Ajahn Amarō talks quite similarly about awareness in his Small Boat, Great Mountain
. In the Preface, Guy Armstrong says:
Ajahn Chah, a Thai master who is considered the head of Ajahn Amaro’s lineage (and the teacher of Ajahn Sumedho and Jack Kornfield), referred often to the “One Who Knows” as a pointer to the inherent wisdom within awareness itself. Ajahn Buddhadasa says that “emptiness and mindfulness are one.” Ajahn Mahā Boowa, a contemporary of Ajahn Chah’s who learned from the same master, Ajahn Mun, says of impermanence: “This vanishes, that vanishes, but that which knows their vanishing doesn’t vanish. . . . All that remains is simple awareness, utterly pure.”
Ajāhn Amarō says in the book:
Up until the point when Ajahn Chah met his teacher Ajahn Mun, he said he never really understood that mind and its objects existed as separate qualities, and that, because of getting the two confused and tangled up, he could never find peace. But what he had got from Ajahn Mun—in the three short days he spent with him—was the clear sense that there is the knowing mind, the poo roo, the one who knows, and then there are the objects of knowing. These are like a mirror and the images that are reflected in it. The mirror is utterly unembellished and uncorrupted by either the beauty or the ugliness of the objects appearing in it. The mirror doesn’t even get bored. Even when there is nothing reflected in it, it is utterly equanimous, serene. This was a key insight for Ajahn Chah, and it became a major theme for his practice and teaching from that time onward.
From the quote Retro has pointed above, it's already clear this is a very different way of looking at things than what was given by the Buddha. A meditative approach more grounded in the discourses is given by Ven. Ñānānanda:
`Dependent on eye and forms, there arises eye-consciousness. The coming together of the three is contact, dependent on contact is feeling .....' and so forth. It is the first few words that convey something extremely deep.
`Cakkhuñca paticca rupe ca uppajjati cakkhuviññànam'. Here we have the two words `paticca' and `uppajjati' which remind us of the term `paticcasamuppàda'. `Paticca' means `dependent on' or `because of'. What is implied here is that consciousness is not something existing in itself or by itself. It is not something abstract. It always arises dependent on something or other, because of something or other. `Paticca' conveys the idea of relationship or relativity.
For instance, eye-consciousness is a relationship between the eye, the internal base, and forms, the external base. Here, then, we already have an instance of `paticca samuppàda' - the law of Dependent Arising.
Consciousness has been compared to a conjuror's trick - to a majic-show. One has to get an insight into the back-stage workings of this magic-show. There are the six dependently arisen consciousnesses with mind-consciousness as the sixth. In the phrase quoted above, the emphasis should be placed on the word `paticca'. `Cakkhuñca paticca rupe ca uppajjati cakkhuviññànam'. Eye consciousness arises dependent on eye and form and not independently.
Seeing Through: A Guide to Insight Meditation
Now, to be fair, even Ven. Ñānānanda mentions about a 'non-manifestive consciousness' of the Arahant:
Wise reflection inculcates the Dhamma point of view. Reflection based on right view, sammā diṭṭhi, leads to deliverance. So this is the twin aspect of reflection. But this we mention by the way. The point we wish to stress is that consciousness has in it the nature of reflecting something, like a mirror.
Now viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ is a reference to the nature of the released consciousness of an arahant. It does not reflect anything. To be more precise, it does not reflect a nāma-rūpa, or name-and-form. An ordinary individual sees a nāma-rūpa, when he reflects, which he calls 'I' and 'mine'. It is like the reflection of that dog, which sees its own delusive reflection in the water. A non-arahant, upon reflection, sees name-and-form, which however he mistakes to be his self. With the notion of 'I' and 'mine' he falls into delusion with regard to it. But the arahant's consciousness is an unestablished consciousness.
Nibbāba, the Mind Stilled
Which sounds quite similar to what Ven. Amarō says(his interpreation of anidassana viññāṇa
is discussed here
), but on the other hand what comes from the Thai forest teachers sound like something more commonplace, like a reirfied version of a nibbānic-consciousness, which is constantly present lurking underneath everyday awareness(which seems to be basically the point that Ven. Amarō is making in the book; that nibbāna is instantly available to us because we're 'already enlightened'.)
Last edited by rohana
on Sat Oct 26, 2013 1:56 am, edited 3 times in total.
"Delighting in existence, O monks, are gods and men; they are attached to existence, they revel in existence. When the Dhamma for the cessation of existence is being preached to them, their minds do not leap towards it, do not get pleased with it, do not get settled in it, do not find confidence in it. That is how, monks, some lag behind."
- It. p 43