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Mind and mind-object

Posted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 12:06 pm
by phil
Hi all

I was asking about this in a more general area, so at the risk of being obnoxious, please let me ask about it again here.

This from the Honeyball Sutta (MN 18)

"Depending on the mind and mind-objects, mind-consciousness arises. The meeting of the three is contact. With contact as condition, there is feeling. What one feels, that one perceives. What one perceives, one thinks about. What one thinks about, one mentally proliferates. With what one has mentally proliferated as the source, perceptions and notions (born of ) mental proliferation beset a man with respect to past, future and present mind-objects congnizable by the mind."

It's easy to understand how, for example, "depending on the eye and forms, seeing-consciousness arises" but much harder (for me at least) to understand mind and mind-objects. Could you help me with this? Does it come down to Abhidhamma, to an object that is cognized through the eye door, for example, falling away to immediately be cognized through the mind-door, that the visible object that has fallen away is processed immediately as a mind object through the mind door? And what if it is a random thought that comes without any visual or auditory or any other prompting, what is that object? A blip of mental information that is not yet an idea or thought in the same way a blip of visual information is not yet a perceived thing such as a "tree" or whatever?

Thanks.

Metta,

Phil

Re: Mind and mind-object

Posted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 12:36 pm
by Bhikkhu Pesala
I don't think there is any satisfactory answer to these types of questions. If you want to know what a mind object is, then you need to meditate and observe your mind, seeing how thoughts and perceptions arise and pass away.

This is not a pipe:

Image

Why did I remember that picture as one of an infinite number of possible ways to illustrate the point I am trying to make?

Re: Mind and mind-object

Posted: Wed Apr 08, 2009 3:16 am
by phil
Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:I don't think there is any satisfactory answer to these types of questions. If you want to know what a mind object is, then you need to meditate and observe your mind, seeing how thoughts and perceptions arise and pass away.

This is not a pipe:

Image

Why did I remember that picture as one of an infinite number of possible ways to illustrate the point I am trying to make?
Thank you for your kind feedback, Bhante, and the interesting example.

Unfortunately my meditation practice is not insight-oriented so it won't provide any answers to that question. I think as Theravadans, though, we can receive many answers through study of the texts, for theoretical understanding of the Dhamma, or pariyatti. If insight later confirms this intellectual understanding, great, but we start with the intellectual understanding. I think there is a danger of going astray if one is too eager to look into one's meditation for answers to deep questions. That is my opinion based on having talked with people on the internet who define the citta, for example, based on the way they understand it through meditation.

I looked in Visudhimagga (XV, 34) and found this: "mental-data element (is reckoned as) twenty things, namely, three immaterial aggregates, sixteen kinds of subtle matter, and the unformed element." (I assume that "the unformed element" means nibbana.) So obviously "mind-object" is much more complex than one would think. I will drop this. Perhaps my review of the CMA will clarify things for me.

Metta,

Phil

Re: Mind and mind-object

Posted: Mon Apr 20, 2009 10:30 pm
by rowyourboat
Hi Phil
From what I understand mind door objects are just those initial blips of mental phenomena (like an old memory popping up for no reason)- not the results of latter processing. But this gets complicated as latter processing can lead in a cause and effect manner for mind door objects to pop up- but it is unclear where to draw the line - ie where mental processing stops and 'new' objects pop up.
with metta

Re: Mind and mind-object

Posted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 7:09 am
by serg_o
Hello, phil

You can look at the section of contemplating "dhammas in dhammas" (Mental Qualities in Thanissaro bhikkhu translation, Mental Objects in Soma thera and Nanasatta translations) in Satipatthana sutta, the sections about obstacles (nivarana) and factors of enlightment (bojjhanga). May be these pieces would be of help with your question. :hello:

best wishes,
Sergey

Re: Mind and mind-object

Posted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 5:32 pm
by Ngawang Drolma.
Fascinating topic! It's loosely related to a thread I started here.
But what Bhante says is so true, that there really are things that can only be found in word-less meditation.

