Consciousness question

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Rick
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Consciousness question

Post by Rick »

Per Buddhism (rather than, say, Vedanta): Consciousness arises together with a conscious'd object. Sensory consciousness (ear, touch, etc.) arises with a sensed object. Right?

What happens to sensory consciousness when there is no object to sense?
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Matt J
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Re: Consciousness question

Post by Matt J »

Why not look and see in practice before trying to tie it down with concepts?
"The essence of meditation practice is to let go of all your expectations about meditation. All the qualities of your natural mind -- peace, openness, relaxation, and clarity -- are present in your mind just as it is. You don't have to do anything different. You don't have to shift or change your awareness. All you have to do while observing your mind is to recognize the qualities it already has."
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Simon E.
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Re: Consciousness question

Post by Simon E. »

Nothing happens.It simply doesn’t arise. There is a nice Illustration from the Zen tradition. A goose flies over a lake. The goose has no intention of creating its reflection. The water has no intention of reflecting the goose..but there it is.
A combination of transient phenomena creates temporarily an appearance of a thing.
In this case it’s consciousness, contact and attention that creates thingness.
“You don’t know it. You just know about it. That is not the same thing.”

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Rick
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Re: Consciousness question

Post by Rick »

Matt J wrote: Mon Jun 22, 2020 2:54 pm Why not look and see in practice before trying to tie it down with concepts?
All of my sense consciousnesses seem to be detecting objects all the time. Sometimes I'm conscious of this while it's happening, sometimes not.

The closest I got to observing what happens when a sense consciousness detects no objects is smell. When I'm not smelling anything that registers as a smell, the smell consciousness feels either absent or dormant. But this dormancy might be interpreted to be an ongoing background smell consciousness 'waiting' for a smell object to appear, like a voice-activated recorder waiting for a sound to turn on.
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Simon E.
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Re: Consciousness question

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It’s not a dormancy. It doesn’t retreat and lurk somewhere. Consciousness, contact and attention arise in mutual dependence from Shunyata and remain as long as the conditions remain for their continuity. This could be nano seconds or a long period.
“You don’t know it. You just know about it. That is not the same thing.”

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Rick
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Re: Consciousness question

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Simon E. wrote: Mon Jun 22, 2020 3:00 pm Nothing happens.It simply doesn’t arise. There is a nice Illustration from the Zen tradition. A goose flies over a lake. The goose has no intention of creating its reflection. The water has no intention of reflecting the goose..but there it is.
Good one. The lake doesn't do anything to reflect the image, it's just the nature of a surface of water to reflect. Is this true for sensory consciousness also, it doesn't do anything, its nature is simply to detect sensory phenomena?
A combination of transient phenomena creates temporarily an appearance of a thing.
In this case it’s consciousness, contact and attention that creates thingness.
What is contact?
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Rick
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Re: Consciousness question

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Simon E. wrote: Mon Jun 22, 2020 3:18 pm It’s not a dormancy. It doesn’t retreat and lurk somewhere. Consciousness, contact and attention arise in mutual dependence from Shunyata and remain as long as the conditions remain for their continuity. This could be nano seconds or a long period.
Is proof offered that sensory consciousness doesn't go dormant and 'scan' continuously for the next sensory object to appear?
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Simon E.
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Re: Consciousness question

Post by Simon E. »

Rick wrote: Mon Jun 22, 2020 3:20 pm
Simon E. wrote: Mon Jun 22, 2020 3:00 pm Nothing happens.It simply doesn’t arise. There is a nice Illustration from the Zen tradition. A goose flies over a lake. The goose has no intention of creating its reflection. The water has no intention of reflecting the goose..but there it is.
Good one. The lake doesn't do anything to reflect the image, it's just the nature of a surface of water to reflect. Is this true for sensory consciousness also, it doesn't do anything, its nature is simply to detect sensory phenomena?
A combination of transient phenomena creates temporarily an appearance of a thing.
In this case it’s consciousness, contact and attention that creates thingness.
What is contact?
That’s the most common translation of the Sanskrit “Sparsha..” Tibetan “regpa”. It’s what happens when the sense organ the sense object and the sense consciousness arise together.
“You don’t know it. You just know about it. That is not the same thing.”

