Consciousness and awareness terminology

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Consciousness and awareness terminology

Postby Skywalker » Tue Sep 18, 2012 1:28 am

Sometimes people speak as if consciousness and awareness are two things, sometimes spoken of as if they are the same thing. Sometimes they say that there is no consciousness, or that consciousness is an illusion. Somebody said that consciousness doesn't exist because there is nobody to be conscious or that there is no substance called consciousness. I agree, it is not a substance, but it still exists right? I am slightly confused as to the terminology. Is there a standard of what is meant by consciousness and awareness?

My understanding is that awareness is eternal, yet empty, having the qualities of clarity, emptiness, and bliss. Luminous. Is this different than consciousness? Or the same?

When I am mindful, when I am looking at that which is aware, that is something very specific. What is it that I am speaking of? Consciousness or awareness or both?

Do you know what I am trying to ask? Maybe different traditions have different terms?
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Re: Consciousness and awareness terminology

Postby Skywalker » Tue Sep 18, 2012 1:32 am

I went to the ask yoda web site and asked yoda "Is there a difference between consciousness and awareness?" and he replied "Yes? No? These are only illusions in what we call 'life'. "
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Re: Consciousness and awareness terminology

Postby viniketa » Tue Sep 18, 2012 1:59 am

There are many different ways the two are presented in literature, and many different ways what is presented can be interpreted. Either can appear to be a Chrystal Ball one looks in to see whatever one wants...

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Re: Consciousness and awareness terminology

Postby Skywalker » Tue Sep 18, 2012 2:25 am

viniketa wrote:There are many different ways the two are presented in literature, and many different ways what is presented can be interpreted. Either can appear to be a Chrystal Ball one looks in to see whatever one wants...

:namaste:


:namaste:

That is the problem! Is there agreement on this among Buddhists? :shrug: I understand the Crystal Ball metaphor, very good. I use the words interchangeably but awareness implies something deeper which consciousness appears in. But this is problematic. Maybe I use consciousness as more of a temporary thing dependent on the brain, while I use awareness as the pure essence of consciousness which never changes.

I also see that sometimes people use the word "mind" to mean consciousness or awareness and at other times use the word "mind" to mean that which believes in concepts and discriminates this and that. This isn't such a problem for me since I can judge the meaning by the context.

It all can be quite confusing trying to communicate with Buddhists. I do not want to misrepresent what I am trying to communicate.
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Re: Consciousness and awareness terminology

Postby viniketa » Tue Sep 18, 2012 2:38 am

Skywalker wrote:That is the problem! Is there agreement on this among Buddhists? :shrug: .... I do not want to misrepresent what I am trying to communicate.


From experience, Buddhists sometimes agree to sit together without speaking, but little else... :tongue:

Yes, it can be very problematic when trying to communicate. I'll be interested to see how others respond.

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Re: Consciousness and awareness terminology

Postby Lobsang Jinpa » Tue Sep 18, 2012 8:31 am

My knowledge of such things is limited, so I shall refer to the Explanation of the Presentation of Objects and Object-Possessors as well as Awarenesses and Knowers by Purbuchok Jampa Gyatso. (Trans. by Elizabeth Napper)

I have heard that an awareness is a type of object-possessor. With the other types being persons and expressive sounds. With the definition of an awareness being that which is a knower. Awareness, knower, and consciousness are synonymous.


* Edited to include name of translator of reference text.
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Re: Consciousness and awareness terminology

Postby Yudron » Tue Sep 18, 2012 10:20 am

Skywalker wrote:Sometimes people speak as if consciousness and awareness are two things, sometimes spoken of as if they are the same thing. Sometimes they say that there is no consciousness, or that consciousness is an illusion. Somebody said that consciousness doesn't exist because there is nobody to be conscious or that there is no substance called consciousness. I agree, it is not a substance, but it still exists right? I am slightly confused as to the terminology. Is there a standard of what is meant by consciousness and awareness?

