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So I understood Vinana to be activated only when there is an object present to be aware of, and I think that is why in dependent origination it is said Vijnana conditions nama rupa and nama rupa conditions vijnana.

In other words without an object that we can be aware of with name and form (nama rupa) there cannot be consciousness.

Based on this, it is clear that consciousness is an activity (of cognizing an object), not an entity that can "cognize" itself. Therefore I am confused in the Jhana about infinite consciousness, because it says consciousness is conscious of consciousness.

How is that possible when consciousness only can be aware of an object, and not itself (because it is an activity, and not an entity as Vedanta says)?

Also, please correct me if the meaning of nama rupa that I gave (name and form) is not correct in Buddhism. This is the Vedanta view that I have read about. Can someone describe the difference between the Vedanta view of nama rupa and the Buddhist view of nama rupa?

  • Your question is interesting. However, to say consciousness is conscious of consciousness is against the Buddha's simile of "a knife cannot cut itself" (刀不能自割) – Mishu 米殊 Sep 10 at 18:19
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The mind can only become aware of the mind in a subsequent moment. We get angry, and then know so. In moment 1, vinyana arises along with anger and delusion, aware only of the story. In moment 2, for a mindfulness practitioner, the vinyana arises with mindfulness and samadhi, abandoning the anger, unbonded to thought. In the infinite consciousness jhana there is only vinyana in its unbonded state (bare and separate awareness). In the next moment, it is aware of itself from the previous moment. In the next moment it is aware if itself again. It is infinite it the moment to moment unended reflection, not the sense of its size. Hope that helps! Oh and yes there are tiny spaces of nothing between angry and mindful of it, but those are very hard to see. Once you can, you are well into vipassana, seeing there is no continuity or prevailing consciouness (anatta).

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So I understood Vinjana to be activated only when there is an object present to be aware of

Correct. That is why there is no such thing as the 'rebirth consciousness' taught by later Buddhist commentators.

I think that Is why in dependent origination it is said Vinjana conditions nama rupa and nama rupa conditions vinjana

Correct.

in other words without an object that we can be aware of with name and form (nama rupa) there cannot be conciousness.

Correct.

Therefore it is clear that conciousness is an activity (of cognizing an object) not an entity so it cannot "cognize" itself.

Incorrect. As consciousness arises with sense objects, it also cognizes itself. For example, when the eye sees a sight, the mind knows it is conscious of that seeing.

Simply open your eyes, close your eyes, open your eyes, close your eyes. Continue this opening & closing of your eyes until you (the mind) understand the mind is conscious of the eye consciousness operating via the eye. It is not rocket science.

Therefore I am confused in the Jhana about infinite consciousness it says consciousness is conscious of consciousness how is that possible when consciousness only can be aware of an object not itself because it is an activity not an entity as Vedanta says.

There are other mental factors operating in the jhana about infinite consciousness, which is why consciousness can cognize consciousness. It is these other mental factors, particularly perception, that allow consciousness to exist. The infinite consciousness jhana is described as follows:

Furthermore, with the complete transcending of the dimension of the infinitude of space, [perceiving,] 'Infinite consciousness,' Sariputta entered & remained in the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness. Whatever qualities there are in the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness — the perception of the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, singleness of mind, contact, feeling, perception, intention, consciousness, zeal, decision, persistence, mindfulness, equanimity & attention — he ferreted them out one after another.

Anupada Sutta



Also please correct me if the meaning of nama rupa that I gave (name and form) is not correct in Buddhism this is the Vedanta view that I have read about , can someone describe the difference between the Vedanta view of nama rupa and the Buddhist view of nama rupa.

The correct Buddhist meaning of 'nama-rupa' is 'mind-body' or 'mentality-materially', as defined in the suttas as "feeling, perception, intention, contact, attention, the form comprised of earth, wind, fire & water", as follows:

Feeling, perception, volition, contact and attention — these are called mentality. The four great elements and the material form derived from the four great elements — these are called materiality. So this mentality and this materiality are what is called mentality-materiality.

Sammaditthi Sutta: The Discourse on Right View

When samadhi is developed and when the mind is free from thoughts & naming activity; the mind can cognise how subtle underlying defilement tendencies & urges affect the mind-body and will know nama-rupa is not the name-form of Brahmanism, Hinduism & Vedanta; which is:

Nāmarūpa-vyākaraṇa (Sanskrit: नामरुपव्याकरण ), in Hindu philosophy, refers to the process of evolution of differentiation into names and forms i.e. to the unfolding of the primal state into the manifest world prior to which unfolding there was nothing that existed; it refers to the conditioned reality. In the Upanishads this term is used to indicate the self-willed manifestation of Brahman under visible and nameable aspects, to the said manifestation into the fictitious plurality of the phenomenal world owing to maya, the unreal adjunct. According to Hindu scriptures the world in each age emanates from Brahman mirrored upon maya.

The sage of the Chandogya Upanishad regarded the creation of the universe as a huge chest/egg from a Primeval Being existing as the undifferentiated whole, who alone existed without a second prior to the commencement of the process of creation which was the beginning of the differentiation of the undifferentiated.

