Unchanging Consciousness?

thumbnail
Ben V., modified 4 Months ago.

Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 367 Join Date: 3/3/15 Recent Posts
In this video bellow, this Vedanta teacher argues for Unchanging Consciousness. He presents an interesting argument with an image metaphore between 8:15 and around 10:30 of the video. The argument in a nutshell is that in order to perceive impermanence, there must by necessity be an unchanging awareness. That which is impermanent cannot perceive that which is impermanent, since it would rise and vanish with the impermanent object. I've seen the very same argument used by a Thai forest monk, a lineage that seem to posit a permanent awareness.

Although I'm aware that the notion of an unchanging awareness is rejected by Buddhism (most especially commentarial Theravada), I wonder how Buddhism would respond to this argument. Of all the scriptural studies I've done I don't remember reading any solidly constructed argument against the above argument. 

Any thoughts?
Here's the video: Unchanging Consciousness - Intro to Advaita Vedanta - Part 3 - YouTube
thumbnail
Pepe ·, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 441 Join Date: 9/26/18 Recent Posts
Hi Ben,

If Impermanence is rejected, then Dependent Origination would be rejected too, as Consciousness arises together with the senses.

Even if not believing in DO, you could say that consciousness refresh rate is faster than of the phenomena observed, so you could perceive the changing frames of the sensed objects but not of consciousness. [Added: Furthermore, the thought experiment the swami presents clashes with Einstein's Special Relativity. Instead he adheres to Newton's (God's) universal reference frame. Furthermore, at 10:30 he says that the Sun in unaffected by what it illuminates emoticon  which is plainly wrong as the Sun wobbles milimetrically because of the push/pull of planets, just like the Moon does to Earth. The Earth-Moon barycenter is very near the Earth center of mass, but not at that point. ] 

A more refined hypothesis is what some Mahayana schools say about "Consciousness without an object", that that's what happens in fruitions/cessations. Yet, there's no experience of consciousness without and object, but the mind may trick itself constructing a story about it depending on your (dharma/perceptual) beliefs.

​​​​​​​

 
thumbnail
Ben V., modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 367 Join Date: 3/3/15 Recent Posts
Hi Pepe,

Hi Chris,

Thanks both for the input

Pepe, it seems to me that the term 'Consciousness' as used by Vedanta and the term Vinnana (usually translated as consciousness) in Theravada may not be referring to the same thing, but I'm not sure. As for what you mentioned of Newton vs. Eisntein, I don't know about it so I should look into it.

As for consciousness' refresh rate being faster than the phenomena observed, wouldn't that actually support the Vedantic argument? That if consciousness was something that rise and pass, it could not be aware of impermanence? But since we can observe impermanence, that which sees impermanence must be at least longer lasting than the phenomena observed?  In other words, if consciousness refresh rate was faster than it could not know the impermanence of other objects. But this may bring up the issue of memory that Chris brought up.

Chris, I think the argument would go that it is precisely becasue of a permanent awareness that memory is possible (see quote bellow by Pannavaddho). But as I write this I remember a metaphor used by a Buddhist teacher who used the image of a pool ball hitting another pool ball, that the second ball is not the same as the first one, but the first one passes on something the the second (energy/momentum). Maybe each moment of consciousness passes impressions to the following conscious moments that may include memory (?).

But here's the quote by Ajaan Pannavaddho from the book 'Uncommon Wisdom':

''If our awareness of these phenomena were to arise and vanish simultaneously at the same speed, there would be no stable ''platform'' from which that mental activity could be known or perceived. The mind in its entirety would be nothing more than a chaotic sea of random mental events, with no reliable continuum of awareness to connect them into thoughts, concepts and emotions. For the mind as a whole to function as it does, that platform must exist independently of all the changing phenomena that constitute mental activity.''

There is a similar passage in Patanjali Yoga Sutra (4.21):  ''If consciousness (meaning here transient mental events) was perceived by itself instead of by awareness (here referring to a permanent/unborn awareness), the chain of such perceptions would regress infinitely, imploding memory.''

I personally don't affirm nor reject such theory. I have just been quite fixated on this issue of 'awareness'  lately.

​​​​​​​Maybe it's stage related emoticon
thumbnail
Pepe ·, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 441 Join Date: 9/26/18 Recent Posts
As for consciousness' refresh rate being faster than the phenomena observed, wouldn't that actually support the Vedantic argument? That if consciousness was something that rise and pass, it could not be aware of impermanence? But since we can observe impermanence, that which sees impermanence must be at least longer lasting than the phenomena observed?  In other words, if consciousness refresh rate was faster than it could not know the impermanence of other objects.

I see it the other way around, or may be I don't understand what you are saying. If DO weren't true and there were different refresh rates, impermanence of consciousness would still be happening but you couldn't be aware of it, yet you could still be aware of the impermanence of slower phenomena.

​​​​​​​e.g. in a 4/4 bar in musical notation you could have two instruments playing eighth notes, one playing all (consciousness) and the other every other eighth note (phenomena). Even if consciousness stops a nanosecond between eighth notes (and thus in impermanent), it could be 'present' in every eighth note the phenomena is silent.
George S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 2068 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Ben V.
I personally don't affirm nor reject such theory. I have just been quite fixated on this issue of 'awareness'  lately.
​​​​​​​
Try to see if you can find anything in your experience you could call 'awareness' which is other than awareness of individual sensations. 
thumbnail
Ni Nurta, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 774 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
I like comparison to Newton's universal frame of reference.
The argument about sub wobbling is invalid though. The Tadatmananda premise is more like: there is no difference for the Sun between you staying outside directly being illuminated by the Sun's rays or when you stay in shadow hidden from the Sun's rays.

Though here universal consciousness is more like universal speed of light. It doesn't change even if we can perceive it different when the light travels from somewhere to somewhere. We can never observe different speed of light locally.
thumbnail
Pepe ·, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 441 Join Date: 9/26/18 Recent Posts
> there is no difference for the Sun between you staying outside directly being illuminated by the Sun's rays or when you stay in shadow hidden from the Sun's rays

I guess that would only make sense in an Holographic Universe, but the topic is over the top of my understanding

Though here universal consciousness is more like universal speed of light. It doesn't change even if we can perceive it different when the light travels from somewhere to somewhere. We can never observe different speed of light locally.

Sure, speed of light doesn't change (even in a black hole IIRC), yet foton is both a particle (and so DO should apply) or a wave (and so its amplitude points to impermanence).
 
thumbnail
Chris Marti, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 4073 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
 That which is impermanent cannot perceive that which is impermanent, since it would rise and vanish with the impermanent object. I've seen the very same argument used by a Thai forest monk, a lineage that seem to posit a permanent awareness.


So is this an argument that memories don't exist?
thumbnail
Stefan R, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 180 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
The argument in a nutshell is that in order to perceive impermanence, there must by necessity be an unchanging awareness.


RIGPA TRAP MOMENT

RIGPA TRAP MOMENT 

The Five Skhandas; starting with contact, we know that awareness must be impermanent because contact between awareness and phenomena change. Either from the perspective of awareness or with the phenomena drawing awareness. Thus, to posit an unchanging/stable/continuous awareness is the classic Rigpa trap of seeing some sort of ground, some sort of essence to it all. There cannot be an essence to awareness as the observation of the essence is predicated on the very contact between its observation and awareness itself which is always changing, and can even not be present; this is phenomenologically supported by cessation experiences and various others too.
Soh Wei Yu, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 46 Join Date: 2/13/21 Recent Posts
http://www.awakeningtoreality.com/search/label/Acharya%20Mahayogi%20Shridhar%20Rana%20Rinpoche

Marshland Flowers


A student of Archaya Mahayogi Shridhar Rinpoche informed me that Rinpoche has recently revised his article Madhyamika Buddhism Vis-a-vis Hindu Vedanta and uploaded one new article on Nyingma (a school of Tibetan Buddhism)'s view. Rinpoche also personally asked his student to inform me about their free online magazine, I thanked the guru and signed up. I also mentioned that I have dreamt of receiving teachings from him before, perhaps some karmic connection...

