Consciousness and Rebirth

From SN 22.57:

“…And what, bhikkhus, is consciousness? There are these six classes of consciousness: eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness, nose-consciousness, tongue-consciousness, body-consciousness, mind-consciousness. This is called consciousness.”

Good call, but even so, this could just be describing the only 6 things consciousness can illuminate and cognize. The All, as the Buddha puts it. Since the “All” is the only thing consciousness could work with, those are the only classes of consciousness. It could still be the same consciousness. Although, even that seems like the wrong way of thinking about it, as if it’s an actual separate element or thing. I mean more that there is only one general concept of consciousness, and that it only changes depending on what is being known or cognized. I know the suttas mention a consciousness “element,” but I don’t think it means element like on the periodic table, but more like in the sense of an “element” of surprise. I actually think all 6 of the elements mentioned are that way.

That’s just so similar to kamma =-) Or at least similar to how I always thought that kamma works.

I see that Chuang-Tzu’s butterfly holds no appeal. :laughing:

How about this:

“Thou believest, O Master, that beings are reborn;
that they migrate in the evolution of life;
and that subject to the law of karma we must reap what we sow.
Yet thou teachest the non-existence of the soul!
Thy disciples praise utter self-extinction
as the highest bliss of Nirvana.
If I am merely a combination of the sankharas,
my existence will cease when I die.
If I am merely a compound of sensations and ideas and desires,
wither can I go at the dissolution of the body?” [7]
Said the Blessed One:
"O Brahman, thou art religious and earnest.
Thou art seriously concerned about thy soul.
Yet is thy work in vain because thou art lacking
in the one thing that is needful. [8]
"There is rebirth of character,
but no transmigration of a self.
Thy thought-forms reappear,
but there is no egoentity transferred.
The stanza uttered by a teacher
is reborn in the scholar who repeats the words. [9]
"Only through ignorance and delusion do men indulge in the dream
that their souls are separate and self-existent entities. [10]
"Thy heart, O Brahman, is cleaving still to self;
thou art anxious about heaven
but thou seekest the pleasures of self in heaven,
and thus thou canst not see the bliss of truth
and the immortality of truth. [11]
"Verily I say unto thee:
The Blessed One has not come to teach death, but to teach life,
and thou discernest not the nature of living and dying. [12]
"This body will be dissolved
and no amount of sacrifice will save it.
Therefore, seek thou the life that is of the mind.
Where self is, truth cannot be;
yet when truth comes, self will disappear.
Therefore, let thy mind rest in the truth;
propagate the truth, put thy whole will in it, and let it spread.
In the truth thou shalt live for ever. [13]
“Self is death and truth is life.
The cleaving to self is a perpetual dying,
while moving in the truth
is partaking of Nirvana
which is life everlasting.” [14]
Kutadanta said: “Where, O venerable Master, is Nirvana?” [15]
"Nirvana is wherever the precepts are obeyed,"
replied the Blessed One. [16]
“Do I understand thee aright,” rejoined the Brahman,
“that Nirvana is not a place,
and being nowhere it is without reality?” [17]
“Thou dost not understand me aright,” said the Blessed One,
“Now listen and answer these questions:
Where does the wind dwell?” [18]
“Nowhere,” was the reply. [19]
Buddha retorted: “Then, sir,
there is no such thing as wind.” [20]
Kutadanta made no reply;
and the Blessed One asked again:
“Answer me, O Brahman,
where does wisdom dwell?
Is wisdom a locality?” [21]
“Wisdom has no alloted dwelling-place,” replied Kutadanta. [22]
Said the Blessed One:
“Meanest thou that there is no wisdom,
no enlightenment, no righteousness, and no salvation,
because Nirvana is not a locality?
As a great and mighty wind
which passeth over the world
in the heat of the day,
so the Tathagata comes to blow
over the minds of mankind
with the breath of his love,
so cool, so sweet, so calm, so delicate;
and those tormented by fever assuage their suffering
and rejoice at the refreshing breeze.” [23]
Said Kutadanta:
“I feel, O Lord,
that thou proclaimeat a great doctrine,
but I cannot grasp it.
Forbear with me that I ask again:
Tell me, O Lord, if there be no atman,
how can there be immortality?
The activity of the mind passeth,
and our thoughts are gone
when we have done thinking.” [24]