My understanding is that awareness is eternal, yet empty, having the qualities of clarity, emptiness, and bliss. Luminous. Is this different than consciousness? Or the same?

When I am mindful, when I am looking at that which is aware, that is something very specific. What is it that I am speaking of? Consciousness or awareness or both?

Do you know what I am trying to ask? Maybe different traditions have different terms?


Yes, different traditions have very different terms. You are asking important core questions that any Dharma tradition will address and have very specific terminology for. It sounds like you may have been doing some reading in various Tibetan traditions.

The words "consciousness" and "awareness" are English words. Looking at the Tibetan tradition, there are a couple of hundred words that some translator somewhere could have translated as consciousness. Like Eskimos who have many words for snow -- describing subtle differences between kinds of snow, I presume--a language developed to express Dharma will have many words for consciousness.

But, fundamentally, this process of turning back and looking your own mind, investigating "What is mind?," then simply resting in what you find, is an incredibly profound practice. Instead of waiting for scholar to give a technical answer-- you can find the answer your self. As soon as words are put to it, it's gone anyway.
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Re: Consciousness and awareness terminology

Postby Skywalker » Tue Sep 18, 2012 10:30 am

Yudron wrote:But, fundamentally, this process of turning back and looking your own mind, investigating "What is mind?," then simply resting in what you find, is an incredibly profound practice. Instead of waiting for scholar to give a technical answer-- you can find the answer your self. As soon as words are put to it, it's gone anyway.


That is the truth.
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Re: Consciousness and awareness terminology

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Sep 18, 2012 10:55 am

Skywalker wrote: Somebody said that consciousness doesn't exist because...


My understanding is that:
One has to be careful using the term "exist" in the Buddhist context.
In the ordinary usage, "exist" refers to anything people experience or can detect with their senses.
in the Buddhist context, "exist" refers to an ultimate, finite point of origin, which cannot be divided into component parts
and isn't dependent on any relationship to anything else,
doesn't have any relative or comparative (hot vs. cold) characteristics
for the nature of its "existence".

If we say that consciousness and awareness are never experienced by anybody,
even saying such a thing is obviously self-contradictory.

If we say that consciousness and awareness have no inherent existence, no singular point of self-arisen origin, but instead are dependent on a variety of causes, and have the characteristics of relative phenomena,
then that is a different statement, and in that context it can be asserted that they have no true "existence".
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Re: Consciousness and awareness terminology

Postby muni » Tue Sep 18, 2012 1:30 pm

This is all interesting. mind - Mind?
Drop of consciousness smoothly flows in ocean of bright self awareness. I like the word smoothly.
Therefore not easy to find a clarifying word which will make all Buddhists feel comfortable. We can in communication try to remain aware that language is conventional. The language which helps all of us, sentient beings the best to realize languageless awareness aware of itself. :bow:

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Re: Consciousness and awareness terminology

Postby viniketa » Tue Sep 18, 2012 2:09 pm

Yudron wrote:The words "consciousness" and "awareness" are English words. Looking at the Tibetan tradition, there are a couple of hundred words that some translator somewhere could have translated as consciousness. Like Eskimos who have many words for snow -- describing subtle differences between kinds of snow, I presume--a language developed to express Dharma will have many words for consciousness.


Consciousness is a particularly troubling English word... Sanskrit also has hundreds of words to represent.

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Re: Consciousness and awareness terminology

Postby Gyalpo » Thu Sep 20, 2012 6:49 pm

This is also my question for long time, since I am translating from english. In my language we have just one word more or less for both. Onec somebody told me, that consciousness is related more to senses, but I dont think so.

Anyway, what I wanna also know in this context, is real meaning of jňa (in sanskrit), or she (in tibetan) in words like jňa-na, pra-jňa, vi-jňa-na (she-rab, ye-she....)
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Re: Consciousness and awareness terminology

Postby DarwidHalim » Fri Sep 21, 2012 4:36 am

Consciousness and awareness are basically referring to the same issue - there is something.

Talking about soul, mind, consciousness, and awareness are basically also same.

We need these word, because this word is the pointer, so I can deliver what I want to say, and you can also deliver what you want to say.

However, there is a paradox here.

Like a rainbow, you can talk about rainbow, because you can see it. But, if you go and try to grasp it, you can't.

So, does rainbow exist or not?

From essence point of view, rainbow doesn't exist.
From appearance point of view, rainbow exist.

So rainbow can exist and non exist at the same time.

This is the source of confusion.

For anyone who has a view, they will have a conflict of view. This conflict is inescapable.

Once, you have a view, at that instant you already have a conflict in you.

In order to solve this, we have to see inherent mistake of terminology. Terminology is built based on the foundation that something is findable. If aomething cannot be found, you can't put the terminology on it.

If we see a rainbow, by right you cannot put a terminology of rainbow, because that rainbow doesn't have essence to be found.

So, it is important here to differentiate between intellectual object and inherent object.

Intellectual object is the object that you form as if something is findable.
Inherent object is the object that you form if you can find the essence of it.

So the essence of intellectual object is actually a fantasy, because it is built based on a fantasy that the object has essence. Because of that all intellectual objects are inherently mistaken or false.

If we see the whole world from essence point of view, you will not have any view. You will not have the view of existence, you will not have the view of non existence as well.

But if you see the whole worlds from the fantasy point of view - by regarding the existence of fantasy essence, you will have a view of existence and non existence.

Buddha has no view, then There is discussion like why Buddha still talk about mind and consciousness to human? Because human has that view. Human has the view of mind and consciousness. And human doesn't know that actually consciousness and awareness are the fantasy of human. So, Buddha use that same language to pin point to you why that mind and consciousness are a fantasy.

Once you know how fantasy there are, it will automatically drop off.

You will reach the point where you don't have any views. The question like is it exist or no exist, will no longer bug you. You can see the mistake of answering by existence, and the mistake of answering by non existence or does not exist.

And you can see the foolishness of your past in establishing consciousness and mind. You can see why you are confused for so long. And you can see the liberation here. Free from confusion.

When people discuss about mind, if you notice, the subject will get more and more complicated. From 1 mind, it get to several minds, and so on. From consciousness, it gets more and more complicated.

In the right discussion, actually when we discuss about mind or consciousness, those subject should not get more complicated, instead it should go to the point of diminishing, which at the end free you from any view.
Last edited by DarwidHalim on Fri Sep 21, 2012 4:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
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: Consciousness and awareness terminology

Postby DarwidHalim » Fri Sep 21, 2012 4:38 am

Sky walker:
When I am mindful, when I am looking at that which is aware, that is something very specific. What is it that I am speaking of? Consciousness or awareness or both?


If you can see something very specific, you haven't seen enough.
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: Consciousness and awareness terminology

Postby lobster » Fri Sep 21, 2012 9:52 am

My understanding is that awareness is eternal, yet empty, having the qualities of clarity, emptiness, and bliss. Luminous. Is this different than consciousness? Or the same?


You can be conscious, without being aware.
When you are aware, you have to be conscious.

. . . now I will take a nap . . .
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Re: Consciousness and awareness terminology

Postby Skywalker » Fri Sep 21, 2012 11:26 pm

DarwidHalim wrote:
Sky walker:
When I am mindful, when I am looking at that which is aware, that is something very specific. What is it that I am speaking of? Consciousness or awareness or both?


If you can see something very specific, you haven't seen enough.


True! Remember that my words fall short. yes, there is nothing there to see, but rather that which sees is very amazing, even though it is empty. My questions have been answered. My confusion was based on the Buddhist philosophies and the technical meanings of words. My experience, however, is not confusing to me. Just trying the best way to translate my experience into Buddhist terminology and to understand what Buddhism has to say regarding my experience. Thanks everyone!
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