Understanding viññāṇa

Can viññāṇa be understood as ‘consciousness tainted by the deluded notion of an individual self’ ?

In MN 9, the view ‘I am’ is described as a taint that gives rise to ignorance and then saṅkhāra and viññāṇa. So, cognizing any object that falls within the range of nāmarūpa with a sense of possessiveness or ownership indicates that the delusion of personal selfhood is present. Once desire and craving for all conditioned phenomena is eradicated, then the thorny view of a personal self is pulled out and viññāṇa is brought to an end.

This process of uprooting notions of an individual self aligns rather well with the Upanishadic doctrine of ‘neti-neti’. But identification of oneself with Brahman or any other idea of a ‘Cosmic Self’ indicates a desire to somehow seek the continuation of existence in some form, rather than seek an escape from it. Moreover, creative powers are assigned to Brahman and then things become confused, given the dire state of the world…

So, is viññāṇa ‘self-awareness’ or ‘self-consciousness’, and it arises because one is ignorant and attached to some object ?

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Yes, that is how I understand it.
That is why it is called (maybe Abhidhamma) as Patisandi Vinnana.

This question and answer refers to the doctrine of dependent-arising (paticca-samuppada). Where rebirth-consciousness (pati-sandhi-vinnana) does not arise there is no establishment of an individual (mind-and-body, namarupa) in a realm of existence, nor the consequent appearance of old age and death and the other sufferings inherent in life>

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The key point, then, is to remove the view that self-consciousness is a result of the brain’s activity and it will come to an end with death. If the taint of a personal self is present, then consciousness can arise again:

And also for ‘middling and refined’ properties, referring to form-becoming and formless-becoming. It’s not ‘my consciousness’ that is reborn, as explained in MN 38. But, the delusion of self-consciousness does not cease totally with death either. The whole of the Teaching and the Path can be reduced to a single objective: total eradication of personal vanity and conceit…

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I would probably broaden this out to eradicating ignorance: permanence, satisfactoriness and Self. They are interconnected.

With metta

Yes. bhavanirodho, kammanirodho etc. Essentially, the cessation of all that can arise. :slight_smile:

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