Awareness of awareness

On the cultivation of insight/wisdom
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mikenz66
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Awareness of awareness

Post by mikenz66 »

On a recent retreat we discussed "turning awareness around" and examining "what is aware?" This background awareness is very stable, and so is sometimes said to be one of the last aspects of experience to be dropped from being taken as "self".

I'm curious how this "background awareness" or "awareness of awareness" fits into the various classification schemes. Is it contemplation of mind or dhammas? Is it consciousness aggregate or perception aggregate?

Pointers to discussions of this aspect of meditation would also be appreciated.

:heart:
Mike

char101
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Re: Awareness of awareness

Post by char101 »

Awareness is sati cetasika, the one that knows that this is awareness, this is its arising, this is its ceasing, that it is impermanent, is sampajjana, which is panna cetasika. Both are sankhara-khandha. Being aware of these is dhammanupassana.

The purpose of vipassana is to see the arising and ceasing of the khandhas. When they cease, we let it go. The awareness itself, arise and cease. It is not something that warrant special attention.
Last edited by char101 on Sat Jan 18, 2020 6:28 am, edited 2 times in total.

SarathW
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Re: Awareness of awareness

Post by SarathW »

It is strange you ask this question.
I want to ask the same question this morning in a different way.
What is the duality in the mind? who is this "i myself"?
This thought came to me this week then it triggers again from the following video.
Now it triggers again with your question.

I have never come across the answer to this question directly from someone.
However, this is my guess.
Many of us think that consciousness arise in one way.
But Buddha said that consciousness can arise in six ways. (eye, ear, etc)
When my body consciousness says to commit suicide my mind consciousness becomes more rational and stops it.
This means consciousness arises in two ways but we are not aware of it.

The other guess is various Cetasicka arises with various Citta.
One Cetasika may override with the next Cetasica.
Then we feel there is another person inside our brain.
Now, this is self-view.
Self-view arise as a result of the five aggregate.
The question come how the self-view is eliminated.
We all know that Sotapanna is the first stage of Nibbana and s/he eliminates the Sakkaya Ditthi. (self-view regard to body)
The question is what the last thing to let go.

viewtopic.php?f=13&t=16201&p=231233&hilit=

“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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retrofuturist
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Re: Awareness of awareness

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings Mike,

You may find something useful in ven. Nanananda's explorations of the term manasikara.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"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)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

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Pondera
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Re: Awareness of awareness

Post by Pondera »

I’ll jump right in and say that this background awareness is the deathless element, simply because “dropping it” would entail an impossible contradiction - that; or unconsciousness (which I find incompatible with the “reality” of Nibbāna).

Have you succeeded in dropping it?

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Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta
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Re: Awareness of awareness

Post by Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta »

char101 wrote:
Sat Jan 18, 2020 6:26 am
Awareness is sati cetasika, the one that knows that this is awareness, this is its arising, this is its ceasing, that it is impermanent, is sampajjana, which is panna cetasika. Both are sankhara-khandha. Being aware of these is dhammanupassana.

The purpose of vipassana is to see the arising and ceasing of the khandhas. When they cease, we let it go. The awareness itself, arise and cease. ...


:bow:
.


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Self ...
  • "an entirely and perfectly foolish idea" :D ~ MN22

SarathW
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Re: Awareness of awareness

Post by SarathW »

Another possibility is the duality of Nama Rupa.
Vinnana Paccya Nama-rupa. Nama-rupa paccaya Vinnana.
In my opinion, the Arahant does not have the consciousness arising from Nama.
So the last thing to go is our physical body as far as Arahant is a concern.
:shrug:
The only way to solve this conundrum is by using Abhidhamma.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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mikenz66
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Re: Awareness of awareness

Post by mikenz66 »

char101 wrote:
Sat Jan 18, 2020 6:26 am
Awareness is sati cetasika, the one that knows that this is awareness, this is its arising, this is its ceasing, that it is impermanent, is sampajjana, which is panna cetasika. Both are sankhara-khandha. Being aware of these is dhammanupassana.

The purpose of vipassana is to see the arising and ceasing of the khandhas. When they cease, we let it go. The awareness itself, arise and cease. It is not something that warrant special attention.
Thanks. That's the point of course, to see the arising and ceasing, but the background awareness usually appears very stable.

And how about the Sutta classifications?

