1

In the following excerpt from the book Yoga Sutras by Edwin Bryant, the author is arguing that the fundamental difference between Buddhist and Hindu philosophy is that Buddhists believe that when 'all the objects of consciousness are removed, consciousness vanishes'

from yoga sutras about consciousness

I think it is wrong. When we leave all the objects of consciousness and enter in the first Jhnana then we are not conscious of any - 'sense-object' but we are conscious nonetheless otherwise it will be like sleeping or unconscious.

Also there is a plane of 'infinity of consciousness' which is the 3rd Jhnana so we are experiencing something that is infinite, so there is a human experience so consciousness is there.

  • So is the author right or wrong?

  • What is the Buddhist take about the existence of consciousness apart from human brain?

  • Does the Consciousness exist in the universe apart from living beings? (IMO even if that exists that does not contradict with Annatta.. So we have space for Idealism.

Small Edit: I am trying to defend the position of 'monistic idealism' within the framework of Buddhism. Also, check this paper

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – ChrisW Sep 4 '18 at 14:28
2

According to Buddhism does the Consciousness vanish when the objects of consciousness are removed?

There are different types of consciousness, or different things which are all translated as "consciousness".

I gather from answers and comments to this question that:

  • There are five sense-consciousness (e.g. eye-consciousness) which arise when there's a sense-object and attention
  • There's a sixth, analogous to the five, where the mind becomes conscious of thoughts (like the eye becomes conscious of sights)

Later forms of Buddhism posit two further consciousness (see e.g. Eight Consciousnesses). I suspect that early Buddhism might do something similar but perhaps using different names -- my (poor) understanding is that the function of the (early) sankhara aggregate might be similar to the function of the (later) ālāya vijñāna consciousness.

So is the author right or wrong?

I think he's right that there's no sense-consciousness when there's no sense-object.

Wrong in that there are longer-lived aspects of the mind.

Also I think that the (or a) difference between Buddhism and Hinduism is that consciousness, whether short or long, isn't viewed as "self" or "soul".

What is the Buddhist take about the existence of consciousness apart from human brain?

I don't know, "sentient beings" aren't necessarily human -- they may be animal, ghost, or in a hell or a heaven.

I think that Tibetan Buddhism also posits a Bardo, and existence after death and before the next birth, whereas I think that Theravada assumes that consciousness exists in a body.

Does the Consciousness exist in the universe apart from living beings?

I don't know; that sounds like it might be Hindu "Brahman" -- I don't think it's a feature of the Pali suttas, maybe it's (I don't know) in any of the later doctrines.

Also there's e.g. Brahma (a God), not to be confused with Brahman -- Brahma exists (according to the suttas) -- probably a living being but not a human being, a human body.

  • 'Monistic Idealism' is gaining some ground in mainstream physics, check this article -->blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/… . The Hindu Brahman still has a self, so that position can be easily contested. With the 'universe thing,' I am basically trying to contest the idealist position within the framework of Buddhism. – user13135 Sep 3 '18 at 16:50
  • Sorry, I got the answer but I unaccepted, I think I will take some more point of views. – user13135 Sep 3 '18 at 17:01
  • In the link you provided, Medhini says all five khandas are impermanent, but I think the nature of consciousness is vastly kept unspoken. That which is perceived can be impermanent, that which is perceiving cannot be impermanent as 'quality of change' cannot be ascribed to it. – user13135 Sep 3 '18 at 17:11
  • 1
    I'm a little ignorant of Physics -- I studied Applied Maths, which was not quite the same subject. And, I know nothing of "Monistic Idealism" (your modern doctrine) but I inferred a while ago that monism in general is OK as far as it goes, but is maybe not prescriptive nor falsifiable ... like saying "God", "Tao", "Brahman" are all references to "the One", monad ... but what then? Physicists (Einstein and so on) have been talking about God and consciousness for at least the last 100 years. I don't want to disparage their attainments. The Buddha though was meant to be uniquely capable ... – ChrisW Sep 4 '18 at 10:08
  • 1
    ... able to not only understand "reality" but explain it in a way that's beneficial, understandable, practical. @FriedrickNietzsche – ChrisW Sep 4 '18 at 10:10
1

In abihdhamma (chapter 1-5 for mind&mind factor, chapter 6 for matter&nibbāna, chapter 8 for paṭiccasamuppāda&paññatti):

1 moment can separate to 3 sub-moments: arising, standing, and vanishing (upāda, ṭhiti, bhaṅgha).

