Should vinnana be interpreted as consciousness/awareness?

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Should vinnana be interpreted as consciousness/awareness?

Postby starter » Fri May 13, 2011 4:28 pm

Hi, I'm wondering if our translation and interpretation of vinnana as consciousness/awareness is appropriate or not. By the way, I moved the following thread form another thread to here:

kirk5a wrote:
rowyourboat wrote:We come to see that a good portion of what we 'see' is created in our minds ... even awareness itself -vinnana.


That would seem to present a puzzle in understanding this statement then, doesn't it?

"Being freed, dissociated, and released from consciousness... the Tathagata dwells with unrestricted awareness."

If vinnana=consciousness=awareness=mental creations, I wonder how much sense it would make to say "Being freed, dissociated, and released from from consciousness... the Tathagata dwells with unrestricted consciousness." or "Being freed, dissociated, and released from awareness... the Tathagata dwells with unrestricted awareness." Why would the Tathagata dwell in something mind-created? And how could he dwell dissociated in the very thing he was dissociated from?


Actually, the Buddha defined [the established] vinnana [the aggregate of consciousness] in MN 22: Alagaddūpama Sutta: [http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html]
"He assumes about what seen, heard, sensed, cognized, attained, sought after, pondered by the intellect: 'This is me, this is my self, this is what I am.'"

Clearly the Buddha referred to [the established] vinnana as not only the "bare" awareness, but also "sought after, pondered by the intellect", which appears to be awareness plus proliferations. To my limited knowledge, in some Chinese and Tibetan Mahayana traditions vinnana seems to be translated as "discrimination", "differentiation", and etc. Somehow such activities were all put into sankharas (fabrications) instead of vinnana in the Theravada tradition. The Buddha actually defined sankharas as six type of vollitions in one sutta (I forgot which one), instead of all mental formations.

To my understanding, the awareness of the Buddha is the unestablished vinnana.

Hope this confusion can be clarified. Metta to all,

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Re: Should vinnana be interpreted as consciousness/awareness

Postby starter » Thu May 19, 2011 11:52 pm

Hm... just found another sutta elaborating sankha and vinnana:

DN 22:

"Intention for forms... Intention for sounds... Intention for smells... Intention for tastes... Intention for tactile sensations... Intention for mental objects...

"Craving for forms... Craving for sounds... Craving for smells... Craving for tastes... Craving for tactile sensations... Craving for mental objects...

"Thinking directed at forms... Thought directed at sounds... Thought directed at smells... Thought directed at tastes... Thought directed at tactile sensations... Thought directed at mental objects...

"Evaluation [Cognization and differentiation] of forms... Evaluation of sounds... Evaluation of smells... Evaluation of tastes... Evaluation of tactile sensations... Evaluation of mental objects is endearing & alluring in terms of the world. That is where this craving, when arising, arises. That is where, when dwelling, it dwells.

-- [It seems to me that intention and craving are covered under the aggregate of volitions, which is a clear elaboration of what the Buddha meant for sankhara; whereas thinking and evaluation [Cognization and differentiation]" appear to be what the Buddha meant for vinnana, instead of only "consciousness/awareness".

Metta to all,

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Re: Should vinnana be interpreted as consciousness/awareness?

Postby daverupa » Fri May 20, 2011 12:50 am

starter wrote:Hm... just found another sutta elaborating sankha and vinnana:

DN 22:


That's interesting; it isn't that way at MN 10, and DN 22 is in part ii. This, then, is showing up outside the earliest strata of Pali, but I'm inclined to think it's correct.

Any thoughts on this aspect, 'dhamma-cakka-kalyana-mitta'?
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Should vinnana be interpreted as consciousness/awareness?

Postby Dmytro » Fri May 20, 2011 4:30 am

Hi Starter,

Consciousness is an active process involved in perception and knowledge, it's not something passive that happens all by itself.

''saviññānฺaka' и 'aviññānฺaka' mean just that - with consciousness and without consciousness.

