Details of Ways of Knowing: 10 Bare Cognition

Extensive Explanation of “Compendium of Ways of Knowing”

The Involved and Appearing Objects of Non-Conceptual and Conceptual Cognition

The ways of knowing that take as their appearing objects objective entities and metaphysical entities are, respectively, bare cognition and conceptual cognition.

Objective entities (rang-mtshan) – literally, “individually characterized phenomena” – are mutually inclusive with nonstatic phenomena and are defined as those existent phenomena that are affected by causes and conditions and are able to produce an effect. Included are all forms of physical phenomena, all ways of being aware of something and all noncongruent affecting variables. Metaphysical entities (spyi-mtshan), on the other hand – literally, “generally characterized phenomena” – are mutually inclusive with static phenomena and are defined as those existent phenomena that are unaffected by causes and conditions and are incapable of producing any effects. They include audio categories, object categories, analytical stoppings, nonanalytical stoppings, spaces, absences and the two types of selflessness of persons. Non-existent phenomena are also incapable of producing any effect, but because they are not existent, they are not static. The categories of being static or nonstatic are irrelevant with respect to non-existent phenomena.

Further, all cognitions have and take objects continually, both appearing objects and involved objects:

  • Their appearing object (snang-yul) is the direct object (dngos-yul) that arises in the cognition, as if it were directly in front of the consciousness (blo-ngor). 
  • Their involved object (‘jug-yul) is the main object with which they engage. 

Non-Conceptual Cognition

Sensory bare cognition, mental bare cognition and yogic bare cognition, which are all non-conceptual, also all have a focal object (dmigs-yul), the object at which they are aimed. The focal object is always an objective entity that exists prior to the cognition of it and, in the case of sensory cognition, exists externally to the cognition. This is the case whether the bare cognition is valid, subsequent or, in the case of sensory bare cognition and mental bare cognition, non-determining. 

The focal object casts an aspect (rnam-pa) of itself on the consciousness. This aspect, or mental impression, which is also an objective entity, is somewhat like a mental hologram and is totally transparent. Through it, the focal object appears clearly to the consciousness. The mental hologram is the appearing object of the cognition and is also known as the cognitively taken object (gzung-yul). The mental hologram is the mental derivative (gzugs-brnyan, mental reflection) of the focal object and includes all aspects of it. Because, in the case of the focal object being an external commonsense object, such as a clay jug, these aspects include such noncongruent affecting variables as the jug’s gross impermanence, such a mental hologram itself would be a noncongruent affecting variable. As such, it appears with the form of the aspect cast on the sensory consciousness by the external object that serves as the focal object of the cognition.

Although all aspects and features of the appearing object are cognitively taken, you normally do not pay attention to all of them simultaneously. The aspects and features within the domain of the appearing object that you pay attention to are the involved objects of the cognition. 

When these three types of bare cognition explicitly apprehend their involved object – which is only the case when they are either valid bare cognitions or subsequent bare cognitions – that explicitly apprehended involved object, for instance “this object,” appears as part of the mental hologram that arises in the cognition. When, in addition, they implicitly apprehend another involved object, such as “not that other object,” the implicitly apprehended involved object does not appear. Thus, the explicit portion of a non-conceptual apprehension has an appearing object, while the implicit portion does not have an appearing object.

Bare cognition by reflexive awareness, which is always non-conceptual, also takes as its focal, appearing and involved objects objective entities, but only the primary consciousness and mental factors of the cognition it is part of, when that cognition is a non-conceptual one. This is the case whether the bare cognition by reflexive awareness is valid, subsequent or non-determining. Thus, cognition by reflexive awareness in a non-conceptual cognition has a separate appearing object of its own and does not cognize the appearing object of the non-conceptual cognition in which it occurs. 

Conceptual Cognition

The appearing object in conceptual cognition that is as if directly in front of the mental consciousness is always a metaphysical entity, namely a category or, in addition to a category, an absence such as a space or the selflessness of a person. This is the case whether the conceptual cognition is valid, such as valid inferential cognition, or invalid, such as subsequent inferential cognition or presumptive cognition. In the case of a category – for instance, “clay jugs” – the appearing object is a static mental derivative of all individual items, all clay jugs, that fit in that category. Being static, the metaphysical entity has no form and therefore cannot actually appear in the cognition. Its presence in the conceptual cognition, however, makes whatever is cognized through it appear unclearly, being partially veiled. Thus, the metaphysical objects that are the appearing objects of conceptual cognition are said to be semi-transparent. 

The static category “clay jugs” arises in the conceptual cognition as a static isolator (ldog-pa), specifically as a conceptual exclusion of everything that does not fit in the category (blo’i gzhan-sel) – everything that is not a clay jug.. As an implicative negation phenomenon (ma-yin dgag), in excluding all non-“clay jugs,” it explicitly tosses in its wake (shul) – like the footprint the exclusion leaves – a static generic appearance (snang-ba) representing all clay jugs. But being a static phenomenon, this generic appearance has no form. What actually appears in the conceptual cognition is a nonstatic mental hologram, an aspect (rnam-pa) of the generic clay jug representing what it might look like. This mental hologram, an objective entity, is the conceptually implied object (zhen-yul) and also the involved object of the conceptual cognition.

This conceptually implied object is not an aspect (rnam-pa) cast onto the mental consciousness by some external objective clay jug. Even if an actual clay jug is present and is taken as the focal object of a visual bare cognition, that clay jug does not serve as the focal object of a conceptual cognition that may follow. This is the case even if the visual cognition of the clay jug continues while simultaneously conceptionally thinking something obscure about it, such as its being a nonstatic phenomenon. The external clay jug, whether still seen or not, is merely the basis clung to (zhen-gzhi) by the conceptually implied object. The locus of the conceptual implication (zhen-sa), however, is the static category “clay jugs,” the appearing object. Conceptual cognitions do not have focal objects.

Like a mental hologram in a bare cognition, the conceptually implied object is fully transparent. Thus, if the basis clung to – the external object conceptualized about – is present and simultaneously cognized non-conceptually by a separate visual cognition, the conceptionally implied object that appears in the conceptual cognition does not block the appearance of this external object that arises as the appearing object of the simultaneous visual cognition. Nevertheless, because the partially veiled appearance that arises in the conceptual cognition overlays the appearance that arises in the simultaneous visual cognition, the non-conceptual appearance is not vivid, even if the conceptual appearance accurately resembles the non-conceptual one. The non-conceptually cognized external object, however, is neither the focal object, the appearing object nor the involved object of the conceptual cognition.

In sensory bare cognition, the mental hologram that appears as the appearing object reflects all the aspects and features of the external focal object, although not all of those features are taken as the involved object. Furthermore, both appearing object and involved object are objective entities. In conceptual cognition, on the other hand, the mental hologram – namely, the conceptionally implied object – that appears as the involved object is not the same as the appearing object. Only the mental hologram is an objective entity; the appearing object is a metaphysical entity, a category. Thus, also unlike with bare cognition, the involved object in a conceptual cognition is not also part of the appearing object. The involved object in a conceptual cognition, the conceptually implied object – an object that clings to an external object conceptualized about – only resembles certain aspects and features of that basis clung to. Conceptual semblances of only these aspects and features constitute the involved object.

When the conceptual cognition is an apprehension – which occurs only with valid inferential cognition and subsequent inferential cognition – the conceptual cognition explicitly apprehends its involved object, the objective conceptually implied object. The mental consciousness of the conceptual apprehension does not apprehend the metaphysical entities that are its appearing objects. Only objective entities can be apprehended.

When the reflexive awareness that is part of the conceptual apprehension non-conceptually and explicitly apprehends the mental consciousness and mental factors of the conceptual cognition as its involved object, it implicitly apprehends also as its involved objects the metaphysical entities that are the appearing objects of the conceptual cognition. The reflexive awareness apprehends them because the metaphysical entities in a conceptual cognition share the same essential nature (ngo-bo) as the consciousness and mental factors of the cognition. 

For example, in the apprehension of the empty space that you can walk through between the two doorposts of an open door, first you have visual bare cognition explicitly apprehending the two doorposts and the in-between area (bar-snang). Note that the in-between area is an objective entity like the two door posts. Then, you have a conceptual cognition that explicitly apprehends the conceptually implied object, a mental hologram resembling the doorposts and in-between area, through three metaphysical entities as the appearing objects: the object category “doorposts,” the object category “in-between area” and a space (the absence of anything tangible that would obstruct an object occupying this in-between area). 

The reflexive awareness of this conceptual cognition implicitly apprehends these three metaphysical entities with bare cognition while explicitly apprehending the mental consciousness and accompanying mental factors of this conceptual cognition. Although the conceptual cognition is deceptive, the implicit non-conceptual apprehension of the empty space by reflexive awareness is not deceptive. It does not cognize the empty space through either the object category of an empty space or a mental appearance of an empty space. 

Then, once more you have the visual bare cognition explicitly apprehending the two doorposts and in-between area while simultaneously also having the conceptual cognition of the two doorposts, in-between area and empty space that you can walk through. With the visual bare cognition and simultaneous conceptual cognition considered as a whole, it can be said that the visual bare cognition explicitly apprehends the door post and in-between area and implicitly apprehends the empty space.

You can apprehend another metaphysical entity, the absence of a clay jug on the tabletop, a static nonimplicative negation phenomenon, in a similar manner, implicitly, with the reflexive awareness that accompanies the conceptual cognition of the tabletop and empty space on top of it following visual bare cognition of these two objective entities. 

Distorted Non-Conceptual Cognition

Non-conceptual cognition includes valid, subsequent, non-determining and distorted varieties:

  • Non-conceptual sensory cognition and non-conceptual mental cognition have all four varieties
  • Non-conceptual yogic cognition and non-conceptual cognition by reflexive awareness lack distorted varieties
  • Non-conceptual yogic cognition lacks a non-determining variety as well. 

All varieties of non-conceptual cognition take objective entities as their focal objects. The appearing objects in the undistorted ones are also objective entities, namely mental holograms that are accurate reflections of all aspects of their focal objects. But what about the appearing objects in the distorted varieties?

Consider first distorted non-conceptual sensory cognition, for example the visual cognition that focuses near-sightedly on an objective entity, such as a clay jug. Although the focal object, the clay jug, is an existent objective entity, the manner of cognitively taking it (‘dzin-stangs) is deceptive, since the appearance of a blurred clay jug as the distorted cognition’s “own object” is not an appearance of the next moment of the external clay jug; it does not correspond to objective reality. 

A blurred jug is not an objective entity; nevertheless, the mental hologram of a blurred jug, which is the involved object of the distorted cognition, is an existent objective entity and therefore is the appearing object of this cognition. The same analysis applies to the hallucination of a mirage of water in the desert. Although the hallucinated water does not exist, the mental hologram of water that arises in the distorted cognition does objectively exist as the involved object and is also the appearing object. 

