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It's been discussed in all perspectives that the Buddha was teaching about not-Self (Anatta) in this forum. However, it taught that one should empty the Mind (Citta) to realize Anatta, or Sunyata, in Dhyana (Jhana). If this mind is already not-Self, why it needs to be emptied and what is to be emptied? If this mind is also not-Self, how does it have the autonomy/independence to realize/discern Emptiness? If this mind is Self, how can it realize not-Self? If this mind is not-Self, who controls/owns the Five Aggregations and intellect? Who/what is this mind?

  • It is like saying I have this 'bucket'. What is in the bucket is not mind, so I empty it. Once empty, I can clearly see that the bucket is not mind either. At that point, I have a choice: I can go on seeking the mind under every rock and rainbow, or I can get on with helping others and enjoying what life gives me with no asking or seeking necessary. – user2341 Sep 11 '17 at 13:06
  • @nocomprende seeking the mind... from Lotus Sutra there a metaphor about a rich turned poor man wandering for making a living but didn't realize he has a precious wishing-gem sewn inside his worn-out jacket ~ – Mishu 米殊 Sep 11 '17 at 16:27
  • I wish I had one of those, and I wish I would realize it before it is too late! – user2341 Sep 22 '17 at 12:21
  • me too! @nocomprende – Mishu 米殊 Sep 24 '17 at 7:01
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1. If this mind is already not-Self, why it needs to be emptied and what is to be emptied?

The mind is only 'not-self' from the viewpoint of enlightenment & truth. But for the unenlightened mind, the mind is 'self' because of ignorance ('blindness').

The mind is ideally 'emptied' so it can see clearly, similar to cleaning a window or mirror. It is emptied of the pollutants that obscure clear seeing, similar to a window or mirror cleaned from dust.

The Pali scriptures describe this in the Sangaravo Sutta.

Imagine, Brahman, a bowl of water mixed with lac, turmeric, dark green or crimson dye. If a man with good eyesight were to look at the reflection of his own face in it, he would not know or see it as it really was. In the same way, Brahman, when a man dwells with his heart possessed and overwhelmed by sense-desires... then he cannot know or see, as it really is, what is to his own profit, to the profit of others, to the profit of both. Then even sacred words he has long studied are not clear to him, not to mention those he has not studied. Sangaravo Sutta



2. If this mind is also not-Self, how does it have the autonomy/independence to realize/discern Emptiness?

The mind has a wisdom faculty to discern emptiness. It is not possible to explain how or why this can occur. The Pali suttas simply say:

Discernment (wisdom/panna) & consciousness are conjoined, not disjoined. It's not possible, having separated them one from the other, to delineate the difference between them. For what one discerns, that one cognizes. What one cognizes, that one discerns. Mahavedalla Sutta

Jesus Christ said:

If the flesh came into being because of spirit (consciousness), that is a wonder. But if spirit came into being because of the body, that is the wonder of wonders. Yet I marvel at how this great wealth has come to dwell in this poverty.

Gospel of Thomas



3. If this mind is Self, how can it realize not-Self?

The citta is not a self. It is impermanent. It is not-self. To quote:

"All things are not-self". Dhammapada 279.


It would be better for the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person to hold to the body composed of the four great elements, rather than the mind, as the self. Why is that? Because this body composed of the four great elements is seen standing for a year, two years, three, four, five, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, a hundred years or more. But what's called 'mind (citta),' 'intellect (mano)' or 'consciousness' (vinanna) by day and by night arises as one thing and ceases as another. Assutavā Sutta



4. If this mind is not-Self, who controls/owns the Five Aggregations and intellect? Who/what is this mind?

Nothing owns or ultimately controls the five aggregates, as was explained at the start of the Buddha's 2nd sermon. However, the mind itself, via enlightenment, can control its mental formations (sankhara) while the mind is alive.

SN 12.12 states there is no "who" that is conscious. The idea of "who" arises later at clinging & "becoming":

"Who, O Lord, has a sense-impression?"

"The question is not correct," said the Exalted One.

"I do not say that 'he has a sense-impression.'...the correct way to ask the question will be 'What is the condition of sense-impression?' And to that the correct reply is: 'The sixfold sense-base is a condition of sense-impression, and sense-impression is the condition of feeling.'"

"Who, O Lord, feels?"

"The question is not correct," said the Exalted One....the correct way to ask the question will be 'What is the condition of feeling?' And to that the correct reply is: 'sense-impression is the condition of feeling; and feeling is the condition of craving.'"

"Who, O Lord, craves?"

