Where does omniscience come from?

General forum on Mahayana.

Where does omniscience come from?

Postby JeffC » Mon Dec 20, 2010 1:57 pm

After watching a story on 60 minutes (tv show) last night about people who have extraordinary memories it started me thinking about something I have always wondered...

Is omniscience something 'magical' or is it that we all somehow have access to everything that we have cognized (at some level), and since we have been in cyclic existence since beginningless time it encompasses all phenomena?

Or is it neither?

Thank you,
Jeff
JeffC
 
Posts: 8
Joined: Sat Dec 11, 2010 3:47 pm

Re: Where does omniscience come from?

Postby Individual » Mon Dec 20, 2010 7:09 pm

Omniscience is when your mind is like Santa Claus's bag of toys: Nobody but Santa could know what's inside, but apparently anything can emerge and when it does, it makes people smile. :)

It emerges when a bodhisattva practicing the bodhisattva path attains bodhi; it does not emerge from particular forms, ideas, or locations in space. "Magical" could describe it, but it is not like witchcraft and regarding it as such is an obstacle to understanding it.
Individual
 
Posts: 407
Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2010 1:20 am

Re: Where does omniscience come from?

Postby Individual » Mon Dec 20, 2010 8:06 pm

You might further ask:
"So then what is it?"

I am not going to purport to have true omniscience, but I think I could say some further things about it that might truthfully answer your question...

Examining things outwardly and knowing them outwardly is knowledge. Knowing things inwardly is intuition or wisdom.

Omniscience means the clarity of outward perception from unobstructed mindfulness of the sensory faculties (so, mundane knowledge is easily absorbed) and inwardly, there is wisdom (energy flows freely because there is no self-deception, so things like psychic ability are possible).

The finite cannot contain the infinite, so the "store-house consciousness," is not something held within the brain, like the idea of accumulating all the knowledge of past, present, and future, and putting it in a box; that's impossible. But rather the emptiness itself is the gate. Instead of a black hole, it's like a white hole.

A black hole is a thing which is perpetually destructive, grasping and holding onto things, crushing and stretching them in the process; it cannot be directly seen because not even light can escape it. Contrary to this, the physical state of omniscience is like a white hole: it extends infinitely in every direction, illuminating all that it touches, being unmatched in its power, speed, and brilliance, and no conditioned thing can ever taint it.

Understanding omniscience means seeing that profound sphere of light and bathing in it, in which you have no desire to rush around curing cancer or inventing stuff (because these are merely conditioned realities) and yet all questions and doubts are dissolved.

This seems like a lot and maybe it's wrong. But as I see it, the path to omniscience begins with letting go of doubts, which could include doubtful speculations about what omniscience might be. :)
Individual
 
Posts: 407
Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2010 1:20 am

Re: Where does omniscience come from?

Postby Huifeng » Tue Dec 21, 2010 3:38 am

JeffC wrote:After watching a story on 60 minutes (tv show) last night about people who have extraordinary memories it started me thinking about something I have always wondered...

Is omniscience something 'magical' or is it that we all somehow have access to everything that we have cognized (at some level), and since we have been in cyclic existence since beginningless time it encompasses all phenomena?

Or is it neither?

Thank you,
Jeff


In Mahayana Buddhism, the English word "omniscience" is a common translation for the Sanskrit term "sarvajnata", which is "the state of all knowledge". There are other related terms such as "sarvakarajnata", "the state of the knowledge of all modes" - sometimes this is also referred to as "omniscience" as well; and also "margajnata", "the state of knowledge of paths".

One of the most basic definitions of the former is that it is a knowledge of the "common characteristics" (samanya-laksana) of phenomena. Though what constitutes "common characteristics" of everything is a matter of dispute amongst schools, if one said impermanence, dissatisfactoriness, emptiness and not self, it wouldn't be a bad place to start.

The second term is often defined as knowledge of phenomena in "all their modes" (sarvakara). This means not just the common characteristics (as above), but also the "specific characteristics" (svalaksana), too. For instance, that material form is of the characteristic of occupying physical space; that sensation is of the characteristic of experiential reception of phenomena; etc.

The last term refers to knowing the various paths of living beings, and thus how to guide them along these paths.

As such, it would be difficult to describe "omniscience" as something that we have access to, as if it were a thing that is the object of knowledge. Rather, it is the mode of knowledge itself. Although potentially anyone can achieve it, due to be obscured by "the obstructions to the knowable" (jneya-avarana), rather than perceiving objects in this manner, we instead have wrong perceptions and thus wrong knowledge of phenomena.

Last point, the issue of peoples' memories is also rather beside the point. It isn't about knowing things in the sense of having a big memory, but of knowing the characteristics of objects when they are the object of mind. One could have a great memory but still incorrectly perceive the objects of memory, and thus it would not be omniscience (in any Mahayana Buddhist sense).
User avatar
Huifeng
 
Posts: 1471
Joined: Tue Nov 17, 2009 4:51 am

Re: Where does omniscience come from?

