Beings and consciousnesses, one or many?

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Beings and consciousnesses, one or many?

Postby Jyoti » Mon Aug 20, 2012 6:02 am

by Malcolm » Mon Aug 20, 2012 12:06 pm

Jyoti wrote:
Just as within a dream, appearances of people seems to have their own individual mind streams, but they are not real, only deceptively exist as appearance only. What make a dream environment possible is not due to multiple consciousnesses, but the consciousness of your own which is not share by anyone else. Similary in reality, all phenomena is manifestation of a single consciousness.


Malcolm:
This is Vedanta.

Jyoti:
This is not a problem on the position of definitive meaning.

Malcolm
Yes, it most certainly is. Moreover, since you are a fan of Yogacara, you should be aware that while Vasubandhu, for example, rejects outer objects, he defends the existence of sentient beings possessing distinct and unique mental continuums.

In other words, yogacara does not propose that the appearance of other minds is illusory -- in fact, when you read the Mahāyāna Samgraha, for example, by Asanga, he shows quite clearly that it is because of shared traces that we all perceive the same container world. In other words, for Yogacara, individual minds are real, but not their appearances.

I think you need to correct your understanding of Yogacara.

BTW, this is off topic for this thread, you should continue this in either the academic forum or somewhere else, but not in this thread.

M


I can merely discuss the matter itself based on my own understanding on the topics.

1. "for example, rejects outer objects, he defends the existence of sentient beings possessing distinct and unique mental continuums".

The alaya-vijnana stored the mental traces of others as well as those of our own, in other words, beings are not really exist outside of this single root consciousness.

2. "for example, by Asanga, he shows quite clearly that it is because of shared traces that we all perceive the same container world. In other words, for Yogacara, individual minds are real, but not their appearances. "

Being the content (traces) of the singular consciousness, of course these traces were shared, otherwise there is no means nor basis for such sharing to occur. The individual minds are real as one's own since both are equal as being contained within a single consciousness.

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Re: Beings and consciousnesses, one or many?

Postby DarwidHalim » Mon Aug 20, 2012 7:20 am

It is not one nor many.

Can you count the sky? Is it one or many?
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!
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Re: Beings and consciousnesses, one or many?

Postby futerko » Mon Aug 20, 2012 7:34 am

Just thinking speculatively about that idea...

Firstly, if it were possible for a consciousness to contain smaller consciousnesses without them being aware that they were all parts of a greater whole, then wouldn't it also be possible for each of our individual consciousnesses to also contain smaller consciousnesses in the same way? This seems to contradict the definition of what a single consciousness actually is.

Secondly, if this overarching consciousness were absolute in some way, then it would have to be unchanging, else it would simply be a finite entity. If it were unchanging then enlightenment would be impossible, but if it was finite and subject to change, then it would seem to be arbitrary. maybe.
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Re: Beings and consciousnesses, one or many?

Postby Jyoti » Mon Aug 20, 2012 11:01 am

futerko wrote:Just thinking speculatively about that idea...

Firstly, if it were possible for a consciousness to contain smaller consciousnesses without them being aware that they were all parts of a greater whole, then wouldn't it also be possible for each of our individual consciousnesses to also contain smaller consciousnesses in the same way? This seems to contradict the definition of what a single consciousness actually is.


It is demonstrated that a consciousness in a dream is able to produce appearance of beings with their own individual mind streams (consciousness). The difference is between the subjective consciousness and the appearances of beings that seem to mirror our own state. Appearances is just like illusion, it is not true as compare to the subjective consciousness that has direct perception. This consciousness in direct perception is singular, as it cannot be shared by 'others'. A consciousness cannot perceived another consciousness, it can only assume there are other beings with their own individual mind stream through appearances only, including the traces of their thinking. This inability to perceived another consciousness as a reality of another being's existence is the meaning that phenomena appearance of beings is illusory and without a basis. And the meaning of the bodhisattva saving beings while knowing there is not a single beings exist to be saved.

