Ajahn Paññāvaddho & paticca-samuppada

Excellent explanation of Ajahn Paññāvaddho about paticca-samuppada!

Due to those subtleties, the factors of Paṭiccasamuppāda are difficult to interpret using conventional language. My understanding of them goes something like this: “avijjā paccaya sankhāra” means avijjā is the fundamental ignorance within oneself, a cloud of delusion which is extremely deep and all-pervasive. Ignorance produces the kamma that leads to all the conditions for birth. Dependent on the existence of those conditions, or sankhāras, viññāṇa arises. Those first three factors—avijjā, sankhāra and viññāṇa—are not dependent on physical human existence. They are most certainly mental states.

The viññāṇa factor in Paṭiccasamuppāda is always referred to as “paṭisandhi viññāṇa.” This is not the normal type of viññāṇa that we refer to as consciousness. Rather, it is the re-linking consciousness that connects one birth to the next. That re-linking consciousness forms the connection between past and future which leads to grasping at the moment of conception. Paṭisandhi viññāṇa is said to be “free of doors,” that is, free of the sense doors.

To understand paṭisandhi viññāṇa you should put aside the word “consciousness,” which can be quite a misleading translation. My understanding of the word viññāṇa in this context is that the prefix “vi,” meaning “divided,” is combined with “ñāṇa,” meaning “knowing.” In other words, “divided knowing.” The one mind splits into two, subject and object, and instead of being pure unlimited knowing, the mind is driven by avijjā plus kamma to discriminate so that it becomes “this” knowing “that.”

A duality is thus established in which the “this” becomes nāma and the “that” becomes rūpa. Thus viññāṇa is the condition for the arising of nāma-rūpa. Although avijjā, sankhāra and viññāṇa are conditioning factors, those factors all arise simultaneous to the split into duality. No time interval is involved. It’s like a railway engine pulling a train: the engine is the cause but none of the cars move independently.

So viññāṇa is a condition for nāma-rūpa to arise. Nāma-rūpa is a difficult factor to interpret. Nāma literally means name; in other words, putting names to things, designating and defining. And rūpa is the form; that is, the thing that we make concrete with the name. When we make forms concrete with names, we divide them out from the whole. Looking at the forest, we see leaves, trees and flowers. We call them leaves, trees and flowers merely to define certain aspects of what we see. But they are only our aspects—they do not exist as such there in the forest. The forest itself is one whole; it is we who differentiate the various aspects.

In reality, our perceptions do not exist as separate entities at all. We separate the forest into various parts so that we can bring some order to our perceptions. This is how nāma-rūpa works. It is the dividing out of certain aspects of our perceptions of nature which accord with the previous sankhāras. In other words, we are defining our world according to our own past tendencies. So we create a world in the present based on data from the past. This loops back to avijjā paccaya sankhāra, with sankhāra being the karmic conditions from the past that determine rebirth.

Uncommon Wisdom - p 213, 214



Interesting interpretation.
It is easy to understand this in terms of one life model.

As far as I know the the term patisandiviññana " is not found in the EBTs . It is a term which is abundantly mentioned in the abhidhamma texts and later commentaries. For a comprehensive study on paticchasamuppāda and nibbana according to early Buddhist texts the nibbana sermons delivered by ven.Katukurende ñānānanda can be helpful. Bhikkhu Anālayo's e-learning course on the Nibbana sermons by Bhikkhu Katukurunde Ñāṇananda
With metta. :anjal:


Good Biography.

When magga, phala and Nibbāna are viewed as being
beyond the reach of modern man, it is we who are at fault
for neglecting our duty as Buddhists to strive for the highest
goal. When it comes to Dhamma, we too easily settle
for mere philosophical inquiry over practical action. We
become opinionated bookworms vainly chewing at pages
of the Tipiṭika while we insist on holding tenaciously to the
Dhamma we have learned by rote. This happens because we
cannot be bothered to make an effort to investigate the supreme
noble truths that are an integral part of our very own
being. Instead, we mistakenly appropriate the great wealth
of the Lord Buddha’s words as our own personal property.
Simply because we have memorized his Dhamma teachings,
we believe we are wise enough already, even though the defilements
filling our hearts are piled as high as a mountain
and have not diminished in the least.