In summary then, just as the appearing object of all valid, subsequent and non-determining non-conceptual cognitions are objective entities, so too are the appearing objects of all distorted non-conceptual cognitions. Thus, when the text says, The ways of knowing that take as their appearing objects objective entities … are… bare cognition, this is merely a general statement and not one of mutual inclusion. Bare cognition and the appearing object being an objective entity are a one-way pervasion. If it is a bare cognition, it is pervasive that the appearing object is an objective entity. But since bare cognition does not include distorted non-conceptual cognition and since the appearing object of distorted non-conceptual cognition is an objective entity, it is not pervasive that if an objective entity is the appearing object of a cognition, it is the appearing object of a bare cognition. It could be the appearing object of a distorted non-conceptual cognition. 

Distorted Conceptual Cognition

Conceptual cognition, which is exclusively mental, includes valid, subsequent and distorted varieties. The appearing objects in the undistorted conceptual ones are metaphysical entities which, in the case of these entities being categories, are mental derivatives (mental reflections) of all the individual objective entities that fit into them. But what about the appearing objects in the distorted varieties?

In distorted conceptual cognition, such as the distorted inferential cognition that sound is a member of the set of permanent phenomena, the appearing objects are the metaphysical categories of sound and of permanent phenomena. The conceptually implied object, sound as a member of the set of permanent phenomena does not correspond to reality; its basis clung to, permanent sound, does not exist. However, the two metaphysical categories are existent phenomena. The reflexive awareness that cognizes the distorted conceptual cognition non-conceptually cognizes the mental consciousness and accompanying mental factors of the distorted conceptual cognition. It does not implicitly cognize the categories that are the appearing objects of the distorted conceptual cognition because only apprehensions can have implicit portions. 

Thus, conceptual cognition and the appearing object being a metaphysical entity are mutually inclusive. The appearing object of all conceptual cognitions, whether undistorted or distorted, are metaphysical entities; and all conceptual cognitions, and only conceptual cognitions, have metaphysical entities as their appearing objects.

The Definition of Bare Cognition

Furthermore, bare cognition is defined as an awareness that is non-deceptive and parted from concepts.

It will be noted that the pervasion between the sets of types of awareness that are non-deceptive and those that are parted from concepts is a trilemma. There are only three possibilities. An awareness may be: 

  • Deceptive and non-conceptual – such as distorted non-conceptual cognition, which is deceived with respect to the object it takes, namely something that appears clearly yet does not conform with fact 
  • Deceptive and conceptual – two varieties, either singly deceptive or doubly deceptive. (1) Valid inferential cognition is deceptive on only one account. It is deceived with respect to its appearing object and confuses it with the conceptually implied object as if all members of the category that is the appearing object appeared like that. (2) Distorted conceptual cognition is, in addition, deceived with respect to the basis clung to by the conceptually implied object, because this latter object does not conform to fact. 
  • Non-deceptive and non-conceptual – such as with bare cognition. It is not deceived with what appears clearly to it, since it conforms to fact. 

There is no fourth possibility of an awareness that is both non-deceptive and conceptual. All conceptual cognitions are deceptive because they all confuse their appearing objects with their conceptually implied objects. 

When divided, there are four types: (1) sensory bare cognition, (2) mental bare cognition, and (3) reflexive bare (cognition) and (4) (bare) yogic cognitions.

The Four Causes for Deception

As these four types of bare cognition are non-deceptive, it is important first to know the causes for deception (‘khrul-rgyu) of which they are free.

The four causes for (a bare cognition to be) deceptive are its (1) reliance, (2) object, (3) situation and (4) immediate condition.

These are the causes for superficial deception only. There are also causes for deep deception, namely the unawareness (ma-rig-pa, ignorance) of not knowing, or knowing incorrectly, the selflessness of persons. Other examples are the deluded outlooks (nyon-mongs lta-ba-can) that seek and latch onto some aspect of the aggregates as a basis on which to interpolate a deluded attitude – for instance, the deluded outlook toward a transitory network (‘jig-lta), which latches onto and identifies one or more of the aggregates as being permanently “me” or “mine.” These latter causes for deepest deception are not being discussed here.

  1. Reliance (rten) – The reliance of a cognition refers to the dominant condition (bdag-rkyen) that empowers the essential nature of its consciousness to cognize something either visually, auditorily, mentally and so on. For bare cognition, this is the physical cognitive sensor, for instance the photo-sensitive cells of the eye. If there is some defect with them, this can initially cause deceptive, in other words distorted non-conceptual cognitions, and these later can induce distorted conceptual ones that recall them. For instance, if you are near-sighted, far-sighted or astigmatic, you will see various objects as blurred. If cross-eyed, you will see double images such as two moons. Jaundice can cause you to see a white conch shell as yellow and a certain nervous disorder will make a white snow mountain appear blue. Cataract causes the illusion of falling hairs and an intoxicant or fever can cause hallucinations. These, then, are all organic causes for deception to arise.
  2. Object (yul) – Another source for deception can be from the side of the object itself. For instance, when a firebrand or torch is whirled around in the dark, it gives the appearance of being a ring of fire. When there is haze in the air, objects appear indistinctly and with shifts of color. Thus, this type of cause is a fault in the focal condition for the cognition.
  3. Situation (gnas) – If you yourself are in certain situations, this may also cause distortion. Suppose you are sitting in a fast-moving train. When you look out the window, the trees outside seem to be approaching you and then rapidly receding. If you are bouncing up and down, the scenery around you seems to be jumping this way. If you wear tinted glasses, this too can distort colors. The faults lie in the general situation in which the cognition occurs.
  4. Immediately preceding condition (de ma-thag rkyen) – The immediately preceding condition that is the source for the next moment of consciousness to be in a continuum of appearance-making and cognitive engagement is the immediately preceding moment of consciousness. If that consciousness is affected by some type of psychological disorder, such as phobia, paranoia, schizophrenia and so forth, you may experience hallucinations. Even if you are simply angry, you may “see red.”

Bare cognitions are not affected by any such causes for superficial deception.

Sensory Bare Cognition

The bare cognition that arises (only) from one of the physical cognitive sensors as its (exclusive) dominating condition is sensory bare cognition.

The words “only” and “exclusive” must be added to the above definition in order to limit it to defining sensory bare cognition alone. The reflexive awareness that accompanies a sensory bare cognition and takes it as its object also arises from the same dominant condition as that sensory cognition, namely the same physical cognitive sensor. But bare cognition of reflexive awareness can also arise from other dominant conditions, such as when it is aware of a mental bare cognition, it has as its dominant condition the same mental sensor that serves this purpose for the mental cognition itself. This is not the case with sensory cognition.

Furthermore, any sensory bare cognition can have a mental sensor be its common or non-exclusive dominant condition, which could also serve as such a condition with any mental bare or other types of sensory cognition as well. But only sensory bare cognition takes as its exclusive or unshared dominant condition a physical cognitive sensor. Thus, the additional words “only” and “exclusive” limit the pervasion of the definition to sensory bare cognition alone.

There are five (types), from the sensory bare cognition that takes a visible form (as its object) to the sensory bare cognition that takes a physical sensation.

Thus, there are sensory bare cognitions of sights, sounds, smells, tastes and physical sensations. Furthermore, each of these, when valid or subsequent, may also both explicitly and implicitly apprehend involved objects. When each of these explicitly apprehends accurately and decisively “this object,” it may also implicitly apprehend the implicative negation phenomena (ma-yin-dgag) “not that other object” and “nothing other than this object.”

An implicative negation phenomenon is a nonstatic exclusion of something else in which, after the sounds of the words that exclude the object to be negated have negated that object, they toss behind in their wake (shul), explicitly or implicitly, something else. In this case, “not that other object” and “nothing other than this object” toss in their wake – they leave as their footprint – “this object.”

Although sensory bare cognition ascertains its object like this, it does not comprehend, in the sense of recognize, what the object is. To do so, subsequently it must conceptually cognize the involved object of sensory bare cognition through an audio category or a meaning/object category.

Each of these as well has the three (varieties of) valid, subsequent and non-determining cognitions.

When you see a clay jug non-deceptively and without conceptualizing about it, the first phase while the apprehension of the clay jug is being established by the power of that very cognition itself is your valid visual bare cognition of it. The second phase that immediately follows and continues to apprehend the clay jug by the power of the apprehension established by the first phase is your subsequent visual cognition of it. Both aryas in their subsequent attainment periods (rjes-thob) and ordinary beings experience both. 

Furthermore, as an ordinary being, when your attention is about to shift to cognize another object, the final moment of visual bare cognition of the clay jug is non-determining visual bare cognition. Aryas do not experience this, but both aryas in their subsequent attainment periods and ordinary beings also experience such non-determining cognition when the clay jug is still in their field of vision, but their attention is completely focused on the information of another cognitive faculty. 

Non-determining visual bare cognition does not decisively determine its involved object as being “this object.” Thus, not being an apprehension, it does not implicitly cognize “not that other object” or “nothing other than this object.” 

Auditory bare cognition of sound, olfactory of a smell and so forth can also be divided into valid, subsequent and non-determining cognitions in the same way as regards seeing a visible form.

Mental Bare Cognition

The bare cognition that arises (only) from a mental sensor as its (exclusive) dominating condition is mental bare cognition. There are five (kinds) such as the mental bare cognition that takes a visible form (as its object) and so forth.

The words “only” and “exclusive” must be added to the above definition for the same reasons as pertain to the definition of sensory bare cognition. This is because the bare cognition of the reflexive awareness of a mental cognition also arises from a mental sensor as its dominant condition and a sensory bare cognition can also arise from a mental sensor as its common or non-exclusive dominant condition. As with sensory bare cognition, when mental bare cognition is either valid or subsequent, it too may implicitly apprehend implicative negation phenomena. 

Non-conceptual mental bare cognition should not be confused with conceptual mental cognition. For instance, all recollections, dreams, fantasies, imaginings, intentions and so forth are conceptual. Their appearing objects are metaphysical categories and what appears in them are not aspects directly cast on the mental consciousness from external objective entities. They are mental appearances, mental holograms, that are representations of categories. With mental bare cognition, however, you are aware of such external sensory objects through mental holograms that are aspects of the objects cast on your mental consciousness. No categories are involved. An example is the mental bare cognition of a clay jug that immediately follows a sequence of visual cognition of it and precedes your conceptualizing about it. As an ordinary being, this tiniest moment of mental bare cognition is always non-determining. This is not the case with aryas.

Ordinarily, this is the only type of mental bare cognition that you have, Therefore, the text mentions only five varieties. But those ordinary and arya beings who have achieved a state of shamatha and, beyond that, an actual state of the first level of mental constancy, the first dhyana, may also have mental bare cognition taking the cognitions on other beings’ mental continuums as its object. This is a form of advanced awareness (mngon-shes, heightened awareness, extra-sensory awareness).

Bare Cognition by Reflexive Awareness

Bare cognition by reflexive awareness is that which (only) gives rise to a cognitive aspect of the cognitive-takers (of objects in a cognition), non-deceptively and parted from concepts.

The cognitive-takers (‘dzin-pa) in a cognition are its primary consciousness and accompanying mental factors. The word “only” must be added to this definition to exclude mental bare cognition which, in the case of advanced awareness, can also give rise to a cognitive aspect of the cognitive-takers of objects in a cognition, non-deceptively and non-conceptually, but which in other cases can likewise give rise to a cognitive aspect of the cognitively taken objects (gzung-yul) in it. 