Secondly, if this overarching consciousness were absolute in some way, then it would have to be unchanging, else it would simply be a finite entity. If it were unchanging then enlightenment would be impossible, but if it was finite and subject to change, then it would seem to be arbitrary. maybe.


The root consciousness (alaya-vijana) is unchanging, but the 6th and 7th consciousnesses can change. Awakening or delusion is a conditional state on the side of 6th and 7th consciousnesses only.
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Re: Beings and consciousnesses, one or many?

Postby Tara » Mon Aug 20, 2012 11:13 am

Jyoti wrote:I can merely discuss the matter itself based on my own understanding on the topics.


Please note the Academic Discussion forum has specific guidelines:

... Please offer your opinion complete with reason and support from academic sources.

viewtopic.php?f=102&t=6010
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Re: Beings and consciousnesses, one or many?

Postby Jyoti » Mon Aug 20, 2012 12:14 pm

Tara wrote:
Jyoti wrote:I can merely discuss the matter itself based on my own understanding on the topics.


Please note the Academic Discussion forum has specific guidelines:

... Please offer your opinion complete with reason and support from academic sources.

http://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=102&t=6010


"Based on my own understanding" mean it is not based on opinion of other scholars to support or refute the view of the scholars as cited by Malcolm, but what I have understood from scriptures. Academic source of the reason and the support is from the mahayana's definitive scriptures. I would provide the citation when requested but most are common knowledge of mahayana.
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Re: Beings and consciousnesses, one or many?

Postby Malcolm » Mon Aug 20, 2012 1:02 pm

Jyoti wrote:
by Malcolm » Mon Aug 20, 2012 12:06 pm

Jyoti wrote:
Just as within a dream, appearances of people seems to have their own individual mind streams, but they are not real, only deceptively exist as appearance only. What make a dream environment possible is not due to multiple consciousnesses, but the consciousness of your own which is not share by anyone else. Similary in reality, all phenomena is manifestation of a single consciousness.


Malcolm:
This is Vedanta.

Jyoti:
This is not a problem on the position of definitive meaning.

Malcolm
Yes, it most certainly is. Moreover, since you are a fan of Yogacara, you should be aware that while Vasubandhu, for example, rejects outer objects, he defends the existence of sentient beings possessing distinct and unique mental continuums.

In other words, yogacara does not propose that the appearance of other minds is illusory -- in fact, when you read the Mahāyāna Samgraha, for example, by Asanga, he shows quite clearly that it is because of shared traces that we all perceive the same container world. In other words, for Yogacara, individual minds are real, but not their appearances.

I think you need to correct your understanding of Yogacara.

BTW, this is off topic for this thread, you should continue this in either the academic forum or somewhere else, but not in this thread.

M


I can merely discuss the matter itself based on my own understanding on the topics.

1. "for example, rejects outer objects, he defends the existence of sentient beings possessing distinct and unique mental continuums".

The alaya-vijnana stored the mental traces of others as well as those of our own, in other words, beings are not really exist outside of this single root consciousness.

2. "for example, by Asanga, he shows quite clearly that it is because of shared traces that we all perceive the same container world. In other words, for Yogacara, individual minds are real, but not their appearances. "

Being the content (traces) of the singular consciousness, of course these traces were shared, otherwise there is no means nor basis for such sharing to occur. The individual minds are real as one's own since both are equal as being contained within a single consciousness.

jyoti


The fault of this reasoning of course is that when one sentient being purifies the mulavijñāna, than all would be liberated.

M
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Re: Beings and consciousnesses, one or many?

Postby Jeff » Mon Aug 20, 2012 1:38 pm

Could it not also be that there is one (shared) consciousness containing all form (and also the potential for more form to be created), but that the "individual" is just a "limited" view of the infinite consciousness? Consciousness watching/playing from infinite perspectives. The "deeper" (or less obstructed) the view, the "less" confusion/suffering.

:smile:
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Re: Beings and consciousnesses, one or many?

Postby Jyoti » Mon Aug 20, 2012 1:42 pm

Malcolm wrote:The fault of this reasoning of course is that when one sentient being purifies the mulavijñāna, than all would be liberated.

