Intensity of Objects-Abhidhamma

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Intensity of Objects-Abhidhamma

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Sat Jan 24, 2009 4:05 pm

According to the following description of the manner in which objects enter our mind-door, is it conceivable that we see things but don't see them at times? If the vibration is too subtle would objects be recognized by eye-consciousness not pass through the thought or retention door?

Thanks,
Drolma

The five sense-objects enter the avenue of five sense doors at the static stage when one or several thought moments have passed.

Hence the thought-process (4) runs as follows: -

Suppose a visible object which has passed one instant (i) enters the avenue of eye. Then the bhavanga-consciousness vibrates for one moment and perishes, (ii, iii) arresting the bhavanga stream. Subsequently the five-door apprehending consciousness (iv) arises and ceases apprehending that very visible object.

Thereafter the following thought-moments arise and cease in order -

(v) eye-consciousness seeing that very form,

(vi) recipient consciousness receiving it,

(vii) investigating consciousness investigating it,

(viii) determining consciousness determining it.

Then any one of the 29 kinds of sense-sphere javanas, thus causally conditioned, runs mostly for seven moments (ix - xv).

Following the javanas two retentive resultants (xvi, xvii) arise accordingly. Finally comes the subsidence into the bhavanga.

Thus far seventeen thought-moments are complete, namely,

fourteen 'thought-arisings' (cittuppāda)

two vibrations of bhavanga, and

one thought-moment that passed at t he inception.

Then the object ceases.

Such an object is termed 'very great.' (See pp. 231, 232.)



That object which enters the avenue of sense, having passed (a few moments) and is not able to survive till the arising of the retentive thought-moments, is termed 'great. '

That object which enters the avenue of sense, having passed (a few moments) and is not able to survive even till - the arising of the javanas, is termed 'slight.'

In that case even the javanas do not arise, but only the determining consciousness lasts for two or three moments and then there is subsidence into bhavanga.

That object which is about to cease and which enters the avenue of sense, having passed a few moments and is not able to survive till the arising of determining consciousness, is termed 'very slight.'

In that case there is merely a vibration of the bhavanga, but no genesis of a thought-process.

As the eye-door so is in the ear-door etc.

In all the five doors, the fourfold presentation of objects should be understood, in due order, in the four ways, known as -

1. the course (ending with) retention.

2. the course (ending with) javana.

3. the course (ending with) determining, and

4. the futile course.

§ 4. There are seven modes* and fourteen different types of consciousness in the thought-process. In detail there are accordingly 54** in the five doors.

Herein this is the method of thought-process in the five sense-doors.
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Re: Intensity of Objects-Abhidhamma

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Feb 15, 2009 8:03 am

Greetings Drolma,

That's a very detailed question! I'm going to move this to the Abhidhamma forum for you in the hope of getting you a response. :popcorn:

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Retro. :)
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Re: Intensity of Objects-Abhidhamma

Postby Ben » Sun Feb 15, 2009 8:41 am

Hi Drolma

It would be helpful to know what text are you quoting from.
Metta

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Re: Intensity of Objects-Abhidhamma

Postby cooran » Sun Feb 15, 2009 9:17 am

Hello Retro, Ben,

It is in Abhidhammattha-Sangaha CHAPTER IV - Analysis of Thought-Processes
Scroll down to Thought Processes section
http://www.abhidhamonline.org/Chapter1- ... es/ch4.htm

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Re: Intensity of Objects-Abhidhamma

Postby Ben » Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:10 am

Thanks Chris

I thought it looked familiar but I wasn't sure before I began transcribing Narada Thera's and Bhikkhu Bodhi's notes on the section which might be the first port of call to help unravel this section of the Abhidhammatthasangaha.
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Re: Intensity of Objects-Abhidhamma

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Sun Feb 15, 2009 10:24 pm

Chris wrote:Hello Retro, Ben,

It is in Abhidhammattha-Sangaha CHAPTER IV - Analysis of Thought-Processes
Scroll down to Thought Processes section
http://www.abhidhamonline.org/Chapter1- ... es/ch4.htm

metta
Chris


Thank you Chris, I'd neglected this thread :namaste:
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Re: Intensity of Objects-Abhidhamma

Postby nathan » Tue Feb 17, 2009 7:42 am

Drolma wrote:According to the following description of the manner in which objects enter our mind-door, is it conceivable that we see things but don't see them at times? If the vibration is too subtle would objects be recognized by eye-consciousness not pass through the thought or retention door?