Buddha replied:
“Our thinking is gone,
but our thoughts continue.
Reasoning ceases,
but knowledge remains.” [25]
Said Kutadanta: “How is that?
Is not reasoning and knowledge the same?” [26]
The Blessed One explained the distinction by an illustration:
“It is as when a man wants,
during the night, to send a letter,
and, after having his clerk called,
has a lamp lit, and gets the letter written.
Then, when that has been done, he extinguishes the lamp.
But though the writting has been finished
and the light has been put out the letter is still there.
Thus does reasoning cease and knowledge remain;
and in the same way mental activity ceases,
but experience, wisdom, and all the fruits of our acts endure.” [27]
Kutadanta continued:
“Tell me, O Lord, pray tell me,
where, if the sankharas are dissolved, is the identity of my self.
If my thoughts are propagated, and if my soul migrates,
my thoughts cease to be my thoughts
and my soul ceases to be my soul.
Give me an illustration, but pray, O Lord,
tell me, where is the identity of my self?” [28]
Said the Blessed One:
“Suppose a man were to light a lamp;
would it burn the night through?” [29]
“Yes, it might do so,” was the reply. [30]
“Now, is it the same flame that burns
in the first watch of the night as in the second?” [31]
Kutadanta hesitated.
He thought "Yes, it is the same flame,"
but fearing the complications of a hidden meaning,
and trying to be exact, he said:
“No, it is not.” [32]
“Then,” continued the Blessed One,
“there are flames, one in the first watch
and the other in the second watch.” [33]
“No, sir,” said Kutadanta.
“In one sense it is not the same flame,
but in another sense it is the same flame.
it burns the same kind of oil,
it emits the same kind of light,
and it serves the same purpose.” [34]
“Very well,” said the Buddha,
“and would you call those flames
the same that have burned yesterday
and are burning now in the same lamp,
filled with the same kind of oil,
illuminating the same room?” [35]
“They may have been extinguished during the day,” suggested Kutadanta. [36]
Said the Blessed One:
“Suppose the flame of the first watch
had been extinguished during the second watch,
would you call it the same if it burns again in the third watch?” [37]
Replied Kutadanta:
“In one sense it is a different flame,
in another it is not.” [38]
The Tathagata asked again:
“Has the time that elapsed during the extinction of the flame
anything to do with its identity or non-identity?” [39]
“No, sir,” said the Brahman, “it has not.
There is a difference and an identity,
whether many years elapsed or only one second,
and also whether the lamp
has been extinguished in the meantime or not.” [40]
“Well, then, we agree that the flame of to-day
is in a certain sense the same as the flame of yesterday,
and in another sense it is different at every moment.
Moreover, the flames of the same kind,
illuminating with equal power the same kind of rooms
are in a certain sense the same.” [41]
“Yes, sir,” replied Kutadanta. [42]
The Blessed One continued:
“Now, suppose there is a man
who feels like thyself,
thinks like thyself,
and acts like thyself,
is he not the same man as thou?” [43]
“No, sir,” interrupted Kutadanta. [44]
Said the Buddha:
“Dost thou deny that the same logic holds good for thyself
that holds good for the things of the world” [45]
Kutadanta bethought himself
and rejoined slowly: “No, I do not.
The same logic holds good universally;
but there is a peculiarity about my self
which renders it altogether different
from everything else and also from other selves.
There may be another man who feels exactly like me,
thinks like me, and acts like me;
suppose even he had the same name
and the same kind of possessions
he would not be myself.” [46]
“True, Kutadanta,” answered Buddha,
“he would not be thyself.
Now, tell me, is the person who goes to school one,
and that same person when he has finished his schooling another?
Is it one who commits a crime, another
who is punished by having his hands and feet cut off?” [47]
“They are the same,” was the reply. [48]
“Then sameness is constituted by continuity only?” asked the Tathagata. [49]
“Not only by continuity,” said Kutadanta,
“but also and mainly by identity of character.” [50]
“Very well,” concluded the Buddha,
“then thou agreest that persons can be the same, in the same sense
as two flames of the same kind are called the same;
and thou must recognize that in this sense
another man of the same character
and product of the same karma
is the same as thou.” [51]
“Well, I do.” said the Brahman. [52]
The Buddha continued:
“And in this same sense alone art thou the same to-day as yesterday.
Thy nature is not constituted by the matter of which thy body consists
but by thy sankharas, the forms of the body, of sensations, of thoughts.
Thy person is the combination of the sankharas.
Wherever they are, thou art.
Whithersoever they go, thou goest.
Thus thou wilt recognize in a certain sense
an identity of thy self, and in another sense a difference.
But he who does not recognize the identity should deny all identity,
and should say that the questioner is no longer the same person
as he who a minute after receives the answer.
Now consider the continuation of thy personality,
which is preserved in thy karma.
Dost thou call it death and annihilation,
or life and continued life?” [53]
“I call it life and continued life,” rejoined Kutadanta,
“for it is the continuation of my existence,
but I do not care for that kind of continuation.
All I care for is the continuation of self
in the other sense which makes of every man,
whether identical with me or not,
an altogether different person.” [54]
“Very well,” said Buddha.
“This is what thou desirest
and this is the cleaving to self.
This is thy error.
All compound things are transitory:
they grow and they decay.
All compound things are subject to pain:
they will be separated from what they love
and be joined to what they abhor.
All compound things lack a self, an atman, an ego.” [55]
“How is that?” asked Kutadanta.[56]
“Where is thy self?” asked the Buddha.
And when Kutadanta made no reply, he continued:
“Thy self to which thou cleavest is a constant change.
Years ago thou wast a small babe;
then, thou wast a boy;
then a youth, and now, thou art a man.
Is there any identity of the babe and the man?
There is an identity in a certain sense only.
Indeed there is more identity between the flames
of the first watch and the third watch,
even though the lamp might have been extinguished during the second watch.
Now which is thy true self,
that of yesterday, that of to-day, or that of to-morrow,
for the preservation of which thou clamourest?” [57]
Kutadanta was bewildered.
“Lord of the world,” he said,
“I see my error, but I am still confused.” [58]
The Tathagata continued:
“It is by a process of evolution that sankharas come to be.
There is no sankhara which has sprung into being without a gradual becoming.
Thy sankharas are the product of thy deeds in former existences.
The combination of thy sankharas is thy self.
Wheresoever they are impressed thither thy self migrates.
In thy sankharas thou wilt continue to live
and thou wilt reap in future existences
the harvest sown now and in the past.” [59]
“Verily, O Lord,” rejoined Kutadanta,
“this is not a fair retribution.
I cannot recognize the justice
that others after me will reap
what I am sowing now.” [60]
The Blessed One waited a moment and then replied:
"Is all teaching in vain?
Dost thou not understand that those others are thou thyself?
Thou thyself wilt reap what thou sowest, not others. [61]
"Think of a man who is ill-bred and destitute,
suffering from the wretchedness of his condition.
As a boy he was slothful and indolent, and when he grew up
he had not learned a craft to earn a living.
Wouldst thou say his misery
is not the product of his own action,
because the adult is no longer the same person as was the boy? [62]
"Verily, I say unto thee:
Not in the heavens,
not in the midst of the sea,
not if thou hidest thyself away in the clefts of the mountains,
wilt thou find a place where thou canst escape the fruit of thine evil actions. [63]
"At the same time thou art sure
to receive the blessings of thy good actions. [64]
“The man who has long been travelling and who returns home in safety,
the welcome of kinsfold, friends, and acquaintances awaits.
So, the fruits of his good works bid him welcome
who has walked in the path of righteousness,
when he passes over from the present life into the hereafter.” [65]
Kutadanta said:
“I have faith in the glory and excellency of thy doctrines.
My eye cannot as yet endure the light;
but I now understand that there is no self,
and the truth dawns upon me.
Sacrifices cannot save, and invocations are idle talk.
But how shall I find the path to life everlasting?
I know all the Vedas by heart and have not found the truth.” [66]
Said the Buddha:
“Learning is a good thing; but it availeth not.
True wisdom can be acquired by practice only.
Practise the truth that thy brother is the same as thou.
Walk in the noble path of righteousness
and thou wilt understand that while there is death in self,
there is immortality in truth.”

