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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Posted: Sat Dec 22, 2018 11:03 pm
by Sam Vara
Lal wrote: Sat Dec 22, 2018 10:29 pm
Sometimes, viññāṇa might - depending on context - mean "just consciousness"
Yes. That is true ONLY for the vinnana of an Arahant, because vinnana for an Arahant is purified. That is the ONLY context where it means "just cosciousness".

However, “vinnananassa nirodho is Nibbana” ALWAYS holds. An Arahant has attained Nibbana and has purified vinnana.
According to the view that the term viññāṇa has a semantic range and its meaning varies according to context, it doesn't always hold. It only holds if you hold to the view that the term bears only one particular meaning, and that meaning is the one outlined by you above.

But, as I say, there is no reason yet given to accept the view that the term has only that restricted meaning preferred by you. Lots of commentators and scholars think it has the former, wider, meaning, and that is equally consistent with what it says in the Tipitaka.

So our position is that you are, as yet, unable to demonstrate according to your preferred criterion (of consistency with the Dhamma) that one narrow definition of the term viññāṇa is preferable to a wider and more commonly accepted definition; and this means, as I said, that there is an explanation of the term in English.

Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Posted: Sat Dec 22, 2018 11:19 pm
by Lal
So our position is that you are, as yet, unable to demonstrate according to your preferred criterion
It does not really matter what your position is. Conclusions are made based on facts.

Unless you can find evidence in the Tipitaka that my criterion does not hold, my criterion stands correct.
- On the other hand, I have given evidence from the Tipitaka that there are many suttas where vinnana as "just consciousness" does not hold.

Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Posted: Sat Dec 22, 2018 11:56 pm
by Sam Vara
Lal wrote: Sat Dec 22, 2018 11:19 pm
So our position is that you are, as yet, unable to demonstrate according to your preferred criterion
It does not really matter what your position is. Conclusions are made based on facts.

Unless you can find evidence in the Tipitaka that my criterion does not hold, my criterion stands correct.
- On the other hand, I have given evidence from the Tipitaka that there are many suttas where vinnana as "just consciousness" does not hold.
No, you misunderstand. I think your criterion is perfectly sensible and adequate. My point is that if we adopt it, there is no reason to favour your narrower definition of viññāṇa over a wider definition which takes context into account. Both "pictures", or "explanations" or "theories", as you variously term them, seem to be equally compatible with what we find in the suttas.

Your view that there is no satisfactory explanation of viññāṇa in modern English commentaries is not proven. Hamilton's account (in the link I provided for you) of one contextually-dependent meaning of the term seems to be identical to the summaries you have provided:
Viññāṇa only functions when there are other concomitant mental states which are primarily of a volitional nature....volitions form the causal nexus which ties us to the wheel of rebirth. Thus our samsaric existence is both kept going and characterised by volitions of various different sorts. In order to function, viññāṇa is dependent on this fuel of samsaric existence; it does not function independently. This point is also made in the twelvefold version of the paticcasamuppada formula, where viññāṇa arises conditioned by sankhara. And conversely, it is when volitions cease that viññāṇa ceases....Viññāṇa gives us an expectation of continuity in the future...consciousness [viññāṇa] becomes propelled by volitions...the continuity of viññāṇa is dependent on the volitions...
And there is a great deal more regarding other contextually-dependent meanings of the term. And that's just one source; the same material is more tersely summarised in the PTS definition and elsewhere.

Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Posted: Sun Dec 23, 2018 1:29 am
by Lal
The point is that vinnana is a key concept of Buddha Dhamma. The highest goal of Buddha Dhamma is Nibbana. That is attained via vinnana nirodha.

All suffering start with avijja, sankhara, and vinnana.

These are in the first two steps in akusala-mula Paticca Samuppada,that ends up with bhava leading jati, jara, marana, and the whole mass of suffering.

One should not have to dig deep and find obscure references. This should be made very clear as a key concept.

That is why I say that translators must take an effort to point out this key correlation between vinnana and suffering, and how vinnana nirodha leads to end of suffering.

Thank you, Sam, for engaging in the discussion.

Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Posted: Sun Dec 23, 2018 8:19 am
by Sam Vara
Lal wrote: Sun Dec 23, 2018 1:29 am The point is that vinnana is a key concept of Buddha Dhamma. The highest goal of Buddha Dhamma is Nibbana. That is attained via vinnana nirodha.

All suffering start with avijja, sankhara, and vinnana.

These are in the first two steps in akusala-mula Paticca Samuppada,that ends up with bhava leading jati, jara, marana, and the whole mass of suffering.

One should not have to dig deep and find obscure references. This should be made very clear as a key concept.

That is why I say that translators must take an effort to point out this key correlation between vinnana and suffering, and how vinnana nirodha leads to end of suffering.

Thank you, Sam, for engaging in the discussion.
Yes, I think that virtually everyone familiar with Theravada would agree that viññāṇa is a key concept, and what the highest goal is. You can find these discussed in many introductory books, and here on DW. The rest seems to be a matter of emphasis - what different schools and different practitioners find helpful to highlight as part of their practice.

I wish you all the best with your practice, Lal.

Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Posted: Sun Dec 23, 2018 8:19 am
by Coëmgenu
Lal wrote: Sun Dec 23, 2018 1:29 amOne should not have to dig deep and find obscure references. This should be made very clear as a key concept.
Who was up to this? Who was digging deeply?

Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Posted: Sun Dec 23, 2018 8:35 am
by Sam Vara
Coëmgenu wrote: Sun Dec 23, 2018 8:19 am
Lal wrote: Sun Dec 23, 2018 1:29 amOne should not have to dig deep and find obscure references. This should be made very clear as a key concept.
Who was up to this? Who was digging deeply?
I took this to be a reference to Hamilton, although, as I said, the gist of her particular point is spread throughout other commentaries and is implicit in the PTS dictionary. Obscurity is a matter of cultural conditioning - only a couple of years ago, Retro was asking about this little-known monk at the start of this thread, and I had to ask Sri Lankan friends about Ven. Waharaka. The "obscure" is what we haven't read about yet!

Apologies to all concerned if I have mis-read that point.

Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Posted: Sun Dec 23, 2018 1:49 pm
by Lal
It appears that it still too hard for some people to grasp the severity of the misconception that viññāna is just consciousness (awareness). Hopefully, the following clarification will helpful.

Paticca Samuppāda and Viññāna

1. The fact that viññāna is much more than just consciousness (awareness) can be seen by looking at Paticca Samuppada (PS) which is translated as Dependent Origination.

- Let us first discuss the uppatti PS (which leads to rebirth). That particular PS describes how one's actions (sankhāra) done with avijjā creates a defiled viññāna. 
- That defiled viññāna could lead to a new existence (bhava) and rebirths within that bhava (jāti) in the future.
- When those actions are highly immoral deeds (apunna abhisankhāra), that new existence is in an apāya with much suffering. That is why this is critical to understand.

2. The steps in this PS cycle are:

avijjā paccayā sankhāra; sankhāra paccayā viññāna; viññāna paccayā nāmarūpa, nāmarūpa paccayā salāyatana, salāyatana paccayā phassō, phassa paccayā vēdanā, vēdanā paccayā tanhā, tanhā paccayā upādāna, upādāna paccayā bhavō, bhava paccayā jāti, jāti paccayā jarā, marana, soka-paridēva-dukkha-dōmanassupāyasā sambhavan’ti

And that is how this whole mass of suffering arises: “Evametassa kevalassa dukkhakkhandhassa samudayō hōti “

3. The process of "providing mental energy" to create a new existence (bhava) starts when one does a highly immoral deed (killing a human, raping a woman, etc).

- That is indicated by the step, "avijjā paccayā sankhāra".
- Because one does not understand that one's immoral actions WILL lead to bad consequences (i.e., ignorance of the First Noble Truths or how suffering originates), leads one to do apunna abhisankhāra (highly immoral deeds).
- Apunna means "immoral". abhisankhāra means strong sankhāra.
- That  is why such immoral deeds (abbreviated as sankhāra in the above verse) are said to be done with avijjā. In other words, with ignorance as condition, one accumulates sankhāra.

4.  Now, when one does that immoral deed, one's mind is defiled or impure. In the case of a murder, that mind is filled with hate. In the case of a rape, it is excess greed. In both cases, avijjā elevated to mōha is there too.

- That impure or defiled mind is the viññāna which is associated with that immoral action. That defiled mindset CREATES an energy (also called a kamma bīja) that can "power a new existence (bhava)".
- That is what is meant by the "sankhāra paccayā viññāna" step.

5. That kamma bīja can be there in the universe for many billions of years, waiting for an opportunity to bring its results (vipāka).

- At the end of an existence (bhava), a new bhava is grasped with such a kamma bīja from the past. At that time, one leaves the old bhava and that is called "cuti" (pronounced "chuthi"). The grasping of a new bhava is called "patisandhi". So, that moment is called a "cuti-patisandhi" moment.
- That kamma bīja that is grasped at the cuti-patisandhi moment could be a bad one like the one we just discussed. It could also be a "good kamma bīja" due to highly moral actions.
- We all have collected innumerable such good and bad kamma bīja from this life and from lives in the past.

6. So, at the cuti-patisandhi moment, the strongest of all existing kamma bīja (or a defiled viññāna) comes to the mind of that person.

- The mindset of that person at that time will be very similar to the mindset when that particular kamma was done in past.
- Therefore, the kamma vipāka re-creates that "old mindset" in the mind of the person who is about to grasp the new bhava.

7. For example, if the kamma responsible was killing of a human in the past, that angry and hateful mindset is re-created in the mindset of the dying person.

- This is what is represented by the "viññāna paccayā nāmarūpa" step.
- However, he/she is still in the old bhava. But the six sense faculties created would match those at the time of committing that bad kamma. This is what is represented by the "nāmarūpa paccayā salāyatana" step.

8. Thus, he/she will be directed to experience the re-created old immoral deed: "salāyatana paccayā phassō" and will experience that event: "phassa paccayā vēdanā".

- It is as if that person was about to commit the same crime again with the same mindset. We remember that it was committed because of avijjā.
- If he/she still has not removed avijjā to at least the level of a Sōtapanna, then that mindset will prevail: he/she will willingly grasp that defiled mindset, i.e., "vēdanā paccayā tanhā" and "tanhā paccayā upādāna".
- If one's mindset has been elevated to at least the level of a Sōtapanna, then that mindset will NOT prevail, and that kama vipaka would not take place. That is how a Sōtapanna avoids births in the apayas. He/she will no longer "willingly grasp" or "upādāna" such a defiled mindset.

9. So, if one's mindset has not been purified, then in instant, he/she will grasp a new bhava that matches with that angry/hateful mindset, which could be that of a "hell being" or an vicious animal: "upādāna paccayā bhavō".

- Suppose the new bhava is that of an animal. Then at that cuti-patisandhi moment, a gandhabba matching that of the particular animal will come out of the dead body of the person. Then that gandhabba will be in the "paralōka" until a suitable animal womb becomes available.
- When a matching animal womb becomes available, that gandhabba will "descend to that womb". This is what is called "a viññāna descending to a womb" in several suttas. That is the "bhava paccayā jāti" step.
- Now that animal will experience the kamma vipāka for that immoral deed: " jāti paccayā jarā, marana, soka-paridēva-dukkha-dōmanassupāyasā sambhavan’ti”. That is how this whole mass of suffering arises.
- Until that kammic energy that was in that kamma bīja is run out, that animal be reborn many times during that "animal bhava".

10. That is a brief summary. Hopefully, one can get the idea of what is really meant by viññāna.

Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Posted: Sun Dec 23, 2018 3:09 pm
by sentinel
Hello Lal ,

Eye consciousness
Ear consciousness
Nose consciousness
Tongue consciousness
Body consciousness
Mind consciousness

Now , do you think without the mind objects is there Mind consciousness ?

Is there anything other than six sense media consciousness ?

Can you explain in plain what is Consciousness and Thought ?

What is the difference between Thought and Consciousness ?

Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Posted: Mon Dec 24, 2018 11:30 am
by Lal
Hello James Tan,

I think it is good idea to write a post on the key difference between the 5 types of vinnana associated with the five physical senses and mano vinnana.
- Furthermore, it would be good to clarify the why some of the English words like "thought" used for citta could be misleading.

