Svasamvedana

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Svasamvedana

Postby Javi » Sat Dec 08, 2012 6:21 pm

I'm trying to find more information on this term and how it came about. Does it appear in Abhidhamma literature? Or is it a definitely later Mahayana term? Is there a similar idea in Abhidhamma? This idea interests me because it has several parallels in western philosophy in the form of higher order thought theories. I would like to know how the Abhidhamma views self aware consciousness, ie consciousness aware of itself being aware of something.

From what I have seen svasamvedana is usually translated as something like reflexive awareness or self awareness. In Tibetan it is Ranggi rig pa (I think) and is related to metaphors such as 'luminosity' (gsal ba) or 'clear light' ('od gsal). The most common image is that of a lamp. The lamp is reflexive, it illuminates itself in the very act of illuminating others. It is a very contentious issue in Tibetan philosophy because it is key for some schools but is thoroughly denied by the gelugs.

I've also seen the term svasamvitti used interchangeably.
Non qui parum habet sed qui plus cupit pauper est.
It's not he who has little, but he who craves more, that is poor. - Seneca
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Re: Svasamvedana

Postby daverupa » Sat Dec 08, 2012 6:32 pm

See here, starting at the bottom of page 46 (link goes to the Index).

Looks like Dharmakirti was working on this at Nalanda before it was to become normative in Tibet. This post-dates all extant abhidhammas, I think.
    "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: Svasamvedana

Postby Javi » Sat Dec 08, 2012 7:38 pm

According to this source it can be traced to Dignaga (480-540). Not out of the scope for all Abhidharmas iirc.

Anyways I'm mainly interested if there is anything similar in the Theravada Abhidhamma, how do they view self reflexive consciousness? Is there just not such an idea in it at all? Sorry I may be confusing because I'm using this terminology which I am not very familiar with. I guess what I'm asking is if in the Abhidhamma account consciousness (i guess viññāṇa?) could be reflexive, as it it could watch itself watching other objects.
Non qui parum habet sed qui plus cupit pauper est.
It's not he who has little, but he who craves more, that is poor. - Seneca
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Re: Svasamvedana

Postby daverupa » Sat Dec 08, 2012 11:13 pm

Javi wrote:According to this source it can be traced to Dignaga (480-540). Not out of the scope for all Abhidharmas iirc.


The abhidhammas are all fairly early, actually, roughly third & second century BCE. Certainly by the time of Dignaga, the abhidhamma pitakas were very likely closed and Buddhist schools would have been using commentaries, sub-commentaries, and the like.
    "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: Svasamvedana

Postby Nyana » Tue Dec 11, 2012 4:39 pm

Javi wrote:I'm trying to find more information on this term and how it came about. Does it appear in Abhidhamma literature? Or is it a definitely later Mahayana term? Is there a similar idea in Abhidhamma? This idea interests me because it has several parallels in western philosophy in the form of higher order thought theories. I would like to know how the Abhidhamma views self aware consciousness, ie consciousness aware of itself being aware of something.

From what I have seen svasamvedana is usually translated as something like reflexive awareness or self awareness. In Tibetan it is Ranggi rig pa (I think) and is related to metaphors such as 'luminosity' (gsal ba) or 'clear light' ('od gsal). The most common image is that of a lamp. The lamp is reflexive, it illuminates itself in the very act of illuminating others. It is a very contentious issue in Tibetan philosophy because it is key for some schools but is thoroughly denied by the gelugs.

I've also seen the term svasamvitti used interchangeably.

See The Buddhist Theory of Self-Cognition by Zhihua Yao for a comprehensive study on the historical development of svasaṃvedana/svasaṃvitti among Indian Buddhist schools and authors.
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Re: Svasamvedana

Postby Javi » Mon Aug 05, 2013 5:07 pm

Thank you Nyana that's pretty much exactly what I needed.
Non qui parum habet sed qui plus cupit pauper est.
It's not he who has little, but he who craves more, that is poor. - Seneca
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