What observes?

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What observes?

Postby rolling_boulder » Fri May 02, 2014 4:53 am

Hello,

I would like to ask a question fundamental to my understanding.

When we meditate and practice,
and we observe the breath in and as the breath,
and we observe feeling in and as feeling,
and we observe mind in and as mind,
and we observe mental qualities and phenomena including consciousness in and as mental qualities and phenomena,

what is really doing the observing?

The mind?
The consciousness aggregate?
Consciousness without surface?

Or something else? Perhaps the same thing that is "reborn"?


Thank you.
With loving kindness to all beings.
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Re: What observes?

Postby manas » Fri May 02, 2014 5:02 am

Hi rollingboulder,

this from the Blessed One himself must be the best answer to your question, I think:

Dwelling at Savatthi. "Monks, there are these four nutriments for the maintenance of beings who have come into being or for the support of those in search of a place to be born. Which four? Physical food, gross or refined; contact as the second; intellectual intention the third; and consciousness the fourth. These are the four nutriments for the maintenance of beings who have come into being or for the support of those in search of a place to be born.

When this was said, Ven.-Moliya-Phagguna said to the Blessed One, "Lord, who feeds on the consciousness-nutriment?"

"Not a valid question," the Blessed One said. "I don't say 'feeds.' If I were to say 'feeds,' then 'Who feeds on the consciousness-nutriment?' would be a valid question. But I don't say that. When I don't say that, the valid question is 'Consciousness-nutriment for what?' And the valid answer is, 'Consciousness-nutriment for the production of future coming-into-being. When that has come into being and exists, then the six sense media. From the six sense media as a requisite condition comes contact.'"

"Lord, who makes contact?"

"Not a valid question," the Blessed One said. "I don't say 'makes contact.' If I were to say 'makes contact,' then 'Who makes contact?' would be a valid question. But I don't say that. When I don't say that, the valid question is 'From what as a requisite condition comes contact?' And the valid answer is, 'From the six sense media as a requisite condition comes contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling.'"

"Lord, who feels?"

"Not a valid question," the Blessed One said. "I don't say 'feels.' If I were to say 'feels,' then 'Who feels?' would be a valid question. But I don't say that. When I don't say that, the valid question is 'From what as a requisite condition comes feeling?' And the valid answer is, 'From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving.'"

"Lord, who craves?"

"Not a valid question," the Blessed One said. "I don't say 'craves.' If I were to say 'craves,' then 'Who craves?' would be a valid question. But I don't say that. When I don't say that, the valid question is 'From what as a requisite condition comes craving?' And the valid answer is, 'From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance.'"

"Lord, who clings?"

"Not a valid question," the Blessed One said. "I don't say 'clings.' If I were to say 'clings,' then 'Who clings?' would be a valid question. But I don't say that. When I don't say that, the valid question is 'From what as a requisite condition comes clinging?' And the valid answer is, 'From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging. From clinging as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress & suffering.[1]

"Now from the remainderless fading & cessation of the six sense media[2] comes the cessation of contact. From the cessation of contact comes the cessation of feeling. From the cessation of feeling comes the cessation of craving. From the cessation of craving comes the cessation of clinging/sustenance. From the cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming. From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the cessation of birth, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of stress & suffering."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


As I understand it, the question of 'who' or 'what' is experiencing the breath or anything else, ties us up in knots and won't lead to the ending of stress.

kind regards
manas
:anjali:
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Re: What observes?

Postby Goofaholix » Fri May 02, 2014 5:07 am

What we label as "Observing" is a process, all of the 5 aggregates are involved at some point.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: What observes?

Postby lyndon taylor » Fri May 02, 2014 5:09 am

What I want to know is who's typing on the internet?? If not you and me.....
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John
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Re: What observes?

Postby SarathW » Fri May 02, 2014 6:42 am

Fingers!
:thinking:
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Re: What observes?

Postby lyndon taylor » Fri May 02, 2014 7:45 am

But fingers are part of the Skandhas!!!
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John
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Re: What observes?

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri May 02, 2014 8:10 am

rolling_boulder wrote:The consciousness aggregate?


That would be my guess, since mindfulness implies us being deliberately conscious of the object of attention, eg breathing, thoughts, feelings etc.

But it's a tricky question!
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Re: What observes?

Postby ancientbuddhism » Fri May 02, 2014 5:31 pm

As the Moḷiyaphagguna Sutta cited above tells us “for what is…?” (kissa nu kho…), implies that there is no 'for who?’ (ko nu kho...?).

