Thoughts on Form and Consciousness in Dependent Origination

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
Sarva
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Thoughts on Form and Consciousness in Dependent Origination

Post by Sarva »

Below is some thoughts on how I am starting to understand the cessation of name&form and the cessation of consciousness in the Buddha's Dependent Origination.

Regarding namarupa, consciousness specifically in Dependent Origination. I had to continually keep in mind that I was not looking for an experience which renders us inoperable or comatose, we are all seeking the insight to end suffering and the cause of suffering only. Whilst I have a body I still must feed it and interact with a complicated world. I say this because I noticed that imagination will make it harder for us and perhaps try to explain Dependent Origination or Unbinding as an experience of ending or ceasing in a way which it isn't i.e. it isn’t a state of mental in-operability. Or we may feel overwhelmed, in a thicket of views, which again I feel was not Buddha’s objective. So it is about just getting our heads around it.

As SN 12.2 namarupa or name&form ceases on the “Cessation of Consciousness”. Some sources explain that Consciousness and Name&form arise together, so the explanation of DO is linear but we can consider that the parts arise together [1]. This makes it easier for me as I can tackle the topic more practically, where I see it most apparent through insight. By name and form I understand it is the way we see the world around us. We see each object having a quality, such as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. I take a flower as good, but another person may see a flower as a bad weed. So we need to see all things with equanimity and to do so we need to remove the automatic sense of a quality in objects. We also need to remove our habitual clinging or craving/aversion to objects because we see good or bad in them as if they contain that quality as part of their nature, which they do not (anatta). Objects do not have any inherent self or quality so they are just objects or form (rupa), it is wrong view to cling to an object thinking it is a good object or let the feeling of aversion arise on sensing a ‘bad’ object. We can go through the world perfectly intelligently without craving and aversion.

SN 12.2 Paticca-samuppada-vibhanga Sutta:
"Now from the remainderless fading & cessation of that very ignorance comes the cessation of fabrications. From the cessation of fabrications comes the cessation of consciousness. From the cessation of consciousness comes the cessation of name-&-form. From the cessation of name-&-form comes the cessation of the six sense media. From the cessation of the six sense media comes the cessation of contact. From the cessation of contact comes the cessation of feeling. From the cessation of feeling comes the cessation of craving. From the cessation of craving comes the cessation of clinging/sustenance. From the cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming. From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the cessation of birth, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of stress & suffering."

So when we understand the cessation of name&form, all the rest will cease to be a part of the system or chain which leads to dukkha.

What we are doing all the time is labelling form, as explained above with ‘good/pleasure, bad/displeasure or neither good nor bad’ this correlates to craving, aversion or delusion. In order to put an end to this once and for all we need to use anicca and anatta. If anatta and anicca are difficult to comprehend then we can engage in the Eightfold path and meditation.

Through anicca we can see that no object or any event has permanence, it arises and passes away. Keep a focus on how things end or cease, as this is ‘letting go’ and helps to remove any current ongoing clinging or aversion. Hence we will see there is no need to cling, and no need to label form as good/bad etc. We pull our attention back on how we automatically label things, and instead of labelling them we keep in mind anicca and anatta and let things pass through our senses without given them any label. So it could be a beautiful face or an ugly face, we just ‘see’ we don’t need to label form with a name or feeling like “pleasurable” or “repulsive”. By removing this labelling affect of the mind, through mindfulness of anatta and anicca, this will cease consciousness from going on to ‘contact’ and ‘feeling’ in the chain of DO. By being mindful at the 6 sense gates throughout our day it will make consciousness more clear and stop it from leading to craving and suffering.

Below is what the Buddha said on the “cessation of consciousness” and then "form", a potentially tricky topic. You will notice that he doesn’t mean we become unconscious but rather there is a change to the run-of-the-mill consciousness in that it become more refined (my terms):
"He discerns consciousness, the origination of consciousness, the cessation of consciousness, the path of practice leading to the cessation of consciousness. He discerns the allure of consciousness, the drawback of consciousness, and the escape from consciousness.