1 matter moment = 17 mind/mind factor moments.

Paṭiccasamuppāda = cycle system of matter, mind, and mind factor.

Nibbāna = the opposite side of paṭiccasamuppāda.

Paññatti = imagination of mind&mind factors about paṭiccasamuppāda or nibbāna (everything).

  • So, paññatti has no 3 sub-moments, we can't count it's moment.
  • I.E. you can imagine "I get wings to fly", but it doesn't mean you really get wings. If the wings never get 3 sub-moments, arising/standing/vanishing, it is just imagination, not truth. However, something is imagination bases on truth, such as bird's wings. Because wings are imagination as well, but they base on the matter, which can get 3 sub-moments. So, bird can fly.

The explanation

  1. Most of jhāna object is paññatti. No one can count paññatti-object's moment, because it never arise/standing/vanish.
  2. Another, some jhāna has mind or perception as object. But that object is the past, which already vanished. Mind can know the present object as the present while it is taking a present moment (still in arising, standing, or vanishing state). but for the past or future object, mind can know it as it is unlimited. Similitude as we can see the present passing through car just the moment it is in our vision. But we can think of that passed/coming car, which being out of vision, unlimited.

By both case above, although the object is not present, the mind still can know it.

If mind have to arise depend on only object, we must know everything even when we are sleeping.

1

Life is an ongoing stream of one consciousness appearing and disappearing after the next.

Every moment of consciousness exists of two things: the knowing and the known. Or consciousness and the object of consciousness. It's a one-on-one relationship, so to speak.

It's not:

'all the objects of consciousness are removed, consciousness vanishes'

Each moment of consciousness has one object.

Mind objects (thoughts, memories, images in the mind and so on) appear together and cease together with the accompanying consciousness. Rupa objects 'live' a bit longer: seven mind moments. It's a bit more complex, but for now this will do.

There can only be one consciousness at a time. So, a consciousness has to disappear after appearing, otherwise a new consciousness could not come up.

As mere mortals we can't see every single consciousness cease, but we can, with training, see an object of a consciousness arise together with its accompanying consciousness and cease with it's accompanying consciousness. It's interesting when this happens. You can actually see consciousness cease together with thought, or nose consciousness together with smell. And like all sense consciousnesses mind consciousness with its accompanying mind object can also cease, or all five aggregates simultaneously (nirodha). That one will blow your mind.

I'm not really wild about the idea of an object generating consciousness. They come up together, in dependence (there you have a bit of dependent arising). But object is not always the cause, if memory serves. (Dive into the Abhidhamma for more detail!)

Also: Buddhism holds that the brain and the universe exist in the mind, not the other way around.

The

'infinity of consciousness'

is, I think, also meant the other way around. It's not that we experience something that is infinite. But consciousness itself is infinite.

That's my take on it. Hope it helps.

  • Thank you for the answer but I am going to say what you wrote is your interpretation (sorry :( ). There is a physics/philosophical position called 'monistic idealism' which is gaining grounds. check this work -->bernardokastrup.com . I think within the framework of Buddhism it should be possible to explain that. It means consciousness is there as a ground of existance of matter. Why Buddhist texts dont have that view because saying anything about is wrong, like telling a blind man about light. That's why Buddha didn't said anything about it. – user13135 Sep 3 '18 at 16:59
  • 1
    @Friedrick Except the part where I share experience. That's not an interpretation. ;) – user13579 Sep 3 '18 at 17:01
  • @FriedrickNietzsche Maybe Ajahn Sumedho holds more credibility: essenceofbuddhism.wordpress.com/2014/02/07/… – user13579 Sep 3 '18 at 17:52
  • @Medhini was not questioning your credibility. Sorry if it appeared that ways. – user13135 Sep 4 '18 at 14:00
  • @BodhiWalker No harm done. Maybe credibility is not the correct word anyway. :) – user13579 Sep 5 '18 at 17:02
1

I think it is wrong.

