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can consciousness witness it's own dissolution? - Dhamma Wheel

can consciousness witness it's own dissolution?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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manas
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can consciousness witness it's own dissolution?

Postby manas » Wed Aug 01, 2012 9:05 pm

Hi everyone

we are supposed to be seeing how even consciousness is impermanent, liable to arising and passing away and thus not fitting to be regarded as me or mine. And not just believing it, nor just accepting this after having pondered over it with a 'modicum of discenrnment', but more than this: 'knowing and seeing' it as such.

Here is the problem for me. I'm sitting in meditation and can perceive feelings arise and pass away. No problem - feelings are not self. I can perceive how thoughts appear and disappear (not with perfect clarity - rather murkily - but enough to know that thoughts do come and go), I can perceive how states of mind can change, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. No problem - states of mind are not self, since they are also liable to change & alteration. But through it all, some awareness is present. In fact, more present than usual. That awareness is consciousness, aware of the other four khandhas. But how on earth could consciousness see that it isn't the 'one who knows' the one who is witnessing all of this arising and passing away, *but rather* is actually just as dependent upon a cause as the other constituents of existence, unless it witnessed it's own dissolution? And that does not make sense. A man can stand by the side of the road and see that another man has been run over by a truck. But if he himself gets run over by the truck, he is no longer a witness, but rather the victim. And he won't witness himself 'standing there', and then: 'no longer standing there' - his last perception will just be, 'truck'. And a loud bang. But he won't perceive his own absence. How could he, if he is no longer there to witness it?

I welcome any advice that can be given. Feel free to wake me up by any means possible. Because this doubt needs to be cleared up.

with metta.
Last edited by manas on Wed Aug 01, 2012 9:33 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Then the Blessed One, picking up a tiny bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monk, "There isn't even this much form...feeling...
perception...fabrications...consciousness that is constant, lasting, eternal, not subject to change, that will stay just as it is as long as eternity."

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Alex123
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Re: can consciousness witness it's own dissolution?

Postby Alex123 » Wed Aug 01, 2012 9:21 pm

This is an interesting thing about consciousness, it cannot cognize its own ending. It can certainly take an object which rises & falls, but it itself cannot cognize its own end. It is impossible.

So I guess is that one can know this only in retrospect with another, existing, consciousness.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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manas
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Re: can consciousness witness it's own dissolution?

Postby manas » Wed Aug 01, 2012 9:41 pm

Last edited by manas on Wed Aug 01, 2012 9:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Then the Blessed One, picking up a tiny bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monk, "There isn't even this much form...feeling...
perception...fabrications...consciousness that is constant, lasting, eternal, not subject to change, that will stay just as it is as long as eternity."

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kirk5a
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Re: can consciousness witness it's own dissolution?

Postby kirk5a » Wed Aug 01, 2012 9:42 pm

"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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Alex123
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Re: can consciousness witness it's own dissolution?

Postby Alex123 » Wed Aug 01, 2012 9:48 pm

"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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Cittasanto
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Re: can consciousness witness it's own dissolution?

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Aug 01, 2012 9:55 pm



He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

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Kim OHara
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Re: can consciousness witness it's own dissolution?

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Aug 01, 2012 10:19 pm


Kenshou
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Re: can consciousness witness it's own dissolution?

Postby Kenshou » Wed Aug 01, 2012 10:22 pm


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retrofuturist
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Re: can consciousness witness it's own dissolution?

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Aug 01, 2012 11:39 pm

Greetings manas,

Consciousness is the presence of a dhamma at one of the six-sense doors, as opposed to a separate thing in and of itself.

That "presence of a dhamma" dissolves due to anicca, but it is not self-aware of its own dissolution. Rather, it is known by the subsequent "presence of a dhamma" or "absence of a dhamma" that is qualitatively different to the earlier experience.

That is how I understand it, at least.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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manas
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Re: can consciousness witness it's own dissolution?

Postby manas » Thu Aug 02, 2012 1:47 am

I thank all who have replied. Sorry I cannot express my appreciation individually at this time. I have so many things on my mind to do with lay concerns. I wish life were more simple; but that cannot be had by mere wishing...anyway I am already reflecting on your helpful answers.

metta
Then the Blessed One, picking up a tiny bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monk, "There isn't even this much form...feeling...
perception...fabrications...consciousness that is constant, lasting, eternal, not subject to change, that will stay just as it is as long as eternity."

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ground
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Re: can consciousness witness it's own dissolution?

