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The Magic of the Mind

Recommended Posts - The Magic of the Mind: An Exposition of the Kalakarama Sutta by Bhikkhu K. Nanananda


Notable excerpts:

Chapter V
THE VORTICAL INTERPLAY -- Consciousness versus Name-and-form
....By way of illustration, we may, for a moment, turn to a game of cricket. Here consciousness recognizes the presence of two sides as a precondition for the game, while 'name-and-form' represents the rules, the procedure, and the paraphernalia of the game. The six sense-spheres which consciousness bifurcates into 'internal' and 'external' are the actual teams selected for the game. With contact, feeling, craving, grasping and becoming, the cricket-match is in full swing. And 'birth-decay-and-death' etc, more or less represent the inexorable vicissitudes of the game. That all pathways for verbal expression, terminology and designation converge on the vortex of consciousness and name-and-form is also amply illustrated by this analogy, since the significance of the game depends on one's being conscious of it as a cricket-match, with all its implications regarding the personnel, the paraphernalia and the rules involved.
In the wider context of our samsàric existence, the vortical interplay between consciousness and name-and-form manifests itself as a kind of double-bind (jatà)-'a tangle within' and 'a tangle without'. Consciousness as the subject always finds itself confronted with 'name-and-form' as the object, depending on which it develops the concepts of resistance (pañigha) and form (rupasanna). An interplay follows which is as much comic as it is tragic in that it involves a petitio principii Þ an assertion of existence that is equivalent to 'begging the question'.
Since the criterion of reality of a thing is, as mentioned above (see Ch. III), the very impact it has on one's experiential side, the wordling's proneness to cling to 'name-and-form' as real, may be explained with reference to 'contact' (phassa) which is dependent on it. According to the Buddha, contact is itself a hybrid manifesting traits proper to both groups designated as 'name' and 'form'. The following disquisition on this particular aspect of the problem is likely to be of immense value to the modern psychologist and philosopher....
....The trends that set in with the vortical interplay between consciousness and name-and-form, continue through the subsequent links of the formula of Dependent Arising. The six sense-spheres bifurcate themselves precipitating a dichotomy of an 'internal' and an 'external' with its concomitant notions of a 'here' and a 'there', Contact, in a specific sense, is a sequel to this very dichotomy. It implies a principle of discrimination between two things and consciousness fulfils this condition, “Dependent on the eye and forms, friends, there arises eye-consciousness, a coming together of the three is contact . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ” (M. I. 111. Madhupindika S.). The canonical simile of the friction between two sticks illustrates this aspect of contact. With feeling, the split in experience becomes sufficiently palpable as to call forth the notion: 'I am'. “Where, friend, there is no feeling at all, would there be any such notion as: 'I am' ?” “There would not, Lord." (D.II 67. Mahànidàna S.). The discriminative function of consciousness is seen here in the form of distinguishing three feeling-tones and hence sometimes one finds consciousness itself being defined in terms of knowing discriminatively (vijànàti) the three grades of feeling -- 'pleasant' (sukha), 'unpleasant' (dukkha) and 'neither unpleasant-nor-pleasant' (adukkhamasukha). Out of this discrimination there arises craving (or 'thirst') for the pleasant and consequently, a reaching-out --a 'grasping'-- for the same. In the process of 'grasping' there is involved a kind of 'projection' of desires (cf.`nati' -- inclination, bent) whereby the split in experience widens into a definite gap between a subject and an object. `Becoming' or `existence' is the make-believe attempt to bridge this gap which, however, forever remains unabridged, for the material on which it relies is perpetually crumpling up underneath. Yet it somehow props up the conceit of an ego -- the conceit `I am' (asmimàna). From the point of view of the ego, the things clung to (upàdàna) appear as assets (upadhi) and one takes pride in the very things one depends on. Thus liabilities are looked upon as positive assets and an abject slavery becomes a petty mastery. The topsy-turvydom is complete and the double-bind becomes a fait accompli. The ego now finds itself `born' into a world of likes and dislikes, subject to decay-and-death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair.
Chapter VI
....By seeing things as they are in the light of wisdom, one comes to understand that the shadow is cast by a narrow point-of-view in the murk of ignorance. This vision or insight is the result of the arising of the dustless, stainless "Eye of Truth" (virajam vitamalam dhammacakkhum) -- also called the `Eye-of-wisdom' (pannacakkhu) -- which reveals to the Stream-winner, the Noble Norm summed up in the words 'Whatever is of a nature to arise, all that is of a nature to cease' (yam kinci samudayadhammam sabbam tam nirodhadhammam -- M. I. 380 Upàli S.) The disillusionment brought about by this extraordinary vision is so pervasive and transforming, that the Buddha compares it to the case of a congenitally blind man who, as soon as he gains eyesight, becomes disillusioned about a greasy grimy cloth with which he had been deceived. And even as that man would regard with disfavour the trickster who gave him the cloth saying that it is a beautiful piece of pure white cloth, the Noble Disciple too, on gaining the 'Eye of Truth', undergoes a change of attitude towards his own
