Sutta Study Reflection Theme 1-4-14

The Island: An Anthology of the Buddha’s Teachings on Nibbana

By Ajahn Pasanno and Ajahn Amaro

Chapter Eight, Unsupported and Unsupportive Consciousness; First half of the chapter – pages 131 – 142

Sections to be read out loud:

8.2, 8.3, 8.6, 8.12

Discussion Theme:

In this chapter, our teachers Ajahn Pasanno and Ajahn Amaro look into the phrase that arises a few times in the suttas, “consciousness that is signless, boundless, all-luminous.” Of course, this seems to contradict the often repeated teaching that consciousness is something that is impermanent arising and ceasing dependent on the object being known.

This month let’s be careful to go beyond our philosophical discussions about what the mind is and instead to be interested directly in our subjective experience of consciousness. How is it that the experience of consciousness is at times quite bound up (can’t be separated out from) with the objects of our experience? And, how is it that at times consciousness or awareness appears to be independent and unbound, (signless, boundless, all-luminous)?

As long as wrong view is present in the mind, consciousness will necessarily be taking it (wrong view) up as an object of knowing along with the other objects of the six sense gates. Let’s explore what happens, in any moment,  when wrong view is not (strongly) present in the mind? What does this mind perceive? Perhaps it is useful to understanding (in a preliminary way) the experience of Nibbana as the mind perceiving the moment to moment non clinging instead of its usual activity of perception colored & bound by concepts and wrong view. Or in simpler terms, what if consciousness knows/atunes to the freedom non clinging/freedom – does that knowing get bound up in any way?

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