After the e-mail I did a little research and found a biography (Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-oveGtYYgU, Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9V_MV5aAyZg, http://www.byomakusuma.org/TheVidyadhara.html) of this great teacher Archaya Mahayogi Shridhar Rinpoche. He used to practice the Hindu tantras and Vedanta under a qualified Vedanta teacher for nine years intensely in the cemetaries, etc. Eventually he realized the Atman-Brahman, the ultimate goal of Hinduism, and his realization was confirmed by his Vedantic masters to be correct and profound.

However, still unsatisfied with his realization, he continued searching, first into Zen Buddhism, then later into the teachings of Vajrayana Buddhism, including the Vajrayana Tantras, Mahamudra and Dzogchen teachings, and practiced them thoroughly until he attained realization and was asked to start teaching by his teachers. His main practise is of the Lamdre system of teachings in the Sakya school. Despite having practised the teachings thoroughly and attained realization, he continues to go into deep meditation retreats for over a decade to deepen his enlightenment/experience and was given the title 'Mahayogi' and 'Rinpoche' by H.E. Chobgay Trichen Rinpoche. He continues to be in practice retreats and share his knowledge with others at the same time.

As one of the few great Buddhist teachers in Nepal where the majority of the population belong to the Hindu faith, a place where myths and misconceptions of Buddhism are abound, he is in a great position to correct all of these misconceptions and do an accurate and unbiased comparison between the teachings of Buddhism vis-a-vis Hinduism due to his deep knowledge and experience of the Buddhist teachings as well as his previous experience with the Hindu tradition. He emphasizes that the comparison was done not in order to demean one system of teaching over another but to provide greater clarity on the essential doctrines of each system so that they could each be understood correctly, as he says, "I must reiterate that this difference in both the system is very important to fully understand both the systems properly and is not meant to demean either system."


Anyway, I looked further into their website and over the past few days I've read through all the articles of Marshland Flowers (from series 1 to 7) and highly recommend them - they deal with several subjects of dharma including anatman (non-self), emptiness, dependent origination, the four noble truths, Buddhism vis-a-vis Hinduism, rebirth, karmic propensities (samskaras), meditation, vipassana (insight meditation), shamatha (calm abiding meditation), siddhis/powers, the tenets of Sravakayana and Mahayana Buddhism, as well as Tantras, Buddhism and science, etc etc. All these articles are of great quality, well written and highly recommended. All in all, it provides a pretty complete overall understanding of the core/fundamental Buddhist teachings. I've added this blog entry to the 'Stickied Posts' section of this blog (see right hand corner).

p.s. I find using Windows Narrator to read aloud long texts online easier for me: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-SG/windows7/Hear-text-read-aloud-with-Narrator


.............

http://www.byomakusuma.org/MarshlandFlowers.html

Marshland Flowers

Ratnashree's series articles published weekly in News Front. The articles clarify prevailing misconceptions on Buddhism and help general readers understand authentic Buddhism. The articles first appeared on 16-22 April 2007 issue. News Front is a weekly newspaper that is published every Monday. Read the articles published to date in full.

Marshland Flowers Part 1
Marshland Flowers Part 2
Marshland Flowers Part 3
Marshland Flowers Part 4
Marshland Flowers Part 5
Marshland Flowers Part 6
Marshland Flowers Part 7
...............

Anyway, here's an excerpt from Marshland Flowers Part 5, it is about the subject of Anatman.

136. More on Fallacy of Language and Modern Thinking

Acharya Mahayogi Sridhar Rana Rinpoche

<< Previous Next >> Table of Contents
Continuing with the discussion on the limitedness of language - the very sentence 'I see the table' assumes that the table 'I' see is out there somewhere separate from me. And as a corollary which we will deal with later on, this 'I' which sees really existing is in fact the center of the seeing and the table out there, which 'I' see also really exist.

Let us take another example. We say the lighting flashed, this is similar in structure to I see. This grammatical structure implies that there is a lighting that flashed. The lighting is the subject (like the 'I which sees), which does the action of flashing (verb). This act is different from the lighting. But, and a big but is that is there really a lighting separate from flashing, or is flashing itself lighting? Can we really separate flashing or take away flashing and say - here is lighting that had flashed, which is separate thing from flashing? Can we really do that? If we removed flashing, would lightening really remain per se? But just a few minute ago we thought and felt and experience (or seem to experience) that there is a lighting that had done the action of flashing, didn't we?

Now, let us take this analysis back to 'I see the table'. Some people may say the mind sees the table just to be clever, but really we aren't changing the structure of the language and thus the structure of the experience. We have just substituted the word 'mind' for 'I' and the rest of the implications are still the same. There is a mind which is the subject, which exists independently and it is thus independent and separate mind which does that action of seeing the table, which is the object and which too is independent out there (like the lighting that flashes, the mind or I see). If we look at the seeing out, would there still remain a mind which sees or is the act of seeing itself the .........

Thus, language structure is so much a part of our programming samskara that we do not question the situation out there or the real experience or reality/actuality or fact. It has become so much a part of the way we experience things, a program that was downloaded from the time prenatal/pre-conceptual moment onward or even earlier downloaded in the mother's cellular memory itself. Perhaps that it does not occur to us easily that our experience is molded by this grammatical structure itself.

What we tend to forget is that there is a certain experience going on which the sentence 'I see the table' or 'I see the sound' etc, is trying to point at. It is however never questioned whether the implications evoked from the structure of the sentences is really out there or not, or whether this grammatical structure is coloring and distorting the experience, changing the 'pure experience' into a shape that this grammatical structure demands. Even to question this seems so odd that most people would never even think of it and if somebody raises such a question he/she would be ridiculed by saying 'Are you crazy?' Have you gone off the rocks? But didn't Galileo face the same taunts when he questioned whether the sun really went around earth?

Let us go on a little journey for a short while into the world of Alice in Wonderland, for that is now it would look like to the programmed thinking of most people.

Suppose you have a grown up with a different grammatical structure. We have already said that the sentence 'I see the table' is pointing at a certain experiential act. But the grammatical structure here demands thing are there in the experience. We'll continue with this in the next article.


137. Unchanging 'I' or is it

Acharya Mahayogi Sridhar Rana Rinpoche

<< Previous Next >> Table of Contents
The grammatical structure demands that there is an 'I' or mind that is the subject or the seer, watcher, knower, that this 'I' sees or goes through the action of seeing, which is an action verb, which is different from the 'I' which is a pronoun and there is a different noun, separate from both the verb (seeing) and the pronoun 'I' which is the table. The 'table' is the object, a noun and distinctly separate and independent from the subject and the verb. And this unquestioned programming is so deeply ingrained into our subconscious mind that we can safely say that, that is how everybody experiences the experience of what the sentence 'I see the table' is trying to point at.

Now suppose you had grown up in another grammatical structure. Remember that language is meant to point at an experience. So if an Alice in Wonderland language also pointed equally well at that experience it would fulfill the purpose of language. So we all know that an experience is a process and not really a thing - entity per se. So seeing a table is a process, a verb, and not an entity, a noun. So suppose you had grown up with a grammatical structure which says 'tabling is going on' to point at the same experience which the sentence 'I see the table' is also trying to point at. We can certainly say that the sentence 'tabling is going on' can equally well point at the same experience which the sentence 'I am seeing the table' points at.

Infact, since it is actually a process (this experience), tabling is going on is a more accurate finger to point at it. Now, if you had grown up with this grammtical sturcture, would the experience (and the grammatical structure) imply that there is a separate table (noun-object) from the act of seeing the table (verb)? And would the structure impose an 'I' upon the experience like imposing a separate lightning different from the flashing of the light? Is there a lightning separate from the flashing which does the flasing or is the flashing itself the lightning? But flashing is an action a verb, the lightning is a noun, an object. Or is the 'Light' distinct from the flasing created merely by the langauge? Likewise, is there an 'I' that sees or is the act of seeing specified by the Alice in Wonderland language 'Tabling' itself the 'I' the seer? But I is a pronoun, seer a noun and seeing/tabling are verbs. When I say 'I see', this is a seeing I. This 'I' is defined by the 'seeing'. Now there are two questions here.

