As we know from dependent arising mutual dependence of consciousness and name-&-matter is what constitute samsaric bondage, and so is determined by ignorance [I take conceit “I am” as core of ignorance: “as long as there is the attitude ‘I am’ there is organization of the five faculties of eye, ear, nose, tongue, and body.” SN 22:47]; of course conceit “I am” itself is dependently arisen: 'I am’ is derivative, not underivative. Derivative upon what? Derivative upon matter, feeling, perception, determinations, and consciousness.” SN. 22:83
Thus far, Ananda, may one be born or age or die or fall or arise, thus far is there a way of designation, thus far is there a way of language, thus far is there a way of description, thus far is there a sphere of understanding, thus far the round proceeds as manifestation in a situation,—so far, that is to say, as there is name-&-matter together with consciousness.
Just as two sheaves of reeds might stand leaning against each other, so too, with name-and-matter as condition, consciousness [comes to be]; with consciousness as condition, name-and-matter [comes to be]. With name-and-matter as condition, the six sense bases [come to be]; with the six sense bases as condition, contact…. Such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering.
“If, friend, one were to remove one of those sheaves of reeds, the other would fall, and if one were to remove the other sheaf, the first would fall. So too, with the cessation of name-and-matter comes cessation of consciousness; with the cessation of consciousness comes cessation of name-and-matter. With the cessation of name-and-matter comes cessation of the six sense bases; with the cessation of the six sense bases, cessation of contact…. Such is the cessation of this whole mass of suffering.” SN 12: 67
So it is obvious that viññana anidasana is synonymous with the cessation of consciousness and so with nibbana, and as a matter of fact apart from verbal similarity -the same term “viññana” is used when consciousness is analyzed as one of aggregates - there is no any contradiction with another Suttas, since by the very definition viññana anidasana does not arise in dependence on sensory organs. Moreover, liberation from name-and-matter implicates cessation of language, with the fundamental dialectic keeping us in bondage, namely: being/ not-being
“On what basis, Samiddhi, do intentions and thoughts arise in a person?”
“On the basis of name-and-form, Bhante.” AN IX: 14
“Bhikkhus, there are these two views: the view of being and the view of non-being. Any recluses or brahmins who rely on the view of being, adopt the view of being, accept the view of being, are opposed to the view of non-being. Any recluses or brahmins who rely on the view of non-being, adopt the view of non-being, accept the view of non-being, are opposed to the view of being.
“Any recluses or brahmins who do not understand as they actually are the origin, the disappearance, the gratification, the danger, and the escape in the case of these two views are affected by lust, affected by hate, affected by delusion, affected by craving, affected by clinging, without vision, given to favouring and opposing, and they delight in and enjoy proliferation. They are not freed from birth, ageing, and death; from sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair; they are not freed from suffering, I say. MN 11
And viññana anidasana, associated with cessation of being, is precisely the escape from these two kind of views.
“ ‘I have seen fear in every mode of being
Including being seeking for non-being;
There is no mode of being I affirm,
No relish whatsoever whereto I cling.’
Although Mara was rather sceptical about liberating nature of viññāna anidasana, namely that it doesn’t provide the access to what is not co-essential with the earthness of earth … not co-essential with the allness of all, that such claims of Lord Buddha are vain and empty, and was able to influenced Brahma, nevertheless, Lord Buddha after reciting the stanza above and performing certain act of supernormal power, was able to make a positive impression on Brahmā and the Assembly and all its members.
Now, not having supernormal powers, nor wisdom of Lord Buddha I can only point out, that while the term itself -viññāna anidasana- appears explicitly only in the two Suttas, it is present in many more places in the Pali Canon implicitly, for example when the cessation of name-and-matter is mentioned, or consciousnesses which is unestablished on name-and-matter or on aggregates.
“It was not apart from the Blessed One!
It was not apart from your Teaching!
By having understood your Dhamma
They cut through the bondage of existence.
“Where name-and-form ceases,
Stops without remainder:
By understanding that Dhamma here
They cut through the bondage of being.
[The Blessed One:]
“Deep is the speech you utter,
Hard to understand, very hard to grasp.(…)
SN I 176
The same situation described in dependent arising as dependence of consciousness on name-&-matter, is alternatively described in terms of aggregates. And when consciousness is unestablished on any kind of experience, it is liberated:
“The matter element, householder, is the home of consciousness; one whose consciousness is shackled by lust for the matter element is called one who roams about in a home.The feeling element is the home of consciousness … The perception element is the home of consciousness … The determinations element is the home of consciousness; one whose consciousness is shackled by lust for the determinations element is called one who roams about in a home. It is in such a way that one roams about in a home.