I think people confuse what understanding the Dependant Origination (DO) means. If a person developed special powers to see past and future lives they can see the 12 links but the vast majority of people cannot do this. In fact in the Susima sutta the Buddha said there were many arahanths who had no special abilities at all, yet they attained stream entry without a problem (this is when they ‘see’ the DO).

To cut through this contradiction it seems to me that what is required is to see at least one link in depth.

Most descriptions of the DO begins with “When this is, that is. From the arising of this comes the arising of that. When this isn’t, that isn’t. From the cessation of this comes the cessation of that”.AN 10.92

The Buddha rejects existence and non-existence and teach the Dhamma by the middle way (SN 12.15). That is there is no discernable solid existence of a three dimensional world (my adjectives), yet there isn’t nothing either. There is something and it is domino strings of (sense) factors giving rise to the next, and the next, while the previous one fades away. There can be only one sense-factor extant at a time. This is not the 3D world which we thought existed. Increase the speed of the constant creation of factors and the illusion of a 3D world is rectified. If it is slowed down by the action of mindfulness and samadhi it unravels and parts of the DO which is visible now (SN 12.44) and their causal principles can be witnessed by the meditator. The purpose is to see that they the world was viewed earlier (as a 3D space) is shattered and cause - effect/cause - effect string becomes understood. This also shows that such non-self-extant phenomena are not suitable to be considered as Self. They are also fleeting and their insubstantiality becomes apparent. Continuing to see their impermanent nature, the meaninglessness of this process becomes clear. This is then understood as unsatisfactory.

If this person continues to watch this they will fall into disenchantment ( nibbida), dispassion (viraga) and cessation (nirodha).

This happens with a deepening of Insight, and lessening of ignorance (avijja). The person will then come to see Arising (Origination) and Cessation (Nirodha), of all the factors that make up the experience of existence.

With metta

Ps- I hardy need to say it, but this is purely my understanding.


Good point.
If you can see one you see all!



Vinnana doesn’t mean seperate knowing. As AK Warder rightly points out in the beginning of his Pali book, you can’t split up a word with a prefix and say that the meaning of the full word is the prefix + the rest. Vinnana has a meaning on is own which has nothing to do with a separate knowing verses unlimited knowing (of which there is no mention in the suttas anyway).

As a general principle (in my experience) when people try to say certain terms mean this or that only by analyzing the term itself without looking at the contexts it is used in, they are usually missing the point.

DN15 clearly points out that the link vinnana->namarupa means literal rebirth. (under https://suttacentral.net/en/dn15#m10)

“It was said: ‘With consciousness as condition there is mentality-materiality.’How that is so, Ānanda, should be understood in this way: If consciousness were not to descend into the mother’s womb, would mentality-materiality take shape in the womb?”“Certainly not, venerable sir.”“If, after descending into the womb, consciousness were to depart, would mentality-materiality be generated into this present state of being?”“Certainly not, venerable sir.”“If the consciousness of a young boy or girl were to be cut off, would mentality-materiality grow up, develop, and reach maturity?”“Certainly not, venerable sir.”“Therefore, Ānanda, this is the cause, source, origin, and condition for mentality-materiality, namely, consciousness.


1 Like

I wouldn’t be so sure Sunyo.
It seems that in Buddhism, consciousness is divided per se. Why?
Because it first comes from the three pairs in the sankhara nidana of paticcasamuppada (bodily, mental and verbal). Then in the object/subject division in salayatana (the world of sense).
It is an old upanishadic concept also. See below (you can jump directly to the “The Upanishads” paragraph.

Buddhist pre and contemporary Indian philosophy I will try to stick here to the Upanishads that Olivelle and most of the scholars consider as pre or contemporary to Buddhism. Yet this is in any case an attempt in chronology. And sorry if I forgot the diacritics along the way.

Late Vedic era saw the springing up of a universal being, apart from the nature-gods of the early Vedic age.
Late Rig Veda (10:129) talks about a creation of the world in which desire (kama-काम) is the primal seed of mind (manaso-मनस).
Also, in the auspicious part of the Atharva Veda, attributed to Atharvan, there is this hymn: Hail to that greatest Brahma, who, born from toil and austere zeal (tapas), pervaded all the worlds, who made Soma for himself alone.

