Details of Ways of Knowing: 3 Apprehension

Extensive Explanation of “Compendium of Ways of Knowing”

When (ways of knowing are) divided, there are many aspects. There is knowing with apprehension and knowing without apprehension. Moreover, they can be divided into seven ways of knowing. There are valid and invalid ones, both conceptual and non-conceptual, bare cognitions and inferential cognitions, both primary minds and mental factors, and so on. There are many such things.

A loaf of bread can be cut into two, seven, eight or any number of slices. Moreover, the number of slices you cut can either include the entire loaf, or there can be some left over. In the same manner, ways of knowing can be divided into many different classification schemes and subsets. Some of them overlap, some are mutually exclusive, and some are wholly contained within others. When a specific number of types is indicated, they may or may not be inclusive of all possible kinds of awareness. Therefore, the definitions of the subsets of ways of knowing should be carefully examined and the pervasions well understood.

Own Objects and Involved Objects

A way of knowing something is said to be either with or without apprehension depending on whether or not it apprehends its own object. 

Apprehensions (rtogs-pa) are accurate and decisive cognitions of the “own objects.” To understand apprehensions, then, we need to differentiate between a cognition’s “own object” (rang-yul) and its involved object (‘jug-yul). 

As has been explained, every cognition and therefore every way of knowing has an object, takes it and is aware of it. The main object it takes and with which it cognitively engages (literally, “enters”) is known as its “involved object”:

  • Primary consciousness (sems) – referring to the type of consciousness in a cognition, whether non-conceptual (rtog-med) in the case of sensory consciousness or either conceptual (rtog-bcas) or non-conceptual in the case of mental consciousness – can only take objective entities as its involved objects. 
  • Reflexive awareness, not being a primary consciousness, can take as its involved objects both objective entities and metaphysical entities.

The reflexive awareness that is part of and which accompanies a conceptual cognition has as its involved objects not only the mental consciousness and the congruent mental factors of the conceptual cognition, both of which are objective entities. It also has as its involved objects the conceptual categories and non-implicative negation phenomena, such as absences, cognized by the conceptual cognition. This is because both categories and absences are metaphysical entities and, as such, when they are cognized in a conceptual cognition, they and the ways of being aware of something in the cognition are “established simultaneously as having a single essential nature” (grub-sde ngo-bo-gcig) and thus are cognized simultaneously. In other word, the metaphysical entities in a conceptual cognition share the same essential nature (ngo-bo) as the mental consciousness and mental factors of the conceptual cognition that cognize them. Thus, the specific metaphysical entities that arise in a conceptual cognition arise simultaneously with the mental consciousness and its congruent mental factors, as if in the “same package.” This does not mean however that the specific metaphysical entities in any one conceptual cognition will always arise with the mental consciousness in all conceptual cognitions. As metaphysical entities, however, they cannot be the involved objects of the mental consciousness of the conceptual cognitions of them, since the involved objects of mental consciousness may only be objective entities.

If an object is the involved object of a cognition, it is pervasive that it is the “own object” of the consciousness of that cognition. But if it is the “own object,” it is not pervasive that it is an involved object. This is because the consciousness of a cognition may apprehend as one of its “own objects” an object that is not also one of its involved objects, for instance a metaphysical entity. To you understand this, we must look more deeply at the meaning of the “own object” of a consciousness. 

According to Sautrantika, non-conceptual cognition cognizes objects that already exist in the moment immediately preceding cognition of them. Such objects are known as “immediately preceding objects” (de-ma-thag-pa yul). The “own” object of a consciousness is the second moment in the continuum of an immediately preceding object. This immediately preceding object serves as the focal condition (dmigs-rkyen) for the sensory cognition to arise.

  • In the case of sensory cognition, that means, for instance, that in the moment immediately before seeing an apple, the sight of the apple, the collection synthesis of the apple as a whole commonsense object and the kind synthesis of its being an apple are all present on the side of the apple as the immediately preceding object of the seeing. Because of that, all three – the sight, collection synthesis and kind synthesis – can be taken as the “own objects” by the eye consciousness and, thus, be apprehended by the visual bare cognition of the apple as its “own object.” 
  • In the case of mental cognition, if it is a non-conceptual mental bare cognition that follows immediately after a sequence of sensory bare cognition, the immediately preceding object serving as a condition for the mental cognition to arise is both the “own objects” of that sensory cognition as well as of its sensory consciousness. The mental bare cognition cognizes the next moment in sequence of the “own objects” of the sensory cognition that immediately precedes it. 
  • If the mental cognition is a conceptual one, then since its “own objects” might not necessarily be a second moment in sequence from the immediately preceding moment of sensory cognition, the immediately preceding object serving as a condition for it to arise may be merely the mental consciousness of the preceding moment. This mechanism applies, as well, to the arising of the mental cognitions of those who have lost one of their physical senses, such as blind or deaf persons.  