Postby ground » Thu Aug 02, 2012 4:02 am

Can your thinking take its own absence as object? Thinking can stop. If thinking stops there cannot even be knowing what thinking is or whether it is present or absent.

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retrofuturist
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Re: can consciousness witness it's own dissolution?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Aug 02, 2012 4:10 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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ground
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Re: can consciousness witness it's own dissolution?

Postby ground » Thu Aug 02, 2012 4:12 am

Huh? The topic was "thinking", one aspect of consciousness of several aspects. And knowing what is or what is not, has been considered to be thinking because it is assigning a name to an object. Assigning a name requires thinking a name before it can be assigned.

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retrofuturist
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Re: can consciousness witness it's own dissolution?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Aug 02, 2012 4:25 am

Greetings Ground,

Your post was about thinking - the topic isn't... the topic is about consciousness (vinnana) and its impermanence (aniccata)

Thinking doesn't need to be introduced into the topic, and as I said, the absence of vittaka and vicara (which collectively cover all aspects of thinking) can be discerned/perceived without introducing the need for self-referential thoughts.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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ground
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Re: can consciousness witness it's own dissolution?

Postby ground » Thu Aug 02, 2012 4:32 am


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Ben
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Re: can consciousness witness it's own dissolution?

Postby Ben » Thu Aug 02, 2012 5:22 am

Greetings Manas

At some stage you may wish to read A Comprehensive Manual of the Abhidhamma, edited by Bhikkhu Bodhi.
It should provide some illuminating insights into your current line of enquiry and others.
with metta,

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: ben.dhammawhe[email protected]..

vinasp
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Re: can consciousness witness it's own dissolution?

Postby vinasp » Thu Aug 02, 2012 5:34 am

Hi manas,

Quote:"we are supposed to be seeing how even consciousness is impermanent, liable to arising and passing away and thus not fitting to be regarded as me or mine."

First, "impermanent" means: capable of ceasing, vanishing completely and
permanently.

It is said that "consciousness" is dependently arisen, but that is why it can cease.

Obviously it is not actual consciousness that vanishes so what does "consciousness"
mean?

It means the false knowledge that consciousness is "mine", that is what vanishes.

The ordinary man sees consciousness as permanent, a source of pleasure, as related
to self, and as "mine". So he has desire for consciousness and holds onto it.

It is this thought-object of desire which must be seen as impermanent or capable
of vanishing, as suffering, as non-self, and as "not mine".

It must be seen in this way in order to reduce and eliminate the desire for this
thought-object and the holding-on to it.

What is important in the teachings are the things which persist in the mind, not
the things which are constantly changing.

The misunderstanding of "impermanence" together with modern meditation methods
combine to obscure the real teachings.

Regards, Vincent.

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Spiny Norman
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Re: can consciousness witness it's own dissolution?

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Aug 02, 2012 12:40 pm

"My religion is very simple - my religion is ice-cream."
Dairy Lama

vinasp
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Re: can consciousness witness it's own dissolution?

Postby vinasp » Thu Aug 02, 2012 12:43 pm

Hi manas,

"In conceiving consciousness, bhikkhu, one is bound by Mara; by not conceiving
it one is freed from the Evil One." [BB, CD, page 907, part of SN 22.64.]

"And what is it that he dismantles and does not build up?
He dismantles form ...
He dismantles feeling ...
He dismantles perception ...
He dismantles volitional formations ...
He dismantles consciousness and does not build it up.

And what is it that he abandons and does not cling to?
He abandons form ... feeling ... perception ... volitional formations ...
He abandons consciousness and does not cling to it.

And what is it that he scatters and does not amass?
He scatters form ... feeling ... perception ... volitional formations ...
He scatters consciousness and does not amass it.

And what is it that he extinguishes and does not kindle?
He extinguishes form ... feeling ... perception ... volitional formations ...
He extinguishes consciousness and does not kindle it."

[Bhikkhu Bodhi, Connected Discourses, page 917, part of SN 22.79]

Regards, Vincent.

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kirk5a
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Re: can consciousness witness it's own dissolution?

Postby kirk5a » Thu Aug 02, 2012 2:45 pm

I find it helpful to look at suttas where a comprehensive survey of what is impermanent is given. For example, in MN147 there is the list below which is all inconstant, stressful, and not fitting to regard as "This is mine. This is my self. This is what I am."

the six sense bases:
eye
ear
nose
tongue
body
intellect

their objects:
forms
sounds
aromas
flavors
tactile sensations
ideas

and:
whatever there is that arises in dependence on contact at the [eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, intellect] as a mode of feeling, a mode of perception, a mode of fabrication, or a mode of consciousness

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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