  • That which gives rise to a cognitive aspect of the cognitive-takers (‘dzin-rnam) of objects in a cognition is a synonym for reflexive awareness and is the type of cognition that only cognizes the primary consciousness and accompanying mental factors of the cognition that it is part of and does so by giving rise to a cognitive aspect (rnam-pa) of them. 
  • That which gives rise to a cognitive aspect of the cognitively taken objects (gzung-rnam) in a cognition refers to all types of cognition, other than that by reflexive awareness, that give rise to a cognitive aspect of the cognitively taken objects in a cognition. 

Bare cognition by reflexive awareness can cognitively take and be aware of only the cognitive-takers of objects in a cognition, and it does so by giving rise to a cognitive aspect of them. Cognitive-takers of objects need to be specified in the definition in order to differentiate them from cognitively taken objects. Persons can cognize the same cognitively taken objects in a cognition as does the consciousness and mental factors in that cognition on which the persons are an imputation, but they cannot cognize the cognitive-takers themselves. 

Moreover, reflexive awareness cognizes only the cognitive-takers of objects in the cognition that it is part of; it does not cognize the cognitive-takers of objects in the cognitions of others, which is something that advanced awareness can do. 

Cognitively taken objects are mutually inclusive with the appearing objects (snang-yul) in a cognition. In non-conceptual cognition, the appearing objects are non-static objective entities, such as forms of physical phenomena, and the non-conceptual cognitions cognize them by means of external cognitively taken “things” (gzung-don) casting an aspect of themselves on the primary consciousness and accompanying mental factors of the cognition as the cognition’s “own object.” The appearing objects in a conceptual cognition, on the other hand, are static metaphysical entities. When bare cognition by reflexive awareness  explicitly apprehends the cognitive-takers of objects of a conceptual cognition it is part of, it simultaneously implicitly apprehends the metaphysical entities that are the appearing objects of that conceptual cognition. This is because these metaphysical entities share the same essential nature (ngo-bo) as the cognitive-takers of objects in the cognition. In implicitly apprehending these metaphysical entities, the reflexive awareness does not give rise to a mental aspect of them. Because of that, the cognitively taken objects in this discussion refer primarily to forms of physical phenomena.

Further, in cognizing the cognitive-takers of objects in the cognition they are part of, reflexive awareness also cognizes their characteristic of being a fraudulent awareness (bslu-ba-nyid) or being a non-fraudulent awareness (mi-bslu-ba-nyid). As a way of being aware of something established in a cognition simultaneously as a single substantial entity (grub-sde rdzas-gcig) with its cognitive-takers of objects, being a fraudulent or non-fraudulent awareness is also explicitly apprehended by reflexive awareness along with the cognitive-takers themselves.

The reflexive awareness in the cognitions of aryas is able to accurately differentiate each of its objects – the primary consciousness and each of the accompanying mental factors – and decisively determine that each of them is “this way of cognizing its object” and “not some other way of cognizing it.” The reflexive awareness in the cognitions of ordinary beings is incapable of ascertaining that.

Both of those as well are explained, as above, as having three (varieties) each – valid cognition and so forth.

Both mental bare cognition and bare cognition by reflexive awareness have divisions of valid, subsequent and non-determining cognitions. In the case of ordinary beings, the tiniest moment of their mental bare cognition following a sequence of valid, subsequent and non-determining sensory bare cognition is always non-determining. For aryas, their tiniest moment of mental bare cognition following a sequence of sensory cognition is valid, except if it follows a non-determining sensory bare cognition. 

If ordinary beings develop advanced awareness to read others’ minds, the mental bare cognition of their advanced awareness will have a valid first phase and subsequent second phase with apprehension. Nevertheless, this sequence will end with a tiny moment of non-determining mental cognition. The sequence of valid and subsequent mental bare cognition of the advanced awareness of an arya, however, does not terminate in a tiny moment of non-determining mental cognition. 

As for the bare cognition by reflexive awareness, for ordinary beings its tiniest moments are non-determining. Thus, the reflexive awareness that cognizes the tiniest moment of ordinary beings’ non-determining mental bare cognition is likewise non-determining. In other cases, however, a valid first phase and subsequent second one of bare cognition by reflexive awareness can be established even though the tiniest constituent moments are non-determining. In the case of aryas, even the tiniest moment of not only their reflexive awareness, but also of their sensory bare and mental cognition can be decisive determinations of their objects. 

Yogic Bare Cognition

Concerning them, as for yogic bare cognition, it is the bare cognition in the mental continuum of an arya that has arisen from the force of having meditated with the absorbed concentration of a joined pair of shamatha and vipashyana as its dominating condition.

Yogic bare cognition must have bare cognition of either subtle nonstaticness or of the coarse or subtle selflessness of a person – one of these three. It cannot take more than one of these at a time as its object. 

  • When apprehending subtle nonstaticness, yogic bare cognition explicitly apprehends the five aggregates, the person as an imputation phenomenon on them as its basis and the subtle nonstaticness of all of them. The bare cognition of reflexive awareness that is part of the cognition explicitly apprehends the primary consciousness and congruent mental factors but does not implicitly apprehend their coarse or subtle selflessness.
  • When apprehending either the coarse or subtle selflessness of persons, yogic bare cognition explicitly apprehends the five aggregates, the person as an imputation phenomenon on them and their all being phenomena affected by causes and conditions. It does not apprehend their subtle nonstaticness. The bare cognition of self-awareness that is part of the cognition explicitly apprehends the primary consciousness and congruent mental factors and implicitly apprehends either the coarse or subtle selflessness of the person.  

