Awareness independent of the 6 senses? (Thanissaro)

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Modus.Ponens
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Re: Awareness independent of the 6 senses? (Thanissaro)

Post by Modus.Ponens » Wed Feb 06, 2013 2:45 pm

Sorry for the off topic question but it is related to the previous posts. If the mods want, they can create a new topic with this.

When I sleep, even though I'm unconscious (in a sense of the word), I can tell aproximately how much time I was sleeping. That means that there is some form of active mental phenomena going on while I'm sleeping. Plus, the brain never stops working at night, so one is not totaly unconscious during sleep, even when we're not dreaming. So the question is how does the mind perceive time? Is it included in the 6th sense? (even though I'm not an abidhamma fan, I wouldn't mind hearing what it has to say, as long as it is pointed out that it is abidhammic in origin).
"He turns his mind away from those phenomena and, having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.' " - Jhana Sutta

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Re: Awareness independent of the 6 senses? (Thanissaro)

Post by Coyote » Wed Feb 06, 2013 5:35 pm

I'm very ignorant of technical details, but isn't the "consciousness without footing" the consciousness that takes Nibbana as its object i.e Lokkutara Citta (?), Magga-Phala citta ect.?

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Re: Awareness independent of the 6 senses? (Thanissaro)

Post by Dinsdale » Thu Feb 07, 2013 11:09 am

Modus.Ponens wrote: Plus, the brain never stops working at night, so one is not totaly unconscious during sleep, even when we're not dreaming.
I think there is always consciousness present, it's just a question of degree.
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Re: Awareness independent of the 6 senses? (Thanissaro)

Post by Buckwheat » Thu Feb 07, 2013 2:44 pm

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/nirvanaverb.html wrote:"Consciousness without surface, without end, luminous all around, does not partake of the solidity of earth, the liquidity of water, the radiance of fire, the windiness of wind, the divinity of devas [and so on through a list of the various levels of godhood to] the allness of the All."

— MN 49



Consciousness without surface,
without end,
luminous all around:
Here water, earth, fire, & wind
have no footing.
Here long & short
coarse & fine
fair & foul
name & form
are all brought to an end.
With the cessation of [the aggregate of] consciousness
each is here brought to an end.
— DN 11
In the quote from, MN 49, the Allness of the All refers to the six sense bases. Despite bringing up this quote before, I still have not seen any real analysis of this passage except for that of Ven Thanissaro. After a full reading of MN 49, all I can really suggest is there seems to be a distinction between the "aggregate of consciousness" which seems to be dependent on the senses, versus "consciousness without surface" which is independent of the senses. Maybe the distinction has to do with clinging and self-views. I am not wise enough to comment further.

Does anybody know the history of MN 49? I think it would be relevant to the present discussion.
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Re: Awareness independent of the 6 senses? (Thanissaro)

Post by reflection » Sat Feb 09, 2013 12:23 am

The two links I posted before may be of interest, especially this part:
The only other time in the Suttas that the ‘non-manifest consciousness’ is mentioned is in MN 49 Brahmanimantanika. There, according to Analayo, the Sri Lankan, Thai, and English editions of the Pali attribute the phrase to Brahma, not the Buddha, while only the Burmese attributes it to the Buddha. (The commentary attributes it to the Buddha and says it refers to Nibbana; Burmese texts are notorious for incorporating ‘corrected’ readings from the commentary.) In the Chinese version it has nothing to do with Nibbana, but is part of Brahma’s claim to omniscience.

