What is Vinnanacayatana "The Base of Infinite Consciousness" in Arupavacara Jhana?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
Post Reply
SarathW
Posts: 10514
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

What is Vinnanacayatana "The Base of Infinite Consciousness" in Arupavacara Jhana?

Post by SarathW » Sat Feb 10, 2018 2:24 am

What is Vinnanacayatana "The Base of Infinite Consciousness" in Arupavacara Jhana?
How this relates to Vinnana in Dependent Origination?
Please also consider the Vinnanayatana in 18 Dhatus.
https://books.google.com.au/books?id=y6 ... na&f=false
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

perkele
Posts: 896
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2011 2:37 pm

Re: What is Vinnanacayatana "The Base of Infinite Consciousness" in Arupavacara Jhana?

Post by perkele » Sun Feb 11, 2018 10:11 pm

SarathW wrote:
Sat Feb 10, 2018 2:24 am
What is Vinnanacayatana "The Base of Infinite Consciousness" in Arupavacara Jhana?
How this relates to Vinnana in Dependent Origination?
Please also consider the Vinnanayatana in 18 Dhatus.
https://books.google.com.au/books?id=y6 ... na&f=false
I also don't know how to understand the arupa-jhānāni (is this correct plural? nominative?) of "infinite space" (ākāsānañcāyatana), "infinite consciousness" (viññāṇañcāyatana), "infinite nothingness" (ākiñcaññāyatana) and "neither perception nor non-perception" (nevasaññānāsaññāyatana) in terms of the six sense spheres ((viññāṇ)āyatana).

I believe they belong all completely to mind consciousness (dhammaviññāṇāyatana), without any of the other five sense bases involved. But I would like to know clearer about this, too.

I think I have read somewhere that the different brahmavihārāni (is this correct plural? nominative?) are related to different arūpa-jhānāni in some way, i.e. that by meditating about the different brahmavihārānehi (correct plural? ablative?) one can attain different arūpa-jhānehi (correct plural? ablative?).

For example, if I remember correctly, the brahmavihāra of muditā (selfless joy) is related to the arūpa-jhāna of "infinite consciousness" (viññāṇañcāyatana).
And maybe the brahmavihārā of upekkhā (equanimity) is related to the arūpa-jhāna of infinite nothingness (ākiñcaññāyatana).

But I'm not sure about the last one. And I don't know where I have read about these relations. Maybe if I could find the source of these statements that I remember this would help to clarify what the arupajhānāni (pl.?) are about.

perkele
Posts: 896
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2011 2:37 pm

Re: What is Vinnanacayatana "The Base of Infinite Consciousness" in Arupavacara Jhana?

Post by perkele » Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:12 pm

perkele wrote:I don't know where I have read about these relations. Maybe if I could find the source of these statements that I remember this would help to clarify what the arupajhānāni (pl.?) are about.
I found it:
SN 46.54: Mettā Sutta - Good Will wrote:I tell you, monks, awareness-release through good will has the beautiful as its excellence — in the case of one who has penetrated to no higher release.

[Footnote [2]: The "beautiful" (subha) is a state of concentration that plays a role equivalent to that of the fourth jhana in leading to the formless jhanas. See MN 137 and SN 14.11 (also in The Wings to Awakening, passages §163 and §164).]

/.../

I tell you, monks, awareness-release through compassion has the sphere of the infinitude of space as its excellence — in the case of one who has penetrated to no higher release.[2]

/.../

I tell you, monks, awareness-release through empathetic joy has the sphere of the infinitude of consciousness as its excellence — in the case of one who has penetrated to no higher release.

/.../

I tell you, monks, awareness-release through equanimity has the sphere of nothingness as its excellence — in the case of one who has penetrated to no higher release."
Interesting! Now I still have not read this sutta carefully again, and followed the footnotes to the other suttas mentioned there. So I don't know how much it helps to gain clarity about the original question.

But I find these relationships described here making a lot of sense and very beautiful:
  • mettā (good-will) leads to "the beautiful" (subha - some meditative state which can be used as another basis (instead of fourth jhāna) to attain arupa-jhāna):
    DN 15 wrote:Possessed of form, one sees forms. This is the first emancipation. Not percipient of form internally, one sees forms externally. This is the second emancipation. One is intent only on the beautiful. This is the third emancipation.
    I don't really understand it, what this "emancipation" of "the beautiful" is. But I know examples of people being full of undiscriminating universal goodwill for everyone as their default attitude (and remember maintaining such an attitude myself in happy past times as well). It seems that "they are intent only on the beautiful", try to see everything positive, try not to view or let appear anyone in a bad light, in accordance with the verses of the Karaṇīya mettā sutta:
    Let none deceive another,
    Or despise any being in any state.
    Let none through anger or ill-will
    Wish harm upon another.
    .
  • karuṇā (compassion) leads to "infinitude of space" (ākāsānañcāyatana).

