Luminous Mind. - What is it?

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Luminous Mind. - What is it?

Postby Ron-The-Elder » Mon Mar 28, 2011 11:11 am

Recently in another thread, several participants brought up the idea of "luminous mind", which I will not define in this post, but provide several citations from the suttas and commentaries:
AN 1.49-52 PTS: A i 10 (I,v,9-10; I,vi,1-2)
Pabhassara Sutta: Luminous
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
© 1995–2011
"Luminous, monks, is the mind.[1] And it is defiled by incoming defilements." {I,v,9}

"Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is freed from incoming defilements." {I,v,10}

"Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is defiled by incoming defilements. The uninstructed run-of-the-mill person doesn't discern that as it actually is present, which is why I tell you that — for the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person — there is no development of the mind." {I,vi,1}

"Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is freed from incoming defilements. The well-instructed disciple of the noble ones discerns that as it actually is present, which is why I tell you that — for the well-instructed disciple of the
noble ones — there is development of the mind." {I,vi,2}



Then there are descriptions of luminous equanimity:

'[On attaining the fourth level of jhāna] there remains only equanimity: pure & bright, pliant, malleable & luminous. Just as if a skilled goldsmith or goldsmith's apprentice were to prepare a furnace, heat up a crucible, and, taking gold with a pair of tongs, place it in the crucible. He would blow on it time & again, sprinkle water on it time & again, examine it time & again, so that the gold would become refined, well-refined, thoroughly refined, flawless, free from dross, pliant, malleable & luminous. Then whatever sort of ornament he had in mind — whether a belt, an earring, a necklace, or a gold chain — it would serve his purpose. In the same way, there remains only equanimity: pure & bright, pliant, malleable & luminous. He [the meditator] discerns that "If I were to direct equanimity as pure & bright as this toward the dimension of the infinitude of space, I would develop the mind along those lines, and thus this equanimity of mine — thus supported, thus sustained — would last for a long time. [Similarly with the remaining formless states.]"
source: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... e/2-3.html



So, my question is why is it important that mind is luminous? Is not mind but an imaginary container for consciousness? Doesn't consciousness dissolve along with all the sensory apparatus when the body dies?

What is Buddha describing here? Is he simply describing by analogy an unhindered, unfettered mind free of the hindrances?
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But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
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Re: Luminous Mind. - What is it?

Postby Ron-The-Elder » Mon Mar 28, 2011 11:30 am

The following taken from: http://what-buddha-said.net/drops/Luminous_is_Mind.htm

Essentially Luminous, but veiled by defilement is Mind:

The exalted Buddha once said:
Friends, I know of no other single thing, so quickly changing as this swift mind,
insofar as it is not easy to find just one other phenomena changing equally fast.
Shining bright, friends, is this mind, yet it is obstructed by external defilements.
Luminous absolutely, is that pure mind, when it is safely released and freed from
these alien impurities. Naturally Radiant is this mind, though it is soiled by these
accumulated foreign obscurations. This, the ordinary unlearned persons cannot
understand as it really is! I tell you, that is why uneducated ordinary persons
neither meditate nor develop mentally. Luminous is that mind, friends, when it is
purified & released from these fermented pollutions. This does the learned Noble
Disciple fully understand as it really is. I tell you, that is why that educated Noble
Disciple develops & improve mentally by training meditation...



Source: The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha: Ańguttara Nikāya I 8-11:
http://What-Buddha-Said.net/Canon/Sutta ... I.8-10.htm
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
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Re: Luminous Mind. - What is it?

Postby christopher::: » Mon Mar 28, 2011 11:45 am

Image

:anjali:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: Luminous Mind. - What is it?

Postby kirk5a » Mon Mar 28, 2011 2:07 pm

Hey look, somebody actually got a picture of a mind freed from visiting impurities! He looks happy, maybe that's why it's important. :shrug:
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: Luminous Mind. - What is it?

Postby pegembara » Mon Mar 28, 2011 3:34 pm

Or this


Image
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: Luminous Mind. - What is it?

Postby Ron-The-Elder » Mon Mar 28, 2011 3:42 pm

kirk5a wrote:Hey look, somebody actually got a picture of a mind freed from visiting impurities! He looks happy, maybe that's why it's important. :shrug:


Kirka: Thanks for your response.

