Does Theravada acknowledge Subconsciousness?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
Leon-nl
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Re: Does Theravada acknowledge Subconsciousness?

Post by Leon-nl » Fri Dec 18, 2015 4:03 pm

dhammacoustic wrote:Latent tendencies and bhavanga might be related to what modern psychology calls the subconscious. Probably Yogacara's ālayavijñāna would be of interest to you as well.
Thank you, that's helpful!
“Look on the world as empty, Mogharāja, being always mindful.
Having removed wrong view of self, in this way one will cross beyond Death.
When looking on the world in this way the king of Death does not see one.” - Sn 5.15

Leon-nl
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Re: Does Theravada acknowledge Subconsciousness?

Post by Leon-nl » Fri Dec 18, 2015 4:07 pm

Pinetree wrote:You probably mean "unconscious", because the subconscious is so obvious, it can not escape acknowledgement.

I am thinking the unconscious is part of kamma.
No, I mean subconsciousness with this definition: "existing in the mind but not immediately available to consciousness".

And this example:

"I like somebody very much. I don't know exactly why and I start investigating why I like this particular person. Then I start having sexual thoughts about this person while exploring my feelings and thoughts.
Do these thoughts come from the subconsciousness?"

I doubt whether Theravada buddhism acknowledges subconsciousness in this way.
“Look on the world as empty, Mogharāja, being always mindful.
Having removed wrong view of self, in this way one will cross beyond Death.
When looking on the world in this way the king of Death does not see one.” - Sn 5.15

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kirk5a
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Re: Does Theravada acknowledge Subconsciousness?

Post by kirk5a » Fri Dec 18, 2015 4:26 pm

I prefer "pre-rational" rather than "sub-conscious."

We can become aware of everything in the mind. It's just that much of it underlies thinking and is before thinking. The "primal." I think Theravada does acknowledge this, it is the territory of the "underlying tendencies" as suggested earlier. Even infants have these (MN64).
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

Leon-nl
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Re: Does Theravada acknowledge Subconsciousness?

Post by Leon-nl » Fri Dec 18, 2015 4:40 pm

kirk5a wrote:I prefer "pre-rational" rather than "sub-conscious."

We can become aware of everything in the mind. It's just that much of it underlies thinking and is before thinking. The "primal." I think Theravada does acknowledge this, it is the territory of the "underlying tendencies" as suggested earlier. Even infants have these (MN64).
Take my example again:

"I like somebody very much. I don't know exactly why and I start investigating why I like this particular person. Then I start having sexual thoughts about this person while exploring my feelings and thoughts.
Do these thoughts come from the subconsciousness?"

Sure, underlying tendencies play a role but can thoughts be subconscious? I doubt it. In this example the sexual thoughts arise the moment itself, they don't come from a subconscious part of the mind I think. Am I wrong?
“Look on the world as empty, Mogharāja, being always mindful.
Having removed wrong view of self, in this way one will cross beyond Death.
When looking on the world in this way the king of Death does not see one.” - Sn 5.15

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kirk5a
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Re: Does Theravada acknowledge Subconsciousness?

Post by kirk5a » Fri Dec 18, 2015 4:48 pm

Leon-nl wrote:Take my example again:

"I like somebody very much. I don't know exactly why and I start investigating why I like this particular person. Then I start having sexual thoughts about this person while exploring my feelings and thoughts.
Do these thoughts come from the subconsciousness?"

Sure, underlying tendencies play a role but can thoughts be subconscious? I doubt it. In this example the sexual thoughts arise the moment itself, they don't come from a subconscious part of the mind I think. Am I wrong?
Pre-rational, not sub-conscious. The sexual thought itself is but the flower of something with deep roots.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

Leon-nl
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Re: Does Theravada acknowledge Subconsciousness?

Post by Leon-nl » Fri Dec 18, 2015 5:26 pm

kirk5a wrote:
Leon-nl wrote:Take my example again:

"I like somebody very much. I don't know exactly why and I start investigating why I like this particular person. Then I start having sexual thoughts about this person while exploring my feelings and thoughts.
Do these thoughts come from the subconsciousness?"