Furthermore, yogic bare cognition occurs only in the mental continuum of aryas, according to the Sautrantika system, and only during their sessions of total absorption (mnyam-bzhag). It may have a valid initial and subsequent second phase but is never non-determining. Although aryas also have a joined pair of shamatha and vipashyana during the non-conceptual phase of the subsequent attainment (rjes-thob) phase of meditation immediately following the total absoption phase, at that time the non-conceptual cognition is mental, not yogic   

The Persons That Have Yogic Bare Cognition

When divided from the point of view of its basis, there are three (types: that of) (1) shravaka (aryas), (2) pratyekabuddha (aryas) and (3) Mahayana aryas.

There are three categories of beings who gain liberation from uncontrollably recurring rebirth, samsara (cyclic existence). Shravakas and pratyekabuddhas follow Hinayana paths to attain liberation as arhats of their respective classes. Bodhisattvas follow Mahayana paths to attain enlightenment as a Buddha. Once any of them achieve yogic bare cognition, they become aryas of their specific classes. Even as a Hinayana arhat or a Buddha, they can still be classified as aryas since they still have yogic bare cognition. In addition, bodhisattva aryas and Buddhas are also known as “Mahayana aryas,” and Buddhas may be referred to as “Mahayana arhats” or “bodhisattva arhats.”

According to the Sautrantika system, shravaka, pratyekabuddha and Mahayana aryas each have the same understanding, namely the same types of yogic bare cognition of either subtle nonstaticness or the coarse or subtle selflessness of their person. They also follow similar paths of practice to their respective goals. Once they achieve either a Hinayana or Mahayana arhatship and liberation, this is known as “nirvana with remainder” (lhag-bcas myang-ngan-‘das). There is a residue of their aggregate faculties still remaining. When they pass away after this attainment, they attain “nirvana without remainder” (lhag-med myang-ngan-‘das) or parinirvana. The continuum of their subtle mental consciousness and their person is broken. They no longer generate further aggregate physical and mental faculties and extinguish like a spent candle.

The main difference between the three types of aryas according to the Sautrantika tenets is not in terms of motivation. A bodhichitta aim to attain enlightenment in order to benefit all beings, as the power propelling a bodhisattva to enlightenment, is not asserted in this system. Thus, all three types of aryas have the basic equal motivation of renunciation of samsara and all three practice immeasurable love, compassion, joy and equanimity. They achieve different goals solely because of the differences in the amounts of positive force (merit) they have built up all the way to their final attainment.

Shravakas (nyan-thos) are, literally, “listeners” of Buddha’s teachings. They hear the teachings for at least three lifetimes, including the final samsaric lifetime in which they attain arhatship. Pratyekabuddhas (rang-rgyal) are, literally, “self-realizers.” They build up positive force over 100 eons or world ages. As a result, they need not depend on the presence of a Buddha during their last lifetime in which they achieve liberation. They are born during that life at a place and time when a Buddha or his teachings are not present, and by the power of their positive force, they instinctively know how to and, in fact, do achieve their goals by themselves. Some practice alone, “like a rhinoceros,” while others live in groups. 

A bodhisattva builds up positive force over three zillion great eons. “Zillion” (grangs-med) – literally, “countless” – is the name ascribed to the highest finite number in Buddhist mathematics and is equivalent to 10 to the 60th power. As a result, they are able to achieve, after an additional maximum 100 eons of building up further positive force, the 112 major and minor marks of the physical body of a Buddha and an omniscient state of all-knowing, the full enlightenment of a Buddha.

With the various pathway minds that they attain on their way to achieving their respective goals, shravaka, pratyekabuddha and Mahayana or bodhisattva aryas rid themselves (abandon) the same disturbing emotions and attitudes. As arhats, they each have rid themselves of even the automatically arising disturbing emotions and attitudes and their tendencies. Thus, they each overcome what the Mahayana tenet systems call the “emotional obscurations” (nyon-sgrib) preventing liberation. Buddhas, however, because of their immensely greater amount of positive force, overcome in addition non-disturbing unawareness (nyon-rmongs-can min-pa’i ma-rig-pa) while progressing through the same pathway minds as the Hinayana aryas do. 

Unlike disturbing unawareness (nyon-rmongs-can-gyi ma-rigs-pa), which underlies only destructive behavior and states of mind, non-disturbing unawareness is the unawareness that accompanies all actions and mental states: destructive, constructive and unspecified. It refers to not knowing all the profound and extensive features of what only a Buddha knows, and is not a disturbing emotion. It does not prevent liberation but does prevent the attainment of the all-knowing state of a Buddha.

The Sautrantika system does not assert the type of omniscience with which a Buddha can have simultaneous, effortless, valid bare cognition of all existent phenomena, as asserted by the Mahayana systems. Therefore, it does not speak of the cognitive obscurations (shes-sgrib). Instead, it asserts a state of all-knowing omniscience achieved only by a Buddha, with which they can have valid bare cognition of any existent phenomena they wish, but not of all of them simultaneously. Such a state is prevented not by disturbing emotions and attitudes, but by non-disturbing unawareness. 

Non-disturbing unawareness includes the four causes for not being able to know all things, namely unawareness of: 

  1. The subtle phenomena pertaining to a Buddha personally, such as their aggregates
  2. Remote places, such as where each limited samsaric being has been born
  3. Remote times, such as the deeds of each limited being in all their previous lifetimes
  4. The diverse types of subtlest phenomena, such as all the details of karma and of cause and effect.

