Tsongkhapafan wrote: It's utterly impossible to have awareness without mind
No, it's like having an allergy to bee stings, even if one never encounters a bee.
Its already there, but does not manifest as a reaction until it meets with the conditions of being stung.
In a similar way,
awareness is precondition.
but awareness is a clumsy word
because most people use it to mean sensory awareness,
which perpetuates the illusion of an intrinsic self.
"Dzogchen" might be a better word for it,
"ground of awareness" is a good term,
and my favorite term for is is used by the 17th centuryZen teacher Bankei:
"Marvelously Illuminating Unborn Buddha Mind".
It is the context in which mind arises.
it is all pervading, like space.
There is nothing in the human brain that can witness its own activity.
the water, fat, and so on only provide the mechanics.
Mind arises because awareness arises with those mechanics, and with phenomena.
For example, the experience of sound only occurs as a result of awareness.
if a tree falls in the forest, it will move air molecules
those air molecules will bounce off others until they reach and ear drum.
that ear drum will convert that vibration into an electrical pulse in the brain
but that is all. The tree falling doesn't make the sound.
the electrical pulse doesn't contain the sound.
the crashing sound of a tree does not echo throughout the brain, inside the skull.
Sound occurs only when the object of awareness,
that electrical pulse in the brain, arises in the context of awareness.
if there steps in that process lacking, no sound will occur.
Mind is the meeting of awareness and objects of awareness.
an object of awareness,
so, it must come after
awareness, not before.
if there are potential objects of awareness,
for example, a rock, alone in a desert, with no sentient beings anywhere around.
even though the rock exists in the ground of awareness,
nothing manifests as anything we would refer to as mind
because the rock does not provide the other conditions for mind to arise.
If you say that a buddha is a self,
a buddha may appear as a self to an observer
but from the point of view of a buddha, purely,
there is only the ground of awareness.
After that, the kayas may manifest as aspects of this
basic ground of awareness.