Here Brahma is the ultimate being that oversees past and future. That Skamba is depicted as all that breathes, moves, flies and stands. This Brahman is also the creator of the gods. And the mortal gods became immortal once pervaded by Brahman.
For once, the idea of a God, above the gods overseeing the diverse parts of nature.
Brahman (Prajapati) became not only the creator of man and animals; but also of the gods of nature.

However, Brahman remains an external deity. He is the creator and ruler of the cosmos. He is not yet the inner controlling entity behind our sensual, bodily and mental powers.
The spirituality of this Brahman is not intellectual thought, nor perception , nor feeling. All our powers are derived from this Brahman; yet He transcends these powers.

This is the god to which the late Vedic crowd was still sacrifying; until the Upanishadic philosophy laid that god directly in man. Something that the Buddha (and the Saṃkhya philosophy,) denied on different grounds later on.

Even if the pre-Upanishadic period still had a Brahman that was an external deity, the idea of sacrifices dear to the early Vedic age was profoundly transformed by the new idea that the magical value of the ancient sacrifices, could also be attained through meditations.
Just as a man could attain whatever he wanted through properly done sacrifices; he could now achieve the same result by the performance of tapas (self-mortifications) and meditation.
Even the power of the gods of nature were looked upon as lower ranked.

The late Vedic Rishis (sages) conceived an ultimate Being, whose creative activity was either their self-sacrifice, or their ardor of tapas.
Yet, both these sacrifices reanacted by men, were looked upon as immoral. One could perform tapas, and attain his immoral goal. Therefore these karmas were considered as magical, and therefore unethical. It is only later, that the law of karma becomes a moral law (Rig Veda 10,121).

Whatever this ultimate Being was called, Prajapati, Skambha, Visvakarma, Brahma or even Time; he was not yet one with the moral nature of man. This Brahman had not yet revealed itself in the self of man. He was still external to human nature.

When the Upanishadic time made its way in the late Vedic era, the question that was preoccupying the Upanishadic Rishis was about the nature of that Brahman.
"What is self, and what is Brahman (ko nu ātmā, kiṃ brahma)?"
How to relate the external Purusha or Brahman to the self.
These considerations started to appear only in the Upanishads.
Brahman was not an external god anymore; but the inmost reality of man’s being.
The goal of life was not anymore a happy dwelling in the heaven of the gods of nature as before; nor an individual survival through infinite time; but a deathless and undestroyable spiritual experience - namely immortality.
It was a decisive divergence from the construct of an external creator; something that however, was still traceable in the Kena Upanishad.

The Upanishads:

Yajnavalkya, in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, formulates that the self is the ultimate reality; and that everything else is true because of it. All divergences are false. The ultimate reality is the undivided consciousness (vijnana). And that vijnana is the basis of all knowledge.
The self is beyond postulation, and can be conceived only as the negation of what we know and postulate. Yet it is through it’s realisation that man gains immortality - and through it’s ignorance that he gains death.
This self as ultimate reality is unity. Multiplicity is denied.
Multiplicity is an illusion.
Yet there is a passage in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad which admits the reality of the world. Here the self is seen as the inner controller of the natural forces and phenomena.
In other words, an inner self of man that is an inner controller which dwells in things and controls them; though these things do not know it.
This notion of the reality of the world, we will see later, will also appear in the post-Buddhist Mundaka Upanishad.

The most important notion in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad still remains that the inner-self of man is of the nature of pure consciousness and pure bliss.
All the knowledge and all the bliss of man comes from this source, and are founded in it as their ultimate cause of reality.
By meditating upon and realising this self, everything becomes known.
It is only in the realm of dichotomy that there is a perceiver and a perceived, a hearer and a heard, a thinker and an object of thought, a knower and a known.
While this self is the invisible seer, the unheard hearer, the unthought thinker, and there is nothing else beyond it

In the self, the senses of man cease to operate. And the inherent consciousness of all knowledge remains the same.
This fundamental consciousness that is the underlying ground of all knowledge, radiates without any change, any adulteration or any limitation.
Realising this ultimate reality is immortality. The ignorance of it is death.