The first questions is: Is not this 'I' that sees dependent upon the seeing of the table? Can we really say that the I/seer/watcher/knower that sees will continue to exist even when the seeing stops? If so, we will have a so-called seer who does not see? Can there be a seer that does not see? Is not the seer-I defined by seeing process. Can we really speak of a seer when it is not seeing/tabling? The word Seer would be meaningless without the seeing, wouldn't it? We cannot call the seer a seer if there is no seeing going. If that is true than when seeing stops the seer also stops or ceases to exist.

The second question is that is there is a seer separate from the act of seeing or is it only an illusion created by the language structure, like the lightning and its flashes? Can there be a seer remaining [a noun] which does not see but was the one that did the seeing? Can we really separate the verb of seeing from the seer the noun or is the seer (and therefore the 'I') merely an illusion imposed up the experience?

138. I as 'Seer', 'Watcher,' 'Knower'

Acharya Mahayogi Sridhar Rana Rinpoche

<< Previous Next >> Table of Contents
If you had grown up with the sentence structure 'Table is going on' to point at the same experience, would you be straddled with an 'I-seer' that sees and a table that is seen? Tabling is a process, and actually there is process going on which the sentence 'I see the table' is trying to point at; however like a pair of coloured glasses it imposes a lot of things on the experience which is not really out there even according to quantum physics.

Now we can see that the 'I' is not really such a central figure in our experience, nor is it so stable or permanently unchanging as it seems to be, and secondly, it is more a process, a verb, which is continuously changing than an unchanging noun, which is supposedly the central guy or doll in the experience.

Now let us look at the unchanging 'I' from another angle. When we say this 'I' is unchanging, it also implies that it is the same 'I' always. Unchanging as defined in the Hindu-Buddhist systems of the Indian Subcontinent meant 'remaining the same in all the three times'. As Sankaracharya has defined it 'Kala traya tisthatiti', which means that which remains unchanged in the three times - in all the three times - viz - past, present and future.

Now with this in the background, let us try to see if this 'I', watcher, seer or knower really remains unchanged in the three times. First of all, if we look at the 'I', 'I' continually changes its identity. When I'm in the office I am a manager or an executive at home, I'm a son in front of my father or mother, even if I may be sixty years old. I'm also a brother to my brothers and sisters. Now a wife is not the same as the executive in the office, nor is a son the same as a husband. As we can see this, 'I' is continuously changing and becoming something else according to the situation - or more technically according to the causes or conditions.

Now the question arises which one of them is the real 'I'? We normally have hundreds of 'I' which are normally changing frequently as per the situations, and none of them is the real 'I' in the sense of being the unchanging, permanent 'I'. If this husband 'I' did not change and become a father 'I' in front of his daughter or an executive 'I' in the office, not only would there be trouble (big time trouble to say the least) but we would have to call that person neurotically unbalanced, and normal social or human functions would become tipsy turvy. Yet our experience seems to point at an 'I' that is the same in all three times and therefore real and unchanging. So which of this 'I' is the real one?

Now, let us take this 'I' as the seer, watcher, knower as posited in the Vendantic system and therefore virtually all non-dualist system within Hinduism. They are called watcher (drasta), witness (sakchi), knower (gyata) because this 'I' watches or sees, knows and witnesses. So let us analyze this watcher, seer. It is called a watcher or seer because it sees. If it didn't see or watch something it would not be called a watcher, seer. We cannot have a seer which does not see. If it does not or cannot see anything, it cannot possible be called seer or watcher can we really? We need to distinguish five points we have before we get confused. A seer can see nothing - ie - the absence of things. It still sees the absence (alohara) and that is really not seeing per se. We'll continue this discussion in the next article.



139. Changing or Unchanging 'I'

Acharya Mahayogi Sridhar Rana Rinpoche

<< Previous Next >> Table of Contents
Continuing with the discussion of absence of seeing - for example, if you are in a pitch dark room and I asked you - do you see anything? You would normally say 'I do not see anything'. But this expression is the result of the limitation of language itself, rather than the fact that you do not see. You do continue to see the pitch darkness or the absence of all things or objects. The absence or pitch darkness is also a 'thing' to see, so to say.

Once we have understood this, let us go another step further. We have already said that a seer is defined by its seeing something, even if it is an absence. There is still an absence to see and it is the seer of that absence of the pitch darkness, as the case maybe. So let us take this up. When I say 'I see the table' I am the seer of the table. At that moment, this 'I-seer' is the seer of the table and is defined by the 'table'. If there were no table to see I would not be the seer of the table, that is, I would not see the table and in effect I would not and could not say 'I see the table'. And if I did not see the table I would not be the seer of the table. Now, if this seer of the table or the 'I' was really existing (sat in Sanskrit) and therefore the same and unchanging in all three time, I would in effect be eternally be seeing the table as I or the seer would not change. But no one experiences that. We do not eternally continue to see the table unchangingly and in actuality we as the seer see something else immediately, for instance, the blue sky or the green mountain.

Again, if the seer of the table was unchanging and permanent, it could not stop seeing the table and seeing the blue sky would be a change. But in real life the objects seen by the seer is continually changing and thus also the seer of those objects. However, in the language we continuously use the same word 'I' or the same word seer-watcher-knower for the seer of all those various objects. And that gives us the feeling of the same 'I-seer-watch-knower' being there while the so called seen objects are changing like a table now, a blue sky after that, a home now, etc. etc. As before, the language structure creates an illusion of something which does not really exist out there.

Here again, our memory of I seeing the table etc. also furthers the illusion with 'I' which is based on the memory of the 'I' which had seen the table. Because of this memory, it looks like the same 'I' is seeing the blue sky which had seen the table a while ago. But actually, it is an illusion created by our memory supported by our language structure, thus creating an experience that is not out there as it appears to be. So in effect there seems to be no seer/knower/watcher which remains unchanging as the Vedanta or for that matter what Sankaracharya says in his texts like Discriminating the Watcher And the Watched (Drig Driksya Viveka). Understanding this is the key point in knowing the difference between Hinduism and Buddhism.

It is not a matter of just a difference in words but a matter of seeing two diametrically opposed experiences. One is an experience of validating that this 'I' is not related to this ephemeral world but is an unchanging permanent really existing Self called an Atman in all forms of Hinduism. However, it must be said that only the Atman of Vedantic Hinduism and all those related to the non-dual system of Vedanta (directly or indirectly) is a coherent Atman.

Labels: Acharya Mahayogi Shridhar Rana Rinpoche, Anatta, Emptiness 4 comments | |
Soh Wei Yu, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 46 Join Date: 2/13/21 Recent Posts
http://www.awakeningtoreality.com/search/label/Greg%20Goode

Greg Goode on Advaita/Madhyamika

Dr. Greg Goode wrote in Emptything:

It looks your Bahiya Sutta experience helped you see awareness in a different way, more .... empty. You had a background in a view that saw awareness as more inherent or essential or substantive?

I had an experience like this too. I was reading a sloka in Nagarjuna's treatise about the "prior entity," and I had been meditating on "emptiness is form" intensely for a year. These two threads came together in a big flash. In a flash, I grokked the emptiness of awareness as per Madhyamika. This realization is quite different from the Advaitic oneness-style realization. It carries one out to the "ten-thousand things" in a wonderful, light and free and kaleidoscopic, playful insubstantial clarity and immediacy. No veils, no holding back. No substance or essence anywhere, but love and directness and intimacy everywhere...

........

Stian, cool, get into that strangeness! There is a certain innocent, not-knowing quality to strangeness that counteracts the rush to certainty, the need to arrive, to land.

I still don't get your "no compromise" point. Can you rephrase it, but without the words "between" or "compromise"?

Anything can be denied. And is. There is one prominent Advaita teacher that I like who likes to say "You can't deny that you are the awareness that is hearing these words right now."

This kind of gapless continuity, so prized in Advaita, is readily denied in other approaches to experience:

you. can't. deny. that. you. are. the. awareness. hearing. these. words. right. now.

