Luminous mind

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clw_uk
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Luminous mind

Postby clw_uk » Sun Jan 18, 2009 6:00 pm

Luminous mind - I have come accross this term many times but never really figured out what is meant by it. Is it a mind without defilements or something else?
“The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear and undisguised." Verses on the Faith Mind, Sengcan

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Re: Luminous mind

Postby Individual » Sun Jan 18, 2009 6:27 pm

clw_uk wrote:Luminous mind - I have come accross this term many times but never really figured out what is meant by it. Is it a mind without defilements or something else?

See Thanisarro Bhikkhu's footnotes to the Pabhassara Sutta here.

The luminous mind, as the text says, is a mind without defilements. It is the true nature of the mind and yet also something to be developed. :)
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Re: Luminous mind

Postby clw_uk » Sun Jan 18, 2009 6:49 pm

Is this simila to mahayana buddha nature?
“The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear and undisguised." Verses on the Faith Mind, Sengcan

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Re: Luminous mind

Postby Individual » Sun Jan 18, 2009 7:08 pm

clw_uk wrote:Is this simila to mahayana buddha nature?

It would not be appropriate to make such comparisons in a forum for "Classical Theravada". I think it would be better to ask Mahayana Buddhists that question elsewhere. :)
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Re: Luminous mind

Postby phil » Tue Mar 17, 2009 12:30 pm

Hi all

This always interests me. The notion of a luminous mind is very attractive. But if we are following Theravadin orthodoxy we know that the bhavanga citta is being referred to so we had best take care in assuming that the Buddha taught about a luminous mind in the way we would naturally think about it. Personally, I think one can go through life clinging at times to the notion of a luminous mind, defiled by visiting kilesa etc - it is a good motivator for sila - even while one keeps in mind that Theravadin orthodoxy teaches it in a less easily grasped way and that our true understanding is quite shallow. Then again, even within Theravadin orthodoxy there may be some disagreement on this point, I think Bhikkhu Bodhi hints at that in a footnote to the sutta in question. (In Anguttara Nikaya, sorry don't have my book with me.)

Metta,

Phil

p.s the link provided above to Thanissaro Bhikkhu's footnote lays out the controversy, though since Thanissaro Bhikkhu generally shows little interest in Abhidhamma it would be better to check another source.
Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)

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Re: Luminous mind

Postby Rui Sousa » Tue Mar 17, 2009 4:01 pm

I recall a Dhamma talk by Ajahn Brahm, that I watched on YouTube, where the Ajahn presents the luminous mind as an arupa-jhana-citta, in line with the interpretation presented on the final paragraph of Ven. Thanissaro's comment to the above mentioned Sutta.
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Re: Luminous mind

Postby Lazy_eye » Tue Mar 17, 2009 5:48 pm

Individual wrote:
clw_uk wrote:Is this simila to mahayana buddha nature?

It would not be appropriate to make such comparisons in a forum for "Classical Theravada". I think it would be better to ask Mahayana Buddhists that question elsewhere. :)


I would be interested in hearing more about this. Could the moderator perhaps move this question to the appropriate forum?

It sounds like it relates to the earlier discussion about links between Theravada and Zen. :reading:

And if I may ask the obvious beginner's question, how is "luminous mind" differentiated from "atman" -- in other words, how is it not a case of sneaking an atman in through the back door? Is it that luminous mind is universal and non-differentiated, whereas atman always implies the idea of a self?

Thanks,
LE

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Re: Luminous mind

Postby cooran » Tue Mar 17, 2009 7:47 pm

Hello all,

Luminous (pabhassaram) is simply a reference to bhavanga citta:

AN1, 10:
"Monks, this mind is luminous (pabhassaram), but it is defiled by intrusive defilements. This mind is luminous, and it is freed from intrusive defilements." (Nyanaponikas transl.)