In Taittirrya Upanishad, the accent is put on the nature of Brahman as pure bliss; from which everything conscious and unconscious has sprung…
Hre we find some passages where Brahman creates the world through tapas (a pre-Upanishadic concept).
Brahma is also the only controller of nature.
However the question on how the cosmos sprung from bliss remains a mystery. The nature of this bliss is just unthinkable by the mind, and unatturable by speech.
The world occured out of bliss - man lives through bliss - and man ultimately return to this bliss.

There was nothing in the beginning, and it is through the ardor of tapas, that Brahma wished to be many, and created the cosmos and enter into it all himself. Anything being and non-being is all supported in Brahman.

As far as human personality is composed, Brahman divided it into five sheaths: annamaya, pranamaya, manomaya, vijnanamaya and anandamaya.
Annamaya is certainly about the amorphous constituents of the body.
Pranamaya is about the biological constituents which are permeated by the amorphous.
Manomaya is about the willing factor which is permeated by the biological.
Vijnanamaya is about the cognitive or the experiential factor. And,
Anandamaya is pure bliss.

Finally, it is only when man finds relief and serenity in this invisible, unutterable, and unfathomable self, that he attains peace.

In Chandogya Upanishad, Brahman is the subtle essence of everything; conscious or unconscious.

Everything comes from Brahman; Everything returns to Brahman.
The philosopher Hegel had seen in this, an immature form of the actualisation of spirit; as he saw the necessity of a forward move until man’s sacrifice (like Christ,) as the ultimate realization of the spirit. However, Hegel never took into account the notion of tapas so dear to the Indian philosophy.

Aruni says to his son Svetaketu, "It is this subtle essence, which is selfsame with the universe, that is the ultimate reality, and you are that essence."
Or again:
“Though you do not detact anything in this seed, yet it is from this subtle essence that the big banyan tree grows”.
The cosmos and the ultimate reality, is just that subtle essence that is the self, said Aruni.

An important new notion introduced in Chandogya Upanishad is also that of the relation of cause and effect.
The self is cause; and the effect is mere name and form (nama-rupa)

The transformation of Brahman into the cosmos has for ultimate reality the causal agent that is Brahman alone.

Again Aruni asks his son if he can name something from which everything would be known.
As Svetaketu fails to answer, Aruni enunciates the doctrine of causation. And it can be resumed this way:
When a chunk of earth is known, all that is earthen is known.
For what is true of all earthen wares is but earth. The rest is just name and form. Jug, pot, etc. are just name and form.
Accordingly, the ultimate reality that is the self, can only be asserted from the substance of the transformation; that is to say, the Brahman.

It is interesting to note here, that the notion of vivarta in Chandogya, namely the notion that the effect is not an actual transformation of the cause (Brahman is immutable and there can be no transformation of it), unveils that this effect only serves as the substratum for the appearance of the universe, just as the rope serves as the substratum for the appearance of the illusory snake.
The world is just an illusion.

Interesting also to note that in Mundaka, a post-Buddhism Upanishad, the universe is looked upon as being a real transformation of Brahman.
In Chandogya, the material cause is the only reality and the transformations are mere illusory forms.
In Mundaka Upanishad, the universe is looked upon as being in some way a real transformation (parinama) from the nature of Brahman.
It is therefore interesting to note that, after Buddhism, the conception shifted from an illusory to a more realistic point of view; while still remaining a sort of absolute idealism.

It is also interesting to read the story in this Upanishad, in which Indra and the demon Virocana approach Prajapati for instruction regarding the nature of the self.

In Kena Upanishad, Brahman is directly driving man’s mind (mana), vital forces (prana), sensory and motor organs.
Yet neither eye can see him; nor speech can describe him.

His nature is unknown.

Kena Upanishad does not attempt to tell us the means by which this Brahman is the source of all these psychical and physical forces.

In Katha, (a contemporary - certainly post Buddhist Upanishad,) Yama (death) tells Nachiketas that the ultimate reality cannot be grasped by reasoning.
The self-illuminating and blissful experience is different from anything we can know.