In the meantime, one could review the following related posts: “Amazingly Fast Time Evolution of a Thought (Citta)”, September 18, 2018 (p. 31). Also, the following posts are relevant:
Discussion on vinnana started on Dec 18 (p. 53)
Paticca samuppada vibhanga Sutta (SN 12.2) Dec 19, 2018 (p. 54).
Vinnana – Consciousness Together With Future Expectations Dec 21, 2018 (p. 55).

It is important to understand the basic ideas. Mind is a very complex entity and the Buddha has analyzed it in great detail in Abhidhamma. I would recommend the following two resources:
Bhikkhu Bodhi's book, "Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma".
“Buddha Abhidhamma – Ultimate Science“, by Dr. Mehm Tin Mon is also a good FREE publication: [html] ... glish).pdf[/html]
- Even though they still have some key problems (like translating vinnana as consciousness), they will help get into more details for those who are interested.

Abhidhamma is not necessary to attain Nibbana, but a basic idea on these key concepts can be gained by the fundamentals of Abhidhamma.
- Suttas just use specific terms without explaining them, in many cases.

Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Posted: Wed Dec 26, 2018 12:26 am
by Lal
I hope this post will make meanings of some key Pāli words, while shedding some light on the different types of viññāna.

Pali to English Translations – Problems With Current Translations

1. There is much misinformation about what is meant by citta, vēdanā, saññā, sankhāra, and viññāna. In most current English translations,  they are just simply translated as: thought, feeling, perception,  mental formations, and consciousness.

- The last four (vēdanā, saññā, sankhāra, and viññāna) are key concepts in Buddha Dhamma; they represent the four mental aggregates.

2. The word sankhāra is translated as “mental formations”. It does not convey the meaning at all.  Viññāna is translated as just “consciousness” and that is simply wrong.

- Sankhāra is associated with “emotions”, so we need to make the connection to emotions. In particular, we get get attached to somethings and get repulsed by others. In both cases, we generate a wide variety of emotions that lead to three types of sankhāra in our minds.
- The following are the descriptions or definitions that I found online, which seem to be closest to the Pali words: citta, vēdanā, saññā, sankhāra, and viññāna respectively.

Thought: “an idea or opinion produced by thinking or occurring suddenly in the mind”.

Feelings: Normally used together with emotion. For example, a “feeling of joy”.

Perception:  recognition

Emotions: Some define emotions as: “joy-sadness, anger-compassion, greed-benevolence, etc. etc.”.

Consciousness: “the state of being awake and aware of one’s surroundings”.

3. That is all basically modern psychology says, and there are many overlaps there too. There is no universally accepted definitions for those words yet.

- On the other hand, the Buddha has provided a very detailed analysis of the Pali words citta, saññā, vēdanā, sankhāra, viññāna.
Sankhāra arise due to emotions. These emotions are called cētasika which is normally translated as “mental factors”.
- Therefore, citta, saññā, vēdanā, sankhāra, viññāna SEEM TO correspond to the English words thought, perception, feeling. actions based on emotions, and consciousness. But that can lead to many misinterpretations, as we will discuss below.

4. This is why it is almost impossible to translate those Pali words to a single English word. The closest is probably perception for saññā, even though saññā also means something more deeper.

- It is much better to learn the meaning of each Pali word and use that word itself.
- I will briefly discuss some key features to get a basic idea.

Citta and Thought – Not Even Close

5. Cittas arise as a series; a single citta never arises by itself.

- In a sensing event that involves the five physical senses (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body), a citta vīthi (or a series of citta) arise with 17 citta in that series.
- In the case of citta arising in the mind, the basic citta vīthi has 12-14 citta. But in some special cases, there is no limit to the number citta that can arise (like in jhāna samāpatti).
- There can be billions of citta vīthi running within “the blink of eye” according to Abhidhamma. The Buddha said that there is nothing in this universe faster than citta.
- After reading this post, you may want to read the previous post, “Amazingly Fast Time Evolution of a Thought (Citta)”, September 18, 2018 (p. 31). That could make things more clear.

6. So you can see that what we call a “thought” is NOT a single citta. What we experience as a “thought” is the overall effect of a large number of citta vīthi.

- Each citta arise with at least 7 cētasika (mental factors). Vēdanā and saññā are two of those mental factors. Once a “good citta” arises, many of those arise without changing to “bad citta” in the middle. That is why a “given sense experience” is just called a citta, even though it may have billions of individual citta.
- If it is a “moral citta“, then it would have some combination of “good mental factors” such as compassion or “fear of wrong doing” (hiri). There are 25 of them, and only a several of them arise at a given time.
- If it is an “immoral citta“, it would have “bad mental factors” such as greed and hate. There are 14 of them.
Those good and bad mental factors (cētasika) never arise together.

Vēdanā and Saññā – In Every Citta

7. Vēdanā and saññā are two special types of cētasika. That is why they are treated separately from other cētasika.

- In fact, both of those arise with EACH and EVERY citta.
- Vēdanā basically “feels” that a sense event is happening. There is a sukha vēdanā, dukkha vēdanā, or a neutral vēdanā (more accurately adhukkamasukha vēdanā) associated with EACH sense event. Therefore, joy is not a vēdanā; see #2 above. There are only three types of vēdanā.
- Saññā is responsible recognizing what the sense object is, based on one’s prior experience with that object. So, one recognizes a rose and that it has color of red, for example.
- Those are of course very basic descriptions.

8. There are 52 cētasika including vēdanā and saññā. Out of other 50 cētasika, some will be  involved in “sankhāra“; which particular cētasika will be involved will depend on the particular situation. They basically define whether a citta is good or bad.

- As we mentioned before, vēdanā and saññā arise with all citta, good and bad.
- When one does an immoral deed, some of those “bad cētasika” (called asōbhana cētasika) arise with citta.
- When one does a moral deed, some of “good cētasika” (called sōbhana cētasika) arise.