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Simon E.
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Re: Consciousness question

Post by Simon E. »

Rick wrote: Mon Jun 22, 2020 3:23 pm
Simon E. wrote: Mon Jun 22, 2020 3:18 pm It’s not a dormancy. It doesn’t retreat and lurk somewhere. Consciousness, contact and attention arise in mutual dependence from Shunyata and remain as long as the conditions remain for their continuity. This could be nano seconds or a long period.
Is proof offered that sensory consciousness doesn't go dormant and 'scan' continuously for the next sensory object to appear?
I would suggest that a term like potentiality is more useful than dormancy. The water has the potential to reflect the goose.

Consciousness engages in self reinforcing behaviours, so scanning is one way of expressing that. But it’s important to see that Buddhadharma does not posit the existence of a scanner as a separate or abiding entity.
“You don’t know it. You just know about it. That is not the same thing.”

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche to me.
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Re: Consciousness question

Post by Rick »

Simon E. wrote: Mon Jun 22, 2020 4:05 pm Buddhadharma does not posit the existence of a scanner as a separate or abiding entity.
In other words existing inherently rather than arising codependently?

When Buddhists say abide, do they always mean exist inherently in all three times?
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Matt J
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Re: Consciousness question

Post by Matt J »

I would posit that there are constant gaps, but through habit we have learned to ignore or forget them.

Keep in mind that there are six senses, so include the mind and mental objects. The classic way that I learned was to go on retreat, spend some time developing a degree of shamatha, and then turn one's attention to the mental/sensory processes. However, a "cheat" that I like to use is to 1) quickly shift one's attention between objects or 2) engage in simple action with a lot of but rapidly changing phenomenon (like riding a bike). This requires some degree of mindfulness, however.
Matt J wrote: Mon Jun 22, 2020 2:54 pm Why not look and see in practice before trying to tie it down with concepts?
All of my sense consciousnesses seem to be detecting objects all the time. Sometimes I'm conscious of this while it's happening, sometimes not.

The closest I got to observing what happens when a sense consciousness detects no objects is smell. When I'm not smelling anything that registers as a smell, the smell consciousness feels either absent or dormant. But this dormancy might be interpreted to be an ongoing background smell consciousness 'waiting' for a smell object to appear, like a voice-activated recorder waiting for a sound to turn on.
[/quote]
"The essence of meditation practice is to let go of all your expectations about meditation. All the qualities of your natural mind -- peace, openness, relaxation, and clarity -- are present in your mind just as it is. You don't have to do anything different. You don't have to shift or change your awareness. All you have to do while observing your mind is to recognize the qualities it already has."
--- Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche
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Re: Consciousness question

Post by confusedlayman »

Rick wrote: Mon Jun 22, 2020 2:08 pm Per Buddhism (rather than, say, Vedanta): Consciousness arises together with a conscious'd object. Sensory consciousness (ear, touch, etc.) arises with a sensed object. Right?

What happens to sensory consciousness when there is no object to sense?
bare awareness without memory
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Rick
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Re: Consciousness question

Post by Rick »

Matt J wrote: Mon Jun 22, 2020 4:41 pm I would posit that there are constant gaps, but through habit we have learned to ignore or forget them.
Interesting. Is this the Buddhist teaching? All schools?

It would be great to have a neuroscientist inna house to share the current scientific view of this.

In psychology there's this thing called inattentional blindness, where you fail to notice something in your field of vision. The classic example:



When this happens, are you actually not seeing that something ... or are you not aware that you are seeing it? The former would point to gaps in seeing, the latter to continuous seeing with gaps in awareness of seeing.
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Re: Consciousness question

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Rick wrote: Mon Jun 22, 2020 3:23 pmIs proof offered that sensory consciousness doesn't go dormant and 'scan' continuously for the next sensory object to appear?
Theravada Abhidhamma talks about the Bhavanga Citta, (life continuum consciousness) which fills the "gaps" between sensory experiences.
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Re: Consciousness question

