Consciousness questions

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Consciousness questions

Postby Lazy_eye » Thu Dec 17, 2009 3:04 pm

Hi all,

I was listening to a talk yesterday on the consciousness aggregate. The teacher described consciousness as a kind of "bare awareness" and compared it to a mirror which reflects various objects; moreover, he said the quality of consciousness is essentially the same regardless of the objects or situation. Whether we're sober or drunk, dreaming or awake, driving a car or taking a walk, the capacity of awareness (the sense of there being an observer or witness) has this mirror-like characteristic.

However, he then went on to discuss consciousness as being conditioned/dependently originated. Referring to MN 38, he talked about Sati's mistake and why it's a mistake, and about how in practice we can get to the point where we observe the conditionality of consciousness.

I'm puzzled, though, as to how consciousness can be both a mirror with an unchanging quality and, at the same time, something which is conditioned. Aren't these at odds with each other? Anyone feel up to explaining?

On a different note, when we talk about mind-moments (citta) conditioning subsequent mind moments, is it kamma which drives the whole process along? I'm thinking here of the ocean waves analogy -- waves succeed each other in the way that citta do, one subsiding and another arising. But wave motion in general is caused by gravitational forces and winds -- would this be analogous to the forces of desire and craving and their manifestation as kamma?

LE

(note: edited to clear up some confusion of terms)
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Re: Consciousness questions

Postby cooran » Thu Dec 17, 2009 7:36 pm

Hello LE, all,

Is anything in this thread of assistance?:

cittanupassana
viewtopic.php?f=17&t=2856

metta
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Re: Consciousness questions

Postby cooran » Thu Dec 17, 2009 8:11 pm

Hello LE,

This is from Buddhanet.net:

Analysis of Consciousness
We read in the 'Questions of King Milinda'; "A difficult feat indeed was accomplished, O great King, by the Exalted One" -- "Which was that difficult feat, O venerable Nagasena?" - "The Exalted One, O king, has accomplished a difficult task when he analysed a mental process having a single object as consisting of consciousness with its concomitants, as follows: 'This is sense-impression, this is feeling, perception, volition, consciousness." - "Give an illustration of it, venerable sir" - "Suppose, O king, a man has gone to the sea by boat and takes with the hollow of his hand a little sea water and tastes it. Will this man know, 'This is water from the Ganges, this is water from such other rivers as Jamuna, Aciravati etc.?" - "He can hardly know that." - "But a still more difficult task, O king, was accomplished by the Exalted One when he analysed a mental process having a single object, as consisting of consciousness with its concomitants."
http://www.buddhanet.net/abhidh05.htm

metta
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---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
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Re: Consciousness questions

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Dec 18, 2009 12:28 am

Greetings Lazyeye,

On the matter of consciousness, I recommend checking out Bhikkhu Nanananda's...

Nibbāna Sermon 7
http://www.beyondthenet.net/calm/nibbana07.htm

An extract...

The point we wish to stress is that consciousness has in it the nature of reflect­ing something, like a mirror.

Now vi¤¤àõaü anidassanaü 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 nàma-råpa, or name-and-form. An ordinary individual sees a nàma-råpa, 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.

We have already mentioned in previous sermons about the estab­lished consciousness and the unestablished conscious­ness.[ix] A non-ara­hant's consciousness is established on name-and-form. The unestablished consciousness is that which is free from name-and-form and is unestablished on name-and-form. The established con­sciousness, upon reflection, reflects name-and-form, on which it is established, whereas the unestablished consciousness does not find a name-and-form as a reality. The arahant has no attachments or en­tanglements in regard to name-and-form. In short, it is a sort of pene­tration of name-and-form, without getting entangled in it. This is how we have to un­ravel the meaning of the expression anidassana vi¤¤àõa.


But all his sermons string in to other another so you may also want to go backwards or forwards a bit too.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Consciousness questions

Postby Lazy_eye » Fri Dec 18, 2009 5:22 pm

Thanks Chris and Retro. I'll read the material and see if I have any follow-up questions. Appreciate the help.
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Re: Consciousness questions

Postby Rhino » Fri Dec 18, 2009 6:28 pm

With best wishes

Only in a vertical view, straight down into the abyss of his own personal existence, is a man capable of apprehending the perilous insecurity of his situation; and only a man who does apprehend this is prepared to listen to the Buddha's Teaching.
Nanavira Thera - Notes on Dhamma
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