Can we know what constitutes the mind-stream?

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Can we know what constitutes the mind-stream?

Postby flowerbudh » Mon Oct 14, 2013 9:46 pm

Do you think that the river of awareness that permeates everything has substance? Is it purely consciousness/modes of mind/energy? I don't think we can conceive of it with our limited perceptions, but isn't mind-stream ultimately synonymous with what we Buddhists call anatta? Isn't the selflessness in and of itself a form of being? I know that I'm getting attached to the labels and the forms, but I do understand there is an equilibrium of existent and non-existent to all of it, just to clarify.
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Re: Can we know what constitutes the mind-stream?

Postby xabir » Mon Oct 14, 2013 10:12 pm

Mindstream has the quality of pure lucidity/cognizance, yet isn't to be equated with a self in any way, and is empty and free of the extremes of existence or non-existence.

Ven Huifeng explains the difference between mindstream and 'self' view previously:



In short:

"self" = "atman" / "pudgala" / "purisa" / etc.
--> permanent, blissful, autonomous entity, totally unaffected by any conditioned phenomena

"mind" = "citta" / "manas" / "vijnana" / etc.
--> stream of momentarily arising and ceasing states of consciousness, thus not an entity, each of which is conditioned by sense organ, sense object and preceding mental states

Neither are material.

That's a brief overview, lot's of things to nit pick at, but otherwise it'll require a 1000 page monograph to make everyone happy.

You'll need to study up on "dependent origination" (pratitya-samutpada) to get into any depth to answer your questions.

~~ Huifeng
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Re: Can we know what constitutes the mind-stream?

Postby flowerbudh » Tue Oct 15, 2013 12:44 am

xabir wrote:
In short:
"self" = "atman" / "pudgala" / "purisa" / etc.
--> permanent, blissful, autonomous entity, totally unaffected by any conditioned phenomena


Wait. I thought "self" was impermanent...? :shrug:
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Re: Can we know what constitutes the mind-stream?

Postby takso » Tue Oct 15, 2013 1:48 am

flowerbudh wrote:Do you think that the river of awareness that permeates everything has substance? Is it purely consciousness/modes of mind/energy? I don't think we can conceive of it with our limited perceptions, but isn't mind-stream ultimately synonymous with what we Buddhists call anatta? Isn't the selflessness in and of itself a form of being? I know that I'm getting attached to the labels and the forms, but I do understand there is an equilibrium of existent and non-existent to all of it, just to clarify.


The mind is dependent arising and anything that is dependent arising is lacking of the core substance i.e. the state of emptiness. There is another label for the mind i.e. the consciousness of individuality, that is born from awareness. Therefore, the origin of individuality is the same as the origin of the mind. And consciousness is actually synergy and it is a key to the geometric expansion of consciousness - thus the arising of prevailing and subtle consciousnesses.

Right now, what exists is defined as that which can be known. If it cannot be known by the mind, then it does not exist. The fact is that things can exist as in fallacy or in reality. In other words, the arising of the mind would conjure up the circumstances of duality or multiplicity. Therefore, the mind is the key source for all the perceptions, conceptions, delusions, imaginations, etc. This means in the absence of the mind, there would be no state of ignorance and suffering.
~ Ignorance triumphs when wise men do nothing ~
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Re: Can we know what constitutes the mind-stream?

Postby invisiblediamond » Tue Oct 15, 2013 2:31 am

It is a stream of fictions. Nothing more. Awareness is emptiness.
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Re: Can we know what constitutes the mind-stream?

Postby xabir » Wed Oct 16, 2013 1:38 am

flowerbudh wrote:
xabir wrote:
In short:
"self" = "atman" / "pudgala" / "purisa" / etc.
--> permanent, blissful, autonomous entity, totally unaffected by any conditioned phenomena


Wait. I thought "self" was impermanent...? :shrug:
Ven Hui-feng's point is the the view of a ""self" = "atman" / "pudgala" / "purisa" / etc." is a false view - the entire premise of a self, atman, pudgala is a complete delusion. No such thing could be found upon investigation. And he is differentiating the view of an atman from the teaching of mindstream in Buddhism.

Let's take 'weather' as an example. Usually we talk about 'weather' and it may seem to us as if weather is a 'thing', but what is it really? Is it the everchanging rain droplets, or is it the wind, or is it the sunshine, or is it the everchanging clouds, or lightning, or thunder, or tornadoes?

All these changes from moment to moment... they cannot be pinned down as a 'thing'. There is no entity called 'weather' to be found in any of these things, nor can an entity called 'weather' be found apart from these things (activities, processes, happenings).

