Glossology Page Masthead


[Site Map]  [Home]  [Sutta Indexes]  [Glossology]  [Site Sub-Sections]

The Pali is transliterated as IAST Unicode (āīūṃṅñṭḍṇḷ). Alternatives:
[ ASCII (aiumnntdnl) | Mobile (āīūŋńñţđņļ) | Velthuis (aaiiuu.m'n~n.t.d.n.l) ]

 

Viññāṇaɱ Anidassanaɱ:

Pali English Dictionary
The Pali
and
Various Translations

The Mind is Pure
The mind, Beggars, is pure, but is defiled by corruption from without
This the Uneducated Common Man does not understand as it really is
Because he does not understand this,
the Uneducated Common Man makes no effort to cultivate the Mind,
I say
[1]

Pali English Dictionary

For the Pali English Dictionary Definition and other references for Viññāṇa see: Glossology: Viññāṇa

PED has this for Nidassana:

Nidassana (nt.) [Sk. nidarshana, ni+dassana] "pointing at" evidence, example, comparison, apposition, attribute, characteristic; sign, term D I.223

Digha Nikaya Sutta 11: Kevada Sutta [DN 11]

The Pali:

Kattha āpo ca paṭhavī tejo vāyo na gādhati?||
Kattha dīghañ ca rassañ ca aṇuṃ thūlaṃ subhāsubhaṃ?||
Kattha nāmañ ca rūpañ ca asesaṃ uparujjhatīti?|| ||

Tatra veyyākaraṇaṃ bhavati:|| ||

Viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ anantaṃ sabbato ahaṃ||
Ettha āpo ca paṭhavī tejo vāyo na gādhati,||
Ettha dīghañ ca rassañ ca anuṃ thūlaṃ subbāsubhaṃ,||
Ettha nāmañ ca rūpañ ca asesaṃ uparujjhati,||
Viññāṇassa nirodhena etth'etaṃ uparujjhatīti.|| ||

 

§

 

Rhys Davids[2]:

From the Introduction:

The problem put [in this sutta — where does the world come to an end?] is of great interest; and goes to the very core of the Buddhist Welt-anschauung, of Buddhist philosophy. The world, as we know it, is within each of us.

'Verily, I declare to you, my friend, that within this very body, mortal as it is and only a fathom high, but conscious and endowed with mind, is, the world, and the waxing thereof, and the waning thereof, and the way that leads to the passing away thereof!

On this Dr. Karl, Neumann, whose illustrations of Buddhist texts from passages in Western literature, old and new, are so happy, appropriately compares Schopenhauer's saying (W.W. V. I, 538),'One can also say that Kant's teaching leads to the view that the beginning and end of the world are not to be sought without, but within us.'

The problem, as put by the Bhikshu to the gods, is: 'Where do the elements pass away?' The Buddha, in giving his solution, first says that that is not the right way to put the question. It ought to be: 'Where do the elements find no foothold; where does that union of qualities that make a person (nāma and rūpa) pass away?'

The alteration is suggestive. The person should be introduced; a thinking being. We only know of the elements and their derivatives, as reflected in, constructed by, human intelligence. To the question, as thus altered, the answer is: 'They find no foothold in the mind of the Arahat, and when intellection (with special reference to the representative faculty) ceases, then they, and the person with them, cease.'

So in the Bāhiya story (Ud. I, 10) we are told:

'There, where earth, water, fire, and wind no footing find,
There are the nights not bright, nor suns resplendent,
No moon shines there, there is no darkness seen.
And then, when he, the Arahat hath, in his wisdom, seen;
From well and ill, from form and formless, is he freed!'

From the sutta:

Now the question, brother, should not be put as you have put it. Instead of asking where the four great elements, cease, leaving no trace behind, you should have asked:

Where do earth, water, fire, and wind,
And long and short, and fine and coarse,
Pure and impure, no footing find?
Where is it that both name and form
Die out, leaving no trace behind?"

'On that the answer is:
'The intellect of Arahatship, the invisible, the endless, accessible from every side

'Where is it that earth, water, fire, and wind,
And long and short, and fine and coarse,
Pure and impure, no footing find.
Where is it that both name and form
Die out, leaving, no trace behind.
When intellection ceases they all also cease.'