I remember feeling during one retreat, just how many ways that this could be denied. From a different model of time and experience, there are gaps and fissures all over the place, even in that sentence (hence. the. dots). Each moment is divided within itself, carrying traces of past and future (retention and protention). The first "you"-moment and the second "you"-moment are not necessarily experienced by the same entity. Each "I" is different. Entitification itself is felt as autoimmune, as divided within itself, and any "gaplessness" is nothing more than a paste-job.

Not saying one of these is right and the other wrong. Just pointing out how something so undeniable can readily be denied!

......

Emptiness group:

Awareness and Emptiness.

Many people, myself at times as well, have thought that Advaitic, atman-style awareness and emptiness are the same thing. When I began to study Nagarjuna, I was reading through a lens colored by the Advaita teachings. You know how they go, Awareness is the Self and very nature of me. The psychophysical components are certainly not me. I remain the same through the coming and going and changing of the components.

At that time, I had had trouble understanding 50% of the key line in the Heart Sutra,

"Form is emptiness and emptiness is form."

I got the "form is emptiness" part. But I couldn't grok the "emptiness is form" part. Thinking that Advaitic Awareness=emptiness, I was used to thinking that Awareness IS, whether universes arise or not. How can Awareness equal its contents? And if it did, why even call it global Awareness? The contents could speak for themselves," I was thinking.

Also, many Advaitic-style teachings proceed by refuting the phenomena (thoughts, feelings and sensations) but retaining THAT to which they arise. That was the type of teaching I was used to, and it colored my approach to Madhyamika.

So it was very easy to read the Buddhist notion of "emptiness" in this same way. But it began to get a little puzzling. In my readings of Prasangika Madhyamika (which never mentions a global awareness), they never say that anywhere that emptiness=awareness. Nevertheless, I was supplying this equivalence for myself, making the mental substitution of one highest path's highest term with another's.

As I continued, there seem less and less evidence that Madhyamika was doing this, but I didn't encounter anything that knocked the idea away. It got more and more puzzling for me.

And then one day I read this from Nagarjuna's Mūlamadhyamakakārikā. Sloka IX:4, about the "prior entity," or a subject or owner or substrate for what is seen and heard. (translations from the Garfield edition).

"If it can abide Without the seen, etc., Then, without a doubt, They can abide without it."

Then it dawned on me! The independence (and hence the dependence) that Buddhism is talking about is two-way, not just one-way. If A is logically independent from B, then B is logically independent from A.

If you can have a self that doesn't depend on things seen, then you can have things seen that do not depend on a self.

So, for Nagarjuna, can you really have a self that is truly bilaterally independent from what is seen?

No, because of his next sloka, IX:10:

"Someone is disclosed by something. Something is disclosed by someone. Without something how can someone exist? Without someone how can something exist?"

With these two verses, I finally understood the two-way dependence that Buddhism was talking about. And both halves of that important line in the Heart Sutra finally made sense!!

.........

I'm not sure what you mean by "itch," but I can tell you that when I began to study the Mulamadhyamakakarika (MMK), I wanted to let it speak for itself. I didn't want to bring to it any presumptions that I picked up from other teachings, such as that all reality depends on an aware ground of being. This was my intention from the beginning, and it took me a while to detect those assumptions in myself as I proceeded with my study. The text of the MMK itself actually helped dissolve those assumptions from my study and practice of Madhyamika.

It's pretty clear that in the MMK there is no support for an aware ground of being.

About verses 8 and 9. they are dialectical arguments against the notion of an independent self that is the basis and unifying substance of all experience. As dialectical arguments, they examine consequences that would follow if there were really such an independent self. And they find that the consequences are absurd, or that they go against the independent-self idea. Confronting these absurd consequences frees us from assenting to the independent-self doctrine.

Verses 8 and 9 are instances of the same/different argument schema. Those who believe in existence usually assert that if A and B exist, then they must be the same as each other, or different from each other.

Verse 8 examines the absurd consequences of stating that the seer and hearer and feeler are the same.

It looks at what would happen if there were a self that is the hearer and seer and feeler (which is what the independent-self doctrine asserts). If there were such a self, it would contravene the insights from Verses 4-6, which argue that the seer depends on the seen just like the seen depends on the seer.

In our experience, seeing and hearing and feeling happen at different times, sometimes apart, sometimes together. If there WERE such a self, the very same self that hears and sees, Verse 8 is arguing that the self would have to exist PRIOR to hearing and PRIOR to seeing.

Verse 9 examines the absurd consequences of stating that the seer and hearer and feeler are different. It argues that in this case, there would be multiple independent selves, one for seeing, one for hearing, and one for feeling. This obviously contradicts the main point of the independent self doctrine, which is that there is just ONE entity which does all the seeing and hearing.

Nagarjuna's strategy here is to show that assuming an independent entity prior to experience makes no sense at all. This is because it makes no sense if the seer equals the hearer, and it makes no sense if the seer does not equal the hearer.

Therefore, it makes no sense!

And it keeps on going, getting more and more radical.

Verse 11 - here the MMK uses the conclusion about the absurdity of the independent seer to refute the inherent existence of independent modes of perception.

In Verse 12, the MMK says that having seen all this, we are freed from conceptions and assertions of existence and non-existence.

.......


Geovani, I’m very glad to hear that your mind is knotted up.  Emptiness insights can do that to us when we start getting into them.
Yes, this approach would acknowledge swoons, anesthesia, “zone” moments and deep sleep.  We could say that these are “longer” gaps than the gaps between momentary sounds and other sensations.  But that isn’t a metaphysical claim, just a non-theoretical comment about experience.
The main takeaway from the refutation of an independent “prior entity” is that continuity is only imputed casually as a transactional, conventional way of organizing experience.  It’s not a serious claim, and it wouldn’t hold up under analysis.  So for this kind of practical manner of speaking, continuity doesn’t require an inherent, underlying ground.  If continuity itself were examined, it would be just as insubstantial as the other things examined by the MMK. 
Many Buddhist meditations focus on discerning the DIScontinuities in what we normally assume is continuous and unbroken.
Also, for Nagarjuna in this chapter, the “prior entity,” has already been refuted in by the time he reaches verses 8-12.  

Labels: Emptiness, Greg Goode, Madhyamaka 0 comments | |
Soh Wei Yu, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 46 Join Date: 2/13/21 Recent Posts
Soh Wei Yu, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 46 Join Date: 2/13/21 Recent Posts
Also, plenty of others having similar breakthroughs:

Soto Zen teacher realises anatta after I AM and one mind: http://www.awakeningtoreality.com/2011/10/a-zen-exploration-of-bahiya-sutta.html

A few examples of reports by some others:

http://www.awakeningtoreality.com/2013/09/joel-agee-appearances-are-self_1.html


http://www.awakeningtoreality.com/2020/07/breakthroughs-to-anatta.html


People are having breakthroughs in my group all the time from the I AM and One Mind sort of insight into Anatta. Most recent one a week ago.
thumbnail
Ni Nurta, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 774 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
Watching Tadatmananda is like watching any other teacher. They throw frameworks at you, examples and all, always saying this is how things really are but we all know* this is just the way to program nervous system to work more optimally than default configurations.

Imho Advaita Vedanta is perfect companion model for any pragmatic dharmists. I recommend studying and practicing both. I myself used both until I made my own neuron model which is accurate enough to avoid contradictions of these opposite models.

*) ...or rather we all should know. Some people do believe this stuff and that eg. existence or not existence of some self does make difference even if they cannot explain why this would bother them so much if it was the other way and how do the competitions claim opposite being true and it also leading to no dukkha

ps. For perception of change it is enough to create temporary semi-persistent consciousnesses/perceptions. To see if object moved it is enough that I do not immediately forget its position. To see object changed after years it is enough that consciousness/perception gets first packed as a long term memory and then unpacked and I can see that perception from memory doesn't match current ones.
thumbnail
terry, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 1774 Join Date: 8/7/17 Recent Posts
aloha ben,

   Right off I'm reminded of layman pang's remark, "Everything from 'thus have I heard' to 'this I believe' is mere words." 