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Experiences or phenomena, are contained in sights, sounds, sensations, smells, thoughts etc. The content of those experiences are one thing, and the qualities of the container, another. Buddhism isn’t using the content to understand container- it is looking at the qualities of the container, the very thing that makes up ‘units’ of reality, to understand reality (or how reality appears to us).

Newtonian or Qunatum mechanics attempts to understand the content. This understanding, how many hours you spend at it, is not going to be transformative (otherwise all the famous scientists will be arahanths!). Looking at the container, you will be looking at the very picture frames on the picture reel. Only then will it be possible to see how the projector that is consciousness actually works.

with metta

An interesting aspect in the Buddha’s Awakening is the very first knowledge.

This implies that there was a deliberate intention involved in the act. The Buddha must have been exposed to doctrines about rebirth earlier, most likely the Vedas, and chose to examine and find out by himself if such a knowledge could be realized personally. I’d imagine that exposure to the prevalent doctrine of rebirth must have conditioned his efforts, even though we don’t have anything in the suttas that state this explicitly - the focus is mostly on his relentless search for the cause of suffering.

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I think it’s for good reasons that there are few convincing consciousness models (that I know of). First of all the limits of the phenomenon are not clear. It’s definitely misleading to just read ‘consciousness’ into the Buddhist texts. There we have vinnana, manas, citta and even saññā. Sometimes they are partly synonymous, sometimes not. So it doesn’t help much to look for the suttas. Here the meditative experience should come in and help us to differentiate (roughly, like clouds) different types of consciousness. And then we could investigate in each case how independent they are from each other. Is it worth it?


Hey I just listened to both parts, I loved it. I especially loved that part about the arahant who was told to practice the brahmaviharas and how the monks were all excited to find out what they talked about and how they all went silent when he said he had “cracked it.” That was the best. Brahm is a very intelligent person, and his explanation of DN15 was very informative and definitely helped me to understand it better.

Having said that, I hate to say it, but his description of quantum physics in that context is still misguided. I don’t blame him, and I certainly do not think it reflects his intellect. That aspect of quantum physics is so often and easily misunderstood. The particle/wave duality and wave function collapse is a tricky concept and more than half of the concepts theorized about 5 years ago have been refuted by new technology capable of new experiments, let alone the concepts from when Brahm most likely learned about it. I only say this because of his description of reality not existing until it is consciously observed, which is a common misconception. That is truly only the case in a completely detached quantum system, which, at least in the reality we know, cannot exist because of the interconnected nature of everything. Also, quantum decoherence itself is a very questionable concept, and many relatively recent experiments actually refute it, and there are still others who have refuted from the beginning the non-deterministic nature of it, and therefore the whole concept, as that aspect is intrinsic throughout the whole. The problem is not necessarily that it is non-deterministic, but that the alternative in this case would be true randomness, which just doesn’t make sense in the physical world, even the quantum physical world.


Good points on QM. On the question of rebirth at large, you might be interested in these posts:


So far we have mainly outlined the unresolved traditional issues, with only a few references to neuroscience. The nature and extent of these traditional disputes are not well understood in the mainstream Buddhism of today. They are explored in a number of modern scholarly publications, but even there the importance of these disputes seems to be underplayed. To my mind these disputes are incredibly important to the history of Buddhist ideas because they undermine the consensus presentation of karma and rebirth as historically uncontroversial. In fact, almost every detail of the various ideas related to karma and rebirth is disputed, sometimes hotly and intemperately. Buddhists want to have karma and rebirth, but they cannot figure out how to make them work. Problems such as those outlined above become drivers of innovation and change in Buddhist doctrines. Modern apologists for karma and rebirth mostly don’t understand the problems and thus don’t address them, or at least are not able to address them in ways that would appeal to people outside their sect.