 

§

 

Bhkkhu Thanissaro:[3]

"'Your question should not be phrased in this way: Where do these four great elements — the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, and the wind property — cease without remainder? Instead, it should be phrased like this:

Where do water, earth, fire, and wind

have no footing?

Where are long and short,

coarse and fine,
fair and foul,
name and form

brought to an end?

"'And the answer to that is:

Consciousness without feature,

without end,

luminous all around:

Here water, earth, fire, and wind

have no footing.

Here long and short

coarse and fine
fair and foul
name and form

are all brought to an end.

With the cessation of [the activity of] consciousness

each is here brought to an end.'"

He footnotes:

1. Viññanam anidassanam. This term is nowhere explained in the Canon, although MN 49 mentions that it "does not partake in the allness of the All" — the "All" meaning the six internal and six external sense media (see SN XXXV.23). In this it differs from the consciousness factor in dependent co-arising, which is defined in terms of the six sense media. Lying outside of time and space, it would also not come under the consciousness-aggregate, which covers all consciousness near and far; past, present, and future. However, the fact that it is outside of time and space — in a dimension where there is no here, there, or in between (Ud I.10), no coming, no going, or staying (Ud VIII.1) — means that it cannot be described as permanent or omnipresent, terms that have meaning only within space and time. The standard description of nibbana after death is, "All that is sensed, not being relished, will grow cold right here." (See MN 140 and Iti 44.) Again, as "all" is defined as the sense media, this raises the question as to whether consciousness without feature is not covered by this "all." However, AN IV.174 warns that any speculation as to whether anything does or doesn't remain after the remainderless stopping of the six sense media is to "complicate non-complication," which gets in the way of attaining the non-complicated. Thus this is a question that is best put aside.

 


 

Majjhima Nikaya #49: Brahmanimantanika Sutta [MN 49]

The Pali:

24. Sace kho te mārisa sabbassa sabbattena ananubhūtaṁ,||
mā h'eva te rittakam-eva ahosi tucchakam-eva ahosi.
|| ||

25. Viññāṇaṁ anidassanaṁ anantaṁ sabbatopabhaṁ,||
taṁ paṭhaviyā paṭhavattena ananubhūtaṁ,||
āpassa āpattena ananubhūtaṁ,||
tejassa tejattena ananubhūtaṁ,||
vāyassa vāyattena ananubhūtaṁ,||
bhūtānaṁ bhūtattena ananubhūtaṁ,||
devānaṁ devattena ananubhūtaṁ,||
Pajāpatissa Pajāpatattena ananubhūtaṁ,||
Brahmānaṁ brahmattena ananubhūtaṁ,||
Ābhassarānaṁ Ābhassarattena ananubhūtaṁ,||
Subhakiṇṇānaṁ Subhakiṇṇattena ananubhūtaṁ,||
Vehapphalānaṁ Vehapphalattena ananubhūtaṁ,||
Abhibhussa Abhibhattena ananubhūtaṁ,||
sabbassa sabbattena ananubhūtaṁ.
[4]|| ||

 

§

 

Bhikkhu Bodhi/Bhikkhu Nanamoli:[5]

[Brahma Baka is speaking to the Buddha]: "Good sir [if you claim to directly know] that which is not commensurate with the allness of all, may your claim not turn out to be vain and empty!"

[The Buddha]: "The consciousness that makes no showing,
Nor has to do with finiteness,
Not claiming being with respect to all:

that is not commensurate with the earthness of earth, that is not commensurate with the waterness of water...that is not commensurate with the allness of all.'

