Six sense base question

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Re: Six sense base question

Postby 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

Postby 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.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: Six sense base question

Postby 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

Postby 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.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: Six sense base question

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

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.
"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Six sense base question

Postby 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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Re: Six sense base question

Postby 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.
"Only those who take to meditation with good intentions can be assured of success. With the development of the purity and the power of the mind backed by the insight into the ultimate truth of nature, one might be able to do a lot of things in the right direction for the benefit of mankind."

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Re: Six sense base question

Postby 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. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Six sense base question

Postby 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

Postby Ben » Sat May 08, 2010 7:12 am

Appearances can be deceiving, Retro.
"Only those who take to meditation with good intentions can be assured of success. With the development of the purity and the power of the mind backed by the insight into the ultimate truth of nature, one might be able to do a lot of things in the right direction for the benefit of mankind."

Sayagyi U Ba Khin


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Re: Six sense base question

Postby mikenz66 » Sat May 08, 2010 7:17 am

retrofuturist wrote:That exercise proves nothing... it conflates vinnana (consciousness) which is not part of nama, with manasikara (attention, advertence) which is.

I really don't understand this particular argument.

[And I thought nama usually included all the mental aggregates, as in Image, though I see there that he says that in the DO sequence it doesn't. Another one of those annoying multiple meanings?]
retrofuturist wrote:So to answer your question, "Can you experience two things simultaneously?", the answer is yes,

(in your opinion, of course...)
retrofuturist wrote: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.

Fair enough. You've made your position clear. As I said, I believe that some of the other early sects held your opinion, so it's clearly not easy to figure out from the Suttas.

In any case, I wasn't really interested in scholarly treatises, I was talking about my experience and the experiences of my teachers.

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Re: Six sense base question

Postby retrofuturist » Sat May 08, 2010 7:19 am

Greetings Ben,

Ben wrote:Appearances can be deceiving, Retro.

Of course. That's precisely why we're still plagued by avijja, but does taking something that was not taught by the Buddha, which contradicts one's experience, and is not "to be seen here & now" something really worth accepting without the slightest bit of investigation? These things are to be tested. Only through testing can they be known or found to be lacking in verification.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Six sense base question

Postby retrofuturist » Sat May 08, 2010 7:25 am

Greetings Mike,

mikenz66 wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:That exercise proves nothing... it conflates vinnana (consciousness) which is not part of nama, with manasikara (attention, advertence) which is.

I really don't understand this particular argument.

You do understand the difference between them though, yes?

That one can only advert one's attention to one thing, does not mean that one is unconscious of all else.

If one takes the finger exercise, one is only demonstrating that one can only advert one's attention to one thing at a time... not that one can only be conscious of one thing at a time.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Six sense base question

Postby tiltbillings » Sat May 08, 2010 7:31 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Mike,

mikenz66 wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:That exercise proves nothing... it conflates vinnana (consciousness) which is not part of nama, with manasikara (attention, advertence) which is.

I really don't understand this particular argument.

You do understand the difference between them though, yes?

That one can only advert one's attention to one thing, does not mean that one is unconscious of all else.

If one takes the finger exercise, one is only demonstrating that one can only advert one's attention to one thing at a time... not that one can only be conscious of one thing at a time.

Metta,
Retro. :)

What does modern brain research show?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.
"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Six sense base question

Postby retrofuturist » Sat May 08, 2010 7:35 am

Greetings,

tiltbillings wrote:What does modern brain research show?

I don't know... but unless it was based on personal experience and verification, I would be deeply suspicious of its ability to objectively 'prove' any point in relation to what it cannot see and experience.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Six sense base question

Postby Ben » Sat May 08, 2010 7:45 am

Hi Retro

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Ben,

Ben wrote:Appearances can be deceiving, Retro.

Of course. That's precisely why we're still plagued by avijja, but does taking something that was not taught by the Buddha, which contradicts one's experience, and is not "to be seen here & now" something really worth accepting without the slightest bit of investigation? These things are to be tested.

