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Revisiting Viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ

nibbāna
anidassano
anidassanaṃ
viññāṇaṃ-anidassanaṃ
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#42

Which part do you need further explanation?


#43

I have learned and thought more about the best way to translate, express and explain the passage and i want to share my notes. First i will quote some other people on this matter;

Also i will quote some more commentary from the same Abhidhamma.org thread;

Suan Lu zwa, a Burmese pali scholar writes:

“Tattha viññatabbanti “Viññanam” nibbanassetam namam,…”

“There, to be known specially, so (it is) “Viññanam”. This is the name of nibbana.”

And Kevatta Sutta Tika further explains the phrase “viññatabbanti” as follows:

"Viññatabbanti visitthena ñatabbam, ñanuttamena ariyamaggañanena paccakkhato janitabbanti attho, tenaha “nibbanassetam namam"ti.”

“(To be known specially) means to be extraordinarily known. The meaning is ‘to be known in the sense of realization by ultimate wisdom, by noble path wisdom’”. Therefore, (the commentator) stated that ‘This is the name of nibbana’" Therefore, the term ‘Viññanam’ in the line of the original Pali verse “Viññanam anidassanam, anantam sabbatopabham …” does not refer to consciousness, the usual meaning of viññanam.
In fact, the same verse includes the following two lines “Ettha namañca rupañca, asesam uparujjhati
Viññanassa nirodhena, etthetam uparujjhati’ti”. “Here (in nibbana), nama as well as rupa ceases without remainder. By ceasing of consciousness, nama as well as rupa ceases here.” Nibbana does not become a sort of consciousness just because one of its Pali names happens to be Viññanam. In English language, the term ‘object’ can have different meanings. For example, the term ‘object’ in visual object has no relation to
the term ‘object’ in my object of studting Pali.""

Anidassana occurs in MN 21.14 as a description of empty space as being unsuitable for painting.

Therefore i think it is interesting to change the referent of the DN11 verse to that of “empty space” and let the adjectives be adjectives without getting into particular characteristics.
This model can then imo be used to explain the intended meaning of the DN11 verse as it occurs. Here are several versions with ‘empty space’ as the referent;

[that] to which painting not applicable, is such and such
here that which is associated with painting is not
with the cessation of painting all that [which is associated with painting] is brought to an end.

the unpaintable, is such and such
here that which is associated with painting is not
with the cessation of painting all that [which is associated with painting] is brought to an end.

The structure of the verse is simple enough;

X Anidassana is Such and Such
There YZ is not
With the cessation of X the YZ are all brought to an end

I have tried in several ways to make the “painting” the referent and it all ends up not making sense and is self-contradictory, in example;

That for which the empty space is unsuitable [painting] is such and such
here that which is associated with painting is not
with the cessation of space all that [which is associated with painting] is brought to an end.

Therefore i believe that the best translation is something like this;

the uncognizable or that which cannot be cognized, is such and such
here that which is associated with consciousness is not
with the cessation of consciousness all that [which is associated with consciousness] is brought to an end.

Which makes the verse read;

'Your question should not be phrased in this way:

Where do these four great elementsthe earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, and the wind propertycease without remainder?

Instead, it should be phrased like this:

Where do water, earth, fire, & wind have no footing?
Where are long & short,
coarse & fine,
fair & foul,
name & form
brought to an end?

And the answer to that is:

The uncognizable, boundless, luminous all around:

Here water, earth, fire, & wind
have no footing.
Here long & short
coarse & fine
fair & foul
name & form
are all brought to an end.

With the cessation of consciousness each is here brought to an end.’

Therefore i agree with what Dhammanando wrote about Vinnanam Anidassanam being a verbal derivative that can be taken as a noun or an adjective but i do not agree with the derivatives being the best expression;

‘The Uncognizable; that which can not be cognized’ rather than ‘that which must be cognized’ when taken as a noun.
‘Uncognizable; cannot be cognized’ rather than ‘to be cognized; must be cognized’ when taken as an adjective.

With the ‘Empty Space’ being Anidassana for painting it would be;

  1. ‘The Unpaintable; that which cannot be painted on’ rather than ‘that which must be painted’ as a noun
  2. ‘Unpaintable; cannot be painted on’ rather than ‘to be painted; must be painted’ as an adjective

Either way both expressions are fine in meaning and the ‘to be extraordinarily known’ has it’s merit in that it goes well with ‘to be seen with discernment’.


#44

Translation is my worst nightmare; therefore, I will try to show my understanding, not my translation…

I do not know much Pali (except some basic words), so please do not question me about it!

I do not see vinnana as consciousness (Hope that I will not create another trouble!). I understand vinnana as “established recognition” rather than consciousness. Why? (Sorry, my English is not very good, so “established recognition” is the best choice that I can think of)

When we recognize something, we depend on its shape or characteristics and we give it a name, or we depend on its name to know its shape, characteristics . So the recognition depends on name and form. Also, we know its name and form by our recognition, therefore, name and form also depend on recognition.

Why “established”?

We called it “vinnana” because it cognizes. It cognizes sounds, odors, flavors, tangibles,…
It cognizes blue as blue, water as water, good as good, bad as bad, long as long, short as short,…therefore, it is established in what it recognized.