Please excuse my obvious difficulty with this concept of luminous mind.

Christopher & pegembara: Thanks for the photos. I assume these are photos of Arahants with whom I am not familiar. If they are Arahants, then, am I to assume that one of the characteristics of Arahants is luminous mind?

If they are not Arahants, from my experience, a person can smile for many reasons. We see them in mental institutions standing around with smiles just like in the photo provided right after they have taken psychotropic drugs. But the smile disappears when the narcotic effects wear off, just as smiles literally drop off as the body decays and corrupts after death.

Is a luminous mind something that one has to experience for themselves in order to understand the meaning of
what Buddha wrote?

Does luminous mind survive death? Does it move on to nibbana? If so, why isn't it an equivalent to what eternalists call a "soul"?

Since a luminous mind can be experienced in the higher Janas, and since The Janas are within The 31 Planes of Existence, which are all planes of rebirth within the samsaric realm, it seems only logical (to me) that luminous mind is but a refined, impermanent state of mind, and will corrupt, corrode, disperse, and/or dissipate after death according to my understanding of Buddha's many other teachings with regard to dependent origination and impermanence. (To me) This is why the emphasis placed upon luminous mind seems inconsistent with Buddha's teachings of that, which is dependent and therefore impermanent, and that which is not dependent and therefore permanent: nibanna, the deathless state.
Last edited by Ron-The-Elder on Mon Mar 28, 2011 6:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
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Re: Luminous Mind. - What is it?

Postby kirk5a » Mon Mar 28, 2011 4:04 pm

Ron-The-Elder wrote:
kirk5a wrote:Hey look, somebody actually got a picture of a mind freed from visiting impurities! He looks happy, maybe that's why it's important. :shrug:


Kirka: Thanks for your response. (I think.) So, am I to believe that luminous minds are those found only in Zen Koan-heads, who seem to enjoy themselves so much, to the point of producing a Cheshire Cat-like smile as they torture those asking honest questions, answering with vagaries? Is this Right Speech?

Christopher & pegembara: Thanks for the photos. I assume these are photos of Arahants with whom I am not familiar. If they are Arahants, then, am I to assume that one of the characteristics of Arahants is luminous mind?

If they are not Arahants, from my experience, a person can smile for many reasons. We see them in mental institutions standing around with smiles just like in the photo provided right after they have taken psychotropic drugs. But the smile disappears when the narcotic effects wear off, just as smiles literally drop off as the body decays and corrupts after death.

Is a luminous mind something that one has to experience for themselves in order to understand the meaning of
what Buddha wrote?

Does luminous mind survive death? Does it move on to nibbana? If so, why isn't it an equivalent to what eternalists call a "soul"?

Since a luminous mind can be experienced in the higher Janas, and since The Janas are within The 31 Planes of Existence, then it is an impermanent state and should also corrupt after death according to my understanding of Buddha's teachings. This is why the emphasis placed upon it seems inconsistent with his teachings of that which is dependent and therefore impermanent, and that which is not dependent and therefore permanent: nibanna.

Torture and vagaries? Geez. No. I thought Christopher posting that picture of Ajahn Chah was a cool response to your question, so I just provided a caption for it.

Now here is Ajahn Chah's own account which I take (maybe that's a misinterpretation but that's how I look at it) to be showing how he actually came to understand the principle below, and how it finally clarified his practice.

"Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is defiled by incoming defilements. The uninstructed run-of-the-mill person doesn't discern that as it actually is present, which is why I tell you that — for the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person — there is no development of the mind."

But the most clarifying explanation, one that gave him the necessary
context or basis for practice that he had been hitherto lacking, was
of a distinction between the mind itself and transient states of
mind which arose and passed away within it.
“Tan Ajahn Mun said they're merely states. Through not
understanding that point we take them to be real, to be the mind
itself. In fact they're all just transient states. As soon as he said that,
things suddenly became clear. Suppose there's happiness present in
the mind; it’s a different kind of thing, it’s on a different level, to
the mind itself. If you see that then you can stop, you can put
things down. When conventional realities are seen for what they
are then it’s ultimate truth. Most people lump everything together
as the mind itself, but actually there are states of mind together
with the knowing of them. If you understand that point then there's
not a lot to do.”

http://www.abhayagiri.org/pdf/books/Thu ... en_Sky.pdf

As for your other questions about whether the "luminous mind" survives death and whether it is or is not impermanent - here is the teaching I take as my guiding star in working through such perplexities:

"This is deathless: the liberation of the mind through lack of clinging/sustenance."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: Luminous Mind. - What is it?

