Sanna v. Vinnana

Hello again friend! :smile:

The point i was making is that bhava is in no way originally implying ‘becoming’ or ‘continued existence’ i.e. in reference to the future like its translated and talked about unfortunately almost everywhere today and its good to confirm that the Chinese too in no way implies it. So wherever the notions of future existence or becoming or something alike come from its not from EBT and its important to know that if someone is going to understand paticca samuppada.

I want to build a table of important Pali words and the Chinese counterparts so that it can be used to try to better understand the original message of the Buddha. I need a Chinese person which can help me understanding these terms like how ordinary person would normally use them, history and details like that.

viññāṇa — 識
bhava — 有

It is very important that we get the right meaning because if we don’t understand the right meaning we can’t even think of ourselves as instructed in Dhamma, even as having heard the Dhamma, let alone being sotāpanna or whatever :joy:

Can you imagine the frustration and misfortune when someone is looking for and trying to understand ‘consciousness’ to try and understand the Dhamma but its not even a real thing, even more so when ‘consciousness’ as it is understood pretty much everywhere goes strictly against message of the Buddha (for example…, and this one is really good if you can see and understand the implications of feeling being the thing that feels, not viññāṇa and how that relates to how ‘awareness’ and ‘consciousness’ is defined and then see that together with how viññāṇa is related to the feeling there… :rofl:).

What people normally understand as being because of having ‘consciousness’ or ‘awareness’ really is sañña and vedanā arising by the operation of sense organs. Sañña really is the signal / sign / mark / sensation in relation to stimulation of the sense organ, it is like one pixel of the eye being activated resulting in color, but keep in mind that its not the colors that come into eye, you only see the world in three primary colors because there are three kinds of nerve cells which react to three different frequencies of electromagnetic waves. That is why Buddha compared sañña to a mirage - it looks like there is colors / colorful stuff out there but really its an illusion, it’s like a mirage. If one had 1 type of cell in the eye one would think that the world is grayscale and if someone having three kinds of receptors started to talk about colors he would think the other is crazy or something and would not believe him or even be able to imagine what is he talking about. :joy: Still when one imagines or thinks about the world he thinks he lives in and longs for and struggles for the world of 3 primary colors. He puts one baby in blue colored dress, another baby in pink dress, he loves getting gifted a blue shirt, dislikes the green one, he loves seeing ‘neat’ and ‘balanced’ colors and dislikes ‘gritty’ colors. So you see what comes up just because one has three kinds of receptors in the eye leading to seeing colors :rofl:

Enjoy… And viññāṇa is like magic trick because it fools one of there being some perceivable quality which is not really there like a magician fools its audience of having done something while not actually having done it.

I can attest to this through my personal experience as a young ENT surgeon on the Cochlear implant team.

Twenty years ago, when the first cochlear implants were being performed, the device was initially approved by FDA for post lingual totally deaf adults (who had already learnt how to speak and then gone deaf), with implantation in pre lingual totally deaf young children (who had no experience of hearing and consequently had not developed language skills) being an off label use. Everyone theoretically expected the post lingual totally deaf adults to have better results than the pre lingual totally deaf young children.

But things turned out differently in practice.

The post lingual adults often had great difficulty in adapting to the device. Essentially, their entire experience/ recognition (Sanna) of sound changed. Though they perceived sound (Vinnana), it was different from what they expected to hear… the sound “Apple” being heard as “ZZgrwtth” for example, no matter if someone spoke to them, or if they spoke to someone. Though most eventually re-learnt how to hear, this was a traumatic experience for many … . with some even begging to have the device removed as their entire auditory world had been turned upside down.

The pre lingual young children had no problem whatsoever! They had no idea what “Apple” should sound like … so even if it sounded like “ZZgrwtth” to them, they had no problems in building the association of that particular sound to the idea of an apple. Many developed near normal speech in the space of a few years, taking to the device like ducks to water.

These kind of results were instrumental in building the current consensus that pre lingual totally deaf young children are the best candidates for Cochlear implantation, who should be implanted as early as possible.


I am reminded of the dress sense of Neil Harbisson - the colour blind artist who underwent surgery to route colour sensation via the auditory apparatus. He gave a talk at Session 4 of the 9th Global conference on Buddhism chaired by Bhante @Sujato. That session held many invaluable insights into the nature of Sanna, Vinnana, Conciousness and our experience… it didn’t get the appreciation it deserved IMHO.