Sure, underlying tendencies play a role but can thoughts be subconscious? I doubt it. In this example the sexual thoughts arise the moment itself, they don't come from a subconscious part of the mind I think. Am I wrong?
Pre-rational, not sub-conscious. The sexual thought itself is but the flower of something with deep roots.
I would call it a thought formed by "the obsession of sensual passion", one of the seven obsessions or underlying tendencies (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;) combined with an object (the person that is liked) and not being mindful.

Would you agree?

As for me, that is something very different from subconsciousness as "existing in the mind but not immediately available to consciousness".
I see it as factors coming together and enabling a thought to arise. Correct?
“Look on the world as empty, Mogharāja, being always mindful.
Having removed wrong view of self, in this way one will cross beyond Death.
When looking on the world in this way the king of Death does not see one.” - Sn 5.15

Pinetree
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Re: Does Theravada acknowledge Subconsciousness?

Post by Pinetree » Fri Dec 18, 2015 5:44 pm

Sure, underlying tendencies play a role but can thoughts be subconscious? I doubt it.
Of course they can.
No, I mean subconsciousness with this definition: "existing in the mind but not immediately available to consciousness".
Clearly knowledge of "subconsciousness " is improved through mindfulness practice. We don't know why we like what we like and we dislike what we dislike, and it shows us.

So I would answer that Buddhism works with the subconscious, but to my knowledge, it didn't define it negatively like you did (at the conceptual level).

Like: "the thoughts that I am not thinking right now". If you think about it, it's not that practical.
I like somebody very much. I don't know exactly why and I start investigating why I like this particular person. Then I start having sexual thoughts about this person while exploring my feelings and thoughts.
Do these thoughts come from the subconsciousness?
That is not all of it subconscious. When you start investigating, the investigation will create new stuff that wasn't there before. This is an important criticism against psychoanalysis.

The sexual thoughts could be created by onion (yes, there is a thread around here about onion as an aphrodisiac). And the fact that you are not aware that your sexual thoughts are triggered at the body level and not by thinking of the lovely person, this is subconscious. But as long as you're not aware of it, you can't prove it exists.

This is one of the problems you encounter in practice when working with "stuff that doesn't exist".

I would call it a thought formed by "the obsession of sensual passion", one of the seven obsessions or underlying tendencies (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;) combined with an object (the person that is liked) and not being mindful.

Would you agree?
Not sure I understand you, but what it is is dependent origination.
As for me, that is something very different from subconsciousness as "existing in the mind but not immediately available to consciousness".
I see it as factors coming together and enabling a thought to arise. Correct?
Yes, but it's exactly the same thing, just described in different words. That is my point: just different words.

Leon-nl
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Re: Does Theravada acknowledge Subconsciousness?

Post by Leon-nl » Fri Dec 18, 2015 6:01 pm

Pinetree wrote:
Sure, underlying tendencies play a role but can thoughts be subconscious? I doubt it.
Of course they can.
Explain if you want - as I understand it, thoughts arise, come into existence and we can observe them.
According to you, thoughts could arise, come into existence before we can observe them - I'm not sure about that.
As I understand it, there must be a tendency, an object (at least in the example I gave earlier) and absence of mindfulness for the sexual thoughts from my example to occur. How then can they ever have been subconscious?
“Look on the world as empty, Mogharāja, being always mindful.
Having removed wrong view of self, in this way one will cross beyond Death.
When looking on the world in this way the king of Death does not see one.” - Sn 5.15

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kirk5a
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Re: Does Theravada acknowledge Subconsciousness?

Post by kirk5a » Fri Dec 18, 2015 6:05 pm

Leon-nl wrote:I would call it a thought formed by "the obsession of sensual passion", one of the seven obsessions or underlying tendencies (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;) combined with an object (the person that is liked) and not being mindful.

Would you agree?

As for me, that is something very different from subconsciousness as "existing in the mind but not immediately available to consciousness".
I see it as factors coming together and enabling a thought to arise. Correct?
Sounds accurate to me.

Regarding lack of mindfulness, that's an important point. I'm reminded of the Malunkyaputta Sutta SN 35.95, where Ven. Malunkyaputta says
Seeing a form
— mindfulness lapsed —
attending
to the theme of 'endearing,'
impassioned in mind,
one feels
and remains fastened there.
One's feelings, born of the form,
grow numerous,
Greed & annoyance
injure one's mind.
Thus amassing stress,
one is said to be far from Unbinding.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
The whole sutta has some very fruitful insight to contemplate, in bringing up the association of memory and perception combined with lack of mindfulness - with craving.

Interestingly, Ven. Malunkyaputta was the same monk who gave what the Buddha said was an inadequate explanation of the five lower fetters in MN64. He also had a rough patch when he made a poorly considered demand for the Buddha to explain the "undeclared" matters in MN63. But he ultimately attained arahantship, so it certainly worked out.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

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kirk5a
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Re: Does Theravada acknowledge Subconsciousness?

Post by kirk5a » Fri Dec 18, 2015 6:18 pm

Bhikkhu Bodhi's footnote 651 to MN64 may also be relevant here.
On the anusayas or underlying tendencies, see n.473. In the commentaries the defilements are distinguished as occurring at three levels: the anusaya level, where they remain as mere latent dispositions in the mind; the pariyutthana level, where they rise up to obsess and enslave the mind (referred to in #5 of this discourse); and the vitikkama level, where they motivate unwholesome bodily and verbal action. The point of the Buddha's criticism is that the fetters, even when they do not come to active manifestation, continue to exist at the anusaya level so long as they have not been eradicated by the supramundane path.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

Leon-nl
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Re: Does Theravada acknowledge Subconsciousness?

Post by Leon-nl » Fri Dec 18, 2015 6:23 pm

Thank you, Kirk, also for the suttas and footnote!
“Look on the world as empty, Mogharāja, being always mindful.
Having removed wrong view of self, in this way one will cross beyond Death.
When looking on the world in this way the king of Death does not see one.” - Sn 5.15

Pinetree
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Re: Does Theravada acknowledge Subconsciousness?

Post by Pinetree » Fri Dec 18, 2015 7:32 pm

Explain if you want - as I understand it, thoughts arise, come into existence and we can observe them.
There is stuff that you are aware of and stuff that you are not aware of.

Same as there is stuff in your visual field that you don't notice, there are thoughts in your field of mind that you don't notice ?
As I understand it, there must be a tendency, an object (at least in the example I gave earlier) and absence of mindfulness for the sexual thoughts from my example to occur. How then can they ever have been subconscious?
- what tendency, object ?
Like I said, the subconscious assumes there is stuff there that you don't see. Which makes it difficult to talk about it, because you don't see it.

- mindfulness is not a factor for the sexual thoughts to occur or not, you could have sexual thoughts occurring and be mindful of them

- no, it's not the sexual thoughts that are subconscious

- the body sensations were subconscious (in my example, the thoughts were triggered by body sensations and you weren't aware of them)

Leon-nl
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Re: Does Theravada acknowledge Subconsciousness?

Post by Leon-nl » Fri Dec 18, 2015 11:06 pm

Pinetree wrote:
Explain if you want - as I understand it, thoughts arise, come into existence and we can observe them.
There is stuff that you are aware of and stuff that you are not aware of.

Same as there is stuff in your visual field that you don't notice, there are thoughts in your field of mind that you don't notice ?
As I understand it, there must be a tendency, an object (at least in the example I gave earlier) and absence of mindfulness for the sexual thoughts from my example to occur. How then can they ever have been subconscious?
- what tendency, object ?
Like I said, the subconscious assumes there is stuff there that you don't see. Which makes it difficult to talk about it, because you don't see it.

- mindfulness is not a factor for the sexual thoughts to occur or not, you could have sexual thoughts occurring and be mindful of them

- no, it's not the sexual thoughts that are subconscious

- the body sensations were subconscious (in my example, the thoughts were triggered by body sensations and you weren't aware of them)
You say thoughts can be subconscious, I don't believe so. You can be not mindful of a thought, but I don't believe there is any credibility to a thought being hidden and coming to life suddenly.
The Budhha taught that thoughts arise and fall away. As they arise, they come into existence and fade again. Subconsciousness suggest there is a storage with thoughts -again, I don't believe so.

With regard to the "stuff in your visual field that you don't notice": if you don't notice it, if there is no mind-object contact, then it does not exist in your mind.

For the tendencies, see: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The object was the "somebody I like very much" from the example I gave.

"mindfulness is not a factor for the sexual thoughts to occur or not, you could have sexual thoughts occurring and be mindful of them"

Yes, but if you are really mindful, as soon as they arise, you drop them. And yet I think mindfulness is a factor: read the sutta(s) that Kirk cited above.