http://sujato.wordpress.com/2011/05/18/ ... E1%B9%87a/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
If "non-manifest consciousness" was some kind of nibbana, or other kind of consciousness, surely the suttas would have mentioned it more than twice. Instead, this is a Brahman idea and something the Buddha wouldn't support. It was he who said there is nothing constant, also not in consciousness. It's easy to think the suttas are a bit messed up, as seems to be confirmed by this quote above. Remember, the suttas are very old and small errors are there. Proven by comparing translations. And even if they were not imperfect, we should still question them. Personally, I'm not looking for some kind of thing like a new kind of consciousness. Consciousness is always dependent on conditions, it's impermanent and suffering. Also, nobody can answer the question what a consciousness independent of the six senses would be conscious of. Once a teacher needs to go into vague terms like 'outside of time', for me personally - with all respect -, I think he also doesn't really know what he is talking about. The Lord Buddha would always make it clear:
"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This is termed the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his assertion, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why is that? Because it lies beyond range."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Now, the last sentence is a bit vague. I always like the German translations by Nyanatiloka, and he simply translates the last sentence as: "Why? Because, monks, something like that can not be found.". A more sensible translation. Also, "The All" is simply translated as "everything". So here the suttas directly say everything is just six sense consciousness, and there is no consciousness outside of these. I think that's kind of cool and just makes sense. To say that the highest peace is to end consciousness takes someone like the Lord Buddha. :bow:

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Re: Awareness independent of the 6 senses? (Thanissaro)

Post by ground » Sat Feb 09, 2013 1:33 pm

Benjamin wrote:

"The Buddha also says in some other passages that there's a consciousness that's known independently of the six sense spheres - That's the consciousness that's seen in awakening."

-Thanissaro Bhikku, from this talk: http://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/0904 ... kening.mp3" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Hey everyone,

Upon hearing this from Venerable Thanissaro, I became a bit puzzled as I have not come across this idea yet in my study of the Dhamma. Could anyone point me to some suttas where this type of consciousness is mentioned?
What causes this expression "consciousness that's known independently of the six sense spheres" actually are the so called consciousnesses of the six sense spheres. That which is idea expresses itself by means of these words. Why does it express itself as if independent of itself? :sage:

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Re: Awareness independent of the 6 senses? (Thanissaro)

Post by SarathW » Sun Feb 10, 2013 3:22 am

Hi Ground
Thanks for sharing the link. This is the first time I heard someone saying that there is a awareness (consciousness) independent of this body! I have such a great respect for Ven. Thanissaro and no reason to doubt him. However we should seek more information to see what exactly he meant by his statement.
Is he talking about Nama Rupa aspect of dependent origination (Based on Namarupa Salayathana arises) However Namarupa is not independent of Salayathana.
Buddha never said that there is anything that we can perceive outside of our body. Even Nirvana is realized within our body not outside of it.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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drifting cloud
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Re: Awareness independent of the 6 senses? (Thanissaro)

Post by drifting cloud » Wed Feb 13, 2013 1:05 am

He explains it in his footnote to the translation of the Kevatta Sutta, and includes references to other Suttas:
Where do water, earth, fire, & wind
have no footing?
Where are long & short,
coarse & fine,
fair & foul,
name & form
brought to an end?
"'And the answer to that is:


Consciousness without feature,[1]
without end,
luminous all around:
Here water, earth, fire, & wind
have no footing.
Here long & short
coarse & fine
fair & foul
name & form
are all brought to an end.
With the cessation of [the activity of] consciousness
each is here brought to an end.'"

Viññanam anidassanam. This term is nowhere explained in the Canon, although MN 49 mentions that it "does not partake in the allness of the All" — the "All" meaning the six internal and six external sense media (see SN 35.23). In this it differs from the consciousness factor in dependent co-arising, which is defined in terms of the six sense media. Lying outside of time and space, it would also not come under the consciousness-aggregate, which covers all consciousness near and far; past, present, and future. However, the fact that it is outside of time and space — in a dimension where there is no here, there, or in between (Ud 1.10), no coming, no going, or staying (Ud 8.1) — means that it cannot be described as permanent or omnipresent, terms that have meaning only within space and time. The standard description of nibbana after death is, "All that is sensed, not being relished, will grow cold right here." (See MN 140 and Iti 44.) Again, as "all" is defined as the sense media, this raises the question as to whether consciousness without feature is not covered by this "all." However, AN 4.174 warns that any speculation as to whether anything does or doesn't remain after the remainderless stopping of the six sense media is to "objectify non-objectification," which gets in the way of attaining the non-objectified. Thus this is a question that is best put aside.
This strikes me as being consistent with the philology of "nibbana" as explained by Ven. Thanissaro in Mind Like Fire Unbound and "A Verb for Nibbana".