Sankhāra Are Our Actions Done With Emotions

9. It is clear that cētasika represent the English word “emotions”.

- When we just experience those emotions, they are called “manō sankhāra“.
- When we start thinking consciously about them, they become vacī  sankhāra; we also speak with vacī  sankhāra. Here, vacī is pronounced “vachee”.
- If we do bodily actions with such emotions, then those are done with kāya sankhāra.
- So, we can see that “sankhāra” are more than emotions. Sankhāra are what we think and do with such emotions. 
- It is important to realize that we have control over vacī  sankhāra and kāya sankhāra, but manō sankhāra arise automatically based on our gati.
- Hopefully, this is a better translation for sankhāra than just "volitional formations".

10. To summarize what we have discussed so far:

- What we experience (and call a thought), is actually the overall effect of millions of citta vīthi.
- Current scientific research says a human can only register sense events lasting at least a hundredth of a second (about 10 milliseconds). During that time, millions of citta vīthi would have arisen.
- The sense object is recognized with the saññā cētasika, and accordingly a sukha, dukkha or neutral vēdanā arise.
- Based on that recognition (but simultaneously) a set of good or bad cētasika arise.
- Based on those good or bad set of cētasika, the mind generates good bad sankhāra with which we think, speak, and do things.

Emotions Arise Based on One’s Gati and the Sense Input

11. Thus manō sankhāra arise automatically based on our gati (or gathi) and the particular sense input. If one likes a particular sense input (based on one’s gati), then one will start thinking about it.

- So, we consciously think and speak with vacī  sankhāra based on those emotions (manō sankhāra) that initially arise. If our emotions get high enough, we may take bodily actions based on kāya sankhāra.
- All three types of sankhāra arise in the mind.

12. I need to emphasize the fact that arising of a set of good bad cētasika DOES NOT happen arbitrarily. Nothing happens without a cause.

- Basically, two key factors determine what kind of cētasika arise for a given sense event: (1) One’s gati (pronounced “gathi”), roughly meaning character/habits, and, (2) the particular sense object. 
- Gati are explained in the posts: "The Law of Attraction, Habits, Character (Gati), and Cravings (Asavas)", Oct 25, 2018 (p.43); Post on habits (Pali word “gati”, but gati is more that habits) on August 18, 2018 (p. 22); "How Habits are Formed and Broken – A Scientific View",  Nov 28, 2018 (p. 50); "Bhava and Jāti – States of Existence and Births Therein", Oct 27, 2018 (p. 43); "Gati to Bhava to Jāti – Ours to Control", Nov 15, 2018 (p. 47).

Viññāna Is the Overall Experience – Plus Future Expectations

13. Finally, one’s overall sense experience (including vēdanā, saññā, sankhāra) is called viññāna.

- Viññāna has something in addition to those.
- If one gets attracted to a given sense experience, one may initiate an expectation to enjoy it further. This is an energy generated in what is called a javana citta. That basically creates a kamma beeja that can bring vipāka in the future.
- This was discussed in the post, "Vinnana – Consciousness Together With Future Expectations", Dec 21, 2018 (p. 55).

14. So, we see that viññāna is much more than just consciousness. It is wrong to translate viññāna as just consciousness (or awareness).

- This is only an basic description of viññāna. Deeper aspects of viññāna can be found in the subsection: “Viññāna Aggregate“.

Expectations Are Only in Manō Viññāna (Normally Called Viññāna)

15. I mentioned previously that there are basically six types of viññāna.

- We become aware of something in our physical world via cakkhu viññāna (seeing), sōta viññāna (hearing), ghāna viññāna (smelling), jivhā viññāna (tasting), and kāya viññāna (touching).
- Then manō viññāna takes over, and will decide to act on it — and if needed — to make “future expectations” or “future plans”. (In Abhidhamma, it is explained that each pancadvāra citta vīthi is followed by 3 manōdavāra citta vīthi).
- Therefore, it is the manō viññāna that builds expectations for the future.
- To emphasize: Kamma beeja that can bring future vipāka are generated only in manō viññāna. The other 5 types of viññāna only bring in the external sense input.
- Therefore, when suttas refer to viññāna without a distinction, the reference is to manō viññāna.
- Other five types of viññāna just “bring the sense signal to the mind”.

Manō Viññāna and Sankhāra Feed on Each Other

16. For example, cakkhu viññāna is like a camera taking a picture. It is the manō viññānathat takes actions (generates sankhāra) based on that sense input.

- If the sense input is attractive it will try to get “more of such sense inputs”, i.e., it will initiate a viññāna to “achieve that expectation” via “sankhāra paccayā viññāna“. For example, let us assume that person X sees a new car and “falls in love with it” and makes a viññāna (an expectation, which is a mental energy) for it.
- That viññāna to “buy that car Y” will be in the subconscious of X, until either he buys it or it will turn out that there is absolutely no way for him to afford it.

17. Days later, he driving to work and sees a similar car on the road (that is of course a cakkhu viññāna).

- Now that viññāna to “buy that car Y” will come back to his mind (triggered by that cakkhu viññāna. Then of course his manō viññāna will take over and his interest in the car will come to his mind.
- Then we will start generating vacī  sankhāra (conscious thoughts) about buying that car and how nice it would be drive to work in it, etc). This is the backward step of “viññāna paccayā sankhāra“. The Paticca Samuppāda step “sankhāra paccayā viññāna” runs backward too; see, “Āsēvana and Aññamañña Paccayā“.
- That in turn will provide “more food” for that viññāna via “sankhāra paccayā viññāna“.
- Therefore, sankahar and viññāna “feed on each other”.
- One should contemplate on these ideas and apply to other “real life situations”. That is real “insight meditation” or “vipassanā bhāvanā“.

Resources and Previous Related Posts

18. The following previous posts are relevant, but are not in any particular order.

Citta Vithi – Processing of Sense Inputs",  October 2, 2018 (p. 35); "Parimukham- Establishing Mindfulness in Front?", October 5, 2018 (p. 35); Nimitta explained September 28, 2018 (p. 33) and September 29, 2018 (p. 34); “Sankhāra – What It Really Means” September 24, 2018 (p. 33); “Vinnana is not contact (phassa)”  September 21, 2018 (p. 32);
“Amazingly Fast Time Evolution of a Thought (Citta)”, September 18, 2018 (p. 31); “Contamination of a citta in nine stages” September 19, 2018 (p. 31), September 21, 2018 (p. 32); “Saññā – What It Really Means” explained September 14, 2018 (p. 31); "Correct Meaning of Vacī Sankhāra", Nov 03, 2018 (p.43); "Sankhāra – What It Really Means", Nov 01, 2018 (p. 43); "Vedana (Feelings)", Nov 06, 2018 (p. 44); "Lōbha, Dōsa, Mōha versus Rāga, Patigha, Avijjā",  Nov 11, 2018 (p. 44);

19. A fairly good idea of the structure in Abhidhamma can be gained by reading Bhikkhu Bodhi's book, "Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma".