The footnote:

"These lines (which also appear as part of a full verse at DN 11.85/i.223) have been a perennial challenge to Buddhist scholarship, and even Acariya Buddhaghosa seems to founder over them. MA takes the subject of the sentence to be Nibbana, called "consciousness" in the sense that "it can be cognized." This obviously a contrived derivation, since nowhere in the Canon is Nibbana ever described as consciousness.[6] MA offers three explanations of the phrase sabbato pabhaṃ: (1) completely possessed of splendour (pabhā); (2) possessing being (pabhūtaṃ) everywhere; and (3) a ford (pabhaṃ) accessible from all sides, i.e., through any of the thirty-eight meditation objects. Only the first of these seems to have any linguistic legitimacy. Nm, in Ms, explains that he takes pabhaṃ to be a negative present participle of pabhavati — apabhaṃ — the negative-prefix a dropping off in conjunction with sabbato: "The sense can be paraphrased freely by 'not predicting being in relation to "all,"' or 'not assuming of "all" that is is or is not in an absolute sense.'"

 

§

 

Here's my suggested rendering:

Where does water and earth and fire and wind no passage find?
Where then the long and short, the miniscule and grand, the bitter and the sweet?
Where is it that the Material and Ideational are finally rooted out?

Where re-knowing knowing is not to be seen, wholy and without exception let go,
Here does water and earth and fire and wind no passage find;
Nor here the long and short, the miniscule and grand, the bitter and the sweet.
Here are the Material and Ideational rooted out.
By eradication of the re-knowing-knowing-being here is such uprooted.

 


 

Miscellaneous and the MahaNidana Sutta

Recollect the four foods:

Material food, sense stimulation, intent, and consciousness.

With Material Food, Sense Stimulation, Intent or consciousness as nourishment,
Along with consciousness (as a co-factor)
an individual propells himself forward into renewed birth.

There are two consciousnesses in this description!

 

§

 

With Nanavira, I also believe that the key to the meaning of this term is in an understanding of the manner of presentation of the Paticca Samuppada found in the MahaNidana Suttanta:[7]

The Pali:

20."'Nāma-rūpa-paccayā phasso' ti iti kho pan'etaɱ vuttaɱ,||
tad Ānanda iminā p'etaɱ pariyāyena veditabbaɱ yathā Nāma-rūpa-paccayā phasso.|| ||

Yehi Ānanda ākārehi yehi liŋgehi yehi nimittehi yehi uddesehi nāma-kāyassa paññatti hoti,||
tesu ākāresu tesu liŋgesu tesu nimittesu tesu uddesesu asati api nu kho rūpa-kāye adhivacana-samphasso paññāyethā' ti.|| ||

"No h'etaɱ bhante."|| ||

"Yehi Ānanda ākārehi yehi liŋgehi yehi nimittehi yehi uddesehi rūpa-kāyassa paññatti hoti,||
tesu ākāresu tesu liŋgesu tesu nimittesu tesu uddesesu asati,||
api nu kho nāma-kāye paṭigha-samphasso paññāyethā?' ti.|| ||

"No h'etaɱ bhante."|| ||

"Yehi Ānanda ākārehi yehi liŋgehi yehi nimittehi yehi uddesehi nāma-kāyassa ca rūpa-kāyassa ca paññatti hoti, tesu ākāresu tesu liŋgesu tesu nimittesu tesu uddesesu asati, api nu kho adhivacana-samphasso vā paṭigha-samphasso vā paññāyethā?' ti.|| ||

"No h'etaɱ bhante."|| ||

"Yehi Ānanda ākārehi yehi liŋgehi yehi nimittehi yehi uddesehi nāma-rūpassa paññatti hoti, tesu ākāresu tesu liŋgesu tesu nimittesu tesu uddesesu asati, api nu kho phasso paññāyethā?' ti.|| ||

"No h'etaɱ bhante."|| ||

"Tasmāt ih'Ānanda es'eva hetu etaɱ nidānaɱ esa samudayo esa paccayo phassassa, yadidaɱ nāma-rūpaɱ.|| ||

21."'Viññāṇa-paccayā nāma-rūpan' ti iti kho pan'etaɱ vuttaɱ, tad Ānanda iminā p'etaɱ pariyāyena veditabbaɱ, yathā viññāṇa-paccayā nāma-rūpaɱ. Viññāṇaɱ va hi Ānanda mātu kucchiɱ na okkamissatha, api nu kho nāma-rūpaɱ mātu kucchismiɱ samuccissathā?' ti.|| ||

