Is Consciousness/Awareness Reflexive?

 
JustThis
 
Avatar
 
 
JustThis
Total Posts:  182
Joined  12-03-2005
 
 
 
13 January 2011 01:45
 

I have been dealing with this question in my meditation practice and am curious to see some other thoughts about it. To put it in other forms; can consciousness be conscious of itself, can awareness be aware of itself, or in a Buddhist context can Mind be aware of Mind? Obviously we know that we are conscious but that is different from what I am asking. I am also asking this more from an experiential perspective than a theoretical one although some speculation is fine.

 
 
Brick Bungalow
 
Avatar
 
 
Brick Bungalow
Total Posts:  4842
Joined  28-05-2009
 
 
 
13 January 2011 12:20
 

Isn’t this the definition of consciousness? Could we even describe self awareness as such if it wasn’t? There is an apparent paradox, at least to my impression, in that one receptacle cannot completely contain itself. You could not write a book that exhaustively reviewed itself for instance. I think a mind can be aware of itself, actually it has to, but probably could never fully comprehend itself.

 
Dennis Campbell
 
Avatar
 
 
Dennis Campbell
Total Posts:  19789
Joined  20-07-2007
 
 
 
13 January 2011 23:38
 

If you’re not aware of and communicating with in some common language other people, your sense of self cannot exist.

 
 
EN
 
Avatar
 
 
EN
Total Posts:  20535
Joined  11-03-2007
 
 
 
14 January 2011 01:51
 
JustThis - 13 January 2011 12:45 AM

I have been dealing with this question in my meditation practice and am curious to see some other thoughts about it. To put it in other forms; can consciousness be conscious of itself, can awareness be aware of itself, or in a Buddhist context can Mind be aware of Mind? Obviously we know that we are conscious but that is different from what I am asking. I am also asking this more from an experiential perspective than a theoretical one although some speculation is fine.

Too much navel-gazing can lead to questions like these. Let’s say that consciousness can be conscious of itself, and awareness can be aware of itself, and mind can be aware of mind, and farts can smell themselves. So what?

 
EN
 
Avatar
 
 
EN
Total Posts:  20535
Joined  11-03-2007
 
 
 
14 January 2011 02:10
 

Here’s a song dedicated to the Excessively-Introspective-Hall-Of-Mirrors:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-GbcVW8DFY

yeah, yeah, oh yeah

 
JustThis
 
Avatar
 
 
JustThis
Total Posts:  182
Joined  12-03-2005
 
 
 
14 January 2011 18:34
 

Too much navel-gazing can lead to questions like these. Let’s say that consciousness can be conscious of itself, and awareness can be aware of itself, and mind can be aware of mind, and farts can smell themselves. So what?

Deep, real deep.

 
 
JustThis
 
Avatar
 
 
JustThis
Total Posts:  182
Joined  12-03-2005
 
 
 
17 January 2011 17:12
 

This reified idea of a “consciousness” as an entity is not found in Buddha’s teachings. The Buddha described vinnana, which is translated as “consciousness”, as sensory awareness of objects within the sense ranges of each sensory system, and nothing more. See the Maha Tanhasankhaya Suttta (  http://www.leighb.com/mn38.htm ) for probably the most clear, thorough, and explicit example of this.  For the Buddha, a reified “consciousness” as is described here is an irrelevant doctrine of Self.  It goes right on the shelf right next to other speculative views that he specifically described as “matters not pertaining to liberation”, such as the well known “unanswerable questions” (is the world eternal/finite/neither/both and does a person exist/not exist, neither/both after death?) the Buddha refused to speculate upon.


Unfortunately the Buddha’s teachings on consciousness do not align with my experience, therefore if I accepted them they would become a set of beliefs. I am merely examining the very nature of experience as it presents itself to me in this moment. Right now I am aware of this computer screen, I then attempt to turn my attention to that which is aware of the screen, a simple concrete exercise, no effort to intellectualize or reify anything.

If by “Mind” you mean “mental functions”, then yes, it seems likely that mental functions can have awareness that they are functioning—in conventional terms, I am aware that I am thinking.  From a Buddhist perspective, the Buddha saw such questions as demanding unfounded speculation and irrelevant to liberation.

“I am aware that I am thinking.”

Yes, you are aware that there are thoughts present, my question is “Can you be aware of that which is aware of thinking?”

Please, no more quotes from the Buddha, just answer out of your own experience.