It is is right. What you think is wrong.

When we leave all the objects of consciousness and enter in the first Jhnana then we are not conscious of any - 'sense-object' but we are conscious nonetheless otherwise it will be like sleeping or unconscious.

Your mind has never entered jhana therefore why are you creating a belief system about jhana? Jhana is a sense object; just as Nibbana is a sense object (ayatana; Udana 8.1). The factors of jhanas, such as rapture & happiness, are sense objects.

Also there is a plane of 'infinity of consciousness' which is the 6th Jhnana so we are experiencing something that is infinite, so there is a human experience so consciousness is there.

All jhanas are sense objects.

So is the author right or wrong?

The author is right.

What is the Buddhist take about the existence of consciousness apart from human brain?

SN 22.53; SN 12.67 and MN 38 will answer your questions and show that the author is right.

Does the Consciousness exist in the universe apart from living beings? (IMO even if that exists that does not contradict with Annatta.. So we have space for Idealism

There can be no arising of consciousness without sense organs, sense objects & other aggregates. That is why there is no such thing as reincarnation. Refer to SN 22.53; MN 38; and SN 12.67.

"And to whom, worthless man, do you understand me to have taught the Dhamma like that? Haven't I, in many ways, said of dependently co-arisen consciousness, 'Apart from a requisite condition, there is no coming-into-play of consciousness'? [2] But you, through your own poor grasp, not only slander us but also dig yourself up [by the root] and produce much demerit for yourself. That will lead to your long-term harm & suffering."

Then the Blessed One said to the monks, "What do you think, monks? Is this monk Sāti, the Fisherman's Son, even warm in this Dhamma & Vinaya?"

"How could he be, lord? No, lord."

When this was said, the monk Sāti, the Fisherman's Son, sat silent, abashed, his shoulders drooping, his head down, brooding, at a loss for words.

Then the Blessed One, seeing that the monk Sāti, the Fisherman's Son, was sitting silent, abashed, his shoulders drooping, his head down, brooding, at a loss for words, said to him, "Worthless man, you will be recognized for your own pernicious viewpoint. I will cross-question the monks on this matter."

Then the Blessed One addressed the monks, "Monks, do you too understand the Dhamma as taught by me in the same way that the monk Sāti, the Fisherman's Son, does when, through his own poor grasp [of the Dhamma], he not only slanders us but also digs himself up [by the root] and produces much demerit for himself?"

"No, lord, for in many ways the Blessed One has said of dependently co-arisen consciousness, 'Apart from a requisite condition, there is no coming-into-play of consciousness.'"

"It's good, monks, that you understand the Dhamma taught by me in this way, for in many ways I have said of dependently co-arisen consciousness, 'Apart from a requisite condition, there is no coming-into-play of consciousness.' But this monk Sāti, the Fisherman's Son, through his own poor grasp [of the Dhamma], has not only slandered us but has also dug himself up [by the root], producing much demerit for himself. That will lead to this worthless man's long-term harm & suffering.

MN 38


Were someone to say, 'I will describe a coming, a going, a passing away, an arising, a growth, an increase, or a proliferation of consciousness apart from form, from feeling, from perception, from fabrications,' that would be impossible

SN 22.53

0

After the extinction of the six sense-spheres of contact, and the fading away of desire, after cessation, after ending, is there any remainder?