Do you have any videos of these patients talking about their own experience.

Unfortunately, no. We do sometimes take video, but its usually of the surgical aspects or technical switch on process. Medical Science is generally uncomfortable with publicly discussing/ sharing the emotional side of surgery as experienced by the patient.

But here is one person writing about his experience

Usually about a month after surgery, you will go back to your implant center to receive your external processor and have it turned on for the first time. This is usually called activation or activation day. While this day can be full of anticipation and excitement, it is best to not expect much the first day. Everyone’s experiences vary, but I was not able to understand speech at all for the first few days. Remember your brain is having to relearn how to hear. It is not like simply adding another hearing aid to the mix. It is a totally different way of hearing.

And here is a patient oriented site that offers a large number of patient experiences.


You are a fan of Venerable Puññaji’s idiosyncratic translations, are you not?

Using Venerable Puññaji’s “translations” (and those quote-marks aren’t for sarcasm or condescension) of key Buddhist terms and comparing them to normative Buddhist translation of those same key terms can illustrate why Buddhist translation sometimes happens as it does. Simply put, it is so that the root text may be vaguely discernible from the English translation, a virtue sought IMO in any serious critical tradition of translation of religious scripture, for good or ill.

The King James Bible, in Christianity, is a good example of a Bible translation where there is an attempt at a one-to-one correspondence between English and Hebrew clauses, or English and Greek:

bərêšîṯ bārā ɂĕlōhîm; ɂêṯ haššāmayim wə ɂêṯ hā ɂāreṣ.
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

wə hā ɂāreṣ, hāyəṯāh ṯōhū wāḇōhū, wə ḥōšeḵ ɂalpənê ṯəhōwm; wə rūaḥ ɂĕlōhîm, məraḥep̄eṯ ɂalpənê hammāyim.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

(Genesis 1:1-2, 𝕸 and KJV )

There are some notable details, like “without form, and void,” which is interpretive for tōhū wāḇōhū, a Biblical Hebrew expression slightly similar to ‘a hurly-burly.’ Similarly interpretatively, the proper name ɂĕlōhîm is presented as “God,” but we’ll notice an inconsistency when the proper name Təhōwm (Tiamat in West Semitic languages) is presented as “the deep,” as if the source text had "hā ṯəhōwm" and not simply “Təhōwm.” These interpretive points aside, which reflect changing orthodoxies and interpretations of this elderly text over time, you can form a one-to-one correspondence between Hebrew clauses and English clauses, and because of this, we can say that the source text is at least somewhat deducible from the translation, and that the translation presents the source text more or less closely inasmuch as it presents ideas in roundabout the same order they are introduced in the source text, and inasmuch that nominally separated concepts are discreetly presented and not internally confused.

Now we can compare the above to, for instance, Venerable @sujato’s translations here on SuttaCentral, which are also interlinear and, in being so, are an invaluable tool for textual exploration and analysis. Interlinear translations also hold the translator to a brutal standard, as can be evidenced by the many misguided (and some rightly guided) amateur linguistic critiques and explorations of SuttaCentral’s/Ven Sujato’s translations that happen here on this forum. Interlinear translations are the first step towards critical editions, and by featuring one, SuttaCentral joins a host of other web-based resources that feature this, like and, for their respective holy writs.

Avijjāpaccayā, bhikkhave, saṅkhārā;
Ignorance is a condition for choices.
saṅkhārapaccayā viññāṇaṁ;
Choices are a condition for consciousness.
viññāṇapaccayā nāmarūpaṁ;
Consciousness is a condition for name and form.
nāmarūpapaccayā saḷāyatanaṁ;
Name and form are conditions for the six sense fields.
saḷāyatanapaccayā phasso;
The six sense fields are conditions for contact.
phassapaccayā vedanā;
Contact is a condition for feeling.
vedanāpaccayā taṇhā;
Feeling is a condition for craving.
taṇhāpaccayā upādānaṁ;
Craving is a condition for grasping.
upādānapaccayā bhavo;
Grasping is a condition for continued existence.
bhavapaccayā jāti;
Continued existence is a condition for rebirth.
jātipaccayā jarāmaraṇaṁ sokaparidevadukkhadomanassupāyāsā sambhavanti.
Rebirth is a condition for old age and death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, sadness, and distress to come to be.
Evametassa kevalassa dukkhakkhandhassa samudayo hoti.
That is how this entire mass of suffering originates.