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Grigoris wrote: Mon Jun 22, 2020 6:33 pm
Rick wrote: Mon Jun 22, 2020 3:23 pmIs proof offered that sensory consciousness doesn't go dormant and 'scan' continuously for the next sensory object to appear?
Theravada Abhidhamma talks about the Bhavanga Citta, (life continuum consciousness) which fills the "gaps" between sensory experiences.
Thanks, Grigoros, I was hoping that one of you Abhidharma scholars were going to chime in, this seems like a question very well-suited for the Abhidharma. So we live like we see movies, by tweening together a sequence of frames that follow in close succession to each other. Does ear consciousness exist in those gaps between the frames?
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Re: Consciousness question

Post by Malcolm »

Rick wrote: Mon Jun 22, 2020 2:08 pm Per Buddhism (rather than, say, Vedanta): Consciousness arises together with a conscious'd object. Sensory consciousness (ear, touch, etc.) arises with a sensed object. Right?

What happens to sensory consciousness when there is no object to sense?
It doesn't arise. But there are six senses, not only five, and so there is never a time when consciousness is actually free from an object.
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Re: Consciousness question

Post by Malcolm »

Rick wrote: Mon Jun 22, 2020 6:59 pm
Grigoris wrote: Mon Jun 22, 2020 6:33 pm
Rick wrote: Mon Jun 22, 2020 3:23 pmIs proof offered that sensory consciousness doesn't go dormant and 'scan' continuously for the next sensory object to appear?
Theravada Abhidhamma talks about the Bhavanga Citta, (life continuum consciousness) which fills the "gaps" between sensory experiences.
Thanks, Grigoros, I was hoping that one of you Abhidharma scholars were going to chime in, this seems like a question very well-suited for the Abhidharma. So we live like we see movies, by tweening together a sequence of frames that follow in close succession to each other. Does ear consciousness exist in those gaps between the frames?
There are no gaps because causes and effects are neither same nor are they different.
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Re: Consciousness question

Post by Rick »

Malcolm wrote: Mon Jun 22, 2020 7:17 pm
Rick wrote: Mon Jun 22, 2020 2:08 pm Per Buddhism (rather than, say, Vedanta): Consciousness arises together with a conscious'd object. Sensory consciousness (ear, touch, etc.) arises with a sensed object. Right?

What happens to sensory consciousness when there is no object to sense?
It doesn't arise. But there are six senses, not only five, and so there is never a time when consciousness is actually free from an object.
What about when you are in deep dreamless sleep?
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Re: Consciousness question

Post by Rick »

Malcolm wrote: Mon Jun 22, 2020 7:18 pm
Rick wrote: Mon Jun 22, 2020 6:59 pm
Grigoris wrote: Mon Jun 22, 2020 6:33 pm Theravada Abhidhamma talks about the Bhavanga Citta, (life continuum consciousness) which fills the "gaps" between sensory experiences.
Thanks, Grigoros, I was hoping that one of you Abhidharma scholars were going to chime in, this seems like a question very well-suited for the Abhidharma. So we live like we see movies, by tweening together a sequence of frames that follow in close succession to each other. Does ear consciousness exist in those gaps between the frames?
There are no gaps because causes and effects are neither same nor are they different.
Would it be right to say there is neither continuity nor gaps?
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Re: Consciousness question

Post by Misty »

“All of my sense consciousnesses seem to be detecting objects all the time. Sometimes I'm conscious of this while it's happening, sometimes not.”

I’ve noticed that, depending on the favorable conditions of each sense organ being functional, each one offers an ongoing livestream of potential objects for the mind to notice in each moment. I am always smelling, I’m always seeing, hearing, having thoughts…..there are always multiple sensory inputs available to be selected to provide an object.

So what makes one more attention grabbing in this moment than all the others?

I’m sitting in a moving subway cabin in the middle of winter. I hear a baby cry and my attention, involuntarily and immediately moves to the source of the cry and yet the moment before that happened I was noticing the sour alcoholic smell wafting up from the business man sitting next to me. The subway doors open to the chilling wind and suddenly my object of mind moves from the baby crying to the cold chill against my cheek and then to the wonderful fresh breath of air.

My attention jumped from one sensory livestream to another, seamlessly, instantaneously. At the same time, all my other senses are functional, seeing, hearing, feeling…. but are muted or in some way, relegated as background, not prominent right now but always potentially prominent.

“there are six senses, not only five, and so there is never a time when consciousness is actually free from an object.”
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