The Yamaka Sutta also seems relevent to some of the points brought up in this discussion, re: ending of consciousness
"Yes, friends. As I understand the Teaching explained by the Blessed One, a monk with no more effluents, on the break-up of the body, is annihilated, perishes, & does not exist after death."

"Don't say that, friend Yamaka. Don't misrepresent the Blessed One. It's not good to misrepresent the Blessed One, for the Blessed One would not say, 'A monk with no more effluents, on the break-up of the body, is annihilated, perishes, & does not exist after death.'"

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Re: Awareness independent of the 6 senses? (Thanissaro)

Post by SarathW » Wed Feb 13, 2013 3:10 am

Hi drifting cloud

I am again baffled by the article. Which says:

----------------
This book has been many years in preparation. It began from a casual remark made one evening by my meditation teacher — Phra Ajaan Fuang Jotiko — to the effect that the mind released is like fire that has gone out: The fire is not annihilated, he said, but is still there, diffused in the air; it simply no longer latches on to any fuel.
---------------

As far as I know it is wrong to say, fire still there. There is nothing called fire, it arises due to conditions!
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: Awareness independent of the 6 senses? (Thanissaro)

Post by reflection » Wed Feb 13, 2013 1:57 pm

drifting cloud wrote:The Yamaka Sutta also seems relevent to some of the points brought up in this discussion, re: ending of consciousness
"Yes, friends. As I understand the Teaching explained by the Blessed One, a monk with no more effluents, on the break-up of the body, is annihilated, perishes, & does not exist after death."

"Don't say that, friend Yamaka. Don't misrepresent the Blessed One. It's not good to misrepresent the Blessed One, for the Blessed One would not say, 'A monk with no more effluents, on the break-up of the body, is annihilated, perishes, & does not exist after death.'"
The sutta emphasizes why there is no annihilation, because there is no self. Annihilation would mean the end of something solid, which doesn't happen. Also consciousness can not be solid or constant. So it can't be annihilated, but it can still end.

If you read on, you'll see that is also in the sutta. There is no mention of this consciousness-without-feature here, and in many other suttas.
"Then, friend Yamaka, how would you answer if you are thus asked: A monk, a worthy one, with no more mental effluents: what is he on the break-up of the body, after death?"

"Thus asked, I would answer, 'Form is inconstant... Feeling... Perception... Fabrications... Consciousness is inconstant. That which is inconstant is stressful. That which is stressful has ceased and gone to its end."
Consciousness without feature is a bit of a contradiction, because consciousness always needs an object.

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Re: Awareness independent of the 6 senses? (Thanissaro)

Post by kirk5a » Wed Feb 13, 2013 3:20 pm

There is that interesting metaphor in SN 12.64.
"Just as if there were a roofed house or a roofed hall having windows on the north, the south, or the east. When the sun rises, and a ray has entered by way of the window, where does it land?"

"On the western wall, lord."

"And if there is no western wall, where does it land?"

"On the ground, lord."

"And if there is no ground, where does it land?"

"On the water, lord."

"And if there is no water, where does it land?"

"It does not land, lord."

"In the same way, where there is no passion for the nutriment of physical food... contact... intellectual intention... consciousness, where there is no delight, no craving, then consciousness does not land there or increase. Where consciousness does not land or increase, there is no alighting of name-&-form. Where there is no alighting of name-&-form, there is no growth of fabrications. Where there is no growth of fabrications, there is no production of renewed becoming in the future. Where there is no production of renewed becoming in the future, there is no future birth, aging, & death. That, I tell you, has no sorrow, affliction, or despair."
Bhikkhu Bodhi says this refers to an arahant's consciousness while he is alive, but not that an "unestablished consciousness" remains after the arahant's parinibbana. I read it as leaving "where" undefined. Except of course, in terms of "no passion." But not explicitly defining that "where" AS "consciousness" ? Maybe? :broke:
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

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Re: Awareness independent of the 6 senses? (Thanissaro)

Post by drifting cloud » Wed Feb 13, 2013 6:00 pm

SarathW wrote:As far as I know it is wrong to say, fire still there. There is nothing called fire, it arises due to conditions!
Yes, this is the modern understanding of fire. This was not the understanding of fire that was current in the Buddha's time, however, and so when the Suttas speak of fire going out they are referring to a pre-scientific understanding of fire:
Back in the days of the Buddha, nirvana (nibbana) had a verb of its own: nibbuti. It meant to "go out," like a flame. Because fire was thought to be in a state of entrapment as it burned — both clinging to and trapped by the fuel on which it fed — its going out was seen as an unbinding. To go out was to be unbound. Sometimes another verb was used — parinibbuti — with the "pari-" meaning total or all-around, to indicate that the person unbound, unlike fire unbound, would never again be trapped.

