kirtu wrote:PadmaVonSamba wrote:So the thing is, when someone asks a Buddhist, "what happens to your consciousness when you die?" the appropriate answer should probably be something like: "do you mean the consciousness I had a couple a moments ago, the one I have now, or the one I am likely to have in the next few seconds?
Yeah but they mean what happens to the stream of experience or the stream of mental experience and that continues in some form. Exactly what Bachelor is at least agnostic about.
But the thing is, this stream of mental experience also continues...or rather, appears to continue through out our day to day "life" even though the brain chemistry is changing, the molecules are moving around, cells come and go. So, why shouldn't this apparent continuity cease when new cells replace dead ones?
There isn't really a continuous stream at all...it's more like beads on a string (but without the string). "Continuity" is the illusion.
My point is that the entire question is flawed because it presents consciousness as a continuous thing,(mind) as arising from or in conjunction with another continuous thing, (body).
But (my understanding is) The Buddha teaches that this is not really what is happening at all, and further, that this mistaken view is at the crux of the problem of suffering of existence.
If we experienced thought as we do a large flock of blackbirds in the sky, then just as those birds appear as a single dark shape from a distance, we could easily grasp the idea that consciousness isn't a single "thing" after all because just as we know that the dark shape is merely an appearance resulting from an accumulation of blackbirds, we would understand that "consciousness" is just an appearance resulting from an accumulation of aggregates (skandas).
Nobody asks "what happens to that big dark shape in the sky when the birds fly off in different directions?" but this is precisely the question people ask about consciousness, and what happens to it when the body dies.
It's simply the wrong question. It is an understandable question, but wrong.
PadmaVonSamba wrote:Rather, your cognitive awareness is a sort of constantly replicating, ever slightly changing template. One thought follows another in rapid succession, and ordinarily we experience this as a continuum. It is similar to moving picture film, where separate and slightly different still images follow one another at a speed of 24 per second so as to create the illusion of continuous movement.
This looks like i just contradicted myself. But the point is that these are separate instances of arising awareness, each one producing the next. It's sort of like a line of dominoes, each one knocking down the next. It isn't, strictly speaking, a single, constantly -changing consciousness.