mind : ” . . . . . . Even so, Màgandiya, if I were to teach you the
Dhamma, pointing out to you that state of health -- that Nibbàna -- and if you, on your part, were to understand that state of health and see that Nibbàna, simultaneous with that arising of the eye in you, whatever desire-and-lust you had in the five aggregates of grasping, will be abandoned. And furthermore, it would occur to you: 'For a
long time, indeed, have I been cheated, deceived and enticed by this mind; for, in grasping, it was merely form that I had been grasping, it was merely feeling that I had been grasping, it was merely perception that I had been grasping, it was merely formations that I had been grasping, it was merely consciousness that I had been
grasping. And from my grasping there arises becoming; conditioned by becoming, birth; and conditioned by birth there arise decay-and-death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, despair. It is thus that there comes to be the arising of this entire mass of suffering.”' - M. I 511f. Màgandiya S....
....The magic loses its magic for him, now that he sees plainly where exactly the secret of the magic lies Þ that is, in his own psychological mainsprings of lust, hatred and delusion. He realizes that, apart from them, there is no reality in the articles and
artifices involved in the magic-show of consciousness, and is now. He realizes that, apart from them, there is no reality in the articles and artifices involved in the magic-show of consciousness, and is now in a position to appreciate the Buddha's statement in the Kàlakàràma Sutta: “Thus, monks, a Tathàgata does not conceive of a visible thing as apart from sight; he does not conceive of an unseen: he does not conceive of a `thing-worth-seeing'; he does not conceive about a seer . . . . . . . ”
The penetration into the conditioned nature of consciousness is tantamount to a storming of the citadel of the illusory self. With it, the `personality-view' (sakkàyaditthi) is abandoned and the `assets' (upadhi) on which the `self' depended -- i.e. the five aggregates of grasping -- begin to get liquidated. Consciousness ceases to appear as a substantial core of living experience. Instead, one now sees it with radical reflection (yoniso manasikàra) as a dependently arisen phenomenon which is always
specific, even as fire is. "Just as, monks, dependent on whatever condition a fire burns, it comes to be reckoned in terms of that condition (that is to say), a fire that burns dependent on logs is reckoned as a `log-fire'; a fire that burns dependent on fagots* is reckoned as a `fagot-fire'; a fire that burns dependent on grass is reckoned as a `grass-fire'; a fire that burns dependent on cow-dung is reckoned as a `cow-dung fire'; a fire that burns dependent on chaff is reckoned as a `chaff fire'; a fire that burns dependent on rubbish is reckoned as a `rubbish-fire' -- even so, monks, consciousness is reckoned by the condition dependent on which it arises. A consciousness arising dependent on eye and forms is reckoned as `an eye-consciousness'; a consciousness arising dependent on ear and sounds is reckoned as 'an ear-consciousness'; a consciousness arising dependent on nose and smells is reckoned as 'a nose-consciousness'; a consciousness dependent on tongue and flavours is reckoned as 'a tongue-consciousness'; a consciousness arising dependent on body and tangibles is reckoned as 'a body-consciousness'; a consciousness arising dependent on mind and ideas is reckoned as 'a mind-consciousness'." -- M. 1259f. MahaTanhaSamkhya S.
The five aggregates which from the point of view of self, one earlier took for granted as 'made-up' and 'composite'. Their process of accumulation (upacaya) is also seen to be something like a trickling through the sieve of consciousness. But even the sieve of consciousness performs its function only when conditions are there. "If the eye in oneself, friends, were intact, but no external forms entered the range of vision and there were no appropriate bringing into focus (samannaharo), then there would be no manifestation of the appropriate class of consciousness. If the eye in oneself were intact and external forms also entered the range of vision but there were no appropriate focussing, there would be no manifestation of the appropriate class of consciousness. But it is when the eye in oneself is intact, external forms also enter the range of vision and the appropriate focussing too is there, that there is a manifestation of the appropriate class of consciousness. And any form in one who is in such a state, is included in the form-aggregate of grasping; any feeling in him is included in the feeling-aggregate of grasping; any perception in him is included in the perception-aggregate of grasping; any formations in him are included in the formations-aggregate of grasping and any consciousness in him is included in the consciousness-aggregate of grasping. And he understands : `This, it seems, is how there comes to be inclusion, gathering and amassing into these five aggregates of grasping.' " -- M. I. 190. MahàHatthipadoma S.

*Definition of FAGOT

: bundle: as
a : a bundle of sticks
b : a bundle of pieces of wrought iron to be shaped by rolling or hammering at high temperature


For this word, I changed it to its American spelling, so as to not to cause alarm.

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