Postby Ron-The-Elder » Mon Mar 28, 2011 4:32 pm

Torture and vagaries? Geez. No. I thought Christopher posting that picture of Ajahn Chah was a cool response to your question, so I just provided a caption for it.


My apologies for this retort. I deleted my response to you, because I felt it was entirely inappropriate. Unfortunately you read it before I deleted it.

Thank you for your reference, also.

Again. My apologies.
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
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Re: Luminous Mind. - What is it?

Postby kirk5a » Mon Mar 28, 2011 5:48 pm

Ron-The-Elder wrote:My apologies for this retort. I deleted my response to you, because I felt it was entirely inappropriate. Unfortunately you read it before I deleted it.

Thank you for your reference, also.

Again. My apologies.

No problem. I'd prefer you did say there was something about my response you didn't appreciate than just "thanks" actually. I can understand the initial frustration - I'm sorry to have sparked it. Anywho - back to the interesting topic.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: Luminous Mind. - What is it?

Postby Ron-The-Elder » Mon Mar 28, 2011 6:22 pm

kirk5a wrote: I'd prefer you did say there was something about my response you didn't appreciate than just "thanks" actually.


My knee-jerk and unskillful reaction was not related to anything that you said, and I take your response to be well intended and helpful. The difficulty was with my apparently "non-luminous" mind.

Thank you for your kind acceptance of my apology. :console:
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
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Re: Luminous Mind. - What is it?

Postby Viscid » Mon Mar 28, 2011 6:25 pm

Ron-The-Elder wrote:If they are not Arahants, from my experience, a person can smile for many reasons. We see them in mental institutions standing around with smiles just like in the photo provided right after they have taken psychotropic drugs. But the smile disappears when the narcotic effects wear off, just as smiles literally drop off as the body decays and corrupts after death.


You're my new favourite poster.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James
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Re: Luminous Mind. - What is it?

Postby Ron-The-Elder » Mon Mar 28, 2011 6:44 pm

Viscid wrote: You're my new favourite poster.


It is my sincere hope that this does not lead to dukkha. :tongue:
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
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Re: Luminous Mind. - What is it?

Postby Nibbida » Mon Mar 28, 2011 7:24 pm

Ron-The-Elder wrote:If they are not Arahants, from my experience, a person can smile for many reasons. We see them in mental institutions standing around with smiles just like in the photo provided right after they have taken psychotropic drugs. But the smile disappears when the narcotic effects wear off, just as smiles literally drop off as the body decays and corrupts after death.


This is an interesting topic. I'm somewhat under the impression that a luminous mind is one of those ineffable things that no amount of verbal description can truly capture. However, that doesn't prevent us from getting some idea about it.

For what it's worth, I've worked in many psychiatric settings and smiling is a rarity there. Among those who I've seen smile, it was never a smile of deep peace and joy, in my experience. It was not the smile that I've seen on meditation teachers. I actually had one patient with schizophrenia who heard voices in his head and laughed all the time. He said the voices were telling him jokes (!) If I had to have schizophrenia, I guess that's the kind I would want. But he also unable to really connect with people. It was like a fatuous levity, not an enduring sense of contentment.
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Re: Luminous Mind. - What is it?

Postby Viscid » Mon Mar 28, 2011 7:42 pm

Ron-The-Elder wrote:
Viscid wrote: You're my new favourite poster.


It is my sincere hope that this does not lead to dukkha. :tongue:


You'll be interested in Maha Bua's "eternal citta" description of God's radiance inner luminosity:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ajahn_Maha ... 27Citta.27

You'll see similar descriptions of inner luminosity throughout many, if not all, contemplative traditions. Get to a certain level of 'purificiation,' a certain stillness of the mind, and you begin to experience its foundational brilliance.