SN 22: 3
At Sāvatthī. “Bhikkhus, one who is engaged is unliberated; one who is disengaged is liberated. 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 determinations; based upon determinatios, established upon determinations, with a sprinkling of delight, it might come to growth, increase, and expansion.“Bhikkhus, though someone might say: ‘Apart from form, apart from feeling, apart from perception, apart from determinations, I will make known the coming and going of consciousness, its passing away and rebirth, its
growth, increase, and expansion’—that is impossible.
“Bhikkhus, if a bhikkhu has abandoned lust for the form element, with the abandoning of lust the basis is cut off: there is no support for the establishing of consciousness. If he has abandoned lust for the feeling element … for the perception element … for the determinations element … for the consciousness element, with the abandoning of lust the basis is cut off: there is no support for the establishing of consciousness.
“When that consciousness is unestablished, not coming to growth, nongenerative, it is liberated. By being liberated, it is steady; by being steady, it is content; by being content, he is not agitated.
Being unagitated, he realises extinction. He understands: ‘Destroyed is birth, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more for this state of being.’” SN 22: 53
“Do you see, bhikkhus, that cloud of smoke, that swirl of darkness, moving to the east, then to the west, to the north, to the south, upwards, downwards, and to the intermediate quarters?”“Yes, venerable sir.”“That, bhikkhus, is Māra the Evil One searching for the consciousness of the clansman Godhika, wondering: ‘Where now has the consciousness of the clansman Godhika been established?’ However, bhikkhus, with consciousness unestablished, the clansman Godhika has attained final Nibbāna.”
SN 4: 23
“Bhikkhus, when the gods with Indra, with Brahmā and with Pajāpati seek a bhikkhu who is thus liberated in mind, they do not find [anything of which they could say]: ‘The consciousness of one thus gone is supported by this.’ Why is that? One thus gone, I say, is untraceable here and now.
Not to mention descent into the void as described in Suttas, which is precisely description of the same situation as liberation of consciousness from name-and- matter, just different vocabulary is used.
There is mistaken idea, that while experience of arahat is really difficult to understand, in the case of puthujjana, we encounter less problems, (perhaps on the grand that we don’t know much about arahat, but as a puthujjanas, we supposed to know something about our experience). But if we take care to look at the problem from the perspective of the Four Noble Truths, where the first two truths describe puthujjana existential situation, and following truths escape from it, we must come to conclusion, that who understands experience of puthujjana, inevitably must be able to understand arahat. Four Noble Truths are one structure, and one who understands one of the truths understands all of them.
Similarly we can say that one who doesn’t understand the nature of viññiana anidasana is in error because he really doesn’t understand the consciousness of puthujjana. And even as a one of aggregates of experience, where undoubtedly it has to be described as impermanent, since any experience whatsoever is temporal (arising, disappearing and change are evident), consciousness is definitely the most important and the most mysterious part of experience, so in fact practice of the Dhamma can be stated as: consciousness is to be fully understood.”
"The difference, friend, between understanding and consciousness, these states that are conjoined, not disjoined, is this: understanding is to be developed, consciousness is to be fully understood.”
And the most fundamental thing about consciousness which has to be understood, is its negativity, other aggregates of experience are positive in itself, we can observe certain feeling as such, its arising, persistence, and disappearing. So we can say that there is consciousness of feeling. But since consciousness is negative: it arises only as a consciousness of something, by itself it is empty of any positive quality, so there is no such thing as consciousness of consciousness, all we can get reflecting on experience is consciousness of consciousness of something. Like in immediate visual experience (apart of looking at the mirror) eye isn’t seen, in any immediate experience whatsoever, all what we know, we know as objects in the field of consciousness, in immediate experience consciousness is not known, only reflecting on experience we discover that there is such thing as consciousness.
The beauty of the Dhamma is that it describes the things as they are, so most of descriptions can be verified on reflexive level by anyone - I mean anyone who is wise (see AN VIII : 30)- for example Master Eckhart made a similar observations about the nature of consciousness. Small digression, certain Indian philosopher, well known in Europe, shocked modern Western philosophers, by insisting that Master Eckhart was the greatest Western philosopher. Of course there are many different schools, and for example Heidegger recognised importance of Master Eckhart. (In the following quote “soul” stands for consciousness):
Through this presented image, the soul approaches creatures - an image being something that the soul makes of (external) objects with her own powers. Whether it is a stone, a horse, a man, or anything else that she wants to know, she gets out the image of it that she has already taken in, and is thus enabled to unite herself with it.
But for a man to receive an image in this way, it must of necessity enter from without through the senses. In consequence, there is nothing so unknown to the soul as herself. Accordingly, one master says that the soul can neither create nor obtain an image of herself.
