source for the "store house consciousness" idea?

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source for the "store house consciousness" idea?

Postby Frank » Fri May 25, 2012 6:43 am

it's generally thought of as a mahayana idea. but i'm positive i read a sutra from the pali canon where the buddha tells his students that if a man died and his karma was left behind it would be a giant massive hill sized pile. so basically he is saying that our karma is stored and transferred with our consciousness (store house consciousness!).

i can't find it again!

can anyone help?
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Re: source for the "store house consciousness" idea?

Postby Huifeng » Fri May 25, 2012 6:50 am

Frank wrote:it's generally thought of as a mahayana idea. but i'm positive i read a sutra from the pali canon where the buddha tells his students that if a man died and his karma was left behind it would be a giant massive hill sized pile. so basically he is saying that our karma is stored and transferred with our consciousness (store house consciousness!).

i can't find it again!

can anyone help?


It's a Yogacara to Vijnaptimatra idea; from the Samdhinirmocana sutra, into the Yogacarabhumi sastra, and then further sastras after that. However, the roots of this idea are in the Sautrantikas, such as Srilata, Kumaralabdha, and others, Vasubandhu's predecessors.

In the Pali text to which you refer (from memory, so not very reliable!), don't mistake a metaphor for a statement of fact.

~~ Huifeng
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Re: source for the "store house consciousness" idea?

Postby plwk » Fri May 25, 2012 7:51 am

Why don't you try out at the sister site, Dhamma Wheel where the experts in all things Thera and Pali Canon are?
Some of them there are quite helpful...
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Re: source for the "store house consciousness" idea?

Postby Jnana » Fri May 25, 2012 7:59 am

William Waldron has already researched this subject pretty thoroughly, including surveying the earlier source materials: The Buddhist Unconscious: The ālaya-vijñāna in the Context of Indian Buddhist Thought.
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Re: source for the "store house consciousness" idea?

Postby Leo Rivers » Fri May 25, 2012 5:10 pm

The source for the "store house consciousness" idea?



The issue is actually one that is represented in one of the later Abhidharma Scriptures, the pali Kathavatthu.

In that Scripture there is a discussion in the form of questions and answers or argument points in which the problem of continuity comes up. Within classical Buddhism you have a series of moments which are experienced as subject and object.

It is like one of those ancient Greek paradoxes. If you create karma in one moment how was it carried forward from moment to moment? Or more pertinently, from incarnation to incarnation when there is a discontinuity.

The issue also came up in the meditation situation of cessation in the 8th level of jnana or dhyana. If you are truly in that state mental activity has come to a stop. So, if you have no mental activity, what is it that starts you up to consciousness again?

There was all sorts of efforts to deal with this between the 1st century B.C.E. and the 2nd century of the common era.

It seems that in the middle of the 2nd to the middle of the 3rd century CE two major sutras that were going to be associated with the Yogacara took form. It is the Samdhinirmocana Sutra with which we associate the official the inauguration of the concept of the ground consciousness to be

⁃ a receptacle of karma,
⁃ the place where it is held,
⁃ and the place from which it restarts up at as your foundation

below the 7th ego centralizing consciousness and your classical 6 consciousnesses.

But it's a little more complicated than that with investigation.


What people don't understand generally is that there were several texts called the Yogacarabhumi that have survived the vicissitudes of time. There is at least 4 or 5 that I have read about. 2 of the earlier ones are not Mahayana at all.

Originally the word ‘Yogacara’ only means what it reads as, ‘practitioner’ or ‘master’ ‘of yoga’. It is even used in the Lotus Sutra as the way of identifying a female Yogi. What was going on was that there was lots of groups wrestling with these problems, and many of them were practicing what you could call yoga ,which is really just a way of saying that someone is very serious about Buddhist mindfulness meditation, and they really focus on that, rather than, let say, cognitive analysis and verbal discussion.

It is one of those words that dissolves right in front of you as you look at it because Buddhism is all about mindfulness - and mindfulness is the core of whatever you would call yoga.

Now the book that we might humorously call the Mahayana ‘Official Yogacara Yogacarabhumi’, is actually a collection of 5 books.

The 1st section, sometimes called the Vastu Bhumi, is actually 17 sections - each relating to progress on the yoga path within Buddhism. The 15th, 16th and 17th and 18th have to do with the Sravaka path, the Pratyekabuddha path, the Bodhisattva Path and the 2 degrees of Nirvana, with and without remains.

The other sections on the path are technical discussions of different aspects of practice, so they aren't really sequential as far as progress up the path in the sense the last 5 are, even though most of them need to be covered before you get to the others or make progress to the others.

What is really important is the Sravakabhumi which is actually a text of a Sravaka group working outside the Mahayana. And it was incorporated into the Yogacarabhumi because of the philosophy of the “Encyclopedia” we call the Yogacarabhumi. That was and inclusive practice philosophy that once that a bodhisattva learned all of this foundational material and understood the early bhumis within practice - they simply didn't enter into the success of those early levels because they were going on to Buddhahood.

Needless to say the bodhisattva section is called the Bodhisattvabhumi! And like the Sravakabhumi presents a complete path, one which would be in practice one that incorporates the practices of the Sravakabhumi in its initial 2 of 5 “stages of meditation”. [And I'll just insert here that the 10 bodhisattva bhumi begin in the 3rd stage of meditation accomplishment called “seeing” and are completed according to some systems in the 4th stage called “meditation”, with the 5th stage being Buddhahood.]

So what this encyclopedia was trying to do was to be comprehensive as well as presenting a progressive development of Buddhist thought in that era.

What it also means is that the earlier parts of it were written in a way that were not Yogacara in the classical sense of Asanga and Vasubandhu. They represented intermediate ways of thinking about the ground consciousness that were the progressive ways of thinking about the ground consciousness that evolved from thinking about it as simply a seething mass of karma seeds in the background all the way up to the notion that it was a continuum consciousness in the unconscious depths of the mind.

What scholars are coming to a consensus about is that the Samdhinirmocana was written right in the middle of the decades in which the Yogacarabhumi was being assembled and written into being one continuous work.

It is in the 2nd through 5th commentarial sections of the Yogacarabhumi of 17 which are actually commentaries on the material in the 1st section, (about the 17 stages), that you actually have the word alayavijnana used in its most developed sense.

In those sections it is actually somewhat more developed in meaning than even in the Samdhinirmocana!

It is in retrospect, when people understand words in their modern or more developed meaning when reading or writing about older texts where those words had different meanings the IMPRESSION you get is one of a synthetic unitary philosophy embracing texts whose authors actually wouldn't have understood the modern sense at all.

And I believe this was part of the warning that you are being given. Often as sutras are carried forward by scribes and translators through the centuries words “clarifying ” the meaning of that sutra so as to updated to the latest understanding of those words are inserted but not in the sense of footnotes but well-meaning “adjustments”.

You must understand the tremendous devotion and heartfelt allegiance that these scribes and translators felt. It was a world before global communication. With so many people speaking and so few written records of what they said being possible to produce in a preindustrial society you really had to build up reverence for those text you wanted to be bothered to be written down and carried forward. Part of this was a a system of almost deifying respect by which you made sacred text you approved of and considered text you disagreed with fallen Angels. It was rather more human and fluid than that.

I have just discovered the wonder of what is often considered Chinese apocrypha. But the truth is all the Mahayana could be considered Apocrypha from a conservative Nikaya point of view.

I have found it more joyful to consider all a wonderful ongoing of parts struggling conversation to express the ground Buddha nature that is and within all of us but not a thing that you can put your finger on. What a challenge for both scholarship, meditation and love.
:namaste:
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Re: source for the "store house consciousness" idea?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri May 25, 2012 7:40 pm

Frank wrote: it's pretty undeniable that for the whole rebirth thing to function, our karma must follow us and therefore be stored somehow.
Really? So where is the previous moment of existence of a running stream stored then? Of a burning candle?
The king said: 'When deeds are committed, Nâgasena, by one name-and-form, what becomes of those deeds?'

'The deeds would follow it, O king, like a shadow that never leaves it .'

'Can any one point out those deeds, saying: "Here are those deeds, or there"?'

'No.'

'Give me an illustration.'

'Now what do you think, O king? Can any one point out the fruits which a tree has not yet produced, saying: "Here they are, or there"?'

'Certainly not, Sir.'

'Just so, great king, so long as the continuity of life is not cut off, it is impossible to point out the deeds that are done.'

'Very good, Nâgasena!'
The Questions of King Milinda http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/sbe35/sbe3509.htm
"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: source for the "store house consciousness" idea?

Postby Huifeng » Sat May 26, 2012 8:06 am

Frank,

If we are to consider that the "source" of the alayavijnana idea is from the Nikayas / Agamas, then certainly knowing which text in general is quite imperative, so that other users may read said text, and give their arguments for or against it being considered as such a "source".

I would strongly recommend reading Pruden's English translation of Etienne Lamotte's French of the Karmasiddhi-prakarana, for this is one of the key topics discussed here. (Sorry if this has already been mentioned by other worthy posters above.)

~~ Huifeng
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Re: source for the "store house consciousness" idea?

Postby mikenz66 » Sat May 26, 2012 9:41 am

Hi Leo,
Leo Rivers wrote:The source for the "store house consciousness" idea?

The issue is actually one that is represented in one of the later Abhidharma Scriptures, the pali Kathavatthu.

In that Scripture there is a discussion in the form of questions and answers or argument points in which the problem of continuity comes up. Within classical Buddhism you have a series of moments which are experienced as subject and object.

It is like one of those ancient Greek paradoxes. If you create karma in one moment how was it carried forward from moment to moment? Or more pertinently, from incarnation to incarnation when there is a discontinuity.

The issue also came up in the meditation situation of cessation in the 8th level of jnana or dhyana. If you are truly in that state mental activity has come to a stop. So, if you have no mental activity, what is it that starts you up to consciousness again?...

Thanks for your exposition. If it's not too far off-topic, can I just add that elsewhere (probably on E-Sangha, since I can't find it on DhammaWheel) Ven Huifeng explained that the Theravada Abhidhamma model used the "bhavanga citta" http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?tit ... anga-citta to solve this problem of how to "restart" consciousness.

The following Dictionary also addresses the issue:
http://books.google.co.nz/books?id=985a ... ss&f=false

:anjali:
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Re: source for the "store house consciousness" idea?

Postby Leo Rivers » Sat May 26, 2012 3:52 pm

Thanks for the heads up. Master Huifeng has been both very patient and very kind to me.

I thought it would be fair to post these 2 definitions here as they are "foundational" to the topic. ;)

bhavaṅga (Pāli). Concept evolved primarily in *Pāli *Abhidharma commentarial literature in order to explain the continuity of consciousness and personal identity in the absence of a permanent self (the latter being denied by the *anātman doctrine). The bhavanga is the individual’s ‘life continuum’ which flows on like a stream (sota) from one existence to the next. Sometimes known as the bhavaṅga-citta, or ‘consciousness continuum’, it is the foundation of all experience, both conscious and unconscious. It retains the traces of all impression and sensations, and makes it possible to have recollections of these in the form of memories. At the beginning and end of each individual existence it is known as ‘rebirth-linking consciousness’ (paṭisandhi) and ‘death consciousness’ (*cuti-citta) respectively. The concept of the bhavaṅga paved the way for later idealist trends and the evolution of the notion of the *ālāya-vijñāna or ‘storehouse consciousness’.

Keown, Damien (2003-03-27). A Dictionary of Buddhism (p. 32). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.


Bhavanga-citta
From The Dhamma Encyclopedia

Bhavanga-citta: 'subconsciousness' bhavanga-citta is a kamma-resultant state of consciousness vipāka, and that, in birth as a human or in higher forms of existence, it is always the result of good, or advantageous kamma kusala-kamma-vipāka, though in varying degrees of strength see: patisandhi, end of the article. The same holds true for rebirth consciousness patisandhi and death consciousness cuti, which are only particular manifestations of subconsciousness. In Vis.M XIV it is said:

As soon as rebirth-consciousness in the embryo at the time of conception has ceased, there arises a similar subconsciousness with exactly the same object, following immediately upon rebirth-consciousness and being the result of this or that kamma intentional action done in a former birth and remembered there at the moment before death. And again a further similar state of subconsciousness arises. Now, as long as no other consciousness arises to interrupt the continuity of the life-stream, so long the life-stream, like the flow of a river, rises in the same way again and again, even during dreamless sleep and at other times. In this way one has to understand the continuous arising of those states of consciousness in the life-stream. Cf. viññāna-kicca .
References

Maha Thera Nyanatiloka. Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines, Buddhist Publication Society, first edition 1952.


PS: The Yogacara were by their nature inclusive. It is normal to discuss Nikaya and Abhidharma reasoning in a Yogacara context. Vasubandhu "wrote the book"" on the matter, literally. And Walpola Rahula says they are in some instances closer to older forms of text-transmission than the later Pali classical literature as well as "all the elements of the Yogācāra storehouse-consciousness are already found in the Pāli".
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Re: source for the "store house consciousness" idea?

Postby Wayfarer » Sun May 27, 2012 10:35 pm

There is an interesting essay on the topic called Consciousness Mysticism in the Discourses of the Buddha. This essay seeks to show how some aspects of both Vijñānavāda and Sūnyavāda were implicit in certain passages in the Pali nikayas. But I think William Waldron's book, which has already been mentioned, is the definitive description of how the doctrine developed.
Learn to do good, refrain from evil, purify the mind ~ this is the teaching of the Buddhas
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Re: source for the "store house consciousness" idea?

Postby Mr. G » Mon May 28, 2012 11:10 am

Off Topic Posts removed.

Let's all relax and stay on topic.
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
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Re: source for the "store house consciousness" idea?

Postby Tara » Mon May 28, 2012 11:14 am

Mr. G wrote:Off Topic Posts removed.

Let's all relax and stay on topic.


:good:

In addition to the above If any member has a problem or issue with what another member has said use the "Report post" function, rather than going off topic discussing the merits/demerits of a particular member.

For those who do not know, the report post button is located in the top right hand corner of every post and looks like an exclamation mark ( ! ) in an inverted triangle.

Thanks for your co-operation.

Regards,
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Re: source for the "store house consciousness" idea?

Postby Bede » Mon May 28, 2012 11:41 am

Frank wrote:it's generally thought of as a mahayana idea. but i'm positive i read a sutra from the pali canon where the buddha tells his students that if a man died and his karma was left behind it would be a giant massive hill sized pile. so basically he is saying that our karma is stored and transferred with our consciousness (store house consciousness!).

i can't find it again!

can anyone help?

Do you remember more details or keywords? Did you read it from a book or online?

After some searching for 'massive', 'hill', 'pile', 'heap' the closest thing I could find from accesstoinsight or from Bhikkhu Bodhi's Samyutta Nikaya translation was this:

BB's translation of SN 15.10 "Person"

“Bhikkhus, this saṃsāra is without discoverable beginning. A first point is not discerned of beings roaming and wandering on hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving. One person, roaming and wandering on hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving, would leave behind a stack of bones, a heap of bones, a pile of bones as large as this Mount Vepulla, if there were someone to collect them and what is collected would not perish. For what reason? Because, bhikkhus, this saṃsāra is without discoverable beginning…. It is enough to be liberated from them.”

This is what the Blessed One said. Having said this, the Fortunate One, the Teacher, further said this:
“The heap of bones one person leaves behind
With the passing of a single aeon
Would form a heap as high as a mountain:
So said the Great Sage.
This is declared to be as massive
As the tall Vepulla Mountain
Standing north of Vulture Peak
In the Magadhan mountain range.
...
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Re: source for the "store house consciousness" idea?

Postby Mr. G » Mon May 28, 2012 12:26 pm

Off Topic Posts removed. Again, let's stay on topic. As Tara stated:

Tara wrote:In addition to the above If any member has a problem or issue with what another member has said use the "Report post" function, rather than going off topic discussing the merits/demerits of a particular member.

For those who do not know, the report post button is located in the top right hand corner of every post and looks like an exclamation mark ( ! ) in an inverted triangle.

Thanks for your co-operation.

Regards,
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: source for the "store house consciousness" idea?

Postby Son » Sun Jun 03, 2012 3:50 am

Sort of un-conventionalized convention, really, if that makes enough sense. Saying or thinking of the storehouse consciousness "being there" is something that just philosophically happens. In Buddhist thought, you can't possibly avoid a substratum consciousness, and since it's going to be pointed out by someone, over and over, it should be talked about openly.

In one text it was described as a great torrent of water, or a river, which carries the seeds of karma within it. Ground-consciousness, primordial consciousness, "consciousness without feature, without end, luminous all around." Consciousness doesn't just go away or vanish somehow, not ultimate consciousness in that sense of the word. Consciousness is like water, moisture, fluidity, at most it will only become sky. It is hyper-cohesive.

The element of consciousness, along with earth water fire wind and space do cease in Nirvana, but consciousness-not-as-an-element is endless (lit. without feature, without end). Plugged fully into context, you end up with "consciousness" ceases in consciousness. "Consciousness and the nāmarūpa (mind-body) are interdependent. Consciousness is a very sensitive and complex term. This is why the notion of the storehouse consciousness really can't be refuted. In a sense, it is interchangeable with the pure endless consciousness. The storehouse is the volitional-collective consciousness, while the latter is non-karmic. This philosophically explains in conventional terms the evident possibility of their being a pure endless consciousness in a being--an arhat or released being--whilst they are still living and subject to samsara. Digressing in this way to the "manas consciousness," this could be recognized as perception-consciousness.

Leaving us with the traditional 6 sense-base-consciousness, the perceptual consciousness which obscures, and finally the conventionally interchangeable storehouse consciousness.

This is how I deal with the issue. Thoughts?
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