Is Space Conscious?

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Re: Is Space Conscious?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Sep 10, 2013 1:51 pm

Aemilius wrote:
PadmaVonSamba wrote:Two things cannot be denied: Space, and Awareness.
Both are all-pervading, meaning that they form the basis in which all phenomena occur.
But space, itself, is not aware,
and awareness, itself, does not occupy space.
They are not the same thing.




There are meditations that attack the question/presumption of the location of consciousness. You will find them in Mahamudra instructions, there is something similar in the Zen/Chan tradition also. You can't understand this issue without personal effort in these meditations.
In Sravakayana too we have the meditations of the Four Infinitudes. If consciousness is infinite, where does it extend itself if not in space?

No phenomena exist by themselves.
This applies to space and awareness.
They are not independent or self-sufficient.
They are not independent from other phenomena.
Consciousness can pervade space, that does not make space conscious.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Is Space Conscious?

Postby Sherab » Tue Sep 10, 2013 3:31 pm

Aemilius wrote: If consciousness is infinite, where does it extend itself if not in space?

If the consciousness of each and every sentient being is infinite, do they occupy the same space?
If all consciousnesses occupy the same space, do they end up being mixed up or do they remain separate?
If they remain separate, do they still occupy the same space?
If they occupy the same space and yet do not mix up, are they still IN the same space?
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Re: Is Space Conscious?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Sep 10, 2013 5:53 pm

Sherab wrote:
Aemilius wrote: If consciousness is infinite, where does it extend itself if not in space?

If the consciousness of each and every sentient being is infinite, do they occupy the same space?
If all consciousnesses occupy the same space, do they end up being mixed up or do they remain separate?
If they remain separate, do they still occupy the same space?
If they occupy the same space and yet do not mix up, are they still IN the same space?


The problem with these questions is that consciousness is not an intrinsic thing. it is a composite result of causes.
This is different that the ground of awareness,
which is experienced as consciousness when manifesting under the conditions which allow that to happen.
Space, and the ground of awareness are concurrent
and they are the prerequisites for everything else. They are not the composite results of temporary conditions.
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Re: Is Space Conscious?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Sep 10, 2013 6:41 pm

I think the other problem is that space has not been defined. There are many types of space in Buddhist doctrine. Space (or spaciousness) can also be used as a synonym for the property of emptiness so... http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.121.than.html
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Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Is Space Conscious?

Postby Jikan » Tue Sep 10, 2013 9:47 pm

Apropos of the reading of space as emptiness:

you'll get different responses to the question "is space conscious" (if space is understood as another word for emptiness) depending on who you ask. TienTai doctrine would say yes (because the teaching of "emptiness" is regarded as a true teaching but not the last or most complete teaching, not the final answer if you will, but Buddhahood is, and since all that is empty is also characterized by the capacity for Buddhahood, then...). &c. Ask in the Dzogchen forum and you'll get one answer, in the Zen forum, or the general Mahayana forum, or anywhere, and you'll get divergent views.

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Re: Is Space Conscious?

Postby Sherab » Wed Sep 11, 2013 12:02 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:Space, and the ground of awareness are concurrent
and they are the prerequisites for everything else. They are not the composite results of temporary conditions.

Was I talking about the "ground of awareness"?
Do you make a distinction between "space" as you using it and "space-time"?
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Re: Is Space Conscious?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Sep 11, 2013 12:57 am

Sherab wrote:
PadmaVonSamba wrote:Space, and the ground of awareness are concurrent
and they are the prerequisites for everything else. They are not the composite results of temporary conditions.

Was I talking about the "ground of awareness"?
Do you make a distinction between "space" as you using it and "space-time"?


No, and yes.

consciousness is not infinite, because consciousness is a composite phenomena.
(Ground of) awareness is infinite.
When awareness manifests without obscurations,
for example, in the case of a buddha,
then that awareness manifests infinitely.
You could call this buddha consciousness, tha's okay. But it is a slightly incorrect term.
When awareness manifests with obscurations,
the experience is samsara.
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Re: Is Space Conscious?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Sep 11, 2013 7:31 am

Jikan wrote:TienTai doctrine would say yes (because the teaching of "emptiness" is regarded as a true teaching but not the last or most complete teaching, not the final answer if you will, but Buddhahood is, and since all that is empty is also characterized by the capacity for Buddhahood, then...). &c.
So Tien tai says that all phenomena: cinder blocks, fence rails, stone walls, garbage pails... (I'm looking out my window and listing the various phenomena I see) are sentient/conscious and/or have Buddha Nature??? :shrug: Why do I find that hard to believe?
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Is Space Conscious?

