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A second distinguishing feature of the Abhidhamma is the dissec-
tion of the apparently continuous stream of consciousness into a suc-
cession of discrete evanescent cognitive events called cittas, each a com-
plex unity involving consciousness itself, as the basic awareness of an
object, and a constellation of mental factors (cetasika) exercising more
specialized tasks in the act of cognition. Such a view of consciousness,
at least in outline, can readily be derived from the Sutta Piμaka’s analy-
sis of experience into the five aggregates, among which the four mental
aggregates are always inseparably conjoined, but the conception remains
there merely suggestive. In the Abhidhamma Piμaka the suggestion is
not simply picked up, but is expanded into an extraordinarily detailed
and coherent picture of the functioning of consciousness both in its
microscopic immediacy and in its extended continuity from life to life.
§36 The Mind at the Time of Death
Thereafter, attending to that object thus presented, the stream of
consciousness—in accordance with the kamma that is to be matured,
whether pure or corrupted, and in conformity with the state into which
one is to be reborn—continually flows, inclining mostly towards that
state. Or that rebirth-productive kamma presents itself to a sense door
in the way of renewing.
In the way of renewing (abhinavakaraoavasena): that is, the kamma
presenting itself does not appear as a memory image of something that
was previously done, but it appears to the mind door as if it were being
done at that very moment.
§41 The Continuity of Consciousness
So, for those who have thus taken rebirth, from the moment imme-
diately following the cessation of the rebirth-linking (consciousness),
that same type of consciousness apprehending that same object flows
on uninterruptedly like the stream of a river, and it does so until the
arising of the death consciousness, so long as there is no occurrence
of a cognitive process. Being an essential factor of existence (or life),
this consciousness is called the life-continuum. At the end of life,
having become the death consciousness on the occasion of passing
away, it then ceases. Thereafter, the rebirth-linking consciousness and
the others continue to occur, revolving in due sequence like the wheel
of a cart.
Guide to §41
Immediately following ... the rebirth-linking: The rebirth-linking
consciousness is followed by sixteen moments of the bhavanga citta.
Thereafter a mind-door adverting consciousness arises, followed by a
process of seven javanas in which an attachment develops to the new
existence (bhavanikanti-javana). This cognitive process, the first in the
new life, takes as object the rebirth-linking consciousness; the javanas
consist in sense-sphere cittas rooted in greed, dissociated from wrong
views, unprompted. When this process ends, the bhavanga again arises
and perishes, and continues thus whenever there is no intervention of a
cognitive process. In this way the stream of consciousness flows on from
conception until death, and from death to new birth “revolving like the
wheel of a cart.”
TheNoBSBuddhist wrote:jayarava, does this help at all...?
Please note that this thread is the Classical Theravada section, which is here to allow technical discussion. Discussion about whether such technical discussion is important is off topic in this section. Please stick to the topic at hand.
jayarava wrote:Have I got the wrong thread to ask Theravādins about Theravāda citta theory and how it understands the link between kamma and vipāka? If so please direct me to the correct thread.
For example, an ordinary person, Stream-winner, or a Once-returner, all have a latent tendency to lust and anger. At the moment they may be entirely free from lust and anger, yet when a beautiful object is encountered, then lust arises, or when an ugly object is encountered, then anger or aversion arises.
jayarava wrote:I'm trying to pin down the Theravāda view on how kamma can produce results much later in time. As I understand it kamma is thought to accumulate (upacita) and at the moment of death to ripen in the form of one's rebirth destination (gati). What I'm interested in the accumulation. Is there a view on how this accumulation happens that parallels the Yogcāra idea of the ālayavijñāna as a storehouse for karmic seeds? What is the connection between a short-lived kamma (which after all is just cetanā) and the vipāka that ripens years or even lifetimes later.
The former of these [two states of consciousness] is called “death” (cuti)
because of falling (cavana), and the latter is called “rebirth-linking” (patisandhi)
because of linking (patisandhána) across the gap separating the beginning of
the next becoming. But it should be understood that it has neither come here
from the previous becoming nor has it become manifest without the kamma, the
formations, the pushing, the objective field, etc., as cause.
MN 86 wrote:"Bear with it, brahman! Bear with it! The fruit of the kamma that would have burned you in hell for many years, many hundreds of years, many thousands of years, you are now experiencing in the here-&-now!"
mikenz66 wrote:Hi Leo,Leo Rivers wrote:The source for the "store house consciousness" idea?
The issue is actually one that is represented in one of the later Abhidharma Scriptures, the pali Kathavatthu.
In that Scripture there is a discussion in the form of questions and answers or argument points in which the problem of continuity comes up. Within classical Buddhism you have a series of moments which are experienced as subject and object.
It is like one of those ancient Greek paradoxes. If you create karma in one moment how was it carried forward from moment to moment? Or more pertinently, from incarnation to incarnation when there is a discontinuity.
The issue also came up in the meditation situation of cessation in the 8th level of jnana or dhyana. If you are truly in that state mental activity has come to a stop. So, if you have no mental activity, what is it that starts you up to consciousness again?...
Thanks for your exposition. If it's not too far off-topic, can I just add that elsewhere (probably on E-Sangha, since I can't find it on DhammaWheel) Ven Huifeng explained that the Theravada Abhidhamma model used the "bhavanga citta" http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?tit ... anga-citta" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; to solve this problem of how to "restart" consciousness.
The following Dictionary also addresses the issue:
So per the Vism, kamma and vipaka don't get stored into some kind of immutable and centralized "repository", instead they're continuously and dynamically re-inforced or weakened from life to life with the patisandhiVinnana acting as the "link".
mikenz66 wrote:Here are a few more links I've dug up regarding bhavang citta
Questions about the persistence of latent dispositions and accumulation of karmic potential thus remain: once the cognitive processes are activated, are they transmitted through the six modes of cognitive awareness? If so, why do they not influence these forms of mind? If not, how do they persist from one moment of bhavaṅga-citta to the next without some contiguous conditioning medium? The bhavaṅga-citta does not directly address these persisting questions, adumbrated in the Kathavātthu so many centuries before. Nor, to my knowledge, do subsequent Theravādin Abhidhamma traditions discuss these questions in dhammic terms.
- Waldron, William S. Buddhist unconscious: the ālaya-vijñāna in the context of Indian Buddhist thought. London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003. p.83.
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