Re: [dsg] On the Momentariness of Mind States
- Hi Howard,
--- upasaka@... wrote: > Hi, Sarah -
> Thank you for the following detailed and well-thought-out post.
> bottom line, I think, however, is that we simply disagree on this one.
> instantaneous, film-frame view of mindstates that you believe in I do
> not. I do not
> see the necessity for it, and I do see a number of problems with it.
No problem. I think that reading and considering the details can help us
to more clearly distinguish between the thinking about impermanence and
direct realization of this characteristic of all namas and rupas.
There is a debate in the Kathavatthu on the duration of consciousness. The
Andhakas are said to believe in the appaent continuity both of
consciousness in Jhana and of sub-consciousness, a single state of
consciousness lasted for a length of time.
It quotes AN i.10 :
I consider, bhikkhus, that there is no phenomenon that comes and goes so
quickly as mind. It is not easy to find a simile to show how quickly mind
comes and goes.
Also SN ii.95
Just as a monkey faring through the dense forest catches one bough, and,
letting it go, catches another, and then another, even so bhikkhus, with
what is called thought, or mind , or consciousness, by day as by night,
one arises when another perishes.
In the Visuddhimagga, XX94, we read under Knowledge or Rise and Fall:
..Here in the text: How is it that understanding of contemplating
present states change is knowledge of contemplation of rise and fall?
Present materiality is born [materiality]; the characteristic of its
generation is rise, the characteristic of its change is fall, the
contemplation is knowledge. Present feeling ... perception ....
formations......consciousness....eye....(etc)....Present becoming is born
[becoming]; the characteristic of its generation is rise, the
characteristic of its change is fall, the contemplation is
This comes under the fourth vipassana ~naa.na (knowledge) which clearly
understands the arising and falling away of the rapid succession of namas
There are a lot more details in the Vism. There can only be this degree of
insight or vipassana when sufficient detachment to all conditioned
phenomena has been developed and after the tender insights have been
realized, clearly distinguishing namas and rupas, understanding their
conditioned nature, and comprehension by groups as a result of knowing
directly rather than theoretically, the fast succession of cittas,
cetasikas and rupas.
I think the theoretical appreciation of realities changing so rapidly
helps again to condition detachment from an idea of self and to help us
appreciate how thinking about, say the breakdown of a computer or the
changing nature of sounds right now is not the same as the deep insight
into the impermanence of presently arising and falling namas and rupas.
I know that we have no problem disagreeing anytime, Howard;-)
' "Life, person, pleasure, pain - just these alone
join in one conscious moment that flicks by.
Ceased aggregates of those dead or alive
Are all alike, gone never to return...'"Vism, V111 39
We've quote these lines a lot and yet each time I read them, they're a
reminder to me of the very shortness of life and all we hold dear, just
the present aggregates flicking by already. Nothing else exists but these
very temporary, very conditioned, very impermanent khandhas now, without
self, core, store or sub-conscious.
H: > Non-duration is not what makes a phenomenon "real" or not.
> itself, allows===============
> for a rupa to last for the duration of 17 mindstates. So ... do rupas
> "unreal" due to that.
> In any case, whether namas or rupas are instantaneous or not
> (though I
> don't think we*ever* observe anything that has zero duration), is really
> a critical matter. What is critical is that all (conditioned) phenomena
> impermanent, unsatisfying, and impersonal and insubstantial, and that we
> not attempt to grasp the ungraspable, for that is the source of our
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- Dear James,
op 14-01-2004 22:13 schreef buddhatrue op buddhatrue@...:
> I hope I haven't rambled on too much (Gosh, I feel like thisN: No, you did not ramble and since the subject is mental development, yes,
> is `Buddhist True Confessions' or something! ;-))
it seems like a confession, but we are just talking about the many changing
states of mind. I appreciate your sincere post.
First of all, I really sympathize with your fear. I have little knowledge
and no experience with the meditation you describe. But now I try to think
of saying something in general which may be helpful, or not, I do not know.
I asked Lodewijk, and he said:
<When you have such anguishes it shows how difficult meditation is, much
more difficult than people think. And this is an essential point: it all has
to be very natural. It cannot be that efforts to apply the teachings lead to
disturbance of mind. If that is the case, it seems to be that there is
As soon as you have those fears, go back to basics, to the teachings
themselves. Always check with the teachings, what is in it. Check your own
I could add something. It is wise that you are doing this already, with the
Suttas. We have to check ourselves all the time, are we overreaching,
wanting more than we are up to? Then lobha is around the corner. I overreach
in other fields, like my study, trying too hard to answer all Emails,
wanting to do things too perfectly.