Let us analyze just non-conceptual sensory cognition, for instance the visual bare cognition of an apple. Not everything that is present on the side of the apple, for instance the taste of the apple, can be the “own object” of the visual bare cognition of the apple. The “own object” of a consciousness, for instance the eye consciousness when seeing the apple, must also be an object appropriate to be cognized by that consciousness and must be its focus (bdag-gi dmigs-pa). 

When we see an apple without a price tag on it, the absence of a price tag is an imputation phenomenon on the basis of the apple and is imputedly existent on that basis in the moment immediately preceding our seeing the apple. An absence, however, is a static, metaphysical entity and only nonstatic, objective entities can be the involved objects of a cognition. Therefore, when we see an apple without a price tag on it and, in a sense, “see” no plastic wrapper there, this absence of a price tag is an “own object” that can be accurately and decisively seen by our visual bare cognition, but it would not be an involved object of that cognition. This is because it is not an objective entity.

Thus:

  • Both objective entities and metaphysical entities may be the “own objects” of non-conceptual sensory, mental or reflexive awareness cognition.
  • Objective entities may also be the involved objects of non-conceptual sensory, mental or reflexive awareness cognition, but metaphysical entities may be the involved objects of only non-conceptual reflexive awareness.
  •   Only objective entities, but not metaphysical entities, may be the involved objects of conceptual cognitions.

You should work out for yourself the other pervasions among objective and metaphysical entities, “own object” and involved objects, and conceptual and the three types of non-conceptual cognition.  

Ways of Knowing That Apprehend Their Objects and Ways of Knowing That Do Not

Of the seven ways of knowing, bare cognition, inferential cognition and subsequent cognition: these three are apprehensions (of something). The other four are knowing (something) without apprehension. 

As already stated, a consciousness only apprehends (rtogs-pa) its “own object” if it takes it both accurately and decisively. A consciousness, however, can take its “own object” either accurately (yang-dag-pa) or inaccurately in terms of conventional reality (tha-snyad-pa); and even if accurately, either decisively (nges-pa) or indecisively; and even if decisively, either with comprehension (khong-du chud-pa) or not of what it is. However, a cognition need not comprehend what its “own object” is in order to apprehend it. Comprehension only comes with correct discriminating awareness (shes-rab) and an accurate and decisive conceptual cognition cognizing the item through the appropriate meaning/object category (don-spyi) into which it fits. In Western terminology, comprehension of what something is or who someone is would be equivalent to “recognition.”

If your visual consciousness accurately takes a white snow mountain as its “own object,” it sees as it as white. If it sees it as yellow, it has taken it inaccurately. Furthermore, if it sees it as white and is decisive about it such that later you will have no doubts about what you saw, it has apprehended its object. This is the case even if you don’t know what it is that you saw. But even if your visual consciousness took the snow mountain as its “own object” accurately, namely by taking it as white, if you were unsure about it, you may later waver indecisively between whether it was actually white or not. In such a case, your consciousness took its “own object” accurately, but did not apprehend it.

In short, then, if your way of knowing of something is a distorted cognition (log-shes), your consciousness has taken it inaccurately. But even if it has taken it accurately, yet if your way of knowing it was indecisive, then being either a non-determining cognition (snang-la ma-nges-pa), an indecisive wavering (the-tshoms), or a presumptive cognition (yid-dpyod), it did not apprehend it. Therefore, these four are ways of knowing without apprehension.

The three ways of knowing with apprehension are: 

  • Valid bare cognition (mngon-sum tshad-ma) 
  • Valid inferential cognition (rjes-dpag tshad-ma)
  • The subsequent cognition (bcad-shes) of both. 

The former two apprehend their “own objects” by their own power, while the latter does not. Subsequent cognition relies on the power of a previous initial apprehension in order to continue apprehending an “own object” that has already been accurately and decisively taken in the preceding moment – in other words, to accurately and decisively cognize the next moment of the immediately preceding object.

With bare cognition, your sensory or mental consciousness takes as its “own object” an obvious (mngon-gyur) entity non-conceptually, without the medium of a metaphysical category (spyi) or reliance on a line of reasoning (rtags). With inferential cognition, on the other hand, your mental consciousness takes as its “own object” an obscure (lkog-gyur) entity, conceptually (rtog-bcas), through such a medium and/or with such a reliance. 

For example, when you see a clay jug with visual bare cognition, the clay jug as a whole commonsense object and its sight, as the “own objects” of your eye consciousness, are obvious objects. You do not need to rely on the category “clay jugs” or a line of reasoning just to see it. But the fact that the clay jug is an affected phenomenon, something affected by causes and conditions, is not something that you can know by just looking at the jug. Its property of being an affected phenomenon is an obscure entity and to know it you must cognize it as an item that fits in the categories of both “clay jugs” and “affected phenomena” by relying on a valid line of reasoning, such as “clay jugs are affected phenomena because they are made by human effort.” 

The clay jug and a whole, the sight of the clay jug, and the property of the clay jug being an affected phenomenon are all objective entities present on the side of the clay jug the moment before you see the clay jug. They also appear and are established simultaneously as a single substantial entity (grub-sde rdzas-gcig) in the visual cognition. However, although clay jug’s property of being an affected phenomenon is an “own object” of the visual cognition, nevertheless it is neither an involved object nor an apprehended object of the visual cognition. It may only be an involved object and apprehended object of a conceptual cognition.

When conceptually cognizing with inferential cognition a clay jug as an affected phenomenon, a mental hologram representing something that serves as a generic example of both the category “clay jugs” and the category “affected phenomena” arises as an objective entity in the cognition. Although the hologram’s being an example of clay jugs is obvious, it’s being an example of clay jugs as affected phenomena is obscure. This hologram of an obscure objective entity is both an involved object and an “own object” of the mental consciousness of the conceptual cognition apprehending it. Being an affected phenomenon is an “own object” because it is present already on the side of all external clay jugs that are the objects conceptualized about by the inferential cognition. 

Thus, whether an objective entity is the “own object” of either a conceptual or a non-conceptual cognition, it is not pervasive that it is apprehended by that cognition, nor is it even pervasive that it is the involved object of that cognition. For example, in the inferential cognition of a clay jug as being a nonstatic phenomenon, the clay jug’s being an affected phenomenon is an “own object” of the cognition, but neither its involved object nor its apprehended object.

As for the statement by some scholars that presumptive cognition is a knowing (of something) with apprehension, the intended meaning is that with mere presumptive cognition one can (just about) apprehend (something).

When you presume something true to be so and do this for an accurate reason, your knowing of it could be said almost to have apprehended its object. Like an inferential cognition, your mental consciousness accurately takes as its “own object” an obscure objective entity and does so conceptually by relying on a metaphysical category and an accurate line of reasoning. However, unlike inferential cognition which, in addition, is decisive about this object because of its own power of apprehension, and unlike the subsequent cognition of this inferential cognition, which still is decisive about this object, although not because of its own power, your presumptive cognition of it is not yet decisive. Therefore, it lacks apprehension. But since it may lead to an inferential cognition of its involved object, it could be said almost to have apprehended it. It can be likened to the step before such an apprehension.

For instance, you may have read or been taught that sound is impermanent because it is an affected phenomenon. Here, sound refers to the sound of the Vedas, impermanent means both nonstatic and non-eternal. The main emphasis, however, is that sound, whether eternal or not, is nonstatic: being affected by causes and conditions, it changes from moment to moment. This is the subtle impermanence of sound, an obscure phenomenon that cannot be detected by sensory cognition. 

You may not fully understand the terms or the logic involved with the statement “sound is impermanent because it is an affected phenomenon,” but you presume it to be true. Your mental consciousness can now accurately take as its involved and “own objects” the objective entities sound and its subtle impermanence, the former being an obvious object and the latter an obscure noncongruent affecting variable that is an imputation phenomenon on sound as its basis. But although you may now know the accurate information that sound is impermanent because it is an affected phenomenon, and although you can repeat it to others, you may not have actually apprehended this fact. Later, you may have second doubts. With analytical thinking, however, your presumptive knowing of this, based on hearing, can lead to a valid inferential cognition with which you decisively apprehend that sound must be an impermanent phenomenon, beyond any doubts.