(SN 12.1 Paṭiccasamuppādasutta)

Word-for-word correspondence is impossible between most languages, and produces difficult-to-read esoteric jargon generally when it is attempted. See failed amateur Chinese translation attempts from me as proof, if you are so inclined to search for them here.

For instance, in the above, “-paccayā X” becomes “[…] is a condition for X,” because there is no single word in English that does double duty in as flexible a way as -paccayā does in this context. Also, the vocative aside “, bhikkhave,” (", [O] monks,") is omitted, and I can see why it’s not really that necessary and might be seen as unnecessarily formalizing or adding long-windedness to a English language rendering of the passage. That being said, in the translation at large, there can still be said to be a general one-to-one ratio between clauses and it can also be said that the translation “generally follows” very closely the source text.

Compare this translation with an explanation-presented-as-translation, that a reader perhaps

and we’ll use Ven Puññaji’s “translations,” and then I can explore why I used quotes around that word for what Ven Puññaji does when he suggests alternative “translations” for certain key terms.

The following is going to be a secondhand paṭiccasamuppāda exegesis adapted from this YouTube video and repurposed so that explanations from Ven Puññaji replace terms used in conventional modern translations, in the interest of looking at this as a translation strategy. I will admit, I don’t have the easiest time with the Venerable’s accent, but I can prepare what I understand as a transcript of the Venerable’s speech below, and if I have anything seriously wrong, we can work to correct that so that this is not a futile exercise. We’ll then present the “translation” example and hopefully why this post was written will then make sense. I’m a court reporter in my fleshworld job, so I’m going to try to make this as verbatim as possible, but I do have a hard time sometimes with South Asian accents, and I’m going to make liberal use of ‘single quotes’ for definitions, concepts, etc., and “double quotes” for what I think are rhetorical statements, etc. In Canadian legal transcripts, it is common practice to delineate changes of subject mid-sentence, stuttering, and misspeaking in general, common in spoken language but not written, with two dashes, but through this typing window I type in presently, double-dashes become a single long dash (–) in the preview box to the right of my typing.

"Paṭiccasamuppāda (Concise)" - Ven Dr. M. Puññāji Mahāthera, May 11th, 2016, Brickfields Mahāvihāra, Kuala Lumpur

VEN PUÑÑAJI: People are getting interested in the teachings of the Buddha, because Buddha brought this message to the world, that everything happens due to the presence of the necessary conditions, and therefore, the world is not governed by gods and devils, but by this law, and that law is what is called the paṭiccasamuppāda. That paṭiccasamuppāda, if properly understood, all suffering can be brought to an end. That’s what the Buddha pointed out. And what – how is that? He pointed out that – although the existential philosophers taught that we exist, that existence is the most fundamental thing, the Buddha pointed out that existence is a delusion. That’s the wrong concept. We do not really exist. Now, that he understood by freeing the mind of emotions. It is the emotions that make us think that we exist. The emotions are not able to think, and the emotions desire things or hate things. It is only by getting rid of emotions and purifying the mind, freeing the mind, of emotions that the idea of existence will disappear. So he purified the mind, and that is how we talk about the jhānas.

We said, “The jhānas are really levels of mental purity.” They – the first level of mental purity, second level of mental purity, third level of mental purity, fourth level of mental purity, and then we go beyond the fourth level into infinity of space, infinity of perception, infinity of no existence, the infinity of neither perception nor no – no – neither sensation nor no sensation and, ultimately,

[Text displayed: Stopping of Sensation and Feeling (Saññā Vedayita Nirodha)]

he stopped the process of sensation and perception. That means he stopped that activity called ‘mind.’ And when that activity called ‘mind’ is stopped, are you conscious? When that activity called ‘mind’ has stopped, there is no consciousness. You are not aware of anything. Now, from that state, again, he woke up from that state. And when he woke up from that state, he began to understand how the mind begins to work.

[Text displayed: AJJIVĀ = state of no mental activity (complete non-consciousness, “insentience”) ]

So from a state of no mind, he started – the first activity of the mind –

[Graphics displayed starting at 5:57]

– was what is called ‘feeling’ and ‘sensation’ – ‘feeling’ and ‘sensation.’

