Difference between consciousness and the mind

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Difference between consciousness and the mind

Postby odysseus » Wed Feb 26, 2014 9:49 am

Can anyone explain something about this or point me to an article?

There exists consciousnesses corresponding to the senses, but it´s not the mind in itself, right. While consciousness is dependent on and part of the psycho-physical makeup (as part of the aggregates), the mind is independent of physical matter, or?

:juggling:
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Re: Difference between consciousness and the mind

Postby Aemilius » Wed Feb 26, 2014 10:08 am

odysseus wrote:Can anyone explain something about this or point me to an article?

There exists consciousnesses corresponding to the senses, but it´s not the mind in itself, right. While consciousness is dependent on and part of the psycho-physical makeup (as part of the aggregates), the mind is independent of physical matter, or?

:juggling:


From where do you get that funny idea?

Usually it is said that mind is dependent on sense-organs and sense-objects. There doesn't exist an independent mind at all.
See the teachings about the 12 ayatanas, 18 dhatus and 6 vijñanas.

Even when you have the intermediate-state being, or the dream state, that doesn't mean there is an independent mind.
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Re: Difference between consciousness and the mind

Postby odysseus » Wed Feb 26, 2014 10:21 am

Aemilius wrote:
odysseus wrote:Can anyone explain something about this or point me to an article?

There exists consciousnesses corresponding to the senses, but it´s not the mind in itself, right. While consciousness is dependent on and part of the psycho-physical makeup (as part of the aggregates), the mind is independent of physical matter, or?

:juggling:


From where do you get that funny idea?

Usually it is said that mind is dependent on sense-organs and sense-objects. There doesn't exist an independent mind at all.
See the teachings about the 12 ayatanas, 18 dhatus and 6 vijñanas.

Even when you have the intermediate-state being, or the dream state, that doesn't mean there is an independent mind.


Which ones of my ideas were funny *lol*? Consciousness is connected to the senses via perception-apparatus but it´s not the same as the mind.

I´ve heard that the mind can exist independently of matter, but I don´t remember where. How else could we be reborn on another planet or realm if the mind could not travel independently?
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Re: Difference between consciousness and the mind

Postby Wayfarer » Wed Feb 26, 2014 10:44 am

This is a very big topic, and hard to summarise in a few paragraphs.

I will start by saying that in abhidhamma, there is a word for mind which is 'manas' which means 'mind as the organ of thought'. It is compared to the other senses - vision, touch, and so on - but its function is to grasp ideas or 'objects of thought'. As such it is the same as the other 'sense-gates'. There is nothing particularly 'mystical' about it.

You will find that in Theravada, there is not a lot said about 'mind' in any other sense than that, *except* there is another word, which is 'citta', that is sometimes translated as 'mind' and sometimes as 'heart'. It has a different meaning, in that it is derived from the root 'cit' which is the Sanskrit root for 'knowing'. So you will find that the word 'citta' is used in a different way to 'manas'. It is used in various ways by different teachers, but it is generally a deeper type of idea than 'manas'.

In Tibetan Buddhism, you will encounter 'Mind' with a capital 'M', which is associated with (for example) 'mind-only' teachings of Yogācāra (also known as Vijñānavāda). The meaning of 'mind' in that context is something one could spend years studying. However, one example of a text about that idea, is the Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation through Knowing the One Mind which has been a popular book about Buddhism in the West for a good many years.

Zen and East Asian Buddhism use the term differently again, even though they have something in common with the Tibetan style of teaching. They talk more in terms of 'original mind' (or 'big mind' which is a modern expression for it.) But there are again many differences between Tibetan and East Asian Buddhism regarding various doctrines about the nature of 'mind' that are hard to summarize in a small space.

And then, how the word 'consciousness' maps against all that is another matter. The Yogācāra schools have the theory of 'eight forms of consciousness'. You can find a Wikipedia article about that here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eight_Consciousnesses. But it should be said that not all other schools of Buddhism agree with the Yogācāra analysis. And then, of course, some will distinguish 'awareness' from 'consciousness' and both of those from 'mind'. It is hard to nail down any of these terms with any precision, for obvious reasons.

