Awareness independent of the 6 senses? (Thanissaro)

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

Postby danieLion » Thu Jul 18, 2013 12:33 am

Jason wrote:You can find some of my thoughts about this topic (as well as references) here....

Hi Jason,
It is not at all clear exactly what "Theravadin Orthodoxy" is or means and never will be. The Buddha wasn't Theravadin, and the "nature" of Theravada does not preclude reform from within or challenges to any of it's cherished views (except where they directly and obviously conflitc with the suttas).
Kindly,
dL
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Re: Awareness independent of the 6 senses?

Postby danieLion » Thu Jul 18, 2013 4:41 am

polarbuddha101 wrote:I think this may likely be the most controversial statement that Thanissaro has ever made.

Hi polarbuddha,
But it's not like he's the center of this so-called "anti-Theravadin orthodoxy 'controversy.'" Luang Por Pasanno and Ajahn Amaro devote an entire chapter (Ch. 8) to it in The Island: An Anthology of the Buddha's Teachings on Nibbana, in which Ven. Amaro, commenting on "viññanam anidassanam anantam sabbato pabham" and the verses it occurs in MN 49 and DN 11, notes:

It almost goes without saying that there is controversy as to the precise meaning of this enigmatic phrase.... There has been considerable debate over the centuries as to the real and precise meaning of these verses (pp. 131, 134)


So let's not single out Thanissaro and try to characterize him as some kind of maverick on this topic. The principal source of the controversy is the Buddha himself. The Buddha said it ultimately should be set aside which Thanissaro merely echoes. It is troublesome at best to infer an eternalist spin from Thanissaro's comments. Or, as Ven. Amaro goes on to say:

Rather than try to put forth a definitive meaning that will settle the question forever, perhaps it's wiser just to consider the elements of the teaching that are presented here and let one's own understanding arise from the contemplation.... In these passages the Buddha speaks of unsupported consciousness per se; they bring together and synthesize much of the material that has already been explored in this chapter. If they are taken as guides for meditation, rather than just as philosophical view-points, they largely speak for themselves and are rich sources for reflection.

Their principal strength, the capacity to catalyse insight and liberation, lies in the emphasis they give to the subtle conditioning power of volition and other mental undercurrents, the clarification that it’s not necessary to give those tendencies life and solidity – a landing place – and the crucial role that right attitude has in meditation. (pp. 134, 147; compare this to the passge SarathW pointed out in Thanissaro's The Paradox of Becoming, especially pp. 154-55).


Kindly,
dL
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Re: Awareness independent of the 6 senses?

Postby Holdan » Thu Jul 18, 2013 6:50 pm

danieLion wrote:viññanam anidassanam anantam sabbato pabham" and the verses it occurs in MN 49 and DN 11, notes:

It almost goes without saying that there is controversy as to the precise meaning of this enigmatic phrase.... There has been considerable debate over the centuries as to the real and precise meaning of these verses (pp. 131, 134)


I theorise the verses probably should be considered in their context. Both MN 49 and DN 11 are sutta connected to Brahma &/or the Brahma world. They are teachings to Brahma &/or Brahmins and are not about the discernment of the Three Characteristics in relation to consciousness that results in Nibbana. Brahma believes He is His non-dual consciousness & He is the Creator of The All. I would theorise Buddha, instead of pointing out the path to Nibbana, was giving a gradual teaching, showing there is a state of consciousness without attachment, where various sense objects "have no footing", i.e., are not clung to as My Creation. I would propose it is not correct to regard viññanam anidassanam anantam sabbato pabham as some supreme state because it was taught to Brahma Gods rather than taught to Arahants.
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Re: Awareness independent of the 6 senses? (Thanissaro)

Postby SarathW » Fri Jul 19, 2013 3:21 am

Hi Holden
Based on your post I did some search.

Consciousness without surface (viññanam anidassanam): This term appears to be related to the following image from 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 grow. Where consciousness does not land or grow, name-&-form does not alight. Where name-&-form does not alight, 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."

In other words, normal sensory consciousness is experienced because it has a "surface" against which it lands: the sense organs and their objects, which constitute the "all." For instance, we experience visual consciousness because of the eye and forms of which we are conscious. Consciousness without surface, however, is directly known, without intermediary, free from any dependence on conditions at all.

This consciousness thus 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. And, as SN 35.23 notes, the word "all" in the Buddha's teaching covers only the six sense media, which is another reason for not including this consciousness under the aggregates. However, the fact that it is outside of time and space — in a dimension where there is no here, there, or in between (Ud I.10), no coming, no going, or staying (Ud VIII.1) — means that it cannot be described as permanent or omnipresent, terms that have meaning only within space and time.

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.


