Talk:Vijñāna

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Stub lacks[edit]

This stub lacks ; vijnana is a huge concept. See the Yogacara school, the alayavijnana.. or, Buddhaghosa, Visuddhimagga, for the theravadin understanding. My english a bad and i have to work on the french articles... pyl 21:40, 30 December 2005 (UTC)

Yes, this stub is incomplete, or there should be disambiguations for the term "vijnana". For example, Sri Ramakrishna defines "vijnana" as
"He alone who, after reaching the Nitya, the Absolute, can dwell in the Lila, the
Relative, and again climb from the Lila to the Nitya, has ripe knowledge and
devotion. Sages like Narada cherished love of God after attaining the Knowledge of
Brahman. This is called vijnana." —Preceding unsigned comment added by 76.88.184.184 (talk) 16:54, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
I think there are two different concerns here. The first concern, written five years ago, had to do with this article's having little Buddhist information; since then (e.g., see [1]), I think this concern has been significantly addressed (though, admittedly, in a manner that emphasizes the early Buddhist texts). I think your point, IP:76.88.184.184, is that this article -- as indicated in the intro -- is Buddhist-centric, ignoring the use of this term/concept in related literature and traditions (e.g., Hinduism and, perhaps, Jainism, etc.).
You suggest a disambiguation (dab) page (e.g., as is done at Dhyāna). Since the theorized associated pages (e.g., Vijñāna (Hinduism), Vijñāna (Buddhism)) would all be fundamentally related (that is, defining a spiritual term, as opposed to a dab page identifying a term, a film, a rock-and-roll band, etc.), personally, I could foresee what used to be called a summary page, where a term is generally defined followed by subsections that include links to the more detailed pages and summaries of those detailed pages. Alternately, if one finds that this term is central to one tradition over another, then one page could be the main page with links to the other (e.g., as seems to have been curiously done at Samadhi or partly at Nirvana).
Regardless, I think the first step is building up information about vijñāna in a non-Buddhist tradition. Towards such an effort, in addition to the material you quote from Sri Ramakrishna, I'd like to offer material from Apte:
विज्ञानम् vijñānam
विज्ञानम् 1 Knowledge, wisdom, intelligence, under- standing; यज्जीव्यते क्षणमपि प्रथितं मनुष्यैर्विज्ञानशौर्यविभवार्यगुणैः समेतम् । तन्नाम जीवितमिह ... Pt.1.24;5.3; विज्ञानमयः कोशः 'the sheath of intelligence' (the first of the five sheaths of the soul). -2 Discrimination, discernment. -3 Skill, proficiency; प्रयोगविज्ञानम् Ś.1.2. -4 Worldly or pro- fane knowledge, knowledge derived from worldly ex- perience (opp. ज्ञान which is 'knowledge of Brahma or Supreme Spirit'); ज्ञानं ते$हं सविज्ञानमिदं वक्ष्याम्यशेषतः Bg.7.2;3.41;6.8; (the whole of the 7th Adhyāya of Bg. explains ज्ञान and विज्ञान). -5 Business, employment. -6 Music. -7 Knowledge of the fourteen lores. -8 The organ of knowledge; पञ्चविज्ञानचेतने (शरीरे) Mb.12.187. 12. -9 Knowledge beyond the cognisance of the senses (अतीन्द्रियविषय); विज्ञानं हि महद्भ्रष्टम् Rām.3.71.3. -1 Information; लब्धविज्ञानम् Mb.12.44.5. -Comp. -ईश्वर N. of the author of the Mitākṣarā, a commentary on Yājñavalkya's Smṛiti. -पादः N. of Vyāsa. -मातृकः an epithet of Buddha. -योगः means of arriving at correct knowledge (प्रमाण); केन विज्ञानयोगेन मतिश्चित्तं समास्थिता Mb. 14.21.11. -वादः the theory of knowledge, the doctrine taught by Buddha. -स्कन्धः one of the five स्कन्धs postulated in the Buddhistic philosophy (रूपवेदना- विज्ञानसंज्ञासंस्काराः क्षणिकविज्ञानस्कन्धे स्मृतिरनुपपन्ना ŚB. on MS.1.1.5.
So, just to get things started now, I'll go ahead and insert Sri Ramakrishna's quote that you provided and information from Apte in a subsection (Vijnana#Hinduism), and encapsulate the existing Buddhist information in a super-section (Vijnana#Buddhism)? You and others can then add information as you deem appropriate at Vijnana#Hinduism. Would this do, at least for now?
24.225.66.184 (talk) 15:26, 1 February 2011 (UTC)
I've added the material mentioned above plus Monier Williams info. While adding the material, I realized that some might maintain that many of the texts are "Vedic" (e.g., the Rig Veda), not "Hindu." In addition, some of the material appears to be more generically secular Indian in nature (e.g., from the Panchatantra). So, of course, feel free to re-title, re-subsection, and re-define the material in this ("non-Buddhist") section as you see fit. Hope this helps. With metta, 24.225.66.184 (talk) 16:30, 1 February 2011 (UTC)
Hey Larry,
Good job on adding the Hindu definition of vijñāna (v.). Now you can see what I was talking about when I said that v. had more than one definition, lol. It is certainly better to keep it in one article and add what each religion has to say on the subject. Now the v. article looks complete! -Ano-User (talk) 04:16, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
Ano-User - the seed you planted has bloomed. (must be a crocus.) kudos to you too :-) - 24.225.66.184 (talk) 08:46, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
I like to think of it as a Lotus flower :^), couldn't have done it without you! -Ano-User (talk) 03:11, 16 February 2011 (UTC)