Thus, these four types of non-deluded unawareness are on the mental continuums of Hinayana arhats, but not of Buddhas.

Furthermore, Sautrantika does not assert the Three Enlightening Bodies (Three Corpuses) of a Buddha – Nirmanakaya (Emanation Bodies, Corpus of Emanations), Sambhogakaya (Body of Full Use, Corpus of Full Use) and Dharmakaya (Body Encompassing Everything, Corpus Encompassing Everything). It only asserts historical Buddhas as universal teachers for their times. 

During the present eon, only 1,000 Buddhas are predicted to be universal teachers. Shakyamuni Buddha was the fourth. According to the Sautrantika system, there will be no other Buddhas during this eon, not even non-universal teachers, and all 1,000 have already been specified. Therefore, although in general it is possible to achieve Buddhahood, the possibility to do this is extremely rare and certainly not available during this eon. Thus, as with the other Hinayana systems, the only really feasible goals are the arhatship of a shravaka or pratyekabuddha. To strive for such a goal, then, is not based on lack of concern and compassion for others, but rather on a realistic appraisal of what is possible and practical. In addition, since the present Buddha’s teachings are still available to be heard, the shravaka paths are the most suitable ones to pursue at this time. During the long dark ages between Buddhas is the time for pratyekabuddhas to achieve their goals.

Thus, although the yogic bare cognitions of shravaka, pratyekabuddha and Mahayana aryas can be differentiated in terms of the basis of who has them, the objects they apprehend are the same. Buddhas are always in total absorption, even when acting. Therefore, they continually have yogic bare cognition. Because they have eliminated even non-deluded unawareness, their yogic bare cognition never has second phases of subsequent cognition. Each moment is valid, establishing fresh apprehension of its object. 

Further, although the reflexive awareness accompanying a Buddha’s omniscient mind implicitly cognizes the selflessness of persons, which is a static metaphysical entity, their yogic bare cognition cognizes only objective entities. They have no conceptual cognition. Thus, when cognizing with bare cognition fire on a far mountainside where there is smoke, they do not cognize this inferentially through a line of reasoning – where there is smoke, there is the presence of five (me’i yod-pa). They simply cognize fire, not the presence of fire, because the presence of fire is a static metaphysical entity. As in the case of the absence of something from a location, the presence of something in a location does not change so long as the object is located there.

All aryas other than Buddhas have subsequent attainment phases of meditation and, in these, they do not have yogic bare cognition. Also, even during their sessions of total absorption, their yogic cognition has subsequent second phases. Furthermore, they may meditate on other topics, in which case they are neither in total absorption with yogic bare cognition, nor in a subsequent attainment state, and they have conceptual cognitions, including valid inferential cognition.

Types of Yogic Bare Cognition Differentiated According to Their Essential Natures

From the point of view of their essential natures, each of them also has three (subdivisions: yogic bare cognition) with (1) a seeing pathway mind, (2) an accustoming pathway mind and (3) a pathway mind needing no further training. 

When you first attain yogic bare cognition, you become an arya of whichever class your positive force warrants and attain a pathway mind of seeing (mthong-lam, path of seeing). This is the third of the five pathway minds, the first two being a building-up pathway mind (tshogs-lam, path of accumulation) and an applying pathway mind (sbyor-lam, path of preparation). An accustoming pathway mind (sgom-lam, path of meditation) is the fourth of the five and a pathway mind needing no further training (mi-slob lam, path of no more learning), when you attain your goal, is the fifth.

With a seeing pathway mind, your yogic bare cognition of the coarse selflessness of persons rids your mental continuum of all doctrinally based disturbing emotions and attitudes that occur with respect to all three planes of samsaric existence: the plane of sensory objects of desire (desire realm), the plane of ethereal forms (form realm) and the plane of formless beings (formless realm). These disturbing emotions and attitudes are based on grasping for yourself as a person to exist as a static, partless, independently existing atman, soul. Grasping means perceiving yourself in this way and believing that it corresponds to reality.

The plane of sensory objects of desire (‘dod-khams, desire realm) includes the three lower rebirth states of hell creatures, clutching ghosts (preta, hungry ghosts) and animals, as well as the fortunate rebirth states of humans, anti-gods and the gods of the plane of sensory objects of desire. The beings there are attached to the gross sensory objects of their realm. There are also gods on the plane of ethereal objects and the plane of formless beings. The gods on the former are mostly absorbed in one of the various divisions of four levels of mental constancy, the four dhyanas. They are attached to the beautiful subtle, ethereal forms there and the various feelings of their meditative states. On the plane of formless beings, the gods lack an aggregate of form, but are also attached to their various four meditative states of balanced absorption (snyom-‘jug). 

On the basis of a human body, it is also possible, once you have attained a state of shamatha, to go beyond and achieve the consciousness and cognitive sensors of the three planes and nine states (khams-gsum sa-dgu) of absorbed concentration – one of the plane of sensory objects of desire, and four each of the plane of ethereal objects and plane of formless beings. With a seeing pathway of mind, whether you are a shravaka, pratyekabuddha or Mahayana arya, your yogic bare cognition brings about the attainment of a riddance (spang-ba, abandonment) of the doctrinally based disturbing emotions and attitudes pertaining to all three planes and nine states of absorbed concentration.