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: Awareness independent of the 6 senses? (Thanissaro)

Postby Holdan » Fri Jul 19, 2013 4:36 am

SarathW wrote:Consciousness without surface (viññanam anidassanam): This term appears to be related to the following image from SN 12.64:

Thank you. I would not agree with this. The sutta sounds like it is about when, due to an absence of craving & delight, consciousness 'does not land or grow', i.e., consciousness does not absorb & becoming fixated upon an object. This is a stock phrase, which, imo, refers to consciousness not stuck on any object rather than a consciousness independent of the sense bases. Imagine an arahant observing the world of experience. All their consciousness sees is the arising & passing & flow of objects, stuck on none of the objects. Like a log floating on a river from the mountains to the great ocean. If it does not get washed up on the shore or stuck on a bank or captured by humans or non-humans, it will reach the great ocean. To me, SN 12.64 is about the absence of craving & delight rather than about a 7th consciousness.
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Re: Awareness independent of the 6 senses? (Thanissaro)

Postby equilibrium » Fri Aug 16, 2013 2:17 pm

reflection wrote:Also, nobody can answer the question what a consciousness independent of the six senses would be conscious of.

Maybe this will.
The consciousness that is independent of the six senses is called the Supra-Mundane Consciousness.....this consciousness will be conscious of Nibbana.....that which is unconditioned and exist permanently and it is neither created nor formed.

The path is in two stages, a mundane path and a supramundane path. The supramundane path is a state of wisdom-consciousness that arises when the conditions are right.

This is where one breaks through a glass wall.....in the suttas, it is termed as "awareness-release".....hence it is the fruits of the path.....the realization itself.....which must be realized by the mind. After all, it is the mind that is set free!

As Nibbana is unconditioned, to experience it, whatever that enters it must also be unconditioned.
This Supramundane Consciousness is conditioned therefore not parmanent. Limited in time.
This is where it gets really interesting.....
Because the supramundane consciousness, while it is conditioned, meaning limited in time, it has the characteristics of that of Nibbana, which is unconditioned so to experience it.

The normal mundane consciousness cannot and will not meet Nibbana because it is conditioned with the deluded self.....which must be removed temporary so to see Nibbana.
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Re: Awareness independent of the 6 senses?

Postby Aloof » Fri Aug 16, 2013 3:03 pm

santa100 wrote:From DN 15 ( http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; ), which gives detailed description of Dependent Co-arising:

"'From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-and-form.' Thus it has been said. And this is the way to understand how from consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-and-form. If consciousness were not to descend into the mother's womb, would name-and-form take shape in the womb?"

"No, lord."

"If, after descending into the womb, consciousness were to depart, would name-and-form be produced for this world?"

"No, lord."

"If the consciousness of the young boy or girl were to be cut off, would name-and-form ripen, grow, and reach maturity?"

"No, lord."

"Thus this is a cause, this is a reason, this is an origination, this is a requisite condition for name-and-form, i.e., consciousness."



I know a case of a 65 year lady, who during fast did not take prescribed medicine and went into a coma.

She is in coma for last three years. Her breathing is natural.She is fed liquid food and all other functions of body are normal.
She closes and opens he eyes, but her stare is blank.
it seems her consciousness is gone yet her form remains.
Can someone explain this?
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Re: Awareness independent of the 6 senses? (Thanissaro)

Postby Aloka » Fri Aug 16, 2013 3:16 pm

equilibrium wrote: The consciousness that is independent of the six senses is called the Supra-Mundane Consciousness.....this consciousness will be conscious of Nibbana.....that which is unconditioned and exist permanently and it is neither created nor formed.

The path is in two stages, a mundane path and a supramundane path. The supramundane path is a state of wisdom-consciousness that arises when the conditions are right.

This is where one breaks through a glass wall.....in the suttas, it is termed as "awareness-release".....hence it is the fruits of the path.....the realization itself.....which must be realized by the mind. After all, it is the mind that is set free!

As Nibbana is unconditioned, to experience it, whatever that enters it must also be unconditioned.
This Supramundane Consciousness is conditioned therefore not parmanent. Limited in time.
This is where it gets really interesting.....
Because the supramundane consciousness, while it is conditioned, meaning limited in time, it has the characteristics of that of Nibbana, which is unconditioned so to experience it.

The normal mundane consciousness cannot and will not meet Nibbana because it is conditioned with the deluded self.....which must be removed temporary so to see Nibbana.



According to the information at the link, there are 40 supra mundane types of consciousness:

http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?title=40_supra_mundane_types_of_consciousness



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

Postby SarathW » Mon Aug 19, 2013 12:47 am

Basically I agree with you all.
But what I am saying is this consciousness is experienced when the Ariya is alive not after his/her death.
According to Abhidamma, Magga and Phala are Javana thought moments.
They are not awareness of independent of the six senses.
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Re: Awareness independent of the 6 senses? (Thanissaro)

Postby equilibrium » Mon Aug 19, 2013 10:40 am

SarathW wrote:But what I am saying is this consciousness is experienced when the Ariya is alive not after his/her death.
According to Abhidamma, Magga and Phala are Javana thought moments.
They are not awareness of independent of the six senses.