And yeah, it's impermanent.
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Re: Luminous Mind. - What is it?

Postby Ron-The-Elder » Mon Mar 28, 2011 7:49 pm

Thanks, nibbida.

I have always reasoned, that since The Way to nibanna was The Noble Eight Fold Path, that it was through living one's life in accordance with the path that unbinding, release, and attainment was achieved.

My current reasoning with what little understanding I have of it is that the luminous mind concept to me is a mind without defilements, free of hindrances, fetters, shackles, which is but a result of living one's life in accordance with The Noble Eight Fold Path. I imagined to be like a pane of glass clean of all dirt and dust.

Another way that I have reasoned is that if a person is racked with pain, let's say due to a painful disease which attacks and inflames the pain sensors of the body, and the source of the disease is removed, one is pain free, and by contrast in an ecstatic state. No joy may be present. No sensory ejaculation of pleasure so to speak, but simply recognition of the cessation of racking, intractable pain. Therefore: a luminous mind, in a state of luminous equanimity. These states are but temporary conditions, because exterior conditions, which initiated the pain can change at any time, and therefore not nibanna, which is a permanent state free of all sensory consciousness good, bad or indifferent.

Therefore, why are such states of luminous mind, and luminous equanimity ever the goal? Nibanna is the goal.
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
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Re: Luminous Mind. - What is it?

Postby Ron-The-Elder » Mon Mar 28, 2011 7:51 pm

Viscid wrote:
Ron-The-Elder wrote:
Viscid wrote: You're my new favourite poster.


It is my sincere hope that this does not lead to dukkha. :tongue:


You'll be interested in Maha Bua's "eternal citta" description of God's essence inner luminosity:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ajahn_Maha ... 27Citta.27

You'll see similar descriptions of inner luminosity throughout many, if not all, contemplative traditions. Get to a certain level of 'purificiation,' a certain stillness of the mind, and you begin to experience its foundational brilliance.

And yeah, it's impermanent.


Thanks, Viscid. I'll read this later this evening. I appreciate your efforts.

_/\_Ron
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
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Re: Luminous Mind. - What is it?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Mar 28, 2011 7:52 pm

Ron-The-Elder wrote:Recently in another thread, several participants brought up the idea of "luminous mind", which I will not define in this post, but provide several citations from the suttas and commentaries:
AN 1.49-52 PTS: A i 10 (I,v,9-10; I,vi,1-2)
Pabhassara Sutta: Luminous
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
© 1995–2011
"Luminous, monks, is the mind.[1] And it is defiled by incoming defilements." {I,v,9}

"Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is freed from incoming defilements." {I,v,10}

"Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is defiled by incoming defilements. The uninstructed run-of-the-mill person doesn't discern that as it actually is present, which is why I tell you that — for the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person — there is no development of the mind." {I,vi,1}

"Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is freed from incoming defilements. The well-instructed disciple of the noble ones discerns that as it actually is present, which is why I tell you that — for the well-instructed disciple of the
noble ones — there is development of the mind." {I,vi,2}

The "luminous mind" is not the awakened mind. The awakened mind is the mind free of defilements. "Luminous" simply refers to the initial act of awareness as the mind becomes aware of an object of consciousness. There is no need to complicate the idea of "luminous mind" with all sorts of speculations.
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: Luminous Mind. - What is it?

Postby Viscid » Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:00 pm

tiltbillings wrote: "Luminous" simply refers to the initial act of awareness as the mind becomes aware of an object of consciousness.


Snore.

Then why call it 'Luminous?'
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Re: Luminous Mind. - What is it?

Postby cooran » Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:15 pm

Hello all,

A thread on Luminous, Pure on dhammastudygroup may be of interest:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dhammastu ... sage/16771

with metta
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Re: Luminous Mind. - What is it?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:19 pm

Viscid wrote:
tiltbillings wrote: "Luminous" simply refers to the initial act of awareness as the mind becomes aware of an object of consciousness.


Snore.

Then why call it 'Luminous?'
That initial bit of awareness before all the other stuff piles on has a claririty about it.
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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