What is common to the Upanishadic philosophy and Buddhism is that it is only when all the cognitive elements and thought processes are suspended and arrested, all the powers of reasoning are paralysed, that the spiritual touch by which it can be realised is attained.
The ultimate reality is undoubtedly nothing that can be called physical and it is also nothing that can be called psychical or intellectual. Though it cannot be cognized either by the senses or by the logical powers of thought, it can yet be somehow grasped or realised.

The ultimate reality is neither subjective nor objective, but is such that both the subject and the object derive their very existence from it.

“There is a snare moving in the sky,
says Mara.
Something mental (mānaso) which moves about
By means of which I’ll catch you yet:
You won’t escape me, ascetic!”
The Blessed One:
Forms, sounds, tastes, odours,
And delightful tactile objects—
Desire for these has vanished in me:
You’re defeated, End-maker!”
SN 4.15


1 Like

About Indian philosophy, I recently read this:

Maya is visible Nature (representation), which is maha-ya - great affirmation, a great revelation of Brahman (of Being), but for the profane (characters) it becomes “illusion.” If Maya is illusion or revelation, it does not depend on Maya, but on the man who contemplates it, with ignorance or with wisdom. In this sense, Eastern philosophy says that visible nature is like the spider’s web, which both reveals and veils the spider. - Just as Maya (the representation) reveals Brahman (the Being), but at the same time the candle; The manifest and hidden nature of God.

(Through Huberto Rohden in an explanatory note of the Bhagavad Gita)

Proverbs 8:31

31 ludens in orbe terrarum et deliciae meae esse cum filiis hominum

The Excellence of Wisdom
…30Then I was beside Him, as a master workman; And I was daily His delight, Rejoicing always before Him, 31Rejoicing in the world, His earth, And having my delight in the sons of men. 32"Now therefore, O sons, listen to me, For blessed are they who keep my ways.…
New American Standard Bible


I think if someone start by thinking consciousness was one, to begin with, reading Buddhism they would think it has become divided.

However Buddhist practitioners of Vipassana can see that it has always been many (eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness, mind-consciousness etc, based on the six sense bases). It is not defined outside of the six sense bases, where it is actually defined (rather than just mentioned).

“And what is consciousness, what is the origin of consciousness, what is the cessation of consciousness, what is the way leading to the cessation of consciousness? There are these six classes of consciousness: eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness, nose-consciousness, tongue-consciousness, body-consciousness, mind-consciousness. With the arising of formations there is the arising of consciousness. With the cessation of formations there is the cessation of consciousness. The way leading to the cessation of consciousness is just this Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view…right concentration. MN9

It’s best to understand a word from where its defined in the suttas and from its context (Dhamma-Vinaya) over one’s own personal understanding, personal preference or background including philosophical likes and cultural lenses.

With metta

Greetings @Mat,

I am absolutely in accord with you. This is why I look at your extract from MN9 as being a tad tinged with “personal preference or background, including philosophical likes and cultural lenses”, as you rightly put it; which leads to a somewhat personal (cultural) understanding of Buddhism. In other words, this view of consciousness being quite a Theravadan view (note that I say quite); I wonder if it had not lost over the years, in its new geographical context, the gist of a philosophy from which concepts should be looked after.
In other words, let’s not forget that Buddhism comes from Indian philosophy.
Also, note that I am not too much into linking Buddhism with the Vedic corpus - it’s such a mess -however, the basics should be understood.

There is no parallel to your extract neither in the Chinese Agama SA 344, nor in the Sanskrit Touen-Houang SF 172.
Only in what I consider dubious late MN/MA, is there a parallel.
In other words, I would go for any AN, SN & MN that have a parallel in SA; but not so much about AN, SN or MN that have a parallel in MA.
In our context, I will definitely look at SA 344 to find some strict parallel with MN9, (which is inexistent;) but I would not look too closely at MA 29.

