Reply To: Ghandhabba, Jati, Vinnana (Consciousness)


Thank you Lal, Lang and Cubibobi. I am beginning to obtain some clarity on this subject. Reading many current books and papers on the topic of consciousness from Roger Penrose (“Shadows of the Mind”), Colin McGinn (“The Mysterious Flame”), Llinas & Chruchland (“The Mind-Brain Continuum”), Christof Koch, Avi Loeb, David Chalmers, and Anil Seth, et al. I am left with the impression that science and philosophy is dancing around some of the same questions posited by people such as Aristotle, Plato and Socrates, and yet are no closer to obtaining any answers.

Although I do not have a complete grasp of the Buddha Dhamma regarding the elements and mechanics of consciousness and rebirth (yet), I instinctively feel that the answers to questions about consciousness were already well known by the Buddha. Now, whether or not science and philosophy are prepared to consider the Buddha Dhamma on this subject is another story altogether.

My query into this topic does not stem from a position of intellectualism or a desire to feed some intellectual need. Rather, my interest stems from curiosity on one level, and a sense of awe on another. That I have lived these many years (67) and not known that the answers to the problems of human existence were right under my nose is sobering to say the least. Having come as far as I have in my study of the Buddha Dhamma I can express with conviction that there is no turning back. Considering the present topic at hand, I feel like I am standing on a precipice of understanding. In one sense it is exhilarating, and stuffed with energy and determination. In another sense, I feel that there exists yet another, more sobering level, which is that of responsibility to act according to what I am learning. Seeing the world, and indeed, my own life, as it actually is: The truth about the nature of reality, is nothing less than a marvel.

So, thank you all for your generous input.

Now, with regard to something Lal has written about many times,

“This is a good example of the problem we are facing today. Those dictionaries were written by the early European scholars who tried their best to interpret the vast Pali literature they came across in Sri Lanka and other Asian countries in the early 1800s.”

This is very similar to the case of ancient hieroglyphs, demotic and cuneiform that were first decoded and translated one-hundred years ago. But, I must ask what sources do you rely on for deciphering the true meaning of the Pali language? Is there a more up to date source (perhaps TamilCube) other than the Pali Text Society’s renderings? Also, is the case the same for learning Pali from the many sources available? At present I use TamilCube, PTS and Sutta Central. Are there better sources? Also, if I teach myself Pali how confident can I be that what I am learning is correct or that the sources for learning render correct translation?

I have written many papers focusing on everyday issues using the Buddha Dhamma to explain the solutions. In most of these papers I try and circle the reader toward the Four Noble Truths. However, with regard to the correctness of my references of Buddha Dhamma, I am on my own. Not for egotistical reasons I write out of a sense of Dhamma-driven compulsion. I have a feeling that Lal may know what I am talking about. For example, I wrote a paper titled: “Why Am I Who I Am?” (ResearchGate)* that has become quite popular around the world. There is scarcely a country where this paper has not reached. However, in my efforts to write about the Buddha Dhamma as it applies to questions about the problems of human existence, I do so with a sense of hesitation because I worry about how correct my references are in terms of the correct meaning of the Pali words. I give it my best, whatever my best is at this moment in time.

Lal’s Forum is invaluable to me. It is evident that he has a strong conviction for preserving the Dhamma as was spoken by the Buddha. So, should anyone care to read this article and provide me with feedback, particularly if there are any instances where I may have, unintentionally and grossly misrepresented the Buddha Dhamma.

Again, thank you all for your kind dana.


* Alternate sites:
Internet ArchiveWhy Am I Who I Am?
Academia: Why Am I Who I Am?