Metta,
Retro. :)



I couldn't agree more.
And because we are still plagued by avijja, our views conditioned by avijja, I for one am very reluctant to disregard the works of the Abhidhamma compilers or the early commentarians based on my perceptions, predelictions and interpretations of the Dhamma and my limited experience because they again are conditioned by ignorance. I'm of the opinion that the compilers of the abhidhamma and the early commentarians were a great deal wiser and more realised than I, and probably motivated deeply by compassion to help explain the Dhamma to others. They may not be 100 percent right but I'm not qualified and I don't think anyone else here is qualified to offer a correction. What I do believe is that their works are potentially a valuable tool for our own understanding and progress on he path.

The Buddha never said we should accept anything blindly - whether it was the words of another or his own words. Investigate for yourself, through bhavana, to come to the truth regarding the efficacy of the Dhamma and the nature of reality.
kind regards

Ben
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Re: Six sense base question

Postby tiltbillings » Sat May 08, 2010 7:54 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

tiltbillings wrote:What does modern brain research show?

I don't know... but unless it was based on personal experience and verification, I would be deeply suspicious of its ability to objectively 'prove' any point in relation to what it cannot see and experience.

Metta,
Retro. :)

If it is based upon "personal experience and verification," whose counts, based upon what?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.
"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Six sense base question

Postby acinteyyo » Sat May 08, 2010 9:36 am

As I see it there's possibly a contradiction between Abhidhamma and Sutta.
It is said in MN18:
Dependent on eye & forms, eye-consciousness arises. (...)
Dependent on ear & sounds, ear-consciousness arises. (...)
Dependent on nose & aromas, nose-consciousness arises. (...)
Dependent on tongue & flavors, tongue-consciousness arises. (...)
Dependent on body & tactile sensations, body-consciousness arises.

It is possible and everybody can verify it experiential, that there are forms, sounds and so on (sense-objects) and eye, ear and so on (senses) present in the same moment. Dependent on sense-objects and senses the respective consciousness arises. If there are eye and forms and ear and sounds at the same time, there arises (and have to be) eye-consciousness and ear-consciousness at the same time. Why should it be different?

Here attention (manasikāra) becomes very important, because it is "responsible for modification of the perspective" of an experience in a given moment. Manasikāra brings something out, to the foreground, while everything else becomes the background of the experience, which gives rise to kind of a perspective, which is part of the illusion of a subject to whom an object is present.
This is for example why Sobeh didn't see the hand of his friend.
Sobeh wrote: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.

There was eye-consciousness depending on the eye and form (his friends hand), but because of manasikāra this was possibly put deeply into the background of the experience, which then didn't really come into the focus of perception.

This is completely in accordance with my own experience in opposition to what the Abhidhamma teachings say.
I couldn't find a sutta reference for what I say on manasikāra. My understanding developed out of the shorter notes on viññāna by Ven. Ñanavira Thera and my examination on the subject in practice, so just my two cents...

best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Both formerly, monks, and now, it is just suffering that I make known and the ending of suffering.

:anjali:
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Re: Six sense base question

Postby retrofuturist » Sat May 08, 2010 12:32 pm

Greetings all,

acinteyyo ~ thank you for your lucid posting, it accords with my understanding and experience

tiltbillings wrote:If it is based upon "personal experience and verification," whose counts, based upon what?

The individual, based on their experience (thereby rendering what 'science' says less important than what a kalyana-mitta with right view might have to share on the subject). Who else is going to know the truth for you? Even Buddhas can only point the way.

Ben wrote:What I do believe is that their works are potentially a valuable tool for our own understanding and progress on he path.

It is good you are using them and testing them in this capacity rather than simply treating them as an object of veneration. Do let us know if your utilization of these teachings (past, present or future) provides any insights pertinent to the topic.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Six sense base question

Postby Reductor » Sat May 08, 2010 12:35 pm

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.


Hence my first post in response to Mike. When I am concentrated I do feel more than just my two index fingers. Do you not think that to be possible?
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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