Depending upon what does the mind of an awakened one arise and cease?

Continuing the discussion from A substantialist view of the aggregates:

Regarding SN 12.61:

“But that which is called ‘mind’ and also ‘sentience’ and also ‘consciousness’ arises as one thing and ceases as another all day and all night.”

It is said in dependent arising that ignorance is the first link and the rest including consciousness arise based on ignorance. The Teacher here says that consciousness or mind arises as one thing and ceases as another all day and night. Is the Teacher here saying that his mind after awakening underneath the Bodhi tree was arising and ceasing based on ignorance?

If not ignorance, then depending upon what does the mind of an awakened one arise and cease? Could it be anything other than knowledge? Ignorance was replaced by knowledge underneath the Bodhi tree and subsequent arising and ceasing of mind were dependent upon knowledge, right?


1 Like

Mind just arises and ceases. It’s completely out of control. To take ownership of this arising and ceasing as ‘his’ mind (or for us to take ownership of ‘our’ mind) would be contrary to right view. The psycho physical organism (fathom long body with it’s perception and mind) is the thing that is born from ignorance and it is here that the mind arises and ceases. It is also that from which the Buddha declares “the world, its origin, its cessation, and the practice that leads to its cessation”

One way of resolving this would be that consciousness here refers to the sense-consciousness which arises dependent on internal sense faculties and external sense domains. The sense faculties arose due to past karma and defilements - so basically through rebirth which dependent origination describes when it says that consciousness arises dependent on sankhāras. When the senses fall apart, the sense-consciousness cease and if there is no ignorance etc, then there is no re-arising of consciousness (for ex in a womb) a la dependent origination.

The mind of an unlearned ordinary person, yes.

The Buddha is referring to the mind of an unlearned ordinary person. Not an enlightened mind. There is a sutta, I think in the MN which refers to enlightened ones being able to ‘think what they want to think and not think what they don’t want to think’.

1 Like

Yes, but SN 12.61 refers to the mind arising and ceasing, “all day and all night.” The fathom long body and mind arises at with birth, but it isn’t static after that until death. Rather, the mind is arising and ceasing all day and all night.

So before the Bodhi tree it is clear that ignorance was the root of this arising and ceasing for Gotama’s arising of mind all day and night. That is clear because ignorance is the root of dependent arising.

However, after the Bodhi tree can it really be said that ignorance is the root of further arising and ceasing of Shakyamuni’s mind? Or are you saying that Shakyamuni’s mind does not arise and cease all day and all night like the mind of a lowly being?


Yes, but in SN 12.61 the consciousness is said to be arising and ceasing, “all day and all night.” The question is what is the condition for this constant arising and ceasing of the consciousness of an awakened mind “all day and all night?” It can’t be said to be ignorance can it? If not ignorance, then what?

All things arise and cease due to causes and conditions right? And if the mind is arising and ceasing all day and all night, then those causes and conditions must also be arising all day and all night, right? So depending upon what does the mind of an awakened one arise and cease all day and all night?


Are you saying that the mind of an awakened one is not arising and ceasing all day and all night? That it is static and fixed and not subject to change? Maybe it is not all day and all night, but surely the mind of an awakened one changes and thoughts come and go, right? If so, then depending upon what does the mind of an awakened one arise and cease as it changes? It can’t be ignorance, right?


No. I’m saying that with reference to the sutta in question which is SN 12.61, the Buddha is referring to the mind of an unlearned person’s mind.

No of course not. Why would we need to know what an arahant’s mind is like? How is that going to help us with being free from suffering? The Buddha talks about what an unlearned person’s mind is like, which I should think does concern everyone else who isn’t enlightened.

Maybe. But again, how is this going to help our plight?

I could be wrong, but so far with all the suttas that I’ve read, and I have to admit I haven’t read the entire Pali canon, The Buddha doesn’t usually talk about what an enlightened mind is like. Why would he?

He usually speaks and elaborates on what an unenlightened mind is like and how to liberate it from suffering.

The sense faculties and the corresponding sense objects which are active all day and night as you say, I think.

“Mendicants, consciousness exists dependent on a duality. And what is that duality?

Eye consciousness arises dependent on the eye and sights. The eye is impermanent, decaying, and perishing. Sights are impermanent, decaying, and perishing. So this duality is tottering and toppling; it’s impermanent, decaying, and perishing. Eye consciousness is impermanent, decaying, and perishing. And the causes and reasons that give rise to eye consciousness are also impermanent, decaying, and perishing. But since eye consciousness has arisen dependent on conditions that are impermanent, how could it be permanent?

Similarly, for the other five in SN 35.93.
Ignorance is related to this, perhaps a bit indirectly, since that is what caused the senses to be taken up at birth. The enlightened being had ignorance in the past.

I’m saying that Shakyamuni doesn’t identify with (or attempt to possess) anything that arises and ceases. Either body or mind. It’s been abandoned. In reference to the mind he has ‘become disillusioned, dispassionate, and freed’ (unlike a lowly being). So it cannot be rightly said to be his

Dependent origination (in my understanding) is a contemplation given regarding the rebirth of a being (actually it’s specifically about the rebirth of a human being with 6 senses fairly intact). It’s not about what happens during the day, hour, minute, second or moment. Although you can (almost) shoehorn a contemplation around that into the teaching, it isn’t really a good fit.

