mind, life force,
(IPA: [wḭ ɲɪ̀ɴ])
|Chinese||識(T) / 识(S)
It can be defined as:
- a way of knowing
- perception, awareness of observable qualities presented to the senses
- the act of distinguishing or discerning, understanding, comprehending, recognizing, intelligence, knowledge
- a mental quality as a constituent of individuality, the bearer of (individual) life
- life--force (as extending also over rebirths), principle of conscious life, general consciousness (as function of mind and matter)
Vijnanna is identified within the Buddhist teachings as follows:
- One of the five skandhas (vijnana-skandha; aggregate of consciousness)
- One of the twelve links of dependent origination
- The six vijnanas within the eighteen dhatus (vijñana-dhātu)
- 1 Vijnana-skandha
- 2 Within the twelve links
- 3 Descriptions from the Theravadan Pali texts
- 4 Six, eight or nine vijananas
- 5 Definitions from Hindu texts
- 6 See also
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
- 9 Sources
- 10 External links
The vijnana-skandha (aggregate of consciousness) comprises the six types of vijnana (consciousness):
- eye-consciousness (Skt. cakṣur-vijñana)
- ear-consciousness (Skt. śrotra-vijñana)
- nose-consciousness (Skt. ghrāṇa-vijñana)
- tongue-consciousness (Skt. jihva-vijñana)
- body-consciousness (Skt. kāya-vijñana)
- mind-consciousness (Skt. mano-vijñana)
Alexander Berzin explains:
Most Western cognitive theories discuss consciousness as a single factor that can cognize all categories of cognitive objects – sights, sounds, smells, tastes, physical sensations, and purely mental objects such as when thinking. In contrast, the scheme of five [skandhas] specifies different types of...consciousness in terms of the cognitive sensor it relies on to arise.
[Vijnana] cognizes merely the essential nature (ngo-bo) or type of phenomenon that something is. For example, eye consciousness cognizes a sight as merely a sight.
Nina Van Gorkom states:
Vinnana-kkhandha (citta) is real; we can experience it when there is seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, receiving impressions through the body-sense or thinking. Vinnana-kkhandha arises and falls away; it is impermanent.
Vijnana is identified as the third link within the twelve links of dependent origination. In this context:
- Vijnana arises in dependence upon the mental formations (samskara)
- Vijnana is a condition for the arising of name and form (nama-rupa)
The third link of dependent arising I call not just simply "consciousness," but "loaded consciousness" (rnam-shes), to make it clearer. This link is divided into two parts. The first part is, literally, loaded consciousness at the time of the cause (rgyu-dus-kyi rnam-shes). It refers to our mental continuum – our moment-to-moment individual, subjective experiencing of things – that is loaded with the karmic aftermath of throwing karma, which can act as a cause for a future rebirth. It is the karmic aftermath of throwing karma, not the throwing karma itself, that throws us into our next rebirth. Technically, the karmic aftermath of throwing karma "ripens" (smin-pa) to bring about the five aggregates of our next rebirth state and our experiences in that state.[note 1]
Descriptions from the Theravadan Pali texts
|Editor's note: this section needs attention. Needs more editing|
This section presents descriptions of vinnana that appear in the Pali texts (i.e. the suttas and commentaries of the Theravada tradition).
As one of the five khandhas
Within Pali texts, there are frequent mentions of the five khandhas (Pali for skandhas) in general, and of viññāṇa (Pali; Sanskrit: vijnana; English: consciousness) in particular.
For example, in SN 22.79, the Buddha describes vinnana (consciousness) as follows:
- "And why do you call it 'consciousness'? Because it cognizes, thus it is called consciousness. What does it cognize? It cognizes what is sour, bitter, pungent, sweet, alkaline, non-alkaline, salty, & unsalty. Because it cognizes, it is called consciousness."
This aggregate is compared to aggregate of perception (saññā) in the same discourse as follows:
- "And why do you call it 'perception'? Because it perceives, thus it is called 'perception.' What does it perceive? It perceives blue, it perceives yellow, it perceives red, it perceives white. Because it perceives, it is called perception."
In the Visuddhimagga, there is an extended analogy about a child, an adult villager and an expert "money-changer" seeing a heap of coins; the child's experience is likened to perception, the villager's experience to consciousness, and the money-changer's experience to true understanding (paňňā).