Postby Aemilius » Wed Sep 11, 2013 10:35 am

Sherab wrote:
Aemilius wrote: If consciousness is infinite, where does it extend itself if not in space?

If the consciousness of each and every sentient being is infinite, do they occupy the same space?
If all consciousnesses occupy the same space, do they end up being mixed up or do they remain separate?
If they remain separate, do they still occupy the same space?
If they occupy the same space and yet do not mix up, are they still IN the same space?


Well said!
There is a lot about this in the Mula Madhyamaka Karika, for example Chapter 5. Investigation of Elements, which says in verse 7: "Therefore, space is not a thing; it is not a non-thing; it is not something characterized; it its not a characteristic. The other five elements too are similar to space."
(Stephen Batchelor's translation)
http://www.stephenbatchelor.org/index.php/en/verses-from-the-center
Separate things do not exist anywhere at all.
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Re: Is Space Conscious?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Sep 11, 2013 3:43 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:So Tien tai says that all phenomena: cinder blocks, fence rails, stone walls, garbage pails... (I'm looking out my window and listing the various phenomena I see) are sentient/conscious and/or have Buddha Nature??? :shrug: Why do I find that hard to believe?


"all that is empty is also characterized by the capacity for Buddhahood" does not mean that a cionderblock has the capacity for buddhahood.
This is looking at the situation backwards,
which is the most common roadblock to understanding.
If you start with the notion of 'cinderblock' as an intrinsically existing thing,
then yes, it is not only hard to believe,
and it should be. because it makes no sense.

The problem is, people confuse the statement
"nothing arises which can be called a cinderblock'
with the statement, "a cinderblock is empty (of intrinsic existence)"
---because this start off positing 'cinderblock' and then attempts to deconstruct it.
It's like saying."here is a brick, and it doesn't exist".
It doesn't make any sense.
But Dharma makes sense. So, we have to figure out where the glitch is.

You have to understand that from the beginning, arising phenomena are empty.
it's not the other way, that phenomena exist, and then they are empty.

When this confusion is cleared away, then the statement
"all that is empty is also characterized by the capacity for Buddhahood"
will make sense.
a cinderblock cannot become enlightened.
But a cinderblock and buddhahood both arise in emptiness.
Ultimately, there is no separation.

If we say a cinderblock is over here and a buddha is over there
we are negating emptiness.
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Re: Is Space Conscious?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Sep 11, 2013 4:56 pm

Ummmmm... You seem to have overlooked a minor detail called relative truth. Just because at an ultimate level all phenomena are empty, this does not mean (at a relative level) that all phenomena are the same, because, quite clearly, they are not.

Image
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Is Space Conscious?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Thu Sep 12, 2013 4:13 am

Sherab Dorje wrote:Ummmmm... You seem to have overlooked a minor detail called relative truth. Just because at an ultimate level all phenomena are empty, this does not mean (at a relative level) that all phenomena are the same, because, quite clearly, they are not.


What would you say is the meaning of the term "empty", in your statement,
"at an ultimate level all phenomena are empty"
What is your understanding of (the meaning of) that word?

.
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Re: Is Space Conscious?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Thu Sep 12, 2013 4:17 am

Aemilius wrote: If consciousness is infinite, where does it extend itself if not in space?

Thoughts do not occupy space.
They only last for durations of time
and really, not even that.
.
.
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The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
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Re: Is Space Conscious?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Thu Sep 12, 2013 4:22 am

Sherab Dorje wrote:Ummmmm... You seem to have overlooked a minor detail called relative truth. Just because at an ultimate level all phenomena are empty, this does not mean (at a relative level) that all phenomena are the same, because, quite clearly, they are not.


Actually, I didn't overlook that.
But I love the graphic.
I have a half cinderblock in my garden, in an area for meditation,
On top of which I have been growing moss for many years,
and a buddha statue sits very close to that.
So, I really like that graphic!
.
.
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The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.
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Re: Is Space Conscious?

Postby Ayu » Thu Sep 12, 2013 6:30 am

Aemilius wrote:
Sherab wrote:If the consciousness of each and every sentient being is infinite, do they occupy the same space?
If all consciousnesses occupy the same space, do they end up being mixed up or do they remain separate?
If they remain separate, do they still occupy the same space?
If they occupy the same space and yet do not mix up, are they still IN the same space?