In reality the word 'weather' is just a conventional designation or imputed label upon a conglomerate of everchanging, interdependent activities and no real 'weather' as such can be found.

The same goes for 'self' and the 'five aggregates' of form, feelings, perception, volition and consciousness. Even among these aggregates, the designation of 'form, feelings,' etc are found to be conventional designations of a conglomerate of empty dharmas/phenomena. There is no self that could be found within the aggregates or apart from the aggregates. But dependent on the aggregates, a conventional designation of 'self' is being superimposed on the aggregates.

Also as I said, each of the aggregate is also a conventional designation (especially for the Mahayana teachings that stresses on the emptiness of phenomena). The teachings of aggregates lead to the seeing of no-self first in the subjective person then later in all phenomena. Taking the aggregate of form as an example. The purpose of teaching the four/five elements is so that when we directly investigate and observe our experience, we deconstruct any notions of a Self/Soul or even of a substantial body and see that there are only elements. Do you think the body is yours? No, the body is made of a conglomerate of elements - liquids, motion, heat, solidity, space. Are any of these elements different from the elements in the environment? No. The liquids in the body is the same stuff as the liquids found around. Our body is part of the environment, and consumes the elements of the environment to survive. None of the elements are I, me, mine. The notion that the mind and body consists of a Self/Soul is a delusion. They are just transient, conditioned and self-less aggregates.

But this teaching is not meant to be understood by dry intellect. It should be directly realized in immediate experience. It is not a theory about the material objective universe but what we actually deconstruct in direct experience. The earliest Buddhist texts explain that the four primary material elements are the sensory qualities solidity, fluidity, temperature, and mobility; their characterization as earth, water, fire, and air, respectively, is declared an abstraction—instead of concentrating on the fact of material existence, one observes how a physical thing is sensed, felt, perceived, and deconstructs any substantial notion of a self into the direct immediate 'mere sensed, felt, perceived, cognized'. The same can be applied to the other four aggregates. And then one further penetrates even the empty, unlocatable and ungraspable nature of the 'mere sensed, felt, perceived, cognized'. One penetrates first the emptiness of a subjective self/soul, then later the emptiness of all dependently originating phenomena.

Can 'self' be equated with liquidity? No... can 'self' be equated with motion? No... can self be equated with heat? solidity? space? No. Is it the case that the coming together of all these elements equate with self? That is also not the case... we later discover that all the elements and aggregates are seamlessly inter-penetrating. Yet, to group the aggregates into a single entity or self is simply mind's abstractions to conjure a coherent entity for identification out of a conglomeration of aggregates... heat is still heat, solidity is still solidity and space is still space and no matter how these elements are seamlessly manifesting interdependently in this moment, they do not in any way make up into a 'one self' other than mind's habit to conjure things out of various cognition like seeing a snake in a rope.

In short, there is no self/soul within or apart from the aggregates. There is as Buddha taught in the Bahiya Sutta, 'in the seen just the seen, in the sensed just the sensed, in the heard just the heard, in the cognized just the cognized' and when this is practiced and discerned with penetrating insight into the nature of anatta, then, being there in the seen just the seen in the heard only the heard etc, there is no 'you' here, there, or in between in relation to the seen/heard/cognized. Just this, the Buddha said, is the end of suffering. No "self" can be established. Therefore to speak of "self as impermanence" is also not accurate in an ultimate sense except perhaps as a conventional statement.
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Re: Can we know what constitutes the mind-stream?

Postby xabir » Wed Oct 16, 2013 1:54 am

The same thing applies to "pure awareness" as the Zen Priest Alex Weith wrote based on personal insight into this matter:

http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com. ... sutta.html

"...The next step that I found very practical is to push the process of deconstruction a step further, realizing that all that is experienced is one of the six consciousness. In other words, there is neither a super Awareness beyond phenomena, not solid material objects, but only six streams of sensory experiences. The seen, the heard, the sensed, the tasted, the smelled and the cognized (including thoughts, emotions, and subtle thougths like absorbtion states, jhanas).

At this point it is not difficult to see how relevent the Bahiya Sutta can become..."
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Re: Can we know what constitutes the mind-stream?

