32704Re: [dsg] VISIBLE OBJECT IS NOT A DOT OF LIGHT!!!
- May 3, 2004Hi RobM (Mike, TG, Howard & All),
Great discussions and thank you for sharing your latest reflections. Your
cave and shadow analogy reminder me of Thein Nyuns description of the
shadows on the cinema screen which he uses in his preface to his
translation of the Discourse on Elements (Dhaatu-Kathaa), the 3rd book of
the Abhidhamma Pitaka (PTS).
The material and mental elements may be compared to the shadows on the
cinema screen, which appear and disappear in rapid succession. The
mind-consciousness element (of what is conventionally said to be the
spectator) takes the actors, actressess, rivers, mountains, etc., as
objects, and a drama is built up from them. This is due to a perverted
belief that the actors, etc., exist, and the shadows serve as stimuli for
imagining them. Similarly the material and mental elements arise and
cease in rapid succession and the mind-consciousness element takes men,
women, trees, mountains, etc., and a drama of a world of animate and
inanimate things is built up from them. This is due to the perverted
belief in the existence of a living world of persons and things and the
elements serves as stimuli for imagining them.
Here the difference from the cinema is that there are no spectators as the
mind-consciousness element is also like the shadow on the screen, i.e. it
is always arising and ceasing. If the mind-consciousness element is not
seen in this manner according to reality it will be believed that it
permanently resides in the body and that it is the same mind-consciousness
element that 1) seeks and takes objects; 2) is present throughout the day;
3) was present yesterday, is present now and will be present tomorrow - in
other words, that from birth to death the mind-consciousness element is
the same and is conscious of all daily actions, speech and thoughts.
Of course we also read about shadows of ultimate things in the
Abhidammattha Sangaha. From CMA,ch V111, Bodhi transl:
All such different things [S: e.g land, mountain, cave, kasina sign etc],
though they do not exist in the ultimate sense, become objects of
consciousness in the form of shadows of (ultimate) things.
They are called concepts (pa~n~nattii) because they are thought of,
reckoned, understood, expressed, and made known on account of, in
consideration of, with respect to, this or that mode. This kind of
concept is so called because it is made known.
You and others like TG & Howard have also been discussing the conditions
for seeing consciousness including light and I thought of this quote from
Summary and Exposition of Topics ch 4 (Abhidammatthavibhaavinii, comy to
the text above, PTS):
Seeing, beholding directly. But since it is said that one sees visible
forms with the eye (Vibh 248) is it not the eye-faculty itself that
performs the function of seeing, and not consciousness? Not so.
Materiality, being blind, has no capacity to see the visible form. And if
it were the eye-faculty that saw visible form, then it would also be
possible for someone experiencing a consciousness other [than
eye-consciousness] to see visible form. Yet if one attributes the
function [of seeing] to consciousness, then, since consciousness has no
obstacles, one would see concealed visible objects. One can allow the
seeing of something concealed when it is placed behind crystal, etc., and
there is no obstacle to light, but when it is something concealed by a
wall, etc., there is an obstacle to light, and in the absence of this
condition consciousness does not arise and eye-consciousness does not
apprehend the object. But in the above quotation by the eye means by
the eye-door which is the means [of seeing].
Finally, at the risk of over-doing the quotes, Id like to give this one
from Dispeller 228(Sammohavinodanii, PTS) which stresses the conditioned
nature of all these elements:
Likewise [they should be regarded] as inactive and unoccupied. For it
does not occur to the eye and visible-datum and so on: Would that
consciousness might arise from our concurrence. And they are not active
nor do they occupy themselves as door, basis and object for the purpose of
arousing consciousness; but rather it is the rule (dhammataa) that
eye-consciousness and so on come into being with the concurrence of
eye-visible-datum and so on. Therefore they should be regarded as
inactive and unoccupied.
p.s Rob, you may also like to review this post and quotes I wrote before
and see if we are more in agreement now:
Also see others under visible object in U.P.
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