Simple version:

    Katamo ca bhikkhave, lokassa samudayo? Cakkhuñca paṭicca rūpe ca uppajjati cakkhuviññāṇaṃ. Tiṇṇaṃ saṅgati phasso. Phassapaccayā vedanā …

    Sotañca paṭicca sadde ca …pe… Ghāṇañca paṭicca gandhe ca …pe… Jivhañca paṭicca rase ca …pe… Kāyañca paṭicca phoṭṭhabbe ca …pe… Manañca paṭicca dhamme ca …pe…

    “And what, bhikkhus, is the arising of conditions? Dependant on the eye and forms, eye-consciousness arises. With the union of these three is contact. Contact is the supportive condition for the sensation of feeling… Dependant on the ear and sounds … Dependant on the nose and smells … Dependant on the tongue and tastes … Dependant on the body and bodily-contact … Dependant on the mind and phenomena …”

    – SN.12.44 (Lokasuttaṃ)

Behavior of Sentient Experience:

    The eye (cakkhu) interdependent with (paṭicca) objects of sight (rūpa) → The arising of eye-consciousness = contact (uppajjati cakkhuviññāṇaṃ = phassa) → Contact is the support of sensation (passapaccayā vedanā)

    And the same for:

    Ear interdependent with sound … Nose interdependent with smell … Tongue interdependent with tastes … Body interdependent with bodily-contact … Mind interdependent with mind-states

When a sense-organ connects with its object there is consciousness (viññāṇa) in relation to that sense-organ. The union of the sense-organ, the object of sense and consciousness is contact (phassa), which produces a sensate-experience (vedanā) in relation to that sense-organ.

Consciousness (viññāṇa), at any given sense-organ, arises and falls in tandem with nāma-rūpa (SN. 22.56), which represents the mental projection of the experience of a sensation; such as seeing as reflected upon consciousness, hearing as reflected upon consciousness etc. On its own this is neither good nor bad, but does have the potential for both depending on dispositions at a sensate-experience (vedanā) and craving (taṇhā). Nāma-rūpa as a reflection of sensate experience on consciousness is the mental impression of it, much like a reflection in a mirror as self-image, and depending upon the strengthening of this self-image at craving (taṇhā), a self-identification with what is sensed.

Sentient experience is made up of rapidly transitory stimulations of the sense-extensions. Awareness of a sense-perception (saññā) is never simultaneous with another, rather they are rapidly interacting from one to another as the composite of experience unfolds. For example: while reading there is an interaction through cognition of the sense-extensions as the eyes see the page, the mental-faculties process words and meaning, and the rest of the house-cleaning sense-events present hearing – touch – smell etc., to support the entire continuum of experience as relevance demands.

The interaction of sensate cognitive processes lend to assumptions of a continuity of experience of them and predictability. It is out of this predictability that the rumination of expectations and vexation when things change otherwise occur.

What the practitioner of contemplative ‘mindfulness’ is doing is directing the cognitive sum at consciousness to understanding these processes, at first with direct and clear knowing (pajānāti & sampajāna), and ultimately to full understanding of things ‘as they actually are’ (yathābhutaṃ).
Fingers walk the darkness down
Mind is on the midnight
Gather up the gold you've found
You fool, it's only moonlight.
If you try to take it home
Your hands will turn to butter
You better leave this dream alone
Try to find another. – Townes Van Zandt ‘Lungs’

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Re: What observes?

Postby rolling_boulder » Sat May 03, 2014 12:53 am

manas wrote:Hi rollingboulder,

this from the Blessed One himself must be the best answer to your question, I think:


...The Sutta...



As I understand it, the question of 'who' or 'what' is experiencing the breath or anything else, ties us up in knots and won't lead to the ending of stress.

kind regards
manas
:anjali:


Thank you for this.
I never stopped to question whether my question was based on the "thicket" of wrong views and wrong assumptions in the first place.
I should be more aware of the fact that my preconceptions are not neccesarily based on reality.
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Re: What observes?

Postby Spiny Norman » Sat May 03, 2014 8:23 am

ancientbuddhism wrote:What the practitioner of contemplative ‘mindfulness’ is doing is directing the cognitive sum at consciousness to understanding these processes, at first with direct and clear knowing (pajānāti & sampajāna), and ultimately to full understanding of things ‘as they actually are’ (yathābhutaṃ).


So is mindfulness basically a function of consciousness?
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Re: What observes?

Postby Dan74 » Sat May 03, 2014 1:59 pm

Hi rolling_boulder!

I think your question is a really good one if approached in the right way.

What the Buddha was warning against in the passage that manas quotes, was I think, imputing a doer.

But if one takes your question as a start of an investigation using awareness rather than a philosophical inquiry, it can be very useful as we strip the layers of the onion we mistake for self.
_/|\_
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Re: What observes?

Postby ancientbuddhism » Sat May 03, 2014 11:46 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
ancientbuddhism wrote:What the practitioner of contemplative ‘mindfulness’ is doing is directing the cognitive sum at consciousness to understanding these processes, at first with direct and clear knowing (pajānāti & sampajāna), and ultimately to full understanding of things ‘as they actually are’ (yathābhutaṃ).


So is mindfulness basically a function of consciousness?


Cognition is a given. Inclination (chanda) and intention (cetanā) are applied to it, and the skillful intention of contemplative endeavor would be one choice.
Fingers walk the darkness down
Mind is on the midnight
Gather up the gold you've found
You fool, it's only moonlight.
If you try to take it home
Your hands will turn to butter
You better leave this dream alone
Try to find another. – Townes Van Zandt ‘Lungs’

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

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Re: What observes?