Nyanaponikas footnote to this reads : The commentary to this text explains the luminous mind as the subconscious life continuum (bhavanga), which is naturally luminous in that it is never tainted by defilements. The defilements arise only in the active thought process, not in the subliminal flow of consciousness.

bhavanga-sota and bhavanga-citta
The first term may tentatively be rendered as the 'undercurrent forming the condition of being, or existence', and the second as 'subconsciousness', though, as will be evident from the following, it differs in several respects from the usage of that term in Western psychology.
Bhavanga (bhava-anga), which, in the canonical works, is mentioned twice or thrice in the Patthāna, is explained in the Abhidhamma commentaries as the foundation or condition (kārana) of existence (bhava), as the sine qua non of life, having the nature of a process, lit. a flux or stream (sota). Herein, since time immemorial, all impressions and experiences are, as it were, stored up, or better said, are functioning, but concealed as such to - full consciousness, from where however they occasionally emerge as subconscious phenomena and approach the threshold of full consciousness, or crossing it become fully conscious. This so-called 'subconscious life-stream' or undercurrent of life is that by which might be explained the faculty of memory, paranormal psychic phenomena, mental and physical growth, karma and rebirth. etc. An alternative rendering is 'life-continuum'.
It should be noted that bhavanga-citta is a karma-resultant state of consciousness (vipāka, q.v.), and that, in birth as a human or in higher forms of existence, it is always the result of good, or wholesome karma (kusala-kamma-vipāka), though in varying degrees of strength (s. patisandhi, end of the article). The same holds true for rebirth consciousness (patisandhi) and death consciousness (cuti), which are only particular manifestations of subconsciousness. In Vis.M. XIV it is said:
"As soon as rebirth-consciousness (in the embryo at the time of conception) has ceased, there arises a similar subconsciousness with exactly the same object, following immediately upon rebirth-consciousness and being the result of this or that karma (volitional action done in a former birth and remembered there at the moment before death). And again a further similar state of subconsciousness arises. Now, as long as no other consciousness arises to interrupt the continuity of the life-stream, so long the life-stream, like the flow of a river, rises in the same way again and again, even during dreamless sleep and at other times. In this way one has to understand the continuous arising of those states of consciousness in the life-stream." Cf. viññāna-kicca. For more details, s. Fund. 11. (App.).
http://www.palikanon.com/english/wtb/b_ ... a_sota.htm

metta
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Re: Luminous mind

Postby bazzaman » Wed Mar 18, 2009 12:30 am

.
Last edited by bazzaman on Mon Feb 14, 2011 1:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Luminous mind

Postby Dhammanando » Wed Mar 18, 2009 1:42 am

Hi Lazy Eye,

Lazy_eye wrote:I would be interested in hearing more about this. Could the moderator perhaps move this question to the appropriate forum?


Generally we prefer to respect the choice of the original poster as to where his or her thread should be located. You are of course welcome to start a thread on this question in a forum of your own choosing.

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Dhammanando Bhikkhu
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Re: Luminous mind

Postby Rui Sousa » Wed Mar 18, 2009 11:12 am

Lazy_eye wrote:And if I may ask the obvious beginner's question, how is "luminous mind" differentiated from "atman" -- in other words, how is it not a case of sneaking an atman in through the back door? Is it that luminous mind is universal and non-differentiated, whereas atman always implies the idea of a self?


Quoting the Buddha, Dhammapada 279:

Sabbe dhamma anatta


"All phenomena are not-self."

I recommend this text from Venerable Thanissaro: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/notself.html
With Metta

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Re: Luminous mind

Postby robertk » Thu Mar 19, 2009 4:50 am

Rui Sousa wrote:
I recommend this text from Venerable Thanissaro: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/notself.html

Umm, why?

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Re: Luminous mind

Postby nathan » Thu Mar 19, 2009 6:14 am

It seems to me that the mind is luminous. Not in the sense that light is but in a more comprehensive way. We have, for instance, the external source of light. The eye of the body, the brain of the body and then the mind which in this case is in contact with the body, brain and eye. In doing so eye consciousness arises in the mind. Same with all other senses, all sense is ultimately contact by mind. What is not contacted by mind, remains in the dark so far as the mind is concerned.