"No h'etaɱ bhante."|| ||

"Viññāṇaɱ va hi Ānanda mātu kucchiɱ okkamitvā vokkamissatha, api nu kho nāma-rūpaɱ itthattāya abhinibbattissathā?' ti.|| ||

"No h'etaɱ bhante".|| ||

"Viññāṇaɱ va hi Ānanda daharass'eva sato vocchijjissatha kumārakassa vā kumārikāya vā, api nu kho nāma-rūpaɱ vuddhiɱ virū'hiɱ vepullaɱ āpajjissathā ' ti.|| ||

"No h'etaɱ bhante."|| ||

'Tasmāt ih'Ānanda es'eva hetu etaɱ nidānaɱ esa samudayo esa paccayo nāma-rūpassa, yadidaɱ viññāṇaɱ."|| ||

 

§

 

My Translation:[8]

Therefore here, Ananda, just this is found to be the down-binder, the conjurer, the rebounder of sense experience...that is to say: contact.

20.'Off mentality/materiality contact rebounds here.'
This is what I have said; and this, Ananda, is how to understand the scope of 'Off mentality/materiality contact rebounds here:'
If, Ananda, those makings, those characteristics, those signs, indicating embodied mentality had no being, could the material embodiment of contact with verbal expression be known?

Such could not be, bhante.

If, Ananda, those makings, those characteristics, those signs, indicating embodied materiality had no being, could the mental embodiment of contact with reaction be discerned?

Such could not be, bhante.

If, Ananda, those makings, those characteristics, those signs, indicating embodied mentality and embodied materiality; if those makings, those characteristics, those signs, had no being, could any contact with verbal expression or contact with reaction be known?

Such could not be, bhante.

If, Ananda, those makings, those characteristics, those signs, indicating mentality/materiality had no being, could there be the knowing of contact?

Such could not be, bhante.

Therefore here, Ananda, just this is found to be the down-binder, the conjurer, the rebounder of contact...that is to say: mentality/materiality.

21.'Off recognition mentality/materiality rebounds here.'
This is what I have said; and this, Ananda, is how to understand the scope of 'Off recognition mentality/materiality rebounds here:'
If, Ananda, recognition were not to enter the mother's womb, could mentality/materiality develop itself there?

Such could not be, bhante.

If, Ananda, recognition having entered the mother's womb, were to be revoked from there could mentality/materiality develop there in such and such a way so as to arrive at rebirth?

Such could not be, bhante.

If, Ananda, recognition in some little boy or girl were to be revoked from there could there be shown there the development, growth, flowering of their mentality/materiality?

Such could not be, bhante.

Therefore here, Ananda, just this is found to be the down-binder, the conjurer, the rebounder of mentality/materiality...that is to say: recognition.

22.'Off mentality/materiality recognition rebounds here.'
This is what I have said; and this, Ananda, is how to understand the scope of 'Off mentality/materiality recognition rebounds here:'
If, Ananda, there were no getting of recognition by mentality/materiality, could then birth, aging and death, the coming to be and development of pain, be known?

Such could not be, bhante.

Therefore here, Ananda, just this is found to be the down-binder, the conjurer, the rebounder of recognition...that is to say: mentality/materiality.

To this extent only, Ananda, is there birth, aging, death, disappearance and reappearance; to this extent is there verbal expression; to this extent is there getting to the root; to this extent is there knowing; to this extent is there scope for discriminating and drawing distinctions; to this extent is there this run'n round showing up as some sort of being this at some place of being at...that is to say: only just as far as mentality/materiality with recognition.

A Discussion Question and Answer:

BA: Could you explain to me why the chain loops back at recognition with nama/rupa?

First you need to understand that what I am calling "recognition" should be heard in the sense of re-cognition, knowing again.

The problem is how to explain "consciousness."