Therefore she has no way of knowing herself, for images all enter through the senses, and hence she can have no image of herself. And so she knows all other things, but not herself. Of nothing does she know so little as of herself, for want of mediation. Sermons
And the negativity of consciousness is precisely the reason that in order to demonstrate its impermanence, one have to demonstrate impermanence of the sensory organs upon which it arises, or impermanence of its object.
So again about negativity of consciousness (Nanamoli Thera):
.> … one always finds that one has not been talking about mind (either mano or viññāṇa) but only about nāma-rūpa.
The committee called Buddhaghosa Thera made a parallel most grave and fundamental error in their Visuddhimagga’s 14th Chapter when they set out to describe the viññāṇakkhandha second, next to the rūpakkhandha, and before vedanā, saññā and saṅkhārā (that is why the description of the last two is so thin there, because it is these two, not viññāṇa that has been described second under viññāṇa and so there is nothing intelligible left to say about them beyond mere repetition). This is quite contrary to the Suttas, which never change the order for the vital reason that it is only after you have exhausted everything positive by the first four that viññāṇa remains (MN 140) and that is indescribable except on the basis of that due to which it arises (MN 38), or on the basis of nāma-rūpa (MN 109) which it is—not (in the mode of not-being-what-it-is-and-being-what-it-is-not), and unlike the other four, it is the only infiniteness among them (ānañca—see the four āruppas) and so, phenomenologically it is the pure negative (“purer” than the first negation, ākāsa the four ārupas are Absolute Negation). Thinker’s Notebook
Phrase “of not-being-what-it-is-and-being-what-it-is-not” is borrowed from the existential philosophy, and while it sounds awkwardly, it precisely describes what we know about consciousness: it is not name-&-matter (objects is the field of consciousness) and is what name-&-matter is not.
Again, understanding of dependently arisen nature of consciousness should help to clarify misconceptions about dependent arising: with determinations as consciousness … what does it mean? The answer is in the Suttas, as long as we don’t alternate definition of terms provided by the Suttas.
There are two elements, determined and un-determined. MN115, so dependent arising and cessation of perception and feeling are strictly connected since cessation of sankharas which are obviously on dukkha side, gives knowledge about undetermined element free from dukkha:
And I have also said: ‘Whatever is felt is included in suffering.’ That has been stated by me with reference to the impermanence of determinations. That has been stated by me with reference to determinations being subject to destruction … to determinations being subject to vanishing … to determinations being subject to fading away … to determinations being subject to cessation … to determinations being subject to change.
“Then, bhikkhu, I have also taught the successive cessation of determinations. For one who has attained the first jhāna, (…) For one who has attained the cessation of perception and feeling, perception and feeling have ceased. For a bhikkhu whose taints are destroyed, lust has ceased, hatred has ceased, delusion has ceased.
SN 36: 11
It is hard for such a generation to see this truth, that is to say, specific conditionality, dependent arising. And it is hard to see this truth, that is to say, stilling of all determinations, relinquishing of the essentials of existence, exhaustion of craving, fading of lust, cessation, Nibbana.
Now it should be easy to understand why although literally all things in space and time are sankharas -including the space and time - in the context with dependent arising ( for example in MN 9), kāyasankhāra, vacìsankhāra, cittasankhāra are mentioned as examples of sankharas.
Of course this somehow forcible removal of things upon which consciousness can establish itself in experience is not the only way of liberating consciousness from the name-and-matter, but who cannot attain the cessation of perception and feeling, at least can contemplate its nature in order to increase one’s own understending of Dhamma.
Since consciousness of puthujjana is always associated with the attitude “I am” which itself is derived from self-identification with this or that aspect of experience, and the most subtle object of upadana is the forth immaterial state*, the absence of any determinations must lead to the cessation of ignorance. So regarding the attainment of the cessation of perception and feeling emphasis should be put rather on absence of any objects of upadana and so the impossibility of puthujjana to survive such attainment as the puthujjana.
*> “But, venerable sir, when that bhikkhu clings, what does he cling to?”
“To the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception, Ānanda.”
“When that bhikkhu clings, venerable sir, it seems he clings to the best [object of] clinging.”
“When that bhikkhu clings, Ānanda, he clings to the best [object of] clinging; for this is the best [object of] clinging, namely, the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception.
“Here, Ānanda, a bhikkhu is practising thus: ‘It might not be, and it might not be mine; it will not be, and it will not be mine. What exists, what has come to be, that I am abandoning.’ Thus he obtains equanimity. He does not delight in that equanimity, welcome it, or remain holding to it. Since he does not do so, his consciousness does not become dependent on it and does not cling to it. A bhikkhu without clinging, Ānanda, attains Nibbāna.” MN 106
Summarise: viññana anidasana is the consciousness of arahat, a bhikkhu without upadana.