Sensation means – to understand what sensation is, it is important to understand that – we – we said, “We have eyes, and when light falls on the eye, we begin to see.” What do we see?

What we see is only light, because the eye can see the light, only because this, what we call light, comes in the form of waves, and these waves come in different frequencies. So I’m – it’s very difficult to understand this if you don’t know the meaning of a frequency. So for that – if you know a little about science, you’ll begin to understand that ‘the frequently’ means – it is simply a kind of shaking. And so this, the light, comes in different frequencies, and therefore you begin to see different colours, and this ‘seeing colour’ is what we ‘see.’ And at the same time, we begin to see this colour either as pleasant or it can be unpleasant. Some colours are – look beautiful. Some colours look ugly.

[Graphic at 8:54 summarized: Links 1-4 displayed, 1. Insentience/AVIJJĀ, 2. Mental Constructions of sensory entities visualized/Saṅkhāra, 3. Percepton/Viññāṇa, 4. Constructed Entity and Identity (categorized)/Nāma-Rūpa, graphic has arrows pointing out correspondences between these 4 links and a another chart called “PROCESS OF PERCEPTION” which outlines the five aggregates]

So that is what we call feeling. So the sensation is the colour and the feeling is whether it is pleasant or unpleasant. So that is the first thing that we see. But when we open our eyes, what we see doesn’t look like seeing colours. We are able to see objects. How do we see objects? It is simply – an object is constructed by putting the colours together. When a person draws a picture on a wall or in a paper, that person is only putting colours on the picture. And it is when we look at those colours that we see, in the form of a face or in the form of a tree or maybe in the form of a table or bottle or whatever – we are seeing objects by putting the colours together. It is a construct.

So every object that we see is a construct, a mental construct. So we put the colours together and form a construct. And we not only form a construct, we identify it. We are able to look at the thing and say, “Oh. This is a face.” How do I know that it is a face? Because I have seen faces before. So that object that we see is put into a category of ‘objects that I have seen.’ That is called categorization. It is by categorization that we are able to identify an object.

I can see – look at an object and say, “That is a chair,” or, “That is a clock,” or, “That is a door.” All that is because I am categorizing what I look at. So this identification means we are also giving a name to that. So every object has been given a name to identify that. When we say, “Clock,” that is a name given to that object. When we say, “Table,” we are giving a name to that object. So there is an image and a name. Now, this is what we call ‘nāma’ and ‘rūpa.’

Rūpa means ‘the image,’ and nāma means ‘the name.’ So these are the words that we use: vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra, viññāṇa. That ‘viññāṇa’ word is ‘perception,’ but perception means ‘identifying the object.’ That is the meaning of perception. We are not only seeing things, we are also able to identify and say, “This is such and such.” That is the meaning of perception. So we are making use of these things. So it is very important to understand that – now, I use these words that I am just using, but these are not the words used by Rhys Davids, who translated these things. They’re – they used the word – ‘vedanā’ and ‘saññā’ are called ‘feeling’ and ‘perception.’ I am using the words ‘feeling’ and ‘sensation.’ ‘Sensation’ is not the same thing as ‘perception.’ So – you see? And then that word, ‘saṅkhāra,’ they translate as the – some other words.

OTHER VOICES: Volition, volition.

VEN PUÑÑAJI: Volition. Now, that word volition has a different meaning. Now, I call it a ‘construct.’ Construct gives the meaning that it has been constructed by putting the colours together as the mental construct. The word saṅkhāra means ‘construct.’ So only when you put the proper words – that you get the meaning out of it. And so, once you have constructed – and you are then identifying it, and that identification is really the perception. Well, “I would say this is such and such.” That is the perception.

So, once we have perceived, what we have perceived is simply an object which comes in the form of an image and a name, a name for it – an image and a name for it. Then, once that image has been made and the name, we say, “Viññāṇapaccayā nāmarūpaṁ.” Nāma means ‘the name,’ rūpa means ‘that mental image.’

[New graphic at 17:35 summarized: Links 3-7. 3. Perception as before, 4. Constructed Entity and Identity as before, 5. Experiencing Six Sense fields: visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, tactile, and cognitive/Salāyatana, 6. Cognition: becoming conscious of the environment/Phassa, 7. Feelings, pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral/Vedanā with arrows illustrating relations between links and “PROCESS OF PERCEPTION” chart]

Then we talk about nāmarūpapaccayā saḷāyatanaṁ. Now, saḷāyatanaṁ means ‘we are not only looking with our eyes, we are also hearing with our ears and smelling with our nose.’ We are also tasting with our tongue, and we are also touching with our body. This is why you give something to a small child, that child will want to put it in the mouth and touch in various ways – get all the information. So that is why all those things are put together to form on object. So it is not only the eye that we are using.

When I look at this bottle here, I see it as a bottle. But I know that, if I touch the bottle, this is how I’ll feel it. Even if I have never touched it, I still know. When I touched it, I’ll feel it like this. That is because I’m using my memory. I have touched bottles before. So, you see, because we have used – using all the five senses, we put together all that to form an object. That ‘forming an object’ is what is called ‘phassa,’ saḷāyatanapaccayā phasso.

Phassa means ‘the formation of an object.’ Today, the word phassa is translated as ‘contact.’ Phassa is not ‘contact.’ Phassa is ‘the formation of an object.’ The object is formed by making use of all the five senses, not just one sense. So that complete object is formed, that is phassa. Once the object is formed, we are going to make use of the feeling in the object. You may get a pleasant feeling in the object, or you may get an unpleasant feeling in the object. And the moment you get the feeling, you react to that object –

[New graphic at 21:40 summarized: Links 7-10. 7. Feelings as before, 8. Emotional Reaction to Feelings/Tanhā, 9. Personalization of the Subjective experience/Upādāna, 10. Coming into existence imaginary “self” in an imaginary “world”/Bhava, with new arrows illustrating relations between links and new chart called “SAKKĀYA-DIṬṬHI”]

– with a desire or hatred. You see? It’s an emotional reaction to the object. That emotional reaction the Buddha called ‘taṇhā.’ Taṇhā is not ‘craving.’ Today, Rhys Davids used the word ‘craving,’ but taṇhā is not ‘craving.’ Taṇhā is ‘the emotional reaction.’ A craving is wanting something, but here we’re not only wanting. If we dislike something, we don’t want it. We want to get rid of it. So it – therefore, it is not a craving. It is the emotional reaction. Now, the moment the emotional reaction occurs, another interesting thing happens.

You see, we first formed an object ‘out there.’ When the object is ‘there,’ you begin to react to that object emotionally. Then there are ‘two things,’ the ‘object’ and the ‘reaction.’ Earlier, there was no reaction, but now there is a reaction. The moment the reaction comes up, the object is ‘out there,’ the reaction is ‘inside here.’ And what is ‘inside?’ What do we do to ‘what is inside?’ We say, “This reaction is mine. It’s my reaction.” The moment we say, “This reaction is mine,” that is called ‘personalizing the reaction.’ That is the meaning of the word ‘upādāna.’

Rhys Davids used the word ‘grasping’ or ‘clinging.’ This is not grasping nor clinging. It is calling ‘that’ ‘mine.’ That means ‘personalizing.’ So the moment it is personalized, what happens? How can there be ‘something mine,’ if there is no ‘I?’ The moment you say, “This is mine,” you have created the ‘I.’ ‘I’ comes into being.

That ‘I coming into being’ is called ‘bhava.’ The word bhava means ‘coming into existence,’ the “I have come into existence.” Earlier, there was no ‘I’ here. There was only ‘an object.’ The moment a desire or a hatred came, ‘mine’ came, and with the ‘mine,’ came the ‘I.’ Do you – understood? So the ‘I’ comes into being by personalizing. So the moment the ‘I’ has come into being, another question arises.

What did you call the ‘I?’ Where is the ‘I?’ The ‘I’ is only just a concept, but what are you referring to as ‘I?’ There must be an object to call the ‘I,’ to refer to the ‘I.’ What is the object? The ‘I’ has to exist. How can the ‘I’ exist? What is the meaning of ‘existence?’ ‘Existence’ has to be understood.