Explicit and Implicit Apprehensions

There is explicit apprehension and implicit apprehension, accepted respectively as apprehensions of an object with the dawning or non-dawning of a mental hologram (of it). 

Although a way of knowing must always take an object, it may or may not assume an aspect of the object it takes. In other words, it may or may not give rise to a mental hologram of it. 

Explicit and Implicit Non-Conceptual Apprehension

Apprehension of an object may be either explicit or both explicit and implicit. With explicit apprehension (dngos-su rtogs-pa), mental hologram of the cognition’s “own object” appears, whereas with implicit apprehension (shugs-la rtogs-pa), mental hologram of the “own object” does not appear. If a cognition has implicit apprehension, it is pervasive that it has both explicit and implicit apprehension. But if a cognition has explicit apprehension, it is not pervasive that it has both.

Consider, for example, the valid bare visual cognition of an apple. The object it non-conceptually cognizes is this externally existent objective entity, the apple, as an immediately preceding object. More precisely, according to the True Aspectarian view, the visual consciousness cognizes not only the visual information that is accessible to the eye sensors, but also a whole, commonsense object, conventionally known as “an apple,” that extends over all the object’s sensory information – its smell, its taste, the physical sensation of it in your hand, etc. – and extends over time. In other words, the visual consciousness also cognizes the collection synthesis and the kind synthesis of this apple. 

Although the bare visual cognition cognizes the apple as a whole and its accessible visual information both accurately and decisively, it does not identify it as an apple. Nevertheless, this object is substantially established from its own side as a commonsense apple. The visual information of the apple and the apple as a whole collection synthesis and kind synthesis are established simultaneously as a single substantial entity and thus are cognized simultaneously. They do so despite the Sautrantika assertion that the colored shape of the apple and the apple as a whole each has its own defining characteristic established on its own side, and the defining characteristic of the whole is not found in each of its parts. 

This immediately preceding external object casts (gtod) an aspect (rnam-pa) of itself on your eye consciousness that cognizes it. Your eye consciousness then assumes this aspect, which means it gives rise to what could be described as a “mental hologram.” It gives rise to this mental appearance in a form that is based on previous experience built up as a tendency (sa-bon) for cognition of similar objects. The aspect it assumes – the mental hologram that dawns in this non-conceptual cognition – is a mental hologram reflecting all the features that are established simultaneously as a single substantial entity and which constitute this external object. This mental hologram is the appearing object (snang-yul) of the cognition. Sometimes, however, the aspect cast on the consciousness and the mental hologram do not match, such as in cases that science describes as “perceptual illusions.”

In the example of the visual bare cognition of an apple, not only are the visual information and collection and kind syntheses, plus the properties of the apple, established simultaneously as a single substantial entity on the side of the apple, so too are the noncongruent affecting variables that are imputation phenomena on the basis of the apple, such as its nonstaticness and its age. They too are established on the side of the apple as a single substantial entity with the visual information and collection and kind syntheses. All of these features are present on the side of this external objective entity in the moment immediately before you see it and all of them appear reflected in the mental hologram that is the appearing object of the visual cognition.

Note that the term “substantial entity” (rdzas) also means “natal source” – the source from which the cognized object and information arises. The source of all the information of the apple is the external, substantially established apple in the immediately preceding moment. 

Although there is agreement among the Gelug textbook traditions that all the sensory information about the apple – its sight, sound, smell, taste and physical sensation – are established simultaneously on the side of this immediately preceding object as a single substantial entity, there is debate as to whether they are all reflected and established simultaneously as a single substantial entity in the appearing object on the side of the sensory cognition.

  • According to the Jetsunpa textbook tradition, all five types of sensory information of the apple are not reflected and not established simultaneously on the side of the cognition as a single substantial entity with the apple as a whole commonsense object. From the side of each of the five types of sensory cognition, the whole apple together with only the type of sensory information specific to that sense consciousness is reflected and established. Thus, each of the five types of sensory cognition cognizes its own individual substantial entity.
  • According to the Panchen textbook tradition, all five types of sensory information of the apple are reflected and established simultaneously on the side of the cognition as a single substantial entity with the apple as a whole. All the sensory information and the whole are the cognitively taken object (gzung-yul) of the visual cognition. A cognitively taken object is the direct object (dngos-yul) that arises in a cognition, as if it were directly in front of the consciousness and is equivalent to the appearing object. However, only the visual information and the apple as a whole are the involved objects that are apprehended by the visual cognition. The nonvisual information, although in front of the eye consciousness in the visual cognition, does not appear and is not cognized. 