"And what is form? The four great existents [the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, & the wind property] and the form derived from them: this is called form. From the origination of nutriment comes the origination of form. From the cessation of nutriment comes the cessation of form. And just this noble eightfold path is the path of practice leading to the cessation of form, i.e., right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration. The fact that pleasure & happiness arises in dependence on form: that is the allure of form. The fact that form is inconstant, stressful, subject to change: that is the drawback of form. The subduing of desire & passion for form, the abandoning of desire & passion for form: that is the escape from form.
Sattatthana Sutta SN 22.57
Link: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I hope this helps! I will also cover the 3 parts of DO and how I apply this practically if of interest.

:anjali:
metta

[1] http://www.vipassati.ch/english/books/P ... ebook.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; the wind property] and the form derived from them: this is called form. From the origination of nutriment comes the origination of form. From the cessation of nutriment comes the cessation of form. And just this noble eightfold path is the path of practice leading to the cessation of form, i.e., right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration. The fact that pleasure
Last edited by Sarva on Fri Apr 27, 2012 4:53 am, edited 4 times in total.
“Both formerly & now, it is only stress that I describe, and the cessation of stress.” — SN 22:86
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Re: Thoughts on Form and Consciousness in Dependent Origination

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings Sarva,

I'm unsure if I've made this recommendation to you previously, but I think you'll find the works of Venerable Nanananda invaluable in terms of this investigation into the "vortex" or "whirlpool" of vinnana and nama-rupa.
I had to continually keep in mind that I was not looking for an experience which renders us inoperable or comatose
Good. :thumbsup:

Metta,
Retro. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

"Overcome the liar by truth." (Dhp 223)
Sarva
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Re: Thoughts on Form and Consciousness in Dependent Origination

Post by Sarva »

Thanks Retro,
Yes you did recommend his work and I am grateful you did, working my way through them! :smile:
Nothing above do I 'own', I am even liberated from that burden it seems :sage: . The above could be seen as a summary of my understanding through materials I have read online.
“Both formerly & now, it is only stress that I describe, and the cessation of stress.” — SN 22:86
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Re: Thoughts on Form and Consciousness in Dependent Origination

Post by Assaji »

Hi Sarva,

Thank you for the post.

I would like to draw your attention to Cetana sutta, which describes the volition-consciousness (sankhara-vinnana) link of Conditioned Arising.

It is the stationing of consciousness which matters:

"But when one doesn't intend, arrange, or obsess [about anything], there is no support for the stationing of consciousness. There being no support, there is no landing of consciousness. When that consciousness doesn't land & grow, there is no production of renewed becoming in the future. When there is no production of renewed becoming in the future, there is no future birth, aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, or despair. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of suffering & stress."

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

When consciousness is unstationed (anupatthita), consciousness and nama-rupa (mentality-materiality), are no longer bound together, like two sheaves of reeds:

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

"Just as if a skilled butcher or butcher's apprentice, having killed a cow, were to carve it up with a sharp carving knife so that — without damaging the substance of the inner flesh, without damaging the substance of the outer hide — he would cut, sever, & detach only the skin muscles, connective tissues, & attachments in between. Having cut, severed, & detached the outer skin, and then covering the cow again with that very skin, if he were to say that the cow was joined to the skin just as it had been: would he be speaking rightly?"

"No, venerable sir. Why is that? Because if the skilled butcher or butcher's apprentice, having killed a cow, were to ... cut, sever, & detach only the skin muscles, connective tissues, & attachments in between; and ... having covered the cow again with that very skin, then no matter how much he might say that the cow was joined to the skin just as it had been, the cow would still be disjoined from the skin."

"This simile, sisters, I have given to convey a message. The message is this: The substance of the inner flesh stands for the six internal media; the substance of the outer hide, for the six external media. The skin muscles, connective tissues, & attachments in between stand for passion & delight. And the sharp knife stands for noble discernment — the noble discernment that cuts, severs, & detaches the defilements, fetters, & bonds in between.

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

Consciousness no longer alters due to changes of five aggregates (see Upada-paritassana sutta, SN 22.7).