"The question is not correct," said the Exalted One. "I do not say that 'he craves.'...the correct way to ask the question will be 'What is the condition of craving?' And to that the correct reply is: 'Feeling is the condition of craving, and craving is the condition of clinging.'"

"Who, O Lord, clings?"

"The question is not correct," said the Exalted One, "I do not say that 'he clings.' Had I said so, then the question 'Who clings?' would be appropriate. But since I did not speak thus, the correct way to ask the question will be 'What is the condition of clinging?' And to that the correct reply is: 'Craving is the condition of clinging; and clinging is the condition of the process of becoming.' Such is the origin of this entire mass of suffering.

As previously said, the mental faculties are named according to their functions:

And why, bhikkhus, do you call it feeling? ‘It feels,’ bhikkhus, therefore it is called feeling.

And why, bhikkhus, do you call it perception? ‘It perceives,’ bhikkhus,therefore it is called perception.

And why, bhikkhus, do you call it formation/construct? ‘They construct the constructions,’ bhikkhus, therefore they are called formations.

And why, bhikkhus, do you call it consciousness? ‘It cognizes, ’ bhikkhus, therefore it is called consciousness.

SN 22.79

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – ChrisW Sep 23 '17 at 3:57
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Mind is a non living thing same as any object like a book or stone, it does not have its own existence, it is getting pran from soul. For example these trees and plants does not have soul, but there is one mind in earth. As Buddha says "Experience it, don't believe anything". So we are supposed to observe pran and chitta and then they are supposed to be mixed and become one.

  • It all f**ks up for English has one term for all Citta, Vijnana... etc. - called Mind – Mishu 米殊 Feb 5 '17 at 11:36
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    Sanskrit is vast, in fact English language produces least type of sounds, that is why native English speaker faces lot of trouble pronouncing Sanskrit or other vast language. – Rishi Feb 6 '17 at 4:49
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And going further, he reviews bones covered with skin, flesh and blood, and he knows the unbroken stream of consciousness as established in this world and established in the next.

...

Sampasadanīya Sutta (Quoted from Piya Tan's Translation of DN 28)

In intermediate stages of meditation is seems like consciousness is continuous and you will feel there is a permanent observer. If it is continuous then it can be considered self by some meditations. This maybe a mistake quite a few meditators would fall into hence the explicit mention. But as your meditation deepens this you realise that consciousness is also not unbroken, i.e., it is broken, hence it is not / non self1:

And going further, he reviews bones covered with skin, flesh and blood, and he knows the unbroken stream of consciousness as both unestablished in this world and unestablished in the next.

Sampasadanīya Sutta

Though the above deals with viññāṇa it is applicable to Citta also. That is, if Citta is discontinuous in this life than it is not self. It not self that if you mind is in a pleasant mental state you cannot prolong it. It comes to an end what when that happens it deals to unpleasantness. When pleasantness changes it is unpleasant. [Cūla Vedalla Sutta] Whatever, unsatisfactory is not self.

The mind partly controls the body. This is not absolute. By thinking I will transform back you my x year body you cannot. By thinking I will not age any more you cannot stop it. There are a lot of areas the mind has no control on what it can do hence it is not self.

Also following might be of interest for additional references: Sutta references which Discuss Self and Not Self under Different Contexts


1 Out of the 5 aggregates Consciousness is the last of what you see as the Three marks of existence

Craving arises at any of the six viññāṇas of the sense doors. As a description of mind, the four aggregates of viññāṇa, saññā, vedanā, and saṅkhāra generally suffice. Deeper Vipassana separates them. Before that stage is reached however, philosophies start because, despite the experience of arising and passing, the observer—which is viññāṇa—seems to remain and it is not divided or dissected. It is viewed as eternal soul: je viññāya te āya ye āya te viññāya (Whatever is viññāṇa is soul and whatever is soul is viññāṇa). However at a deeper level it does become separated: eye viññāṇa cannot hear, ear viññāṇa cannot see, any or all of these viññāṇas can stop, and when mind viññāṇa also stops, nibbāna comes.

Source: Discourses on Satipatthana Sutta - S. N. Goenka


1) "unbroken/broken consciousness", is the consciousness the mind, the observer, or both are minds?

While you cannot see impermanence in consciousness you feel there is a soul as the observer. Until you see consciousness as impermanent you feel there is a soul.

The easiest part to see impermanence is the body as it is subjected to: pain disease, aging, etc.