With this understanding, I can understand “Vinnanam Anidassanam” as “unestablished recognition”. Why “unestablished”?

When we do not recognize blue as blue, good as good, bad as bad, water as water,… We do not land/establish on any recognition! It is blue because of its current condition. Without that condition, it is no longer blue. It is good because of its current condition. Without that condition, it will be no longer good. In the good, there is bad in there. In the blue, there is non blue in there…

We no longer grasp blue as blue, good as good, bad as bad, water as water… Blue can be or become non blue, good can be bad…

With this understanding, water, earth, fire, & wind have no footing since they do not always be recognized that way. Long & short, coarse & fine, fair & foul, name & form (or the dualism) is brought to and end since we no longer grasp to one side. Since it is unestablished on any side, anywhere, it is boundless, has no limit and trouble.

Now we can see the need of the cessation of vinnana (or established recognition) for our liberation.

So my “translation” is:

The unestablished recognition, boundless, luminous all around:
Here water, earth, fire, & wind
have no footing.
Here long & short
coarse & fine
fair & foul
name & form
are all brought to an end.
With the cessation of established recognition each is here brought to an end.’

I think the word “established recognition” may be reduced to “recognition” if “established” is implied in it. However, I am not very good in English, so I cannot say.

You may find better English words than me, so “unestablished recognition” is just a simple suggestion.

I know that my understanding is not in line with the current norm since I never see/hear anyone who explained that way, and it will be trouble for me to defend it; however, I think it may help someone with an open mind to explore some new directions that never be explored before.

If you see my understanding conflicts with any suttas, please let me know so I can correct this view and have better understanding.


#45

Isn’t it sanna which recognises blue, etc? You seem to be describing a vinnana which is separate from sanna, ie not conjoined with it. Perhaps a higher-level vinnana which is not bound up with the sense-bases? Possibly related to sati?


#46

When you asked this question, you separated sanna from vinnana.


#47

Usually they are conjoined, which seems to apply to normal sense consciousness.


#48

You can call it “consciousness” if you like. However, you will need to find some way to explain its cessation.


#49

Im not clear where cessation comes in. I was speculating that “invisible consciousness” is like a 7th category of vinnana, a higher level consciousness not involved with the sense bases, and therefore not involved with perception. Possibly it is the consciousness of nibbana. Its difficult though because there is so little to go on in the EBT.


#50

I cannot talk about something that I do not know and cannot experience such as “invisible consciousness” or something like that (Is our normal consciousness visible?). What I can experience is the “unestablished recognition” that I described above. When I do not grasp or insist on something beautiful as beautiful or ugly as ugly, I can even see the beauty in the ugly and vice versa. This does not mean that I do not see its beauty or ugliness. I simply see it as it is without grasping or rejecting it. Moreover, even I do not have an “establish recognition” with it, this does not mean that I do not know anything about it. However, you are free to believe in that “invisible consciousness”, I have no problem with that.


#51

It’s not a case of believing something, I’m just exploring ideas. The term we’re discussing translates as “Invisible consciousness” or “consciousness OF the invisible ( nibbana?)”, so “unestablished recognition” seems like a stretch. What you actually seem to be describing is the absence of craving and aversion. For example I recognise blue ( sanna) but don’t then react to blue ( ie absence of tanha). But the EBT suggests the temporary cessation of ordinary sense-consciousness, and of sanna. IMO sanna is just recognition, not something which can be established or nonestablished. And vinnana is just awareness.


#52

Establishment of consciousness:

“Consciousness, bhikkhus, while standing, might stand engaged with form; based upon form, established upon form, with a sprinkling of delight, it might come to growth, increase, and expansion. Or consciousness, while standing, might stand engaged with feeling … engaged with perception … engaged with volitional formations; based upon volitional formations, established upon volitional formations, with a sprinkling of delight, it might come to growth, increase, and expansion. SuttaCentral


#53

So how does this relate to the current discussion exactly? It seems a bit random.


#54

You were discussing ‘unestablished consciousness’ and I showed what established consciousness was according to the EBTs so that it could be helpfully contrasted against. Sorry you didn’t make the connection


#55

What’s been proposed is “unestablished recognition”, which sounds more to do with sanna than vinnana, hence the confusion. Im not clear what establishment of consciousness actually means from your sutta. Delight leads to more consciousness?


#56

I understand this to mean when we delight in something we are more likely to look, think or remember it, than if we aren’t. If it was not attached to anything then it could equally arise at any sense base. If consciousness arises more often at a particular sense base it is likely to be attached.


#57

I struggle with the idea of consciousness becoming attached to things, since it arises in dependence upon sense-base and sense-object. Isn’t it more to do with inappropriate attention?


#58

What’s the driver for attending to pleasantness?


#59

Wanting more, ie tanha. But tanha is not vinnana.


#60

Tanha or wanting may lead to intension (kamma).


#61

Sure, but I don’t see what that has to with vinnana, which looks functional in the EBT - it’s just the awareness which arises when the necessary conditions are present, eg eye-consciousness arises in dependence upon eye and form. Obviously there will be more eye-consciousness if we see something we like, but that is due to increased attention.