   The argument that consciousness is unchanging is an ancient one, popularized in the west by parmenides. It is newtonian in the sense that the observer is assumed to be at absolute rest. This assumption is demonstrably false, no matter how often repeated. For many reasons.

   It is antropomorphic. Insect consciousness has different parameters, or amoeba consciousness, or octopus consciousness. Any observer can be said to be unaffected by their observations, but again, this is demonstrably not so. Every observer is an organism and responds to stimulus.

  It assumes that everything of any significance is contained is "consciousness," which is again obviously false. If we were limited to only that of which we were actively conscious, we couldn't cope. No art, no beauty, no wit.

   Also, we sleep, we die, and our consciousness comes to an abrupt cessation. Perhaps other times too.

   It's dualistic. Here is your "self," aka "consciousness," and here is everything else, your vrittis.

   Solipsistic: you are unaffected, and by the same token you have no affect on the world. There is no karma. No responsibilities, no consequences. No participation.

   Ultimately it isn't buddhism because it upholds self and buddhism does not. 

   I think this rishi distorts vedanta because he doesn't clearly point out that the "self" of vedanta is universal and absolute. Nondualistic. 

​​​​​​​   Vedantists are often addicted to scriptural authority.
   
terry
   
shargrol, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 1623 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Ben V.
The argument in a nutshell is that in order to perceive impermanence, there must by necessity be an unchanging awareness. That which is impermanent cannot perceive that which is impermanent, since it would rise and vanish with the impermanent object. I've seen the very same argument used by a Thai forest monk, a lineage that seem to posit a permanent awareness.

The very easiest way to see the limit of this argument is to notice:

1. It's extremely understandable that humans want some thing to hold onto that feels like some kind of permanent refuge, something that is certain and consistent over time. So never slam people for this kind of honest and instinctual desire...

2. but this argument falls apart very easily when it is seen as an argument within time. Here's where we face the paradox that we all faced very early in our meditation practice: how does a sense of self seem to exist thoughtout time when there is no other time but NOW? With even greater sensitivity to the constructed nature of time, simply put: the idea of past, future, and even now as a "thing" does not withstand scrutiny.  

I haven't read all of the materials listed above. In my own study, I came across a very good essay/analysis/pointing by Rob Burbea in "Seeing That Frees" which did a GREAT job blowing up the notion of linear and quantum units of time. Let me grab the book... yeah it's called "About Time" on page 345 of the paperback. It's just 15 pages of potentially mind-blowing stuff, e.g. "this moment is neither one nor many" and "neither from itself, nor from another, not from both, nor without a cause does anything arise anywhere at all" and "beyond permanent and impermanent - the true nature of things". 

Basically, moments in time don't really exist as things and the nature of experience is a mystery. (I suppose you could say that their nature is "emptiness" but the problem is that most people still think emptiness is a thing.)

Time and space are probably the most core constructions, so it isn't suprising that these are some of the last place we tend to hold a subtle self. And of course the most subtle sense of self is clinging to the idea of a constant and consistent "awareness" that is different from experience.
thumbnail
Chris Marti, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 4073 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Observation and investigation kill the argument that we have some kind of permanent, unchanging awareness. Such a thing can't be found, just like shargrol says about the unchanging, permanent self.

​​​​​​​There... is... no... such... thing.
George S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 2068 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Awareness ... space ... time ... the last refuges of permanence ... RIP emoticon​​​​​​​
thumbnail
Chris Marti, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 4073 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
They're really the last refuges of fear. It's the idea of permanence that assuages the fear. It's really frightening when the realization of true and everlasting impermanence really soaks in. I recall it vividly - and then calling my teacher Kenneth Folk in a panic.
shargrol, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 1623 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
I think i've said this before... but I almost said "oh, shit" outloud while on a silent retreat. emoticon
George S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 2068 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
I just checked my old log for my reaction at this point:
​​​​​​​
I feel like I'm mourning the end of my relationship with awareness, a "dark night of awareness" if you will. It's been such a core assumption for most of my life - "I am the one who is aware" - that it's quite a shock to realize that awareness is getting on just fine without me. I guess it's just like any other dark night and the key is to surrender and lean into the feelings of anxiety and dread. Gotta say though, this dharma train really does take you on a mind-bending trip ... not for the faint of heart emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

Amusing in retrospect but I was shitting myself at the time. And then shargrol, who seems like such a nice guy, showed absolutely no mercy - hit me straight with a right hook 'ALL of this is the same thing' followed immediately by a killer left 'time is another interesting experience that rarely is fully noticed'. Flushed me straight down the shitter. Good times. emoticon​​​​​​​
​​​​​​​
shargrol, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 1623 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
emoticon
thumbnail
terry, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 1774 Join Date: 8/7/17 Recent Posts
from "Impermanence is Buddha-Nature; Dogen's Understanding of Temporality" by joan stambaugh


Our conceptual thinking somehow inevitably gravitates toward the two inappropriate poles of nihilistic impermanence and lifeless permanence. Either there is something or there is nothing—alternatives epitomized by Leibniz's famous question, why is there something rather than nothing? A third possibility is inconceivable.

Inconceivable, certainly, but perhaps not inexperienceable.

We must try to explore that third possibility, the middle way between eternalism and nihilism. Dogen tells us that Buddha-nature is neither something that we always possess, nor something that first appears upon enlightenment. "It is not that sentient beings are from the first endowed with the Buddha-nature. Here, the essential point is: even though you seek the Buddha-nature hoping to endue yourself with it, Buddha-nature is not something to appear now for the first time."

If sentient beings were from the outset endowed with the Buddha-nature, there would be no need for practice or any kind of sustained exertion; there would, so to speak, be nothing for us to "do." The passage just quoted continues: " If sentient beings had the Buddha-nature originally, they would not be sentient beings. Since they are sentient beings, they are, after all, not Buddha-nature."

This was Dogen's own koan, the question that spurred him on in his quest for a resolution: if we already possess the Buddha-nature, what need is there to practice? Part of the "answer" to this question is that we do not originally possess the Buddha-nature. The Buddha-nature is not the kind of thing that we can possess at all. Viewed temporally, this means that the Buddha-nature is not something that admits of being possessed in the mode of durational persistence. It does not persist; it has no duration.

On the other hand, the Buddha-nature is not something previously unmanifested that appears for the first time upon enlightenment. As Dogen repeatedly emphasizes, the Buddha-nature is not something potential that can be actualized, akin to the growth in time of a seed. Here again, this is not possible due to the fact that there is no "time" in which this could occur. There is no persisting, durational temporal substratum that could underlie such a development from potentiality to actuality.

 To understand how we have or do not have Buddha-nature, we must study the nature of movement. "Even though you may study enlightenment, enlightenment is not the wind and fire movement of the conscious mind. Even though you study movement, it is not what you think it is. If you can understand movement in its truth, then you can also understand true enlightenment and awakening."

The movement we are to study is not the "wind and fire" movement of the conscious mind. The wind and fire movement of the conscious mind belongs to the mind that figures in "body and mind drop off." It is to be studied only to be cast off—"to learn the self is to forget the self."

Interpreting a sutra passage, Dogen concludes: "By way of illustration, if you wish to know the Buddha-nature's meaning might be read, you are directly knowing the Buddha-nature's meaning. You should watch for temporal conditions means you are directly knowing temporal conditions. If you wish to know the Buddha-nature, you should know that it is precisely temporal conditions themselves."
George S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 2068 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
terry
... If you wish to know the Buddha-nature, you should know that it is precisely temporal conditions themselves."

Or in other words, samsara is nirvana.
thumbnail
Ni Nurta, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 774 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
Chris Marti
They're really the last refuges of fear. It's the idea of permanence that assuages the fear. It's really frightening when the realization of true and everlasting impermanence really soaks in. I recall it vividly - and then calling my teacher Kenneth Folk in a panic.

Maybe similar realizations can be had for permanence?

Observation and investigation kill the argument that we have some kind of permanent, unchanging awareness. Such a thing can't be found, just like shargrol says about the unchanging, permanent self.