It is harder to see arising and passing of the mind. Though as you progress you see parts of the 5 Aggregates making up the mind also as arising as passing. In my opinion the 1st would be sensation and the as the suttas last would be consciousness. Perception and Fabrication it will be difficult to say what order. As far as I know, sutta source only mention consciousness is last, it does not say about body is 1st, but this is something I inferred. But nevertheless when you see consciousness arising and passing you see there no part of the mind which is permanent.

In another way you might see selfhood in external (mine, god controlling soul), body and mind. As our understanding expands the sphere of selfhood contracts to body and mind (corporeal body), the mind only, parts of the mind final residue being consciousness, and finally there is no self conceiving at all. This is gradual.

2) "The mind partly controls the body..." then what is the other part also controlled the body, how do their co-ordinations be achieved? In experimental world we can't control age, not necessarily the mind is incapable, but the mind is partially in function?

  • Mind has some control: you can lift you hand and foot if you want (provided they are functional)
  • Mind has no control: can you stop aging

Above statements together: The mind partly controls the body.

3) "eye viññāṇa cannot hear..." Arahats or "X-man" can have their faculties switched, experiment by one Taiwan Uni. principal, children could be trained to "read" with ears!

It could be very well that this research miss infereded reading with the eye faculty as ear. Sometimes there is fake news on the net. It could be such a instance.

Also if abhiññā is developed then is not the physical eye you see from by and extension of this faculty. You might be able to read something head to the side or back of your head perhaps. This does not mean you are reading from your ears.

modern medicine has developed devices to enable blind patients to see

People are not meant to fly but aeroplanes people do. Likewise you can use a device to achieve something which is not possible. If you use medical technique this is repairing the faculty. To see there should be contact (attention, external contact, working faculty, consciousness). Medical techniques repair the faculty. Even perhaps a blind person may have latent, the eye consciousness. what is missing is the faculty.

  • This is found in one place in the suttas, it is not spoken by the Buddha and the meaning is questionable. Also, the proper translation is "other world" rather than "next world". The "other world" is generally a heavenly world of jhana. – Dhammadhatu Feb 1 '17 at 8:02
  • @Suminda Thanks the info. Many of the above sayings are incomplete. 1) "unbroken/broken consciousness", is the consciousness the mind, the observer, or both are minds? 2) "The mind partly controls the body..." then what is the other part also controlled the body, how do their co-ordinations be achieved? In experimental world we can't control age, not necessarily the mind is incapable, but the mind is partially in function? 3) "eye viññāṇa cannot hear..." Arahats or "X-man" can have their faculties switched, experiment by one Taiwan Uni. principal, children could be trained to "read" with ears! – Mishu 米殊 Feb 2 '17 at 4:49
  • @Suminda Thanks the edits. I put into skeptics of S. N. Goenka, having not really studying his works, I keep silent. But point to emphasize, "Sometimes there is fake news on the net..." without wrestling this "news" its authenticity, modern medicine has developed devices to enable blind patients to see with ears[link]rebuildyourvision.com/blog/vision-news/…, and more on BBC which I forget where, watched long ago. – Mishu 米殊 Feb 2 '17 at 6:15
  • Wonderful, comprehensive answer! Thank you for this effort. – user2341 Sep 11 '17 at 13:00
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 Is the Mind the Self? If not, what is it?  

It's a delusion of mind.

why it needs to be emptied 

Because it's the cause of suffering.

How does it(Mind) have the autonomy/independence to realize/discern Emptiness?  

By developing a new faculty called wisdom to realize Anatta or Sunyata, but not emptying the mind.

Who controls/owns the Five Aggregations and intellect? 

Craving ( delusion/moha/avijja) takes five aggregates as a self.

Who/what is this mind?

Not Me(or i), but it arises from six-sense faculty, when ignorance is.


Story:
While crossing the stream on a plank over it, a dog looks down into the water. Seeing a dog there, it either wags its tail in a friendly way or growls angrily. Or else out of curiosity it keeps on looking down again and again. Due to wrong attention it doesn’t understand what really happens.
The dog thinks that it is looking because it sees. But the truth of the matter is that it sees because it looks. Every time it looks it sees a dog. Consciousness has such a delusive magical quality about it. This is because consciousness has the property of reflecting something.

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    wow, almost the best answer so far, thank you; except not sure with the last 3. i like the story, i do get something out of it, esp. "consciousness has the property of reflecting something". – Mishu 米殊 Feb 13 '17 at 6:09
  • @Bhumishu米殊 welcome!. the story is equate from Ven. K.Gannananda – Shrawaka Feb 15 '17 at 13:56
  • At night, the mirror does not reflect anything. – user2341 Sep 11 '17 at 12:57

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