Regarding the translation, there's a good article:

Two types of saving knowledge in the Paali suttas
By Donald K. Swearer

http://buddhism.lib.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT ... donald.htm

Discernment (panna) and consciousness (vinnana) are conjoined:

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Discernment

As he was sitting there, he said to Ven. Sariputta, "Friend, 'One of poor discernment, one of poor discernment': Thus is it said. To what extent is one said to be 'one of poor discernment'?"

"'One doesn't discern, one doesn't discern': Thus, friend, one is said to be 'one of poor discernment.' And what doesn't one discern? One doesn't discern, 'This is stress.' One doesn't discern, 'This is the origination of stress.' One doesn't discern, 'This is the cessation of stress.' One doesn't discern, 'This is the practice leading to the cessation of stress.' 'One doesn't discern, one doesn't discern': Thus one is said to be 'one of poor discernment.'"

Saying, "Very good, friend," Ven. Maha Kotthita — delighting in & approving of Ven. Sariputta's statement — asked him a further question: "Discerning, discerning': Thus is it said. To what extent, friend, is one said to be 'discerning'?"

"'One discerns, one discerns': Thus, friend, one is said to be 'discerning.' And what does one discern? One discerns, 'This is stress.' One discerns, 'This is the origination of stress.' One discerns, 'This is the cessation of stress.' One discerns, 'This is the practice leading to the cessation of stress.' 'One discerns, one discerns': Thus one is said to be 'discerning.'"

Consciousness

"'Consciousness, consciousness': Thus is it said. To what extent, friend, is it said to be 'consciousness'?"

"'It cognizes, it cognizes': Thus, friend, it is said to be 'consciousness.' And what does it cognize? It cognizes 'pleasant.' It cognizes 'painful.' It cognizes 'neither painful nor pleasant.' 'It cognizes, it cognizes': Thus it is said to be 'consciousness.'"

"Discernment & consciousness, friend: Are these qualities conjoined or disjoined? Is it possible, having separated them one from the other, to delineate the difference between them?"

"Discernment & consciousness are conjoined, friend, not disjoined. It's not possible, having separated them one from the other, to delineate the difference between them. For what one discerns, that one cognizes. What one cognizes, that one discerns. Therefore these qualities are conjoined, not disjoined, and it is not possible, having separated them one from another, to delineate the difference between them."

"Discernment & consciousness, friend: What is the difference between these qualities that are conjoined, not disjoined?"

"Discernment & consciousness, friend: Of these qualities that are conjoined, not disjoined, discernment is to be developed, consciousness is to be fully comprehended."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Best wishes, Dmytro
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Re: Should vinnana be interpreted as consciousness/awareness?

Postby Dmytro » Fri May 20, 2011 4:40 am

Hi Starter,

starter wrote:Actually, the Buddha defined [the established] vinnana [the aggregate of consciousness] in MN 22: Alagaddūpama Sutta: [http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html]
"He assumes about what seen, heard, sensed, cognized, attained, sought after, pondered by the intellect: 'This is me, this is my self, this is what I am.'"

Clearly the Buddha referred to [the established] vinnana as not only the "bare" awareness, but also "sought after, pondered by the intellect", which appears to be awareness plus proliferations.


I don't understand why you connect this sutta passage with the definition of vinnana.

To my understanding, the awareness of the Buddha is the unestablished vinnana.


And how do you understand 'unestablished'? These are subtle things, to be experienced personally.
That's about "entry into emptiness", as Ven.Thanissaro Bhikkhu writes.

Metta, Dmytro
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Re: Should vinnana be interpreted as consciousness/awareness?

