Six sense base question

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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mikenz66
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Re: Six sense base question

Post by mikenz66 » Sat May 08, 2010 4:03 am

Hi Retro,
retrofuturist wrote: When you think about something, do you go temporarily blind?
When you think about something, do you go temporarily deaf?
When you think about something, do you lose body consciousness?
When you think about something, do you lose your sense of taste?
When you think about something, do you lose your sense of smell?

:popcorn:

How would you answer these questions in accordance with your understanding of the Abhidhamma?
How would you answer these questions in accordance with your own experience?
I'll play on the last one.

My experience is that as my mindfulness and concentration has improved I do find that I only discern the objects that I am focussed on. In fact, I find "multitasking" more difficult. If I'm reading the paper in the morning, I find I have missed whole sections of the news on the radio.

Of course since the mind is quite quick I don't exactly feel blind or deaf, but it's much like when the single processor in my computer is busy with something it's hard to do something else, not many CPU cycles to work with...

Mike

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Re: Six sense base question

Post by retrofuturist » Sat May 08, 2010 4:07 am

Greetings Mike,

Could the 'one consciousness at a time' theory be experientially seen and known for one's self?

Do you know if the Buddha taught this in the suttas?

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Six sense base question

Post by Virgo » Sat May 08, 2010 4:08 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Virgo,
Virgo wrote:According to abhidhamma, only one object is known at a time.
When the Abhidhamma was transcribed to palm leaf, was the writer experiencing eye-consciousness to see what he was writing, or mind-consciousness to think of what to write?

Metta,
Retro. :)
According to abhidhamma, when we see, only color is known. Immediately afterward mind door processes ensue and a concept about some whole object which one "sees" arises. The concept of an object is known by mental consciousness, but only color, one at a time, are known by the eye. There can be seeing consciousness hundreds of times, or thousands of times while looking at a speaker just briefly, but the idea of "speaker" is all processes of citta arises at the mind base, not the eye. So when someone transcribes something, if all his sense faculties are in tact - which, hopefully they were for the man in your question - consciousness would have arisen at each sense base many times.

I hope this answers your question.

Kevin

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Re: Six sense base question

Post by retrofuturist » Sat May 08, 2010 4:12 am

Greetings Virgo,
Virgo wrote:There can be seeing consciousness hundreds of times, or thousands of times while looking at a speaker just briefly
Does one take this on concept on faith, or does one see and count this for themselves.
Virgo wrote:I hope this answers your question.
It does, thank you.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Six sense base question

Post by Virgo » Sat May 08, 2010 4:25 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Virgo,
Virgo wrote:There can be seeing consciousness hundreds of times, or thousands of times while looking at a speaker just briefly
Does one take this on concept on faith, or does one see and count this for themselves.


Retro. :)
Hi Retro. My opinion is that one need not be able to count how many cittas arise in a sense-door process and so on. All one needs to do is have panna that sees the anatta, anicca, or dukkha aspect of any dhamma, ie. have a moment of genuine satipatthana. When that happens, it is known that an object was known by wisdom for what it is. The mind can distinguish between nama and rupa and so on. It can know that an object was known and that it fell away lightning fast. By way of this it can be understood just how fast they arise and fall. Panna just knows an object because it finally understands, one doesn't have to try and focus on it for that to happen. When people do vipassana that is just an approximation leading to understanding, it is not genuine moments of vipassana, which simply just arise when the conditions are right and wisdom has been developed-- even vipassana meditators admit that their focusing on objects is just an approximation. Those moments can happen though because dhamma are arising any way, like seeing or hearing or feeling, and nama is arising along with them. It is just nama understands at those moments along with the dhammas as they arise. It is not like one can know and name each one and watch them in succession, but when panna understands a dhamma, it understands that it arises and falls extremely fast (anicca), only arises based on conditions that can't always be controlled (anatta), and is suffering because of those two (dukkha). When panna has an object, it only has one object.

Kevin

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Re: Six sense base question

Post by mikenz66 » Sat May 08, 2010 4:33 am

Hi Retro,
retrofuturist wrote: Could the 'one consciousness at a time' theory be experientially seen and known for one's self?
That's what I was suggesting.
retrofuturist wrote: Do you know if the Buddha taught this in the suttas?
Of course not. That's a pointless question. All these issues are a matter of interpretation. Do you know he didn't mean that? Of course not.

Why don't we discuss the issue? The interpretation of the simile as mind taking one object as a time seems plausible, seems consistent with numerous Suttas about consciousness arising as a result of contact between internal and external sense bases, and, as I said, seems to be consistent with experience (though I don't make any claims to be absolutely sure about my personal experience).

Can you experience two things simultaneously? Have you tried? Close your eyes and focus on the sensations in the tips of your two index fingers for half an hour. See if you can feel sensations simultaneously in both fingers.