Postby Son of Buddha » Wed Oct 16, 2013 3:06 am

flowerbudh wrote:
xabir wrote:
In short:
"self" = "atman" / "pudgala" / "purisa" / etc.
--> permanent, blissful, autonomous entity, totally unaffected by any conditioned phenomena


Wait. I thought "self" was impermanent...? :shrug:


No the Self is not impermanent.Enlightenment is unconditioned and not affected by any conditioned Phenomena hence it is termed=Self

Check out the Nirvana Sutra for more teachings on the Self.
http://www.nirvanasutra.net/

also you noticed how I highlighted Pudgala up above? the reason i did that is because one of the largest oldest schools of Buddhism where True Self followers
and they were literally called the Pudgala tradition
http://www.iep.utm.edu/pudgalav/
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Re: Can we know what constitutes the mind-stream?

Postby Son of Buddha » Wed Oct 16, 2013 3:12 am

xabir wrote:In short, there is no self/soul within or apart from the aggregates. There is as Buddha taught in the Bahiya Sutta, 'in the seen just the seen, in the sensed just the sensed, in the heard just the heard, in the cognized just the cognized' and when this is practiced and discerned with penetrating insight into the nature of anatta, then, being there in the seen just the seen in the heard only the heard etc, there is no 'you' here, there, or in between in relation to the seen/heard/cognized. Just this, the Buddha said, is the end of suffering. No "self" can be established. Therefore to speak of "self as impermanence" is also not accurate in an ultimate sense except perhaps as a conventional statement.


the Problem with this statement is the fact that No Self IS Suffering.

SN 22.59
Anatta-lakkhana Sutta: The Discourse on the Not-self Characteristic
"Form, O monks, is not-self;
if form were self, then form would not lead to suffering
O monks, since form is not-self, therefore form leads to suffering

(notice how Self doesn't not lead to suffering)

If Nirvana were self it would not lead to suffering.
if nirvana were NO SELF it would lead to suffering.

SN 22.46 Impermanent (2) pg 885
At Savatthi. "Bhikkhus, form is impermanent.... Feeling is impermanent.... Preception is impermanent.... Volitional formations are impermanent.... Consciousness is impermanent. What is Impermanent is suffering. What is suffering is nonself. What is nonself should be seen as it really is with correct wisdom thus: This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self."
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Re: Can we know what constitutes the mind-stream?

Postby flowerbudh » Wed Oct 16, 2013 4:15 am

I understand what xablr is saying, and I agree. There is not "one" thing that is a self, rather, several components (form, thoughts, consciousness, etc.) collectively join together and illustrate a vision of a unified entity. Emptiness (and thus self) does not mean non-existence in the typical sense of the word, it simply means not-independent. All is empty. All is interconnected. All is one. :namaste:
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Re: Can we know what constitutes the mind-stream?

Postby Simon E. » Wed Oct 16, 2013 8:52 am

flowerbudh are you SURE that you are 15 ? :popcorn:
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Re: Can we know what constitutes the mind-stream?

Postby xabir » Wed Oct 16, 2013 9:18 am

Son of Buddha wrote:
xabir wrote:In short, there is no self/soul within or apart from the aggregates. There is as Buddha taught in the Bahiya Sutta, 'in the seen just the seen, in the sensed just the sensed, in the heard just the heard, in the cognized just the cognized' and when this is practiced and discerned with penetrating insight into the nature of anatta, then, being there in the seen just the seen in the heard only the heard etc, there is no 'you' here, there, or in between in relation to the seen/heard/cognized. Just this, the Buddha said, is the end of suffering. No "self" can be established. Therefore to speak of "self as impermanence" is also not accurate in an ultimate sense except perhaps as a conventional statement.


the Problem with this statement is the fact that No Self IS Suffering.

SN 22.59
Anatta-lakkhana Sutta: The Discourse on the Not-self Characteristic
"Form, O monks, is not-self;
if form were self, then form would not lead to suffering
O monks, since form is not-self, therefore form leads to suffering

(notice how Self doesn't not lead to suffering)

If Nirvana were self it would not lead to suffering.
if nirvana were NO SELF it would lead to suffering.

SN 22.46 Impermanent (2) pg 885
At Savatthi. "Bhikkhus, form is impermanent.... Feeling is impermanent.... Preception is impermanent.... Volitional formations are impermanent.... Consciousness is impermanent. What is Impermanent is suffering. What is suffering is nonself. What is nonself should be seen as it really is with correct wisdom thus: This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self."
I am not making things up. See for yourself:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

"Then, Bāhiya, you should train yourself thus: In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only the cognized. That is how you should train yourself. When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Bāhiya, there is no you in connection with that. When there is no you in connection with that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of stress."[2]



What is not-self is not satisfactory. But by the ending of all I/me/mine making, by the ending of all sense and view of a self, that ending is the end of suffering. You are confusing the dharma seal of anatta with the ending of I-me-mine making which is the end of stress. The insight into anatta, fully actualized, leads to the end of I-making, and this ending is equivalent to the end of suffering.
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Re: Can we know what constitutes the mind-stream?