That's my two cents :)

Re: Mind and mind-object

Posted: Fri Sep 03, 2010 9:57 am
by mirco
serg_o wrote:the sections about obstacles (nivarana) and factors of enlightment (bojjhanga)
Hi,

here are tow quite easy understandable Dhammatalks (incl. transcripts) on that: 7 Factors

Be Well, :) Mirco

Re: Mind and mind-object

Posted: Sat Sep 04, 2010 4:10 am
by dhamma follower
phil wrote:Hi all

I was asking about this in a more general area, so at the risk of being obnoxious, please let me ask about it again here.

This from the Honeyball Sutta (MN 18)

"Depending on the mind and mind-objects, mind-consciousness arises. The meeting of the three is contact. With contact as condition, there is feeling. What one feels, that one perceives. What one perceives, one thinks about. What one thinks about, one mentally proliferates. With what one has mentally proliferated as the source, perceptions and notions (born of ) mental proliferation beset a man with respect to past, future and present mind-objects congnizable by the mind."

It's easy to understand how, for example, "depending on the eye and forms, seeing-consciousness arises" but much harder (for me at least) to understand mind and mind-objects. Could you help me with this? Does it come down to Abhidhamma, to an object that is cognized through the eye door, for example, falling away to immediately be cognized through the mind-door, that the visible object that has fallen away is processed immediately as a mind object through the mind door? And what if it is a random thought that comes without any visual or auditory or any other prompting, what is that object? A blip of mental information that is not yet an idea or thought in the same way a blip of visual information is not yet a perceived thing such as a "tree" or whatever?

Thanks.

Metta,

Phil
Dear Phil,

I am not sure I understand very well your question, but regarding mind-object, I understand it to be anything that is perceived by the mind. So the both cases you mentioned above belong to it. In practice, it is possible to see the thought arises and pass away with the knowing mind. The thought is a mental object having nothing to do with seeing or hearing, it can be anything like: "this car is old" or "the Dhamma is deep"...
Actually, through experiences, I have seen the moment of direct contact between the mind-object and the mind, only then the thought is formed, which is a kind of verbal translation of what has been directly known before, very weird...And it is hard to put it into words.
IMHO, the implication of this is that thought or even direct understanding is truly anatta, and it's much easier then to dis-identify with mental stuff.

Hope it helps,

D.F.

Re: Mind and mind-object

Posted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 8:00 pm
by Emanresu
phil wrote:This from the Honeyball Sutta (MN 18)

"Depending on the mind and mind-objects, mind-consciousness arises. The meeting of the three is contact. With contact as condition, there is feeling. What one feels, that one perceives. What one perceives, one thinks about. What one thinks about, one mentally proliferates. With what one has mentally proliferated as the source, perceptions and notions (born of ) mental proliferation beset a man with respect to past, future and present mind-objects congnizable by the mind."

It's easy to understand how, for example, "depending on the eye and forms, seeing-consciousness arises" but much harder (for me at least) to understand mind and mind-objects. Could you help me with this?
Hello Phil,

according to my understanding (which is far from being perfect), "mind and mind-objects" have to be understood in the same sense as "eye and forms" in this context. Our experience is that of being in the world, and we are in that world by means of our body or senses. With regard to that, I think that "mind" is just an equivalent of the other five senses in the "mental environment", i.e. the world of mind-objects. I think it's not by accident that we speak of the "mind's eye" etc., because we are still some kind of "embodied", even in the world of "mind objects". The "mind" is the way of being present there (similar to the five other senses in "their" world).

All the best!

Re: Mind and mind-object

Posted: Sun Mar 06, 2011 5:53 am
by mirco
phil wrote:I was asking about this in a more general area, so at the risk of being obnoxious, please let me ask about it again here.
This from the Honeyball Sutta (MN 18)....
Hi Phil,

maybe this helps to clarify a bit: http://www.dhammasukha.org/Study/mn-018.htm

Best Wishes, Mirco :)

Re: Mind and mind-object

Posted: Sun Mar 06, 2011 7:42 am
by lojong1
Emanresu wrote:"mind's eye"
Gave me goosebumps when I read in abhidhamma of mental contents that have yet to meet the mind, just like solid objects to a closed or distant eye. Spooky, what couldn't be floating through my room right now?

