[Abogado del Pajapati]
This business of the "invisible consciousness" really hits home! I feel for the first time that something is beginning to make sense to me. I can see that there are some who having experienced this invisible something would be content to say nothing, believing that nothing can be said of what is not visible, not graspable by the senses or the mind. And I can see that there might be others who having had the same experience are not content to say nothing. An experience would have to fall into the category of something, they might propose. And given that we have the ability to speak and think, why not use that ability even when it seems that it is not fully capable, at the moment, of doing what is trying to do. Maybe if we try enough, the words will come. If we can speak of an invisible consciousness, what is the harm of "playing" with concepts, even if they can only give us intimations of the "thing" spoken of. This intimation may get us to the experience better than the "more correct (more conscientious?) position of those who will not speak.
This is the problem with attempting to describe this invisible consciousness: it represents a misunderstanding of what is at work and it defeats the point of making the discovery.
Reading carefully the Essay "Green Tea" and if you need authority, the MahaNidana Suttanta on which it is based, focus on the final steps where the Buddha is saying that Nama/Rupa is dependant on (not causes) Vinnana (Here, what we normally understand to be consciousness) and that Vinnana is dependant on Nama/Rupa.
What this is saying is that Conceptualized Thinking (work of mind, or, seeing work of mind as it is really, which is just naming things; Nama) together with the way things appear (Rupa is really just 'light'; colored shapes which we take for substance); when they interact together with the consciousness element (in the West we have no such conception, but you must see it as there as a building block of the world or you would need to break it down into some other elements and postulate that that which does not have consciousness can generate consciousness; like trying to arrive at the point where we say computers can have self awareness...just can't happen.) is what is understood as 'existence'.
Conceptual thinking begins at this point as does existence as an individual in any 'conceivable' form whatsoever: hellion, ghost, daemon, animal, human, gods, GOD, BRAHMA, purely mental existence; even as 'unconscious' or as not existing ... existence in ANY conceptual form...and furthermore, at this point such forms of existence are made to be by mind as they are conceptualized.
This is the decision that gets made by the 'about-to-be-Arahant' when he encounters 'sanna-vedana-nirodha' the ending of perception and sense experience: He thinks: 'All those states which came before this were thought out, confounded, made up by mind and consequently are subject to dissolution. Now this state too (the sanna-vedana-nirodha) is also thought out, confounded, made up by mind and is consequently subject to dissolution; but if I were to go on from this point making up new mental states, it could well be that I would end up in a less clear state than this. How about if I give up this making up of mental states?' And he does that. And it is only then that he is actually completely and utterly detached and free.
How can it be stated any more clearly? Do not go beyond this point in your attempts to conceptualize how things are!
The understanding of human nature in the position taken above is correct but what is lacking is vision of the danger and the need to let it go there, and that is precisely the mistake of the Mahayanists and because of this mistake they are propagating a doctrine that will not lead either to individual salvation or to the salvation of all men, and by that they demonstrate that they do not even have the understanding of the Stream-entrant (who at least can see how this works in the way described above...AKA the Dhammacakkhu, or the Eye of Dhamma).
Existence in any form capable of being described in conceptual terms starts and ends at the point of intersection of Nama/Rupa and Consciousness. To push it further is to push it back into the realm of the conceptual and to defeat the point.
At this point, insisting on making an effort to do what the Buddha is saying should not be done and is useless and dangerous, is to be putting one's self back at the beginning of the effort. It brings up the question as to why it is a person is studying this system at all. Either they do not understand the issue as being an attempt to solve the problem of Pain because they do not understand that it is the problem of pain that is in back of the struggle to solve the problem of existence; or they are simply being argumentative because they do not follow the initial instructions to pay attention to the point here and to put asside speculation and adopt the method of the Magga as their working hypothesis.
If one sees the issue as being solving the problem of pain, and one accepts as a working hypothesis that the Buddha knew the answer and has the correct method, one does not then go on to argue with the propositions laid out until one sees how it is for one's self (that is, not 'intellectually' but in fact, face-to-face with the truth), and at that point there will be no argument.
The Mahayanists are just saying, before any attempt at following the method to start with is made, that 'We know more than you do,' (what else could one think when they take on a name like 'Mahayana' in contrast with 'Hinayana'?) when in fact they do not understand the first thing.
This sort of speculation/postulation is acceptable for one who has not yet encountered and understood the Buddha's proposition. Prior to such an encounter such speculation can be seen as healthy introspection. Subsequent to contact with the Buddha's system it represents not paying attention to the point and arguing a different point and becomes a very dangerous proposition in itself in that the Buddha does have a system that solves the problem of Pain and by that the problem of existence and because he Does have the solution such argument is argument against the solution and against making the effort in the way that is stated will produce the desired results, and since this argument presses up against the absolute boundaries of existence itself, arguing against this system in the face of this system has the effect of driving the one who so argues into the extremes of rebirth in low conditions because it is only in such low conditions as rebirth in hell or as an animal that the mind can contain such contradictory (read 'crazy') positions. That is the danger of the Mahayana point of view; it not only leads those who follow it away from the highest point of view, but leads them into Hell itself. These are the 'stakes' in this game.