With the cessation of viññāṇa [divided-knowing] all this is brought to an end

I was reading the translation of DN 11 attributed to T.W. Rhys Davids and Leigh Brasington when I came across the above. viññāṇa* as divided-knowing caught my eye. Is divided knowing the literal translation of viññāṇa? If so, the cessation of viññāṇa takes on an interesting new twist.

I am especially interested in hearing about whether there is support for this in Pali, Sanskrit, and Chinese.

Thoughts?

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In Theravada duality is present in all stages, even for the arahant there remains conventional and ultimate reality:

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/bps-essay_27.html

I guess you could call it a ‘literal’ translation since ‘vi-’ can have the sense of ‘apart’, ‘separate’ or ‘different’, or ‘opposed to’, but it can also have the sense of ‘not’, ‘free from’, ‘special’, ‘around’, ‘clear’ (Ven. Narada Thera, An Elementary Pali Course, 123–4). But really, I don’t think that you can translate a word based just on inference from the ‘meaning’ of its constituents in some Pali dictionary, since the meaning of words is not entirely a function of the meaning of the constituents. It couldn’t be, since the constituents themselves have an ambiguous meaning.

In any case, it seems like ‘divided-knowing’ seems like a pretty poor translation. For instance, the second jhāna upwards is said to have ekaggatā, which is variously translated as ‘one-pointedness’ or ‘unification’, etc. But these states are also forms of viññāṇa. It would seems strained to say that they have both ekaggatā and are forms of ‘divided-knowing’.

Calling it ‘divided-knowing’ seems like it’s trying to establish that there is some form of consciousness other than viññāṇa, ‘outside’ of the five aggregates.

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I believe it is a reference to subject-object dualism. Other schools of Buddhism appear to be more interested in it. Perhaps, this is where their interest comes from.

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From Ven. Sujato in a prior post: " While there have been many attempts to show that these are either the same or different, in my view that is missing the point somewhat. The terms are, generally speaking, synonyms, and their usage overlaps to some degree, but they tend to be used in different contexts:

  1. Viṇṇāṇa is part of the khandhas and āyatanas, and hence pertains to the first noble truth: it is suffering.
  2. Mano is typically used in an active sense of will or volition, closely related to kamma, and hence pertains to the second noble truth, the cause of suffering.
  3. Citta is to be developed and thus pertains to the fourth noble truth.
  4. The cessation of all these is, of course, the third noble truth.

Each of these terms point to, and imply, particular aspects of mind in certain contexts, such as manos in Dhp1, as well as more generally pointing to “mind” in other contexts. Restricting viññāna to the particular meaning quoted in the OP does not align with how it is used in many of the suttas.

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That’s based on breaking the word down, but not all prefixes mean something in Pali. As already mentioned you also can’t derive a words meaning from its etymology. Rather it’s how it’s used. So, the context matters.

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It is because of context that I say it.

There are two places of interest where this language of finding no footing comes up. DN 11 and Ud 1.10

and

These appear to be describing the same state. What is interesting is that another description of this state is given in Ud 1.10

This state hardly sounds like the cessation of consciousness as it is usually thought of. However, if the cessation of consciousness is the cessation of “divided/differentiated knowing” it makes perfect sense. The division between things that are self and things that are not self is gone. This is the cessation of divided knowing.

Are there places in the canon where viññāṇa means something else? Yes. And I suspect they are from a later time. I don’t take for granted that the canon is monolithic. I don’t think the evidence supports that it is .

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I think the first two passages are talking about liberation via infinite space.

If that is true than the end of suffering is achieved by the attainment of infinite space and not the cessation of consciousness unless they are one and the same.

The attainment of the end of suffering is born of understanding its causes and uprooting them I.e. delusion (ignorance), attachment (unhelpful clinging) and aversion (avoidance).

The jhanas are just different discoveries the mind encounters.

Magga-vibhanga sutta:

I have heard that at one time the Blessed One was staying in Savatthi at Jeta’s Grove, Anathapindika’s monastery.

There he addressed the monks, saying, “Monks.”

“Yes, lord,” the monks responded to him.

The Blessed One said, “I will teach & analyze for you the Noble Eightfold Path. Listen & pay close attention. I will speak.”

“As you say, lord,” the monks responded to him.

The Blessed One said, "Now what, monks, is the Noble Eightfold Path? Right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.