- “Buddha Abhidhamma – Ultimate Science“, by Dr. Mehm Tin Mon is also a good FREE publication: [html] ... glish).pdf[/html]
- But they also just translate vinnana as consciousness. Furthermore, they translate citta also as consciousness.
- However, one can see the structure of Abhidhamma, and to how deep and detailed the mind processes are analyzed by reviewing those two resources.

Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Posted: Fri Dec 28, 2018 3:46 pm
by autoñāna
In SN 22.79, the Buddha distinguishes consciousness in the following manner:
"And why do you call it 'consciousness'? Because it cognizes, thus it is called consciousness. What does it cognize? It cognizes what is sour, bitter, pungent, sweet, alkaline, non-alkaline, salty, & unsalty. Because it cognizes, it is called consciousness."[16]

This type of awareness appears to be more refined and introspective than that associated with the aggregate of perception (saññā) which the Buddha describes in the same discourse as follows:

"And why do you call it 'perception'? Because it perceives, thus it is called 'perception.' What does it perceive? It perceives blue, it perceives yellow, it perceives red, it perceives white. Because it perceives, it is called perception."[17]
is taste consciousness object different from eye consciousness object?
Kiñca, bhikkhave, saññaṃ vadetha? Sañjānātīti kho, bhikkhave, tasmā ‘saññā’ti vuccati. Kiñca sañjānāti? Nīlampi sañjānāti, pītakampi sañjānāti, lohitakampi sañjānāti, odātampi sañjānāti. Sañjānātīti kho, bhikkhave, tasmā ‘saññā’ti vuccati.
Kiñca, bhikkhave, viññāṇaṃ vadetha? Vijānātīti kho, bhikkhave, tasmā ‘viññāṇan’ti vuccati. Kiñca vijānāti? Ambilampi vijānāti, tittakampi vijānāti, kaṭukampi vijānāti, madhurampi vijānāti, khārikampi vijānāti, akhārikampi vijānāti, loṇikampi vijānāti, aloṇikampi vijānāti. Vijānātīti kho, bhikkhave, tasmā ‘viññāṇan’ti vuccati.
And why do you call it perception? It perceives; that’s why it’s called ‘perception’. And what does it perceive? It perceives blue, yellow, red, and white. It perceives; that’s why it’s called ‘perception’.
And why do you call it consciousness? It cognizes; that’s why it’s called ‘consciousness’. And what does it cognize? It cognizes sour, bitter, pungent, sweet, hot, mild, salty, and bland. It cognizes; that’s why it’s called ‘consciousness’.
Thing is i don't see how red and sweet are different apart one being a sight other taste. Is what we see with eye a perception and taste with the tongue a cognizision.
Is cogni vision we see internally a taste but eyes are directly seeing outward. It makes sense to me if it so.

Any comments?

Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Posted: Fri Dec 28, 2018 7:45 pm
by Lal
is taste consciousness object different from eye consciousness object?
- If we are tasting sugar the taste object is sugar. If we are looking at a tree, the object of eye consciousness is the tree, etc.
Thing is i don't see how red and sweet are different apart one being a sight other taste.
Sight is a different awareness than taste.

- We have five sense faculties to “experience” five different types of sense inputs: sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and body touches.
Sight needs eyes; it cannot be sensed with ears or nose, etc.
Is what we see with eye a perception and taste with the tongue a cognizision.
What we see with eyes is called “cakkhu vainnana” or “eye consciousness”. What we taste is “jivha vinnana” or “taste consciousness”. They are two different experiences. Aren’t they?

- Perception (or cognition) is there in both cases (It is called sanna in Pali, and sanna is associated with all citta as explained in the previous post).
- That is how we recognize a seeing event as such and also recognize what that picture is. With sanna we also recognize a taste as such and what that particular taste is (lemon taste or taste of sugar).

P.S. However, all those five physical sense faculties just recognize the sense object. Any attachment or repulsion (dislike ) comes with mano vinnana following that "recognition of the sense object".

Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Posted: Sat Dec 29, 2018 12:10 pm
by Lal
Connection Between Sankhāra and Viññāna

1. In the previous post, "Pāli to English Translations – Problems With Current Translations", on Dec 26, 2018 (p. 57), I provided a simple and brief introduction to the four mental aggregates: vēdanā, sañña, sankhāra, and viññāna.

- In this post, I will elaborate more on the importance of sankhāra and the connection to viññāna. In a few posts, I will try to explain how we create our own future suffering by engaging in abhisankhāra or "strong sankhāra".
- These abhisankhāra are nothing but how we think about, speak about, and take actions on moral/immoral issues. If we break any of the dasa akusala, then we are generating "bad abhisankhāra" or "apunna abhisankhāra" (abbreviated as "apunnābhisankhāra").
- Those apunnābhisankhāra lead to suffering. Therefore, key to stop future suffering is to gradually reduce apunnābhisankhāra and eventually to stop them.

2. In addition to what we discussed in the previous post, another key point is to realize that all our speech and bodily actions are started by the mind.

- Can you do anything, if you (or your mind) does not want to to do?
- You may be in the middle of doing something (say walking to the kitchen), but you can decide you don't really want to go the kitchen and instead walk to the living room. If you start saying something, you can stop in mid-sentence if you want to.
- Some people have strange ideas about humans not having free will. They should try what I just suggested above. It is not that hard to verify.

3. All the progress that science has made is based on the "mind power" of the humans (scientists coming up with breakthrough innovations in their minds). Mind comes first and this is what is expressed in the very first Dhammapada gāthā: "manōpubbangamā dahmmā.." or "mind is at the forefront".