(I wrote an essay on the topic for a university Buddhist Studies course a couple of years back, if you're interested in reading it send a PM.)
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Re: Difference between consciousness and the mind

Postby Aemilius » Wed Feb 26, 2014 12:18 pm

odysseus wrote:
Aemilius wrote:
odysseus wrote:Can anyone explain something about this or point me to an article?

There exists consciousnesses corresponding to the senses, but it´s not the mind in itself, right. While consciousness is dependent on and part of the psycho-physical makeup (as part of the aggregates), the mind is independent of physical matter, or?

:juggling:


From where do you get that funny idea?

Usually it is said that mind is dependent on sense-organs and sense-objects. There doesn't exist an independent mind at all.
See the teachings about the 12 ayatanas, 18 dhatus and 6 vijñanas.

Even when you have the intermediate-state being, or the dream state, that doesn't mean there is an independent mind.


Which ones of my ideas were funny *lol*? Consciousness is connected to the senses via perception-apparatus but it´s not the same as the mind.


There are several different words in sanskrit (& in other buddhist languages) commonly used for mind and consciousness. They are more than two, common ones are vijñana, manas & citta.
If You search in the Cologne Digital Sanskrit Lexicon how many words there are in sanskrit for the english word mind, you will easily get more than 100 sanskrit words!!
There is no universally agreed correspondence from sanskrit to the english words mind and consciousness.

In the teaching of 18 dhatus there is mind, mind-object, and mind-consciousness (sanskrit mano-vijñana). Here consciousness (or mind) is connected through the the organ of mind to a mind-object, i.e. to a mental image or an idea.
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Re: Difference between consciousness and the mind

Postby Aemilius » Wed Feb 26, 2014 12:40 pm

odysseus wrote:I´ve heard that the mind can exist independently of matter, but I don´t remember where. How else could we be reborn on another planet or realm if the mind could not travel independently?


In the teachings of mechanisms of rebirth, found for example in the Salistamba sutra, Sutra of the Seedling of Rice, it is said that the moon doesn't travel through space to a pond where its image is accurately reflected. Similarly nothing goes from this life to the next life. When the skandhas of this life cease or disintegrate, the skandhas of the next life arise, like the two arms of a scale, when one end goes down the other one goes up. Or like when you impress wax with a seal, the seal doesn't go into the wax, yet its image is accurately impressed in the wax.
These metaphors are in the Salistamba sutra.
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Re: Difference between consciousness and the mind

Postby Astus » Wed Feb 26, 2014 12:53 pm

Basically in Buddhism there are six consciousnesses: eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness, nose-consciousness, tongue-consciousness, body-consciousness, mind-consciousness. They stand for the momentary consciousnesses of the six sensory areas.

Consciousness exists when there is something to be conscious of. Besides the five bodily sensory consciousnesses, there is the sixth consciousness, and it is the consciousness of mental phenomena. Mental phenomena includes everything else besides the five bodily sensory consciousnesses.

Generally speaking, there is no separate consciousness from the above six. Together they could be called simply consciousness or mind. The important point is that mind is necessarily impermanent and dependently originated. Mind is a series of moments of mental awareness, and that's how it can also be called mind-continuum.

Rebirth is possible because mental phenomena like greed, hatred and ignorance don't cease with the death of the body, as they don't depend on the existence of the body. The mind continues to exist because mental phenomena are produced by previous mental phenomena, like one thought leads to another thought.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
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Does marvelous nature and spirit
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Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

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Re: Difference between consciousness and the mind

Postby odysseus » Wed Feb 26, 2014 1:12 pm

Ok, that´s some food for thought sisters and brethren. I will chew on this - it´s certainly heavy duty. I will contemplate more or know the direct experience myself, haha.