Postby kirk5a » Fri May 20, 2011 2:42 pm

What is the Pali for what is translated there as "unrestricted awareness"?

edit: apparently "vimariyādīkatena cetasā"

Vimariyādikata
Vimariyādikata (adj.) [vi+mariyādā+kata] lit. made unrestricted, i. e. delivered, set free S ii.173; iii.31 (vippamutto ˚ena cetasā viharati); vi.11; A v.151 sq. -- At Th 1, 184 v. l. for vipariyādi˚.
http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philol ... :1812.pali

Mariyādā (f.) [cp. Vedic maryādā; perhaps related to Lat. mare sea; s. Walde, Lat. Wtb. under mare] 1. boundary limit, shore, embankment Vin iii.50; A iii.227 (brāhmaṇānaŋ); D iii.92=Vism 419; J v.325; vi.536 (tīra˚) Mhvs 34, 70; 36, 59 (vāpi˚); Miln 416. -- 2. strictly defined relation, rule, control J ii.215; Vism 15. -- adj keeping to the lines (or boundaries), observing strict rules A iii.227 (quoted SnA 318, 325). ˚bandha keeping in control Vin i.287. -- Cp. vimariyādi.

So... "unrestricted mind" ? "boundless mind" ?

Is that classified under viññāṇa?
"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: Should vinnana be interpreted as consciousness/awareness?

Postby kirk5a » Fri May 20, 2011 4:47 pm

Further research:

vimariyādīkatena cetasā makes another appearance in MN 111:

"Furthermore, with the complete transcending of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, Sariputta entered & remained in the cessation of feeling & perception. Seeing with discernment, his fermentations were totally ended. He emerged mindfully from that attainment. On emerging mindfully from that attainment, he regarded the past qualities that had ceased & changed: 'So this is how these qualities, not having been, come into play. Having been, they vanish.' He remained unattracted & unrepelled with regard to those qualities, independent, detached, released, dissociated, with an awareness rid of barriers. He discerned that 'There is no further escape,' and pursuing it there really wasn't for him.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Actually it appears every step along the way in that sutta, from first jhana, through the formless attainments, and finally the cessation of feeling and perception. After each attainment it says
"He discerned, 'So this is how these qualities, not having been, come into play. Having been, they vanish.' He remained unattracted & unrepelled with regard to those qualities, independent, detached, released, dissociated, with an awareness rid of barriers.


Ven. Bodhi translates that as:
"He understood thus: 'So indeed, these states, not having been, come into being; having been, they vanish.' Regarding those states, he abided unattracted, unrepelled, independent, detached, free, dissociated, with a mind rid of barriers."
"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: Should vinnana be interpreted as consciousness/awareness

Postby starter » Fri May 20, 2011 5:33 pm

Hi, your helpful input has been appreciated. My point is that there appears to be two types of vinnana:

1) Vinnana refers to the aggregate "consciousness" [the consciousness established on name and form]: awareness + proliferations/fabrications;

In MN 22: Alagaddūpama Sutta: [http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html]
"... assumes about form: 'This is me, this is my self, this is what I am.'

"He assumes about feeling: 'This is me, this is my self, this is what I am.'

"He assumes about perception: 'This is me, this is my self, this is what I am.'

"He assumes about volitions: 'This is me, this is my self, this is what I am.'

"He assumes about what seen, heard, sensed, cognized, attained, sought after, pondered by the intellect [mind]: 'This is me, this is my self, this is what I am.'"

-- As you can see, what seen, heard, sensed, cognized, attained, sought after, pondered by the intellect [mind]: is used here instead of normally used "consciousness" [vinnana].

And in DN 22:

"And what is endearing & alluring in terms of the world? The eye is endearing & alluring in terms of the world. That is where this craving, when arising, arises. That is where, when dwelling, it dwells.

"The ear... The nose... The tongue... The body... The intellect...

"Forms... Sounds... Smells... Tastes... Tactile sensations... Ideas...

"Eye-consciousness... Ear-consciousness... Nose-consciousness... Tongue-consciousness... Body-consciousness... Intellect-consciousness...

"Eye-contact... Ear-contact... Nose-contact... Tongue-contact... Body-contact... Intellect-contact...

"Feeling born of eye-contact... Feeling born of ear-contact... Feeling born of nose-contact... Feeling born of tongue-contact... Feeling born of body-contact... Feeling born of intellect-contact...