This riddance of what is to be gotten rid of with a seeing pathway of mind (mthong-spang) is attained by your yogic bare cognition apprehending your aggregates and their subtle nonstaticness and then their lack of a coarse impossible self of a person, though not simultaneously, and in the manner as explained above. Your yogic bare cognition does this first with the aggregates containing a consciousness and cognitive sensors of the plane of sensory objects of desire and then with the aggregates containing a consciousness and cognitive sensors of the two higher planes. Alternating back and forth between minds of the lower plane and the two higher ones, your yogic bare cognition focuses like this on subtle nonstaticness and the coarse selflessness of a person while taking to mind and comprehending different clusters of the aggregates as examples of each of the four noble truths, one by one. So, first it apprehends the subtle nonstaticness and then coarse selflessness of the aggregates of the plane of desirable objects and then the two higher planes, with clusters of both sets of aggregates being examples of the first noble truth, then as examples of the second noble truth and so on. As your yogic bare cognition rids your mind of more and more of these doctrinally based disturbing emotions and attitudes, it is like a bright lamp coming closer and closer, eliminating the darkness and dimness of your ignorance.

The four noble truths are true suffering, its true origins (true causes), their true stopping (cessation) and the true pathways of mind (true paths) that bring about the attainment of their true stoppings. Each of these has four aspects, making the sixteen aspects of the four noble truths. No need to list them all here.

  • All tainted aggregates are true suffering. Tainted aggregates (zag-bas-kyi phung-po) are those aggregates that derive from disturbing emotions and attitudes.
  • The true origins or causes of having tainted aggregates, then, are the disturbing emotions and attitudes and tainted karma, which together perpetuate samsaric rebirth. Karma, in the Sautrantika system, refers to the mental factor of urges, which compulsively draw your consciousness to objects and to physical, verbal or mental actions with or toward them that will create problems. 
  • If you remove these true causes of suffering from your aggregates, you achieve a static, peaceful state of a true stopping of them with nirvana. 
  • The pathway of mind that will bring this about is one that involves training in higher ethical discipline, concentration and discriminating awareness. 

With their respective accustoming pathway minds, shravaka, pratyekabuddha and Mahayana aryas gain thorough familiarity with yogic bare cognition. By repeated meditation with this cognition being aimed at their aggregates and person in the same way, but now with the apprehension of subtle nonstaticness and then the subtle selflessness of a person, these aryas are eventually able to rid themselves of even the automatically arising disturbing emotions and attitudes of each of the three planes. 

When they finally achieve the true stopping of all grades of them and their tendencies (seeds), each attains liberation and arhatship in their own class. With this attainment, they have a pathway mind needing no further training. By the added power of their enormous store of positive force, Mahayana aryas rid themselves as well of non-disturbing unawareness with their attainment of a pathway mind needing no further training. With this final pathway mind, each type of arhat will continue to have yogic bare cognition whenever they are in total absorption until their mental continuum extinguishes with their death in parinirvana, 

In the case of shravaka aryas, their three noble pathway minds of seeing, accustoming and no further training encompass the enterer (zhugs-pa) and resultant abider (‘bras-gnas) phases of being a stream-enterer (rgyun-zhugs), once-returner (phyir-‘ong), non-returner (phyir mi-‘ong) and arhat (dgra-bcom-pa). This system of classification does not apply to the Mahayana aryas and, according to the Sautrantika system does not apply to the pratyekabuddha aryas either. In general, a stream-enterer is someone with a seeing pathway mind of a shravaka. They have rid themselves of the doctrinally based disturbing emotions and attitudes pertaining to all three planes of samsaric existence and will never again be reborn in one of the three lower rebirth states. 

Once-returners, non-returners and enterers to arhatship – that is those who have entered into the actual process of attaining that goal – all have an accustoming pathway mind of a shravaka. Once-returners rid themselves of a large portion of the automatically arising disturbing emotions and attitudes pertaining to the plane of sensory objects of desire, and non-returners rid themselves of all the rest. As a result, they are respectively reborn on the plane of sensory objects of desire either only once more or never again. 

As a resultant abider non-returner, in other words someone who has achieved this goal, you strive as an enterer arhat to rid yourself of all the automatically arising disturbing emotions and attitudes pertaining to the two higher planes. When you attain this accomplishment, you become a resultant abider arhat. You achieve the liberation of full shravaka arhatship and a pathway mind of a shravaka needing no further training, never to be reborn again in any of the realms of uncontrollably recurring samsaric existence. Although you have rid your mental continuum of all disturbing emotions and attitudes, as well as their tendencies, nevertheless shravaka arhats – pratyekabuddha arhats too – not being omniscient, still have undeluded indecisive wavering about such things as the karmic results of various actions.

According to Sautrantika, pratyekabuddhas and bodhisattvas attain all three arya pathway minds – seeing, accustoming and no further training – all in one sitting. Because of that, the division of stream-enterer, once-returner and non-returner does not apply to them. Shravaka aryas continue to build up more positive force as they progress through these arya stages, whereas pratyekabuddha and Mahayana aryas have completed their build-up of positive force before the sitting in which they progress through all these three stages in a row.

Types of Yogic Bare Cognition Differentiated According to Their Objects

From the point of view of their objects, there are two: (1) that which knows as much as can be validly known are and (2) (that which knows) how phenomena exist.

Yogic bare cognitions that explicitly apprehend the subtle impermanence imputedly existent on the basis of the aggregates and person are those that know as much as can be validly known (ji-snyed-pa) – in this content, referring to all nonstatic phenomena Those that implicitly apprehend the coarse or subtle selflessness of a person imputedly existent on that basis, while explicitly apprehending that basis’ being an affected phenomenon devoid of such a person, are yogic bare cognition knowing how phenomena exist (ji-ltar-ba). With both types of yogic bare cognition, then, the various goals of shravaka and pratyekabuddha arhatships, as well as Buddhahood, are achieved through their respective pathway minds.

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