- A child's future depends on how well he learns. If the mind of the child goes in the wrong direction, he/she could become a drug addict.
- In the same way, we determine our own LONG TERM future in the rebirth process by the ways in which we think, speak, and act. That is what is really explained in Paticca Samuppāda (normally translated as "Dependent Origination"; again, it is much better to use the Pāli term and understand what is really meant by it).

4. From the moment we wake up in the morning, we do nothing but generate sankhāra.

- When we just experience a sense input (seeing, hearing, etc) , “manō sankhāra“ are automatically generated.
- The Buddha said, "vēdanā, sañña are manō sankhāra"; "Cūḷa­ve­dalla Sutta (MN 44)" [html][/html]: we just experience the sense input by recognizing it and generating a "sukha, dukkha, or neutral feeling about it".

5. When we start thinking consciously about a particular sense input (what we saw, heard, tasted, etc), we start generating vacī  sankhāra; we may also speak with vacī  sankhāra. Here, vacī is pronounced “vachee”.

- For example, if we see a nice car and start thinking about how nice it would be to own such a car, how we can impress our friends with it, etc, we are fully aware of such thoughts.
- Such conscious generation of thoughts about "what to do about a given sense input and how to go about it", for example, are vaci sankhāra. Actual speech is also vaci sankhāra.
- The Buddha said, "vitakka, vicara are vaci sankhāra"; "Cūḷa­ve­dalla Sutta (MN 44)": stay on the given sense input and generating thoughts about it or related things.
Furthermore, we can keep going with such "day dreaming" or we can stop them. If it is something we like, it may be hard to stop thinking about it, i.e.,  it may take will power.
- That is what is involved in Ānāpāna/Satipatthāna: stopping bad vaci sankhāra.

6.  If we just proceed with those vaci sankhāra, our emotions may get strong and we may start speaking out (stronger vaci sankhāra). If we get "really worked up" we may do bodily actions with such emotions, then those are done with kāya sankhāra.

- For example, let us say two people get into an argument and start shouting at each other. Each person is speaking harsh words (generated via vaci sankhāra).
- Then one of them (person X)  gets "really worked up", loses all restraint, and hits the other person. That "hitting action" was done with kāya sankhāra (generating thoughts to raise the hand and hit that person).

7. It is important to realize that both speech and bodily actions are initiated by the mind.

- In the above example, both people were engaged in generating "bad vaci sankhāra", which are nothing but "bad speech", the opposite of "Sammā Vācā" or "correct speech".
- Then person X took did an even worse thing by hitting the other person. That was a "bad action", opposite of "Sammā Kammanta".
- Therefore, they were both acting with "avijjā" or ignorance of the consequences of their actions. That is "avijjā paccayā sankhāra", the first step in Paticca Samuppāda.

8. Now, we can see what is meant by "sankhāra" (and "abhisankhāra").

- In the above example, both vaci sankhāra and kāya sankhāra generated by person X were "abhisankhāra" or "strong sankhāra".
- If those two people were just taking about something kammically neutral, say about the weather, then that would involve just "sankhāra".
- If they were talking about weather, while walking, then that would involve both vaci and kāya sankhāra that are NOT of "abhisankhāra" type. That speech and action did not involve generation of "kammic energy".

9. Therefore, it is important to understand the difference between just sankhāra and abhisankhāra. In the suttas, or in Paticca Samuppāda, the word "sankhāra" is used often without specifically saying whether it is just "sankhāra" or "abhisankhāra".

- Depending on the context, we should be able to determine whether it is  just "sankhāra" or "abhisankhāra".
- Not only that, but abhisankhāra are also two types: punnābhisankhāra (punna abhisankhāra or "good deeds") and apunnābhisankhāra (apunna abhisankhāra or "bad deeds").
- Here by "deeds" we include all three types of sankhāra: mano, vaci, and kāya. We should AVOID all three types of apunnābhisankhāra or immoral thoughts, speech, and actions.

10. It is again important to emphasize that mano sankhāra arise AUTOMATICALLY based on two things: (1) the sense input, and (2) one's own gati (character/habits), as we discussed in the previous post: "Pāli to English Translations – Problems With Current Translations", on Dec 26, 2018 (p. 57).

- For example, if someone has a bad temper (that is a bad gati), then that person can be made angry by the slightest provocation.
On the other hand, there are people who are calm and measured and are not easy to become angry. It will take much stronger provocation to make them angry.
- In the same way, some people are greedy and are easily attached to tasty foods. Some people are kind and quick to come to help for others in need, etc.

11. The key to making progress in the Path of the Buddha is to cultivate "good gati" and gradually reduce "bad gati".

- If one is "quick to anger", that is a bad gati. One important way to reduce that bad gati is to stop generating vaci and kāya sankhāra by will power when they start arising.
- For example, some people get angry even when they hear the name of a person they do not like. Then they start thinking about all the bad things that person has done in the past. That is generating "bad vaci sankhāra".
- Even though one may not be saying a single bad word, just consciously think about bad thoughts about another person will feed that bad habit. So, it is important to realize that generating such "silent bad thoughts" is as bad as saying harsh words.
- Of course actually speaking out (also vaci sankhāra) and doing bad things to person (hitting for example), are also bad abhisankhāra.

12. This "feeding bad habits" via (apunnabhi)sankhāra generation is explained via the step, "sankhāra paccayā viññāna" in Paticca Samuppāda.

- When person X has a "grudge against person Y", person X has a "viññāna" or an expectation in his mind to "get back to Y or hurt Y" whenever an opportunity arises. 
- That viññāna "gets food to grow" each time X starts generating bad thoughts about Y, speak against Y, or do something to hurt Y.  Those all belong to vaci and kāya sankhāra.
- On the other hand, mano sankhāra about Y arise automatically in X's mind when X sees Y or even when Y's name is mentioned by someone else. - Then X is likely to start generating vaci sankhāra or "conscious thoughts about Y".
- The key to progress is to STOP such vaci sankhāra AS SOON AS one becomes aware of them.

13. Just like a person, an animal, or even a tree would grow when given food on a regular basis, one's viññāna would grow when "it is fed on a regular basis" by generating vaci and kāya sankhāra.