Thanks! :namaste:
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Re: Difference between consciousness and the mind

Postby daverupa » Wed Feb 26, 2014 4:52 pm

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Difference between consciousness and the mind

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Thu Feb 27, 2014 12:39 am

odysseus wrote:Can anyone explain something about this or point me to an article?
There exists consciousnesses corresponding to the senses, but it´s not the mind in itself, right. While consciousness is dependent on and part of the psycho-physical makeup (as part of the aggregates), the mind is independent of physical matter, or? :juggling:


There is a basic kind of awareness that functions in all living organisms regardless of whether they have sense organs or not.
This is easily demonstrated by, for example, sperm being attracted to an egg, or plant roots growing toward water, or by white blood cells attacking an infection in the body. "Basic awareness' is the best term I can think of to describe it, because it is the basis upon which every other complex expression of sensory awareness, consciousness, and so forth is constructed. It is the "intentional" (as opposed to purely random) interaction between a living object and anything else.

I do not know of any Buddhist texts that specifically describe this 'basic awareness'. So, I cannot say that this is "Buddhist theory", perhaps it is only my own theory. However, when teachers speak of "original mind", "Pure consciousness" (Anam Thubten), "Unborn, marvelously illuminating Buddha Mind" (Bankei), and so on, which is awareness without any elaboration or even experience of the person experiencing it, I think that all of these terms point back somewhere along the line to this original, 'basic awareness'.

The common thought among scientists and so called "materialists" is that all awareness is created purely from the physical components of the brain. However, since the (human) brain is composed of:
Water 77 to 78 %
fats 10 to 12 %
Protein 8%
Carbohydrate 1%
Soluble organic substances 2%
Inorganic salts 1%

...and is, perhaps the most complex brain of all Earth creatures (at least, according to humans, so there could be some bias!) I find the idea of awareness being spontaneously produced from these ingredients alone rather unlikely (and the very idea essentially anthropomorphic) , although they certainly do create the necessary physical environment for what we call 'consciousness' to occur. Something experiences the neuro-chemical activity of the brain as thought, as emotion. Either that, or the brain is essentially a computer that has created its own user.

So, "Mind" in Buddhist terminology, I think, often alludes in some way to this basic awareness, which functions before any notion of "self" has even developed.
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Re: Difference between consciousness and the mind

Postby Wayfarer » Thu Feb 27, 2014 1:06 am

I noticed an interesting argument for the distinction of mind from matter in the Dalai Lama's Statement on the Issue of his Reincarnation (Sept 24th 2011).

Bear in mind this statement is made in the context of speaking about the Buddhist belief in re-birth:

There are many different logical arguments given in the words of the Buddha and subsequent commentaries to prove the existence of past and future lives. In brief, they come down to four points: the logic that things are preceded by things of a similar type, the logic that things are preceded by a substantial cause, the logic that the mind has gained familiarity with things in the past, and the logic of having gained experience of things in the past.

Ultimately all these arguments are based on the idea that the nature of the mind, its clarity and awareness, must have clarity and awareness as its substantial cause. It cannot have any other entity such as an inanimate object as its substantial cause. This is self-evident. Through logical analysis we infer that a new stream of clarity and awareness cannot come about without causes or from unrelated causes. While we observe that mind cannot be produced in a laboratory, we also infer that nothing can eliminate the continuity of subtle clarity and awareness.

As far as I know, no modern psychologist, physicist, or neuroscientist has been able to observe or predict the production of mind either from matter or without cause.


I find the beginning of Paragraph 2 very interesting, as it appears to posit a fundamental - actually, an ontological - distinction between mind and matter. The argument does this on the basis that 'like must come from like' - 'clarity and awareness' is something that is intrinsically characteristic of mind, but is not characteristic of 'an inanimate object'. So 'mind comes from mind' and not from 'inanimate objects'.
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Re: Difference between consciousness and the mind

Postby Son of Buddha » Thu Feb 27, 2014 2:11 am

odysseus wrote:Can anyone explain something about this or point me to an article?

There exists consciousnesses corresponding to the senses, but it´s not the mind in itself, right. While consciousness is dependent on and part of the psycho-physical makeup (as part of the aggregates), the mind is independent of physical matter, or?

:juggling:


Many Thervadan monks hold the view that Mind is different from conciousness.
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Re: Difference between consciousness and the mind

Postby Zhen Li » Thu Feb 27, 2014 3:16 am

Traditionally in Theravadan commentaries, Viññāṇa, Manas, and Citta are viewed as synonyms. Rather, it is the Suttas themselves which use them in distinct ways. Contemporary Theravadans, but also non-Theravadans may view them as distinct. But that's certainly not traditionally the case.
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Re: Difference between consciousness and the mind

Postby asunthatneversets » Thu Feb 27, 2014 3:34 am

Mind and consciousness (as terms in themselves) may have subtle nuances associated with their respective definitions, but for the most part they are generally held to be synonymous.

An example being this statement from Nāgārjuna in his Bodhicittavivaraṇa:

For those who propound consciousness [only]
This manifold world is established as mind [only]
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Re: Difference between consciousness and the mind

Postby rob h » Thu Feb 27, 2014 7:54 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:The common thought among scientists and so called "materialists" is that all awareness is created purely from the physical components of the brain. However, since the (human) brain is composed of:
Water 77 to 78 %
fats 10 to 12 %
Protein 8%
Carbohydrate 1%
Soluble organic substances 2%
Inorganic salts 1%


Not trying to go off-topic, but the brain is said to be about 60% fat by some sources. A few are here, but if you check you'll probably find plenty more :

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20329590
http://www.livescience.com/3186-brain-f ... smart.html
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/pri ... brain-fats

The confusion might be that some of the fats can also be classed as water or something though (types of omega fats, etc.)
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Re: Difference between consciousness and the mind

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Thu Feb 27, 2014 2:44 pm

rob h wrote: Not trying to go off-topic, but the brain is said to be about 60% fat by some sources.

Well, that would explain why our thoughts seem to carry so much weight!
:rolling:

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Re: Difference between consciousness and the mind

Postby Aemilius » Thu Feb 27, 2014 3:31 pm

Son of Buddha wrote:
odysseus wrote:Can anyone explain something about this or point me to an article?

There exists consciousnesses corresponding to the senses, but it´s not the mind in itself, right. While consciousness is dependent on and part of the psycho-physical makeup (as part of the aggregates), the mind is independent of physical matter, or?

:juggling:


Many Thervadan monks hold the view that Mind is different from conciousness.


Have theravadins become europeans then? ( European in the sense of a religion or an ideology)
Or in which sutta has that view been expressed??
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Re: Difference between consciousness and the mind

Postby odysseus » Thu Feb 27, 2014 4:05 pm

Aemilius wrote:
Son of Buddha wrote:Many Thervadan monks hold the view that Mind is different from conciousness.


Have theravadins become europeans then? ( European in the sense of a religion or an ideology)
Or in which sutta has that view been expressed??


Hm, I always held that the mind is different from consciousness according to my studies. Consciousness can cease to exist, but the mind goes on after death. Consciousness is part of the aggregates and is another apparatus apart from the mind, which is uncreated.
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Re: Difference between consciousness and the mind

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Thu Feb 27, 2014 4:35 pm

odysseus wrote: Hm, I always held that the mind is different from consciousness according to my studies. Consciousness can cease to exist, but the mind goes on after death. Consciousness is part of the aggregates and is another apparatus apart from the mind, which is uncreated.


It seems that "what we are talking about" is not always the same as "what terms we are using", and this is especially true with regards to translating not only words, but concepts from the ancient Buddhist context to the modern western context.

For example, in his book, The magic Of Awareness, Anam Thubten, a Nyigmapa rinpoche, uses the phrase "pure consciousness" in describing what others might call unborn mind, which, as you say, is uncreated.

This problem reminds me of bilingual street signs in Taipei, Taiwan, which sometimes have completely different spellings for the romanized pronunciation of Chinese street names, even along different stretches of the same street, which often makes getting lost quite easy for the western visitor.

Until such basic terms such as "mind" ,"exist" , "consciousness", "emptiness" and so forth become "Buddhist words with standardized western definitions", I think there will always be some misunderstanding and perhaps a lot of time wasted in on-line forum debating as well. It's a bit like trying to play chess without agreeing on which pieces move which ways.

Perhaps in the age of the internet, even emerging from this DharmaWheel forum, there will be an effort made to standardize the meanings of so many terms, so that everyone is one the same page.
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Re: Difference between consciousness and the mind

Postby LastLegend » Thu Feb 27, 2014 4:49 pm

I see no difference between mind and consciousness.
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NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)

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