As to the negative kind of fear, that is, accompanied by unhappy feeling,
fear that disturbs, it is a sign. It is dangerous, because one will easily
accumulate more of that. It is a warning sign I would say. It could become
worse and worse. We have to find out what conditions it. As Lodewijk said,
we always have to check our mind. Clinging is a condition for fear. It has
to do with overreaching. Then we are not on the right track.
At times, I realize that I am clinging to awareness, but I also know that
this is not the right Path. I find that every little bit of understanding is
a gain, it helps me in my daily life. I am very grateful to the Buddha for
that. Also this contact in dsg helps me to consider the Dhamma more, to
reflect more, to develop understanding. This is also thanks to the excellent
way Sarah and Jon are leading this forum, it is good to say this sometimes.
Lodewijk also sends you his best regards,
- Hi Herman,
You raise good qus about the mixing of conceptual terms with absolutes.
Its inevitable that we often use conceptual terms for shorthand and we
read this throughout the texts as well, even in the Abhidhamma.
--- Herman Hofman <hhofman@...> wrote:
> =S: The series referred to a series (vithi) of mind moments, which refers
> H> We have recently been discussing space and time. At no time did
> anyone suggest time was anything but a concept. So when we are
> discussing rupas (absolutes) how can there be a series (concept) of
> them? Where did time suddenly creep in? And how can rupas (absolutes) be
> falling away in time (concept), all the time (concept)?
to the sense door and mind door cittas which condition the next one and so
on (absolutely). Series is a short-hand concept to refer to these cittas
Production, continuity, decay and impermanence are characteristics
(absolutes) of all rupas (absolutes) whenever they occur (absolutely) and
can be directly known by developed wisdom (absolute). Rupas are
conditioned in various ways (absolutely) by cittas, kamma, temperature and
> ===S: Moment (concept) is shorthand here for saying that cittas arise and
> H> Is a moment an absolute or a concept? How is it that absolutes arise
> and fall within concepts?
fall away (absolutely) extremely rapidly, conditioning the next without
interval. The cittas (absolutes) dont arise and fall within concepts. The
concepts, such as the ones I gave yesterday from the suttas to indicate
the great speed, are just to give an indication of the nature of these
absolutes only. In the Abhidhamma, the term kha.nikapaccuppanna is used
to refer to the momentary present when absolutes occur. If you have
Bodhis CMA, see ch 111,Comp.of the Misc.,17.
> ====S: A conceptual term referring to the absolute characteristics of dhammas
> H> Here you say that dhammas (absolutes) are brief. Is that briefness
> (brevity) a characteristic of that dhamma? To me briefness is a
> comparative measurement and surely that is conceptual?
which fall away as soon as theyve arisen and can be experienced as such.
> ====S: In CMA, iV, Guide to 6, Bodhi gives more detail on all these points. He
> H> Same again. Speed is a comparative measurement. Is high speed a
> characteristic of dhammas? Or is it a characteristic of observation? Or
There are three conditioned characteristics of the conditioned:
arising, passing away, and the alteration of that which stands
(A.3:47/i,152). Here the presence moment is identified with the
alteration of that which stands (.thitassa a~nnathatta).
When there is insight, there is no thought of time, but the nature of
rapidly changing succession of namas and rupas can be known directly at
the third stage onwards and so there is no doubt about the speed at which
they occur. I understand your good and challenging questions, but I think
these only arise in the thinking rather than the direct experiencing of
these absolutes. More on time in Nyanaponikas Abhidhamma Studies and
under Time in UP (oops!)Again as Htoo wrote, the more understanding
there is of paramattha dhammas, the less confusion there will be about
what concepts are too.
> ====S: It depends whether there is any understanding and awareness now. There
> H> Now I think I can understand, but isn't the "dhamma itself" therefore
> an inference and not a reality?
can be thinking about hardness (concept) as we type or there can be
direct awareness of the characteristic (absolute) as its experienced.
Only panna (understanding) can differentiate and know which.
> H> Now this I really do understand. You are speaking conventionally. In
> the whole paragraph!!! I hope you have an absolute wow of a time in
> Bangkok. :-)
S: You got it! Thanks, Herman and hope you can join us some time,
somewhere (lots more concepts). Let me know if you dont agree absolutely
or conceptually with anything here. Youre raising important issues in
this and in other posts and I liked your verse in reply to Christines;-)
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