Mike

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Re: Six sense base question

Post by Reductor » Sat May 08, 2010 4:55 am

mikenz66 wrote: See if you can feel sensations simultaneously in both fingers.
I've tried something like that. Often in meditation I can feel my knees and the tip of my nose at the same time (not to mention everything between). Is it illusion? I think that there is always a primary object that demands the bulk of you're attention, but not quite all of it.

Another thing I've considered is just what is meant by contact. Contact is usually stated as external base + internal base + corresponding-class-of-consciousness. In MN 28 contact is defined a little differently, with the term 'conscious engagement', but what might that mean. In MN 44 (or 43) consciousness is linked inextricably with perception and feeling. So when we have an experience of one sense fading out when another is attended to, it seems that we are noticing a subsiding of perception at one base in preference for another. But seldom does the perceptual process seem to halt altogether at the first base in preference to the second. Instead there is a shift, with one becoming louder while the other grows fainter.

Not a click-on, click-off experience.

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Re: Six sense base question

Post by mikenz66 » Sat May 08, 2010 5:04 am

thereductor wrote:
mikenz66 wrote: See if you can feel sensations simultaneously in both fingers.
I've tried something like that. Often in meditation I can feel my knees and the tip of my nose at the same time (not to mention everything between). Is it illusion? I think that there is always a primary object that demands the bulk of you're attention, but not quite all of it.
Hmm, that's interesting. If I do the exercise (which I think is a fairly common "party trick at the meditation class" thing) I feel tingling in either one finger tip or the other. Perhaps I've been brainwashed by those pesky Burmese teachers who take the Abhidhamma and Commentaries seriously... :meditate:

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Re: Six sense base question

Post by Reductor » Sat May 08, 2010 5:37 am

mikenz66 wrote: Perhaps I've been brainwashed by those pesky Burmese teachers who take the Abhidhamma and Commentaries seriously... :meditate:

Mike
Maybe.

I cannot say that you, personally, will feel both fingers. But standing at my computer, holding my fingers out, I'm pretty sure I feel both index fingers tingling. What matters, if you want to feel more than one part on the body at a time, is the scope of awareness. If your awareness is narrow, as it usually is in waking life, then focusing on two feelings at once can be tricky.

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Re: Six sense base question

Post by tiltbillings » Sat May 08, 2010 6:10 am

thereductor wrote:
I cannot say that you, personally, will feel both fingers. But standing at my computer, holding my fingers out, I'm pretty sure I feel both index fingers tingling. What matters, if you want to feel more than one part on the body at a time, is the scope of awareness. If your awareness is narrow, as it usually is in waking life, then focusing on two feelings at once can be tricky.
There is a huge qualitative difference between sitting at your computer feeling both fingers at the same time, or thinking you do and the experience of paying attention to sensations with a precise attention with a deeply concentrated, mindful mind.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Six sense base question

Post by appicchato » Sat May 08, 2010 6:18 am

...feel both index fingers tingling...then focusing on two feelings at once...
That, and three bucks, will get you a cup of coffee...

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Ben
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Re: Six sense base question

Post by Ben » Sat May 08, 2010 6:19 am

tiltbillings wrote:
thereductor wrote:
I cannot say that you, personally, will feel both fingers. But standing at my computer, holding my fingers out, I'm pretty sure I feel both index fingers tingling. What matters, if you want to feel more than one part on the body at a time, is the scope of awareness. If your awareness is narrow, as it usually is in waking life, then focusing on two feelings at once can be tricky.
There is a huge qualitative difference between sitting at your computer feeling both fingers at the same time, or thinking you do and the experience of paying attention to sensations with a precise attention with a deeply concentrated, mindful mind.
Excellent point.
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

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Re: Six sense base question

Post by retrofuturist » Sat May 08, 2010 6:50 am

Greetings Mike,
mikenz66 wrote:Can you experience two things simultaneously? Have you tried? Close your eyes and focus on the sensations in the tips of your two index fingers for half an hour. See if you can feel sensations simultaneously in both fingers.
That exercise proves nothing... it conflates vinnana (consciousness) which is not part of nama, with manasikara (attention, advertence) which is. In the Suttas, the Buddha never conflates the two - I cannot speak for the Abhidhamma Pitaka, but I doubt it does either.

If you're intently reading a book and someone shouts at you, do you hear it?

Can you simultaneously hear an awful din and know that you're frustrated about it? Of course you can. Does knowing that you're frustrated, cause consciousness of the sound to stop? If only!

So to answer your question, "Can you experience two things simultaneously?", the answer is yes, and no scholarly treatise can convince me otherwise. If someone can find some Buddhavacana to suggest otherwise, then perhaps I will reconsider my position, but otherwise, I see no justification for doing so.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Six sense base question

Post by Sobeh » Sat May 08, 2010 6:52 am

retrofuturist wrote:When you think about something, do you go temporarily blind?
One time I was daydreaming and staring off into space, and didn't see when my friend was waving his hand in front of my face.

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Re: Six sense base question

Post by Ben » Sat May 08, 2010 7:12 am

Appearances can be deceiving, Retro.
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

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