    This makes sense to me: Someone who is full of compassion to every living being gives space to everyone, not wanting to hurt anyone or anything.

    .
  • muditā (appreciative joy) leads to "infinitude of consciousness" (viññāṇañcāyatana).

    This makes sense to me: appreaciating and rejoycing with the attainments and good qualities and deeds of other beings, without exception, can give a sense of oneness with all consciousness of the universe. A sense of looking at the world through everyone's eyes. (Would be interesting if actual mind-reding abilities could be developed starting from here as a basis.)

    .
  • upekkhā (equanimity) leads to "infinitude of nothingness" (ākiñcaññāyatana).

    This makes some sense to me but is hard to understand. "Infinite nothingness" is difficult to imagine. And difficult to understand what the distinction here is between this and "infinite space". How to imagine that there is not even space, no world to inhabit at all? But it makes sense that this would be related to equanimity.
And "neither perception nor non-perception" (nevasaññānāsaññāyatana) is not directly related to any brahma-vihāra, according to this. And it is even more difficult to imagine what that is actually about.

But I find these relations otherwise very beautiful and illustrative. I have to remember this interesting sutta: SN 46.54. I have been searching for it a number of times, and this teaching is not mentioned often.
Last edited by perkele on Mon Feb 12, 2018 12:05 am, edited 8 times in total.

thepea
Posts: 902
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2014 11:06 pm

Re: What is Vinnanacayatana "The Base of Infinite Consciousness" in Arupavacara Jhana?

Post by thepea » Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:14 pm

When the bodily sense doors shut down mind remains. Moving through the Arupa jhanas is the mind sense door shutting down.
Rupajhanas is where we walk the path but only when the three characteristics can be seen, this is why the object used is important.
The arupa jhanas are passed through and transcended upon nibbanic experience. As experience is understood and conveyed through senses it is impossible to understand these until experienced. And then only understood in an abstract way.

Mind and body’s speed is limited, when body shuts down mind is free from body(arupa jhanas) mind’s speed is unlimited and no longer anchored to body it instantaneously fills the entirety of universe. I think of this as mind approaching a black hole, mind is universally expanded through universe and mind is being drawn to a black hole, stretching and breaking down mind, hovering on the event horizon and then....
This is how I abstractly understand the arupa jhanas.
Last edited by thepea on Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

paul
Posts: 1360
Joined: Tue May 31, 2011 11:27 pm
Location: Cambodia

Re: What is Vinnanacayatana "The Base of Infinite Consciousness" in Arupavacara Jhana?

Post by paul » Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:14 pm

From a practical point of view, MN 121 shows a progressive development of spatial expansion where infinite space is followed by infinite consciousness, indicating a similarity between space and consciousness, in their normal relationship as formless attainments.
The first step in this progressive spatial development is the meditation on wilderness, and the second is earth, establishing an elemental context for the following subjects.

thepea
Posts: 902
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2014 11:06 pm

Re: What is Vinnanacayatana "The Base of Infinite Consciousness" in Arupavacara Jhana?

Post by thepea » Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:36 pm

paul wrote:
Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:14 pm
From a practical point of view, MN 121 shows a progressive development of spatial expansion where infinite space is followed by infinite consciousness, indicating a similarity between space and consciousness, in their normal relationship as formless attainments.
The first step in this progressive spatial development is the meditation on wilderness, and the second is earth, establishing an elemental context for the following subjects.
How is it practical to practice arupa jhanas how does this lead to liberation from suffering?

perkele
Posts: 896
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2011 2:37 pm

Re: What is Vinnanacayatana "The Base of Infinite Consciousness" in Arupavacara Jhana?

Post by perkele » Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:48 pm

thepea wrote:
Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:36 pm
How is it practical to practice arupa jhanas how does this lead to liberation from suffering?
Not that I can speak from experience, but: One after another

perkele
Posts: 896
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2011 2:37 pm

Re: What is Vinnanacayatana "The Base of Infinite Consciousness" in Arupavacara Jhana?