After the extinction of the six sense-spheres of contact, and the fading away of desire, after cessation, after ending, is there no remainder?

that is meaningless talk

there is fading away of all meaningless argument and the attaining of nirvāṇa, then this is the teaching of the Buddha

  • Problem is, it's very true as pointed by you that, 'that' which couldn't be spoken of was left unspoken, but physics and philosophy need verbalization. Like as far as personal practice is concerned I agree with you but we need to stand test of findings of science and modern philosophical positions. – user13135 Sep 3 '18 at 16:52
  • Need or crave? :D – OyaMist Sep 4 '18 at 1:51
0

Yes it is normal for puthujjanas to ask

  • Does the Consciousness vanish when the objects of consciousness are removed?
  • does an arahant have a Consciousness?
  • what is the difference between vinnana and citta and mano?
  • what does it feel like to be an arahant?
  • what is appatiṭṭhita viññāṇa, ''vinnana unestablished, not coming to growth, nongenerative''?
  • what happens to vinnana after nibanna?
  • what is the condition of vinnana?
  • does the chain of conditions happen ''moment to moment'', meaning whatever is conditioned dies and lives continuously or is it over several ''lifespans''?
  • and, since ignorance is claimed to be the condition for shankara, if it is ''whatever is conditioned (especially Consciousness) dies and lives continuously'', moment after moment, , does it mean that ignorance is killed (in order to kill shankaras moment after moment, since shankaras is claimed to be the condition for consciousness and vinnana is killed moment after moment by killing shankaras)? why is ignorance re-generated all the time?

All those question have a unique answer: an exposition by a buddha of a chain of condition, without being vague when it comes to talk about vinnana.

Unfortunately, today there is no such answer. The suttas are a mess when it comes to the source of vinnana. What there is today is a various puthujjanas creating various views about conditions, then sharing their views and claiming it is a good idea to share views.

In SN 35.60 Sabbupādānapariññā Sutta , The condition for say Consciousness of the eye is that there is a form and the eye-faculty. This 3 is called contact. In other suttas, the usual condition for the generic vinnana is namarupa. In the famous sutta SN 12.2, it is shankara that is the source of vinnana.

THen later on, the usual question is what does vinnana do after nibbana? For instance there is the famous appatiṭṭhita viññāṇa, which is vinnana after nibbana, which is translated usually as ''vinnana unestablished''. So that would mean some vinnana that does not stick to the 4 other aggregates. It is like you look at the sky and you see various aircrafts doing loops. Then you look again and you see no ''aircrafts doing loops'' which means:

  • there are still aircrafts but they do something else than loops
  • there are no aircrafts at all in the sky

Well it is the same for vinnana unestablished: does it mean there is no vinnana, since the buddha keeps talking about cessation of vinnana, but since he also says vinnana is liberated, does it mean there is some vinnana but it does something else than growing? Again the unique answer is the reply of a buddha after you ask this question.

Fortunately, this lack of clear answer is not a disaster.the lack of answer is:

  • not relevant for bad puthujjanas who want to become good puthujjanas
  • slightly relevant for the good puthujjanas who want to become sotapannas
  • heavily relevant for the sotapannas who ''want'' to become arahants

What matters for anybody who is not close to nibanna is to focus on the dispassion towards the 5 aggregates, by the method exposed by the buddha, and once those people are near nibanna, they can focus on the source of vinnana and then kill this source.

So let's begin. Now vi-jñāna is jñāna which discriminates.. vinnana is ''knowing discriminatingly'', and it is declined into 6 senses, which means, for instance for sight, the color blue is not a carrot.The 6th sense, create the idea of color blue and idea of color red and other ideas like honor and the idea of color blue is not the idea of honor which is not the idea of a carrot.

THe most famous discrimination is with vedana. There is a discrimination of vedana into pleasant, dis-pleasant and nondispleasant-non pleasant. The last illustration is that when somebody wants stop dukkha, the usage of mano is restricted to yoniso manasikara, which typically means at the begining, seeing rupa as rupa, and finding the condition for arising of rupa, and finding the condition for the cessation of rupa and finding the way fo the cessation of rupa. Seeing rupa means not confusing rupa with say vedana, vedana is not rupa and rupa is not vedana. THe firt task is to see rupa as rupa and that begins with typically vinnana, later on ñāṇa. Same situation for the other 4 aggregates and that generates the famous various vipassanas. https://suttacentral.net/sn22.57/en/sujato