Thanks,
Drolma

Based on this, it seems conceivable. Based on direct investigation, it does appear so under various conditions.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Intensity of Objects-Abhidhamma

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Tue Feb 17, 2009 7:47 am

From the same source:

4. Thought-processes

According to Abhidhamma ordinarily there is no moment when we do not experience a particular kind of consciousness, hanging on to some object - whether physical of mental. The time-limit of such a consciousness is termed one thought-moment. The rapidity of the succession of such thought-moments is hardly conceivable by the ken of human knowledge. Books state that within the brief duration of a flash of lightning, or in the twinkling of an eye billions of thought-moments may arise and perish.

Each thought-moment consists of three minor instants (khanas). They are uppáda (arising or genesis), thiti (static or development), and bhanga (cessation or dissolution).

Birth, decay, and death* correspond to these three states. The interval between birth and death is regarded as decay.

Immediately after the cessation stage of a thought-moment there results the genesis stage of the subsequent thought-moment. Thus each unit of consciousness perishes conditioning another, transmitting at the same time all its potentialities to its successor. There is, therefore, a continuous flow of consciousness like a stream without any interruption.



[*These three stages correspond to the Hindu view of Brahma (Creator). Vishnu (Preserver) and Siva (Destroyer).]



When a material object is presented to the mind through one of the five sense-doors, a thought-process occurs, consisting of a series of separate thought-moments leading one to the other in a particular, uniform order. This order is known as the citta-niyáma (psychic order). As a rule for a complete perception of a physical object through one of the sense-doors precisely 17 thought-moments must pass. As such the time duration of matter is fixed at 17 thought-moments. After the expiration of that time-limit, one fundamental unit of matter perishes giving birth to another unit. The first moment is regarded as the genesis (uppáda), the last as dissolution (bhanga), and the interval 15 moments as decay or development (thiti or jará).

As a rule when an object enters the consciousness through any of the doors one moment of the life-continuum elapses. This is known as atíta-bhavanga. Then the corresponding thought-process runs uninterruptedly for 16 thought-moments. The object thus presented is regarded as 'very great.'

If the thought-process ceases at the expiration of javanas without giving rise to two retentive moments (tadálambana), thus completing only 14 moments, then the object is called 'great'.

Sometimes the thought-process ceases at the moment of determining (votthapana) without giving rise to the javanas, completing only 7 thought-moments Then the object is termed 'slight.'

At times when an object enters the consciousness there is merely a vibration of the life-continuum. Then the object is termed 'very slight.'

When a so-called 'very great' or 'great' object perceived through the five sense-doors, is subsequently conceived by the mind-door, or when a thought process arising through the mind-door extends up to the retentive stage, then the object is regarded as 'clear'.

When a thought process, arising through the mind-door, ceases at the javana stage, the object is termed 'obscure'.

When, for instance, a person looks at the radiant moon on a cloudless night, he gets a faint glimpse of the surrounding stars as well. He focuses his attention on the moon, but he cannot avoid the sight of stars around. The moon is regarded as a great object, while the stars are regarded as minor objects. Both moon and stars are perceived by the mind at different moments. According to Abhidhamma it is not correct to say that the stars are perceived by the sub-consciousness and the moon by the consciousness.