"And what, monks, is right view? Knowledge with regard to stress, knowledge with regard to the origination of stress, knowledge with regard to the stopping of stress, knowledge with regard to the way of practice leading to the stopping of stress: This, monks, is called right view.

"And what is right resolve? Being resolved on renunciation, on freedom from ill will, on harmlessness: This is called right resolve.

"And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, abstaining from divisive speech, abstaining from abusive speech, abstaining from idle chatter: This, monks, is called right speech.

"And what, monks, is right action? Abstaining from taking life, abstaining from stealing, abstaining from unchastity: This, monks, is called right action.

"And what, monks, is right livelihood? There is the case where a disciple of the noble ones, having abandoned dishonest livelihood, keeps his life going with right livelihood: This, monks, is called right livelihood.

"And what, monks, is right effort? (i) There is the case where a monk generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the non-arising of evil, unskillful qualities that have not yet arisen. (ii) He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the abandonment of evil, unskillful qualities that have arisen. (iii) He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the arising of skillful qualities that have not yet arisen. (iv) He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the maintenance, non-confusion, increase, plenitude, development, & culmination of skillful qualities that have arisen: This, monks, is called right effort.

"And what, monks, is right mindfulness? (i) There is the case where a monk remains focused on the body in & of itself — ardent, aware, & mindful — putting away greed & distress with reference to the world. (ii) He remains focused on feelings in & of themselves — ardent, aware, & mindful — putting away greed & distress with reference to the world. (iii) He remains focused on the mind in & of itself — ardent, aware, & mindful — putting away greed & distress with reference to the world. (iv) He remains focused on mental qualities in & of themselves — ardent, aware, & mindful — putting away greed & distress with reference to the world. This, monks, is called right mindfulness.

“And what, monks, is right concentration? (i) There is the case where a monk — quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful (mental) qualities — enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. (ii) With the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, he enters & remains in the second jhana: rapture & pleasure born of concentration, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation — internal assurance. (iii) With the fading of rapture, he remains equanimous, mindful, & alert, and senses pleasure with the body. He enters & remains in the third jhana, of which the Noble Ones declare, ‘Equanimous & mindful, he has a pleasant abiding.’ (iv) With the abandoning of pleasure & pain — as with the earlier disappearance of elation & distress — he enters & remains in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither pleasure nor pain. This, monks, is called right concentration.”

That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, the monks delighted at his words.


The four arupa jhanas are just different modalities of our direct experience.

As I have said before, I do not think that the evidence points to a monolithic canon. You are proof texting across strata. To mount an effect argument here you have to reason using DN 11 and Ud 1.10. These two suttas taken together make the implication. Proof texting that other parts of the canon contradict it just proves the canon is not monolithic.

IMO,

Vinnana = knowing that I knew… viz a … double knowing.

This is, IMO the cause of Sentience.

Based on Ignorance, there occurs in a sufficiently complex system a Thought… “I am!”, closely followed by the knowing that “I” knew the thought that “I am!”… Vinnana. Craving and Clinging to the experience of the sense bases, one sets off the chain of dominoes that culminates in Rebirth, Sickness, Old Age and Death … viz Suffering.

When one has seen through the illusion of “I am!” by examining all possibilities for “I am ‘X’” and rejecting them, one is left with the alternative hypothesis that “I am not”. However, when “I am not” is closely examined it is found to be the mirror image of “I am”. Hence, rejecting both the “I am” and the “I am not”, one can arrive at the realization that “with this as condition, that comes to be, with the ceasing of this, that ceases.”

Knowing this, and following the chain of dominoes backward one arrives at the knowledge that once there is no more craving and clinging in the system, as and when the components of the system breakup (consequent to Anicca), Vinnana will cease… and everything will be brought to an end.

However, if any trace of clinging or craving remains then the current stream of Vinnana will simply restart in the next linked complex system that can host it, at whichever plane of existence. Such rebirth, even if it is in a Heavenly plane is simply more Suffering.

When one has had such a realization, what is the point of clinging to anything at all in this world or the next? It should be easy to give it all up. :smiley: :pray:

Not so fast… that clinging and craving is rooted so deep that one can end up clinging to the idea of such a realization !! :joy: :rofl:

I don’t long for death;
I don’t long for life;
like a worker waiting for their wages,
I await my time.

-----Ven Sariputta

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I’m not sure of the relevance of what you’re suggesting but I’ve discerned the factors that give rise to suffering. It is understanding those factors in relationship to our own life whilst working to release stress which results in cessation.