Postby Abs.truth » Sun May 04, 2014 1:31 pm

There is no person behind this mindfulness function. It is just a process operating.

But if you want to know the technicalities of the process, I am sure you will find answer in Abhidhamma.
This is my understanding of Abhidhamma (which I vaguely remember, so I might be wrong. Please excuse me in that case):

Naam (Mind):
(1) Cittas - I think its same as 5th aggregate i.e. consciousness
(2) Cetasikas - Comprises of 2nd, 3rd & 4th aggregate

Cetasikas arise & perish together with Cittas.
Cetasikas has influence on Cittas

Now one of the 19 Beautiful Cetasikas (19 Sobhana Sadharana Cetasikas) is Sati (i.e. mindfulness, attentiveness).
Its characterstics are:
- 'Not floating away' i.e. not to let things go unnoticed
- One can recall past events with sati
- It can be developed =========when highly developed======> can remember past births (so, can function as memory)
- If one is mindful of 6 sense doors (observes and notes just as "seeing, seeing.../ hearing hearing..../ etc") one can stop defilements from entering the mind
(~ gatekeeper who stops thieves from entering the city)
And may be Sati cetasika works alongside Karma-producing Cittas (Javana/Impulsion) coz I think its considered good Karma to have Sati


Now for eg. u hear a sound that u are mindful abt.
It seems like "hearing" and "being mindful" process was simultaneous.
But 2 separate consciousness (eg: ear consciousness and Karma-producing consciousness cant happen at exactly the same time)
So they are at different moments but since the process is so rapid, it seems like happing at the same time.
In this case, It would be ear consciousness.. some other detailed consciousness in between...then Karma-producing consciousness along with sati cetasika (with recalling function to recall the sound heard).
I am guessing this part from what I can recall about the process.

Authentic/Sure information can be found in Abhidhamma though
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Re: What observes?

Postby Abs.truth » Fri May 23, 2014 1:06 am

The above explanation of mine is what I believed until now..
According to which "the one who observes" is just part of 5 aggregates, subject to arising and ceasing
However, I am totally confused after reading the following

Book: Samana (Luangta Maha Boowa)
Online Available at: http://holybooks.lichtenbergpress.netdn ... Samana.pdf
Starting from Page 88, 3rd para ... until Page 89, 2nd para ("What knows does not cease. ...") :reading:

:?: Can someone please explain?!
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Re: What observes?

Postby SarathW » Fri May 23, 2014 1:29 am

Which part you could not understand?
:thinking:
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Re: What observes?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri May 23, 2014 2:49 am

Abs.truth wrote:The above explanation of mine is what I believed until now..
According to which "the one who observes" is just part of 5 aggregates, subject to arising and ceasing
However, I am totally confused after reading the following

Book: Samana (Luangta Maha Boowa)
Online Available at: http://holybooks.lichtenbergpress.netdn ... Samana.pdf
Starting from Page 88, 3rd para ... until Page 89, 2nd para ("What knows does not cease. ...") :reading:

:?: Can someone please explain?!
Two things: Don't read Maha Boowa or the Abhidhamma until you get a good, basic intellectual and meditative background, otherwise confusion shall ensue.
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.

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Re: What observes?

Postby Mkoll » Fri May 23, 2014 4:22 am

Or just read the suttas and maybe the Vibhanga. There's more than enough there, IMHO.
Peace,
James
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Re: What observes?

Postby pegembara » Fri May 23, 2014 6:49 am

What/who hears?
That question is wrongly put. It should be - With what conditions does hearing take place?

Image


What actually hears? Where is the hearer located? Is it the eardrum, ear ossicles, cochlea, auditory nerve or brain? What is heard is nothing but vibrations. The "hearer" is an activity, not an entity. Hearing takes place only when the conditions are right.
There is only the process of hearing. No hearer.

“And what, bhikkhus, is the arising of conditions? Dependant on the eye and forms, eye-consciousness arises. With the union of these three is contact. Contact is the supportive condition for the sensation of feeling… Dependant on the ear and sounds … Dependant on the nose and smells … Dependant on the tongue and tastes … Dependant on the body and bodily-contact … Dependant on the mind and phenomena …”

– SN.12.44 (Lokasuttaṃ)


Why now do you assume 'a being'?
Mara, have you grasped a view?
This is a heap of sheer constructions:
Here no being is found.

Just as, with an assemblage of parts,
The word 'chariot' is used,
So, when the aggregates are present,
There's the convention 'a being.'

Vajira Sutta
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.
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Re: What observes?

Postby jameswang » Fri May 23, 2014 7:40 am

Well answered, pegembara! :goodpost:
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Re: What observes?

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri May 23, 2014 10:00 am

pegembara wrote:There is only the process of hearing. No hearer.


And similarly there is only the process of observing, no observer?
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