Does these 2 types of Buddhism claim that conciousness is located inside our brain or somewhere else, beacuse I have started studying a Thervada monk that claims that conciousness is not inside the brain which makes me confused and seems not logical for me to accept. What did the Buddha teach?

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    Welcome to this humble Buddhist forum🙂
    – Lowbrow
    Oct 18, 2019 at 15:52
  • The monk is correct. Sorta like electricity needs a light bulb as a physical medium to manifest its energy, but it'd be wrong to conclude that electricity is "inside" the light bulb.
    – santa100
    Oct 18, 2019 at 19:25
  • You may need to make it clear what you mean by 'consciousness'. Where this is 'being, consciousness, bliss' it has no location. All locations would be in consiousness, not the other way around. .
    – user14119
    Nov 30, 2019 at 15:25

5 Answers 5


According to buddhism, consciousness (vinnana) are characterized as originating from the ayatanas, our senses (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, touch, and mind).

Even though there needs to be a physiological base for our consciousness, there are more prerequisites for consciousness to establish itself, meaning that it emerges in the mind when any of these six different senses makes contact with external sense objects (for example ear - sound).

In other words, it's not until internal sense bases "contacts" with external sense objects that consciousness manifests itself through declarative cognitions.

According to the buddhist concept of dependent origination, to define consciousness therefore isn't just a matter of where it might be localized, there also has to be cognitions/perceptions in order to properly determine what it is.


Ultimatley views are wrong views. They are made up by us and thus are not the focus of getting to the root of truth. Behind both Theravada and Mahayana views is a common aim that discovers that consciousness happens moment by moment. That it has anything to do with the brain isn't admitted of by non-conseptual, non-materialistic, experiencial present moment by present moment reality.


This is a question that modern scientists and quantum physicists are unable to answer. If you ask your family doctor, he would probably say that in medical college the subject of the location of consciousness was never discussed. Alan Watts, used to say that people think that consciousness is located between the two ears! This is indeed a difficult question to answer, without a proper foundation in the Higher Doctrine of Buddhism. The Buddha said that Consciousness along with 52 x Mental Phenomena and 28 x Material Phenomena are primarily responsible for the ''creation'' of the world around us. Therefore, one could argue that Consciousness is ''God'' the Creator. This subject has been discussed by Bhikkhu Bodhi, on utube, over many years commencing in 2013, in his Abhidhamma Retreats, conducted in New York. He also recommends reading material in support of the workshop. Suggest you turn to the workshop for guidance.

  • Hmm. I thought it was the orthodox view that Consciousness is All. Not intentional consciousness, of course. Perhaps I'm about to learn that some Buddhists reject this view.
    – user14119
    Oct 23, 2019 at 15:07
  • 'The All' is in relation to mundane world. Feeling and Perception are dependent on the 52 and 28. Volition and Consciousness are dependent on these two phenomena. Nibbana is supra mundane consciousness and is produced by intuitional insight (vipassana). Intuition implies no mundane perception i.e. a subliminal mind. As far as I'm aware such a mind cannot exercise volition. Nibbanic mind has realized Anatma - No Self. Such a mind, devoid of volition, cannot create 'The All'. To such a mind 'The All' is an illusion - Maya. This is my take on 5 x Aggregates at the mundane level of operation. Oct 24, 2019 at 5:16
  • I don't think the idea is that the 'All' is a volitional creation. As you say, the mundane world would be illusory. In whatever way we define the All it would be consciousness. This would be the same as saying that nothing really exists, as per dependent origination. .
    – user14119
    Oct 24, 2019 at 8:38
  • Yes, you're right. "Volition is one of 7 mental factors inseparably bound up with all consciousness." Therefore 'The All' can exist without volition, as in the case of an arahant. I believe, if the 7th link in the dependent origination is broken 'through feeling is conditioned craving', volition has ended and the yogi has hit the jackpot! He may experience Sunna temporarily, but he returns again to mundane consciousness, when off the cushion. It is only at the point of Full Nibbana (parinibbana) that the 5 x aggregates would cease and along with it, mundane consciousness .i.e .'The All." Oct 26, 2019 at 10:29

According to Abhidhamma...

The consciousness can arise everywhere in alive body.

There are 6 types of consciousness arising locations.

  1. Eye sense location
  2. Ear sense location
  3. Nose sense location
  4. Tongue sense location
  5. Body sense location
  6. Bhavaṇga-Consciousness-sense-location, Mano-sense-location.

Body sense locations are locating everywhere, so the Body Consciousness can locate everywhere as well.

There are 6 types of consciousness arising form-location as well. Mano-sense-location, Bhavaṇga-Consciousness-sense-location, is not Hadaya-form-location, HadayaVatthu. See the explanation below.

The Actual Abhidhamma

ManoViññāṇa, Thinking, must arise at Mano-sense-location, Bhavaṇga-Consciousness-sense-location. Mano-sense-location often arising at the heart, Hadaya Vatthu, so ManoViññāṇa often arise at the heart as well. (Saṅgaha Chapter 3; Chapter 7)

  1. Manāyatana - There is no special organ for the mind like the physical organs. By mind-sphere is meant the 'adverting consciousness' (manodvārāvajjana) together with the preceding 'arrest bhavanga' (bhavangupaccheda). See Chapter 1.

The Bhavaṇga-Consciousness is Mano-sense-location, of ManoViññāṇa by Anantara-Paccaya, Proximity/Contiguity condition, because ManoViññāṇa can't arise without arising and vanishing before of the Bhavaṇga-Consciousness. (AbhidhammaPitaka Paṭṭhānuddesa Anatarapaccaya Uddesa; Saṅgaha Chapter 8)

Eye-consciousness-element, CakkhuViññāṇa, and its associated phenomena are related to mind-element, Mano, and associated phenomena by contiguity condition. Mind-element, Mano, and its associated phenomena are related to mind-consciousness-element, , ManoViññāṇa, and its associated phenomena by contiguity condition.

However, sometime ManoViññāṇa is arising at Mano-sense-location but not arising at the heart (HA), e.g. in Arūpa-Brahmma-Bhumi--Formless-sphere or heart surgery, so Hadaya-Vatthu is not IndriyaPaccaya, but the other sense locations are IndriyaPaccaya (AbhidhammaPitaka Vibhanga; Saṅgaha Chapter 3; Saṅgaha Chapter 5; Saṅgaha Chapter 7; Saṅgaha Chapter 8).

All these, too, (94) are found in the Sense-sphere. But in the Form-sphere three bases - nose, tongue, and body - are not found (96). In the Formless-sphere no base (96) exists.

and there is no HadayaVatthu in 20 IndriyaPaccaya ...

  1. Eye, 2. Ear, 3. Nose, 4. Tongue, 5. Body, 6. Vitality, 7. Mind, 8. Happiness, 9. Pain, 10. Pleasure, 11. Displeasure, 12. Equanimity, 13. Confidence, 14. Effort, 15. Mindfulness, 16. Concentration, 17. Wisdom, 18. The thought, "I will realize the unknown", 19. Highest Realization, 20. The faculty of the person who has fully realized

In actual buddhist practice of mindfulness, it isnt difficult at all to experience that the mind isnt in the brain. Just notice when you are lost in thought often, and then pay attention to the body walking or moving and you'll see the body and all of its parts, including the gewy stuff in the head, isn't you.

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