Both textbook traditions agree, however, that in the visual cognition of the apple, the involved objects are the visual information and the collection and kind syntheses, but not necessarily all the properties of the apple, such as its being an affected phenomenon, or any of the non-congruent affecting variables other than these syntheses that are also imputation phenomena on the basis of the apple and that are reflected in the appearing object. The same is the case with. Depending on what the visual cognition pays attention to, it may or may not notice that a shriveled apple is aged when seeing it, although its factor of age does appear. 

  • If the visual cognition also focuses its attention on the age of the apple, its age is also an involved object of the cognition. 
  • If it does not pay attention to it, its age is not one of its involved objects, despite being part of its appearing at object.

When your bare visual cognition has explicit apprehension (dngos-su rtogs-pa) of this apple, it cognizes accurately and decisively all the features of the appearing object that are the cognition’s not only it “own objects,” but also its involved objects. They all are the next moment of features present on the side of the immediately preceding moment of the external apple and established as a single objective entity with the apple, and all are appropriate objects for the visual consciousness of the cognition.

When your bare visual cognition has explicit apprehension (dngos-su rtogs-pa) of this apple and some of its obvious objective features that also appear, it also can have implicit apprehension (shugs-la rtogs-pa) of obvious metaphysical features, primarily those that are negation phenomena. Bare cognition, however, cannot apprehend, even implicitly, obscure metaphysical objects.  

Thus, simultaneous with the explicit apprehension of the apply, your bare visual cognition can also implicitly apprehend obvious metaphysical entities such as the specifier of the apple, the object isolate “nothing other than this apple,” as well as “not the other objects in the field of vision.” Both are nonstatic, implicative negation phenomena and are established simultaneously as a single substantial entity with the visual information of the apple and the apple as a whole – both from the side of the apple and from the side of the cognition. Just as this apple changes from moment to moment, so does its being both “nothing other than this apple” and “not the other objects in the field of vision.” Both are imputation phenomena on this apple as their basis for imputation and both are noncongruent affecting variables.

Although both “nothing other than this apple” and “not the other objects in the field of vision” are exclusion phenomena, implicit apprehension of them when explicitly apprehending this apple is not the same as implicit apprehension of another implicative negation exclusion also established simultaneously with them, “not something outside the field of vision,” for instance, “not a pear.” To apprehend that this apple is not a pear, which is also obvious, requires first cognizing a pear and then conceptually excluding it before cognizing this apple. But to know “nothing other than this apple” does not require first cognizing everything other than this apple and then excluding all of them one by one. Similarly, to know “not the other objects in the field of vision” does not require first cognizing all of them and then also excluding them one by one in order to explicitly apprehend this apple.

There is one further difference. As implicative negation phenomena, all three object exclusions are imputedly knowable phenomena, which means that to ascertain them depends on having to ascertain their basis for imputation. In the case of “not a pear,” you first need to accurately ascertain – in other words, apprehend – this object, the apple, its basis for imputation, before being able to ascertain that it is “not a pear.” In the case of “nothing other than this apple” and “not the other objects in the field of vision,” since the explicit apprehension of this apple is, by definition, an accurate ascertainment of the apple, this apprehension can only be an accurate ascertainment of this apple if it has certainty that it is “nothing other than this apple” and “not the other objects in the field of vision.” Although ascertainment of both of these depends on the ascertainment of this apple, it does not require ascertainment of this apple first. 

At the time of explicitly apprehending this apple with a mental hologram of an apple arising in the cognition, then, you implicitly apprehend, simultaneously, “nothing other than this apple” and “not the other objects in the field of vision” and, subsequently, “not a pear,” with all three being additional “own objects” and involved objects, but not as appearing objects. No mental hologram of any of these three implicative negation phenomena arises in the cognition. Nevertheless, you cognize them accurately and decisively when you explicitly apprehend this apple non-conceptually; you implicitly apprehend them also non-conceptually and all three are obvious, objective entities. It is obvious that this apple is nothing other than this apple, not any of the other objects in the field of vision, and not a pear. 