Does this indicate that we have thoughts which do not contain vibrations strong enough to make it through the sense doors? If we look at the moon but the awareness (or sight or thought) of the stars are too subtle, are we seeing but not really seeing?

Is it a fair conclusion that we may "see" things or "think" things that are not strong [great] enough to make it to our awareness?

Thank you :smile:
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Re: Intensity of Objects-Abhidhamma

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Tue Feb 17, 2009 7:47 am

nathan wrote:
Drolma wrote:According to the following description of the manner in which objects enter our mind-door, is it conceivable that we see things but don't see them at times? If the vibration is too subtle would objects be recognized by eye-consciousness not pass through the thought or retention door?

Thanks,
Drolma

Based on this, it seems conceivable. Based on direct investigation, it does appear so under various conditions.


Thank you nathan :smile: We posted at the same time.
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Re: Intensity of Objects-Abhidhamma

Postby nathan » Tue Feb 17, 2009 7:56 am

Drolma wrote:From the same source:

Does this indicate that we have thoughts which do not contain vibrations strong enough to make it through the sense doors? If we look at the moon but the awareness (or sight or thought) of the stars are too subtle, are we seeing but not really seeing?

Is it a fair conclusion that we may "see" things or "think" things that are not strong [great] enough to make it to our awareness?

Thank you :smile:
Yes, certainly. Investigate and you will note this. Consciousness makes one contact after another, ordinarily with great fluidity and invariably with great rapidity. Therefore, most of what the senses convey cannot be made the subject of conscious contact. What the body, etc. makes of these contacts is again another issue but it is again subject to various limits of the functions of the body, of feeling and of the senses, etc.. The consciousness aggregate is the most flexible, rapid and fluid aggregate and so it has great capacities but functions always by means of a brief series of very brief contacts and so there are definite limits for the functionality of consciousness simply because it operates on this basis.

That said, I don't consider myself remotely qualified to comment on Abhidhamma at all. The question appeared generally approachable from the point of view of a meditator and I answer from that perspective, somewhat informed by Abhidhamma but by no means comprehensively or authoritatively. I hope it is helpful.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Intensity of Objects-Abhidhamma

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Tue Feb 17, 2009 8:10 am

nathan wrote:
Drolma wrote:From the same source:

Does this indicate that we have thoughts which do not contain vibrations strong enough to make it through the sense doors? If we look at the moon but the awareness (or sight or thought) of the stars are too subtle, are we seeing but not really seeing?

Is it a fair conclusion that we may "see" things or "think" things that are not strong [great] enough to make it to our awareness?

Thank you :smile:
Yes, certainly. Investigate and you will note this. Consciousness makes one contact after another, ordinarily with great fluidity and invariably with great rapidity. Therefore, most of what the senses convey cannot be made the subject of conscious contact. What the body, etc. makes of these contacts is again another issue but it is again subject to various limits of the functions of the body, of feeling and of the senses, etc.. The consciousness aggregate is the most flexible, rapid and fluid aggregate and so it has great capacities but functions always by means of a brief series of very brief contacts and so there are definite limits for the functionality of consciousness simply because it operates on this basis.

That said, I don't consider myself remotely qualified to comment on Abhidhamma at all. The question appeared generally approachable from the point of view of a meditator and I answer from that perspective, somewhat informed by Abhidhamma but by no means comprehensively or authoritatively. I hope it is helpful.


Fascinating! It seems from what you wrote and the quote I posted above that the mind-form contacts are so extremely rapid. To rapid for us to know. It makes me so curious about what we're missing in our unawareness, or inability to catch up with all this rapid processing. And all the contacts that are too subtle.

Thanks you nathan _/\_
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Re: Intensity of Objects-Abhidhamma

Postby nathan » Tue Feb 17, 2009 9:58 pm

Drolma wrote:
nathan wrote:
Drolma wrote:From the same source:

Does this indicate that we have thoughts which do not contain vibrations strong enough to make it through the sense doors? If we look at the moon but the awareness (or sight or thought) of the stars are too subtle, are we seeing but not really seeing?