Clean-up tag[edit]

On July 25, 2007, a clean-up tag was inserted at the top of this article. Since then I believe there have been a number of minor improvements done, both structurally and in terms of content and (perhaps) style. Could someone identify explicit remaining factors that might merit the continuation of the clean-up tag? Thanks so much for any help! Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 18:02, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

Towards this continued improvement effort, I see in the WP:MOS's section on "Section Headings" (WP:HEAD), the following advice is provided:
  • Avoid restating or directly referring to the topic or to wording on a higher level in the hierarchy (Early life, not His early life).
I'll try to implement this, where appropriate, momentarily. Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 18:54, 2 November 2007 (UTC)
FWIW, I posted a request on the talk page of the original inserter of the clean-up tag (at User talk:Rausher) requesting that he/she either elaborate on any on-going clean-up related concerns or remove the tag. Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 04:33, 3 November 2007 (UTC)
Well, it's been over two weeks and there's been no response so, at this time, I'm going to remove the clean-up tag. Of course, if someone can articulate clear reasons for its reinsertion, please do so and re-add the tag. Thanks so much, Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 18:41, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

Uncited "contrast to Jnana" claim[edit]

On Oct. 18, 2007, an anonymous user inserted the following information in the opening paragraph:

It [vijñāna ] can also be translated as "divided knowing", in contrast to Jnana.

Six-and-a-half hours afterwards, I added a {{Fact}} tag with this Edit Summary:

please cite pertinent source. thanks! In particular, while the stated etymology ("divided knowing") is readily defensible, the contrast to "jnana" is something I'd appreciate some education on.

It's been two weeks and there's been no response, so I am going to delete this uncited text (along with the associated "See also" addition of Jnana). If someone, perhaps prompted by my deletion, decides to re-add the deleted text, please do so with a citation or, minimally, providing a rational basis here. I'd very much appreciate any justifying insight. With metta, Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 18:02, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

"Consciousness" or "Discriminating Knowledge"?[edit]

I want to point out that vijñāna (viññāṇa) has an alternative meaning besides "consciousness." The Sanskrit (and Pali) language seems to have different expressions and words for consciousness or mindfulness, including saṃjñā (saññā), cittaṃ (cittaŋ), smṛti (sati), samprajaña (sampajañña) and dhyānaṃ (jhāna), among others. Saṃjñā is the most accurate translation for "consciousness," while cittaṃ can be translated to "mind", smṛti is usually translated to "awareness" or "remembrance," samprajaña is translated to "clear comprehension," and dhyānaṃ is usually translated to mean "meditating" or "awareness." Vijñāna, on the other hand, should be translated to mean "discriminating knowledge," or just "knowledge," and should not be translated to mean "consciousness" itself. -Ano-User (talk) 05:51, 22 September 2010 (UTC)