Best wishes, Dmytro
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Re: Thoughts on Form and Consciousness in Dependent Origination

Post by Sarva »

Thanks a lot Dymytro,
I wasn't aware of the second and third (Nandakovada Sutta) quotations and put together as you have, they provide a useful insight to how one should approach this topic! I will read them in full.

I also read a post by you today, on a similar topic which was useful. :)

Metta.
“Both formerly & now, it is only stress that I describe, and the cessation of stress.” — SN 22:86
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Re: Thoughts on Form and Consciousness in Dependent Origination

Post by Zom »

So it could be a beautiful face or an ugly face, we just ‘see’ we don’t need to label form with a name or feeling like “pleasurable” or “repulsive”. By removing this labelling affect of the mind, through mindfulness of anatta and anicca, this will cease consciousness from going on to ‘contact’ and ‘feeling’ in the chain of DO.

Below is what the Buddha said on the “cessation of consciousness” and then "form", a potentially tricky topic.
Paticca-samuppada speaks more about the ultimate level of cessation, not just about "psychological". And on that ultimate level the meaning of these links is total cessation, destruction of khandhas. With no consciousness there is no nama-rupa, no contact, no feelings. And when there are no feelings, how can there be suffering? ,)
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Re: Thoughts on Form and Consciousness in Dependent Origination

Post by Prasadachitta »

ZOM
Paticca-samuppada speaks more about the ultimate level of cessation, not just about "psychological". And on that ultimate level the meaning of these links is total cessation, destruction of khandhas. With no consciousness there is no nama-rupa, no contact, no feelings. And when there are no feelings, how can there be suffering? ,)
HI Zom,

Ok. But What is consciousness. What does the term consciousness indicate in this context? Unless we have a sense of that, "With no consciousness there is no nama-rupa" has no helpful meaning.

Metta,

Prasadachitta
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332
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Re: Thoughts on Form and Consciousness in Dependent Origination

Post by Nyana »

I think the most straightforward way to look at the common forward sequence of paṭiccasamuppāda in the context of practice is to see that the link of feeling is where the path intersects with it. For example, MN 38 Mahātaṇhāsankhaya Sutta:
  • On seeing a form with the eye, he is not attached to it if it is pleasing, he is not averse to it if it is displeasing. He remains with mindfulness of the body present, with a measureless mind, and he discerns as it really is the liberation of mind and liberation through discernment where those worthless, unskillful qualities cease without remainder.

    On hearing a sound with the ear, he is not attached to it if it is pleasing, he is not averse to it if it is displeasing. He remains with mindfulness of the body present, with a measureless mind, and he discerns as it really is the liberation of mind and liberation through discernment where those worthless, unskillful qualities cease without remainder.

    On smelling an odor with the nose, he is not attached to it if it is pleasing, he is not averse to it if it is displeasing. He remains with mindfulness of the body present, with a measureless mind, and he discerns as it really is the liberation of mind and liberation through discernment where those worthless, unskillful qualities cease without remainder.

    On tasting a flavor with the tongue, he is not attached to it if it is pleasing, he is not averse to it if it is displeasing. He remains with mindfulness of the body present, with a measureless mind, and he discerns as it really is the liberation of mind and liberation through discernment where those worthless, unskillful qualities cease without remainder.

    On touching a tactual object with the body, he is not attached to it if it is pleasing, he is not averse to it if it is displeasing. He remains with mindfulness of the body present, with a measureless mind, and he discerns as it really is the liberation of mind and liberation through discernment where those worthless, unskillful qualities cease without remainder.

    On cognizing a phenomenon with the mind, he is not attached to it if it is pleasing, he is not averse to it if it is displeasing. He remains with mindfulness of the body present, with a measureless mind, and he discerns as it really is the liberation of mind and liberation through discernment where those worthless, unskillful qualities cease without remainder.

