Consciousness as Nutriment - A Question

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srivijaya
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Consciousness as Nutriment - A Question

Post by srivijaya » Fri Feb 13, 2015 8:52 am

Teachings on the four nutriments make much sense, but I'm unclear on the function of the English word "consciousness" In this context. It appears we use "consciousness" as a translation for several differing terms which appear in the Pali, rather like the Eskimo's alleged '50 words for snow', we have to make do with a one-size-fits-all term for something which varied, depending on context.

I was struck by how Nyanaponika Thera uses it here:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el105.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
But there is still more meaning than that to be derived from the description of consciousness as a nutriment if we consider that it is explained primarily as rebirth consciousness. This rebirth consciousness, which is a single moment's occurrence, feeds (or conditions) the mind-body process (naama-ruupa) of the present existence; and it is the arising of such moments of rebirth consciousness at the beginning of each successive life that continues the interminable chain of future births, deaths and sufferings. Growth or proliferation is a characteristic feature of all consciousness. Each rebirth consciousness, though its direct link is with the life immediately preceding it, has behind it the inexhaustible store-house of the beginningless past, a vast granary of potential seeds of life. Fed from the dark unfathomable recesses of the past, lurks consciousness, an octopus with not eight but a thousand arms, ready to grasp and take hold wherever it finds a chance, and there to procreate a fresh breed of beings, each with its own set of grasping tentacles.
Is this the entire explanation, or is anyone able to throw more light on the topic of consciousness as nutriment?

I have no interest in this becoming a rebirth debate (just to clarify) thanks :thumbsup:

randall
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Re: Consciousness as Nutriment - A Question

Post by randall » Fri Feb 13, 2015 11:59 am

I'm probably not the best to explain here, but the part bolded in the quote you provided is referring to a citta called patisandhi (rebirth consciousness), it's function is to take an object just at the moment of death (which in this case would be sign of kamma, kamma, or sign of destiny) and condition a new existence in whichever realm that kamma was best suited at the moment.

The Patthana also has a nutriment condition, it's job as a vinnana nutriment is to support and maintain the accompanying cetasikas that arise at any particular moment.

you can check out the nutriment chapter for more info if your interested.
the conditionality of life - Nina Van Gorkom

thanks for the link btw!

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srivijaya
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Re: Consciousness as Nutriment - A Question

Post by srivijaya » Fri Feb 13, 2015 1:48 pm

Thanks Randall. The linked book allows for this consciousness to also be an active agent during life as well (if I understand it correctly)
When vinnana (consciousness), the third mental nutriment, is considered under the
aspect of the Dependent Origination, it is vipakacitta which arises at rebirth and also in
the course of life
.
Quite a technical description, so I'll have to let that one work on me.

Still not entirely sure how such a thing can function as a nutriment though. I can understand how the various Consciousnesses which are linked to the sense bases can, and also the mental movement of emotions and thoughts. But consciousness per se?

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Re: Consciousness as Nutriment - A Question

Post by Wri » Fri Feb 13, 2015 5:50 pm

My humble interpretation here would be that consciousness is awareness, particularly of experience. So, you well be energized by bare experience itself. This is to say that no matter what conditions you are under, you will be uplifted by the very fact of experiencing it. However if you cling to that you may just force yourself a rebirth :P
Keep your mind steady and rest within the winds of experience.
May I show unconditional love to all beings.

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srivijaya
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Re: Consciousness as Nutriment - A Question

Post by srivijaya » Fri Feb 13, 2015 6:14 pm

Wri wrote:My humble interpretation here would be that consciousness is awareness, particularly of experience. So, you well be energized by bare experience itself. This is to say that no matter what conditions you are under, you will be uplifted by the very fact of experiencing it. However if you cling to that you may just force yourself a rebirth :P
I like that interpretation. Would you say it's a case of awareness energizing itself?

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Wri
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Re: Consciousness as Nutriment - A Question

Post by Wri » Fri Feb 13, 2015 8:23 pm

When one makes an effort to be aware, the bare fact of being aware and appreciating experience in that way can lead to the mind and body being energized by such an action. It can take a lot of training, but when mindfulness is a natural state of mind for you, you begin to realize that experience itself in any situation is very enriching and this leads to the mind and body being "nourished" or energized.

I don't think it makes sense to say that awareness is energizing itself in any way. Awareness is the tool fed by energy.

Either way, this stuff is technical and intellectualizing can pretty much be beyond the point. Go experience it yourself. Be aware and see how your body reacts.
Keep your mind steady and rest within the winds of experience.
May I show unconditional love to all beings.

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Re: Consciousness as Nutriment - A Question

Post by SarathW » Fri Feb 13, 2015 9:34 pm

The way I understand all the limbs of Dependent Origination act as a nutriment for each other.
You will see the effect of nutriments in the origination of Nama-Rupa
I see the whole world is revolving as a result of Nutriments.
:shrug:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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srivijaya
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Re: Consciousness as Nutriment - A Question

Post by srivijaya » Fri Feb 13, 2015 9:42 pm

Wri wrote:Awareness is the tool fed by energy.
So in this example, energy is a nutriment (or supporting condition) for consciousness. That makes perfect sense.

It's the premise of consciousness (or awareness) as a nutriment itself that I seek to get a handle on.