Mike

char101
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Re: Awareness of awareness

Post by char101 »

mikenz66 wrote:
Sat Jan 18, 2020 6:44 am
Thanks. That's the point of course, to see the arising and ceasing, but the background awareness usually appears very stable.
Though the awareness is stable but the objects taken are changing right. And each object has its own consciousness. The awareness arises and disappear along consciousness.
And how about the Sutta classifications?
[4] "Furthermore, the monk remains focused on mental qualities in & of themselves with reference to the seven factors for Awakening. And how does he remain focused on mental qualities in & of themselves with reference to the seven factors for Awakening? There is the case where, there being mindfulness as a factor for Awakening present within, he discerns that 'Mindfulness as a factor for Awakening is present within me.'
Sati is one of the 7 factors of awakening. So it is dhammanupassana.

Five khandhas: rupa, vedana, sanna, sankhara, vinanna. Sati is not rupa nor vedana nor sanna. Since vinanna is citta, and citta recollection is cittanupasana, while awareness of awareness itself is dhammanupassana, it only leaves sankhara as the classification of sati.

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Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta
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Re: Awareness of awareness

Post by Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta »

mikenz66 wrote:
Sat Jan 18, 2020 6:06 am
..."turning awareness around"
... examining "what is aware?"
... "background awareness"
... "awareness of awareness"

  • This background awareness is very stable, and so is sometimes said to be one of the last aspects of experience to be dropped from being taken as "self".

:heart:
Mike




Hi Mike,


I think this is very much related:
sn 22.89 With Khemaka
In the same way, although a noble disciple has given up the five lower fetters, they still have a lingering residue of the conceit ‘I am’, the desire ‘I am’, and the underlying tendency ‘I am’ which has not been eradicated. After some time they meditate observing rise and fall in the five grasping aggregates. ‘Such is form, such is the origin of form, such is the ending of form. Such is feeling … Such is perception … Such are choices … Such is consciousness, such is the origin of consciousness, such is the ending of consciousness.’ As they do so, that lingering residue is eradicated.”

As Venerable Khemaka, with the help of true Buddha's teachings, righty knew that he wasn't quite entirely right yet, even after giving up the five lower fetters; and, kept on practicing till that lingering residue is eradicated.

Similarly, I sense, you know very well, with the help of Buddha's teachings, that this _ "background awareness is very stable" _ thing is not quite entirely right, in the end.

Congrats! to the fact that you have been primed with the Teachings to the extent to be able to discern like: "something must be wrong with that seemingly very stable background awareness", imo.


:heart:
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Self ...
  • "an entirely and perfectly foolish idea" :D ~ MN22

SarathW
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Re: Awareness of awareness

Post by SarathW »

it only leaves sankhara as the classification of sati.
It is important to understand how Sati is changing from Cetasika to one of the seven factors of enlightenment.



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodhipakk ... hamm%C4%81
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta
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Re: Awareness of awareness

Post by Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta »

mikenz66 wrote:
Sat Jan 18, 2020 6:06 am
...
I'm curious how this "background awareness" or "awareness of awareness" fits into the various classification schemes. Is it contemplation of mind or dhammas?
...



imo, It can be both.
Contemplation of mind: True
Contemplation of dhammas: True



mikenz66 wrote:
Sat Jan 18, 2020 6:06 am
...
Is it consciousness aggregate or perception aggregate?
...


Regarding classification on aggregates:
  • It is not the issue of aggregates, but rather a matter of "kind of consciousness" in the sense that which mental factors are predominant or weak or absent. I doubt the "background awareness" with different shades of meaning held by different people would neatly fits into a specific kind/kinds of consciousness.
  • In other words:
    • It is more related to "consciousness of 89 kinds" than to "consciousness" aggregate-wise, imo.




However, if one really wants to put in terms of aggregates:
  • Consciousness aggregate seems probably not the top in the list of potential candidates to represent "background awareness", as a prominent component.
  • The most probable candidates are from "aggregrate of mental formation".
    • Delusion (Moha) leading to "it is the ultimate Nibbana itself"
    • Conceit (Māna) ”I am"
    • Wrong view (Diṭṭhi) "this awareness is mine"
    • Wisdom (I would rather say: "inadequate wisdom" so as not to be able to transcend "itself")
    • Mindfulness/awareness
    • Equanimity (Tatramajjhattatā)
  • And, can also be predominantly:
    • Aggregate of perception
    • Aggregate of feeling

:heart:
.