Postby xabir » Wed Oct 16, 2013 9:58 am

flowerbudh wrote:I understand what xablr is saying, and I agree. There is not "one" thing that is a self, rather, several components (form, thoughts, consciousness, etc.) collectively join together and illustrate a vision of a unified entity. Emptiness (and thus self) does not mean non-existence in the typical sense of the word, it simply means not-independent. All is empty. All is interconnected. All is one. :namaste:
Yes... just to add: the entire universe or process of interdependence is exerting and manifesting whatever experience that is experienced... there is no perceiver/thinker/controller/co-ordinator perceiving, creating or linking them up. Just the process itself rolls and knows via causality, no knower/controller is necessary or exists.

Not only is the individual component not a self, the several components are also not I, me, or mine... though the conventional designation "self", "flowerbudh", "xabir" etc is made and are valid on that conventional level for practical communication purposes, but has no reality in itself. What we call "self" is empty of any "self-ness" and merely just the aggregates functioning seamlessly to manifest a function like the engine/wheels/exhaust/fuel/steering-wheel/person-handling-the-car, etc seamlessly coming together to manifest a function called 'driving' yet there is no central driver or co-ordinator which is controlling everything. Nor is there a perceiver behind perception. But everything is coming together interconnectedly in a seamless action. But when we say process, we must experience this "formation" in real-time not as something interacting with another thing for "thing" does not exist apart from the the tendency of seeing inherently. Instead see this "seamlessness of inter-penetration..."
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Re: Can we know what constitutes the mind-stream?

Postby flowerbudh » Thu Oct 17, 2013 2:41 am

Simon E. wrote:flowerbudh are you SURE that you are 15 ? :popcorn:

Haha, yes, I turned 15 a month ago. I've been told I'm just an old soul. ;)
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Re: Can we know what constitutes the mind-stream?

Postby xabir » Thu Oct 17, 2013 10:45 am

flowerbudh wrote:
Simon E. wrote:flowerbudh are you SURE that you are 15 ? :popcorn:

Haha, yes, I turned 15 a month ago. I've been told I'm just an old soul. ;)
Nice... that's about the age I started posting in Buddhist forums too.. that was e-sangha back then (2005?). Time flies. Glad to know someone else who is into the Dharma at a young age... not common.
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Re: Can we know what constitutes the mind-stream?

Postby Wayfarer » Thu Oct 17, 2013 12:22 pm

Flowerbudh wrote:There is not "one" thing that is a self, rather, several components (form, thoughts, consciousness, etc.) collectively join together and illustrate a vision of a unified entity. Emptiness (and thus self) does not mean non-existence in the typical sense of the word, it simply means not-independent. All is empty. All is interconnected. All is one.


If it is just 'a vision' in the sense of 'an illusion', then it is not really 'one'. The point about the agent - the person - is that the person is simple, unified. It is not as if you actually have to go and look up 'hey does my foot hurt' in some table of 'places where I might be feeling pain'. When it hurts, it hurts. So trying to say that the reality of existence is 'a vision' doesn't really capture the unity of felt experience - leaving all dogmatics aside.

As to the question in the original post:

Do you think that the river of awareness that permeates everything has substance?


This hinges around the word meaning of the word 'substance'. Most would think 'substance' would be 'some existing stuff or thing'. But 'substance' in the philosophical sense means 'that which exists of its own accord', or 'that which is self-existent'. Actually the Greek word for 'substance' was ousia which is much more like 'being' than 'substance'. So your question could be re-phrased 'is that awareness that permeates everything '"being"' (even though the English is awkward). Putting it that way would be nearer the mark than asking 'does it have substance'?.

That said, I think the 'awareness that permeates everything' is real. But does it exist? Well, I would say that it is never available to us, as an object. It is never 'that' or 'that thing' or 'that substance'. Perhaps you could say, it is pervading - it pervades both subject and object, and everything that is. But it is not an object to us. That is a subtle, difficult and important point in my view.

The issue you're wrestling with is 'does it exist or not'? In actual fact, it is on the basis of that awareness that 'exist' or 'doesn't exist' has some meaning. So you can't say 'it exists' or 'doesn't exist'. Actually you can't say anything about it. Which is why silence has such an important role in the teaching. You can't 'figure this stuff out' - you have to feel your way into it through meditation.

Hope that is OK, take it all with a grain of salt, I have very much my own view of these issues, but if it helps, well and good. You're asking very advanced questions.
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