“Not a pear” is included within the set of “nothing other than this apple” – in other words, “not something other than this apple,” “not something else” including not a pear. Thus, just as “nothing other than this apple” is established simultaneously with the apple as a single substantial entity, so too is the “not a pear,” a noncongruent affecting variable that is an imputation phenomenon on the apple as its basis. This is quite different from the case of cognizing the absence of a price tag on the apple.

If the apple does not have a price tag on it, then when you explicitly apprehend it, you are explicitly apprehending an apple without a price tag. An “apple without a price tag” is an obvious affirmation phenomenon and a mental hologram of it appears. But the absence (med-pa) of a price tag on the apple is a metaphysical negation phenomenon. As such, it is static – it remains the case, without changing, unless a price tag is put on the apple or the apple is eaten. That absence is also present and established on the side of the apple at the immediately preceding moment before seeing. It is something obvious. It can also be apprehended as another one of the “own objects” of the visual consciousness. It would only be implicitly apprehended, however, because an absence of something has no form and so cannot appear. Being a metaphysical entity, however, the implicitly apprehended absence is not an involved object of the visual bare cognition; only objective entities can be an involved object.

This absence of a price tag on the apple, although present on the apple as its location, is not an imputation phenomenon on the basis of the apple. It is an imputation phenomenon on the basis of the objective empty space that you also explicitly apprehend when you explicitly apprehend the apple. According to the Sautrantika tenets, an absence of something is not a substantial entity (rdzas) and so it is not established simultaneously as a single substantial entity with the apple. But it is present as an imputation phenomenon that is established on the empty space around the apple before you see it. Thus, it is qualified to be an “own object” of your visual cognition of the apple, provided that you already have seen a price tag, your visual cognition pays attention to the empty space around the apple, and you have conceptionally precluded its presence there. This is rather complex. 

Explicit and Implicit Conceptual Apprehension

With valid inferential cognition, you may come to know something obscure, such as the subtle nonstaticness of sound. The subtle nonstaticness of sound, namely its moment to moment changing, although an objective entity, is not an obvious phenomenon that can be heard by ordinary auditory consciousness. We may hear the sound of a tune changing from note to note, but the subtle nonstaticness of the sound occurs on the microsecond level. It is too fast to hear and so is obscure. On the other hand, it is possible to explicitly hear the perishing of a sound – its obvious gross impermanence – when it stops. The gross impermanence of sound does not need to be proven by inferential cognition. But you can only validly know that sound is a subtly nonstatic phenomenon conceptually through valid inferential cognition by relying on a valid line of reasoning, thoroughly understood. 

First you need to formulate the thesis, “Sound is a subtly nonstatic phenomenon because it is an affected phenomenon, like a clay jug and not like a space.” Then, an example of a line of reasoning to prove it would be:

  • Sound is an affected phenomenon
  • Whatever is an affected phenomenon is a subtly nonstatic phenomenon, like a clay jug
  • Whatever is a not a nonstatic phenomenon is also not an affected phenomenon, like a space.

Based on this line of reasoning, your mental consciousness now can explicitly apprehend, with valid inferential cognition, sound as a subtly nonstatic phenomenon. 

Since inferential cognition conceptually cognizes the object it takes, its appearing objects are the categories “sounds” and “being something subtly nonstatic (mi-rtag-pa-nyid),” both of which, being static, have no form. Rather, the mental hologram that dawns is that of a mental representation of a sound, This is what appears in the conceptual cognition and represents both sound and something that is subtly nonstatic. Thus, in giving rise to a mental appearance representing sound and cognizing it through the two categories of “sounds” and “being something subtly nonstatic,” the inferential cognition explicitly apprehends sound with its obscure property of being a subtly nonstatic phenomenon. 

Note that subtle nonstaticness is an imputedly knowable object on the basis of sound and thus is established simultaneously with the sound as a single substantial entity. Both sound and its subtle nonstaticness are the apprehension’s “own objects,” since they are the next moments of the holograms of them that appeared while going conceptually cognizing the stages of the line of reasoning. They are also the involved objects of the conceptual cognition because, according to Sautrantika, they are objective substantial entities. 

