Spiny Norman wrote:
But going back to the OP, what do you think is the difference between consciousness and perception?
I understand consciousness as mere presence, and perceptions as what is present. When I say "what is present" I don't mean an object out there but the pure "real" experience without assumptions.
Now, without "what is present" the idea of presence cannot exist. And without presence (in absence) "what is" is not presented/discerned/manifested.
To make myself more clear, let me present different modes of attention we may have in ascending order of refinement:
1. Normally, we assume that an object is inherently lying there, and it inherently possesses the attributes (like color, shape, size, etc.).
That is, in our normal mode of attention we think: "I am here, and I am conscious of an object lying there."
Example: "I am here, and I am seeing the red rectangular table lying there."
2. We can discard the assumption of an object inherently lying there having inherent attributes, and shift our attention to the mere attributes (perceptions, like color, shape). Instead of seeing a red rectangular table there (which is an assumption), we can just see red & rectangle (which is not an assumption but a perception, an actual experience).
So the mode of attention is: "I am here, and I am conscious of the perception there."
Example: "I am here, and I am seeing the red rectangle there."
3. Now, the idea that "perceptions are there" does not make sense. In perceptions idea of locality does not apply.
So we refine our mode of attention to: "I am here, and I am conscious of the perceptions"
Example: "I am here, and I am am seeing the red rectangle."
4. The idea of "here" only exists in relation to "there". So the idea of "here" also evaporates.
So with further refinement the mode of attention becomes: "I am, and I am conscious of the perception."
Example: "I am, and I am seeing the red rectangle."
5. With the understanding of anatta our assumption about "I" evaporates.
So the mode of attention now is: "Consciousness of perceptions."
Example: "Seeing the red rectangle."
Thus we reach the stage as described in Bahiya sutta: In seeing of the red-rectangle (in the seen) just the seeing of the red-rectangle (just the seen) - no seer" and no seen object.
In the seeing of a red rectangular table, "table" is just an idea. In reality of mere seeing, newer and newer "images" of red rectangle (seen) are appearing (presenting/manifesting) and disappearing.