(...)
Separate things do not exist anywhere at all.

Yes! As long as there is thinking of separation, things can not be realized, imho.
Because, if our mothers, who have been kind to us
From beginningless time, are suffering,
What can we do with (just) our own happiness?
From 10th of 37 Bodhisattva Practices
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Re: Is Space Conscious?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Sep 12, 2013 7:10 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:What would you say is the meaning of the term "empty", in your statement,
"at an ultimate level all phenomena are empty"
What is your understanding of (the meaning of) that word?
Dependently arisen. Lacking essential existence. Impermanent.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Is Space Conscious?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Sep 12, 2013 7:27 am

"The confusion lies in believing that phenomena that arise on the relative plane are real, rather than appearances based on the unobstructed manifestation of mind. However on an ultimate plane - that of the true nature of all appearances - there can be no confusion. The nature of appearances is empty, and these are by their very nature not truly existent; although they manifest as appearances, they are empty of nature."
Cloudless Sky - The Mahamudra Path of the Tibetan Buddhist Kagyu School Third Jamgon Kongtrul.

So although phenomenal manifestations are projections of mind, this though does not make them conscious. If they were conscious, then this would mean that we would are the projections of phenomena. Consciousness, which is responsible for the phenomenal world, is dependently arisen so its products, phenomena, are also dependently arisen, this does not make them conscious.

Now some traditions consider the mahabhuta (of which space is one of) as actually existent, but in these traditions there is not really a concept of the Tathagatagarbha / Buddha Nature (which is considered to be beyond dependent arising), so there is no conflation of the two (ie space is conscious).

We do not want to fall into the logic fallacy of:
My dog has a nose.
My cat has a nose.
So my dog is a cat.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Is Space Conscious?

Postby Aemilius » Thu Sep 12, 2013 8:44 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
Aemilius wrote: If consciousness is infinite, where does it extend itself if not in space?

Thoughts do not occupy space.
They only last for durations of time
and really, not even that.


That is one possible experience, I believe, of you own mind. Others may experience it differently.
When you are aware of your thoughts, what takes place? I mean, how do you see your thoughts?

If you are aware of a tree in front of you, then your mind or your consciousness goes out to that tree. Similarly with all other objects of attention. This is how perception, and awareness of objects, is viewed normally in buddhist psychology. And there is a lot about this theme of mind and perception in buddhism.
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Re: Is Space Conscious?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Sep 12, 2013 9:28 am

Aemilius wrote:
PadmaVonSamba wrote:
Aemilius wrote: If consciousness is infinite, where does it extend itself if not in space?

Thoughts do not occupy space.
They only last for durations of time
and really, not even that.


That is one possible experience, I believe, of you own mind. Others may experience it differently.
When you are aware of your thoughts, what takes place? I mean, how do you see your thoughts?

If you are aware of a tree in front of you, then your mind or your consciousness goes out to that tree. Similarly with all other objects of attention. This is how perception, and awareness of objects, is viewed normally in buddhist psychology. And there is a lot about this theme of mind and perception in buddhism.
Or does the tree project out from your consciousness? According to your model there is an actual existing (of its own accord) tree out there. Is there?
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Is Space Conscious?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Thu Sep 12, 2013 12:23 pm

If you are talking in the context of relative truth,
and the topic of this thread includes space,
then which is greater,
the difference between the buddha and the brick
or the difference between those two objects,
and the space around and between those two objects?
I would say the difference between the objects and the space is greater than
the difference between the two objects themselves.
But, relative truth is relative. it's subjective,
so, you might see things otherwise.

Relative truth depends on the subjective preferences of the viewer.
Consciousness is composed of two basic things:
awareness, which is the basis + the conditions required for specific cognition.
In other words, awareness + a brain, which provides the physical vehicle for awareness to arise as
a specific type of cognition.

Consider, as an analogy to this, a watermelon.
A watermelon is essentially a large ball of rain.
Rain is the basis, and the conditions required for it to arise specifically as a watermelon
are a seed, some sunlight, and soil.

Usually, we think of the watermelon as the seed which has grown, because the water was added to it.
While this is true, it cannot be denied that in fact, in a watermelon
there is much more water than melon.

So, if you are talking about phenomena,
you have to consider it as space and awareness, which are the basis,
arising only very briefly as a buddha, a brick, a watermelon, and so forth.
.
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