Similar to the above analysis of the non-conceptual apprehension of the apple, the explicit conceptual apprehension of sound as a subtly nonstatic phenomenon can also implicitly apprehend further characteristics of the sound as its “own objects” at the same time. These include the nonstatic implicative negation phenomena of the two isolates, “nothing other than a sound” and “nothing other than a subtly nonstatic phenomenon,” and “not a space.” Also included is the static nonimplicative negation phenomenon, “the absence of sound’s being not a subtly nonstatic phenomenon.” Note that this absence, as a metaphysical entity is not also an involved object of the cognition, but it qualifies as an “own object” because it is a subsequent moment of an immediately preceding absence cognized in the line of reasoning.

Non-Apprehensions Cannot Implicitly Cognize Anything

If one of your types of consciousness takes an object inaccurately or, even if accurately, takes it indecisively, it assumes an aspect of the object it takes and such a mental hologram dawns on it. Such an object can even be considered the “own object” of that consciousness, but because the cognition is inaccurate or indecisive, it does not explicitly apprehend it and there can be no question of the cognition also taking another facet of that item as its implicitly apprehended “own object.” “Own objects” that are taken and known without a mental hologram of them actually dawning to the consciousness that takes them are exclusively within the domain of implicit apprehensions. Unless your consciousness accurately and decisively takes as its object the mental hologram that dawns to it, it cannot begin to take as its additional object an auxiliary aspect it does not assume.

The Number of Ways of Knowing That Are Apprehensions

From Eliminating Mental Darkness: (A Filigree) for (Dharmakirti’s) “Seven Volumes (on Valid Cognition)” (by Kedrub Je): “It is said that (1) in general, with valid cognitions there are explicit and implicit ones; and (2) with bare cognition and inferential cognition, you may have explicit and implicit apprehension. The first statement is a very rough one, while the second is the Sautrantika position. Or the latter could be taken in the sense that both (types of apprehension may occur) in specific instances of bare cognition and inferential cognition.” 

When Buddha taught his different schools of tenets, his explanations varied concerning the definition of a valid knowing of something and how many of the seven ways of knowing are included in the two valid ones, bare cognition and inferential cognition. This was in order to suit the different intellectual capacities of his disciples. But regardless of definition and whether two or three of the seven ways are asserted as constituting the two types of valid cognition, all Buddhist systems would accept the statement that valid ways of knowing can apprehend objects both explicitly and implicitly. Therefore, the first statement in the above passage from Eliminating Mental Darkness: (A Filigree) for (Dharmakirti’s) “Seven Volumes (on Valid Cognition)”  (sDe-bdun yid-kyi mun-sel) by Kedrub Je (mKhas-grub-rje dGe-legs dpal-bzang) is rough in the sense of being vague enough to be open to different interpretations that would still find the statement acceptable.

The Seven Volumes on Valid Cognition (Tshad-ma sde-bdun) by the Indian master Dharmakirti (Chos-kyi grags-pa) are: 

  1.  Commentary to (Dignaga’s “Compendium of) Validly Cognizing Minds” (Tshad-ma rnam-‘grel, Skt. Pramāṇavārtika)
  2.  Ascertaining Validly Cognizing Minds (Tshad-ma rnam-par nges-pa, Skt. Pramāṇaviniścaya)
  3.  A Drop of Valid Logic (Tshad-ma rigs-thigs, Skt. Nyāyabindu)
  4.  A Drop of Lines of Reasoning (gTan-tshigs thigs-pa, Skt. Hetubindu)
  5.  Examination of (Logical) Connections (‘Brel-ba brtag-pa, Skt. Sambandhaparīkṣā)
  6.  The Logic of Debate (rTsod-pa’i rigs-pa, Skt. Vādanyāya)
  7.  Establishing (Proofs) in Others’ Mental Continuums (Rgyud-gzhan sgrub-pa, Skt. Santānāntarasiddhi).

The Sautrantika position asserts that the two valid ways of knowing, namely bare cognition and inferential cognition, do not include any of the other five ways of knowing as sub-categories. Therefore, the second statement in the passage could be interpreted as an assertion specific to this system of tenets. Not every bare cognition or inferential cognition, however, has both explicitly and implicitly apprehended objects. Only some do, as illustrated above with bare visual cognition explicitly apprehending an apple, as opposed to the one both explicitly apprehending the apple and implicitly “not that other object.” Likewise, there can be an inferential cognition explicitly apprehending a sound’s being nonstatic as opposed to one both explicitly apprehending it as being nonstatic and implicitly as not being static. This is an alternative interpretation of the second statement in the passage.

