Post-mortem "stream of consciousness"

With the dissolution of the khandhas at death, what conditions support the viññana- sotam, (stream of consciousness)?
If sañña and vedana are absent, along with the six senses and the other khandas, what sustains this consciousness?

It’s craving as indicated in SN 44.9:

“When, Vaccha, a being has laid down this body but has not yet been reborn in another body, I declare that it is fuelled by craving. For on that occasion craving is its fuel.”


Yes. Thank you. Clearly craving is the basic fuel propelling rebirth.
As far as I can recall, there is no description in DO or in any sutta that states that craving is the proximate condition for consciousness.

As Ven. Brahmali has written in this forum, perception, feelings, and consciousness are all co-dependent. For example in saññavedayitanirodha, described in MN 44, all verbal, physical, and mental processes (including conditional consciousness), cease.

So when all such processes also cease at death, that’s what the question is about. What fuel or nutriment for consciousness remains to support viññana-sotam?

Is it me, or this is establishing some gap between “a being” and “his body”?

Great to hear, that’s what we all agree here. :pray:

That’s what I agree too, as what I wrote earlier in another thread.

From what you said above, it seems to me that this is where your confusion comes from. Let’s look again at the 5 aggregates and determine whether craving belongs to which aggregates?
You can easily see that craving belongs to formation aggregates.

Only an arahant can cease all aggregates after death and therefore it is no longer meaningful for unenlightened beings to discuss about “what nutriment/fuel to support viññana-sotam” for an arahant after pari-nibbana.

On the other hand, it’s still meaningful to discuss about “what nutriment/fuel to support viññana-sotam” for a being not yet at arahant level. And the answer is given by the Buddha: that is craving.

You really have a sharp mind to notice such detail. :pray:

May I suggest you go further and see whether we can have a definite answer for the following questions:

  1. Can a being be described as one of the 5 aggregates?
  2. Can a being be described as a set of the 5 aggregates?
  3. Can a being be described as inside any of the 5 aggregates?
  4. Can a being be described as inside a set of the 5 aggregates?
  5. Can a being be described as outside the 5 aggregates?
  6. Can a being be described as apart from the 5 aggregates?

Those above points are mentioned in the SN 22.86 Anurādhasutta

The question is not about parinibbana or even sa-upadisesa ca nibbanadhatu.

We all agree that there is no rebirth for arahants and no persistence of the aggregates after their death.
Rather, the question is regarding the opposite: when a non-arahant dies, clearly craving and kammic effects continue → rebirth.
The EBTs teach about a “stream of consciousness” that eventually “lands” in a womb → birth, etc.
It is this consciousness that is being asked about – since it is conditional, and since viñnñana arises and persists in dependence on other conditional factors such as perception and feelings which all cease in the state of saññavedayitanirodha when an arahant or non-returner is still alive but the “vital energy” is still present -- when those factors are absent after the death of a non-arahant, what nutriments or factors support its arising and persistence, (for a while)?

Put another way, since consciousness and nama-rupa are co-deoendent and co-condition each other, when the factors of rupa and the mental factors of perception and feelings are absent after the death of a non-arahant, how does consciousness, as in viññana-sotam arise and persist?

Do we have an agreement here that “craving belongs to formation aggregates”?

Well, yes. But craving is the root for all the aggregates.
So sure, until craving is extinguished there will be an on-going arising of the aggregates, including viññana.

At the same time, the suttas make clear what factors are required for viññana and many of those are not present in the post-death state of a non-arahant.
If we cite craving alone as the necessary and sufficient factor, then why is viññana absent in the state of saññavedayitanirodha in a non-returner when at least a minimal amount of craving is still present?

That’s a very interesting point. Please pardon my ignorance, can you point me to any sutta that indicates that “a minimal amount of craving is still present” in the state of saññavedayitanirodha? :pray:

No sutta directly states this. Rather, and I’m sorry I can’t produce the citation now, I read that saññavedayitanirodha can be attained ny non-returners.
I know, I know…don’t take my word for it. :slightly_smiling_face:

In MN 44, for example, the word ariyasāvako is used for the noble disciple who no longer regards form as self, etc…
Further along in the sutta saññavedayitanirodha is described and the word bhikkhuno is used.

While this does not prove that the sutta is not referring to arahants in particular, the use of these words rather than arahant or muni suggests this state is not limited to them.

But even if we assume this state is limited to arahants, in whom craving is extinguished, the consciousness aggregate remains until they pass away. After death, it no longer arises, we agree – but the original question was about the non-arahant after death when a “stream of consciousness” is present in the absence of nama-rupa, except perhaps for cetana. It’s the absence of those co-factors, yet the persistence of that consciousness that gave rise to the question.

I think we have neglected two important points.

  1. Craving or Tanha does not stop there. It gives rise to Upadana. When described in terms of mental factors, Tanha is Lobha and Upadana is Lobha plus View. What this means is that Tanha always is in cinjuction with Views- ideologies. Upadana will give rise to Bhava( Bhava ia two types- Kamma and Uppatti, Uppatti is birth).

  2. Conciousness or Vinnana is described in terms of Eye Ear Nose etc, that is in terms of senses.

Ok. Now what we can understand from this.

  1. View or Concepts or ideology has a certain path when it is created. My view or ideology is created through the experinces( what I have been concious of) of my life. If any of the experince of my life was different, my View should have been different. Any present experince(Concepts) is influenced by a past experince. Therefore in the making of personal
    View has a path dependent on experinces gained from the senses developed from fetal stage in mother’s womb.

  2. When a person is dead, the conciousness ceases. However(this might be controvertial) in a new body , there is a process of experiencing. This pattern if followed the same pattern of experinces happened in the body of previous( dead) person, it will slowly developed, think and act like the previous person. This is the rebirth. The rebirth of previous person. Rebirth of Views - Upadana the Fuel.

Well, then maybe you can convince yourself now:

  1. For a non-arahant after death, mental formation aggregates does not cease.
  2. Craving belongs to mental formation aggregates.

Therefore, combine both sutta SN44.9 and logical reasoning: craving should be the answer you are looking for.

This may be correct – actually, as mentioned before, craving is the fundamental driver of the aggregates and rebirth.

But there are suttas in which the Buddha clearly states that consciousness cannot arise or persist without perception and feelings.
And since craving is still present in a non-returner (bhikkhu, as in the last post), yet consciousness temporarily ceases…

Anyway, many thanks for the dialogue. Perhaps one of the Venerables might help to clarify this.
No agenda here – just looking to clarify a point of Dhamma.
On we go… :pray: :slightly_smiling_face:

Please note that the point above is different than the point you mentioned about "a minimal amount of craving is still present” in the state of saññavedayitanirodha.

This is what we agreed: An arahant no longer has any craving under any circumstance. A non-returner still has craving.
However, it’s totally different point when you say that "a minimal amount of craving is still present” in the state of saññavedayitanirodha (even if you manage to prove that a non-returner can attain saññavedayitanirodha, you still have to prove that a non-returner still has minimal of craving in saññavedayitanirodha. I don’t think that point can be proven via MN44.)

Yes, but consciousness can arise or persist with the mental formation aggregate. And in the case of post-mortem, mental formation aggregate does not cease for a non-arahant. And precisely, that mental formation aggregate is called craving in that case.

Thank you too. :pray: