Is ignorance just the dimness of awareness?

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Is ignorance just the dimness of awareness?

Postby Rakshasa » Thu Jan 03, 2013 7:07 pm

I have a couple of questions that occurred to me during my contemplation.


1. Is ignorance (Avidya) in Buddhism just the dimness in one's mind's awareness? The more Ignorance a person has, the more absent-minded he is or the less ignorance a person has the more alert and aware he is?
2. If the above is true, are afflictions (Kleshas) direct causes of ignorance (avidya)? In other words, if someone maintains precepts and destroys afflictions, he can become more aware internally and externally?


I have observed that the awareness aspect of my consciousness doesn't have a constant intensity. There are times - good times in fact - when I am more observant of the world around me and my mind is more alert towards all the impulses of the external world. But there are also times when while walking through the street, I would reach my destination and realize that I was not very aware through the journey, about the people, the trees, the buildings, the events etc. Absentmindedness would be an apt word for this situation. If my awareness is clear and my body feels energetic and relaxed, I can recognize familiar faces even in a crowd, but if my awareness is dim, it would be someone else who would identify me first.


OR

Is ignorance in Buddhism a reference to the wrong kind of intellectual conceptualization about phenomena and has nothing to do with strength of one's awareness? Generally I have observed that the more alert and aware someone's mind is the more intelligent or wise that person seems to be. People who lack much awareness tend to be more confused (ignorant). Thus, my contemplation about the correlation.
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Re: Is ignorance just the dimness of awareness?

Postby ground » Thu Jan 03, 2013 7:38 pm

"And what is ignorance? Not knowing stress, not knowing the origination of stress, not knowing the cessation of stress, not knowing the way of practice leading to the cessation of stress: This is called ignorance.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


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Re: Is ignorance just the dimness of awareness?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Jan 03, 2013 7:56 pm

Awareness is always there so it is not a matter of it being dimmed.

The metaphor I would use is if awareness is a torch then ignorance is a grey filter placed over the lens. The light is still there, still bright as ever, even if it seems to not be shining brightly.
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"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: Is ignorance just the dimness of awareness?

Postby Punya » Thu Jan 03, 2013 8:25 pm

As Ground says Ignorance in Buddhism is a fundamental misunderstanding of the truth . While precepts are a strong support for many there are no absolutes in Buddhism, in a person's actions whatever brings them closer to the truth is more important. "Good" is just a relative term - ultimately he or she is seeking to go beyond good or bad. Our perception that we are more aware at times is just the karmic winds blowing, the causes and conditions that are coming together at any given moment.
Unless the inner forces of negative emotions are conquered
Strife with outer enemies will never end.
~Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
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Re: Is ignorance just the dimness of awareness?

Postby Sara H » Fri Jan 04, 2013 12:55 am

Ignorance is made up of two parts.
A good word for ignorance is to be synonomous with 'confusion'.

Part of ignorance, is genuine confusion. If we knew better, (if we were not confused) we would do better.

But another part is an aspect of willfullness.

The word "ignorance" sums this up nicely as it has an aspect meaning "to ignore".

Because the intuitive knowledge of the Buddha Nature occurs to all Men, when we ignore that feeling, that "Still, Small Voice" within us, we are contributing to our ignorance.

That "small voice" can be very small and uninsistant, yet we ignore it at our own risk.

So part of it is confusion, we genuinely don't know something or are unsure what to do, and part of it is we are genuinely ignoring something that is telling us what is good to do.

When we are sitting, what we are doing is quieting our minds and allowing them to settle so that we may learn to better pay attention to that voice and listen to it. It allows us to learn to hear it better.

In Gassho,

Sara H
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy
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Re: Is ignorance just the dimness of awareness?

Postby ram peswani » Fri Jan 04, 2013 3:59 am

NO.

Cosmic Gods descend to lower planes if they are ignorant inspite of being highly aware.
Human ascend to become Gods because they are more Wisdom oriented though they are much less aware.
Awareness and Wisdom together create Bhoddisattvas and Buddhas.

OM SHANTI
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Re: Is ignorance just the dimness of awareness?

Postby undefineable » Fri Jan 04, 2013 4:07 am

ram peswani wrote:NO.

Cosmic Gods descend to lower planes if they are ignorant inspite of being highly aware.
Human ascend to become Gods because they are more Wisdom oriented though they are much less aware.
Awareness and Wisdom together create Bhoddisattvas and Buddhas.

OM SHANTI


So awareness without wisdom is bad karma? :rolleye:
"Removing the barrier between this and that is the only solution" {Chogyam Trungpa - "The Lion's Roar"}
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Re: Is ignorance just the dimness of awareness?

Postby undefineable » Fri Jan 04, 2013 4:14 am

Rakshasa, I'd tend to go along with your analysis, although it seems original and opens up a whole can of worms - I'll try to revisit when I have more time. For starters, you compare a lack of absent-mindedness with intelligence in spite of the fact that intelligence and absent-mindedness are often positively linked in western culture-??!!
"Removing the barrier between this and that is the only solution" {Chogyam Trungpa - "The Lion's Roar"}
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Re: Is ignorance just the dimness of awareness?

Postby Rakshasa » Fri Jan 04, 2013 6:57 am

undefineable wrote:Rakshasa, I'd tend to go along with your analysis, although it seems original and opens up a whole can of worms - I'll try to revisit when I have more time. For starters, you compare a lack of absent-mindedness with intelligence in spite of the fact that intelligence and absent-mindedness are often positively linked in western culture-??!!



Have you seen this video?


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-IS1b7zGy8

The Zen monk walks in the middle of city. He has great awareness of his surroundings, he observes the environment around him in more detail than the common people walking around. In their minds, lots of thoughts are going on, and they are involved with analysis while trying to grasp the chain of thoughts , thereby loosing grip of "reality" around them. This is what I was referring to. You can say, in some sense, that this monk has lesser ignorance (and lesser afflictions) compared to normal people around him.

In my childhood, we used to place a certain game. We were shown a picture on a card of perhaps a city, a natural environment etc, for 3 minutes and then we had to answer some questions like "what was the colour of shoes of that guy in certain corner?", or "what was the number on that car?" etc. We had to answer from our memories. Of course, some kids, with greater observation and awareness, remembered more detail and others with lesser awareness remembered less. There were times when I would walk in the middle of the crowd while my mind was agitated and my awareness of my surroundings was pitiful (extremely lacking in mindfulness). I hate that state of mind. But there were other times, usually when I was out on a forest, my mind would be much less agitated, and I would notice even the music of the birds in the far distance or the small squirrel climbing the tree, some leaves oscillating in some tree etc. This is the state I like. I want to grow this state of my mind in such a way that I never loose grip of reality and observe everything in great detail while my mind doesn't wrestle with countless thoughts and analysis. Granted that this is merely a form of Shamatha, but I believe nobody every grew spiritually who hasn't cultivated a superior form of mindfulness.
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Re: Is ignorance just the dimness of awareness?

Postby Rakshasa » Fri Jan 04, 2013 7:09 am

I have some more questions that I have some confusion about.

Do sharper senses (indriya/faculties) directly equate to sharper awareness (more mindfulness)? Or is it only the sixth sense (ordinary mind) which, if dull, leads to lack of awareness, and if sharp, leads to more awareness? I guess the latter is the case because no matter how sharp your five senses are in collecting external data, if your mind is agitated by the internal thoughts, then it will not completely collect/process the data provided by the other faculties?


Can the waves of thoughts ever be reduced by our minds? Or the intensity of the current of thought only depends on the Kleshas that you have (such that only eliminating our afflictions will cause the thought current to subside to some extent)? Absent-minded people have stronger current of thought running around their minds, and which is also the reason why they are "intelligent" - because they are most of the times analyzing something in their minds - as compared to, say, a monk somewhere whose mind is more peaceful, but more observant. Since intellectual analysis or conceptualization can never lead to greater understanding of reality, because analysis and coneptualization filters the data through our perception, it is the monk's mind that is superior IMO.
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Re: Is ignorance just the dimness of awareness?

Postby Yudron » Fri Jan 04, 2013 7:16 am

Rigpa is that which sees the non-dual nature of reality.

I'm hoping that doesn't have much to do with being able to find remember where you put your keys.

This is mindfulness of dharmata, not mindfulness as in Plum Village.
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Re: Is ignorance just the dimness of awareness?

Postby Shii » Sun Jan 06, 2013 9:50 pm

Ignorance is a term used when someone is unknowing of something. For instance an old man may look at a child and say ignorance is bliss. This implies that the child does not yet know about life. It is also used when someone is perceived to be less educated or less intelligent than someone else.

What you are talking about with this "intensity of the current of thought" is not possible to maintain at all times. Yes, you may be able to train yourself to become more aware of your surroundings over all, but you will not maintain it 24 hours a day 7 days a week. You will cause yourself to become unhappy if you expect this of yourself and thus you will suffer for clinging to it. Let go and enjoy it when you find yourself in such a state of mind and do not be too hard on yourself when you are not in that state of mind. If you try to force it you will become frustrated and the state of mind will not come. Relax. Breath. And let go. It is more of a relaxation than a forced tension. Remember how you felt in the forest. Remember that perhaps you were more relaxed and that you may not have been clinging after the state of mind. perhaps, you just let it be, and so it was.
“It is easy to believe we are each waves and forget we are also the ocean.”
― Jon J. Muth
“Consider your own place in the universal oneness of which we are all a part, from which we all arise, and to which we all return.”
― David Fontana
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Re: Is ignorance just the dimness of awareness?

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Mon Jan 07, 2013 4:50 pm

Ignorance is the thing that forgets there is no ignorance.

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Re: Is ignorance just the dimness of awareness?

Postby lobster » Fri Jan 11, 2013 6:36 pm

It is important what you remember to be aware of and what you ignore. There is a multitude of awarenesses from the internal, body, arisings, external happenings and so on. Initially we focus on neutral or positive arisings. We become aware of our potential for volitional rather than karmic or monkey mind awareness.
As we progress, we find the unsullied nature of awareness is always present. The very techniques of ignorance eradication become ignorance.
So we have to be aware increasingly of both our ignorance and our clarity. :popcorn:
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