All of the aggregates are to be seen as empty of self-nature; that is, they arise dependent on causes (hetu) and conditions (paticca). In this scheme, the cause for the arising of consciousness (viññāṇa) is the arising of one of the other aggregates (physical or mental); and the arising of consciousness in turn gives rise to one or more of the mental (nāma) aggregates. In this way, the chain of causation identified in the aggregate (khandha) model overlaps the chain of conditioning in the twelve links of dependent origination.
Viññāṇa is the third link with the twelve links of dependent origination. Within this context, different suttas present different aspects of consciousness. The following aspects are traditionally highlighted:
From sankhara comes vinnana
Numerous discourses state:
In three discourses in the Samyutta Nikaya, the Buddha highlights three particular manifestations of saṅkhāra as particularly creating a "basis for the maintenance of consciousness" (ārammaṇaṃ ... viññāṇassa ṭhitiyā) that could lead to future existence, to the perpetuation of bodily and mental processes, and to craving and its resultant suffering. As stated in the common text below (in English and Pali), these three manifestations are intending, planning and enactments of latent tendencies ("obsessing")
|... [W]hat one intends, and what one plans, and whatever one has a tendency towards:
this becomes a basis for the maintenance of consciousness.
When there is a basis there is a support for the establishing of consciousness.
|Yañca ... ceteti, yañca pakappeti, yañca anuseti,
ārammaṇametaṃ hoti viññāṇassa ṭhitiyā.
Ārammaṇe sati patiṭṭhā viññāṇassa hoti.
Thus, for instance, in the "Intention Discourse" (Cetanā Sutta, SN 12.38), the Buddha more fully elaborates:
- Bhikkhus, what one intends, and what one plans, and whatever one has a tendency towards: this becomes a basis for the maintenance of consciousness. When there is a basis there is a support for the establishing of consciousness. When consciousness is established and has come to growth, there is the production of future renewed existence. When there is the production of future renewed existence, future birth, aging-and-death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair come to be. Such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering.
From vinnana comes nama-rupa
Numerous discourses state:
In addition, a few discourses state that, simultaneously, the converse is true:
- "It is as if two sheaves of reeds were to stand leaning against one another. In the same way, from name-form as a requisite condition comes consciousness, from consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-form....
- "If one were to pull away one of those sheaves of reeds, the other would fall; if one were to pull away the other, the first one would fall. In the same way, from the cessation of name-form comes the cessation of consciousness, from the cessation of consciousness comes the cessation of name-form...."
"Life force" aspect and rebirth
Past intentional actions establish a kammic seed within consciousness that expresses itself in the future. Through consciousness's "life force" aspect, these future expressions are not only within a single lifespan but propel kammic impulses (kammavega) across samsaric rebirths.
- "... [U]nsurpassed is the Blessed Lord's way of teaching Dhamma in regard to the attainment of vision.... Here, some ascetic or Brahmin, by means of ardour, endeavour, application, vigilence and due attention, reaches such a level of concentration that he ... comes to know the unbroken stream of human consciousness as established both in this world and in the next...."
- "'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."
Discourses such as this according to whom?] to describe a consciousness that is an animating phenomenon capable of spanning lives thus giving rise to rebirth.[
An Anguttara Nikaya discourse provides a memorable metaphor to describe the interplay of kamma, consciousness, craving and rebirth:
- [Ananda:] "One speaks, Lord, of 'becoming, becoming'. How does becoming tak[e] place?"
- [Buddha:] "... Ānanda, kamma is the field, consciousness the seed and craving the moisture for consciousness of beings hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving to become established in [one of the "three worlds"]. Thus, there is re-becoming in the future."
Overlapping Pali terms for mind
According to Bhikkhu Bodhi, the post-canonical Pali commentary uses the three terms viññāṇa, mano and citta as synonyms for the mind sense base (mana-ayatana); however, in the Sutta Pitaka, these three terms are generally contextualized differently:
- Viññāṇa refers to awareness through a specific internal sense base, that is, through the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body or mind. Thus, there are six sense-specific types of Viññāṇa. It is also the basis for personal continuity within and across lives.
- Manas refers to mental "actions" (kamma), as opposed to those actions that are physical or verbal. It is also the sixth internal sense base (ayatana), that is, the "mind base," cognizing mental sensa (dhammā) as well as sensory information from the physical sense bases.
- Citta includes the formation of thought, emotion and volition; this is thus the subject of Buddhist mental development (bhava), the mechanism for release.