The fact that these matters were never satisfactorily settled in ancient India is highly relevant to modern discussions of the salience of karma and rebirth. This is because those who, like Subhuti, assert that practising the Dharma requires such convictions, gloss over the historical fact that conviction requires a coherent basis and there is no coherent version of karma and rebirth to base such conviction on. Conviction in this case requires ignorance of, or insensitivity to, these historical disputes. In other words any belief in karma and rebirth has to involve taking certain propositions on faith.

These are the conclusions we come to from exploring the history of karma and rebirth in Buddhism, something very few sectarian Buddhists have done. We have not yet raised the question of how science affects the plausibility of karma and rebirth.

The very word ‘science’ activates the missile defence systems of Buddhists: the Materialist is a person-to-person missile that obliterates all arguments from science. Similarly with the Scientism or Reductionist missiles. Cluster-bomb-like attacks like Relativism or Cartesian Dualism are also activated and ready to be deployed. Tackling such objections from anti-scientists leads down a road in which the details of what we know about the universe are called into question and that becomes the subject of the debate rather than the beliefs in question. In a sense it is fair enough. Epistemological questions (how do we know something) are important, but they cut both ways. I am happy to explain how I know that the world at one scale is made up of atoms and that the forces that govern atoms are so well understood that no supernatural forces are relevant to questions of karma and rebirth (see There is No Life After Death, Sorry). If only a dualist could explain to me how they know that mind is made of some other stuff and how it manages to interact with material stuff. None can.
Jayarava’s Raves: Rebirth

This is an excellent essay. Very well written, very intelligent, and very self-assured. Indeed, as are most writings written from the scientific point of view. Science, of course, is based exclusively on the factor of intelligence in human beings.

It is also based - entirely - on ignorance.

In what way can it be said that science (and scientists) base all of their knowledge on a foundation of ignorance? It is this: every scientist, however intelligent, believes “this intelligence is mine”. Further, they believe “I am this body. These thoughts are mine. This consciousness is mine.” In short, they cling to conditions which have arisen, and have come to be - independently of any self-creation, - and then declare: “This I own. This is me. This knowledge is known by me; this I can declare.”

Every scientific criticism of rebirth is based on ignorant foundations. Scientists forever criticize conclusions drawn from their own ignorant ideas, to wit: (1) that these bodies are self-owned. (2) that identity is self-owned and irreplaceable. (3) that in order for there to be rebirth, consciousness would need to be transmitted from one state to another.

Here is the simple fact that no scientist considers for its profundity: The conditions of these bodies arise, and only once having arisen, is there then a consciousness which declares “this is me”. In other words, that which considers the body-mind complex to be its ‘self’, is only a matter of arisen conditions which from the first were not self-created; and which never have, nor ever will have, any self-being.

This is unfathomably profound. It is a come-and-see thing. And it is the Buddha’s declaration of enlightenment.

It is thus that rebirth is perfectly seen by every being who awakens to the truth. Not from a perspective of continuance of identity, but rather that wherever conditions arise, those very conditions -in varying degrees - display qualities of which inherent consciousness becomes proud.

A being is born with perspicacious intelligence and a clinging to empirical evidence. It is a scientist. It declares: “This is me. This is my self. This is how the universe is and how it came to be.” That being falls away, and somewhere else - anywhere else in this infinite universe - another being with just those same qualities arises. A being with perspicacious intelligence and a clinging to empirical evidence. It is a scientist. It declares: “This is me. This is my self. This is how the universe is and how it came to be.” It has not the same name, nor does it possess the same features, nor form, yet upon birth it declares: “I have been born. This is me. This is who I am.”

Just as you, who read this now, innately consider: “I am this. This body is me. I am alive. I have been born.” The conditions arose first. The notion of ‘self’ arose second.

This can only be understood when all clinging to self-ownership is let go. When it is understood that there is no ‘self’ in either this body, nor in this consciousness, nor in this mind.

But scientists, of great intelligence, of great arrogance, and of immense pride in their ‘self-owned’ intelligence will never come to understand this.

And if they ever do, they will declare it to be a theory that they ‘own’.

Hear me, scientists: Find that ‘self’ of which you are proud. Prove its existence. Reveal its substance to the world. If you cannot prove the existence of a self, then who is it that holds any knowledge of this universe? If you do not have a ‘self’, then intelligence is not yours either. Indeed, what is the substance of that intelligence which dissects this world?

