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Re: [dsg] Concepts & Ultimate Realities (archery corner)

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  • Jonothan Abbott
    Howard As I think we ve agreed previously, a thought is something that is *conceived of* (or created ) by mind-door consciousness of the kind we call
    Message 1 of 104 , May 31, 2003

      As I think we've agreed previously, a thought is something that is
      *conceived of* (or 'created') by mind-door consciousness of the kind
      we call thinking.

      Absent the consciousness that thinks, there can be no thought. There
      is no sense in which it can be said that a thought has any existence
      independent of the consciousness of which it is the object -- the
      very idea is anomalous.

      By contrast, however, the objects of the senes-door consciousness are
      *experienced by* (not conceived of or created by) the sense-door
      consciousness, the consciousness we call seeing, hearing, etc.

      Absent sense-door consciousness, rupas that could otherwise
      constitute sense-door objects still arise in this plane of existence
      or, at the very least, the possibility that they do so is not
      conceptually anomalous and cannot be discounted.

      So while the model of 'object arising and being experienced by
      consciousness' fits for sense-door objects and consciousness, it's
      perhaps not a particularly apt description for thoughts and thinking.

      That's how I see it anyway, based on my reading of the commentaries
      and the Abhidhamma. The further comments that follow (interspersed)
      reflect a similar analysis.

      --- upasaka@... wrote: > Hi, Jon -

      H: I see the following going on during "thinking": A thought arises
      as an object of awareness. The thought is the objective pole of the
      thinking event, the awareness of the thought is the subjective pole,
      the two are mutually dependent but distinguishable.

      J: You mention the idea of a thought *arising as an object* of
      awareness/thinking. For reasons just explained, I see it more as a
      case of thinking arising and having as its object a thought that is
      conceived of by that thinking. For example, thinking that is
      accompanied by attachment will have as object thoughts of desirable
      things, and so on; when attachment has been eradicated, no more
      daydreaming about being at the beach instead of at work.

      H: The content of consciousness is certainly a part of the nature of
      that consciousness. Think, for example, of the Buddha's
      distinguishing eye consciousness from ear consciousness. The sort of
      object is a critical aspect of the consciousness of that object.
      Likewise, mental consciousness/thinking is conditioned by its
      objects. Thinking of light is different from thinking of darkness,
      and has different effect.

      J: As between the thought and the moment of thinking consciousness
      of which the thought is object, it is the thought that is conditioned
      by the thinking, not the other way around. By definition, a thought
      could not condition the very moment of consciousness by which the
      thought is conceived of or 'brought to mind'.

      Insofar as a thought takes its nature from the moment of
      consciousness of which it is the object, the relationship between
      thoughts and thinking is quite different from the relationship
      between the sense-door object and consciousness. There, the
      sense-door object has its own nature and independent existence, which
      is in no way determined by the 'quality' of the experiencing
      consciousness (although there must of course be congruence between
      the 2 as regards the kusala/akusala nature of the vipaka moment).

      In the case of sense-door experiences, both the consciousness and the
      rupa that is to become the sense-door object are said to *arise*, so
      that there are 2 *arisen dhammas* each having its own nature. In the
      case of (mind-door) thinking, the consciousness arises and conceives
      of the thought (which is otherwise not to be found), so that there is
      only 1 arisen dhamma having its own nature.

      H: Are you saying, Jon, that there actually do not arise directly
      apprehended, elementary thoughts that are to the mind door what
      images are to the eye door, sounds are to the ear door, and hardness
      is to the body door?

      J: The similarity between mind-door and sense-door objects ends with
      the fact that both are objects of the corresponding consciousness.
      There are no 'elementary thoughts' to *arise* and *be apprehended*,
      since all thoughts are purely a creation of the moment of
      consciousness of which they are object (although that moment of
      consciousness is of course itself conditioned by other, mainly
      preceding, factors).

      H: Thoughts arise at the mind door just as images at the eye door
      etc, and it is the thoughts that arise, and that we take seriously,
      that constitute the scaffolding of this house we build and rebuild
      for ourselves whose rafters need to be shattered in order for us to
      become free.

      J: You are referring to wrong view, I think. Consciousness that is
      accompanied by wrong view thinks thoughts that are 'wrong', i.e.,
      not in accordance with the way things actually are. It is the
      consciousness that arises at the mind door. That consciousness must
      arise in order for the thought to be conceived of and thus become the
      object of that consciousness. Thoughts can be said to 'arise at the
      mind-door' only in the sense that they are the object of
      consciousness that arises at the mind door (advanced archery corner
      here ;-))

      H: We don't need to stop our thinking, i.e., stop the flow of
      thoughts and co-occurring awareness of them ...

      J: You equate thinking with a 'flow of thoughts of which thinking
      consciousness is aware' (I hope I'm not misreading you here, Howard).
      But thinking is just thinking, a kind of consciousness that has
      thoughts (images) as its object. 'Flow of thoughts' is how it seems
      to us; but like so much else of what seems to be the way things are
      to us, the teachings tell us that the reality ('flow of thinking'
      only) is otherwise.


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    • upasaka@aol.com
      Hi, Jon - ... ========================== As you noted, there is close to no disagreement between us on the current topic. The only tiny portion of your post
      Message 104 of 104 , Jun 22, 2003
        Hi, Jon -

        In a message dated 6/22/2003 5:12:17 AM Eastern Standard Time, jonoabb@... writes:

        > Just on a technicality here, sanna is said to accompany every citta,
        > including the moments of 5 sense-door perception, although its
        > function there is simply to mark the object. So I think the 'mixing
        > operation' you mention is something that happens in the
        > mind-door
        > processes that follow the sense-door process.
        As you noted, there is close to no disagreement between us on the current topic. The only tiny portion of your post that I will address here is what I quote above, and I do so to clarify my meaning for you. I see sa~n~na as playing a dual role. The primary role is indeed played at every mind-moment, serving to make a "mark". The secondary may not occur with every mind moment - it provides a "looking back" or memory function which compares current features with previously saved "sa~n~na marks" serving a recognitional/perceptual function, and it is this matching of current features to past notings that I referred to as a "mixing operation" of past experience with current experience. This looking back and comparing is the very beginning of the conceptual process as I understand it. It may well be that this function of sa~n~na occurs, as you say, in the mind-door processes. Actually that makes complete sense.

        With metta,
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