A Verb for Nirvana
Whether or not the ancient Indian concept of fire is scientifically accurate or not has no bearing on how the metaphor should be understood.
Last edited by drifting cloud on Wed Feb 13, 2013 6:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Awareness independent of the 6 senses? (Thanissaro)

Post by drifting cloud » Wed Feb 13, 2013 6:18 pm

reflection wrote:If you read on, you'll see that is also in the sutta. There is no mention of this consciousness-without-feature here, and in many other suttas.
I didn't say this Sutta mentioned consciousness-without-feature. My point was that the state of the Tathagata or arahat after death cannot be described. This is again consistent with the metaphor of unbinding. In the ancient Indian understanding, fire that has gone out is non-local, unestablished, unlimited, not clinging to anything; it is undefined. In a similar fashion the Tathagata cannot be said to exist or not exist...

I see this as a metaphor for being beyond the six sense spheres, about which nothing can be said because "it lies beyond range".
reflection wrote:Consciousness without feature is a bit of a contradiction, because consciousness always needs an object.
The viññāṇa of the skandhas clearly requires an object in order to arise. But as discussed the Suttas also mention a different kind of "consciousness", which perhaps does not require an object. I believe others have speculated that the "object" of this consciousness is the peace of cessation.

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Re: Awareness independent of the 6 senses? (Thanissaro)

Post by drifting cloud » Wed Feb 13, 2013 6:27 pm

kirk5a wrote:There is that interesting metaphor in SN 12.64.

Bhikkhu Bodhi says this refers to an arahant's consciousness while he is alive, but not that an "unestablished consciousness" remains after the arahant's parinibbana. I read it as leaving "where" undefined. Except of course, in terms of "no passion." But not explicitly defining that "where" AS "consciousness" ? Maybe? :broke:
This is Thanissaro's response to this argument, from his footnotes and commentary on MN 49 which references the passage you quoted from SN 12.64:
Some have objected to the equation of this consciousness with nibbana, on the grounds that nibbana is no where else in the Canon described as a form of consciousness. Thus they have proposed that consciousness without surface be regarded as an arahant's consciousness of nibbana in meditative experience, and not nibbana itself. This argument, however, contains two flaws: (1) The term viññanam anidassanam also occurs in DN 11, where it is described as where name & form are brought to an end: surely a synonym for nibbana. (2) If nibbana is an object of mental consciousness (as a dhamma), it would come under the all, as an object of the intellect. There are passages in the Canon (such as AN 9.36) that describe meditators experiencing nibbana as a dhamma, but these passages seem to indicate that this description applies up through the level of non-returning. Other passages, however, describe nibbana as the ending of all dhammas. For instance, Sn V.6 quotes the Buddha as calling the attainment of the goal the transcending of all dhammas. Sn IV.6 and Sn IV.10 state that the arahant has transcended dispassion, said to be the highest dhamma. Thus, for the arahant, nibbana is not an object of consciousness. Instead it is directly known without mediation. Because consciousness without feature is directly known without mediation, there seems good reason to equate the two.
The whole footnoteitself is worth reading.

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Re: Awareness independent of the 6 senses? (Thanissaro)

Post by SarathW » Wed Feb 13, 2013 10:35 pm

Hi Drifting Cloud
You wrote:
----
the Suttas also mention a different kind of "consciousness", which perhaps does not require an object.
----
You baffled me again! I have never heard something like this! Where did you learn this? Can you give me the Suttas reference and link if you can?
As far as I know consciounness arises due to reasons. (Fine material (say Strings) or gross materials or objects)
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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