I read the following on the internet:

No consciousness as "real thing". The cessation of ignorance means that the illusory nature of all "real things" is realized.

Yet when the Pali suttas describe liberation of mind (citta), this includes liberated consciousness, as follows:

If a monk abandons passion for the property of consciousness, then owing to the abandonment of passion, the support is cut off, and there is no landing of consciousness. Consciousness, thus not having landed, not increasing, not concocting, is released. Owing to its release, it is steady. Owing to its steadiness, it is contented. Owing to its contentment, it is not agitated. Not agitated, he (the monk) is totally unbound right within. He discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'

Upaya Sutta

Since the Pali suttas describe the destruction of craving or passion as liberation & Nibbana, is it necessary to view consciousness as 'no consciousness' or 'not a real thing' for liberation?

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  • OK. I hear you. I will try to make this the last one since it is so important to distinguish between impermanence & function. In SN 22.79 names things based on their function. Vedana is feeling because its feels. Vedana does not exist apart from when it feels. Vedana will always be feeling. Vedana can never be 'no feeling' just because it has causes. If everything was negated there would be no truth, no reality, no coherence, no lawfulness, no dhamma, nothing. Even nothing would not be nothing. I have observed conscious for many years. Despite its disappearance, it keep coming back to cognise. – Dhammadhatu Aug 16 '17 at 17:03
  • Really? Both, mind (citta) and feeling (cetasikas) are paramattha-dhammās, since evident as long as there is an idea of self. What about questioning ideas, futureal as a way to get in touch with many, even to gain the base for real release. Ignoring and denying is no way to release. – Samana Johann Feb 12 '18 at 17:09

The Pali suttas define 'consciousness' as 'cognition', as follows:

'Consciousness, consciousness': Thus is it said. To what extent, friend, is it said to be 'consciousness'?

'It cognizes, it cognizes': Thus, friend, it is said to be 'consciousness.' And what does it cognize? It cognizes 'pleasant.' It cognizes 'painful.' It cognizes 'neither painful nor pleasant.' 'It cognizes, it cognizes': Thus it is said to be 'consciousness.'

MN 43

Further, the Pali suttas state consciousness & wisdom (panna) are co-joined, as follows:

Discernment & consciousness are conjoined, friend, 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. Therefore these qualities are conjoined, not disjoined, and it is not possible, having separated them one from another, to delineate the difference between them.

MN 43

The Pali suttas also state consciousness is impermanent, namely, it arises, functions & ceases when the sense organs arise, function & cease, as follows:

If anyone were to say, 'The eye is the self,' that wouldn't be tenable. The arising & falling away of the eye are discerned. And when its arising & falling away are discerned, it would follow that 'My self arises & falls away.' That's why it wouldn't be tenable if anyone were to say, 'The eye is the self.' So the eye is not-self. If anyone were to say, 'Forms are the self,' that wouldn't be tenable... Thus the eye is not-self and forms are not-self. If anyone were to say, 'Consciousness at the eye is the self,' that wouldn't be tenable. The arising & falling away of eye consciousness is discerned.

MN 148

Therefore, every time consciousness functions, it is "real consciousness" because it performs the function of 'cognizing'. It does not not-cognize, it does not digest food, it does not walk, it does not speak. Consciousness only cognizes & discerns, which is why it is real consciousness.

The fact that the arising, existence & functioning of consciousness is dependent on causes & conditions, such as a mind & body (nama-rupa), sense organs & sense objects does not make consciousness not a real thing. Consciousness is a real thing because its reality is it cognizes and the only thing it does or is is cognising.

Importantly, real consciousness is an essential requirement for real wisdom or real insight. Therefore, real consciousness or real cognizing does not bring suffering. Instead, real consciousness brings true enlightenment.

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