​​​​​​​There... is... no... such... thing.

If one is about absolute truth then believing self exists or not won't cut it and if one is for improvement of everyday experience through meditation then any such existing or not existing selves do not matter. Only thing which matters is if meditation improves enjoyment of life for both you and people around you. Dogma is part of meditation method but it doesn't need to be dogma for you to make it work for you. Can be just a possibility that is being investigated.

Imho people should meditate on both options. Vedanta is pretty good system. It fills holes that typical Buddhist traditions have. If feels good.

Of course for you it will feel wrong but this is not because Vedanta is inferior or wrong but because you not only did not get enlightened in this tradition but also have personal interest in it being worse. This is called attachment, it has many forms.

ps. Imho for someone like you Advaita Vedanta is technically low hanging fruit and would help getting dispassionate toward dogma of these meditation systems. Just sayin...
shargrol, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 1623 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Chris Marti:... realization of true and everlasting impermanence...
N.N:...Maybe similar realizations can be had for permanence?
Sure, both need to be seen. As noted above, Rob Burbea's essay has the section in it called "beyond permanent and impermanent - the true nature of things".

Most people, however, start off with a preference for the permanence view and will look to Buddhist ideas like "the unborn" or "emptiness" or the western idea of "the soul" or Advaita Vedanta ideas to validate/reify the view that self is permanent. Eventually they may see the wisdom in the buddhist "experience is not a self" view.

Some people, however, start off very nihlistic/avoidant and will be wallowing in a very unhealthy/pathologial "no-self" worldview Those people can benefit from Advaita Vedanta and other ideas that sort of builds the ego/self up. And then, when the time is right, that view will need to be seen through again.

People try to turn buddhism (and Advaita Vedanta) into a philosophy, but it only really works as a practice.

It takes a strong foundation and practice to see the healthy buddhist version of "not-self", instead of falling into the traps of "self" and "no-self". Most people have to go through a few cycles of really believing in no self, self, no self, self etc.
If one is about absolute truth then believing self exists or not won't cut it and if one is for improvement of everyday experience through meditation then any such existing or not existing selves do not matter. Only thing which matters is if meditation improves enjoyment of life for both you and people around you. Dogma is part of meditation method but it doesn't need to be dogma for you to make it work for you. Can be just a possibility that is being investigated. Imho people should meditate on both options. Vedanta is pretty good system. It fills holes that typical Buddhist traditions have. If feels good. Of course for you it will feel wrong but this is not because Vedanta is inferior or wrong but because you not only did not get enlightened in this tradition but also have personal interest in it being worse. This is called attachment, it has many forms. ps. Imho for someone like you Advaita Vedanta is technically low hanging fruit and would help getting dispassionate toward dogma of these meditation systems. Just sayin...
Well... the path of awakening is actually more of a subtractive proces and really these systems shouldn't be filling holes, but rather digging more and more holes until the whole house of cards comes down.  The ridgepole broken and no more building, as its said.

​​​​​​​But many many many people are looking for easy comfort and enjoyment -- and that's fine if they need it for a while... but the whole house of cards is coming down anyway, so it's actually a kind of comfort and enjoyment to explore it consciously through meditation and not have it lurking in the shadows. It's actually an enjoyable thing to do because its oddly exhausting holding up a ridgepole that doesn't exist. 

(And Chris is an enjoyable guy, so the ridgepole coming down hasn't cramped that expression.  emoticon )
thumbnail
Angel Roberto Puente, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 281 Join Date: 5/5/19 Recent Posts
Therefore, put aside the intellectual practice of investigating words and chasing phrases, and learn to take the backward step that turns the light and shines it inward. Body and mind of themselves will drop away, and your original face will manifest. If you want to realize such, get to work on such right now. … Dogen

​​​​​​​Curiosity is fine, too much curiosity killed the cat. 
thumbnail
Papa Che Dusko, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 2174 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Anyone else wants Bacardi? 
thumbnail
Ni Nurta, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 774 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
Not long ago we had topic This moment about realization of "THIS IS IT"
What is this "THIS" if not exactly Vedanta's "Unchanging Consciousness"?
Can it be anything else?
And if it is the same then shouldn't all preconceived notions about unchanging consciousness (like eg. it being "the idea of permanence that assuages the fear") also apply to THIS IS IT?
Soh Wei Yu, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 46 Join Date: 2/13/21 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:

http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/.../intelligence...

"So you have these two extremes - both of which I find pretty annoying (laughs) - and uhm, not that they are not making interesting points that counterbalance each other. And then, from an experiential point of view, the whole field seems to be happening on its own in a luminous way, the intelligence or awareness seems to be intrinsic in the phenomena, the phenomena do appear to be totally transient, totally ephemeral. So I would reject from an experiential point of view, something in the harshness of the dogma of the rigid no-selfists that can't recognise the intrinsic nature of awareness that is the field. If that makes sense. Cos they tend to feel there's something about that's sort of (cut off?)..."

Interviewer: "And not only awareness..."

Daniel: "Intelligence. Right, and I also reject from an experiential point of view the people who would make this permanent, something separate from, something different from just the manifestation itself. I don't like the permanence aspect because from a Buddhist technical point of view I do not find anything that stands up as permanent in experience. I find that quality always there *while there is experience.* Because it's something in the nature of experience. But it's not quite the same thing as permanence, if that makes sense. So while there is experience, there is experience. So that means there is awareness, from a certain point of view, manifestation - awareness being intrinsically the same thing, intrinsic to each other. So while there is experience, I would claim that element (awareness) is there - it has to be for there to be experience. And I would claim that the system seems to function very lawfully and it's very easy to feel that there's a sort of intelligence, ok, cool... ...the feeling of profundity, the feeling of miraculousness, the wondrous component. So as the Tibetans would say, amazing! It all happens by itself! So, there is intrinsically amazing about this. It's very refreshingly amazing that the thing happens, and that things cognize themselves or are aware where they are, manifestation is truly amazing and tuning into that amazingness has something valuable about it from a pragmatic point of view."

.......


John Tan/Thusness:

http://www.awakeningtoreality.com/2008/03/transience.html
The Transience


The arising and ceasing is called the Transience,
Is self luminous and self perfected from beginning.
However due to the karmic propensity that divides,
The mind separates the ‘brilliance’ from the ever arising and ceasing.
This karmic illusion constructs ‘the brilliance’,
Into an object that is permanent and unchanging.
The ‘unchanging’ which appears unimaginably real,
Only exists in subtle thinking and recalling.
In essence the luminosity is itself empty,
Is already unborn, unconditioned and ever pervading.
Therefore fear not the arising and ceasing.

-------------

There is no this that is more this than that.
Although thought arises and ceases vividly,
Every arising and ceasing remains as entire as it can be.

The emptiness nature that is ever manifesting presently
Has not in anyway denied its own luminosity.

Although non-dual is seen with clarity,
The urge to remain can still blind subtly.
Like a passerby that passes, is gone completely.
Die utterly
And bear witness of this pure presence, its non-locality.


~ Thusness/Passerby


And hence... "Awareness" is not anymore "special" or "ultimate" than the transient mind.
Labels: All is Mind, Anatta, Non Dual |
thumbnail
Chris Marti, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 4073 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
What is this "THIS" if not exactly Vedanta's "Unchanging Consciousness"?

"THIS" is the ever-changing present moment. I'm surprised this is a mystery to you - or are you asking rhetorically?
thumbnail
Angel Roberto Puente, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 281 Join Date: 5/5/19 Recent Posts
If we try to explain the inconceivable who knows what comes up. I remember an explanation I read that said that consciousness and objects are like two straws leaning on each other. If one straw is removed the other falls. It's the root of dependant arising.  So, it seems to me, we just learn to watch the show without interfering. Functionally, as long as we are alive, consciousness is always doing it's thing.  Just enjoy the ride.
thumbnail
Papa Che Dusko, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 2174 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Ok ...? emoticon so no one else wants a Bacardi? Pft! Fine! I'll drink alone! Maybe my neurons will join me emoticon Cheers! If they can find me that is!!! 
thumbnail
Ni Nurta, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 774 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
Chris Marti
What is this "THIS" if not exactly Vedanta's "Unchanging Consciousness"?