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SteRo
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Re: Awareness of awareness

Post by SteRo »

I'd call this background 'life (energy)'. it may also be called jīvitindriya:
Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)
Jivitindriya in Theravada glossary... « previous · [J] · next »

One of the Sabbacittasadharana cetasikas. Jivitindriya is a mental life. it supports citta to stay alive and to be able to function well. It also supports other co arising cetasikas and all mental activities are supported by jivitindriya cetasika without which citta and cetasikas will never arise. It maintains mental life and it arises with each arising citta.
Source: Journey to Nibbana: Patthana Dhama

"life faculty"; Jivitam means "life", and indriya means "controlling faculty".;

1. This cetasika sustains the life of the citta and cetasikas it accompanies.

According to the Atthasalini the characteristic of jivitindriya is "ceaseless watching", its function is to maintain the life of the accompanying dhammas, its manifestation the establishment of them, and the proximate cause are the dhamas which have to be sustained.

2. The function of jivitindriya is to maintain the life of citta and its accompanying cetasikas. It keeps them going until they fall away.

Jivitindriya is One of the Seven Universals.

Atthasalini (part IV, Chapter I, 123, 124) (See also Dhammasangani19.)
Source: Dhamma Study: Cetasikas

Jīvitindriya (“vitality”); s. indriya, khandha (corporeality, mental formations), Tab. II.
Source: Pali Kanon: Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines
https://www.wisdomlib.org/definition/jivitindriya

Actually it is no different from 'signless awareness' which remains when the noise of consciousness ceases. It is impermanent since it is life.

auto
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Re: Awareness of awareness

Post by auto »

Awareness belongs to the consciousness group probably.
Upadā on it will result on 'being aware' and you can with the mind understand that 'you are being aware'.
https://suttacentral.net/sn24.2/en/sujato wrote: “When form exists, because of grasping form and insisting on form, the view arises:“rūpe kho, bhikkhave, sati, rūpaṃ upādāya, rūpaṃ abhinivissa evaṃ diṭṭhi uppajjati:‘This is mine, I am this, this is my self.’‘etaṃ mama, esohamasmi, eso me attā’ti.
..
consciousness exists, because of grasping consciousness and insisting on consciousness, the view arises:viññāṇe sati, viññāṇaṃ upādāya, viññāṇaṃ abhinivissa evaṃ diṭṭhi uppajjati:‘This is mine, I am this, this is my self.’‘etaṃ mama, esohamasmi, eso me attā’ti.
the moment of the understanding of consciousness is impermanent(anicca) arises then by not- upadā consequently it will not result in 'being aware'(present/ditthi).
https://suttacentral.net/sn24.2/en/sujato wrote:“But by not grasping what’s impermanent, suffering, and perishable, would the view arise:“Yaṃ panāniccaṃ dukkhaṃ vipariṇāmadhammaṃ, api nu taṃ anupādāya evaṃ diṭṭhi uppajjeyya:‘This is mine, I am this, this is my self’?”‘etaṃ mama, esohamasmi, eso me attā’”ti?

“No, sir.”“No hetaṃ, bhante”.
many options tho. The 'being aware' could be delusion of space time that you are aware on same space as other people and objects are..so I wouldn't rush jumping on translation and interpretations.
--
understanding that there is 'no being aware' but still being aware, just with the right eye instead of the left one.

I think that it is about ida and Pingala nadis, being able to switch currents from one to another just what nature does it too in intervals.

imo Suttas are too hard to understand, like vedas are, there are many explanatory texts for vedas making them easier to understand..in budhism tho there are too many agendas over the atheism and no self it seem render it intellectual only or satisfying with minor results.
--
In Upanishads you might find that the devas refer to internal organs, what contribute, giving alms to the breath(self). Nowadays budhism seem oblivious about internal breath..

PeterC86
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Re: Awareness of awareness

Post by PeterC86 »

mikenz66 wrote:
Sat Jan 18, 2020 6:06 am
On a recent retreat we discussed "turning awareness around" and examining "what is aware?" This background awareness is very stable, and so is sometimes said to be one of the last aspects of experience to be dropped from being taken as "self".

I'm curious how this "background awareness" or "awareness of awareness" fits into the various classification schemes. Is it contemplation of mind or dhammas? Is it consciousness aggregate or perception aggregate?

Pointers to discussions of this aspect of meditation would also be appreciated.

:heart:
Mike
Hi Mike,

This 'background awareness' or 'awareness of awareness,' like you described it, is what is often refered to as 'the formless' in Theravada circles. It is indeed the last experience to be dropped before liberation. A danger lies in attaching to the formless, if one is under the impression that it is already Nibbana. This is where Buddhism differs from other spiritual paths, like many forms of Hinduism, they believe that the formless, or 'awareness of awareness' is out there. The trick is to stay in one's direct experience; can one separate the formless from one's experience, even if one cannot distinguish it himself? Meaning; if one doesn't experience anything, like in the case of being unconscious or asleep, is the formless there?

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