Consciousness

Reference: The First Noble Truth: Dukkha

There is no scientific basis for consciousness that transmigrates and wanders about. There is no consciousness, which expresses, which feels, which experiences the results of good and bad deeds here and there.

According to Buddhist philosophy there is no permanent, unchanging spirit which can be considered ‘Self’, or ‘Soul’, or ‘Ego’. The consciousness should not be taken as ‘spirit’ in opposition to matter. It is a wrong notion that consciousness is a sort of Self or Soul that continues as a permanent substance through life.

Consciousness is only a sort of awareness of the presence of an object. It does not recognize the object. It is perception that recognizes the object. When the eye comes in contact with a color, for instance blue, visual consciousness arises which simply is awareness of the presence of a color; but it does not recognize that it is blue. There is no recognition at this stage. It is perception that recognizes that it is blue.

Buddha explained that consciousness arises out of conditions. There is no arising of consciousness without conditions.  Consciousness is named according to whatever condition through which it arises.

  • Visual consciousness arises on account of the eye and visible forms
  • Auditory consciousness arises on account of the ear and sounds.
  • Olfactory consciousness arises on account of the nose and odors.
  • Gustatory consciousness arises on account of the tongue and tastes.
  • Tactile consciousness arises on account of the body and tangible objects.
  • Mental consciousness arises on account of the mind and mind-objects (ideas and thoughts).

The Buddha declared in unequivocal terms that consciousness depends on matter, sensation, perception and mental formations and that it cannot exist independently of them.

‘Were a man to say: I shall show the coming, the going, the passing away, the arising, the growth, the increase or the development of consciousness apart from matter, sensation, perception and mental formations, he would be speaking of something that does not exist.’

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Comments

  • vinaire  On May 16, 2012 at 3:29 PM

    The simple rules underlying the Nature may best be approximated by the Laws of KARMA (rules of cause and effect). They cannot include any ideas of right and wrong, or justice and injustice, because those ideas are influenced by viewpoints.

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    • Chris Thompson  On May 16, 2012 at 4:07 PM

      I feel hopeful that I am on the cusp of an important leveling of my understanding..

  • vinaire  On May 17, 2012 at 8:13 AM

    (a) A combination of physical and mental forces, or energies, expresses itself as a being.

    (b) The being manifests itself through a physical body.

    (c) The physical body, when it is functioning, is considered alive.

    (d) The physical body, when it goes into a state of total non-function, is considered dead.

    (e) The physical and mental forces are still there even when no longer being manifested through body after its death.

    (f) Underlying these forces is this tremendous thirst (will, volition, desire) to continue.

    (g) It may manifest itself through another form (physical body), producing re-existence (rebirth).

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    • Chris Thompson  On May 17, 2012 at 8:38 AM

      We come closer to each other! This is the direction which I suspect is the “forward toward enlightenment.” Is there an ultimate closeness? An absence of space? And if and when that is achieved, will we then discover a new separateness? My experience says “yes,” but my ability to be surprised says “maybe not.”

    • vinaire  On May 17, 2012 at 9:13 AM

      Closeness will come about as this thirst gets extinguished. What will then remain is just a calm observation of everything followed by co-creation.

      It is this thirst that creates ego (self) and separateness.

      Presence of self means boundaries and thus separateness.

      What needs to occur is a leveling of all thirst.

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      • Chris Thompson  On May 17, 2012 at 2:09 PM

        Now you should define thirst.

        Or possibly closeness will come about as a lack of withholding ourselves from one another. Isn’t it more nearly about “like charges repelling?” As the charges diminish, might the space diminish as well? Isn’t that more consistent with the mechanics of the universe?

        Or maybe your thirst metaphor satisfies this?

      • vinaire  On May 17, 2012 at 2:48 PM

        Maybe ‘thirst’ is the charge you are talking about.

        The process of creation provides an identity. As a creation manifests itself, then it is, in fact, the creator manifesting itself. That creation is the self or identity of the creator, who had no self or identity before. As the creator gets enamored with that creation/identity, and keeps it, it becomes the first manifestation of thirst.

        As the creator, from that first identity, manifests more creations, and wants to keep them, then that only serves to expand that existing identity. This makes me think that HAVINGNESS is that thirst, which Buddha is talking about.

        The more starting points of creations that there are, the more selves there can be. Each starting point of creation becomes a self when thirst is there. The self then starts to expand as creation continues with the thirst also in operation.

        Maybe this universe is a big self. I have to look at this more.

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        • Chris Thompson  On May 17, 2012 at 3:47 PM

          ” Maybe this universe is a big self.” haha, I do not have a problem with this…

  • fotochic97  On May 22, 2012 at 2:51 AM

    What about people like Helen Keller? Or a person who is in a coma? Would the coma create a prison type environment where the person is not aware of their condition or could they be conscious of it but trapped in some way?

    • vinaire  On May 22, 2012 at 5:53 AM

      I think the key point here is that there is consciousness, but it is changing all the time depending on the circumstances.

      There is nothing permanent underlying all that changing consciousness that is carried forward.

      We have the concept of self or “I”. But it is intrinsically impermanent. “I” changes. It comes about, it continues, it then disappears into nothing.

      We think foolishly that we shall continue for ever. “I”, as a manifestation, dies with body death. Forces and energies that were combining to form the “I” may manifest themselves in a different combination in another body at birth. That would be a different “I”, even if the same forces and energies underlie it.

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  • vinaire  On May 24, 2012 at 11:48 AM

    There is emancipation, liberation, freedom from suffering, from the continuity of dukkha. The root cause is the inconsistency to do with thirst.

    Absolute truth is an extraordinary experience and it cannot be expressed in words. Language is limited in what it can convey. Ignorant people get stuck in words like an elephant in the mud.

    There is the unborn, ungrown, and unconditioned but it may only be expressed in negative terms, “What it is not,” because it is not something.

    We may call it Nirvana = Extinction of thirst = Unconditioned = Absence of desire = Cessation = Blowing out = Detachment = Calming of all conditioned things = Giving up of all defilements = Extinction of hatred = Extinction of illusion = Freedom from conceit = Uprooting of attachment = Cutting off of continuity, etc.

    Nirvana is definitely no annihilation of self, because there is no self no annihilate. Nirvana is neither negative nor positive. Nirvana is freedom from all evil, freedom from craving, hatred and ignorance, freedom from all terms of duality, relativity, time and space.

    Looking at the impermanence of consciousness and sensations, the mind becomes detached. One then becomes calm and stable. But, as one focuses that calmness and stability on infinite space, on infinite consciousness, on nothingness, on state of non-duality, etc., to attain those states, one realizes that this effort is becomingness too. Suddenly, it dawns on him what Nirvana is, and he no longer wills continuity, becoming or annihilation.

    With that wisdom, he no longer feels bound by the sensations he now experiences. He knows that all these sensations will be pacified with the dissolution of the body (past, present and future).

    The knowledge of the extinction of all dukkha is the absolute noble wisdom.

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