Namarupa-vyakarana From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In the Pali suttas, there are suttas (such as SN 7.6, DN 11 & MN 49) spoken to Brahmins in the language of Brahmanism, which include the term 'nama-rupa' as meaning 'name-form' or 'naming-form'. The puthujjana scholars and their puthujjana followers rely on these suttas to promote their alien ideas about 'name-form'. These puthujjana write post after post on Buddhist forums about a zombie state called 'consciousness without feature' (viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ) mistakenly believed to be Nibbana.

While the work-in-progress-diverse-ideas monk named Thanissaro Bhikkhu uses the translation 'name-form', his explanation below shows he is really referring to 'mind-body':

A. As you walk to the door of your parents’ house, thinking about the situation (2b—verbal fabrication), you pull up memories of things your uncle has done in the past (2c—mental fabrication). This provokes anger, causing your breathing to become labored and tight (2a—bodily fabrication). This makes you uncomfortable (2c—mental fabrication), and you are aware of how uncomfortable you feel (3—consciousness). Hormones are released into your bloodstream (4 f through 4i—Form). Without being fully aware that you are making a choice, you choose (4c—intention) to focus (4e— attention) on the perception (4b) of how trapped you feel in this situation. Your consciousness of this idea (5 and 6—mental contact) feels oppressive (7—feeling). You want to find a way out (8—craving). At this point, you can think of a number of roles you could play in the upcoming dinner (9d and 10—clinging and becoming): You might refuse to speak with your uncle, you might try to be as unobtrusive as possible to get through the dinner without incident, or you might be more aggressive and confront your uncle about his behavior. You mentally take on one of these roles (11—birth), but unless you keep your imaginary role actively in mind, it falls away as soon as you think of it (12—aging-&-death). So you keep thinking about it, evaluating how your parents will react to it, how you will feel about it, and so on (2b— verbal fabrication). Although the stress of step (12) in this case is not great, the fact that your role has to be kept in mind and repeatedly evaluated...

Shape of Suffering

Below, Bhikkhu Buddhadasa provides an example of 'mind-body':

Again, several hours or days later, this young lady may simply begin to doubt the sincerity of her boyfriend. No one has said anything to her, and she hasn't seen anything, but in her own mind she begins to doubt [ignorance] whether or not her boyfriend has been going with another woman. She begins to make assumptions [sankhara] and so Dependent Origination begins to operate by way of the mind door: a mental object comes into contact with the mind and mind consciousness arises. This mind consciousness conditions a new mentality/materiality to arise: what was an inert body/mind, not conditioned to experience suffering, is now the mentality/materiality that conditions sense bases capable of experiencing suffering to arise. The sense bases condition suffering prone contact to arise. Contact conditions feeling conducive to the arising of suffering. Then follows restless craving and clinging attachment and the same kind of suffering arises again. This is a case of Dependent Origination becoming active in that young lady by way of mind consciousness.

Similar to the two examples above, I offer the following example.

Imagine you have an addiction to smoking cigarettes you wish to end however the urge to smoke cigarettes still arises.

  1. The urge that arises is ignorance.
  2. The internal thoughts & images that arise with that urge are sankhara.
  3. The knowing of the urge, thoughts & images is consciousness.
  4. The mind-body that then becomes impacted & agitated by that urge and fights & wrestles to stop that urge is nama-rupa.
  5. But when the mind-body cannot stop the urge, the sense organs then look for cigarettes to smoke.
  6. Finding cigarettes causes contact to arise.
  7. Contact causes excitement about cigarettes to arise.
  8. Contact and excitement causes more craving for cigarettes to arise.
  9. Choosing to smoke the cigarettes is attachment.
  10. Smoking the cigarettes and increasing the addiction is becoming.
  11. Being an addict is birth; that is, birth as an addict.
  12. The suffering that arises when you cannot smoke is aging-death-sorrow-grief-despair-suffering.

Therefore, try to comprehend when the mind-body are made restless & agitated by internal urges, this is the meaning of nama-rupa in Dependent Origination; which is a mind-body affected & poisoned by ignorance (rather than a mind-body free from ignorance).

Obviously, nama-rupa is not 'naming-form' because the naming of forms (such as cigarettes) is already occurring at the 2nd link called 'sankhara', when the mind thinks about & has images of smoking cigarettes.

'Naming-form' is unrelated to suffering. If I name a round object a 'wheel', this does not cause suffering. Therefore, it is unrelated to Buddhism and unrelated to Dependent Origination. 'Naming-form' is Creationism and not Buddhism.

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OP: dependent origination it is said Vinjana conditions nama rupa

Nama Rupa is like the canvas and Vinnana is like the pain in a painting. As one cannot draw a painting in thin air there cannot be Vinnana without Nama Rupa to abide in. Nama Rupa has to arise for Vinnana to exist.

OP: without an object that we can be aware of with name and form (nama rupa) there cannot be conciousness

Consciousness arises due to contact of the organ with an external object. Since Nama Rupa arised there are the respective organs which can make contact for consciousness to arise.

OP: ... conciousness is concious of conciousness ...

I believe there you are conscious that you are conscious as opposed to not aware that you are conscious.

OP: describe the difference between the Vedanta view of nama rupa and the Buddhist view of nama rupa

In Vedanta it is considered name and form is a manifestation or creation of Brahma. In Buddhism, this is created through dependent arising or cause and effect.

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