Bare with me. Im trying to find this mahayana concept on rebirth in the suttas. I cant understand it from a general view.
Bare with me. Im in a mix. I practice at a mahayana temple as its the only one closest to me. But all my studies and practice are directly from the suttas. Im trying to find a similar definition to mind stream in the suttas.
What I understand it in basic terms is our actions are kept in our memory. If the action is strong enough the results will stick in the subconcious. Say one who has PTSD his actions at war are kept in his mind. He experiences the results of his karma. It doesnt go away.
When we are reborn, since we dont disapear in the suttas does it explain the nature of ones harsh actions in relation to the next rebirth?
I did it like 1. Conciousness (awareness of stimuli) —> 2. Sub conscous (automatic behaviors, thoughts, and feelings are located), --> 3. Unconcious where the results of the actions carry on to one birth to the next.
Is there a similar correlation in the suttas where I can read it? Ive looked it up in In The Buddha’s Words but the terminology is throwing me off.
Hi unveiledartist. I’m trying to grok your question here, so let’s work it out.
Rather than saying “kept”, I would phrase it rather as “actions have an ongoing influence on consciousness”. It’s true, some Buddhist traditions used the concept of a “storehouse” to explain this, but I don’t feel that’s the most useful metaphor. Better think of it like a stream: you dump pollution in a stream, it will make its toxic effects known downstream (i.e. later in this life or in future lives) until it’s either diluted or cleaned up.
That’s right. But it’s complicated; we do many actions of many different sorts, so rebirth may be conditioned by all sorts of things.
I don’t think there’s anything exactly like that in the suttas. They don’t really have a term of “subconscious” or “unconscious”. Rather, they speak of the “stream of consciousness”. But of course, due to ignorance we are often unaware or deluded about what is going on in consciousness. This is not really all that different to the western idea of subconsciousness, but it’s just a different way of talking about it.
Thank you. I came accross this question after listening to dharma talks and meditation. I practiced a long while and using so far In The Buddha’s Words as points of reference. Im just about finish the book but had to go over it again and again given the context. I usually bounce what I read on the accesstoinsight before I came here. I do mostly insight meditation now so Im more on a question and discussion mode more so than geting the right answer.
Ill look at the links. Do you know off hand if they have direct reference to the suttas?
yes I like that too.
But my preferred simile is the fire simile.
Camp fire become a grass fire, grass fire becomes bush fire, bush fire becomes house fire.
Fire sustained and take the form of its input.
Yes, that’s pretty much a direct quote from the Pali suttas. The passage is in DN 28:
Purisassa ca viññāṇasotaṃ pajānāti, ubhayato abbocchinnaṃ idha loke patiṭṭhitañca paraloke patiṭṭhitañca
They understand a person’s stream of consciousness, unbroken on both sides, established in both this world and the next.
“Mindstream” would be a pretty good rendering, though!
Is viññāṇasota here “stream of consciousness”? I know that cittasantāna/cittasaṃtati (心相續, literally “mind-character-continuity” or “mind-dhātu-continuum”) is used in many Mahāyāna explanations of “mindstream/stream of mind”. Is this an Abhidharma term or is this a Yogācāra innovation? Or is this term also found in the EBTs?
Not exactly, but there are similar terms, eg saṁvattanika viññāṇa.
Literally yes, although it’s not really the same as the 20th century literary idea of “stream of consciousness”, which would perhaps be anantapapañca.
Yes, this is commonly found in the (late) Theravada Abhidhamma too. It’s a similar idea, although the conceptual context (at least in Theravada) has more to do with the stream of “thought-moments”, an idea not found in the suttas.
It’s not found exactly in the suttas.
If you look at Vasubandhu, in the “Thirty Verses” IIRC, he cites a number of the doctrines of the schools, including the Theravada bhavaṅgacitta or bhavaṅgasota, and the Mahasaṅghika mūlaviññāṇa, and says they are all the same as the Yogacara idea of the ālayaviññāṇa.
In essence, all of these concepts, starting with the suttas, are a way of expressing the continuity of a flow of consciousness from one life to the next. This has to be expressed in a way that doesn’t contradict impermanence and not-self, of course. So each of the schools teased out a way of framing this problem, drawing on the ideas in the EBTs, and expressing them in more tightly defined ways in the Abhidhamma systems. So I would say that in a general sense, yes, they are all the same, or at least similar. However the specific details make sense within the context, and the contexts differ to some extent.
I hope this is not too off-topic, but he also cites a very unconvincing argument at the beginning of those verses (or perhaps it was the 20 verses) for the fact that “all is consciousness only”. He says that dreams are identical to waking consciousness.
This doesn’t really work if your dreams are nothing like waking conscious reality, especially if you regularly have lucid dreams and can immediately tell you are dreaming and effect the reality of your dreams in ways that waking reality cannot be effected.
If I may digress for a moment (but longer than a thought-moment!), I had a nightmare a few nights ago, and it was immediately obvious that it was a nightmare, because everything was trying to scare me in very obvious ways.
So I just literally flew away to somewheres else, in my dream of course. I’d like to do that for waking reality whenever I am scared too, but I don’t think it will work.
Have you guys heard of the phrase “stream of being”?
I like this definition.
“What is non-self, Anatta? It means impermanence. If things are impermanent, they don’t remain the same things forever. We should learn how to look at life as streams of being, and not as separate entities.You of this moment are no longer you of a minute ago. There is no permanent entity within us, there is only a stream of being.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
Actually, if this is mindstream, this would be the best example for me to understand it. Im wondering if thats also stream of consciousness. Since being would be our mind that continues, changes, with no beginning nor end??
This is kind of off since Im not familar with commentaries. I had a dream a week ago that I actually died. While it was a dream, the experience before actual death was total peace. Im guessing roughly that the karmic imprints on our stream can be seen better in our dreams where as we are awake, we are distracted so we dont see thus dont address what influenced our conscious resulting in the dream. Breathing and insight meditation helps. Of course other practices as well.
Where my theory runs short is when some people dream of zombies and flying, unless its a real distortion of our waking actions, it would be unlikely anything we did awake would result those things none existent in the waking world.
The idea of water is so flexible. Water drops, in rain, into soil, locked into carrot, then into rabbit caught by hawk up into the sky pissed in the air into clouds falling into ocean… Until liberation, we are like water everywhere. After liberation, we are flame eventually free from a wick.
Recently I heard Neil deGrasse Tyson speak about “dark matter” which is really dark/unidentified gravity sources, and dark energy, which is accelerating expansion of the universe, and which eventually will result in no galaxy visible to human eyes except this Milky Way. He wonder on The Tonight Show to Stephen Colbert what might already be unseen, due to universe expansuon.