Six, eight or nine vijananas
As described above, in reference to the "All" (sabba), the Sutta Pitaka identifies six vijñānas related to the six sense bases:
- Eye consciousness
- Ear consciousness
- Nose consciousness
- Tongue consciousness
- Body consciousness
- Mind consciousness describe the consciousness of "ideas" - Buddhism describes not five but six perceptions.
- a consciousness called klistamanas, which gathers the hindrances, the poisons, the karmic formations.
- the ālāyavijñāna is the consciousness "basis of everything" and has been translated as "store consciousness". Every consciousness is based on this one. It is the phenomenon which explains the rebirth.
The amalavijñāna, "immaculate consciousness", is considered by some Yogācāra schools as a ninth level of consciousness. This "pure consciousness is identified with the nature of reality (parinispanna) or Suchness." Alternatively, amalavijñāna may be considered the pure aspect of ālāyavijñāna.
Definitions from Hindu texts
Sri Ramakrishna defines vijñāna as
- "He alone who, after reaching the Nitya, the Absolute, can dwell in the Līlā, the :Relative, and again climb from the Līlā to the Nitya, has ripe knowledge and :devotion. Sages like Narada cherished love of God after attaining the Knowledge of :Brahman. This is called vijnāna." Also: "What is vijnana? It is to know God distinctly by realizing His existence through an intuitive experience and to speak to Him intimately."
Based on ancient texts, V.S.Apte (1890, rev. 1957-59) provides the following definition for vijñānam (विज्ञानम्):
- Knowledge, wisdom, intelligence, understanding; यज्जीव्यते क्षणमपि प्रथितं मनुष्यैर्विज्ञानशौर्यविभवार्यगुणैः समेतम्। तन्नाम जीवितमिह ... Panchatantra (Pt.) 1.24;5.3; विज्ञानमयः कोशः 'the sheath of intelligence' (the first of the five sheaths of the soul).
- Discrimination, discernment.
- Skill, proficiency; प्रयोगविज्ञानम् - Shringara Tilaka (Ś.) 1.2.
- Worldly or profane knowledge, knowledge derived from worldly experience (opp. ज्ञान which is 'knowledge of Brahma or Supreme Spirit'); ज्ञानं ते$हं सविज्ञानमिदं वक्ष्याम्यशेषत - Bhagavad Gita (Bg.) 7.2;3.41;6.8; (the whole of the 7th Adhyāya of Bg. explains ज्ञान and विज्ञान).
- Business, employment.
- Knowledge of the fourteen lores.
- The organ of knowledge; पञ्चविज्ञानचेतने (शरीरे) - Mahabharata (Mb.) 12.187. 12.
- Knowledge beyond the cognisance of the senses (अतीन्द्रियविषय)
In addition, Monier Williams (1899; rev. 2008) provides the following definition:
- to distinguish, discern, observe, investigate, recognize ascertain, know, understand - Rig Veda (RV.), etc., etc. (with na and inf.: 'to know not how to');
- to have right knowledge - Katha Upanishad (KaṭhUp.)
- to become wise or learned - Mn. iv, 20;
- to hear or learn from (gen.) - Chandogya Upanishad (ChUp.); Mahabharata (MBh.);
- to recognize in (loc.) - Panchatantra (Pañcat.);
- to look upon or regard or consider as (two acc.), Mn.; MBh., etc.; Kāv., etc.;
- to explain, declare - BhP.
- Berzin defines throwing karma as follows: "Throwing karma (‘phen-byed-kyi las) is an urge that will throw us to a future life. To be more specific, it is an urge to do something that is so strong that its karmic aftermath can throw us to a future life. It can shape the type of rebirth that we take, for instance as a dog or as a human."
- Basic Scheme of the Five Aggregates, StudyBuddhism
- Rhys Davids & Stede (1921-25), p. 618, entry for "Viññāṇa," retrieved on 2007-06-17 from the University of Chicago's "Digital Dictionaries of South Asia". University of Chicago
- Apte (1957-59), p. 1434, entry for "vijñānam," retrieved from "U. Chicago" at http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philologic/getobject.pl?c.5:1:2152.apte[permanent dead link] ; and, Monier-Williams (rev. 2008) Archived March 3, 2016, at the Wayback Machine., p. 961, entry for "Vi-jñāna," retrieved from "U. Cologne" at "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-05-14. Retrieved 2010-10-22..