However, let say that MA 29 is a quite reliable parallel. And that there is truth in it.
Is that definition of consciousness in MN/MA defining the all range of consciousness? - or just what has to be taken into consideration to end suffering in the world?
In other words, is that definition of consciousness, the definition of both consciousnesses (cosmic and worldly;) or just the wordly consciousness (a.k.a. sense-consciousness)? - (“world” as defined in SN 35.82).

The same way that there is an avijjādhātu, (a manifestation of ignorance) in the world (SN 12.87), and a cosmic avijja (in avijja nidāna); there is a viññāṇadhatu (manifestation of consciousness in the world, through sense-consciousness - manoviññāṇadhātu SN 14.1); and a cosmic consciousness (in viññāṇa nidāna).

The philosophical difference in consciousness between Indian Buddhism and Indian Upanishadism, is that the former is an experiential knowledge. That is to say, first a knowledge of the three pairs in saṅkhāra nidāna. A consciousness that is, later on, the cause of nāmarūpa.
Then, secondly, a sense consciousness, that is the effect of nāmarūpa in the world (aka saḷāyatana & c°).

While the latter - the Indian Upanishadisc consciousness - is just the self (ātma).

In Buddhism knowledge (consciousness,) is knowledge of the three pairs, caused by ignorance. And later on, a knowledgable experience in the world of senses (sense-consciousness).
In Upanishadism, knowledge is the self. A knowledge that expresses itself either illusively or realistically.
So we might consider nibbana as the ultimate reality of Buddhism - and self (consciousness,) as the ultimate reality of the Upanishadists.

A bit of reflexion on SN 12.39 (also 12.38) - SN 22.3 - SN 22.53 (54 & 55), might help you put the all shebang together.
To understand the establishing of consciousness is of a great help.
Establishing consciousness in consciousness requires two types of consciousness, I suppose.

Anyway, the fact that in jhāna, you have to leave the world of forms to reach back the dimension of consciousness, is just a proof in itself that there is a consciousness that is out of the Buddhist “world”.
It seems ludicrous to me, to see all these closet charvakas denying a consciousness, (then an ultimate reality) out of this world, and sticking to a purely empiricist view. And the anglo empiricist mentality that pervades modern western Buddhism, is definitely not going to restrain that.

Brahmanism excommunicated Buddhism from the astika-mata (orthodox schools,) because it wasn’t regarding the Vedas as infallible, nor tried to establish its own validity on their authority. It would be a mistake to conclude from that, that there is no ultimate reality in Buddhism, outside the world (and even outside paṭiccasamuppada). Buddha never talked of that “unthinkable and unutterable”, because He considered that to be irrelevant to the goal of unbinding from suffering.
That does not make Buddhism a kind of chavrakian philosophy either.

And as far as vipassana is concerned (and I don’t see what that has to do with our conversation;) this is what I think about it.

Sorry to disappoint you. Really sorry.


am absolutely in accord with you. This is why I look at your extract from MN9 as being a tad tinged with “personal preference or background, including philosophical likes and cultural lenses”, as you rightly put it; which leads to a somewhat personal (cultural) understanding of Buddhism.

I wonder if it had not lost over the years, in its new geographical context, the gist of a philosophy from which concepts should be looked after.
In other words, let’s not forget that Buddhism comes from Indian philosophy.

Are you trying to make a case for some form of consciousness in nibbana ? If you do, you have a problem. That quote from MN 9 is not alone in the sutta pitakka. There are dozens of suttas saying the same thing in SN witch do have parallels in all other versions of nikayas. Buddha could not be more clear throughout SN that there is no consciousness in nibbana.

Here is just one sutta :

Then the Blessed One, picking up a tiny bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monk,
"There isn’t even this much consciousness that is constant, lasting, eternal, not subject to change, that will stay just as it is as long as eternity. If there were even this much consciousness that was constant, lasting, eternal, not subject to change, that would stay just as it is as long as eternity, then this living of the holy life for the right ending of suffering & stress would not be discerned. But because there isn’t even this much consciousness that is constant, lasting, eternal, not subject to change, that will stay just as it is as long as eternity, this living of the holy life for the right ending of suffering & stress is discerned.