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srivijaya
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Re: Consciousness as Nutriment - A Question

Post by srivijaya » Fri Feb 13, 2015 9:46 pm

SarathW wrote:The way I understand all the limbs of Dependent Origination act as a nutriment for each other.
You will see the effect of nutriments in the origination of Nama-Rupa
I see the whole world is revolving as a result of Nutriments.
:shrug:
I guess nutriment and supporting condition are the same thing in this case. insomuch as it's all dependent-arisen, good point.

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Re: Consciousness as Nutriment - A Question

Post by paul » Sat Feb 14, 2015 3:15 am

Apart from rebirth, the nutriment for consciousness is derived from the five aggregates:
-SN 22.54:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

-Buddhist Dictionary, vinnana:
"Just like the other groups of existence, consciousness is a flux (viññána-sotá, 'stream of c.') and does not constitute an abiding mind-substance; nor is it a transmigrating entity or soul. The 3 characteristics (s. ti-lakkhana), impermanence, suffering and no-self, are frequently applied to it in the texts (e.g., in the Anattalakkhana Sutta, S.XXII, 59). The Buddha often stressed that "apart from conditions, there is no arising of consciousness' (M 38); and all these statements about its nature hold good for the entire range of consciousness, be it "past, future or presently arisen, gross or subtle, in oneself or external, inferior or lofty, far or near" (S. XXII, 59).

According to the 6 senses it divides into 6 kinds, viz. eye- (or visual) consciousness (cakkhu-v.), etc. About the dependent arising of these 6 kinds of consciousness, Vis.M. XV, 39 says: 'Conditioned through the eye, the visible object, light and attention, eye-consciousness arises. Conditioned through the ear, the audible object, the ear-passage and attention, ear-consciousness arises. Conditioned, through the nose, the olfactive object, air and attention, nose-consciousness arises. Conditioned through the tongue, the gustative object, humidity and attention, tongue-consciousness arises. Conditioned through the body, bodily impression, the earth-element and attention, body-consciousness arises. Conditioned through the subconscious mind (bhavanga-mano), the mind-object and attention, mind-consciousness arises."

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srivijaya
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Re: Consciousness as Nutriment - A Question

Post by srivijaya » Sat Feb 14, 2015 6:58 pm

Thanks Paul.

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Re: Consciousness as Nutriment - A Question

Post by cobwith » Sun Feb 15, 2015 1:47 pm

srivijaya wrote: is anyone able to throw more light on the topic of consciousness as nutriment?
:
Hi srivijava

In Buddha's words:

"For what purpose is the support* consciousness?
Explaining it rightfully, the support consciousness is for the purpose of future rebirth.
(SN 12.12 - Nidāna_saṃyuttaṃ>Āhāra vaggo>Moḷiyaphagguna suttaṃ)
* Support for the upkeep of the born and for the protection of those to be born."

Cordially
Sā me dhammamadesesi,
khandhāyatanadhātuyo
Thig 5.8

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srivijaya
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Re: Consciousness as Nutriment - A Question

Post by srivijaya » Mon Feb 16, 2015 12:24 pm

cobwith wrote:the support consciousness is for the purpose of future rebirth.
Thanks cobwith. I find that an interesting definition. Obviously after Buddha's enlightenment he no longer had 'that' consciousness.

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Aloka
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Re: Consciousness as Nutriment - A Question

Post by Aloka » Mon Feb 16, 2015 2:30 pm

Hi srivijaya,

Its possible that you might find the chapter "Unsupported and Unsupportive Consciousness" of interest, from the book "The Island - An Anthology of the Buddha's Teachings on Nibbana" by Ajahn Pasanno & Ajahn Amaro.

http://www.amaravati.org/dhamma-books/the-island/

Kind regards,

Aloka :anjali:

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Re: Consciousness as Nutriment - A Question

Post by Ahern = Element » Mon Feb 16, 2015 9:24 pm

srivijaya wrote:I was struck by how Nyanaponika Thera uses it here:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el105.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;
But there is still more meaning than that to be derived from the description of consciousness as a nutriment if we consider that it is explained primarily as rebirth consciousness. This rebirth consciousness, which is a single moment's occurrence, feeds (or conditions) the mind-body process (naama-ruupa) of the present existence; and it is the arising of such moments of rebirth consciousness at the beginning of each successive life that continues the interminable chain of future births, deaths and sufferings. Growth or proliferation is a characteristic feature of all consciousness. Each rebirth consciousness, though its direct link is with the life immediately preceding it, has behind it the inexhaustible store-house of the beginningless past, a vast granary of potential seeds of life. Fed from the dark unfathomable recesses of the past, lurks consciousness, an octopus with not eight but a thousand arms, ready to grasp and take hold wherever it finds a chance, and there to procreate a fresh breed of beings, each with its own set of grasping tentacles.
Is this the entire explanation, or is anyone able to throw more light on the topic of consciousness as nutriment?

I have no interest in this becoming a rebirth debate (just to clarify) thanks :thumbsup:
Hi Srivijaya. I read the link. What struck me was the metaphor about the robber speared 300 times in one single day (ouch!). My interpretation was in one single day we have hundreds of moments of consciousness and each time, like a robber, if we grasp and take hold of those moments of consciousness with the 'self' idea (rather than with the 'not-self' idea), we get punished or speared like the robber. Scary!

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