Venerable Thanissaro has mentioned that there is a consciousness outside the five aggregate.
"Because none of the aggregates were involved in the experience of the deathless, and
yet there was still an awareness of that dimension"http://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/Writ
It apperars there is a disagreement among monks about this matter.
When I had a discussion with a friend he pointed out:
The "consciousness without surface" mentioned in MN 49 is "viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ". The "consciousness" referenced there is thus "viññāṇa", the same word used in the five aggregates and the twelve links of dependent origination.
For an interesting discussion on this issue from another perspective, Bhikkhu Sujato has written a series of blog posts:
Nibbana is not viññāṇa. Really, it just isn’t.http://sujato.wordpress.com/2011/05/13/ ... e2%80%99t/
Nibbana is still not Viññāṇahttp://sujato.wordpress.com/2011/05/18/ ... e1%b9%87a/
Nibbana remains not Viññāṇahttp://sujato.wordpress.com/2011/05/21/ ... t-vinnana/
Bhikkhu Sujato's second posting also makes a statement about what Bhikkhu Bodhi's perspective is:
Bhikkhu Sujato wrote:Given all these uncertainties, it is not possible to establish one definitive interpretation of the phrase. I have suggested that it is a reference to the formless attainment of infinite consciousness, which is surely the most obvious reading (since it actually says ‘infinite consciousness’!). Bhikkhu Bodhi prefers to read it as a reference to the arahant’s meditative experience of Nibbana; while this is not an unproblematic reading, it is certainly defensible.
There is also a current thread in this regard:viewtopic.php?f=13&t=20626
Has Ven. Thanissrao commit a schism or has pave the way to schism.?