The Buddhist method, (I say) is reflected in the Pali word: vi-nana (re-know-know), in other words, consciousness is mind aware of mind. (Impossible, really, but somehow it has us faked out, like a person looking at his own reflection in two facing mirrors and mistaking one, say ten reflections deep, as "himself" looking at the others, when, in fact, there is nothing there but reflections (no real person standing there being reflected...just ripples on the surface of an oil slick...or sometimes I use the image of a man with a hand-puppet pretending to talk back and forth with the puppet as though it understood what was being said and was giving thoughtful answers; sometimes the puppeteer mistakes himself for the puppet...who is the potter, pray, and who the pot?)...anyway...So the point here is to describe the nature of the process of going from an "impersonal" non-individualized consciousness to the personalized consciousness of the individual. First the world in general gets created (usually stated as: "Downbound blindness rebounds bound up in Confounding (sankara)"; then Downbound Sankhara rebounds bound up in consciousness (this being that consciousness of a personal world "in general" (in one German school of psychology called "the gestalt" the all). Then that world needs to be being perceived through the senses, and the existance of the senses needs to be explained, and that is done with nama/rupa. Then, given the senses, the consequence of sensing must be able to be perceived, so you get this second round of consciousness. Now the first part of this, from Blindness to the first consciousness, could also be called Nama/Rupa (materiality/mentality: the "identification" process connected to the material outcomes of previous acts), which is what this sutta has done (this may actually represent an older way of presenting the paticca samuppada). So Nama/Rupa rebounds Consciousness, Consciousness rebounds Nama/Rupa, (you could give it another round and say Nama/Rupa rebounds sense-consciousness, but that would not be as clear as speaking about the senses, so that is the next one: Nama/Rupa rebounds the senses, etc.)

 

§

 

Here's Walshe's version of the last paragraph:[9]

'I have said: "Mind-and-body conditions consciousness." ... If consciousness did not find a resting-place in mind-and-body, would there subsequently be an arising and coming-to-be of birth, ageing, death and suffering?' 'No, Lord.' 'Therefore, Ananda, just this, namely mind-and-body, is the root, the cause, the origin, the condition of consciousness. Thus far the, Ananda, we can trace birth and decay, death and falling into other states and being reborn, thus far extends the way of designation, of concepts, thus far is the sphere of understanding, thus far the round goes, as far as can be discerned in this life, namely to mind-and-body together with consciousness.

 

§

 

Here's Bhikkhu Thanissaro's version of the Name and Form Group and the Consciousness Group[10]

Name-and-form

"'From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-and-form.' Thus it has been said. And this is the way to understand how from consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-and-form. If consciousness were not to descend into the mother's womb, would name-and-form take shape in the womb?"

"No, lord."

"If, after descending into the womb, consciousness were to depart, would name-and-form be produced for this world?"

"No, lord."

"If the consciousness of the young boy or girl were to be cut off, would name-and-form ripen, grow, and reach maturity?"

"No, lord."

"Thus this is a cause, this is a reason, this is an origination, this is a requisite condition for name-and-form, i.e., consciousness."

Consciousness

"'From name-and-form as a requisite condition comes consciousness.' Thus it has been said. And this is the way to understand how from name-and-form as a requisite condition comes consciousness. If consciousness were not to gain a foothold in name-and-form, would a coming-into-play of the origination of birth, aging, death, and stress in the future be discerned?

"No, lord."

"Thus this is a cause, this is a reason, this is an origination, this is a requisite condition for consciousness, i.e., name-and-form.

"This is the extent to which there is birth, aging, death, passing away, and re-arising. This is the extent to which there are means of designation, expression, and delineation. This is the extent to which the sphere of discernment extends, the extent to which the cycle revolves for the manifesting (discernibility) of this world -- i.e., name-and-form together with consciousness.

 

§

 

Rhys Davids:

'I have said that cognition is the cause of name-and-form. Now in what way that is so, Ananda, is tobe understood after this manner. Were cognition not to descend into the mother's womb, would name-and-form become constituted therein?'

'It would not, lord.'

'Were cognition, after having descended into the mother's womb, to become extinct, would name-and-form come to birth in this state of being?'

'It would not, lord.'

'Were cognition to be extirpated from one yet young, youth or maiden, would name-and-form attain to growth development, expansion?'

'It would not, lord.'

'Wherefore, Ananda, just that is the ground, the basis, the genesis, the cause of name-and-form, to wit, cognition.

'I have said that name-and-form is the cause of cognition. Now in what way that is so, Ananda, is to be understood after this manner. Were cognition to gain no foothold in name-and-form, would there then, in the coming years, be manifested that concatenation of birth, oold age, death and the uprising of Ill?'