Postby Heruka » Tue Dec 21, 2010 5:35 am

Huifeng wrote:

As such, it would be difficult to describe "omniscience" as something that we have access to, as if it were a thing that is the object of knowledge. Rather, it is the mode of knowledge itself.


this is something to consider perhaps?
Heruka
 
Posts: 1069
Joined: Tue Apr 14, 2009 2:34 am

Re: Where does omniscience come from?

Postby Individual » Tue Dec 21, 2010 1:48 pm

Huifeng wrote:In Mahayana Buddhism, the English word "omniscience" is a common translation for the Sanskrit term "sarvajnata", which is "the state of all knowledge". There are other related terms such as "sarvakarajnata", "the state of the knowledge of all modes" - sometimes this is also referred to as "omniscience" as well; and also "margajnata", "the state of knowledge of paths".

One of the most basic definitions of the former is that it is a knowledge of the "common characteristics" (samanya-laksana) of phenomena. Though what constitutes "common characteristics" of everything is a matter of dispute amongst schools, if one said impermanence, dissatisfactoriness, emptiness and not self, it wouldn't be a bad place to start.

The second term is often defined as knowledge of phenomena in "all their modes" (sarvakara). This means not just the common characteristics (as above), but also the "specific characteristics" (svalaksana), too. For instance, that material form is of the characteristic of occupying physical space; that sensation is of the characteristic of experiential reception of phenomena; etc.

The last term refers to knowing the various paths of living beings, and thus how to guide them along these paths.

As such, it would be difficult to describe "omniscience" as something that we have access to, as if it were a thing that is the object of knowledge. Rather, it is the mode of knowledge itself. Although potentially anyone can achieve it, due to be obscured by "the obstructions to the knowable" (jneya-avarana), rather than perceiving objects in this manner, we instead have wrong perceptions and thus wrong knowledge of phenomena.

Last point, the issue of peoples' memories is also rather beside the point. It isn't about knowing things in the sense of having a big memory, but of knowing the characteristics of objects when they are the object of mind. One could have a great memory but still incorrectly perceive the objects of memory, and thus it would not be omniscience (in any Mahayana Buddhist sense).

Nice post.

Ven. Huifeng clearly has more omniscience than me. :D

Or rather, his mind is in a much better mode\frequency. :|
Individual
 
Posts: 407
Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2010 1:20 am

Re: Where does omniscience come from?

Postby JeffC » Tue Dec 21, 2010 2:18 pm

Thank you so much for taking the time to explain.

I take it that omniscience is not something that can be related to gross thoughts in any way but is a state that occurs naturally as the obscurations are removed and the 'clear light' mind is realized.

However, that unfortunately sounds mystical.
Jeff
JeffC
 
Posts: 8
Joined: Sat Dec 11, 2010 3:47 pm

Re: Where does omniscience come from?

Postby Individual » Tue Dec 21, 2010 3:15 pm

JeffC wrote:However, that unfortunately sounds mystical.

You could say that. For ordinary people, the ordinary seems mystical, but for mystical people, what's mystical is ordinary.

But when you think about it, it is no more mystical than weather, brain chemistry, cell division, psychology, and physics.
Individual
 
Posts: 407
Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2010 1:20 am

Re: Where does omniscience come from?

Postby Huifeng » Wed Dec 22, 2010 3:29 am

JeffC wrote:Thank you so much for taking the time to explain.

I take it that omniscience is not something that can be related to gross thoughts in any way but is a state that occurs naturally as the obscurations are removed and the 'clear light' mind is realized.


Not really ...

However, that unfortunately sounds mystical.
Jeff


Why is that unfortunate?
User avatar
Huifeng
 
Posts: 1471
Joined: Tue Nov 17, 2009 4:51 am

Re: Where does omniscience come from?

Postby Individual » Wed Dec 22, 2010 6:43 am

Huifeng wrote:
However, that unfortunately sounds mystical.
Jeff


Why is that unfortunate?

Because mysticism more often than not is "eel-wriggling".

Not speaking straightforwardly, mystics speak in evasive metaphors.
Individual
 
Posts: 407
Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2010 1:20 am

Re: Where does omniscience come from?

Postby tomamundsen » Thu Feb 17, 2011 3:32 am

Huifeng wrote:As such, it would be difficult to describe "omniscience" as something that we have access to, as if it were a thing that is the object of knowledge. Rather, it is the mode of knowledge itself. Although potentially anyone can achieve it, due to be obscured by "the obstructions to the knowable" (jneya-avarana), rather than perceiving objects in this manner, we instead have wrong perceptions and thus wrong knowledge of phenomena.

Thank you for your detailed post, Ven. Huifeng. :namaste:

Can you, or anyone else here, explain how omniscience is actually attained? So far, my understanding is something like an RPG video game where you amass experience points in order to level up; but instead of experience points, it's the accumulation of merit and wisdom. However, this is not a satisfying explanation... surely there must be more to it, right?
User avatar
tomamundsen
 
Posts: 539
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2011 2:50 am
Location: San Diego, CA

Re: Where does omniscience come from?

Postby zerwe » Thu Feb 17, 2011 6:33 am

I feel that omniscience is attained through removing the root of all delusions and that is fundamental ignorance.
Shaun :namaste:
zerwe
 
Posts: 230
Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2010 4:25 am
Location: North Carolina

Re: Where does omniscience come from?

Postby Mr. G » Sun Feb 20, 2011 2:33 pm

tomamundsen wrote: but instead of experience points, it's the accumulation of merit and wisdom. However, this is not a satisfying explanation... surely there must be more to it, right?


Why do you find this to be an unsatisfying explanation?
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
User avatar
Mr. G
 
Posts: 4027
Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:36 am
Location: Spaceship Earth

Re: Where does omniscience come from?

Postby ground » Sun Feb 20, 2011 3:58 pm

zerwe wrote:I feel that omniscience is attained through removing the root of all delusions and that is fundamental ignorance.
Shaun :namaste:


Perhaps conjoined with some extraordinary samadhi.

On the other hand ... who cares about all these speculations?

Kind regards
User avatar
ground
 
Posts: 1782
Joined: Mon Nov 23, 2009 8:31 am

Re: Where does omniscience come from?

Postby Rael » Mon Feb 21, 2011 7:48 am

this comes to mind
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLamhmCYwX4


I heard telephones, opera house, favourite melodies
I saw boys, toys, electric irons, and TVs
My brain hurt like a warehouse
It had no room to spare
I had to cram so many things
To store everything in there
Love Love Love
User avatar
Rael
 
Posts: 477
Joined: Mon Jan 17, 2011 8:36 pm

Re: Where does omniscience come from?

Postby Rael » Mon Feb 21, 2011 7:51 am

is it really something to be attained....is there such a thing...

No one knows if there was a primordial Buddha for it all happened so long ago...

and the whole how we got into this mess...

does anyone know...

is there really omniscience or is it just a glimpse feeling thing ...
Love Love Love
User avatar
Rael
 
Posts: 477
Joined: Mon Jan 17, 2011 8:36 pm

Re: Where does omniscience come from?

Postby White Lotus » Mon Feb 21, 2011 5:13 pm

Omniscience is attained once one gains access to the unconscious mind. it is a fathomlessly deep source of intuitive wisdom that impinges upon the phenomenal world. most poets access the unconscious through stream of conciousness, but any philosopher or scientist worth his salt has access to the unconsciousness too. anyone who has studied buddhism for a while comes to recognise the emptiness of all philosophical speculation.

love, White Lotus.
in any matters of importance. dont rely on me. i may not know what i am talking about. take what i say as mere speculation. i am not ordained. nor do i have a formal training. i do believe though that if i am wrong on any point. there are those on this site who i hope will quickly point out my mistakes.
White Lotus
 
Posts: 585
Joined: Sat Jan 23, 2010 12:56 pm

Re: Where does omniscience come from?

Postby Nosta » Mon Feb 21, 2011 6:33 pm

Its is said that Arhats can see past things that happened until 84000 Kalpas ago (i think thats the number of years and a Kalpa is a BIG LOT of years).

Thats a kind of omniscience i think.

Arhats cant see any further but Buddhas can. Why? Because Arhats still have some delusions that "blind" them. So, i suppose that the more one grows up towards nirvana, the more you develop such capacity (omniscience and/or knowledge of things).
User avatar
Nosta
 
Posts: 697
Joined: Tue Apr 13, 2010 10:28 pm

Re: Where does omniscience come from?

Postby Rael » Mon Feb 21, 2011 7:42 pm

From what i get from what Venerable Huifeng has stated....(i believe he is an ordained monk, yes /no)

there is a danger that one would think you get some Boon that allows one to know everything that ever happened ....

where did i put my social security card some 30 years ago....lol....
Love Love Love
User avatar
Rael
 
Posts: 477
Joined: Mon Jan 17, 2011 8:36 pm

Re: Where does omniscience come from?

Postby tomamundsen » Thu Feb 24, 2011 3:17 am

mr. gordo wrote:
tomamundsen wrote: but instead of experience points, it's the accumulation of merit and wisdom. However, this is not a satisfying explanation... surely there must be more to it, right?


Why do you find this to be an unsatisfying explanation?

Hi Mr. Gordo :namaste:

I find it unsatisfying, because it's only describing the cause and the result, but not the actual process behind it. I believe that all phenomena can be modeled in some way, even if they are not physical phenomena. I'm fine with accepting karma without being given a model of it, because I have actually read scriptures that say it's futile to try to understand the process because of how complex it is and how many factors would be involved. (And because I know its truth through experience.)

However, I thought maybe there are some scriptures that describe the process of gaining omniscience; a model of the changes that occur in one's consciousness. I thought this might exist, because the Tibetans like to go into great detail about things like this. If it is in fact one of those things that we are told to not try to understand because of its complexity or profundity, that's fine. But if there is an explanation out there, I'm really curious to hear it.
User avatar
tomamundsen
 
Posts: 539
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2011 2:50 am
Location: San Diego, CA

Next

Return to Mahāyāna Buddhism

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Exabot [Bot] and 7 guests

>