M


Karma persist for beings with ignorance, but these are not view as impure by oneself who were awakened.
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Re: Beings and consciousnesses, one or many?

Postby futerko » Mon Aug 20, 2012 1:55 pm

Jeff wrote:Could it not also be that there is one (shared) consciousness containing all form (and also the potential for more form to be created), but that the "individual" is just a "limited" view of the infinite consciousness? Consciousness watching/playing from infinite perspectives. The "deeper" (or less obstructed) the view, the "less" confusion/suffering.

:smile:


Yes, or it could even be thousands of consciousnesses, each located within the other, however, such an idea fails to address the issue of how are we to adequately conceive the relationship between the Absolute and the relative.

(I think maybe it would be a good idea to move this thread out of the academic section)
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Re: Beings and consciousnesses, one or many?

Postby Malcolm » Mon Aug 20, 2012 1:59 pm

Jyoti wrote:
Malcolm wrote:The fault of this reasoning of course is that when one sentient being purifies the mulavijñāna, than all would be liberated.

M


Karma persist for beings with ignorance, but these are not view as impure by oneself who were awakened.



If this theoretical single mulavijñāna is purified, there is no possibility of ignorance for anyone.
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Re: Beings and consciousnesses, one or many?

Postby Jyoti » Mon Aug 20, 2012 2:01 pm

Jeff wrote:Could it not also be that there is one (shared) consciousness containing all form (and also the potential for more form to be created), but that the "individual" is just a "limited" view of the infinite consciousness? Consciousness watching/playing from infinite perspectives. The "deeper" (or less obstructed) the view, the "less" confusion/suffering.

:smile:


As mentioned, the problem with the notion of a shared consciousness lies in the direct perception, buddhism based direct perception as prime component of valid cognition, what is not perceived in direct perception rendered it invalid. Thus beings as an object being observed from a subject does not possessed the same basis as the subject itself, and so the basis of such object is considered false. Only their perceivable appearances and the causal factors were taken as conventional truth.
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Re: Beings and consciousnesses, one or many?

Postby Jyoti » Mon Aug 20, 2012 2:12 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Jyoti wrote:
Malcolm wrote:The fault of this reasoning of course is that when one sentient being purifies the mulavijñāna, than all would be liberated.

M


Karma persist for beings with ignorance, but these are not view as impure by oneself who were awakened.



If this theoretical single mulavijñāna is purified, there is no possibility of ignorance for anyone.


If one witness from a subjective angle, a being other than the witness is awakened, his awakening is of appearance only in term of the witness. It does not affect the purification of the witness's own alaya. On the other hand, if one witness one's own awakening, it does not affect the karma of other beings, since other beings were of mere appearance without an actual basis that is connected to one's own state.
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Re: Beings and consciousnesses, one or many?

Postby Malcolm » Mon Aug 20, 2012 2:23 pm

Jyoti wrote:
If one witness from a subjective angle, a being other than the witness is awakened, his awakening is of appearance only in term of the witness. It does not affect the purification of the witness's own alaya. On the other hand, if one witness one's own awakening, it does not affect the karma of other beings, since other beings were of mere appearance without an actual basis that is connected to one's own state.


You still have not solved the problem. You are speaking about this being and that being as independet continuums. This is only possible of each beings ālayavijñāna is separate, etc (which is of course the actual position of the yogacara school).

You just keep chewing away at this logically, and you will arrive at the position of Asanga and Vasubandhu -- or you could simply do yourself a favor and actually read what they say. Start with the Mahāyāna Saṃgraha.

Ok, I am finished with this conversation.
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Re: Beings and consciousnesses, one or many?

Postby viniketa » Mon Aug 20, 2012 10:29 pm

Jyoti wrote:f one witness from a subjective angle, a being other than the witness is awakened, his awakening is of appearance only in term of the witness. It does not affect the purification of the witness's own alaya. On the other hand, if one witness one's own awakening, it does not affect the karma of other beings, since other beings were of mere appearance without an actual basis that is connected to one's own state.