The varying jhanas are just different aspects of experience.

One of the sole roots of suffering is the clinging aspect.

You can also attain liberation via one of the Jhanas, or the other formless attainments.

I’m not at all confident about this, but it seems like the Pali might be ambiguous as to whether the first stanza and the second stanza are actually referring to the same thing (because it might be ambiguous what “ettha” refers to/means. It would certainly make more sense—form doesn’t find footing in the formless attainments, but it doesn’t cease, since it returns when a person comes out of the attainment. Whereas it does cease with the cessation of consciousness. It would also seem to make more sense, since it wouldn’t require saying that nāmarūpa ceases in the formless attainments, which, AFAIK, isn’t the case (though there seems to be a question of how the scheme of the five khandas and nāmarūpa apply to beings in the formless realms).

Leigh Brasington’s website and detailed autobiography doesn’t mention any Pali studies. As suggested by others, coming to doctrinal conclusions simply by dictionary definitions can easily lead one down a path of confusion and wrong view.

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Your making the ad hominem fallacy. The issue remains that Ud 1.10 describes a state as “just this is the end of suffering” and does not sound at all like the cessation of vinnana/consciousness as we usually think of it. The issue remains no matter who does the translation. If anything Brasington’s translation resolves the issue. If you want to say Ud 1.10 should not be in the canon, that is one way out, but if you think it belongs in it, you have to explain how it is consistent with cessation of consciousness as it is usually understood.

A person can lose consciousness and regain it. I’ve been under a general anesthetic and can vouch for that. Cessation can be temporary, a pause.

The main point is that you have to confront the issue that Ud 1.10 describes a state where “just this is the end of suffering” and it is nothing like the cessation of consciousness as we normally think of it. The notion of what liberation is changed over time. If in the seen there is merely the seen, etc… the five aggregates have not ceased entirely. Something has got to give. If Brasington is right, it is that we misunderstand what is meant by consciousness.

According to my understanding,

Sense-Specific Consciousness (SSC) arises dependently on the internal & external senses.

  • SSC refers to eye consciousness, ear consciousness. nose consciousness, tongue consciousness, body, consciousness, mind consciousness.
  • Internal sense refers to eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind
  • External sense refers to forms, sounds, smells, tastes, touches, & thoughs

The one, who knows internal & external senses are untenable, non-self, and lead to suffering, has thorough-knowing (paññā)

The one, who still unable attain Nibbāna, has ignorance (avijjā). ignorance is a condition for choices (saṅkhārā). Choices are a condition for consciousness (viññāṇa). Consciousness is a condition for name and form (nāmarūpa) – internal or external sense…

The one, who has thorough-knowing accompanied by the other seven of noble of eightfold Path, will realizes fully the path righteousness (magga) and reaches the fruition of the path righteousness (phala), Nibbāna. When the one reaches Nibbāna, ignorance fades away and ceases with nothing left over, choices cease. When choices cease, consciousness ceases. When consciousness ceases, name and form ceases…

I will like to highlight that:
The one, who reaches Nibbāna, has thorough-knowing (paññā)
When ignorance ceases, choices ceases;
When choices cease, consciousness ceases…

Thus, consciousness can be said as Thorough-Unknowing or Divided-Knowing (viññāṇa) because the one still don’t have thorough-knowing, especially thorough-knowing by direct experience by realize fully the path righteousness (magga) and reaches the fruition of the path righteousness (phala), Nibbāna.

  • The consciousness was divided into: eye consciousness, ear consciousness. nose consciousness, tongue consciousness, body, consciousness, mind consciousness.
  • Each SCC arises certain perception–Divided-knowing, and feeling as a result of contact.

I recommend to read these Suttas:

Hi,

Just saying…The “end of dukkha” in UD1.10 refers to nibbāna with residue, as in Iti44. Clearly, in Ud1.10 Bāhiya was still alive and the khandhas were still present and active, including the consciousness aggregate. So there’s agreement that there was not (yet) cessation of consciousness at that point – or for any arahant who is still alive, (except for periods of saññavedayitanirodha, as in MN43 and AN9.34). Of course, there’s no identification with the khandhas, no craving, no greed, anger, or ignorance.
But the khandhas, including consciousness, remain. Otherwise, how else could the Buddha and arahants have perceived and known where they were walking, so to speak?

The full and final cessation of consciousness refers to nibbāna without residue, Iti44, with the death of an arahant and the final dissolution and cessation of all the khandhas.

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