Cease from pulling apart the molecules and fibres of this universe. Find first the consciousness that seeks to ‘know’. If consciousness itself is not known, then nothing is known. After all, who is it that declares: “I know”?

It should be easy. It is that which you deem your own ‘self’. Prove its existence. Reveal its substance to the world.

It is tiresome hearing children of intelligence -and yet of utterly no wisdom - declare: “This much we know. This we have proven. This knowledge is ours,” when they do not even know how they have come to arise in this world, nor how they have eyes which see, nor ears which hear, nor skin which feels. They do not know what their own consciousness is, nor the substance of those very thoughts which consider any theory thought to be proven or known.

In short, they are beings subsumed by ignorance, who - not considering the unspeakable mystery of their own arising - then proclaim a knowledge of the universe and all of its worlds.

It is most tiresome. And indeed, it shows a hubris most ugly to those immured in the ineffable Mystery of Being; to those in awe of the sheer impossibility of that which is termed: Existence.

I have one final question for every scientist reading this, brilliant as you may be: “Open your hand. Close your hand. How do you do that? Speak!” Do not tell me you move the muscles of your forearm. Tell me who it is that moves those muscles.

Sir…, you equates the tendency with the gravity, an interesting idea. Maybe this parable can help. :slight_smile:

We know that gravity will cause any objects to fall down, but any objects that are tilted have a potential energy to fall.

In the domino effect game, every single domino in a long line, each has a potential energy, and when the first domino is dropped, its potential energy is released and will soon run out, but when this single domino falls on the other dominos, this will cause all dominoes sequentially release their potential energy and finally we see a motion energy sequence that continues without stopping, the tendency to fall from one domino has caused the tendency to fall from the next dominoes which causes a continuing motion energy, the potential energy that comes out of a single domino is a ‘continuation’ but not the same as the potential energy of another domino that has been run out., afterwards I think ‘Consciousness’ is also an ‘energy’, and its process of ‘becoming’ also due to the tendency ( craving ) towards something.

Thank You… :slight_smile:

Hi Muchi,

I’m afraid you have little knowledge of what science is really about. Contrary to your approach, it is not about touting so-called certitudes about which many uncertainties remain. THAT is called hubris. It is also were deep fundamentalism thrives. You might pause and take a look in the mirror.

(Note that the text written by Jayavara is not an exemplar of scientific writing. He is simply expressing his views, just like you are. This proves nothing…either way).

I’ll leave you with the shortest clip (under 3 minutes) I can find on the so-called certitudes of science. Science, just like anything else, can be misrepresented. That is why it is called pseudo science.

Science is not about who is right or wrong. It is about attempting to find out what we can, until all the data is in…without having recourse to circular thinking, infinite regress (found in notions of God or, on the other hand, in special beings that somehow have omniscience, clairvoyance, etc.) and tautology.

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  1. When do you suppose all the data will be in? :grin: Do you not detect a problem here?
  2. Why seek data that is so far afield? Should we not begin closer to home? Like, with the nature of the consciousness that itself seeks to ‘know’?
  3. Without knowing the nature of consciousness, nothing can ever be known.
    And why? Because when the infinite data is finally collected (!?), and the Ultimate Principle finally known, that original question - so close to home! - will still remain: “who is it that ‘knows’?”
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We can know a certain amount about conscious experiences by patiently observing them from our first person perspective, but it is not clear that these observations will ever tell us much about the nature of consciousness.


‘Rebirth’ is a historical fact - in that it was proclaimed by Buddha and others, and outside of India as well. As a socio-historical reference point we are invited to take a position in the discourse. This is where the crazy starts. When we enter this arena we defend and reject a certain discourse, not rebirth itself. Rebirth itself cannot be rejected or accepted, it’s not a christmas gift. We accept an idea, and the club membership that comes with it as a special offer.

People in the suttas and people now debate this question - do you guys really think that you can add anything original to the debate after 2500 years of the greatest spiritual minds discussing it??

I don’t understand why it’s not overly clear that debating these dogmatic questions is problematic. It can help us in understanding the debating mind a bit more, but not the rebirth-topic we are supposedly discussing.


Up quark, down quark, country quark, town quark,
do you like green eggs and ham?

That’s all the sense I could ever make of it. “Nothing has no location.”

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I’m familiar with how you think and feel, Muchi. I spent about 30 years with my head and heart submerged in the holy grail of ‘consciousness.’ From various tantric yoga teachings to Advaita Vedanta, I assumed I knew everything because ‘‘I was That.’’ My last Vedanta teacher even christened me with ‘enlightenment.’

Then I started questioning my fundamental assumptions. Too many contradictions and problems were popping up…

Anyway, I’m not writing this to change your or anyone else’s beliefs. I can’t even if I wanted to. Believers will believe no matter what contradictory evidence you present them. (The Trump base is a good example of this. Some are even talking of a Trump cult. It may be an exaggeration, but there is some truth to it).

The question boils down to belief itself. Why do we need to believe in such extravagant concepts and notions? We are far from knowing everything, but that is no reason to put one’s head in the sand. Many interesting fields like neuroscience are presenting plausible avenues.

When will the data be in? When it will be in, or not. Proposing to thrust beliefs on the scene because they make one feel more secure in an insecure world has nothing to do with veracity. Pushing one’a agenda in the face of ignorance does nothing good for finding possible and verifiable leads.

What we are discovering is that consciousness and the mind are a bag of tricks. What we ‘intuitively’ think is going on is not at all factual. Possibly ‘‘seeing things as they are’’ is not at all what one might expect.

In the end one has to be honest and curious enough to not jump to conclusions. If there is a spark of curiosity out there, two excellent books (among many others) delve into these questions. The quote that follows refers to the second book below, On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You’re Not .

Certainty is everywhere. Fundamentalism is in full bloom. Legions of authorities cloaked in total conviction tell us why we should invade country X, ban “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” in schools, eat stewed tomatoes, how much brain damage is necessary to justify a plea of diminished capacity, the precise moment when a sperm and an egg must be treated as a human being, and why the stock market will revert to historical returns. A public change of mind is national news.

But why? Is this simply a matter of stubbornness, arrogance or misguided thinking, or is the problem more deeply rooted in brain biology? Since my early days in neurology training, I have been puzzled by this most basic of cognitive problems: What does it mean to be convinced? This question might sound foolish. You study the evidence, weigh the pros and cons, and make a decision. If the evidence is strong enough, you are convinced there is no other reasonable answer. Your resulting sense of certainty feels like the only logical and justifiable conclusion to a conscious and deliberate line of reasoning.

But modern biology is pointing in a different direction. It is telling us that despite how certainty feels, it is neither a conscious choice nor even a thought process. Certainty and similar states of “knowing what we know” arise out of primary brain mechanisms that, like love or anger, function independently of rationality or reason. Feeling correct or certain isn’t a deliberate conclusion or conscious choice. It is a mental sensation that happens to us.


A continuation but not exactly the same…

In my personal opinion, ‘consciousness’ is the same as a fire in a burning candle, where its existence is very conditional and depend on many other factors ( such as candle light is very dependent on wax fuel, oxygen intake, etc.), so consciousness isn’t a substance that is completely independent and eternal. Just like a burning fire, this heat energy flows continuously to exists as long as there is a fuel and oxygen, and because it’s a ‘flow’ ( continuum ), then what appears from the outside which seems like something permanent, it turns out that it’s not the same even from one second to other second…:slight_smile:

Just like in the pendulum games, when the first pendulum hits the second pendulum, the potential energy of the first pendulum is released and exhausted, but because that first pendulum already hit the second pendulum, this causes the second pendulum to release its potential energy and hit the third pendulum and so on…

Then we see that, as if there’s the same ‘unchanged’ kinetic energy that moves like a flow which passing through many pendulums, but in fact, the energy passing in the first pendulum isn’t the same as the one passing the second pendulum and so on… :slight_smile:


Yes, I think it’s useful to maintain a practical focus. I usually differentiate between vinnana and citta. I view vinnana as the basic awareness of the senses, and citta as current mood, or state of mind ( as per the third frame of satipatthana ). I find that noticing citta is generally more instructive.

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