The Pervasions between Valid Cognition and Apprehension

“As for how an invalid cognition can apprehend (its object) explicitly or implicitly, it is in the same way as explained for the valid ones.”

According to the Sautrantika position, a valid way of knowing something is defined as a fresh, non-fraudulent awareness of it. For a cognition to be fresh (gsar), it must take its object by its own power. For it to be non-fraudulent (mi-bslu-ba), it must apprehend its object, in other words take it both accurately and decisively. Thus, to say that your knowledge must be fresh in order to be valid disqualifies subsequent cognition from the set of valid ways of knowing. To specify that it must be non-fraudulent eliminates presumptive cognition. Furthermore, since it must be an awareness, the physical cognitive sensors, such as the photo-sensitive cells of the eyes, cannot be an element of this set either. 

Because the Madhyamaka-Prasangika, Jain, and Vaibhashika tenets define the set of valid ways of knowing differently from the above, the first allows what Sautrantika calls “subsequent cognition” as an element, the second presumptive cognition and the third the physical cognitive sensors. Therefore, it is essential when comparing the assertions of different systems of tenets to note the individual peculiarities in defining the common sets and not to mix parts of one system with parts of another.

Although a valid way of knowing must be both fresh and non-fraudulent, these three are not mutually inclusive sets. Examine the pervasions. That between fresh and non-fraudulent ones is a tetralemma. Since non-fraudulent awarenesses are mutually inclusive with apprehensions, it will be easier to understand the pervasions by substituting the latter for the former. An awareness can be: 

  •  Fresh but not an apprehension, such as presumptive cognition 
  •  An apprehension but not fresh, such as subsequent cognition
  •  Both fresh and an apprehension, such as valid bare cognition and inferential cognition
  •  Neither, such as distorted cognition.

The pervasion between valid cognitions and apprehensions is a trilemma. An awareness can be: 

  • Both valid and an apprehension, such as valid bare cognition and inferential cognition
  • An apprehension but not valid, such as subsequent cognition because it is not fresh
  •  Neither valid nor an apprehension, such as distorted cognition.

There can be no valid cognition that is not an apprehension.

The pervasion between valid cognitions and fresh ones is also a trilemma. An awareness can be: 

  • Both valid and fresh, such as valid bare cognition and inferential cognition 
  • Fresh but not valid, such as presumptive cognition, because it is not an apprehension
  • Neither valid nor fresh, such as distorted cognition. 

There can be no valid cognition that is not fresh.

From these pervasions it can be seen that the sets of invalid ways of knowing and those with apprehension are not mutually exclusive, but also are a trilemma. The common locus (gzhi-mthun) shared between them is subsequent cognition. It is an apprehension because it is non-fraudulent, in other words because it takes its object both accurately and decisively. But because subsequent cognition does not do so freshly by its own power, it is invalid. Yet by the strength of its merely taking an object accurately and decisively when assuming its aspect, it can do likewise for an object the aspect of which it does not actually assume. This should be understood in the same way as the previous examples concerning the valid bare visual cognition of both an apple and “not that other object” and the inferential cognition of a sound’s both being static and not static. The subsequent cognitions of such valid ones can also explicitly and implicitly apprehend the same objects.

Summary

The seven ways of knowing something are by (1) presumptive cognition, (2) non-determining cognition, (3) subsequent cognition, (4) distorted cognition, (5) indecisive wavering, (6) bare cognition and (7) inferential cognition.

In summary, then, of these seven, only the last two are valid. Subsequent cognition, bare cognition and inferential cognition, however, each apprehend their “own objects.” Therefore, if it is a valid way of knowing, it is pervasive that it apprehends its “own object.” But if it is an apprehension it need not be valid, because it may not be fresh as with subsequent cognition. Furthermore, even if your cognition of something is accurate, it is not pervasive that your cognition is valid or that you have apprehended anything decisively, because it may be fraudulent, as with presumptive cognition. And whether what it cognizes is accurate or not, if your mind is indecisive or wavering about it, it is still not valid and has no apprehension. Distorted cognition is the worst of all since it falsifies what is accurate.

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