I wonder how this differs from Ādi Śaṅkara's thinking, leading toward advaita vedānta?

futerko wrote:(I think maybe it would be a good idea to move this thread out of the academic section)


Agree...

Malcolm wrote:This is only possible of each beings ālayavijñāna is separate, etc (which is of course the actual position of the yogacara school).


This is my understanding, as well. 'Purifying' the ālayavijñāna is not connected with āśrayaparāvṛitti (reversion to the basis). (see Harris, here: http://books.google.com/books?id=fLZeKatsbaYC).

One might say that the ālayavijñāna is not 'transferred' as a component of any continuum, but is an 'individualized record' that merely contributes to 'initial conditions', which is my (imperfect) understanding.

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ālayavijñāna, one or separate?

Postby Jyoti » Tue Aug 21, 2012 1:27 am

by viniketa » Tue Aug 21, 2012 5:29 am

Jyoti wrote:
If one witness from a subjective angle, a being other than the witness is awakened, his awakening is of appearance only in term of the witness. It does not affect the purification of the witness's own alaya. On the other hand, if one witness one's own awakening, it does not affect the karma of other beings, since other beings were of mere appearance without an actual basis that is connected to one's own state.


I wonder how this differs from Ādi Śaṅkara's thinking, leading toward advaita vedānta?


The body is similar but the means is different.

futerko wrote:
(I think maybe it would be a good idea to move this thread out of the academic section)


Agree...

Malcolm wrote:
This is only possible of each beings ālayavijñāna is separate, etc (which is of course the actual position of the yogacara school).


This is my understanding, as well. 'Purifying' the ālayavijñāna is not connected with āśrayaparāvṛitti (reversion to the basis). (see Harris, here: http://books.google.com/books?id=fLZeKatsbaYC).

One might say that the ālayavijñāna is not 'transferred' as a component of any continuum, but is an 'individualized record' that merely contributes to 'initial conditions', which is my (imperfect) understanding.


The implication by malcom that the view necessitate each being has separate alayavijnana is not in accordance with the logic. The actual alayavijnana is concerning the subjective side of one's existence, it maintained the traces of the objective appearances of other beings, but this doesn't not mean other beings then have separate alayavijnana. If it does, then beings are not mere appearance but possessing real essence. And we have the problem of shared consciousness.

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Re: Beings and consciousnesses, one or many?

Postby Jyoti » Tue Aug 21, 2012 1:29 am

viniketa, I'm answering your questions in the mahayana forum.
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Re: ālayavijñāna, one or separate?

Postby Malcolm » Tue Aug 21, 2012 2:10 am

Jyoti wrote:If it does, then beings are not mere appearance but possessing real essence.


Correct, the Yogacara schools asserts an essence. This is why the Madhyamakas refer to them as "vastuvadins" i.e. realists. In other words, they are non-dualists because all phenomena of skandhas, dhātus and ayatanas are mind only. They are realists because they propose the existence of individual continuums.


And we have the problem of shared consciousness.


Nope. This is why you need to read what Yogacara authors like Asanga actually say.
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Re: Beings and consciousnesses, one or many?

Postby Son » Tue Aug 21, 2012 2:39 am

Hmm. Neither.

I think the main issue really is that this question itself is a false question. I don't think there is any way to really phrase or relate the question in a meaningful way that could reveal a truthful answer.

However I think the closest legitimate question would be, do the consciousness beings in parinibbana have individuality or do they share one consciousness? And to answer this question with reverence to what the Buddha has taught us, I would say that neither individuality nor singularity applies to those in nirvana. Since they neither experience oneness nor a sense of self, neither should apply. Pure, endless and fully-luminous consciousness doesn't give rise to either absolute "self" nor individuality. What is absolute is awareness of blissful mind, free of impermanence, free of what is unsatisfactory, and even free of emptiness.
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Re: ālayavijñāna, one or separate?

Postby viniketa » Tue Aug 21, 2012 6:20 am

Jyoti wrote:The body is similar but the means is different.


Thank you for the answer, Jyoti. Are you saying that Advaita Vedānta is a further implementation of Yogācāra?

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