I believe ignorance must not be seen as a first cause. It is more like ignorance is in the center of a wheel and keeps the wheel going. It feeds the forward movement.

Ignorance is surely no cause for consciousness. An arahant has no ignorance but still consciousness.

Ignorance, in general, is seen as what support karmic formations, meritorious, demeritorious and another category, socalled ‘imperturbable volitional formation’, i yet do not really understand.

“As he thoroughly investigates he understands thus: ‘Volitional formations have ignorance as their source, ignorance as their origin; they are born and produced from ignorance. When there is ignorance, volitional formations come to be; when there is no ignorance, volitional formations do not come to be.’

This volition keeps the wheel turning and avijja is the root cause. Meaning, without avijja, not such karmically loaded volitional formations arise and also no vinnana with that load(kamma vinnana).

The sutta fragment you refer to does not say that mind and consciousness are the same but it only says that often, also in the Netherlands, we use such words as mind and consciousness loosely and can use the word mind and conscious as synonyms. But, ofcourse, that does not mean that there are also good grounds, rational, not to do that, and talk about mind and consciousness pointing to something different. The more one knows and sees the more grounds one will find for distinguishing mind and consciousness.

This sutta fragment is often refered to, ‘to proove’ (or make a point) that Buddha would teach that there is no difference between vinnana and mind, but that cannot be said based upon this sutta.
I think that all buddhist accept that without sense consciousness, not being aware of anything, one is
not mindless. And even abiding in sannavedaytanirodha mind has not ceased.

There is no person in the entire world that has ever seen mind ceasing. What would see that? But one can know and see that eye-vinnana ceases, ear vinnana…mental vinnana. But no one has ever seen nor directly known the cessation of the mind.

I think there is no reason to believe it can cease. Mind is fundamental to life. The ground of all that exist, i think. A oneness. Reifying it, turning it into a phenomena, a self, conceiving it, seeing it as some kind of consciousness, leads to all kinds of problems. But we can just accept that there is an emptiness which is not mere empty but has also an aspect or element of intelligence.

I believe this is rational. For example, how can rebirth take place in empty space? It is much more rational that rebirth takes place against the background of an intelligent field, the citta, a oneness.
How can a lifestream, a stream of vinnana, move trough empty space after death? Such ideas are irrational. But when there is a all pervasive ground, a kind of intelligent field, then that can support all.

SN 22.48

Replacement for the first link

Is this essentially what you’re asking? Or a specific part of the result this.

The mind does not necessarily arise from ignorance I’d say.

I feel like the abhidhammas would address something like that… PT 1.11

My understanding of the Big Guy is that there is neither arising nor passing for the Arahat as consciousness has been freed. It no longer lands and proliferates - anywhere.

Lets first establish what mind is? How can we judge, analyse, this mind if we do no know to what this words refers to?

  • is mind the same as the sum of all cognitive processes, those who are consciously experienced and those that remain unconscious?

  • is mind the same as conceiving? Is it possible that mind can be without conceiving?

  • is the mind the same as one sense vinnana or all or a stream?

  • is mind the same as mentallity? or is mentallity an aspect/colour of mind?

  • if we purify the mind does this mean we purify the six sense vinnana’s?
    Is it possible, for example, that we purify eye-vinnana?

  • If kamma seeds are somewhere, are they stored in the mind but what is that mind?

  • is mind always intentional or goal-directed?

  • do all beings have a mind, even the smallest like paramecium ?
    Is there some principle to decide which beings have a mind and not?

  • Can we say that there is mind, and there is content of mind?

  • Can mind be empty, when mind cannot exist independend of content?

What is a condition for name and form?’ Then, through rational application of mind, I comprehended with wisdom: ‘When consciousness exists there are name and form. Consciousness is a condition for name and form.’ Then it occurred to me: ‘When what exists is there consciousness? What is a condition for consciousness?’ Then, through rational application of mind, I comprehended with wisdom: ‘When name and form exist there’s consciousness. Name and form are a condition for consciousness.’

Then it occurred to me: This consciousness turns back from name and form, and doesn’t go beyond that. This is the extent to which one may be reborn, grow old, die, pass away, or reappear. That is: name and form are conditions for consciousness. Consciousness is a condition for name and form.

The view of dependent origination is to be seen in 3 lifetimes would mean that ignorance and volitional formations are the causes for next rebirth-relinking consciousness, next life. This life itself, the consciousness and name and form are already there. So eradicating ignorance doesn’t make the enlightened being go poof disappears, but their consciousness and name and form are mutually sustaining until death, whereby due to no more ignorance and rebirth, it all ceases.

When what ceases do name and form cease?’ Then, through rational application of mind, I comprehended with wisdom: ‘When consciousness doesn’t exist there is no name and form. When consciousness ceases name and form cease.’

Then it occurred to me: ‘When what doesn’t exist is there no consciousness? When what ceases does consciousness cease?’ Then, through rational application of mind, I comprehended with wisdom: ‘When name and form don’t exist, there is no consciousness. When name and form cease, consciousness ceases.’