- Steven Goodman, Frogs in the Custard, ZAM (out of print)
- Herbert Guenther (see Rigpa wiki entri for རྣམ་པར་ཤེས་པ་)
- Rigpa wiki entri for རྣམ་པར་ཤེས་པ་
- Nina Von Gormkom, The Five Khandhas
- The Twelve links, StudyBuddhism
- Main points about karma, StudyBuddhism
- Khajjaniya Sutta ("Chewed Up," SN 22.29) (Thanissaro, 2001a). Archived March 3, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.
- Khajjaniya Sutta ("Chewed Up," SN 22.29) (Thanissaro, 2001a). Regarding SN 22.79's typifying perception (saññā) through visual colors and consciousness (viññāṇa) through assorted tastes, Bodhi (2000b, p. 1072, n. 114) mentions that the Samyutta Nikaya's subcommentary states that perception grasps appearances and shapes while consciousness "can grasp particular distinctions in an object even when there is no appearance and shape."
- Buddhaghosa (1999), pp. 435-6)
- This overlap is particularly pronounced in the Mahanidana Sutta (DN 15) where consciousness (viññāṇa) is a condition of name-and-body (nāmarūpa) and vice-versa (see, e.g., Thanissaro, 1997a).
- For instance, similar to the sensory-specific description of consciousness found in discussing "the All" (above), the "Analysis of Dependent Origination Discourse" (Paticcasamuppada-vibhanga Sutta, SN 12.2) describes viññāṇa ("consciousness") in the following manner:
- For instance, see the Paticcasamuppada-vibhanga Sutta (SN 12.2) (Thanissaro, 1997b). Archived May 4, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. Square-bracketed Pali terms were added. Also see various other discourses in the Samyutta Nikaya's chapter 12.
- punabbhavābhinibbatti ("for again becoming reborn"), mentioned in "Volition (1) Discourse" (Bodhi, 2000b, p. 576)
- nāmarūpassa avakkanti ("for entry of name-and-form"), mentioned in "Volition (2) Discourse" (Bodhi, 2000b, pp. 576-77).
- Nati (literally, "bending" or "inclination"), which the Samyutta Nikaya commentary states is synonymous with "craving, called 'inclination' in the sense of inclining ... towards pleasant forms, etc.," mentioned in "Volition (3) Discourse" and its end notes (Bodhi, 2000b, pp. 577, 761 n. 116).
- ca ceteti ca pakappeti ca anuseti: Rhys Davids & Stede (1921–25) translate this as "to intend, to start to perform, to carry out" (pp. 268–69, entry for "Cinteti & ceteti" (retrieved 2007-11-21 at http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philologic/getobject.pl?c.1:1:1497.pali)[permanent dead link]; Bodhi (2000b) translates this as "intends ... plans ... has a tendency towards" (pp. 576–77); and, Thanissaro (1995) Archived May 4, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. translates it as "intends ... arranges ... obsesses about." Thanissaro (1995), n. 1, further elaborates:
- "The seven obsessions are: the obsession of sensual passion, the obsession of resistance, the obsession of views, the obsession of uncertainty, the obsession of conceit, the obsession of passion for becoming, and the obsession of ignorance. See AN 7.12."
- "Volition (1) Discourse," "Volition (2) Discourse" and "Volition (3) Discourse" (Bodhi, 2000b, pp. 576-77).
- Cetanāsuttaṃ, Dutiya-cetanāsuttaṃ and Tatiya-cetanāsuttaṃ (La Trobe University, n.d., Samyutta Nikaya, book 2, BJT pp. 102, 104. La Trobe University, Australia retrieved 2007-11-21
- Bodhi (2000b), p. 576. Also see Thanissaro (1995).
- See, for instance, DN 15 (Thanissaro, 1997a), and SN 12.67 (Thanissaro, 2000).
- As indicated in the immediately preceding section, "fabrications" (also known as "formations" or "mental formations" or "volitional formations") — as opposed to "name-form" — are more often identified as the requisite conditions for consciousness. These two different statements are not however contradictory insomuch that, as indicated by the Five Aggregates model, name-form includes mental fabrications (see the "Five Aggregates" diagram above).
- Thanissaro (2000).