Is it a fair conclusion that we may "see" things or "think" things that are not strong [great] enough to make it to our awareness?

Thank you :smile:
Yes, certainly. Investigate and you will note this. Consciousness makes one contact after another, ordinarily with great fluidity and invariably with great rapidity. Therefore, most of what the senses convey cannot be made the subject of conscious contact. What the body, etc. makes of these contacts is again another issue but it is again subject to various limits of the functions of the body, of feeling and of the senses, etc.. The consciousness aggregate is the most flexible, rapid and fluid aggregate and so it has great capacities but functions always by means of a brief series of very brief contacts and so there are definite limits for the functionality of consciousness simply because it operates on this basis.

That said, I don't consider myself remotely qualified to comment on Abhidhamma at all. The question appeared generally approachable from the point of view of a meditator and I answer from that perspective, somewhat informed by Abhidhamma but by no means comprehensively or authoritatively. I hope it is helpful.


Fascinating! It seems from what you wrote and the quote I posted above that the mind-form contacts are so extremely rapid. To rapid for us to know. It makes me so curious about what we're missing in our unawareness, or inability to catch up with all this rapid processing. And all the contacts that are too subtle.

Thanks you nathan _/\_
Yes, rapid, no, not to rapid to be known. This is where vipassana comes in. Once the mind is steadied in access concentration one continues noting the arising and disappearing of consciousness. Continuing on in this way one notes with increasing precision and eventually the arisings and disappearings become apparent. It can then be seen that consciousness makes one contact after another and that each of these sense impressions in turn results in one or another kinds of other contacts with the aggregates and so on. It is not the kind of perception that we ordinarily employ in our day to day lives. In order to develop this kind of insight one minimizes the sensory inputs and focuses on the point of contact between mind and body or the feeling aggregate and maintains this practice with consistency for a long time, weeks or months, until it is sufficiently refined to make these observations. It requires a lot of energy and skill to get that far but then one is not far from also arriving at a full cessation of the clinging of consciousness to itself and the other aggregates and having an initial realization of the nature of things as they are, which is well worth all of that previous effort.

We can do a lot of more mundane kinds of experiments to observe the everyday limitations of the senses and of conscious perception and conception if we look into some of what clinical medicine and the life science's in general have found along these lines.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Intensity of Objects-Abhidhamma

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Tue Feb 17, 2009 11:04 pm

Wow!! Thanks so much :smile:
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Re: Intensity of Objects-Abhidhamma

Postby robertk » Wed Feb 18, 2009 4:05 am

nathan wrote:
. This is where vipassana comes in. Once the mind is steadied in access concentration one continues noting the arising and disappearing of consciousness. Continuing on in this way one notes with increasing precision and eventually the arisings and disappearings become apparent. It can then be seen that consciousness makes one contact after another and that each of these sense impressions in turn results in one or another kinds of other contacts with the aggregates and so on. It is not the kind of perception that we ordinarily employ in our day to day lives. In order to develop this kind of insight one minimizes the sensory inputs and focuses on the point of contact between mind and body or the feeling aggregate and maintains this practice with consistency for a long time, weeks or months, until it is sufficiently refined to make these observations.

This is so far away from being correct that it should not be put in the Abhidhamma forum- good for Modern Theravada perhaps?
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Re: Intensity of Objects-Abhidhamma

Postby nathan » Wed Feb 18, 2009 4:15 am

robertk wrote:
nathan wrote:
. This is where vipassana comes in. Once the mind is steadied in access concentration one continues noting the arising and disappearing of consciousness. Continuing on in this way one notes with increasing precision and eventually the arisings and disappearings become apparent. It can then be seen that consciousness makes one contact after another and that each of these sense impressions in turn results in one or another kinds of other contacts with the aggregates and so on. It is not the kind of perception that we ordinarily employ in our day to day lives. In order to develop this kind of insight one minimizes the sensory inputs and focuses on the point of contact between mind and body or the feeling aggregate and maintains this practice with consistency for a long time, weeks or months, until it is sufficiently refined to make these observations.