That is why it is put this way:
"Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is defiled by incoming defilements." {I,v,9}
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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: Luminous mind

Postby Rui Sousa » Thu Mar 19, 2009 11:37 am

robertk wrote:
Rui Sousa wrote:
I recommend this text from Venerable Thanissaro: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/notself.html

Umm, why?


In my interpretation of Ven. Thanissaro's text, he ends up saying that conjecturing on the existence of a self, or on its non existence, is not conductive to the cessation of suffering.
With Metta

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Re: Luminous mind

Postby phil » Fri Mar 20, 2009 11:47 pm

Hi all

It occured to me this morning that "luminous mind" should be reflected on in conjuction with the sutta that is nearby that says how fleeting and rapidly changing the mind is. Sorry, on the run now so can't post it. But I think our conventional reflection on the luminous mind doesn't synch with the way it is described in that sutta, let alone in Abhidhamma and the more Abhidhamma-ish suttas in SN 35, for example.

I experienced a kind of "luminous mind" when meditating this morning, but it was just fabricated, subtle form of thinking. The actual mind is shifting (rapidly rising and falling mental events are shifting) fleeting much faster than that kind of experience I had. If we were to look at some texts that get at the fleetingness of mind it would help us better understand "luminous mind" I think.

Metta,

Phil
Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)

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Re: Luminous mind

Postby pt1 » Sat Mar 21, 2009 1:24 am

Hi, I came across an explanation for light in meditation by Pa-Auk Tawya Sayadaw in his Knowing and seeing. For some reason I can't copy and paste the relevant section here - it's on page 194, question 4.10: "Could the Sayadaw please explain the light experienced in meditation scientifically?"

The gist of the explanation, which is very much in line with abhidhamma I think, is that cittas produce rupa kalapas (each rupa kalapa consists of at least 8 rupas taht arise together, of which color is one and temperature is another). The stronger the samatha and vipassana cittas, the brighter is the color rupa. Further, the temperature rupa in the citta-produced kalapa also produces further kalapas, which likewise include a color rupa. Since there are many of these two kinds of rupa kalapas produced continually by cittas, there comes the appearance of brightness and luminosity during strong samatha and vipassana. I hope I summarised this properly.

Best wishes

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Re: Luminous mind

Postby phil » Sat Mar 21, 2009 7:57 am

pt1 wrote:Hi, I came across an explanation for light in meditation by Pa-Auk Tawya Sayadaw in his Knowing and seeing. For some reason I can't copy and paste the relevant section here - it's on page 194, question 4.10: "Could the Sayadaw please explain the light experienced in meditation scientifically?"

The gist of the explanation, which is very much in line with abhidhamma I think, is that cittas produce rupa kalapas (each rupa kalapa consists of at least 8 rupas taht arise together, of which color is one and temperature is another). The stronger the samatha and vipassana cittas, the brighter is the color rupa. Further, the temperature rupa in the citta-produced kalapa also produces further kalapas, which likewise include a color rupa. Since there are many of these two kinds of rupa kalapas produced continually by cittas, there comes the appearance of brightness and luminosity during strong samatha and vipassana. I hope I summarised this properly.

Best wishes


Hi pt and all

You explained it very clearly and it sounds plausible for sure though I haven't come across it in my little bit of Abhidhamma study. Perhaps you could ask Nina about it at DSG, though I'm sure you have more pressing questions. (BTW, I still read at DSG and have been enjoying your questions to Nina.)

But according to Abhidhamma, it is the bhavanga citta that is "luminous" although we know that all cittas are actually "dark" in their bare cognition function. (It is the object of cognition that provides light, colour etc.) So I think it is "luminous" only in the sense of being pure of defilements. Again, since this is the Classical Theravada corner, that would be the correct definition, I guess. (the "luminous mind" discussed here and the perception of light in meditation would be different topics, I think.)

Metta,

Phil
Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)


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