Thanks so much to everyone for your helpful messages. I originally created separate replies to a few individual users, but the site suggested that I combine them, so I’m folding everything together in this message.
Thank you so much for the kind welcome. I had not encountered the passage from the Nāgasena Bhikṣu Sūtra, and I found it quite interesting. If you’re willing to offer a few more thoughts, I do have one follow up question:
The passage you cited from SN12.65 indicates that name and form are dependent of consciousness, but also that consciousness is dependent on name and form. This makes clear that consciousness is different from name and form, but it also seems to cut against the notion that it is independent of name and form. If it is true that “When name and form don’t exist, there is no consciousness. When name and form cease, consciousness ceases,” that seems almost by definition to mean that consciousness is not independent of name and form. Connecting this line of thought to my original question above: If name and form have something to do with the body (which may be an incorrect assumption?), then this suggests that consciousness depends on the body, rather than being independent of it. Do you have thoughts on this reading, or additional suttas to suggest that might clarify the point?
I replied just above to @faujidoc1 with a question that I think also applies to the quote you offered from MN15 (am I correct that you meant 15, not 55?). If you have any thoughts on that point, I’d of course be grateful.
Regarding the quote you offered from MN43 (and thank you for suggesting that sutta), to my eyes the statement that “This body must lose three things before it lies forsaken, tossed aside like an insentient log: vitality, warmth, and consciousness" could just as easily be read to suggest that consciousness is a quality of the body, and therefore not independent of it. Are you able to say more about why you are reading this passage as justifying the independence of consciousness from the body, rather than their interrelation?
In any case, I had wondered in the past about trying to get a copy of Bhikkhu Analayo’s book on rebirth, and you have convinced me that I should do that now!
Thank you so much for your reply, Ajahn. That reference to DN28 is extremely helpful. If you are willing to say a little more, I have one question about your explanation of the “fully separated from the five senses” quotation from the jhāna formula. In the past, I have always interpreted that statement as referring to the “object” of consciousness, i.e. that no sight-consciousness, sound-consciousness, etc. arise. I haven’t seen it as saying anything about the “conditions” of consciousness, such as whether or not consciousness depends on the body. But it sounds like you are reading it that way, i.e. to mean that consciousness in jhāna is not only not directed towards the body, but also that consciousness is in no way dependent on the body? If I’m understanding you correctly, are you able to say a bit about why that more expansive reading seems right to you, and/or where else in the suttas it’s elaborated?
Thank you so much again to everyone!