The mind without objects

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The mind without objects

Postby JeffC » Wed Dec 29, 2010 9:27 pm

There is a definition of the conventional mind from the root text of the Mahamudra by the First Panchen Lama, Chokyi Gyeltsen:

”Not established as any form of physical phenomenon, it is a non-obstructive bareness that gives rise to the cognitive dawning and emanation of anything, and which endures as an unhindered clarity and awareness, engaging [with objects] without discontinuity.”

Every time I read this it feels like I have just had a delicious meal. I find it very satisfying.

I want to focus for a moment on the part that says “engaging with objects without discontinuity.”

Imagine for a moment that there were no objects with which to engage. What would happen to the mind? What I’m asking is: Does the mind exist only in dependence on external objects?

Thank you,
Jeff
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Re: The mind without objects

Postby Blue Garuda » Wed Dec 29, 2010 11:40 pm

JeffC wrote:Imagine for a moment that there were no objects with which to engage.

Thank you,
Jeff



What is there to imagine or negate objects?

If the mind itself lacks inherent existence, what observes that condition?

The mind always has an object with which to engage - the mind. Therefore there can never be an absence of all objects.

Of course, one may then unpick the definition of mind, of awareness, of consciousness, and seek some defining evidence of existence. In the end what defines existence of the mind for a person can only be that which appears to their mind.

I've not seen a convincing argument from Madhyamaka which eradicates the need for a mind to perceive it own lack of inherent existence. Like a Möbius strip, the idea of a mental continuum does not require or posit the creation of mind nor its ending, but it does require an eternal consciousness.
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Re: The mind without objects

Postby Astus » Thu Dec 30, 2010 12:27 am

Mind in Buddhism is defined by its object, so there are six consciousnesses: eye-, ear-, nose-, tongue-, body- and mind-consciousness. Yogacara added to this two, and in some versions three other consciousnesses but these I'd rather call possible extras and this categorisation is not in all Buddhist schools. Nevertheless, all kinds of consciousnesses are empty, without inherent existence and dependently arisen.
"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: The mind without objects

Postby Blue Garuda » Thu Dec 30, 2010 10:51 am

Astus wrote:Mind in Buddhism is defined by its object, so there are six consciousnesses: eye-, ear-, nose-, tongue-, body- and mind-consciousness. Yogacara added to this two, and in some versions three other consciousnesses but these I'd rather call possible extras and this categorisation is not in all Buddhist schools. Nevertheless, all kinds of consciousnesses are empty, without inherent existence and dependently arisen.



If mind is defined by its objects, it therefore possesses them, is aware of them, as nothing else exists to observe them. What is it then that possesses and observes mind as an object, albeit as with all, lacking in inherent existence?

If mind, and mind consciousness, is dependently arisen, it is also impossible to define a beginning and end, either at the birth of a being or at death, on the breaking up of the body.

Since we cannot define the beginning and end of mind, as mind-consciousness, how do we know that objects are required for it to arise? The six consciousnesses are means through which mind perceives both itself as an object and has awareness of other objects, also lacking inherent existence, but in turn the mind perceives those consciousnesses. Perhaps then, we should turn the telescope around and look through the other end and state that the consciousnesses arise in dependence on the mind and therefore it is not possible for them to be necessary for mind to exist.

So I come back to the position that mind is required to already be extant in order to be aware of the consciousnesses arising as objects. If only mind can be both possessor and possessed, observer and observed, it would follow that it may also arise from itself without external cause, in a continuum, or as described:
''“engaging with objects without discontinuity.''
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Re: The mind without objects

Postby ground » Thu Dec 30, 2010 11:42 am

What's the use of all this speculation? Fact is that there is no consiousness (or mind) without being "conscious of". Or is anybody unconscious while speculating?

Kind regards
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Re: The mind without objects

Postby Blue Garuda » Thu Dec 30, 2010 12:27 pm

TMingyur wrote:What's the use of all this speculation? Fact is that there is no consiousness (or mind) without being "conscious of". Or is anybody unconscious while speculating?

Kind regards


Is a person aware of being conscious because they have a mind?
Or do they have a mind as a consequence of being conscious?

If mind arises in dependece on coisciousness, does consciousness also arise in dependence on mind? If so, the continuum is indeed:
''engaging with objects without discontinuity''.
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Re: The mind without objects

Postby Astus » Thu Dec 30, 2010 12:39 pm

Talking of mind as a thing in itself is what reification means, conceiving it as independent. For convential speech that is fine, that's what being not analysed means. But if we want to know what mind is we find that there are simply instances of mental perception, thus on the first level we arrive at the teaching of mental dharmas. Analysing further even dharmas are found to be without inherent essence, without arising and disappearing, i.e. empty. To say there's a continuum of mental events is good as far as it is clear that calling it a "continuum" is simply a concept and that there's nothing actually eternal, just like in the case of matter, etc.

The MMK deals with perception and forms of consciousnesses in chapter 3. The concept of prior existence is discussed in chapter 9.

"It would be better for the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person to hold to the body composed of the four great elements, rather than the mind, as the self. Why is that? Because this body composed of the four great elements is seen standing for a year, two years, three, four, five, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, a hundred years or more. But what's called 'mind,' 'intellect,' or 'consciousness' by day and by night arises as one thing and ceases as another."
(SN 12.61)
"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: The mind without objects

Postby Blue Garuda » Thu Dec 30, 2010 1:02 pm

Astus wrote:Talking of mind as a thing in itself is what reification means, conceiving it as independent. For convential speech that is fine, that's what being not analysed means. But if we want to know what mind is we find that there are simply instances of mental perception, thus on the first level we arrive at the teaching of mental dharmas. Analysing further even dharmas are found to be without inherent essence, without arising and disappearing, i.e. empty. To say there's a continuum of mental events is good as far as it is clear that calling it a "continuum" is simply a concept and that there's nothing actually eternal, just like in the case of matter, etc.