‘Existence’ means – now, if you say, “This cup exists,” what does it mean? The cup occupies space. It occupies time. To exist is to occupy space and time. So what is the ‘I’ that is occupying space and time? The only ‘I’ that can be occupying spacing and time is ‘the body,’ so the body comes the ‘I’ – body, the thing that is occupying space and time. When the body begins the occupy space and time, you can say the body is so many inches tall, so many – fat, and all kinds of things you can talk about the body. You see? That is, it’s occupying space. The volume of the body, length, breadth, and height, so –

[New graphic at 29:13 summarized: Links 10-12. 10. Coming into existence imaginary “self” in an imaginary “world” as before, 11. Birth (past of the body)/Jāti. 12. Aging (present) and death (future) of the body/Jarā-Marana, with arrows illustrating relations between links and the “SAKKĀYA-DIṬṬHI” chart, at the top reads “MANIFESTATIONS OF DUKKHA[,] Grief (sōka), Lamentation (paridēva), Pain (dukkha), Depression (domanāsa), Exhaustion (upāyāsa)”]

– but occupying time is ‘it has a past, a present, and a future.’ To occupy time is to have a past, a present, and a future. Now, the ‘I’ is not only just ‘I,’ but the ‘I’ is – has been identified as the body. The body has become the ‘I.’ So the body has become ‘the self.’ The body has become the self. So once the body has become the self, it has a past, present, and future. What is the past of the body? Birth.

Birth is the past of the body. What is the future of the body?

Death. Death is the future of the body. And in-between birth and death is what we call ‘aging.’ So, you see, now, you are not only having a body, you are not only having a self, you are also having birth, old age, and death. With the coming of birth, old age, and death, what happens? Grief, lamentation, pain, sorrow, and despair. By creating a self, you have created suffering.

The whole problem is this ‘getting old’ of the body. Now, the self has become the body. So you have created a self and with that self has come suffering. Do you – understood? That is how – the Buddha says this is how this whole mass of suffering has come into being. “Evametassa kevalassa dukkhakkhandhassa samudayo hoti.”

So the paṭiccasamuppāda is – is an explanation of how suffering comes to an end, how suffering comes into being, but what the Buddha pointed out was, if he can see this properly, we begin to understand this whole thing has been created by this mental process. Not only the self, the world is also created by this mental process. The whole world and the self and the suffering was created by this mental process, and by understanding this fully, by reflecting on this, ultimately, the thought of ‘world’ and the ‘self’ and the ‘I;’ everything disappears when you fully understood this. So becoming aware of that brings about what is called ‘a paradigm shift,’ a paradigm shift, a different way of thinking, and the different way of thinking is to realize that this is all a mental creation, not a fact.

So the existential philosophers thought, “We are existing,” but actually existence is a delusion. That is, when we have understood properly, we awaken from the dream of existence, and that is what is called nirodhasamāpatti.

Using the above exegesis, we can generate the “translation” spoken of above, the promised “secondhand paṭiccasamuppāda exegesis adapted from this YouTube video and repurposed so that explanations from Ven Puññaji replace terms used in conventional modern translations” from before the above transcription exercise.

The Paṭiccasamuppādasutta with terminology from Ven Puññaji:

Avijjāpaccayā, bhikkhave, saṅkhārā;
Insentience[, monks, is a condition for] the mental construction of sensory entities, [mentally?] visualized.
saṅkhārapaccayā viññāṇaṁ;
The mental construction of sensory entities, [mentally?] visualized, [is a condition for] perception.
viññāṇapaccayā nāmarūpaṁ;
Perception [is a condition for] constructed entity and identity.
nāmarūpapaccayā saḷāyatanaṁ;
Constructed entity and identity [is a condition for] experiencing six sense fields.
saḷāyatanapaccayā phasso;
Experiencing six sense fields [is a condition for] cognition.
phassapaccayā vedanā;
Cognition [is a condition for] feelings.
vedanāpaccayā taṇhā;
Feelings [are conditions for] emotional reactions to feelings.
taṇhāpaccayā upādānaṁ;
Emotional reactions to feelings [are conditions for] the personalization of the subjective experience.
upādānapaccayā bhavo;
The personalization of the subjective experience [is a condition for] the coming into existence of an imaginary ‘self’ in an imaginary ‘world.’
bhavapaccayā jāti;
The coming into existence of an imaginary ‘self’ in an imaginary ‘world’ [is a condition for] the past of that imaginary ‘self’/‘world’.
jātipaccayā jarāmaraṇaṁ sokaparidevadukkhadomanassupāyāsā sambhavanti.
The past of that imaginary ‘self’/‘world’ [is a condition for] the present and future of that imaginary ‘self’/‘world.’
Evametassa kevalassa dukkhakkhandhassa samudayo hoti.
That is how this whole mass of suffering has come into being.

