I just happen to hit upon this old thread, and I was wondering if I could still give my position on the matter. I hope to have your say on that later on.
My question is "what does Neither perception nor non-perception mean" in the first place?
First, we must reexamine the genesis (and cessation) of -perception- as it appears twice in Paticcasamuppada:
So Ignorance (Avijja) yields three pairs, namely:
- In breath & out breath (Assāsa & Passāsā)
- Thought & pondering (Vitakka & Vicārā)
& feeling (Saññā & Vedanā)
And the force that is Saṅkhārā [saṃ (together) + karoti (to make)] joins each pair, to return three determinations, to wit:
- kāyasaṅkhāro (bodily determination)
- vacīsaṅkhāro (verbal determination)
- cittasaṅkhāro (mental determination)
Which in turn are joined by the force saṅkhārā, to allow for the generation of Viññana (consciousness).
As Avijja still "does not know," then consciousness delivers the "Mind & Thing machine" that is Nama-Rupa (Name & Form,) namely:
- Mental attention
- The four great elements
- The form seized from them as me or mine
which in turn, when they combine together, deliver the Six Spheres (of senses).
And we know the rest; that is to say the forward move (anulomam) towards Being and Birth.
What is interesting is Buddha's remark (SN 12.65) as an unawakened Bodhisatta, just before he got enlightened. He talks about the reverse process of Paticcasamuppada (patilomam,) namely:
Buddha wrote:"Then the thought occurred to me, 'This consciousness turns back at name-&-form, and goes no farther. It is to this extent that there is birth, aging, death, falling away, & re-arising, i.e., from name-&-form as a requisite condition comes consciousness, from consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form."
Vision, clear knowledge, wisdom, thorough noesis and illumination (dassanā, ñāṇa, paññā, vijja, āloka) arose in Him.
It is when the Buddha understood that consciousness would not allow him to reach back to Saṅkhārā nidana, the second link of Paticcasamuppada, that He knew He was trapped in the vicious circle produced by the bi-lateral circular relationship that exists between consciousness & Nama-Rupa; and that He had to escape from it.
The solution to the problem was to work out the utter destruction of consciousness through the destruction of all the components below it; of which perception (belonging to Nama-Rupa) is a crucial part.
Once that was done reaching yathābhutañāṇadassana (knowledge of things as they really are,) and the destruction of forms, feeling, perception, etc; then the higher jhanas could be reached at last.
And here we arrive at the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception (one of these higher jhanas).
Neither perception nor non-perception. What could that entail?
Does that mean that, in the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, we do not perceive with the perceptions belonging to Nama-Rupa anymore; but we do perceive with the perception belonging to the Saṅkhārā nidana?
Am I right? Perception
The Blessed One said thus and those bhikkhus delighted in the words of the Blessed One.