Thread: Pure Consciousness

  1. #1

    Pure Consciousness

    I found this fascinating talk at the Buddhism Now website. It was given by Ajahn Sumedho in Thailand on 21st December 2020.

    "What the heck is pure consciousness?"





    Comments welcome if you've listened to the video. Please give the video time reference if you're referring to anything specific.


    [note: "sankharas" = formations]

  2. #2
    I'd be really interested in reading the views of others in connection with this talk.



  3. #3
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    Pretty much a commentary on the Heart Sutra, if you look at the talk that way. I don't agree with his term 'pure consciousness' but that's a minor point. It's kind of the the Heart Sutra in reverse, starting off with what you experience when you get beyond what arises as a result of consciousness, in turn the result of the conditioning imposed on us by the society we happen to be born into. The talk is a journey to the practice which allows us to get beyond our conditioned awareness so that we too can experience the pure consciousness that we 'return home' to (minute 29). We can return to experiencing in a way which gets beyond our conditioning.

    How do we do this? Not by 'belief' in anything but by trusting to the practice of 'open awareness' (37.50). he mentions that the Buddha never taught Buddhism, so that arguments amongst Buddhists about the 'best' way to teach Buddhism are largely meaningless, as any practice is still 'sankhara' (37 min). He tells how he learned about open awareness even though he was in Thailand where his teachers could only speak Thai and he only English. He realised that it didn't matter that he was never taught anything about Buddhism since he eventually could stay in open awareness and witness impermanence. He ends with a look at the whole question of God and hell and heaven, with ultimate reality described as loving kindness and peace.

    Well worth a listen.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by philg
    I don't agree with his term 'pure consciousness' but that's a minor point
    American Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield has an article on his website with the title "Awakening to Pure Consciousness " and this is an excerpt:


    In the monastery Ajahn Chah would point us back to rest in the pure knowing, consciousness itself. Sometimes he would notice that we were caught up in a state of worry or anger or doubt or sorrow. He would smile with amusement and urge us to inquire, Who is doubting? Who is angry? Can you rest in the consciousness that is aware of these states?

    Sometimes he would instruct us to sit at the side of a person who was dying, to be particularly aware of the mysterious moment when consciousness leaves and a person full of life turns into a lifeless corpse.

    Sometimes he would say, “If you are lost in the forest, that is not really being lost. You are really lost if you forget who you are.”

    This knowing or pure consciousness is called by many names, all of which point to our timeless essence. Ajahn Chah and the forest monks of Thailand speak of it as the Original Mind or the One Who Knows. In Tibetan Buddhism it is referred to as Rigpa, silent and intelligent. In Zen it is called the mind ground or mind essence.

    https://jackkornfield.com/awakening-...consciousness/
    Just as an aside, my own understanding of the Tibetan word "rigpa" (mentioned by Jack Kornfield), is as defined here:


    "rig pa" is a Tibetan word, which in general means ‘intelligence’ or ‘awareness’.

    In Dzogchen, however, the highest teachings in the Buddhist tradition of Tibet, rigpa has a deeper connotation, 'the innermost nature of the mind’. The whole of the teaching of Buddha is directed towards realizing this, our ultimate nature, the state of omniscience or enlightenment—a truth so universal, so primordial that it goes beyond all limits, and beyond even religion itself.

    http://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?title=Rigpa


  5. #5
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    Yes, the terminology doesn't really matter unless it gets misinterpreted. It refers to that timeless instance of insight or enlightenment when you get beyond thought. On returning to everyday consciousness it is the attempt to describe the experience, and so is frustratingly beyond words. Anything you say is in the terminology of regular consciousness and so not really up to the reality of the experience.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by philg View Post
    Yes, the terminology doesn't really matter unless it gets misinterpreted. It refers to that timeless instance of insight or enlightenment when you get beyond thought. On returning to everyday consciousness it is the attempt to describe the experience, and so is frustratingly beyond words. Anything you say is in the terminology of regular consciousness and so not really up to the reality of the experience.
    I think its important that one doesn't get too carried away by any experiences that one has of thoughts being stilled though, because then a person might start thinking that they're enlightened !



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