This is sidestepping “avidyā as insentience” v.s. “avidyā as ignorance,” a debate likely to pop up anywhere Ven Puññaji is mentioned alongside dependent origination, but also a debate that belongs in the “Legacy of Venerable Dr. Bhante Punnaji” thread.

So we can see that this can work to produce a “translation” of a Buddhist scripture, but it is hardly a “translation” anymore, is it? This is an interpretation. The actual text that is being presented to the reader is buried beneath interpretation. Sure, if it is a good interpretation,

but what they read is only ambiguously the source text, and therein lies the balancing act of translation, and why individual instruction, group lessons, Dharma books, etc., will likely always be a companion to sūtra-study.

Instead of producing a “translation” that is halfway between a translation and a commentary, why not just write a commentary on the source text, clarifying what need be clarified?

Buddhism has never existed as a series of divine words in a vacuum, as Dharma existing solely in a text, like a theory without a practice, like insight without calm, like wisdom without concentration and ethics, but rather has always been taught by living beings, “the saṁgha” (and I am using this term very loosely), in a living manner, in accordance with what they believe to be Buddhavacana. This is in contrast to the Buddhavacana itself, which does not speak in the manner of a living being, cannot clarify itself beyond what it already contains in writing, and does not change over time like peoples and societies do, from culture right down to the language they use to understand the world. A scripture in a vernacular language, given time, becomes a scripture in an esoteric sacred tongue only preserved, only propagated, only read, by specialists. Those specialists (and this is a wide variety of people I am talking about here, not just in the academy but also outside it) then have the task of taking up that propagation and dispensation, should it suit them.

I certainly hope it doesn’t often happen that a junior monk comes to a senior monk with a question, only to be told to simply reread the passage he doesn’t understand, the idea being that the suttāni are all one needs. Sometimes when we read books in a vacuum, whether having been denied guidance or having rejected it, we simply invent our own esoteric autodidact meanings, drifting further into the ocean of our own proliferation.


Don’t say that I’m a fan. I speak for myself not about this or that teacher and i speak about the meaning and the original message, not this or that translation.

I’m not going to be debating anything with anyone as Dhamma is not a thing you can ‘prove’ to anyone or ‘debate’ – one either understands and sees it or not, there is no proving of understanding and seeing.

You have misunderstood my whole point and nothing you are pointing out there even applies to what i have been saying. I’m not asking the translations to be perfect, I’m not expecting English words to perfectly mirror Pali terms or saying ‘suttāni are all one needs’ or anything alike at all. To who are you giving that lecture there? You are at fault of misrepresenting me there.

I’m saying that some words are translated as such that the original message is lost in translation and what comes out when someone reads from such translations is of wholly different meaning than the original.

We can talk about this but only if we start with you first stating to me in detail what you think viññāṇa means right now. You have not said a single word about that in all that and not a single word about ‘Sanna v. Vinnana’ which is the original topic here. I’m not asking for a proof or texts or this or that translation or something like that but a description of the meaning you think viññāṇa holds in your own words regardless of any translation and I might ask you further question to fully see how you have understood it. If you can’t tell me what you think it means and you are not telling me that you dont know what it means i have nothing to talk about with you.

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I guess it’s for other people then. If it please you, reread it, because it’s talking about why your ideas to do with translation are untenable. I think two things may be being conflated as to what job a translator has as opposed to a Dharma teacher.

If you don’t want to decide to step out of this mindset you’ve written to me in, you don’t have to, but if you choose to read it without looking for offense towards yourself within it, you’ll find none there.

No one suggested you were. If you choose to take things personally that aren’t directed at you, no wonder you find insults and misrepresentation where there are none. And I gave my “lecture” to the entire forum, because the entire forum reads all these posts, not just you. Similarly, the “lecture” isn’t about you either, being about translation in general, and, if you watch Ven Puññaji’s videos linked to from here, you will hear someone much more educated and qualified than me speaking about these things directly, which will be directly concerning the OP and which I took quite a bit of time to transcribe for the forum (not just for you) and having heard that, you will likely not need my half-baked explanations and interpretations, and the relevance of that Dharma talk to the OP might become clearer.

IMO, it’s better in a conversation to congenitally suggest a direction for conversation, rather than issuing ultimatums and holding your participation hostage.

When someone recieves such a brusque ultimatum, the tendency is more toward disengagement than engagement. And, yes, in the post above you’ll find a lot to do with the OP.