- Walshe (1995), pp. 419-20, para. 7. In an end note on p. 606, n. 865, Walshe states that viññāṇa-sota is "a rare expression which seems to equate with bhavanga, the (mainly) commentarial term for the 'life-continuum' (Ñāṇamoli)." The error of attributing to the Buddha a teaching that consciousness across life spans is a singular entity is the mistake made by a bhikkhu named Sati who is publicly upbraided for this misconstrual by the Buddha in the "Greater Discourse on the Destruction of Craving" (Mahatanhasankhya Sutta, MN 38; trans. Ñāṇamoli & Bodhi, 2001, pp. 349-61). Note that the phrase "steam of consciousness" here refers to successive, interdependent conscious states as opposed to Western psychology's use of "stream of consciousness" to refer to successive, interdependent conscious thoughts.
- Thanissaro (1997a).
- AN 3.76 (Nyanaponika & Bodhi, 1999, p. 69.)
- Bodhi (2000b), pp. 769-70, n. 154.
- Peter Harvey, Consciousness Mysticism in the Discourses of the Buddha. In Karel Werner, ed., The Yogi and the Mystic. Curzon Press 1989, page 94.
- Nhat Hanh (2001), pp. 1 ff.
- Walpola Rahula, quoted in Padmasiri De Silva, Robert Henry Thouless, Buddhist and Freudian Psychology. Third revised edition published by NUS Press, 1992 page 66, .
- Buswell, Robert Jr; Lopez, Donald S. Jr., eds. (2013). Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism (amalavijñāna). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. p. 33. ISBN 9780691157863.
- Paul, Diana (1981). The Structure of Consciousness in Paramārtha's Purported Trilogy, Philosophy East and West, 31/3, 310
- 识-法相词典- 佛教百科 佛教百科
- Swami Nikhilananda (1985), The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna (Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center), p. 523 & 1225.
- See Apte (1957-59), p. 1434. Retrieved 1 Feb. 2011 from "U. Chicago" at http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philologic/getobject.pl?c.5:1:2152.apte .
- Monier Williams (1899; rev. 2008), p. 961. Retrieved 1 Feb. 2011 from U.Cologne at http://www.sanskrit-lexicon.uni-koeln.de/cgi-bin/monier/serveimg.pl?file=/scans/MWScan/MWScanjpg/mw0961-vijRmbhin.jpg .
- Apte, Viman Shivaram (1957–59). The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary. Poona: Prasad Prakashan. A general on-line search engine for this dictionary is available at "U. Chicago" at http://dsal.uchicago.edu/dictionaries/apte/.
- Bodhi, Bhikkhu (ed.) (2000a). A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma: The Abhidhammattha Sangaha of Ācariya Anuruddha. Seattle, WA: BPS Pariyatti Editions. ISBN 1-928706-02-9.
- Bodhi, Bhikkhu (trans.) (2000b). The Connected Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Samyutta Nikaya. (Part IV is "The Book of the Six Sense Bases (Salayatanavagga)".) Boston: Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-331-1.
- Bodhi, Bhikkhu (2006 Sept. 5). MN 148: Chachakka Sutta – The Six Sets of Six (Pt. 1). Retrieved 2008-02-29 from "Bodhi Monastery".
- Buddhaghosa, Bhadantācariya (trans. from Pāli by Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli) (1999). The Path of Purification: Visuddhimagga. Seattle, WA: BPS Pariyatti Editions. ISBN 1-928706-00-2.
- La Trobe University (n.d.), "Pali Canon Online Database," online search engine of Sri Lanka Tripitaka Project's (SLTP) Pali Canon.
- Monier-Williams, Monier (1899; rev. 2008). A Sanskrit-English Dictionary. Oxford: Clarendon Press. A general on-line search engine for this dictionary is available from "U. Cologne" at http://www.sanskrit-lexicon.uni-koeln.de/monier/index.html.[permanent dead link]
- Ñāṇamoli, Bhikkhu (trans.) & Bodhi, Bhikkhu (ed.) (2001). The Middle-Length Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Majjhima Nikāya. Boston: Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-072-X.
- Nhat Hanh, Thich (2001). Transformation at the Base: Fifty Verses on the Nature of Consciousness. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press. ISBN 1-888375-14-0.
- Nikhilananda, Swami (1985), The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna (Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center)
- Nyanaponika Thera & Bhikkhu Bodhi (trans.) (1999). Numerical Discourses of the Buddha: An anthology of Suttas from the Aṅguttara Nikāya. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press. ISBN 0-7425-0405-0.
- Rhys Davids, T.W. & William Stede (eds.) (1921-5). The Pali Text Society’s Pali–English Dictionary. Chipstead: Pali Text Society. A general on-line search engine for the PED is available at the University of Chicago.
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