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JoshuaJoshua Veteran
edited November 2010 in Philosophy
What is the difference?

  • It seems mind is an umbrella term? I also understand that the word manas is one of three words meaning mind in Pali. This is the only word which I understand which I'll demonstrate through the first verse of the Dhammapada, let me again stress that it appears to be an umbrella term:
1. Manopubbaṅgamā dhammā manoseṭṭhā manomayā 1
Manasā ce paduṭṭhena bhāsati vā karoti vā
Tato naṃ dukkhamanveti cakkaṃ'va vahato padaṃ.

1. Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought. If with an impure mind a person speaks or acts suffering follows him like the wheel that follows the foot of the ox.
  • It seems that consciousness is the re-projection of the first five sense bases as well as the a combination of the first four skandhas (which possibly results in the apparent reification into a concrete rather than liquid consciousness and thus an unhealthy ego)? As a side-note, perhaps consciousness is simply self-awareness?
  • It seems that thoughts are (as seen below with consciousness) defined a mere facet of consciousness, however, they are an interplay (as western psychology would put it) between the id and super-ego which would, however (and unfortunately elucidate my clear miscomprehension), leave no room to distinguish between this definition of thoughts and the definition of an ego. I'm also clearly blending western and eastern psychology into one incoherent fiasco of comprehension.

The poorly found definition:
Consciousness: In Buddhism there are eight classes of consciousness. The first five are the senses (sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing), the sixth is thought, the seventh is manas, and the eighth is alaya-vinana.

I'm not intending to ask what the store-house consciousness is if it isn't absolutely paramount towards answering this question. I also understand that when a sense organ comes into contact with a sense object that sense conscious is the product.

I know this is probably a difficult question. Thanks for any help!


  • edited November 2010
    Westerners tend to think of the mind as being all mental activity. In the East it is a little different; they look at the mind as the "organ" that thinks, like the eye is the organ that sees. As the eye does not know what it sees, it merely passes the sight on to the consciousness, likewise the mind merely presents the appearance of dharmas. Furthermore, it should be noted: if the eye is cloudy or defective, the visual information will be distorted; likewise, if the "surface" of the mind is "choppy", the reflection will be distorted. IMO, manas is a "choppy" mind, a mind broken up into waves, whose lucidity is sullied by debris.

    Consciousness is discriminatory awareness; that is, consciousness differentiates between things. It determines that the object you are looking at is a computer monitor; the mind just reflects in image the computer monitor and does not make distinctions, does not apply the label of "computer monitor". Consciousness knows and cognizes.

    Thoughts are phenomena that make an appearance in the mind and are cognized by consciousness.

    As for self-consciousness or self-awareness, some schools of Buddhism allow for this type of cognition and others do not. For example, one school might allow for it, saying, "The lamp illuminates the room and itself." Another school counters with, "The finger tip cannot touch itself."

    (Personally, I lean toward the finger tip. Self-cognition is, IMO, actually the cognition of the previous moment not the present moment. In fact, as we know that light has a speed that is not instant, any cognition is that of a previous event.)

    I like the following cosmological description (my own) of the origin of the appearance of the world:
    In the beginning [it doesn't matter when this was, as it is just a label applied to that first moment distinct from the (now) subsequent moment] there was Mind, aware of absolutely nothing.

    Then Mind concentrated!
    Think about it.

    Right now: concentrate on your elbow. Suddenly there is the awareness of the appearance of your elbow that was not there before!

    Trite, I know...

    I welcome any other thoughts on this subject made very difficult by the interchangeability of the words "mind", "consciousness", "thought", etc.

    Oh, and this: The Nature of Mental Appearances
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