Questions and Answers

This question came up in the Online 10-day Retreat Nov 3, 2020, guided by Delson Armstrong. Day 5 was part of a daily 30-minute discussion on the suttas, the Dhamma talk and reflections.

Slightly edited to improve readability

The yogic concept of manas is mind. Buddhi is intellect, chitta in this case is consciousness, and ahamkara is the I-making, it’s the ego.

  Whereas vedana is feeling, sanna is perception, Saṅkhāra is more related to formations, and viññāṇa is consciousness.

So, there’s a difference between citta in the Sanskrit which translates to awareness, or consciousness, and viññāṇa in Pali. Viññāṇa, in Pali and Sanskrit, means the consciousness that divides. Meaning, it’s a consciousness that’s divided by the six sense bases. It’s a consciousness dependent upon the six sense bases. 

So, you can’t really equate them in the same way, because number one the philosophies behind yoga, and the yoga sutras, are different, than the philosophies behind the Buddha Dhamma. Even though they might use very similar or synonymous words, that might seem like they have the same meaning, in the context within each philosophy, they will have a different application. 

[Question]

Can you please explain that dividing consciousness?

[Answer]

Viññāṇa means, first of all: ñāṇa means knowledge. And vi is what is the dividing knowledge. It’s the knowledge of the sensory experiences. An easier way to understand it is cognition. That which cognizes, is consciousness, that’s always what’s said in the suttas. Cognition is the process of bare awareness of the object, or of the sensory experience, or of the six sense bases. This is viññāṇa.

 Citta, in the context of yoga, is more about the overarching consciousness that’s related to an eternal sense of the word, eternal sense of consciousness.

In the Buddhist context, consciousness is the consciousness that is dependent upon the six sense bases, and the experience of the six sense bases. There is also citta in Pali, in the Buddhist terminology and context, which I translate as mindset. I mean, there is citta which is very fast, and it’s really equated to the process of thinking, or the process of thought. But i see citta also as being a mindset, which is to say, a collection of thoughts. Mindsets can arise in a moment and disappear in a moment, or it can be there for lifetimes. It doesn’t matter .

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Category: Online Retreat