SN 22.97

Suttas are quote clear that the 5 aggregates “cease without reminder” in nibbana. But nibbana is not neutral, it is pleasant. It’s difficult to understand what pleasure could there be where there is nothing felt, especially since there is nobody “going” into nibbana. That is because Buddha teachings are subtle, hard to grasp, hard to understand.

Instead of trying to dismiss buddhist teachings alltogether and claim they are the based on indian philosophy, maybe we should try to understand them. And first step of this is reading SN, the book containing the higher teachings. It is very difficult to undertand a book by reading scattered pages out of context. If one would try to read an engineering book, he would read it from start to finish not read pages at random.

1 Like

I am not versed into Advaita; and I haven’t read Gita. I am not going to be able to talk much on the subject.
Sorry about that.


Gee, no!
Read me. This is exactly the contrary of what I am saying.
I just said that nibbana is the ultimate reality of Buddhism.
And the Buddhist consciousness has a totally different meaning (or at least content and position,) than the consciousness (aka self) of the Upanishads. They are both knowledge; but their content & position is drastically different.


1 Like

Oups sorry. It is a popular misconception these days. I did not read you post carefully

Mahabharata by Peter Brook - Dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna

There is another intelligence beyond the mind.


I expected nothing. Therefore I was not in any way disappointed. :slightly_smiling_face:

As long as there is an eternal ‘cosmic’ consciousness there will be no escape from suffering. All that arises is dukkha.

He has no uncertainty or doubt that just stress, when arising, is arising; stress, when passing away, is passing away. In this, his knowledge is independent of others. It’s to this extent, Kaccayana, that there is right view. SN 12.15

The best way to do vipassana is to initially watch the drift of sights, sounds, sensations etc and then using developed samadhi, focus on the gap between a sight and a sound (for example). This will allow the meditator to experience the process of how sense impressions arise and be able to identify the five aggregates as they arise.

"There is the case where a monk remains focused on arising & falling away with reference to the five clinging-aggregates: ‘Such is form, such its origination, such its passing away. Such is feeling, such its origination, such its passing away. Such is perception, such its origination, such its passing away. Such are fabrications, such their origination, such their passing away. Such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.’ AN 4.41

People everywhere think Consciousness is eternal, intriguing and Self. This is until they see it working for themselves, they find it is transient, unsatisfactory and hardly worth being called the Self!

Hi @Mat

No offence, but I don’t think suffering here has much to do with consciousness outside the world. It has to do with impermanence in the world (aka salayatana & c° - defined in: SN 35.82).
Once people understand that things (even the world,) rise (existence) and fade (nonexistence), then there is no more suffering attached to that - (note that I say: “attached to that”).

one with right view does not become engaged and cling through that engagement and clinging, mental standpoint, adherence, underlying tendency; he does not take a stand about ‘my self.’ SN 12.15

“In one who has no such attachment, bondage to the mental realm, there is no attachment to self, no dwelling in or setting store by self. Then, when suffering arises, it arises; and when it ceases, it ceases. SA 301

These two extracts above are concerned with the “world”.
(By the way the same applies to your later post; namely your reference to AN 4.41).

I am not saying though, that there is no dukkha outside the world. For there is impermanence in all khandas; wherever they are located - Cosmic or wordly.
However, we can’t take your pericope has having to do with a cosmic consciousness.

Now, as I said before, I am not advocating non-dukkha in the cosmic sphere. I never pretended so.
Nor did I ever considered an eternal consciousness as per Buddhist definition - (not to be confounded with the consciousness that is considered as the ultimate reality or self in late Vedic philosophy).

I am just saying that viññāṇa is of two different types (two dhātus,) in Buddhism.

But to go back to our primal concern, that you formulated earlier as the following:

I think if someone start by thinking consciousness was one, to begin with, reading Buddhism they would think it has become divided.

Read again my summary on Vedic philosophy above - read the beginning - and the sutta extract at the end.
You will understand that the consciousness of the Vedic Self was far fom being a unitary one.
The unthikable & untellable activity going there, that is equated with consciousness (or ultimate reality,) seems to have the seed and a great dose of duality in it.