The MMK deals with perception and forms of consciousnesses in chapter 3. The concept of prior existence is discussed in chapter 9.

"It would be better for the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person to hold to the body composed of the four great elements, rather than the mind, as the self. Why is that? Because this body composed of the four great elements is seen standing for a year, two years, three, four, five, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, a hundred years or more. But what's called 'mind,' 'intellect,' or 'consciousness' by day and by night arises as one thing and ceases as another."
(SN 12.61)



Yes, as a continuum. An excellent quote - ordinary views seem to tend towards the desire for identifiable 'beginnings' and 'endings'. :)

'Eternal' is a concept which is negated by the impossibility of being able to even point at 'present', let alone past and future. The continuum of arising does preclude any identification of 'mind' as anything static at which we can point, but perhaps it may be understood to be both causal and consequential.
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Re: The mind without objects

Postby ground » Thu Dec 30, 2010 1:19 pm

Yeshe wrote:
TMingyur wrote:What's the use of all this speculation? Fact is that there is no consiousness (or mind) without being "conscious of". Or is anybody unconscious while speculating?

Kind regards


Is a person aware of being conscious because they have a mind?
Or do they have a mind as a consequence of being conscious?

Invalid questions.

Yeshe wrote:If mind arises in dependece on coisciousness, does consciousness also arise in dependence on mind?

Using different terms ("mind", "consciousness") does not establish different phenomena.


kind regards
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Re: The mind without objects

Postby Jnana » Thu Dec 30, 2010 1:56 pm

Astus wrote:Analysing further even dharmas are found to be without inherent essence, without arising and disappearing, i.e. empty. To say there's a continuum of mental events is good as far as it is clear that calling it a "continuum" is simply a concept and that there's nothing actually eternal, just like in the case of matter, etc.

Indeed, mind is a mere conceptual designation. (Tantrika) Nāgārjuna's Bodhicittavivaraṇa:

    39. The cognizer perceives the cognizable;
    Without the cognizable there is no cognition;
    Therefore why do you not admit
    That neither object nor subject exists [at all]?

    40. The mind is but a mere name;
    Apart from its name it exists as nothing;
    So view consciousness as a mere name;
    Name too has no intrinsic nature.

    41. Either within or likewise without,
    Or somewhere in between the two,
    The conquerors have never found the mind;
    So the mind has the nature of an illusion.

    42. The distinctions of colors and shapes,
    Or that of object and subject,
    Of male, female and the neuter –
    The mind has no such fixed forms.

    43. In brief the Buddhas have never seen
    Nor will they ever see [such a mind];
    So how can they see it as intrinsic nature
    That which is devoid of intrinsic nature?

    44. “Entity” is a conceptualization;
    Absence of conceptualization is emptiness;
    Where conceptualization occurs,
    How can there be emptiness?

    45. The mind in terms of the perceived and perceiver,
    This the Tathagatas have never seen;
    Where there is the perceived and perceiver,
    There is no enlightenment.

    46. Devoid of characteristics and origination,
    Devoid of substantive reality and transcending speech,
    Space, awakening mind and enlightenment
    Possess the characteristics of non-duality.

    47. Those abiding in the heart of enlightenment,
    Such as the Buddhas, the great beings,
    And all the great compassionate ones
    Always understand emptiness to be like space.

    48. Therefore constantly meditate on this emptiness:
    The basis of all phenomena,
    Tranquil and illusion-like,
    Groundless and destroyer of cyclic existence.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: The mind without objects

Postby Blue Garuda » Thu Dec 30, 2010 3:18 pm

TMingyur wrote:
Yeshe wrote:
TMingyur wrote:What's the use of all this speculation? Fact is that there is no consiousness (or mind) without being "conscious of". Or is anybody unconscious while speculating?

Kind regards


Is a person aware of being conscious because they have a mind?
Or do they have a mind as a consequence of being conscious?

Invalid questions.

Yeshe wrote:If mind arises in dependece on coisciousness, does consciousness also arise in dependence on mind?

Using different terms ("mind", "consciousness") does not establish different phenomena.


kind regards


Read the OP. It is the basis of this discussion - ''engaging [with objects] without discontinuity''. If you regard the 'speculation' as pointless and questions you can't answer as 'invalid' then the discussion is indeed pointless.

maitri

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Re: The mind without objects

Postby White Lotus » Thu Dec 30, 2010 3:40 pm

''engaging with objects without discontinuity''.


after one is able to see ones own nature one becomes aware of a continuum between oneself and the objective world (a oneness)... however when one realizes that which has "no name", that which cannot be touched by any word, the subject completely dissapears, there is only awareness of the objective. in reality there is no subject or object, however object is still percieved. this is no perception of a non object. there is no 'one'.

with love, from White Lotus.

(thanks for that helpful Nagarjuna quote).
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.
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Re: The mind without objects

Postby Individual » Mon Jan 03, 2011 12:18 am

TMingyur wrote:What's the use of all this speculation?

:good:
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Re: The mind without objects

Postby neverdowell » Mon Jan 03, 2011 12:48 am

No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind ; No forms, sounds, smells, tastes, touchables or objects of mind

To develop bodhichitta, which is the actual practice, you need to develop such compassion that you simply cannot bear others being tormented by suffering. But in order to develop this compassion, you must know exactly how you yourself are plagued by suffering. And you must understand that the whole of samsara is by nature suffering. But first you must fear the lower realms, for without this you will have no repudiation of celestial and human happiness. You must therefore train your mind in the small- and medium- scope parts of the path. -- Pabongka Rinpoche
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