Re: Mind and mind-object

Posted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 6:09 pm
by shivap@cox.net
I think of mind-objects are thoughts in their various subtle and gross forms, or mental images. These originate from seeded memory in the Sankhara formation and appear as mind-objects in consciousness. Attention and discrimination by consciousness towards these mind-objects, similar in nature to perceived external objects through the other 5 sense doors, results in action. A purer consciousness will be a better judge as to what action to take, an impure one not so good. That is why controlling and choosing thoughts carefully is important in life. Bad formations will become atrophied by not picking up and acting on bad thoughts, conversely good formations will be made stronger by acting on them. In meditation just watch your thoughts carefully, as they are the best indication of whether your mind is like a volcano spewing out lava or like a calm ocean with occasional waves.

Re: Mind and mind-object

Posted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:02 pm
by paul
shivap@cox.net wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 6:09 pm
Attention and discrimination by consciousness towards these mind-objects, similar in nature to perceived external objects through the other 5 sense doors, results in action. A purer consciousness will be a better judge as to what action to take, an impure one not so good. That is why controlling and choosing thoughts carefully is important in life. Bad formations will become atrophied by not picking up and acting on bad thoughts, conversely good formations will be made stronger by acting on them.
Appropriate attention (yoniso manasikara) to responses to both external and internal stimuli is indeed critical:

“The Blessed One said, "Monks, the ending of the fermentations is for one who knows & sees, I tell you, not for one who does not know & does not see. For one who knows what & sees what? Appropriate attention & inappropriate attention. When a monk attends inappropriately, unarisen fermentations arise, and arisen fermentations increase. When a monk attends appropriately, unarisen fermentations do not arise, and arisen fermentations are abandoned.”

But not all unwholesome mind states will respond to mere equanimity, sometimes more aggressive strategies are required:

“And what are the fermentations to be abandoned by destroying? There is the case where a monk, reflecting appropriately, does not tolerate an arisen thought of sensuality. He abandons it, dispels it, & wipes it out of existence.

Reflecting appropriately, he does not tolerate an arisen thought of ill will...

Reflecting appropriately, he does not tolerate an arisen thought of cruelty...

Reflecting appropriately, he does not tolerate arisen evil, unskillful mental qualities. He abandons them, dispels them, & wipes them out of existence. The effluents, vexation, or fever that would arise if he were not to dispel these things do not arise for him when he dispels them. These are called the fermentations to be abandoned by dispelling.” —-Majjhima Nikaya: 2

The three classes of thought referred to are those of Right Intention (which leads to action), the second link of the noble eightfold path.

Re: Mind and mind-object

Posted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 4:35 am
by DooDoot
shivap@cox.net wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 6:09 pm
I think of mind-objects are thoughts in their various subtle and gross forms, or mental images.
I image mind objects are feelings, perceptions, memories, thoughts, images, defilements, mature emotions (such as compassion) and also Nirvana.
shivap@cox.net wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 6:09 pm
These originate from seeded memory in the Sankhara formation and appear as mind-objects in consciousness. Attention and discrimination by consciousness towards these mind-objects, similar in nature to perceived external objects through the other 5 sense doors, results in action.
Is the above referring to Dependent Origination theory?
paul wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:02 pm
Appropriate attention (yoniso manasikara) to response...
Where does the Dependent Origination theory refer to appropriate attention?

Re: Mind and mind-object

Posted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 5:44 pm
by shivap@cox.net
Attention is part of Name and Form. One has to apply one's faculties and common sense to try to understand what the Buddha meant. If you meditate, as we should, the sequence of thought generation, attention, discrimination, action are seen clearly. Expand these functions through awareness and you will see how you generate good and bad Karma through one's decisions. Ancient texts and translations have to be seen and understood through one's experience.

Anything that comes into mind's view outside of direct contact from the 5 senses is a mind object. For example, if I see a tree with my eyes, it is an eye object, producing eye-consciousness. If I close my eyes and visualize the tree, it is a mind-object, producing mind-object consciousness. See mind-objects coming up as thoughts and images during your meditations as either wholesome or unwholesome. Then root out unwholesome mind-objects and dwell on wholesome mind-objects, to strengthen the mind from defilements. If you have an angry thought about an incident, reimagine it with you being compassionate and forgiving, seeing the other with compassion. That way the unwholesome mind-object contemplation becomes wholesome. Keep it simple, and let your own enlightening process be your guide.