Hi Ano-User -
Hope you don't mind my sharing a half-penny's worth of thought, if I may. First, I do like the distinctions that you draw. I think your analysis is both meaningful and useful. (Without doing some research, I'm not immediately sure whether your distinction applies to all instances of viññāṇa in, e.g., the Pali Canon; but, intuitively, I can appreciate applying them to a notion such as viññāṇa in terms of the five skandhas.)
For better or worse, I do believe that the most popular translation of viññāṇa today (e.g., as done by translators of the Pali Canon, such as Walshe, Nanamoli, Bodhi, etc.) is "consciousness." This is likely the basis for it's being made so prominent in this article's lead. However, I would applaud your adding something like "discriminating knowledge" with an appropriate "reliable source" for a citation (e.g., per WP:RS). (I wonder, e.g., if Monier-Williams could be of help in this?) For instance, given your thoughtful concern, I think it might be beneficial to change the opening line to something like (with new additions in red):
Vijñāna (Sanskrit; Devanagari: विज्ञान) or viññāa (Pāli; Devanagari: विञ्ञाण) is translated, in different contexts, as "consciousness" or "life force" or simply "mind"[1][2] or "discriminating knowledge."[appropriate reliable resource cited]
For what it's worth, I recently listened to a talk by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi where he suggests some reservation about the translation of "consciousness" (which he has perpetuated) as well and, on this occasion, he suggested using something like "cogitation" instead. I've thought of including this here — perhaps as an end note, if not in the article's main text — but haven't made time for doing this yet. (I think he said this in his first or second lecture regarding the "Snake-Simile Sutta" [MN 22], linked to on this page.)
I hope you find this compromising suggestion of possible value, if not completely satisfactory. With metta, Larry (24.225.66.184 (talk) 16:55, 23 September 2010 (UTC))
Hi Larry,
Sorry for the late reply, but thank you very much for your insight on the subject. I am aware that in many English translated Buddhist texts vijñāna (viññāṇa) is usually translated as "consciousness," but according to some written and online sources (secular) that I have read, it does not necessarily mean "consciousness." I will try to get the sources cited so you can look over them, but should they be in MLA or link? -Ano-User (talk) 10:39, 8 October 2010 (UTC)
The best thing to do in cases like this where authoritative sources disagree is just to present the range of opinion with citations.Sylvain1972 (talk) 14:31, 8 October 2010 (UTC)
Hi Ano-User,
If I may suggest, where possible, both MLA and a link would be great. So, for instance, if both are available, one could provide the MLA citation followed by something like: "Available on '[web site]' at [URL]." (Admittedly though, when in a hurry, I've just used the author's date & year and then included a wiki-link to the appropriate source :-) )
I also think our friend, the estimable Sylvain1972, has a good idea. Just a stray thought: perhaps the opening sentence could simply list the various translations/interpretations; and, then, we could include a "Meaning" subsection (perhaps before the current "Pali Literature" section) where in a few paragraphs we identify popular translations (e.g., Walshe, Bodhi, Nanamoli, etc.), standard dictionary definitions (e.g., Monier-Williams, Rhys Davids & Stede), and scholarly sources. We won't declare a "winner," of course, just identify credible sources. While I think for many Buddhist concepts this type of examination on WP could be overkill, I think viññāṇa might merit it. (Let me know if you'd like me to make a first pass in implementing this [sometime over the next two weeks :-) ]; and then, if you like, you all can modify/expand as you see fit.)
Thanks for taking the time to flesh this out in such a thoughtful manner.
Larry (24.225.66.184 (talk) 02:43, 9 October 2010 (UTC))
Hello again,
One problem with one of my sources is that it is not found on a website, but is a book source; a Sanskrit language book. However, my other sources include websites that are primarily Sanskrit and Pali dictionaries. I can put the Sanskrit language book in MLA citation format, but I'm afraid I will just have to give the links to the online dictionaries, under their respective names:
Just look over these sources and tell me what you think. If you don't possess the Teach Yourself Sanskrit text, I'd suggest searching on the web for reviews concerning it. The book, in my opinion as well as others, is good for academics who are trained in the language (and also linguistics for that matter), but I would not recommend it to lay persons unfamiliar with Sanskrit. These sources more or less seem to share my opinion on what vijñāna actually means, but you will have to search for yourself on the online dictionaries under that word, or English terms like "awareness," "cognition," "consciousness," "knowledge," etc. -Ano-User (talk) 09:25, 12 October 2010 (UTC)
Hi Ano-User,
These look like great sources. I'm very familiar with the PTS PED and appreciate Apte. If I may take what you have provided a wee step further, here are word-specific links to particular pages from these two sources plus Monier Williams:
I've no doubt that the other sources you mention are laudable -- I'm just not familiar with them; I'll have to check them out soon.
Regarding the above three pages, I'm not sure the PTS PED's definitions (e.g., "life force") gets us where we want, but the Sanskrit-English dictionaries seem to (e.g., Apte: "'the sheath of intelligence' (the first of the five sheaths of the soul); Discrimination, discernment..."; and Monier Williams: "the act of distinguishing, discerning ...."). One thing that might merit our attention is trying to figure out if this apparent difference is due to these dictionaries having different foci, where the PTS PED is largely concerned with the Pali canon while, I assume, Apte and Monier Williams are focused on Vedic/Hindu texts; might these different contexts (Buddhist vs. Hindu/Brahmanic canons) explain the different definitions? Personally, as I indicated above, at this time, I don't think so -- or at least not as much as one might infer, but my opinions are worthless here :-)
So, I'd say you have at least two "reliable sources" (WP:RS) -- at least in my eyes, and compared to comparable WP articles -- that would certainly allow you to add a translation/definition such as "discrimination, discernment" with appropriate notes. I'm kind of crunched for time right now but, if you'd like, I'd be happy to add this type of information in the next several days. Just let me know. Or, of course, I hope you feel comfortable adding such yourself, if you're inclined.
Thank you once again for so patiently and thoughtfully sharing your knowledge and wisdom. Best,
Larry (24.225.66.184 (talk) 14:38, 14 October 2010 (UTC))
If I may add one more idea: perhaps the contents of this article should be moved to something like "Vijñāna (Buddhism)" (a newly created article) and then this article space ("Vijñāna") should be made into a "summary page" reflecting Buddhist, Hindu, etc., conceptions of "vijñāna"? Personally, at this time, I'd support such, assuming one could add a few paragraphs about "vijñāna" in Hinduism. Just a half-penny's thought, Larry (24.225.66.184 (talk) 05:13, 18 October 2010 (UTC))
Hey Larry,
The PTS PED's translation "life force" is only one of several definitions for vijñāna (v.). The PED also states that "it may be characterized as the sensory and perceptive activity commonly expressed by 'mind.'" So, being an "expression" of mind, it is fair to say that v. is a conditioned state of consciousness, or as the PED puts it, v. "arises through the mutual relation of sense and sense -- object (M iii.281, where also the 6 v. -- kāyā)." This corresponds to it being one of the five khandhas and a result of paṭiccasamuppāda. I don't think there would be a difference in the Vedic/Hindu or Buddhist definitions of v., since even the PED describes it as an arising of a mutual relationship between senses and objects. That being the case, I don't think it necessary to distinguish between the Vedic "cognition" or Buddhist "discernment." V. should be contrasted with jñāna, which in both Hinduism and Buddhism, stands for "knowledge inseparable from the total experience of reality [ Nibbana; Buddhism], especially a total reality, or supreme being such as Siva-Sakti [Hinduism]." Rather than adding "discriminating knowledge" as a possible definition of v., I would add cognition and/or discernment instead. If you could add these definitions into the main article, I would appreciate it.
With metta!! -Ano-User (talk) 05:54, 18 October 2010 (UTC)
Hey Ano-User -
Personally, if I may say, I'd be interested in hearing more about what Apte refers to v. as "the sheath of intelligence" ... if not towards the bottom this article then in a "Vijñāna (Hinduism)" article, perhaps.
Regardless, you and I have agreement on the addition of "discernment" to this article's opening list of definitions/translations using, at the very least, Apte and Monier Williams as "reliable sources." I'll make this edit shortly. Feel free to modify this edit however you see fit.
Thanks again, of course, for raising this issue. Kudos to you! - Larry (24.225.66.184 (talk) 04:45, 22 October 2010 (UTC))
Hi Larry,
Thanks for adding those bits of information in the article! I agree that it would be interesting to hear more about what Apte has to say about v. meaning the "sheath of intelligence." However, I think it would be more appropriate to put the information toward the bottom of the main article; I'm not sure what Hindu/Vedic traditions really say concerning v., apart from what it says about "cognition" in the PED. But I will definitely look more into what Hinduism has to say about v.
In any case, much more can be said about v.'s meaning, whether it be from a Buddhist perspective or a Hindu perspective. It is probably inevitable that a "Vijñāna (Hinduism)" article be created, since the Hindu religion also makes us of the term. However, I don't feel that I am capable to create the article myself; I'd rather one who has more knowledge about Hinduism, and one who is on the WikiProject Hinduism create the article.
Thank you for adding the information that I considered worthy of the article. I greatly appreciate your help. -Ano-User (talk) 06:15, 25 October 2010 (UTC)