    Having thus abandoned favoring and opposing, whatever feeling he feels, whether pleasant, painful, or neither-painful-nor-pleasant, he does not delight in that feeling, welcome it, or remain attached to it. As he does not delight in that feeling, welcome it, or remain attached to it, delight in feelings ceases in him. With the cessation of delight, the cessation of clinging; with the cessation of clinging, the cessation of existence; with the cessation of existence, the cessation of birth; with the cessation of birth, aging and death, sorrow, grieving, pain, unhappiness, and despair cease. Such is the cessation of this entire heap of unsatisfactoriness.
Thus, the four applications of mindfulness and the rest of the path factors intersect with the link of feeling. In this way one develops sīla, samādhi, & paññā through the applications of mindfulness and the other 33 requisites of awakening in order to attain the four noble paths, terminate the fetters, and ultimately bring the entire forward sequence of paṭiccasamuppāda to an end.
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Re: Thoughts on Form and Consciousness in Dependent Origination

Post by Nyana »

Just to add a bit about how the reverse sequence of paṭiccasamuppāda occurs in terms of the four noble paths (stream-entry, etc.)....

When one attains the fruition of stream-entry then any aggregates (consciousness, name & form), etc. which would arise in the future for a worldling (in connection with the first three fetters and related outflows) are completely terminated and cease.

For example, Nettippakaraṇa 4.42 quotes the verse from Ud 7.1 Paṭhamalakuṇḍakabhaddiya Sutta, and then explains how this verse pertains to a learner's liberation (sekhāvimutti), i.e. the first three fruition attainments, but specifically in terms of the fruition of stream entry:
  • Above, below, everywhere released,
    He does not see that “I am this.”
    Thus liberated, he crosses the flood
    Not crossed before, for no further renewal of existence.


    [Learner’s liberation: Sekhāvimutti]

    He does not see that “I am this.” This is the eradication of identity-view (sakkāyadiṭṭhi). That is the learner’s liberation (sekhāvimutti). That itself is the learner's five faculties. This is the way of entry by faculties.

    Those same learner's five faculties are knowledge (vijjā). With the arising of knowledge [there is] the cessation of ignorance; with the cessation of ignorance, the cessation of volitional fabrications; thus the whole of dependent arising. This is the way of entry by the aspects of dependent arising.

    That same knowledge is the discernment aggregate (paññākkhandha). This is the way of entry by aggregates.

    That same knowledge is included in fabrications. These fabrications, [which in this case are] free from mental outflows and are not factors of existence, are comprised within the dhamma element (dhammadhātu). This is the way of entry by elements.

    That dhamma element is included in the dhamma sphere (dhammāyatana), which [in this case] is free from mental outflows and not a factor of existence. This is the way of entry by spheres.

    It is one liberated by means of the learner’s liberation and the non-learner’s liberation (sekkhāya ca vimuttiyā asekkhāya ca vimuttiyā) who crosses the flood not crossed before, for no further renewal of existence.
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Re: Thoughts on Form and Consciousness in Dependent Origination

Post by mikenz66 »

Ñāṇa wrote:I think the most straightforward way to look at the common forward sequence of paṭiccasamuppāda in the context of practice is to see that the link of feeling is where the path intersects with it. For example, MN 38 Mahātaṇhāsankhaya Sutta:...
And the suttas on contact, papanca, and so on are also relevant:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... tml#phassa" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Dependent on the eye & forms there arises consciousness at the eye. The meeting of the three is contact. With contact as a requisite condition there is feeling....
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
"Dependent on eye & forms, eye-consciousness arises. The meeting of the three is contact. With contact as a requisite condition, there is feeling. What one feels, one perceives (labels in the mind). What one perceives, one thinks about. What one thinks about, one objectifies. Based on what a person objectifies, the perceptions & categories of objectification assail him/her with regard to past, present, & future forms cognizable via the eye.
:anjali:
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Re: Thoughts on Form and Consciousness in Dependent Origination

Post by DarwidHalim »

The cessation of body doesn't occur after we pass away. But right at the moment that practitioner fully realize there is no body in this called body. They will see this clearly in their vipassana. Once they know how does it feel as having no body in their meditation, when they wake up from their meditation, the old concept will come back again. However, now it come back just as an old friend. If before the notion of body grip strongly inside you as something absolutely you have this body, now you can see that actually this meat and bone has no different with the tree besides the road. You have a through knowing you don't have body.

