon is abundantly clear ;)


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Circle5
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Re: LP Sumedho "consciousness is permanent" - thoughts?

Post by Circle5 » Fri Jul 28, 2017 7:08 pm

It's stated repeatedly in the suttas that there is no consciousness in nibbana of course. It's stated a million times very explicit. People who do not understand how things work will never understand how there can be no consciousness in nibbana. They still believe in a self and in consciousness in nibbana. "Why ? Because they have not fully understood it, I say".

And what they use to back up this claim is that poetic verse from DN about "consciousness without surface, luminous all round" or something like that. :juggling: :juggling: :juggling:

But as I said, nothing special since we are speaking about the Thai Forest tradition, the tradition that believes in a "true self" and some go as far as to consider them mahayana.
NOTE: Yes, I know not all from thai forest believe in this, but the big majority of them do. So I have all the right in the world to make such general statements about them.

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Re: LP Sumedho "consciousness is permanent" - thoughts?

Post by Coëmgenu » Fri Jul 28, 2017 7:16 pm

If time "doesn't exist", that old gossip, then everything is both eternal and non-eternal. Go figure.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.
吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

नस्वातोनापिपरतोनद्वाभ्यांनाप्यहेतुतः

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JMGinPDX
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Re: LP Sumedho "consciousness is permanent" - thoughts?

Post by JMGinPDX » Fri Jul 28, 2017 7:22 pm

cjmacie wrote:
Sam Vara wrote:
aflatun wrote:
It’s worthwhile, IMO, to actually listen to the whole of that Q/A session, if only to get a sense of what he’s trying to refer to, the experience he’s trying to communicate, to elicit. Again and again he refers to Ajan Chah’s way of putting it, and to his own experiences trying to teach this (e.g. to that woman trying to get the sound-of-silence in a retreat). Same problem here: “looking for a convincing argument” vs experimenting to have the experience itself he’s trying to impart.

The delusion of mistaking conceptual recognition for experiential knowing, or put as the mental machinations of figuring-out conceptual recognition (proof, convincing) vs playing with the mind (experimenting, practicing) to fall into the experience itself – a theme one can recognize running throughout teachings of, say, Thanissaro Bhikkhu, Mahasi Sayadaw – to indicate a broad range of teaching styles – and of LP Sumehdo.

Listing to that Q/A discussion is a good example of another paradox: that “teaching” in the Buddha’s sense, is more providing examples of how an aware minds works, when playing with words, concepts to describe what’s basically an immediate dimension of awareness itself. Notice less the concepts LPS uses, notice more how his mind works, reacts to the questions, what kind of examples he offers to suggest a mental attitude...

One can talk about “swimming” to any length, but without going in the water, feeling how it touches the skin, how the limbs can move with the water, in response to the water, what the weightlessness of swimming or floating is like – the talk, the conceptual description remains rather empty; and if the mind thinks such talk is the reality, then there’s an opportunity to glimpse the nature of delusion, which would be quite a step forward...
Thank you CJMacie - you are correct, the attendee's question stemmed from an earlier statement he had made during the Q&A. I should have pointed out the earlier statement as helpful to the overall topic. :anjali:
Right now, it's like this...

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JMGinPDX
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Re: LP Sumedho "consciousness is permanent" - thoughts?

Post by JMGinPDX » Fri Jul 28, 2017 8:27 pm

justindesilva wrote:[As of today many universities in UK and America has set up research areas with neuro science and consciousness we are now blessed with the idea that consciousness is a phenomenon similar to gravity but it is to do with neural aspects with brain and mind.
justindesilva wrote: As of today many universities in UK and America has set up research areas with neuro science and consciousness we are now blessed with the idea that consciousness is a phenomenon similar to gravity but it is to do with neural aspects with brain and mind.
Thanks Justin.

