0

There are the six types of consciousness (viññāṇa) based on MN 38, namely those related to the six sense media: eye, ear, nose, tongue, touch or mind.

In MN 49, there was a "consciousness without surface" (viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ), which turned out to be a mistranslation, according to the answers of this question. The sutta was talking about Nibbana.

So, are there any other types of consciousness (viññāṇa) in Theravada outside the six sense media consciousnesses?

What about rebirth linking consciousness? Is that a type of consciousness outside the six sense media?

I know in Mahayana, there are still two more types of consciousness according to this Wikipedia page. But this question is asking more from the Theravada perspective (including Abhidhamma).

3

Are there any other types of consciousness (viññāṇa) in Theravada outside the six sense media consciousnesses?

According to Theravada perspective, there are only six types of consciousness (which you've already mentioned). This is a categorization of consciousness based on its sense base. Every consciousness falls into one of these six. In Abhidhamma, there are many categorizations [based on wholesomeness, sphere of the being (kāma-loka, rūpa-loka, arūpa-loka), worldliness, etc...] can be seen of same consciousness which mentioned in Suttanta desana.

In Abhidhamma,

  • Considering all the consciousness, there are 89 consciousness in brief and 121 consciousness in detail.
  • By considering wholesomeness and unwholesomeness, there are 12 unwholesome consciousness and 21 wholesome consciousness in brief (37 in detail).
  • By considering worldliness, there are 81 mundane consciousness and 8 super-mundane consciousness in brief (40 in detail).
  • By considering the sphere, there are 54 sense-sphere consciousness, 15 form-sphere consciousness, and 12 formless-sphere consciousness.
  • There are 20 functional consciousness and 36 resultant consciousness in brief (52 in detail). [Note: These consciousness won't make kamma.]

What about rebirth linking consciousness? Is that a type of consciousness outside the six sense media?

No, it falls under mind consciousness and we can say it also falls under resultant consciousness more precisely according to Abhidhamma.

There are 10 consciousness (*) arise in eye, ear, nose, tongue, and body sense bases (2 consciousness in each with the division of wholesome resultant and unwholesome resultant). All the other consciousness arise in mind base.

Note 1: (*) :-

  1. Rootless Wholesome resultant eye consciousness with neutral feeling.
  2. Rootless Unwholesome resultant eye consciousness with neutral feeling.
  3. Rootless Wholesome resultant ear consciousness with neutral feeling.
  4. Rootless Unwholesome resultant ear consciousness with neutral feeling.
  5. Rootless Wholesome resultant nose consciousness with neutral feeling.
  6. Rootless Unwholesome resultant nose consciousness with neutral feeling.
  7. Rootless Wholesome resultant tongue consciousness with neutral feeling.
  8. Rootless Unwholesome resultant tongue consciousness with neutral feeling.
  9. Rootless Wholesome resultant body consciousness with pleasant feeling.
  10. Rootless Unwholesome resultant body consciousness with painful feeling.

Hence,

  • Eye consciousness = 2
  • Ear consciousness = 2
  • Nose consciousness = 2
  • Tongue consciousness = 2
  • Body consciousness = 2
  • Mind consciousness = 79 in brief (111 in detail)

Note 2:

  • One consciousness may fall into more than one category above mentioned.
  • In abhidhamma, the word citta used instead of viññāṇa to mention consciousness.
  • This Dhamma is well preached. So there's no contradiction between Suttanta desana and Abhidhamma desana. Hence every sutta can be explained with Abhidhamma.

Note: This is what I understood. I may be wrong but not Dhamma.

  • Are the 121 types of consciousness in the Abhidhamma all falling within the six sense media categories or are they outside the six sense media consciousnesses? – ruben2020 Feb 12 at 3:41
  • 1
    They are all falling under six sense media categories. – Damith Feb 12 at 3:43
  • "These consciousness won't make kamma", given that mind is intention a vage declaration... – Samana Johann Feb 12 at 4:59
  • 1
    Even-though intention is a universal mental factor, all intention don't make kamma. It's clearly mentioned in Abhidhamma. Intention in resultant and functional consciousness don't become kamma. Intention in super-mundane consciousness can be also considered as not kamma because they ease the burden of aggregates and shorten the Samsara. – Damith Feb 12 at 10:07
0

Both, Abhidhamma and Suttanta traditions, trying to follow the Buddha, are informed about 7 kinds of "knowing", while the 7th does not relay on a (of the six) sensual surface, does not grasp after being touch.

Bhante Thanissaro elaborated well on the topic "consciousness without surface".

Consciousness without feature,

without end,

luminous all around:

Here water, earth, fire, & wind have no footing.

Here long & short

coarse & fine

fair & foul

name & form

are, without remnant,

brought to an end.

of (the activity of) consciousness,

each is here brought to an end.

DN 11

  • As mentioned in the question, there is no such thing as consciousness without surface. Apparently that is a wrong translation. – ruben2020 Feb 12 at 13:36
  • Who says? The Buddha didn't. – Samana Johann Feb 12 at 13:37
  • Oh, an ex-monk on BSE... sure relatable... – Samana Johann Feb 12 at 13:40
  • Well, the Buddha did not say that there is a translation error, because the Buddha didn't speak English. – ruben2020 Feb 12 at 14:11
  • Smarty, hmm...? – Samana Johann Feb 12 at 14:20

Your Answer

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

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.