This is so far away from being correct that it should not be put in the Abhidhamma forum- good for Modern Theravada perhaps?
Well perhaps you will do us the good turn of correcting it. As I am sure you can see, the thread did not originate here nor did it receive any qualified 'abhidhammic' answer. Perhaps you can rectify that. Short of that, I will reply in kind. No, you are all wrong, about everything. How's that play out for you?
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Intensity of Objects-Abhidhamma

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Feb 18, 2009 4:20 am

Hi Robert,
robertk wrote:This is so far away from being correct that it should not be put in the Abhidhamma forum- good for Modern Theravada perhaps?

It would be helpful to some of us if you could explain how you see such descriptions as deviating from the Abhidhamma. Is it that the description of the arising of consciousness is imprecise, or is it that you don't think that it is possible to actually observe the arising?

Metta
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Re: Intensity of Objects-Abhidhamma

Postby nathan » Sat Feb 21, 2009 1:37 pm

Actually, I apologize robertk. I think in terms of the guidelines you are right. It is not a good post. I had hoped my feedback on the Ref. and the question in the OP would get the ball rolling towards either a correction of my comment based on correct abhidhamma interpretation or at least the reformulation of the comment on that basis. I have already said I do not think I am capable of competently taking that approach and so I usually don't post in abhidhamma forums. I will continue reading out of appreciation for those who can. So, please someone, provide the correct answer in this context.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Intensity of Objects-Abhidhamma

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Sat Feb 21, 2009 8:35 pm

nathan wrote:Actually, I apologize robertk. I think in terms of the guidelines you are right. It is not a good post. I had hoped my feedback on the Ref. and the question in the OP would get the ball rolling towards either a correction of my comment based on correct abhidhamma interpretation or at least the reformulation of the comment on that basis. I have already said I do not think I am capable of competently taking that approach and so I usually don't post in abhidhamma forums. I will continue reading out of appreciation for those who can. So, please someone, provide the correct answer in this context.


Thanks for trying to stimulate some interest :hug:

Maybe I just find weird things interesting.

:namaste:
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Re: Intensity of Objects-Abhidhamma

Postby nathan » Sun Feb 22, 2009 7:13 am

Drolma wrote:
nathan wrote:Actually, I apologize robertk. I think in terms of the guidelines you are right. It is not a good post. I had hoped my feedback on the Ref. and the question in the OP would get the ball rolling towards either a correction of my comment based on correct abhidhamma interpretation or at least the reformulation of the comment on that basis. I have already said I do not think I am capable of competently taking that approach and so I usually don't post in abhidhamma forums. I will continue reading out of appreciation for those who can. So, please someone, provide the correct answer in this context.


Thanks for trying to stimulate some interest :hug:

Maybe I just find weird things interesting.

:namaste:
Hey, no sweat. Interesting question. It would be great if someone could give us a more precise answer to it. Since there is no post that presents any real difference of opinion. Since it is my sincere, honest, and best answer, and we need only acknowledge that it is based on insight and not on the discrete analysis of the textual version of all of this minutia. Until we hear otherwise, I don't see why we can't just go with this for now. It is a serviceable interpretation, if you care to examine the minutia for yourself and then compare it to the text. Maybe you can later put it all together both ways and post it then. They seem pretty close to me although sometimes I don't yet grasp why one thing will get more emphasis and another will get less in abhidhamma, I am sure it can all make sense in both ways at some point. Otherwise they couldn't have laid it all out like this in the first place, right? 'Til next time. :toast:
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Intensity of Objects-Abhidhamma

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Sun Feb 22, 2009 10:08 pm

Sounds good to me nathan! I'll continue my investigation and reflection :toast:
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