"THIS" is the ever-changing present moment. I'm surprised this is a mystery to you - or are you asking rhetorically?

If you mean "ever changing neurons which generate present moment" then we are on the same page emoticon

Vedanta's method which lack such obviously perceived moment to moment changes still accomplishes the same thing albeit technically very differently. Of course it works somehow and obviously what is behind success of this method (because it is actually pretty great - I cannot stress it enough!) is impossibility to re-use neuronal pathway after it had its main activity (eg. generated perception) to generate another such perception while at the same time it being able to re-transmit its content further some amount of times before neurons get tired from this retransmission. You just need to set falling away parameters of neurons to optimal values. Parameters like how long this will happen and what action potential neurons will be kept during this time. This is very similar to what we do in pragmatic dharma circles but in advaita because they want to perceive unchanging consciousness they rather optimize for mind which is seen as static and unchanging. It is different but yet not so different. Actually imho the best is to mix those two and be conscious how it work and try what works best when and where. This is of course usually the best approach to live, check options and make them work for you.

Then why do I ask stupid questions when I know it not only from experience but also how it works?
Because it seems people do not really know what they are pointing at and why and certainly there are no good indication they actually know how it works. It can be easily recognized that someone saying "it always was like that!" is what I say it is because neurons always switched like that. They just didn't always switch enough and this is the key difference between person with dukkha and someone without it. Your neurons do not care if you believe in solid self, jelly self, gaseous self, no self, etc. they do not care if the thing you see is permanent or not, it doesn't make difference to them whatsoever. As long as you do not abuse them they will be happy and when they are happy you will be happy!

Tired neurons cut through dharma when rested.
Like glowing knife cuts through hard butter.
And yet I do not have any THIS I can point to!
Nothing about experience is more significant.
It is just bunch of neurons making ends meet.
Hugging each other live as a person in a boat.

emoticon

BTW. I didn't have any THIS realization. I had 'single neuron perspective' (practice) realization instead. Unlike most people I didn't 'meditate' on biology lessons emoticon
thumbnail
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 5925 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
I find that the question itself is the problem. The question assumes that there's something outside experience that can be a reference point to the limitations of experience. Experience is always there when there is experience. There is never experience outside of experience. Time only exists in experience, because it's one of the dimensions within which experience happens. Outside of experience there is no time. Whenever time passes, something is aware. Otherwise time wouldn't pass. As I understand it, the unchanging that is mentioned not only in Advaita but also in Dzogchen, simply refers to the fact that there is awareness. All it says is that all experiences are aware. Duh. Not very controversial, right? It doesn't mean that there's some quality that remains or that there's continuity beyond experience or that awareness is some entity that experiences the experiences. It's not a quality that is unchanging, and not an entity. It's always Just This Moment, and it's always newborn.

We all know that there are gaps in individual mind streams (although it's not as simple as saying that we are unaware while sleeping, because we do have experiences while dreaming and it's also possible for awareness to remain in dreamless sleep). A mindstream is not a continuous I. It's just a bunch of experiences lumped together because of how they are tagged, so to speak. So trying to understand this using the individual mindstream as the reference point is misleading. 

A different way of phrasing it might be that impermanence is permanent and that there is no separate and continuous self there to observe it. The question itself is the dukkha. And suddenly we have the three characteristics. 
shargrol, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 1623 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö
I find that the question itself is the problem. The question assumes that there's something outside experience that can be a reference point to the limitations of experience. Experience is always there when there is experience. There is never experience outside of experience. Time only exists in experience, because it's one of the dimensions within which experience happens. Outside of experience there is no time. Whenever time passes, something is aware. Otherwise time wouldn't pass. As I understand it, the unchanging that is mentioned not only in Advaita but also in Dzogchen, simply refers to the fact that there is awareness. All it says is that all experiences are aware. Duh. Not very controversial, right? It doesn't mean that there's some quality that remains or that there's continuity beyond experience or that awareness is some entity that experiences the experiences. It's not a quality that is unchanging, and not an entity. It's always Just This Moment, and it's always newborn.

We all know that there are gaps in individual mind streams (although it's not as simple as saying that we are unaware while sleeping, because we do have experiences while dreaming and it's also possible for awareness to remain in dreamless sleep). A mindstream is not a continuous I. It's just a bunch of experiences lumped together because of how they are tagged, so to speak. So trying to understand this using the individual mindstream as the reference point is misleading. 

A different way of phrasing it might be that impermanence is permanent and that there is no separate and continuous self there to observe it. The question itself is the dukkha. And suddenly we have the three characteristics. 

Nice!!
thumbnail
terry, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 1774 Join Date: 8/7/17 Recent Posts
   

   It is actually rare that we get to talk about the true self. People cling to ideas about the self, and are attached to them. Buddhism's initial response to this is to emphasize that "all things are non-self." This provides a method for dealing with attachment but doesn't actually clarify the nature of the true self. Only radical doubt can do that. Doubting the existence of things themselves. Doubting existence itself. What if nothing is really everything, and everything nothing?

   The "true self" is the world in its entirety. One pearl; the whole enchilada; the universe and everything in it. This seems simple enough, and its perception has lead to the idea that consciousness is somehow separate from the world, and permanent where the world is impermanent. The actual truth is that consciousness and its attendant entire universe is merely a bubble of froth on the surface of a great oceanic void. A drop of oil on the buddha's foot.

   The problem is settling for fake doubt, like descartes, who dismissed his doubt at the outset by assuming that doubt existed and therefore doubtless a doubting self existed also. He didn't doubt his perception of a doubting self. He completely failed to see that when he didn't think, he didn't exist. That is, his "self" was an artefact of the thinking process. When one realizes that "thinking" is pathological, the putative self becomes something like a tumor, an "eye" to plucked out.

   The world in its entirety seems to us all sufficient, and we fail to realize we are no more grasping the world than a child with a handful of sand. Water is wet, sand is gritty: the world is wet and gritty in its entirety! Yet it is not truly the wetness and grittiness that characterize the world-self, but its transience, its incompleteness, its impermanence.

   And its universality. It is not consciousness that is permanent, it is buddha nature which does not exist in the field of space or persist in the field of time. Ungraspable being. 

   The subtle truth is that unknowing can be known. The true self; non-self. There is no other.

terry



Life is, for example, like a man sailing in a boat. Although he sets sail, steers his course, and poles his boat along, the boat carries him, and he does not exist apart from the boat. By sailing in the boat, he makes it what the boat is. Study assiduously this very time. At such a time, there is nothing but the world of the boat. The heavens - the water, and the shore - all become the boat's time, and they are not the same as the time that is not the boat. Hence, I make life what it is; life makes me what I am. In riding the boat, one's body and mind, the self and the world are together the dynamic function of the boat. The entire earth and the whole empty sky are in company with the boat's vigorous exertion. Such is the I that is life, the life that is I.

~dogen


  
thumbnail
terry, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 1774 Join Date: 8/7/17 Recent Posts
CALL ME THE BREEZE
(j j cale)

Call me the breeze
I keep blowin' down the road
Well now, they call me the breeze
I keep blowin' down the road
I ain't got me nobody
I don't carry me no load
Ain't no change in the weather
Ain't no changes in me
Well, there ain't no change in the weather
Ain't no changes in me
And I ain't hidin' from nobody
Nobody's hidin' from me
Oh, that's the way its supposed to be
Well, I got that green light, baby
I got to keep movin' on
Well, I got that green light, baby
I got to keep movin' on
Well, I might go out to California
Might go down to Georgia, I don't know
Well, I dig you Georgia peaches
Makes me feel right at home
Well now, I dig you Georgia peaches
Makes me feel right at home
But I don't love me no one woman
So I can't stay in Georgia long
Well now, they call me the breeze
I keep blowin' down the road
Well now, they call me the breeze
I keep blowin' down the road
I ain't got me nobody
I don't carry me no load
Ooh, Mr. Breeze
thumbnail
Ben V., modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 367 Join Date: 3/3/15 Recent Posts
Thanks everyone for the input! Very pragmatic stuff offered on the isssue in this thread!