- It works backwards too. If food is reduced, a tree will not grow well. If food and water are totally stopped, the tree will die.
- In the same way, if one stops feeding a given "viññāna" (or a "future expectation") by stopping vaci and kāya sankhāra, that viññāna will die with time.
- In the same way, we want to "feed a good viññāna", say to act kindly towards other people and animals. So, we should INCREASE vaci and sankhāra generation: generate more compassionate thoughts and engage in compassionate activities like giving.

14. So, hopefully, we now have a good idea about what sankhāra (and abhisankhāra) are and how they lead to good or bad viññāna.

- We will discuss more on viññāna in the next post. In the mean time, please do not hesitate to ask questions. It is important to understand these basic concepts.

Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Posted: Tue Jan 01, 2019 11:46 am
by Lal
Happy New Year to all!

Viññāna and Sankhāra – Connection to Paticca Samuppāda

1. To review briefly what we have covered in the last few posts:

- A defiled consciousness or viññāna has an "expectation" for the future. That is the "kammic energy" that is responsible for "sustaining the rebirth process". We are just getting the basic idea established in these posts.
- We do that willingly by generating (abhi)sankhāra, or very simply, by the way of we think, speak, and act.
- One who has not understood the First Noble Truth is willingly generating (abhi) sankhāra via, "avijjā paccayā sankhāra" that leads then to the cultivation of different types of viññāna via "sankhāra paccayā viññāna" step. That is how Paticca Samuppāda cycles start. They end up in "jāti paccayā jara, marana, soka, parideva, dukkha,..", the whole mass of suffering!
- Therefore, "avijjā paccayā sankhāra" and "sankhāra paccayā viññāna" lead to all future suffering. However, it takes time to fully understand this, so we proceed step-by-step.

2. There are five types of viññāna that can be called "just consciousness", i.e., without "future expectations". These are cakkhu viññāna (a "seeing event"), sōta viññāna (a "hearing event"), etc for the five physical sense inputs. One more special case with manō viññāna is discussed in #4 below.

- A "defiled viññāna" or "an expectation for the future" is associated only with the manō viññāna, which is what normally referred to if a specific type is not mentioned.
- Therefore, in Paticca Samuppāda or in any sutta, if a reference is made to viññāna, that is referring to "manō viññāna" or "mind consciousness".
- The mind generates the "kammic power" to create "kammic energy" or "kamma bija" ("bija" is pronounced "beeja", so I prefer to write it as "beeja").

3. Other five types of viññāna (e.g. cakkhu viññāna, etc) are only registered in the mind, when we see, hear, taste, etc.

- This is stated as "cakkhunca paticca rūpēca uppadati cakkhu viññānam" in suttas or in Abhidhamma. This is normally translated as "eye consciousness arises when a picture is seen or received by the eyes". That gives the basic idea, but it has a deeper meaning that we will discuss later.
- Similarly, hearing happens with "sōtanca paticca saddanca uppaddati sōta viññānam" ("hearing consciousness arises when a sound is heard or received by the ears"), etc.

4. In addition to the sense inputs via the five physical senses, we also get sense inputs DIRECTLY to the mind. These are "past memories and future hopes" that just come to the mind. Even though they seem to come to the mind due to no reason, it also happens due to the mind DIRECTLY receiving a past memory (called dhammā; this dhammā is different from dhamma in Buddha Dhamma).

- This process is stated as "mananca paticca dhammēca uppaddati manō viññānam", or "mind consciousness arises when a dhammā (or a past memory) is received by the mana indriya or the mind".
- This event is also "just consciousness", remembering a past event or a future expectation.

5. Therefore, the mind can "receive" six types of "sense inputs", i.e., the mind becomes "aware of" or "becomes conscious about" those six types of sense events.

- Based on those, the mind may "take actions" (to think further, to speak, or to act using the body). Those are called manō, vaci, and kāya sankhāra.
- Those sankhāra then lead to a defiled mindset or a "defiled viññāna" via the Paticca Samuppāda process. Therefore, such "defiled viññāna" can arise only via PS processes.
- And that happens ONLY IF the mind gets attached to that sense input (an attractive figure, a pleasing sound, tasty food, nice smell, soothing touch, or an important past event (or planned future event).

6. Please read the above points in #5 very carefully again and again, until the concept is understood. This is the key to understanding the key Pāli words sankhāra and viññāna and also the concept of Paticca Samuppāda.

- Whenever we willingly grasp something (or whenever we get attached to something), whatever results from that action has corresponding nature. Because one got attached willingly, a similar bhava (existence) will result: i.e., pati+icca leading to sama+uppāda or Paticca Samuppāda (PS).
- Here, "pati+icca" means "getting attached willingly" and "sama+uppāda" means "giving rise to a corresponding (similar) existence".

7. The "existence" one gets is according one's own sankhāra that are generated according to one's mindset. As we have discussed before, first manō sankhāra arise automatically based on one's gathi (or gati) , when one gets attached to a sense event.

- Then if one does not act with mindfulness (i.e., does not see the bad consequences of generating such thoughts), one will start generating vaci sankhāra. If one's emotions get strong enough, one could start speaking (more vaci sankhāra), and even taking bodily actions (kāya sankhāra).
- We will first consider a PS process that happens many times during a given lifetime. This PS process is not discussed in the Visuddhimagga or any current English texts on Buddha Dhamma.

8. In pavutti PS,  bhava or existence refers to a "temporary existence" during a given lifetime. Pavutti basically means "current".

- In the most fundamental sense, a “greedy state of mind” will result when we get attach with greed, i.e., one develops a habit or gathi or bhava corresponding to that state of mind; a “hateful state” (habit/gathi/bhava) results via hateful attachment; acts of greed and/or hate are always done with ignorance.
- The pavutti PS, which describes how we develop certain habits or bhava or gati during a given lifetime. It is often easier to use an example to illustrate these PS cycles.
- Pavutti PS is important because the habits (gati) that we cultivate during this lifetime can feed the uppatti PS process leading to future rebirths.

9. Let us examine how a teenager becomes an alcoholic, using the pavutti PS. The teenager become friendly with a group of other teenagers who are into drinking. Initially, he may be reluctant to join in, but due to ignorance (avijjā) he joins them and starts drinking.