Life Force[edit]

Hi All, I suspect that my understand is still lacking. Additionally, this is my first contribution so please don't bite. I wanted to bring to the discussion MN 38 which Sati declares a pernicious view "'As I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One, it is just this consciousness that runs and wanders on [from birth to birth], not another.'" The Buddha corrects this pernicious view by stating that consciousness is dependently originated: "Consciousness, monks, is classified simply by the requisite condition in dependence on which it arises." [3] I think this is worth including in the Life Force section, but I wanted to propose it here first in case there was a clear error in my thinking. Thanks! Twipsy mcgee (talk) 14:13, 11 July 2012 (UTC)

Howdy Twipsy!
If I may say, I'm not crazy about the translation "life force" and I can understand if you have some reservations about. Sounds to me like you have reservations about "life force" connoting that a singular entity persists through multiple lifetimes? If so, I certainly share your concern. Nonetheless, when I read what's in this article under "Life force aspect and rebirth," it appears to me that who ever wrote (or redacted?) that section understood the distinction between rebirth and reincarnation as well as general Buddhist thoughs re: anatta.
Still I could envision different ways to address your inferred concerns as well as attempt to incorporate the material you find valuable in MN 38. For instance:
  • it appears that someone started tagging the various translations (e.g., "mind" and "discernment") of vijnana in the opening sentence. I believe in some other WP Buddhist articles it was suggested (okay, perhaps by me) that if one could not cite a reliable source that used a particular translation, then that translation should be removed -- at least from the intro. So, if you're concerned that the translation "life force" may be misleading or worse, might applying such a policy as this support removing "life force" at least from the intro? Of course, before removing it, I'd recommend putting in a good faith effort to first try to find a translation or scholarly article that uses such a translation and then, if found, keeping "life force" and appending a citation....
  • I can readily see your thoughts about MN 38 being incorporated as an end note in the section on "Life force and rebirth," cautioning against an "eternalist" view of vijnana....
Just some thoughts. Welcome to WP Buddhism! Best, Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 20:36, 14 July 2012 (UTC)
    • ^ See, for instance, Rhys Davids & Stede (1921-25), p. 618, entry for "Viññāa," retrieved on 2007-06-17 from the University of Chicago's "Digital Dictionaries of South Asia". University of Chicago
    • ^ As is standard in WP articles, the Pali term viññāa will be used when discussing the Pali literature, and the Sanskrit word vijñāna will be used when referring to either texts chronologically subsequent to the Pali canon or when discussing the topic broadly, in terms of both Pali and non-Pali texts.
    • ^ http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.038.than.html