'There would not, lord.'

'Wherefore, Ananda, just that is the ground, the basis, the genesis, the cause of cognition, to wit, name-and-form.

'In so far only, Ananda, can one be born, or grow old, or die, or dissolve, or reappear, in so far only is there any process of verbal expresion, in so far only is there any process of explanation, in so far only is there any process of manifestation, in so far only is there any sphere of knowledge, in so far only do we go rond the round of life up to our appearance amid the conditions of this world — in as far as this is, to wit, name-and-form together with cognition.'

And he has this footnote:
...Barely stated, the summary amounts to this: — 'Only through cognition, language and bodily form do we live and express ourselves.' The little paragraph contains a great part of modern psychology in the germ-state.

[Rhys Davids view here is world-bound; but if you hear it with a more divine ear, it is a fair statement of the issue in that sense as well: To solve the problem of rebirth and pain we only need to take our analysis back to it's point of origin and since there is no way of expressing what is beyond that anyway (as this is also the point of origin of conceptual thought and speech) it is only this far that we can rationally press the issue. Where the Mahayanists and others make their error is in not letting the issue drop at this point.]

 

§

 

Destruction of the Demon of Dialectics

Excerpt from The Doctrine of Awakening
by Julius Evola
translated from the Italian by H.E. Musson (AKA Bhikkhu Nanavira)
Inner Traditions, Rochester, 1996

Note: Included here because it concisely puts together and properly frames a number of citations from the suttas that relate to this issue...and, okok, gives me a chance to shoot off about Julius Evola! ... Julius Evola, one of Hitler's primary inspirations, was, to my reading, at the time of the writing of this book simply deeply concerned about the degeneration of man that he saw all around him. At a later point the incipient anti-semitism that one can see in seed form even in this work is given head and takes this fellow down a very wrong course. We can take what is well said and leave the rest. I think we can see in the example of Evola and Hitler the real meaning of what it means to grab the snake by the wrong end: these guys had a tiny glimpse of the truth and were swept away by the power.

Destruction of the Demon of Dialectics

The premise from which the Buddhist Doctrine of Awakening starts is the destruction of the demon of dialectics; the renunciation of the various constructions of thought and speculation, which are simply an expression of opinion, and of the profusion of theories, which are projections of a fundamental restlessness in which a mind that has not yet found in itself its own principle seeks for support.

This applies not only to cosmological speculation, but also to problems concerned with man, his nature and destiny, and even to any conceptual determination of the ultimate aim of asceticism. "Have I ever existed in past epochs? Or have I never existed? What was I in past epochs? And how did I come to be what I was? Shall I exist in future epochs? Or shall I not exist? What shall I be in future epochs? And how shall I become what I shall be?" And even the present fills [the common man] with doubts: "Do I indeed exist? Or do I not exist? What am I? And how am I? This being here, whence has it really come? And whither will it go?" All these for Buddhism are but "vain thoughts": "This is called the blind alley of opinions, the gorge of opinions, the bramble of opinions, the thicket of opinions, the net of opinions," caught up and lost in which "the ignorant worldling cannot free himself from birth, decay and death." [MN.2.38] And again: "'I am' is an opinion; 'I am this' is an opinion; 'I shall be' is an opinion; 'I shall not be' is an opinion; 'I shall be in the worlds of [pure] form' is an opinion; 'I shall be in the worlds free from form' is an opinion; conscious nor unconscious, I shall be' is an opinion. Opinion, O disciples, is a disease; opinion is a tumor; opinion is a sore. He who has overcome all opinion, O disciples, is called a saint, one who knows." (ibid., 140)