However, you will have a thought you have a body although you know there is no body. In this case, we need to get used with the new wisdom that we just gain using the power of Samantha during meditation and outside meditation.

Soon or later, that thought of body will also disappear.

You feel extremely light during your daily life.

This is same with mind, feeling, perception etc.

They are there. But there are just another clouds in the sky. No feeling at all there are mine. Because you absolutely have this feeling this is not mine, you reach the cessation of mind, feeling, perception, body etc.

Cessation of mind, body, perception has nothing to do with death.

If we cannot reached that in this life, after you die you will still have another body, another mind, another perception, where all of them come purely from the misconception of all of them.
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!
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Re: Thoughts on Form and Consciousness in Dependent Origination

Post by Aloka »

Hi Sarva,

As well as the Buddhadasa Paticcasamuppada resource you mentioned earlier, you might like to look at 'Dependent Origination' by Ven P.A. Payutto (considered to be Thailand's foremost Buddhist scholar)

http://www.buddhanet.net/cmdsg/coarise.htm

Kind wishes

Aloka
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Re: Thoughts on Form and Consciousness in Dependent Origination

Post by mikenz66 »

Dependent Origination, The Buddhist Law of Conditionality, P. A. Payutto
is also available as a PDF:
http://www.thawsischool.com/old/dhamma_ ... nation.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

He discusses the various interpretations, and gives some nice examples:
5 Other Interpretations

The description of Dependent Origination given in the previous chapter is that most often found in the scriptures and commentaries. It seeks to explain Dependent Origination in terms of the samsaravatta, the round of rebirth, showing the connections between three lifetimes -- the past, the present and the future.

Those who do not agree with this interpretation, or who would prefer something more immediate, can find alternatives not only in the Abhidhamma Pitaka, where the principle of Dependent Origination is shown occurring in its entirety in one mind moment, but can also interpret the very same words of the Buddha used to support the standard model in a different light, giving a very different picture of the principle of Dependent Origination, one which is supported by teachings and scriptural references from other sources.

The arguments used to support such an interpretation are many. For instance, the immediacy of the end of suffering and the sorrowless life of the Arahant are states which can arise in this present life. It is not necessary to die before realizing the cessation of birth, aging and death, and thus sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair. Those things can be overcome in this very lifetime. The whole of the Dependent Origination cycle, both in the arising of suffering and in its cessation, is concerned with this present life. If the cycle can be clearly understood as it operates in the present, it follows that the past and the future will also be clearly understood, because they are all part of the one cycle.

...

Although this interpretation of the principle of Dependent Origination must be understood in its own right, we nevertheless do not discard the pattern established by the standard model. Therefore, before going into its meaning, we should first reiterate the standard model, adapting the definitions in keeping with this interpretation.
:anjali:
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Re: Thoughts on Form and Consciousness in Dependent Origination

Post by Sarva »

Thanks Aloka and Mike,
I will look forward to reading these files you share (or others might suggest), I plan to cling :quote: to as much DO reading as I can as I am currently finding it very useful. :smile:
“Both formerly & now, it is only stress that I describe, and the cessation of stress.” — SN 22:86
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Re: Thoughts on Form and Consciousness in Dependent Origination

Post by ground »

Sarva wrote:I had to continually keep in mind that I was not looking for an experience which renders us inoperable or comatose, we are all seeking the insight to end suffering and the cause of suffering only. Whilst I have a body I still must feed it and interact with a complicated world.
Or to phrase it differently: When suffering has ceased there has to be a "mode of operation" in the context of the aggregates' self-presentation as "(complicated) world" having ceased.
Sarva wrote: By name and form I understand it is the way we see the world around us.
Or to phrase it differently: By the arising of 'name and form' (feeling, perception, volition, contact, attention & form) the arising of "the world" may be understood.
Sarva wrote: Through anicca we can see that no object or any event has permanence, it arises and passes away. Keep a focus on how things end or cease, as this is ‘letting go’ and helps to remove any current ongoing clinging or aversion.
Or to phrase it differently: Through anicca the continuous arising and passing away of the aggregates(' display) can be seen, a continuous arising and passing away that is beyond control by a conceived self.

Kind regards
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