Again an illustration for ''the arising of a sense'': for there to be sight, there must be a eye (Cakṣus) cakṣurdhātu (like it is written in the heart sutta), plus a visible form rūpadhātu, plus the vinnana for sight cakṣurvijñānadhātu. Dhathu just means elements, typically like a lego brick. you join the three lego bricks: Cakṣus typed as a lego brick, rupa typed as a lego brick and cakṣurvijñāna typed as a lego brick and you get ''the sight of form''. Instead of brick, a dathu can be seen as a fiber and you twist 3 fibers to make a big rope. The big rope is called phassa (contact). The glue of the contact is desire for something. As usual the 6th sense mano is special because it gets to ''know the other senses''. So in terms of dathu, there are 3 dathus x 6 senses = 18 dathus to ''explain'' the 6 senses. the dathus are glued together by some craving.

Vinanna is easily bad because it can sticks to the other 4 aggregates and it grows from there https://suttacentral.net/sn22.54/en/sujato and the good vinnana is the vinnana that does not generate shankaras. Here, liberation is expressed in terms of vinnana, not citta.

“The four grounds of consciousness should be seen as like the earth element.

“Seyyathāpi, bhikkhave, pathavīdhātu, evaṃ catasso viññāṇaṭṭhitiyo daṭṭhabbā.

Relishing and greed should be seen as like the water element.

Seyyathāpi, bhikkhave, āpodhātu, evaṃ nandirāgo daṭṭhabbo.

Consciousness with its fuel should be seen as like the five kinds of plants propagated from seeds.

THere is also the saṃjñā which is saṃ-jñā and the vedana. THe generic vinnana and the sanna and vedana and the rupa and the saṃskāra are the 5 aggregates. THe nature of the aggregates is ''to arise and cease'' as sariputta says.

''to arise and cease'' means Being conditioned, which means that there is source for each aggregate and there is a cessation to an aggregate: it turns out that the way of the cessation of an aggregate is the drying of the source of the aggregate. So to kill an aggregate, you kill the source of this aggregate. You never ever kill an aggregate directly by killing the aggregate in question.

the sutta https://suttacentral.net/sn22.56/en/sujato says The source of rupa is food. Fortunately, the 3 aggregates of sanna, vedana and shankara have a universal condition: contact. When contact ceases, those 4 aggregates cease. When there is contact, those 4 aggregates blossom. THe usual way to kill contact is to kill desire, lust, greed because this desire is always towards some aggregate or something stemming from one https://suttacentral.net/sn22.121/en/sujato /sn22.60/en/sujato and the usual way to kill desire, lust, greed is to train to see and to see the 5 aggregates as anicca dukkha anatta https://suttacentral.net/sn22.55/en/sujato The source of this desire is ignorance.the way to kill the desire is to kill the ignorance. For instance, to cultivate the perception of impermanence https://suttacentral.net/sn22.102/en/sujato /sn22.59/en/sujato

Now how do you stop vinnana and is there still some objects to be cognized. Or can you kill cognizing of an object, when you kill the object that is cognized? Well you look at the condition of vinnana and at this point, the exposition becomes a mess.

Consciousness originates from name and form. Nāmarūpasamudayā viññāṇasamudayo; When name and form cease, consciousness ceases. nāmarūpanirodhā viññāṇanirodho.

Usually namarupa is vedana, sanna, shankara. but in SN 12.2, namarupa is vedana, sanna, cetana, phassa, manasikāra. So which is it? Again the suttas are a mess. Then the famous sutta SN 12.2 Vibhaṅga Sutta, the condition for vinnana is shankaras. In sutta SN 35.60 Sabbupādānapariññā Sutta , it is the objects and the faculty which generate vinnana. so which is it?

Again, This lack of clear answer is:

  • not relevant for bad puthujjanas who want to become good puthujjanas
  • slightly relevant for the good puthujjanas who want to become sotapannas
  • heavily relevant for the ariyas close to nibbana who want to become arahants

What matters for anybody who is not close to nibanna is to focus on the dispassion towards the 5 aggregates, by the method exposed by the buddha, and once those people are near nibanna, they can focus on the source of vinnana and then kill this source.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy