Questioning Alayavijnana

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Questioning Alayavijnana

Postby Astus » Thu Jun 28, 2012 10:36 am

Alayavijnana is used to explain how karma is carried on from moment to moment, life to life, and also it is a basis for the continuation of a being. Here are some problems I have:

If alayavijnana is a part/mode of consciousness, why are we not aware of it?
If we can't be aware of it, what makes it part of the consciousness? / If there can be a part of consciousness one is not aware of, what makes it consciousness?
If only buddhas are aware of it, since they have it already purified, even they can't see the defiled seeds, and so it's only an assumption.
"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)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Questioning Alayavijnana

Postby Wayfarer » Thu Jun 28, 2012 10:41 am

Astus wrote: If alayavijnana is a part/mode of consciousness, why are we not aware of it?
If we can't be aware of it, what makes it part of the consciousness? / If there can be a part of consciousness one is not aware of, what makes it consciousness?


There are subconscious and unconscious aspects of consciousness. I'm no fan of psychiatry, but at the same time I think the fact that science recognizes such things is significant.

My way of conceptualizing these categories are more in terms of archetypes and tendencies. It is indubitable that people are born with such things as talents, dispositions, and so on. I don't for an instant think that science has anything like an explanation for that in terms of genetics and evolutionary theory. It is much more like a 'conscious continuum' than like a physical transaction. And I think consciousness is a collective phenomenon, in very much the way the yogacarins suggest that it is. So, overall, I think there is something in what they say.
Learn to do good, refrain from evil, purify the mind ~ this is the teaching of the Buddhas
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Re: Questioning Alayavijnana

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Jun 28, 2012 11:01 am

Astus wrote:Alayavijnana is used to explain how karma is carried on from moment to moment, life to life, and also it is a basis for the continuation of a being. Here are some problems I have:

If alayavijnana is a part/mode of consciousness, why are we not aware of it?
If we can't be aware of it, what makes it part of the consciousness? / If there can be a part of consciousness one is not aware of, what makes it consciousness?
If only buddhas are aware of it, since they have it already purified, even they can't see the defiled seeds, and so it's only an assumption.
AFAI one can be aware of the alayavijnana if they are in the "state" of Mahamudra. It can also be accessed by the mano vijnana (discriminating mind) via the manas (intuitive mind).
:namaste:
"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: Questioning Alayavijnana

Postby Astus » Thu Jun 28, 2012 11:44 am

Greg,

Do you have any reference for that? I mean, I haven't yet read anywhere that when abiding in the nature of mind, you see all the seeds that are present in the alayavijnana.
"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)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Questioning Alayavijnana

Postby Huifeng » Thu Jun 28, 2012 12:22 pm

Astus wrote:Alayavijnana is used to explain how karma is carried on from moment to moment, life to life, and also it is a basis for the continuation of a being. Here are some problems I have:

If alayavijnana is a part/mode of consciousness, why are we not aware of it?
If we can't be aware of it, what makes it part of the consciousness? / If there can be a part of consciousness one is not aware of, what makes it consciousness?
If only buddhas are aware of it, since they have it already purified, even they can't see the defiled seeds, and so it's only an assumption.


Hmmm, your first paragraph is from the position of how / why the alaya idea was first being developed.
But, then your second paragraph(s) are based on a position of the later description after some amount of development.

So, this is how the problem comes up. In particular, the ramifications and indeed requirements once alaya is established as a vijnana, as opposed to the collection of bijas.

~~ Huifeng
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Re: Questioning Alayavijnana

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Jun 28, 2012 12:41 pm

Astus wrote:Greg,

Do you have any reference for that? I mean, I haven't yet read anywhere that when abiding in the nature of mind, you see all the seeds that are present in the alayavijnana.
Aaaahhh... here is a reference for you: Dispelling misconceptions about the True Nature, Lesson 62 from Mahamudra - The Ocean of True Meaning Karmapa Wangchung Dorje
:namaste:
"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."
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Re: Questioning Alayavijnana

Postby Astus » Thu Jun 28, 2012 1:26 pm

Huifeng wrote:In particular, the ramifications and indeed requirements once alaya is established as a vijnana, as opposed to the collection of bijas.


As a background info, I've been reading the Cheng Weishi Lun when these questions came up.

Even if we talk about seeds only, they are mental phenomena, and the questions remain. How can a mental phenomenon exist without the mind being conscious of it?
"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)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Questioning Alayavijnana

Postby Astus » Thu Jun 28, 2012 1:53 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Aaaahhh... here is a reference for you: Dispelling misconceptions about the True Nature, Lesson 62 from Mahamudra - The Ocean of True Meaning


That part talks only about how the buddha-mind is full of good qualities. Doesn't even mention karmic seeds or alayavijnana. Are you sure that's your reference?
"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)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Questioning Alayavijnana

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Jun 28, 2012 2:56 pm

The aggregates, the elements and the sense factors of beings have all from the beginning the true nature of awakened male and female buddhas and deities. As is taught in all sutras and tantras they are themselves buddha mind.

If, on the contrary, you assume that there is another superior buddha mind to be attained outside of your mind and believe that it is impossible that the extremely pure buddha mind exists within the mind within th mindstream of impure beings, that is nothing but glossing things over and misinterpreting the vajra words of the secret mantra, you have distorted the meaning of the abiding nature and this is improper...

:namaste:
"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: Questioning Alayavijnana

Postby deepbluehum » Thu Jun 28, 2012 3:16 pm

Astus wrote:Greg,

Do you have any reference for that? I mean, I haven't yet read anywhere that when abiding in the nature of mind, you see all the seeds that are present in the alayavijnana.


This would be the oral introductions to Mahamudra.
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Re: Questioning Alayavijnana

Postby deepbluehum » Thu Jun 28, 2012 3:23 pm

Astus wrote:
Huifeng wrote:In particular, the ramifications and indeed requirements once alaya is established as a vijnana, as opposed to the collection of bijas.


As a background info, I've been reading the Cheng Weishi Lun when these questions came up.

Even if we talk about seeds only, they are mental phenomena, and the questions remain. How can a mental phenomenon exist without the mind being conscious of it?


What you are dealing with here is the problem of avidya. How can anger arise without your being conscious of it? Once it's full blown, you are conscious of it. But it comes on to you unawares. As soon as the circumstances align, it jumps out. This is the meaning of seed. Eye organ contacts object, pleasant or painful, generates eye-consciousness, aroused by memory and then anger can arise. This is the seed. In a sense Alaya-vijnana is memory stored deep in the "unconscious."

So the "seeds" are dependent originations. Buddhas don't see them because of that. So turning your attention to the process, seeing nothing, they disappear, slowly never to reappear. That's how it goes.
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Re: Questioning Alayavijnana

Postby Astus » Thu Jun 28, 2012 3:33 pm

Greg, yes, that's it. Where does it say that with realising Mahamudra you can observe karmic seeds?
"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)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Questioning Alayavijnana

Postby Astus » Thu Jun 28, 2012 3:43 pm

deepbluehum wrote:What you are dealing with here is the problem of avidya. How can anger arise without your being conscious of it? Once it's full blown, you are conscious of it. But it comes on to you unawares. As soon as the circumstances align, it jumps out. This is the meaning of seed. Eye organ contacts object, pleasant or painful, generates eye-consciousness, aroused by memory and then anger can arise. This is the seed. In a sense Alaya-vijnana is memory stored deep in the "unconscious."

So the "seeds" are dependent originations. Buddhas don't see them because of that. So turning your attention to the process, seeing nothing, they disappear, slowly never to reappear. That's how it goes.


You just say that there is alayavijnana, but you don't answer how can there be mental phenomena without being aware of them. It is a problem because if there is no need of consciousness for a mental phenomena, then there are thoughts without being thought, and even a stone could have mental phenomena.
"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)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Questioning Alayavijnana

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Jun 28, 2012 4:17 pm

I would recommend you follow Ven. Huifengs advice first and then maybe consider my rantings. Thing is now you have opened at least five different fronts concerning the original question. Where do you want to start and where exactly do you want to go? You have to deal with the issues raised by Ven Huifeng first before being able to move forward.

Just a note though:
Even if we talk about seeds only, they are mental phenomena, and the questions remain. How can a mental phenomenon exist without the mind being conscious of it?
This statement is opening a whole Pandoras box of issues. It probably deserves a thread of its own!!! I would say that they are latencies or habits rather than current mental events. A habit does not need to manifest continously, or in the present, in order to be able to manifest in the future. It is still there though, isn't it? But we do run into problems with Madhyamakan logic: how can something that is non-existent become existent? If it is existent then it is permanent. If it is not existent then it cannot become existent (a seed is not a tree and a tree is not a seed). If it is both then causes and outcomes are the same. If it is neither, then outcomes do not have causes. Like I said, you've let the dogs out with this question.

I'm off to practice, so see you soon...
:namaste:
"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: Questioning Alayavijnana

Postby Astus » Thu Jun 28, 2012 4:24 pm

Greg,

I can turn it into a quite simple problem:

If we are not aware of seeds, how can they be mental phenomena? If we are aware of seeds, how could they be latent?
"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)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Questioning Alayavijnana

Postby anjali » Thu Jun 28, 2012 4:54 pm

Astus wrote:Alayavijnana is used to explain how karma is carried on from moment to moment, life to life, and also it is a basis for the continuation of a being. Here are some problems I have:

If alayavijnana is a part/mode of consciousness, why are we not aware of it?
If we can't be aware of it, what makes it part of the consciousness? / If there can be a part of consciousness one is not aware of, what makes it consciousness?
If only buddhas are aware of it, since they have it already purified, even they can't see the defiled seeds, and so it's only an assumption.


When we listen to someone speaking, it is the unconscious mind that is taking that sound and transforming it into recognizable speech. Doing that transformation is not a conscious activity. When we learn a new language, there is conscious effort for a while but in time the transformation becomes automatic with not conscious deliberation involved. The vast majority of information processing happens at the unconscious level with only some information percolating up to the conscious mind. One can legitimately ask, where is that transformation know-how stored? And why aren't we consciously aware of both the contents and functioning of our mundane unconscious mind? I'm not trying to be flippant, but that is just how we are constructed--it's a basic duality.

Now enter the notion of the alayavijnana. I haven't spent much time researching/reading about the alayavijana, but not too long ago I was reading Khenchen Thrangu's commentary on The Ocean of Definitive Meaning and came across this note that gave me pause,

There are two kinds of objects: objects that appear clearly and vividly to the six consciousnesses and objects that reside in the ground consciousness as latencies. When we perceive things in a room, there are also may other things outside the room that we cannot perceive. Where are they? They are in the ground consciousness, not as objects but as latencies. When we leave the room, then the room and the things inside it remain in our ground consciousness, since they are no longer appearing to any of the six consciousnesses.

The ground consciousness is vast in terms of the objects contained within it. The whole world is contained in the ground consciousness in the form of latencies. We can go anywhere in this world, and that place will appear, will become a vivid appearance, because everywhere we can go is already present as a latency in the ground consciousness. [KT] p.182
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Re: Questioning Alayavijnana

Postby Astus » Thu Jun 28, 2012 5:06 pm

Anjali,

We suppose an unconscious mind, but since we are never aware of it, it is only a supposition, an explanation without experiential basis. We could as well think that latencies abide on the other side of the universe, or whatever we like. And I'm not bringing in any Madhyamaka arguments, like from the Madhyamakavatara.
"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)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Questioning Alayavijnana

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Jun 28, 2012 5:39 pm

Astus wrote:Greg, yes, that's it. Where does it say that with realising Mahamudra you can observe karmic seeds?
What is the source of the aggregates, the elements and the sense factors of beings?

You are missing the forest for the trees my dear Astus. Looking to find specific words instead of seeing the meaning.
:namaste:
"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: Questioning Alayavijnana

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Jun 28, 2012 5:47 pm

Astus wrote:Greg,

I can turn it into a quite simple problem:

If we are not aware of seeds, how can they be mental phenomena? If we are aware of seeds, how could they be latent?
There are numerous mental phenomena occuring that I am not aware of. Take anger for example. You can be angry and so caught up in the feeling that you not aware of your anger. I can be aware of my capacity for anger yet not be currenlty expressing or feeling anger.
:namaste:
Last edited by Sherab Dorje on Thu Jun 28, 2012 5:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"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: Questioning Alayavijnana

Postby Astus » Thu Jun 28, 2012 5:49 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:What is the source of the aggregates, the elements and the sense factors of beings?

You are missing the forest for the trees my dear Astus. Looking to find specific words instead of seeing the meaning.


OK. It says, "The aggregates, the elements and the sense factors of beings have all from the beginning the true nature of awakened male and female buddhas and deities." That's almost like saying that the aggregates, etc. are selfless, empty. It confirms the original purity of all phenomena. And so I ask how that relates to karmic seeds.
"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)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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