It is the same with the cosmological order: "'The world is eternal' 'The world is not eternal.' 'The world is finite.' 'The world is infinite.' 'The life-principle and the body are the same.' 'The life-principle is one thing, the body another.' 'The Accomplished One is after death.' 'The Accomplished One is not after death.' 'The accomplished One both is and is not after death.' 'The Accomplished One neither is nor is not after death' — this is a blind alley of opinions, a thicket of opinions, a wood of opinions, a tangle of opinions, a labyrinth of opinions, painful, desparate, tortuous, not leading to detachment, not leading to progress, not leading to vision, not leading to awakening, not leading to extinction." (ibid, 72) The doctrine of the Accomplished Ones is described as that which "destroys to the foundations every attachment to and satisfaction in false theories, dogmas and systems" and which therefore cuts off both fear and hope. (ibid 22) The reply to the question asked of the Buddha: "Perhaps Lord Gotama [this is the Prince Siddhattha's family name] has some opinion?" is categorical: "Opinion: that is remote from the Accomplished One. The Accomplished One has seen." (ibid 72)

 

§

 

Quine and Hans Georg Gadamer. Most notably in his classic "Ontological Relativity,"Quine argues that fundamental matters such as what there is are only settled relative to a conceptual scheme, meaning a tissue or "network of terms and predicates and auxiliary devices ... our frame of reference, or coordinate system." Sunnyata, Textualism, And Incommensurability By Michael G. Barnhart Philosophy East and West Vo.44,no.4 October 1994 p 647-658, University of Hawaii Press

 


[1] Interestingly just after I put in this quote, I came across the same quote by Bhikkhu Thanissaro that just happens to footnote the very issue of "Viññanam Anidassanam.":

Anguttara Nikaya I.49-52
Pabhassara Sutta
Luminous
Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

"Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is defiled by incoming defilements." {I,v,9}
"Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is freed from incoming defilements." {I,v,10}
 
"Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is defiled by incoming defilements. The uninstructed run-of-the-mill person doesn't discern that as it actually is present, which is why I tell you that — for the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person — there is no development of the mind." {I,vi,1}
 
"Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is freed from incoming defilements. The well-instructed disciple of the noble ones discerns that as it actually is present, which is why I tell you that — for the well-instructed disciple of the noble ones — there is development of the mind." {I,vi,2}

Note
1. This statement has engendered a great deal of controversy over the centuries. The commentary maintains that "mind" here refers to the bhavanga-citta, the momentary mental state between periods when the mental stream adverts to objects, but this statement raises more questions than it answers. There is no reference to the bhavanga-citta or the mental stream in any of the suttas (they appear first in an Abhidhamma treatise, the Patthana); and because the commentaries compare the bhavanga-citta to deep sleep, why is it called luminous? And why would the perception of its luminosity be a prerequisite for developing the mind? And further, if "mind" in this discourse means bhavanga-citta, what would it mean to develop the bhavanga-citta?
 
Another interpretation equates the luminosity of the mind with the "consciousness without feature," desribed as "luminous" in MN 49 and DN 11, but this interpretation also has problems. According to MN 49, that consciousness partakes of nothing in the describable world, not even the "Allness of the All," so how could it possibly be defiled? And, because it is not realized until the goal of the practice is reached, why would the perception of its luminosity be a prerequisite for developing the mind? And again, if "mind" here means consciousness without feature, how could the sutta talk of its development?
 
A more reasonable approach to understanding the statement can be derived from taking it in context: the luminous mind is the mind that the meditator is trying to develop. To perceive its luminosity means understanding that defilements such as greed, aversion, or delusion are not intrinsic to its nature, are not a necessary part of awareness. Without this understanding, it would be impossible to practice. With this understanding, however, one can make an effort to cut away existing defilements, leaving the mind in the stage that MN 24 calls "purity in terms of mind." This would correspond to the luminous level of concentration described in the standard simile for the fourth jhana: "And furthermore, with the abandoning of pleasure and pain — as with the earlier disappearance of elation and distress — he enters and remains in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity and mindfulness, neither-pleasure-nor-pain. He sits, permeating the body with a pure, bright awareness. Just as if a man were sitting covered from head to foot with a white cloth so that there would be no part of his body to which the white cloth did not extend; even so, the monk sits, permeating the body with a pure, bright awareness. There is nothing of his entire body unpervaded by pure, bright awareness." From this state it is possible to develop the discernment that not only cuts away existing defilements but also uproots any potential for them to ever arise again. Only in the stages of Awakening that follow on those acts of discernment would "consciousness without feature" be realized.
 