"Perception of forms... Perception of sounds... Perception of smells... Perception of tastes... Perception of tactile sensations... Perception of ideas...

"Intention for forms... Intention for sounds... Intention for smells... Intention for tastes... Intention for tactile sensations... Intention for mental objects...

"Craving for forms... Craving for sounds... Craving for smells... Craving for tastes... Craving for tactile sensations... Craving for mental objects...

"Thinking directed at forms... Thought directed at sounds... Thought directed at smells... Thought directed at tastes... Thought directed at tactile sensations... Thought directed at mental objects...

"Evaluation [Cognization and differentiation] of forms... Evaluation of sounds... Evaluation of smells... Evaluation of tastes... Evaluation of tactile sensations... Evaluation of mental objects is endearing & alluring in terms of the world. That is where this craving, when arising, arises. That is where, when dwelling, it dwells.

-- Here "Thinking" and "evaluation [Cognization and differentiation]" instead of "consciousness" is used, as its synonyms to elaborate what the Buddha might mean for vinnana.

2) Vinnana refers to the "unbound mind" (with consciousness unestablished) of the Buddha and living arahants = vimariyādīkatena cetasā "rid of barriers (defilements)" (as appeared in MN 111 as cited by Kirk) = unestablished on name and form as cited in the following suttas:

SN 22.53 Upaya Sutta:
How does consciousness become unestablished? It's through the abandonment of delight, craving and attachment to name and form or the five aggregates:
“When that consciousness is unestablished, not coming to growth, nongenerative, it is liberated. By being liberated, it is steady; by being steady, it is content; by being content, he is not agitated. Being unagitated, he personally attains nibbaana.”

SN 12.64:
“… where there is no delight, no craving, then consciousness does not land there or grow. Where consciousness does not land or grow, name-&-form does not alight. Where name-&-form does not alight, there is no growth of fabrications. Where there is no growth of fabrications, there is no production of renewed becoming in the future.”

I'm concerned about the translation of vinnana and think it's important to understand that vinnana as the sense consciousness means not only awareness but also the proliferations in the suttas.[/b][/color]

Metta to all,

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Re: Should vinnana be interpreted as consciousness/awareness

Postby starter » Wed Aug 14, 2013 2:16 am

kirk5a wrote:"Being freed, dissociated, and released from consciousness... the Tathagata dwells with unrestricted awareness."

If vinnana=consciousness=awareness=mental creations, I wonder how much sense it would make to say "Being freed, dissociated, and released from from consciousness... the Tathagata dwells with unrestricted consciousness." or "Being freed, dissociated, and released from awareness... the Tathagata dwells with unrestricted awareness." Why would the Tathagata dwell in something mind-created? And how could he dwell dissociated in the very thing he was dissociated from?


I came back to this old thread to clarify the above confusion. How about try another translation of the above cited teaching?

AN 10.81:
Freed, dissociated, and released from ten things, Bahuna, the Tathagata dwells with unbound mind. Which ten? Freed, dissociated, and released from form, the Tathagata dwells with unbound mind. Freed, dissociated, and released from feeling... from perception... from fabrications... from consciousness... from birth... from aging... from death... from stress... Freed, dissociated, and released from defilement, the Tathagata dwells with unbound mind.

Just as a red, blue, or white lotus born in the water and growing in the water, rises up above the water and stands with no water adhering to it, in the same way the Tathagata — freed, dissociated, and released from these ten things — dwells with unbound mind.

When the Buddha dwell in the phase of cessation of perception and feeling, the five aggregates all disappeared, that's why he could dwell with unbound mind freed from consiousness. And of course a liberated one is also free from the other five things as well.

For more recent relevant discussion about vinnana, see:

Viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ= undefiled mind =nibbana? [http://www.dhammawheel.com/posting.php?mode=edit&f=13&p=130685]

What's mind consciousness and why it's a magic show? [http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=9409]

Metta to all!
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