- If a good friend or a family member came to know about the situation they could have prevented the teenager from associating with such bad company, i.e., ignorance could have been dispelled by explaining to him the adverse effects of not only drinking, but also of associating with such a group.
- Now we will examine in detail how this happens.

10. The PS cycle thus starts with “avijjā paccayā sankhāra“; due to ignorance of the adverse results, the teenager starts drinking with that group (sankhāra = “san +khāra” or actions of accumulating, in this case bad kamma).

- The more he is involved with such drinking activities, the more he thinks about it and develops a “defiled mindset” or a "defiled viññāna" for that activity. This is “sankhāra paccayā viññāna“.

11. When he really begins to like drinking, he starts thinking about it even while doing other things. This is “viññāna paccayā nāmarūpa“ step.

- In this case, nāmarūpa are the mental images associated with that viññāna, i.e., the names and shape of particular alcohol bottles, the places where he normally drinks, the friends who drink with him, etc.
- He also thinks about the next “event” and visualizes the scene, all these are associated nāmarūpa. Thus, here nāmarūpa are the mental images of “things” and “concepts” that one would like to enjoy.
- "Nāma" means "name" assigned to a person/object, "rūpa" means "spatial profile" associated with that nāma. 

12. Now his six senses become “involved” to provide a reality to those nāmarūpa; to provide the desired sense pleasures. In Pāli terms, the six indriya (senses) become “āyatana“. For a lack of a single English word, I will call an “āyatana” an “import/export facility”, and really get involved in the actions associated with drinking events.

- Eyes are used as indriya when they are used just to identify things out there. When eyes are used to repeatedly look at an object TO ENJOY IT, then the eyes are used as “āyatana”.
- His mind is often thinking about the next “event” (where, when, with whom, etc), he makes necessary preparations for the “event” using all six senses (now ayatanas), that are in accordance with the nāmarūpa.
- Therefore, this is the “nāmarūpa paccayā salāyatana“ step, where salāyatana means the six āyatana: the eye is now not merely for seeing, it has become an assistant in the lookout for a “good drink” or a “good friend to chat with”, etc.

13. Then we have “salāyatana paccayā phassa“, i.e., all six āyatana become actively engaged making contact with relevant sense objects.

- His eyes are on the lookout for a favorite drink or a favorite person to chat with, etc. Here instead of phassa, it is (more appropriately) called “samphassa” (= “san” + “phassa“), where “san” implies it not just contact, but a “san” contact.
- This is a good time to introduce the term "san". I will do that soon. Then it will become more clear.

14. Such “samphassa” lead to vedana (feelings), i.e., “(san)phassa paccayā vedana“. He experiences “good (but immoral) feelings” with all those sense contacts.

- Because of such “good feelings”, he gets further attached: “vedana paccayā tanhā“; see, “Tanhā – How We Attach via Greed, Hate, and Ignorance“. You can enter "tanha" in the Search box at top right at and this post will show up in search results.

15. Now comes, “tanhā paccayā upādāna“. Upadana means “grabbing or getting hold of something automatically” like an octopus grabbing its prey with all its eight legs.

- In the present case, the teenager wants very much to re-live this experience, and he gets immersed in it; when he is experiencing the event his mind is totally absorbed in it; he does not think, and does not have the mindset to think about, any adverse consequences. This is the critical “habit forming” or “bhava forming” step.

16. So, the next inevitable step is, “upādāna paccayā bhavo“; this particular state of getting drunk becomes more and more ingrained in his mind. It becomes “a bhava” or “existence” or habit that is of importance to him. He very much wants to re-live that experience.

- And that is exactly what he gets: “bhava paccayā jāti“. This “bhava” or the kamma seed is now well established, and he can be born in that state quite easily. All he needs is an invitation from a friend, or even a sight of a bar while travelling, for example.
- It is natural to get into that state, or be “born” in that state. So, he gets drunk at every opportunity. See, “Bhava and Jati – States of Existence and (Repeated) Births Therein” for more details.

17. However, like everything else, any birth is subjected to decay and suffering: “jāti paccayā jarā, marana.., eva me tassa dukkhandha samudhayō hōti“, i.e., "the whole mass of suffering".

- But in the case of a single drinking event, that state of intoxication comes to an end, possibly with a big headache and a huge hangover. That episode ends with nothing to show for it, but a hangover.
- Even worse, now he is “hooked’; he has formed a bad habit, which only strengthens even more if he does it again and again. Because each time, the PS runs, the viññāna for that habit gets more fuel, and the bhava gets stronger.

18. The more the teenager gets trapped in that bhava, the more jāti that occurs, i.e., more frequently he will be drunk.

- And it is not even necessary to participate in a “drinking event” to run another PS cycle. He may be sitting at a desk trying to study, and may start going through the PS cycle MENTALLY.
- He can start right at “avijjā paccayā sankhāra” and be generating vaci sankhāra (vitakka/vicara or planning), thus generating (and strengthening) the viññāna for drinking, generating nāmarūpa (visuals of places, friends, alcohol bottles, etc), and thus going through the rest of the cycle: salāyatana, samphassa, vedana, tanhā, upādāna, bhava, jāti (“living it”), repeatedly.
- Thus numerous such PS cycles can run at any time, probably increasing its frequency as the bhava or the habit builds up.The stronger the bhava or habit is, it will be harder to break it.
- This is why meditation together with another good habit to work on should be undertaken to replace a bad habit. While in meditation, one can contemplate the adverse consequences of the bad habit.

19. It is important to realize that the above PS cycle does not run to its conclusion when the drinking “event” is over. Rather the cycle can run repeatedly unless it is stopped willfully, deliberately.

- And the way to do that is to act with "mindfulness" and stop those bad first conscious thoughts (vaci sankhāra) that start arising. This is the key to "real Ānāpāna and Satipatthāna meditations" in Buddha Dhamma.
- Then one would be stopping the "avijjā paccayā sankhāra" step. That will stop "bad viññāna" from arising or being cultivated by the elimination of "sankhāra paccayā viññāna" step. That will of course stop the end result of suffering.
- That is the same principle that will eventually stop "long-term suffering" in the rebirth process via the pavutti PS process.