Is consciousness restricted to internal contacts?

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Is consciousness restricted to internal contacts?

Postby nathan » Sun Feb 08, 2009 3:37 pm

Is cognition, mind contact or consciousness restricted to internal contacts? Why?

Is eye consciousness limited to internal relationships such as the eye perceptions of the bodily eye or can cognition make more direct contacts beyond internal mind qualities and the body's sense perceptions? Is external contact limited to and always meditated by the body senses?

The perception of external objects is often said to be limited to mediation via the body senses but is this so? Can consciousness operate externally beyond the body and the senses? Cannot consciousness also arise through contact with what is external to the body and it's senses as contact causing mind consciousness, etc., etc., eye consciousness apart from the body and the senses of the body?

I don't understand the doctrinal basis for the commonly expressed thinking that cognitive contact is restricted to mediated sensory contact with what is external via the senses of the individuated body. I don't see why eye consciousness, ear consciousness, etc. should be considered restricted to a relationship with the body senses.

I would like to see a presentation of clear supporting statements in the Tipitaka, etc. for the thinking that mind is restricted in it's contacts to only a single continuum of dependently interrelated bodily forms, sense consciousness meditated via the body senses and directly related ongoing proximate mental qualities. In my understanding this is quite distinct thinking from that describing consciousness as restricted to contact with conditions both internally and externally which are anicca, dhukkha and anatta.

It is my perception that a mind may demonstrate the faculty to contact the external apart from meditation by the five senses of the body. How else but by such contact could mind have direct knowledge of another mind, etc., as variously depicted in the suttas, etc.. I do think that, for the duration of life, mind in a human being persists in dependence upon the bodily form but I do not perceive that consciousness is bound by that form. Much like the relationship between an occupant and a house, conscious contact or clinging may abide internally or it may wander externally. There is an intimate conditional interdependence of mind and body for the maintenance of human life but it is not an absolute imprisonment of the consciousness within it's own mental qualities, bodily forms and senses.

Feel free to disagree or to correct any misapprehension with sound doctrine to the contrary.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Is consciousness restricted to internal contacts?

Postby gavesako » Mon Feb 09, 2009 1:30 pm

See MN 43:

"Friend, what can be known with the purified intellect-consciousness divorced from the five [sense] faculties?"

"Friend, with the purified intellect-consciousness divorced from the five faculties the dimension of the infinitude of space can be known [as] 'infinite space.' The dimension of the infinitude of consciousness can be known [as] 'infinite consciousness.' The dimension of nothingness can be known [as] 'There is nothing.'
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Re: Is consciousness restricted to internal contacts?

Postby nathan » Mon Feb 09, 2009 6:08 pm

gavesako wrote:See MN 43:

"Friend, what can be known with the purified intellect-consciousness divorced from the five [sense] faculties?"

"Friend, with the purified intellect-consciousness divorced from the five faculties the dimension of the infinitude of space can be known [as] 'infinite space.' The dimension of the infinitude of consciousness can be known [as] 'infinite consciousness.' The dimension of nothingness can be known [as] 'There is nothing.'
Thank you Ven. Gavesako, it is a blessing to encounter you here, you are a good friend to all.

I suppose what I sense is confusing to me and so I am on guard against being deluded in my perceptions but what I sense is that consciousness, expansive such as this, can engage outwardly in the way of the senses somehow. In a way divorced but in a way enhanced.

That is my sense but I do not understand the function that I perceive. It is as if the limit of the body does not pertain and the senses of the body do not constrain how the mind makes contact in sense-like ways. I reflect that perhaps it is as if the sense doors of the body are not employed but the types of consciousness which perceive the impressions of the bodily senses still operate, but even beyond the body with an expansive sensitivity. Could this be the type of functioning which causes perceptions of otherworldly sights and sounds, knowing of the minds of others, projection of mind made forms and so on?

It is not that I want to monkey with any of this but in terms of knowing for release that I want to understand so that there can be the proper development of insight. I think I have to somehow see the cause of this arising rightly to discern properly as it arises and let go of it. Otherwise its continuance is just too much external contact to want it and there is a contraction or aversion that is wrong as well. So this is a difficulty I have to figure out. If I can understand how the mind is functioning in its craving for this kind of activity I can develop skill in calming it.

I have been thinking of the brahmaviharas much as the best attitude to adopt in such conditions but less sure of the right posture of discernment; emptiness, any characteristic, cessation?
Appreciate any help.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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