It may be somewhat apples and oranges, but I've been pondering the degree to which the Buddhist view of consciousness relates to the non-Buddhist concept of Conscious Realism - the general idea that "consciousness existed first and created form," which counters the materialistic view that "form existed first and created consciousness" (which reduces consciousness to a chemical/neural phenomenon entirely based in brain activity). The latter proposes that our perceptions are indeed completely false; that we interact with a MMUI (multi-modal user interface) that hides the vast majority of actual reality behind a user-friendly facade similar to a computer desktop.
http://www.cogsci.uci.edu/~ddhoff/ConsciousRealism2.pdf

Some have said that they see no correlation, but maybe because of the way my mind works, it was very impactful to read Hoffman's paper and juxtapose it with my dhammic investigations into perception. If the goal of practice is to see reality for what it truly is - impermanent, suffering, and not-self - then Hoffman's ideas have been a good support to my practice. Then when LP Sumedho made this statement (and given my general agreement with others that he was using the term in one specific way), it really resonated in terms of helping see the anatta in consciousness itself.

However, Hoffman's thesis seems to also suggest the idea of an eternal consciousness (at least in my amateur reading of it).
Right now, it's like this...

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Re: LP Sumedho "consciousness is permanent" - thoughts?

Post by SDC » Fri Jul 28, 2017 9:06 pm

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Re: LP Sumedho "consciousness is permanent" - thoughts?

Post by JMGinPDX » Fri Jul 28, 2017 9:43 pm

Aloka wrote:In the book "The Island" by Ajahn Pasanno & Ajahn Amaro, chapter 8 is titled 'Unsupported and Unsupportive Consciousness. and begins:

ONE OF THE WAYS IN WHICH THE BUDDHA CHARACTERIZED the quality of awareness was to present it as a form of consciousness (viññana). This represents a unique usage of the term – customarily ‘viññana’ only refers to the conditioned
activity of the six senses – however, we also find that the Buddha gives us some adjectives with which to describe it, when the term is used in this unique way: ‘viññana anidassanam anantam sabbato pabham’ – ‘consciousness that is signless,
boundless, all-luminous,’ is one translation of this expression.

It almost goes without saying that there is controversy as to the precise meaning of this enigmatic phrase (it appears in only a couple of places in the Canon: M 49.25 & D 11.85). However, the constellation of meanings of the individual words is small enough to give us a reasonably clear idea of what the Buddha was pointing at.

Firstly, we must assume that he is using ‘viñnana’ in a broader way than it usually is meant. The Buddha avoided the nit-picking pedantry of many philosophers contemporary with him and opted for a more broad-brush, colloquial style,geared to particular listeners in a language which they could understand (see after §1.11). Thus ‘viñnana’ here can be asssumed to mean ‘knowing’ but not the partial, fragmented, discriminative (vi-) knowing (-ñana) which the word usually implies. Instead it must mean a knowing of a primordial, transcendent nature, otherwise the passage which contains it would be self-contradictory.

Secondly, ‘anidassanam’ is a fairly straightforward word which means (a-) ‘not, non-, without’ (-nidassanam) ‘indicative, visible, manifestative,’ i.e. invisible,empty, featureless, unmanifest; ‘anantam’ is also a straightforward term, meaning
‘infinite’ or ‘limitless.’

Continues at the link on page 131 https://www.abhayagiri.org/books/the-island
:anjali:
Thanks Aloka, that's fantastic. I started that book but haven't yet arrived at Chp. 8 and likely wouldn't have recognized the possible correlation to LP's statement. I guess I know what my reading time tonight will include...
:anjali:
Right now, it's like this...

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Lucas Oliveira
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Re: LP Sumedho "consciousness is permanent" - thoughts?

Post by Lucas Oliveira » Sat Jul 29, 2017 12:52 am

Circle5 wrote:It's stated repeatedly in the suttas that there is no consciousness in nibbana of course. It's stated a million times very explicit. People who do not understand how things work will never understand how there can be no consciousness in nibbana. They still believe in a self and in consciousness in nibbana. "Why ? Because they have not fully understood it, I say".

And what they use to back up this claim is that poetic verse from DN about "consciousness without surface, luminous all round" or something like that. :juggling: :juggling: :juggling:

But as I said, nothing special since we are speaking about the Thai Forest tradition, the tradition that believes in a "true self" and some go as far as to consider them mahayana.
NOTE: Yes, I know not all from thai forest believe in this, but the big majority of them do. So I have all the right in the world to make such general statements about them.
Thank you for summarize the story!

