I wondered (after this thread) what Buddhists have said about this question.

Can anyone, monks, Buddhas, ordinary people, be aware of a sensation without consciousness of it?

And moreover to link it to that question more explicitly, can such a sensation still be pleasant unpleasant or neutral.

Thanks :) !

2 Answers 2


Short Answer: No.

Long Answer:

First, you'll need to define what you mean by consciousness. If we take consciousness as "conscious awareness" then by definition, if you don't have consciousness of something, then you are not sensuously aware of it.

However, it's possible that you may unconsciously register things that impact your consciousness later. For instance, if you get a "bad feeling" about someone, this may be due to you unconsciously registering several factors like quick facial sensations, tones being off-kilter, etc...

  • 1
    Without consciousness, there's no registering, no matter how quick it is. Apr 10, 2015 at 15:49
  • @SankhaKulathantille it depends on how you define consciousness, and unfortunately that term is very slippery. I take consciousness to be awareness, in which case not only is there registering (without consciousness), but it seems that the VAST MAJORITY of what we register is not conscious. In fact, consciousness is the tip of the iceberg and a very miniscule portion of our life and functioning.
    – R. Barzell
    Apr 10, 2015 at 16:31
  • 1
    For anything to register, contact(Phassa) should happen. For contact to happen, consciousness needs to be present. ex: eye consciousness, ear consciousness etc. Then comes Vedana and then recognition(Sanna). Consciousness is present in all these steps whether the registering is vague or not. Apr 10, 2015 at 20:41
  • @R.Barzell yeah thanks, that answers my question though i won't mark it answered without a quote or something - thanks :)
    – user2512
    Apr 12, 2015 at 10:13
  • @user3293056 Well both Husserl and Sartre said all consciousness is consciousness of something, although this isn't from a Buddhist perspective, and I don't know if this is an exact quote or the motto of the school. If you're ok with that, I can edit it into my answer.
    – R. Barzell
    Apr 13, 2015 at 13:12

The answer is no.

I remember from one sutta, ven Ananda asked buddha about consciousness.
In five skandhas, form, sensation, perception, mental formation, and consciousness (vinnana). Buddha told ven Ananda that consciousness could not exist alone by itself. It has to be conscious at one of the four skandhas. Ven Ananda asked Buddha further if vinnana could menefest in anything besides those 4 . the answer was no..(thus nirvana is not part of five skandas, there fore, vinnana cannot take root there) Every single being from lowest plane to highest heaven are conscious of one of four things, form,sensation, perception, and mental formation. He also asked Buddha,when would a consciousness cease to exist..Buddha said when the other four skandhas cease. So to answer your question, consciousness and sensation is circular dependent (Buddha said many times, vinnana ceases when name and form cease ; name and form cease when vinnana ceases) name and form is another term buddha often use for five skandhas.

I think i answered ur question and then some.. 😊

  • I like this answer. As I understand it, there are only two things (one thing): The Void, and Experience. Someone I know said, "The Void can't know Itself." Thus, Experience came to be. A hologram of light with no screen and no projector.
    – user2341
    Apr 24, 2015 at 11:13
  • i would like to add, from a sutta, Buddha mentioned "empty space in a tight spot" or "a void in a tight place" . Buddha siad Consciousness come to be and end, (in modern term like flashes of light or like a synapse of a brain- series of snap shots. and in between flashes or snap shots of consciousness, there is a void in between. this void he referred to as "void in tight space". In all of us, this is where we do not have consciousness, a place between synapses. He said only him had first hand knowledge of this phenomena, not even any would arahats would see it.
    – dean
    Apr 24, 2015 at 16:33

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