What is the difference between "awareness" and "consciousness" ?
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Re: Awareness independent of the 6 senses? (Thanissaro)

Postby rohana » Tue Aug 20, 2013 1:56 am

If I understand correctly, there are 3 interpretations of the 'anidassana viññāṇa' :

  • Ven. Sujāto: It refers to the formless jhāna attainments
  • Ven. Bodhi: It refers to the phala-samāpatthi of the Arahant
  • Ven. Thanissaro, Ven. Ñānānanda, Ven. Sumedho: It refers to the 'every-day' consciousness of the Arahant before Parinibbāna

May be I've missed something, but I don't think any of these teachers are suggesting that any type of viññāna exists after parinibbāna.

From Ven. Ñānānanda's Nibbāna Sermons:
    In fact, we have a very good example in support of this suggested sense in the Kakacūpamasutta of the Majjhima Nikāya. There we find the Buddha putting a certain question to the monks in order to bring out a simile: "Monks, suppose a man comes with crimson, turmeric, indigo or carmine and says: 'I shall draw pictures and make pictures appear on the sky!' What do you think, monks, could that man draw pictures and make pictures appear there?" Then the monks reply: Ayañhi, bhante, ākāso arūpī anidassano. Tattha na sukaraṃ rūpaṃ likhituṃ, rūpapātubhāvaṃ kātuṃ.[225] "This sky, Lord, is immaterial and non-illustrative. It is not easy to draw a picture there or make manifest pictures there."

    Here we have the words in support of the above suggested meaning. The sky is said to be arūpī anidassano, immaterial and non-illustrative. That is why one cannot draw pictures there or make pictures appear there. There is nothing material in the sky to make manifest pictures. That is, the sense in which it is called anidassano in this context.

    ...

    Now viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ is a reference to the nature of the released consciousness of an arahant. It does not reflect anything. To be more precise, it does not reflect a nāma-rūpa, or name-and-form. An ordinary individual sees a nāma-rūpa, when he reflects, which he calls 'I' and 'mine'. It is like the reflection of that dog, which sees its own delusive reflection in the water. A non-arahant, upon reflection, sees name-and-form, which however he mistakes to be his self. With the notion of 'I' and 'mine' he falls into delusion with regard to it. But the arahant's consciousness is an unestablished consciousness.

    ...

    In a dumb show, one might see such acts as follows: An actor rides a no-bike, climbs a no-hill, meets a no-friend and has a no-chat with him. Or else he may sit on a no-chair by a no-table and writes a no-letter with a no-pen. What we mean by the no-nos here is the fact that on the stage there is neither a bicycle, nor a hill, nor another person, nor any other object like a chair, a table or a pen. All these are merely suggested by his acting. This kind of dumb show has a comic effect on the audience.

    An insight meditator, too, goes through a similar experience when he contemplates on name-and-form, seeing the four elements as empty and void of essence, which will give him at least an iota of the conviction that this drama of existence is empty and insubstantial. He will realize that, as in the case of the dumb show, he is involved with things that do not really exist. This amounts to an understanding that the factors of the name group are dependent on the form group, and vice versa.
    33 Sermons on Nibbāna
"Delighting in existence, O monks, are gods and men; they are attached to existence, they revel in existence. When the Dhamma for the cessation of existence is being preached to them, their minds do not leap towards it, do not get pleased with it, do not get settled in it, do not find confidence in it. That is how, monks, some lag behind."
- It. p 43
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Re: Awareness independent of the 6 senses? (Thanissaro)

Postby SarathW » Tue Aug 20, 2013 2:52 am

Hi Rohana
Thanks.
All three interpretations seem ok to me as it depend on the context each person talking about it.
The most important thing for me here is that they all talk about this consciousness related to before Parinibbana.
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Re: Awareness independent of the 6 senses? (Thanissaro)

Postby SarathW » Tue Aug 20, 2013 2:58 am

equilibrium wrote:
SarathW wrote:But what I am saying is this consciousness is experienced when the Ariya is alive not after his/her death.
According to Abhidamma, Magga and Phala are Javana thought moments.
They are not awareness of independent of the six senses.

What is the difference between "awareness" and "consciousness" ?


Say if I have a headache then I am cognise that with my body for which I call consciousness.
Say if I do not have the headache then I infer (awareness) that there is no headache.
The same way we can be conscious about the stress (Dukkaha) and infer (aware) Nibbana when we eliminate stress.
:)
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