:anjali:
I participate in this forum using Google Translator. http://translate.google.com.br

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ieee23
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Re: LP Sumedho "consciousness is permanent" - thoughts?

Post by ieee23 » Sat Jul 29, 2017 4:05 am

Why is Ajahn Sumedho being referred to as "LP Sumedho" ?
Whatever a bhikkhu frequently thinks and ponders upon, that will become the inclination of his mind. - MN 19

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Aloka
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Re: LP Sumedho "consciousness is permanent" - thoughts?

Post by Aloka » Sat Jul 29, 2017 6:57 am

ieee23 wrote:Why is Ajahn Sumedho being referred to as "LP Sumedho" ?
Its a shortened version of "Luang Por Sumedho" .


:anjali:

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CedarTree
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Re: LP Sumedho "consciousness is permanent" - thoughts?

Post by CedarTree » Sat Jul 29, 2017 8:05 am

Aloka wrote:
ieee23 wrote:Why is Ajahn Sumedho being referred to as "LP Sumedho" ?
Its a shortened version of "Luang Por Sumedho" .


:anjali:
Just in case anyone was wondering:

Luang por means "venerable father" and is used as a title for respected senior Buddhist monastics. Or highly respected teachers.


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SarathW
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Re: LP Sumedho "consciousness is permanent" - thoughts?

Post by SarathW » Sat Jul 29, 2017 10:27 am

Aloka wrote:In the book "The Island" by Ajahn Pasanno & Ajahn Amaro, chapter 8 is titled 'Unsupported and Unsupportive Consciousness. and begins:

ONE OF THE WAYS IN WHICH THE BUDDHA CHARACTERIZED the quality of awareness was to present it as a form of consciousness (viññana). This represents a unique usage of the term – customarily ‘viññana’ only refers to the conditioned
activity of the six senses – however, we also find that the Buddha gives us some adjectives with which to describe it, when the term is used in this unique way: ‘viññana anidassanam anantam sabbato pabham’ – ‘consciousness that is signless,
boundless, all-luminous,’ is one translation of this expression.

It almost goes without saying that there is controversy as to the precise meaning of this enigmatic phrase (it appears in only a couple of places in the Canon: M 49.25 & D 11.85). However, the constellation of meanings of the individual words is small enough to give us a reasonably clear idea of what the Buddha was pointing at.

Firstly, we must assume that he is using ‘viñnana’ in a broader way than it usually is meant. The Buddha avoided the nit-picking pedantry of many philosophers contemporary with him and opted for a more broad-brush, colloquial style,geared to particular listeners in a language which they could understand (see after §1.11). Thus ‘viñnana’ here can be asssumed to mean ‘knowing’ but not the partial, fragmented, discriminative (vi-) knowing (-ñana) which the word usually implies. Instead it must mean a knowing of a primordial, transcendent nature, otherwise the passage which contains it would be self-contradictory.

Secondly, ‘anidassanam’ is a fairly straightforward word which means (a-) ‘not, non-, without’ (-nidassanam) ‘indicative, visible, manifestative,’ i.e. invisible,empty, featureless, unmanifest; ‘anantam’ is also a straightforward term, meaning
‘infinite’ or ‘limitless.’

Continues at the link on page 131 https://www.abhayagiri.org/books/the-island
:anjali:
Buddha very clearly said "Sankhara paccaya vinnana"
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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cjmacie
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Re: LP Sumedho "consciousness is permanent" - thoughts?

Post by cjmacie » Sat Jul 29, 2017 2:14 pm

chownah wrote:I was not aware the conscoiunsess without surface means nibbana. Can someone bring a reference which says something to that effect as I would be interested in seeing it.
chownah
A possible starting point: Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s book “The Paradox of Becoming” (as usual, available on-line), last chapter reviews (all?) the various sutta citations describing Nibbana, it’s characteristics, synonyms, etc.

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