What can we say then about the ultimate reality in Buddhism? Is that something beyond (above that)?
Can we relate the late Vedic and Upanishadic (ill perceived) concept of a pseudo monistic self, to the ultimate reality of nibbana.
Could nibbana (and beyond?,) be above that dualistic Upanishadic self?

So, to answer your comment above:
"Buddhistic consciousness is definitely a dualistic notion - whatever manifestation it takes along the process (cosmic or wordly). This dualism is expressed in the pairs in saṅkhāra nidāna - and in the internal & external āyatanāni in saḷāyatana.
But that consciousness at inception (that is the cosmic experiential knowledge that there is an intrinsic dichotomy coming from ignorance,) might well be coming from a monistic activity upstream - (note that I say “might”) - An activity even beyond the (not so monistic) late Vedic Self.
Nibanna (and beyond?,) could also be something like the irreducible, innate and independent reality of the Saṃkhya (a dualistic philosophy). A sort of Purusha (Spirit), totally independent from Prakriti (nature). Prakriti being a sort of paṭiccasamuppāda in this case. And nibanna, the ultimate bliss (at the fringe of the unthinkable & unutterable ultimate reality;) totally independant from prakriti/paṭiccasamuppāda.
Who knows?

Therefore, if there is, for sure, no eternal consciousness in Buddhism (as far as the consciousness in paṭiccasamupāda is concerned - and defined as impermanent), it does not mean that there is no eternal ultimate reality upstream. An eternal ultimate reality even above what the pseudo monistic ultimate reality of the late Vedic philosophy, (which called it “consciousness”) can be .
A truly “non dual” ultimate reality - yet not automatically “monistic” as an Aidvanta would conceive it; if we would consider a sort of Saṃkhya scheme possible.

Buddha never mentioned the nature of this ultimate reality - and that for a good cause:
It has nothing to do with the escape from suffering.
It’s just cherry on the cake, I presume.


From my reading, there is in Buddhism, the world, the cosmos and the ultimate reality. Not just the world & the cosmos. The ultimate reality beyond nibbana (aka the unthinkable & unutterable,) not being covered by Buddha.
Duality applies to the world & the cosmos. And vijja, (and consequently the end of the combining forces that are saṅkhāras,) is the ending of that dichotomous quality. Whatever the ultimate reality might be.

It is very difficult to make understand how consciousnesses (which don’t have quite the same meaning, but still some commonalities in both philosophies,) are conceptualized at different levels.
But I hope that you understood what I wanted to convey; namely the nature of the duality of consciousness - but not only it - For the nature of this duality (and the nature of saṅkhāras,) is directly caused by ignorance. The duality starts with ignorance. Cosmic ignorance (the cosmic source of dukkha,) is dual in nature. A source of dukkha that becomes craving in the world.

To return to the OP (@LucasOliveira,) and Ajahn Paññāvaddho’s remark:
"avijjā, sankhāra and viññāṇa, are not dependent on physical human existence. They are most certainly mental states."
I would say that they are not only mental, but also bodily and verbal SN 41.6. (Bodily here, as covering prāṇa, aka the vital forces or organs; starting with the vital air, or breath - in saṅkhāra nidāna.)

I would agree with Ajahn Paññāvaddho’s “vi,” “ñāṇa,” or “divided knowing”.

“A duality is thus established in which the “this” becomes nāma and the “that” becomes rūpa,” says he; and I agree.
But, as I said in my previous post, this is not the only duality. This is the wordly duality.
As far as cosmic reality is concerned, it is about the bodily, mental and verbal pairs that we should turn to.

As far as “paṭisandhi viññāṇa” is concerned, I will personnaly skip that. (I have found only 6 occurences in three LBT books, about “paṭisandhi viññāṇa*”, in the CST 4.0).
"The viññāṇa factor in Paṭiccasamuppāda is always referred to as “paṭisandhi viññāṇa,” seems to me a bit overasserted.
Anyway, I have always thought that ignorance is the thing that is involved when it comes to rebirth.
As long as you are ignorant, you come back through samsara. What you leave in the cosmos when you die, is your ignorance. And some-body picks it up at rebirth.
And that does not go against the Teaching; and simplifies it grandly.
In other words, having ignorance stay in the cosmos, and consequently in the world, is much less problematic.