I have found audio recordings of Bhikkhu Thanissaro DhammaTalks at: http://www.audiodharma.org/ (Scroll down the list of speakers on the left-hand margin; and for one that specifically mentions "Viññanam Anidassanam" listen to #ll on the Five Aggregates.

Another note on this term is provided by Bhikkhu Thanissaro at Majjhima Nikaya 109 Mahā-Puṇṇama Sutta
The Great Full-moon Night Discourse:

"To what extent does the designation 'aggregate' apply to the aggregates?"

"Monk, whatever form is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: that is called the aggregate of form.
Whatever feeling is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: that is called the aggregate of feeling.
Whatever perception is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: that is called the aggregate of perception.
Whatever fabrications are past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: those are called the aggregate of fabrication.
Whatever consciousness is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: that is called the aggregate of consciousness.[bt1] This is the extent to which the term 'aggregate' applies to the aggregates."

[bt1] One form of consciousness apparently does not come under the aggregate of consciousness. This is termed viññanam anidassanam — consciousness without a surface, or consciousness without feature. MN 49 says specifically that this consciousness does not partake of the "allness of the all," the "all" being conterminous with the five aggregates. The standard definition of the aggregate of consciousness states that this aggregate includes all consciousness, "past, present, or future ... near or far." However, because viññanam anidassanam stands outside of space and time it would not be covered by these terms. Similarly, where SN XXII.97 says that no consciousness is eternal, "eternal" is a concept that applies only within the dimension of time, and thus would not apply to this form of consciousness.

[2] Rhys Davids: The Three Wonders, And The Gods Kevaddha Sutta Reprinted from Sacred Books of the Buddhists Volume II Dialogues of the Buddha Part I

[3] Digha Nikaya 11 Kevatta (Kevaddha) Sutta To Kevatta

[4] Why is this list not as complete as that in the Mulapariyaya?

[5] Wisdom Publications: The Middle Length Dialogs of the Buddha, #49: Brahmanimantanika Sutta: The Invitation of a Brahma, pp428

[6] A clue here as to a possible reason for much confusion about this issue. This is not a discussion of Nibbana. This is a discussion of the consciousness of the Arhahant, that is, the consciousness that is aware of Nibbana. For this situation I use an exercise: Stand in front of a grill that has a lit flame (or a fire, etc). Then ask yourself: "Would I willingly thrust my hand into that flame?" Of course not. Why not? Because you are not ignorant of the consequences. Then direct your attention to the knowing that as a consequence of Not thrusting your hand in the flame, you will Not experience Pain. The non-experience of pain that results from not being blind to the consequences and not having any residue of doubt as to the matter and the behavior that is appropriate to such an understanding is Nibbana. The consciousness of the non-experience of pain is Vinnana Anidassana. The one perceives the other. Imagine a baloon. What we experience as life is like seeing the baloon from the inside. Then imagine that someone is turning the bloon inside out. We still see the same inside of the baloon, but we are on the outside. Nibbana is freedom from the things of the world downbound to pain. Vinnana Anidassana is the knowing of that. I is the knowing of a thing that isn't there; since it is not tied to an object, it cannot be said to have come to be, it cannot cease to be if it never came to be, and it cannot cause pain if it cannot cease to be. In the forumulas for Arahantship, most have as a precondition not only that one becomes free, but that one knows one is free.

[7]Digha Nikaya #15 Maha-Nidanasutta

[8]I have used "recognition" (hear: re-cognition) here for "vinnana."

[9]Wisdom Publications, The Long Discourses of the Buddha, #15: Mahanidana Sutta: The Great Discourse on Origination, Maurice Walshe, pp223. [DN 15]

[10]Digha Nikaya 15 Maha-nidana Sutta The Great Causes Discourse


 [Vinnana Anidassana Resources Contents]  [PED and Translations]  [Ajaan Lee: Consciousness]  [Nanavira: Consciousness]  [Chinese Versions]  [Green Tea: MO's Take]  [Devil's Advocate: The Danger]


 [DhammaTalk Contents]  [Glossology Contents]

 


Contact:
E-mail
Copyright Statement   Webmaster's Page