"the body sensations were subconscious" -->In my example there were no body sensations. And though one might be unaware of body sensations, that is different from body sensations being subconscious, which I don't think is possible.
“Look on the world as empty, Mogharāja, being always mindful.
Having removed wrong view of self, in this way one will cross beyond Death.
When looking on the world in this way the king of Death does not see one.” - Sn 5.15

Pinetree
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Re: Does Theravada acknowledge Subconsciousness?

Post by Pinetree » Sat Dec 19, 2015 9:16 am

You say thoughts can be subconscious, I don't believe so. You can be not mindful of a thought, but I don't believe there is any credibility to a thought being hidden and coming to life suddenly.
If there is something in front of your eyes, you can not be aware of it, and if there is a thought in your mind, you can equally be unaware of it. If you want to call it "no contact", you can apply this equally to both examples.

I think there is a problem that you see mind as a single block entity. So you automatically assume that if there is a thought, it must be conscious, because if it was subconscious, there was no mind to think the thought.

There also seems to be confusion about what subconscious means to mainstream psychology. I really think you need to look more into that, otherwise the discussion becomes tedious.
It is not always the case that we are aware of thoughts that precipitate emotions because our thinking, or framing of situations, is very automatic or conditioned. We are used to thinking certain ways, out of habit. We develop habits of thinking over time. These are just patterns of thinking given certain stimulus cues (events) in our environment. When these habits become so automatic that we are not even aware of them, then we call them “subconscious”. Subconscious just means out of awareness. It doesn’t mean that we cannot become aware of the thoughts it just means that they are so automatic that we don’t recognize them.
http://www.drfabian.com/cognitive.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The Budhha taught that thoughts arise and fall away. As they arise, they come into existence and fade again. Subconsciousness suggest there is a storage with thoughts -again, I don't believe so.
There sort of is a storage for thoughts, called memory. Not sure how that relates to the topic.
For the tendencies, see: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; ... .than.html
There is not much there ...
Yes, but if you are really mindful, as soon as they arise, you drop them. And yet I think mindfulness is a factor: read the sutta(s) that Kirk cited above.
The cited sutta says something different: it's about non-self, and it says - if there are sensual thoughts, they are not yours and you have no desire in them.

But I'm a bit puzzled by:

"The ideas cognizable via the intellect that are uncognized by you — that you have never before cognized, that you don't cognize, and that are not to be cognized by you: Do you have any desire or passion or love there?"
Is that about a thought that you are not thinking ?

And what does it mean: "have never before congnized" ? Is that a thought that you never had, a seeing that you never saw, a hearing that you never heard ? What is actually the point here ?

Leon-nl
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Re: Does Theravada acknowledge Subconsciousness?

Post by Leon-nl » Sat Dec 19, 2015 2:04 pm

Pinetree,

Something went wrong with the link I gave to the Anusaya Sutta, here it is:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Further, I think your reasoning is wrong and you lack some basic knowledge which makes it a little difficult to discuss.
As I am not very knowledgeable about this subject myself -that's why I put the question- let me cite Yuttadhammo ( http://buddhism.stackexchange.com/users/18/yuttadhammo" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; ) a Theravada Buddhist monk:

"In Theravada Buddhism, there is no such thing as a sub-conscious mind. There is what is called "bhavanga-citta", but it is not active in the sense of contributing to conscious activity; it is just a state of mind that lies in wait, kind of like a pilot light.

According to the Mahapatthana, the seventh book in the abhidhamma pitaka, there are many causal relationships, one of which is where the physical is causally connected to the arising of the mental (i.e., the physical brain at least partially conditions a thought). This is where your flashes are coming from; it also works the other way of course, where the mental affects the physical.

It could be worth your while (if you are following the Theravada) to study at least Bhikkhu Bodhi's Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma, since it describes some of the building blocks of reality that are involved in this process.

Understanding causality, of course, is of great importance in Buddhism; it is the second stage of insight knowledge to understand how the physical and mental aspects of existence affect each other."

http://buddhism.stackexchange.com/quest ... cious-mind" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;



WIth metta,

Leon
“Look on the world as empty, Mogharāja, being always mindful.
Having removed wrong view of self, in this way one will cross beyond Death.
When looking on the world in this way the king of Death does not see one.” - Sn 5.15

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