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If that was not really directed to me then you have not made it clear because the way you have presented it with referencing me and quoting me makes it seem that you are talking about me. If you really were not talking about me then the ‘talk’ you have given is neither beneficial here as there is nobody specific here that would need such talk nor its timely as we are talking about sanna vs vinnana so its not right speech.

You would jump to a conclusion like that but it is not factual, im calm as a sheep Sir. :smile:

Go ahead and give your thoughts on viññāṇa if you want and lets see where it goes and im sure that i personally will be able to focus just on the subject matter. Otherwise as i said if you can’t tell me what you think it means and you are not telling me that you dont know what it means i have nothing to talk about with you.

I’m ready and willing to talk about sanna v. vinnana and the meaning of vinnana and i invite you to do so with me. If you don’t want to talk about it im not forcing you, its an invitation.

Yes, I thought the original wording maybe came off as a bit pointed and perhaps a bit personal upon actually seeing it posted, so I rephrased it.

You’ll just have to trust me that I’m not misrepresenting you or “lecturing” you.


Its all good Sir, lets talk about vinnana if you want.

Thanks for this post @Coemgenu, and the work in outlining the translation differences :slight_smile: It gives a solid, factual basis, to discuss the issue :pray:


This is the hardest one in translating
Sankhara has been translated in so many ways ; volition, fermentations, fabrications, will, karma, choices and finally mental construction

Not to disregard any of the translators, but we have to know that this merely words, you need to see directly, when we practice nirodha samapatti, this sankhara can clearly be seen

If Vedana is easily be seen. But not with sankhara

Vinnana can also be seen when we bring in our concentration, eyes receive any object but only see the colours without knowing the thing we see
Or ears receive any sounds but only hear the sounds without knowing what sound , and so on

An advice to know what is sankhara, try to lock up oneself in a plain white room, no table, no chair, no book, no phone, nothing physical in the room , no philosophy, no gossips, no story , no thinking, no plans, no purposes, no ideas, no jhanas , no samatha, no vipassana, no meditation, no activity, in 24hrs time you’ll clearly seen what is sankhara

May I just say, that reading through the entire discussion, it is quite evident how different Sanna can be generated from the same Vinnana process of cognizing black and white pixels on a screen!

Words are just place holders - but the same place holder can generate different images, based on our individual conditioning. Which place holder to use? That too, surely is a conditioned view.

Perhaps it might be best to just compose a range of appropriate English words and phrases designed to evoke similar Sanna, and leave the original Pali word untranslated?


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The problem really is very simple. When someone reads the translated suttas and there is a word like eye its clearly understood as eye as everyone knows what a eye is, then there is a word like ‘consciousness’ next to it and people would believe that its the kind of ‘consciousness’ common people think about and get the wrong idea, the real meaning does not come across as its nowhere evident that unlike for ‘eye’ this ‘consciousness’ should be treated any differently. Do you see what im saying?

One thing to treat that is trying to find the best possible word. ‘Consciousness’ for vinnana really gives all the wrong ideas and its nowhere said what sort of ‘consciousness’ is really intended. If you would ask people what they think ‘consciousness’ mean you would get all sorts of answers.

I will try to make a thread and ask people what they think ‘consciousness’ mean in the context of suttas but i expect that pretty much nobody will be brave enough to define and describe what kind of ‘consciousness’ they are thinking about for these very reasons.

Why don’t you just make a suggestion here and now, as it seems you have been thinking about this and have an issue with all the options currently on offer… :slight_smile:

I have made a separate thread about this in effort to see what kind of options really are on offer as i find it hard to find anyone explicitly state what they are thinking about. I would love to see everyone interested to have a say in there.

This has been discussed a lot …

Have a look through some of these previous topics

And this is a more expanded list of relevant topics

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It does not matter what people define as consciousness.

In reading and studying the suttas, my own definitions have changed. I read the EBTs to change my beliefs. It does not matter what we start out with. As practice informs our consciousness, that very consciousness adapts and changes. Right View emerges. It is not sudden. It is not fast. It is conditioned. My beliefs are still changing. And I am still reading the suttas.

MN43:4.3: “It’s called consciousness because it cognizes.

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Sadhu! Words are just words.

That being said, if people believe certain words are actively misleading, not simply used with specialized (Buddhist) meanings, then they have a right to voice that. The trickiness, as always, is in finding the balance.