One thing that came to mind with the idea of investigating if there is such a thing as some unborn awareness (not using the term ''unchanging'' anymore because it was made evident in this thread how notions of time are fabrications), is the paradox that if there were such a thing, it could never be found as an experience anyway, because by necessity any experience would be an object of awareness. 

For example, if one experiences a sense of vast awareness in which things come and go, the sense of vast awareness itself, being an experience that can be named, is an object of awareness. We would have to ask: what knows this experience of vast awareness? If awareness would turn in on itself, tired of seeking answers in experiences, cease aligning with any objects, then this would have to be a moment of no-experience whatsoever. 

I think there could be a pragmatic use of this: whatever experience one has, including the sense that there is an unborn awareness, would have to be let go of/deconstructed/seen as a fabrication, by the very fact that it is an experience. 

In any case, gonna have to read again some of the material on this thread...
thumbnail
Ni Nurta, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 774 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
If you want to know what Advaita Vedanta methods is all about do not change terms to match those from Buddhist traditions because then you are no longer even working with Vedanta, do not look in the same direction. There is temptation to reduce amount of stuff to work through but that is not the way to draw any meaningful conclusions.

Especially when already Buddhism of today is not even what Buddha taught. Take notion "there is no self" which is complete bullocks which came from not understanding Anatta. This mistake would not be as impactful if people would consider their own ideas but if you are tempted to reduce whole schools of thought to not have to put effort in to practicing them so you will destroy your own ideas. Thought will arise and instead of investigating it on its own merit you will do quick matching, find term and once you reduced everything you will be like if you had no thought. You might think you understand something but it will just blur your understanding of whatever you think you found.

The same thing happens in our senses. Our eyesight for example is much blurrier than it would be if we didn't at some point of processing merge subtle cues from eyes to avoid working with noise. It is better to take noise and process it but how to do it is not as obvious so each time we see any we need to do the same process of figuring it out. Though arise so you do not refer to what you know but you see what this thought is about even if such investigation doesn't give any conclusions and you do the same with all thoughts. Not thought arise and you match it with unrelated thought just to conclude you are done with it because you matched it with something.

For someone having no contact with 'unchanging consciousness' it is noise to you. If you do not know what it is then do not match it with anything. Let it float. When it floats it drives your mind crazy and it will put effort to figure it out. If you match it with something you think you know you are wasting opportunities for knowledge.

Even if in the end some terms you would match would be the same you are still wasting opportunity for knowledge if you do the matching right away. Better not do it at all. When you go through two or more things and they point to exactly the same thing they (these terms) still have more information in them than what they point to. Whole tree of knowledge is in these terms. So no, unchanging consciousness is not unborn consciosuensess, stop this identification!
thumbnail
terry, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 1774 Join Date: 8/7/17 Recent Posts
Bankei Yotaku (1622-1693)
From – The Unborn: The Life and Teachings of Zen Master Bankei 
 
​​​​​​​

What I teach everyone in these talks of mine is the unborn buddha-mind of illuminative wisdom, nothing else. Everyone is endowed with this buddha-mind, only they don’t know it. My reason for coming and speaking to you like this is to make it known to you.  

Well then, what does it mean, you’re endowed with a buddha-mind? Each of you now present decided to come here from your home in the desire to hear what I have to say. Now if a dog barked beyond the temple walls while you’re listening to me you’d hear it and know it was a dog barking. If a crow cawed, you’d hear it and know it was a crow. You’d hear an adult’s voice as an adult’s and a child’s as a child’s. You didn’t come here in order to hear a dog bark, a crow caw, or any of the other sounds which might come from outside the temple during my talk. Yet while you’re here, you’d hear those sounds. Your eyes see and distinguish reds and whites and other colors and your nose can tell good smells from bad. You could have had no way of knowing beforehand of any of the sights, sounds, or smells you might encounter at this meeting, yet you’re able nevertheless to recognize these unforeseen sights and sounds as you encounter them, without premeditation. That’s because you’re seeing and hearing in the Unborn. 

That you do see and hear and smell in this way without giving rise to the thought that you will is the proof that this inherent buddha-mind is unborn and possessed of a wonderful illuminative wisdom. The Unborn manifests itself in the thought “I want to see” or “I want to hear” not being born. When a dog howls, even if ten million people said in chorus that it was the sound of a crow crying, I doubt if you’d be convinced. It’s highly unlikely there would be any way they could delude you into believing what they said. That’s owing to the marvelous awareness and unbornness of your buddha-mind.

Being Unborn, it’s also undying: It’s not possible for what is not born to perish. This is the sense in which I say that all people have an unborn buddha-mind. 

The reason I say it’s in the “Unborn ” that you see and hear in this way is because the mind doesn’t give “birth” to any thought or inclination to see or hear. Therefore it is un-born. Being Unborn, it’s also undying: It’s not possible for what is not born to perish. This is the sense in which I say that all people have an unborn buddha-mind. 

Each and every Buddha and bodhisattva in the universe, and everyone in this world of humans as well, has been endowed with it. But being ignorant of the fact that you have a buddha-mind, you live in illusion. Why is it you’re deluded? Because you’re partial to yourself. What does that mean? Well, let’s take something close to home. Suppose you heard that your next-door neighbor was whispering bad things about you. You’d get angry. Every time you saw his face, you’d immediately feel indignant. You’d think, oh, what an unreasonable, hateful person! And everything he said would appear to you in a bad light. All because you’re wedded to your self. By becoming angry, losing your temper, you just transform your one buddha-mind into the sinful existence of the fighting spirits. 

Just stop and look back to the origin of this self of yours. When you were born, your parents didn’t give you any happy, evil, or bitter thoughts. There was only your buddha-mind.

If your neighbor praised you instead, or said something that pleased you, you’d be immediately delighted, even if the praise was totally undeserving and the Pleasure you felt unfounded, a product of your own wishful thinking, The delight You experience when this happens is due to that same obstinate, constitutional preference to yourself. 

Just stop and look back to the origin of this self of yours. When you were born, your parents didn’t give you any happy, evil, or bitter thoughts. There was only your buddha-mind. Afterwards, when your intelligence appeared, you saw and heard other people saying and doing bad things, and you learned them and made them yours. By the time you reached adulthood, deep-set habits, formed in this way of your own manufacture, emerged. Now, cherishing yourself and your own ideas, you turn your buddha-mind into the path of fighting spirits. If you covet what belongs to other people, kindling selfish desires for something that can never be yours, you create the path of hungry ghosts, and you change the buddha mind into that kind of existence. This is what is known as [rebirth]. 

If you realize fully the meaning of what I’ve just said, and do not lose your temper, or think you must have this, or decide that you don’t like that, or have feelings of bitterness or pity—that in itself is the unborn buddha-mind. You’ll be a living Buddha. 

 



 
thumbnail
terry, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 1774 Join Date: 8/7/17 Recent Posts
Jailer
J.J. Cale

Low-light moonlight comes through my window
But these steel bars spoil the view
You know that jailer thinks I'm guilty
He don't know that I'm passing through

Ain't no service in this prison
Ain't no women I can see
Doin' my time now, I been waiting
For that jailer, set me free

Lord that jailer, walks around here
Like he owns my very soul
You know that jailer's got the key
Be so easy, let me go
thumbnail
Nicky2, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Unchanging Consciousness?

Posts: 51 Join Date: 4/18/20 Recent Posts
the topic issue here is not relevant because, even if consciousness is experienced as uniform when the mind is very pure (such as in ekaggata of hard jhana), the impermanence of consciousness will be evident in more mundane states of mind, such when seeing changes to hearing or when there is deep sleep or when life ends.  The Buddhist teaching that consciousness is impermanent does not necessarily mean consciousness is always perceived as impermanent from moment to moment.  The Hindu idea in the OP is poorly argued and irrelevant. Is like arguing just because sunlight appears permanent for 12 hours per day it must therefore be permanent for 24 hours per day. 

Breadcrumb