Post by perkele » Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:56 pm

I found this sutta, which seems also interesting in clarifying somewhat what these arupa states are about:
SN 14.11 wrote:/.../

"Monk, the property of light is discerned in dependence on darkness. The property of beauty is discerned in dependence on the unattractive. The property of the dimension of the infinitude of space is discerned in dependence on form. The property of the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness is discerned in dependence on the dimension of the infinitude of space. The property of the dimension of nothingness is discerned in dependence on the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness. The property of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception is discerned in dependence on the dimension of nothingness. The property of the cessation of feeling & perception is discerned in dependence on cessation."

/.../
It reminds me a bit about MN 121 and its description of a meditative step-by-step "descent into emptiness" (which was already alluded to by paul above).

paul
Posts: 1360
Joined: Tue May 31, 2011 11:27 pm
Location: Cambodia

Re: What is Vinnanacayatana "The Base of Infinite Consciousness" in Arupavacara Jhana?

Post by paul » Mon Feb 12, 2018 12:04 am

“how does this lead to liberation from suffering?”

Note that the early stages of MN 121 are not concerned with immaterial subjects, and it is possible to profitably remain at this stage. In practice, many lay practitioners have difficulty extricating themselves from human society and focussing on wilderness. Insight must be balanced with tranquility, as unbalanced insight causes the mind to become agitated.

The key term in the Cula Sunnata Sutta is “abiding in emptiness” (sunnata,vihara), of which the
Buddha declares, “As before, Ananda, so do I now often abide in emptiness” . Basically, this abiding is a profound mental focus on one of the three characteristics (lakkhana)—impermanence (anicca), suffering (dukkha) and not-self (anatta):

Analayo notes in his Comparative Study of the Majjhima
Nikaya:
the Cula Suññata Sutta is concerned with insight contemplation. Whereas in the set of discourses concerned with Moggallana’s meditation development the emphasis was on attaining each immaterial sphere as part of his development of concentrative mastery, in the Cula- suññata Sutta the point at stake is not the attainment of the immaterial spheres as such, but their use for the purpose of insight.
—-Adapted from MN 121 Dharmafarers analysis.
Last edited by paul on Mon Feb 12, 2018 12:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

thepea
Posts: 902
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2014 11:06 pm

Re: What is Vinnanacayatana "The Base of Infinite Consciousness" in Arupavacara Jhana?

Post by thepea » Mon Feb 12, 2018 12:27 am

perkele wrote:
Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:48 pm
thepea wrote:
Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:36 pm
How is it practical to practice arupa jhanas how does this lead to liberation from suffering?
Not that I can speak from experience, but: One after another
This sutta is describing the fruition of arahantship.
It is describing from the perspective of a very advanced meditator who had clearly been working continuously for days on end and had liberated from suffering.
How did his practice in the arupa jhanas lead to this? It did not as there are no mental formations to liberate from suffering in these states. We practice observing in varying states of mental formations(mind-body). When the meditator has liberated from all mental formations the sutta you provided is relevant. The phrase “there really was for him” makes this clear.

SarathW
Posts: 10514
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: What is Vinnanacayatana "The Base of Infinite Consciousness" in Arupavacara Jhana?

Post by SarathW » Mon Feb 12, 2018 4:11 am

I have to remember this interesting sutta: SN 46.54. I have been searching for it a number of times, and this teaching is not mentioned often.
:goodpost: :twothumbsup:
Could you try to answer my question in SC?

https://discourse.suttacentral.net/t/ca ... ana/7629/7
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

thepea
Posts: 902
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2014 11:06 pm

Re: What is Vinnanacayatana "The Base of Infinite Consciousness" in Arupavacara Jhana?

Post by thepea » Mon Feb 12, 2018 11:43 pm

SarathW wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 4:11 am
Could you try to answer my question in SC?
It’s a thought or a developing stage of thought prior to thought formation.

What’s SC?

SarathW
Posts: 10514
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: What is Vinnanacayatana "The Base of Infinite Consciousness" in Arupavacara Jhana?

Post by SarathW » Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:03 am

What’s SC?
Sutta Central discussion forum.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

thepea
Posts: 902
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2014 11:06 pm

Re: What is Vinnanacayatana "The Base of Infinite Consciousness" in Arupavacara Jhana?

Post by thepea » Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:12 am

SarathW wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:03 am
What’s SC?
Sutta Central discussion forum.
Roger

thepea
Posts: 902
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2014 11:06 pm

Re: What is Vinnanacayatana "The Base of Infinite Consciousness" in Arupavacara Jhana?

Post by thepea » Tue Feb 13, 2018 1:33 am

Sarath, what is the question at SC I only see a statement?

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot], Google [Bot], Manopubbangama, NuanceOfSuchness and 80 guests