The word Vinnana is commonly translated as consciousness. It is one of the most difficult words find in the texts, because it is used in more senses. The word Vinnana is not used only in the field of psychology but also used commonly in the field of metaphysic. In the filed of psychology. The term presents different functions of the mind. We already understood that though the term Citta, Mano, Vinnana are employed to connote the entire complex of consciousness, each word presents different dimension of the same general complex of consciousness. It is a clear factor that when we confined ourselves to the term vinnana, which presents different functions of the same general complex of, mind has been used to dignify the different states of the same mind. Therefore, it is a multi-significant term. This condition opens a great controversy regarding its exact meaning.
Vinnana means knowing something. "Vijanati vijanatiti kho avuso vinnananti vuccati ( M.N-1.292)-knowing , O monks, therefore it is called vinnana. According to Buddhsim the usage of vinnana in the Sutta can be found in two ways. According to Madhupindika Sutta vinnana is used in one way. "Cakkhum ca paticca rupe ca uppajjati cakkhu vinnanam- depending on eye and form visual consciousness arise. (S.N.11.73)". The same passage is repeated starting from other same field. According to Madhupindika sutta, six kinds of consciousness are mentioned. They are:
1. Visual consciousness which arises depending on eye and form
2. Auditory consciousness which arise depending on ear and sound
3. All factory consciousness which arises depending on nose and smell
4. Gustatory consciousness which arises depending on tongue and taste
5. Bodily consciousness which arises depending on body and touch
6. Mental consciousness which arises depending on mind and dhamma.
According to the expression, the act of vinnana and its origination are very clear. It is aid voluntary action, the contact between sense organ and their respective sense object insensibility made the pave to merge vinnana. For those two factors are necessary: external sense object and internal sense organ or stimulus object.
Depending upon Sankhara, consciousness arises. All the perceive things are sankhara (creation). The objective word is sankhara, thus vinnana arises depending on sankhara, that is both objective and subjective words. Mahatanhasankhaya sutts shows how the vinnana gets different connotation. " O monks, as a fire burns, because this or that appropriate condition, by it is known. If the fire burns because of sticks, it is known as a stick fire and if a fire burns because of grass, it is known as grass fire and if a fire burns because of cow-dung, it is known as cow-dung fire, Even so monks because of the conditions appropriated to it, consciousness arise. It is known by this or that name. When consciousness arises because of eye and form, it is known as visual consciousness.
Cognition is a complex process. Its first stage is vinnana. It is not full cognition. Here at the first stage or Cakkhuvinnana stage consciousness turn out to be bare sensation as yet undiscriminated by any selective activity. It is the mere awareness of the present of the object. And it does not produce knowledge of any sort " Cakkhuvinnanam pana ettha dassana mattham eva hoti". At this stage consciousness free from differences. The consciousness does not admit any alternative or it is not wavering. At this stage consciousness knows that something is presenting. It does not know anything about the object. It perceived something but not with details " Na kinci dhammam pati vijanati". It is word to note here in this stage there is no attention. This is a mere voluntary direction towards the object. This act of vinnana only begins to operate after stimulus enters through the sense doors. It has direct relationship with the senses but it cannot cognize the object completely. That is why at initial stage vinnana is named under a condition appropriate to it. Another important thing is that at this stage vinnana is neither good nor bad but neuter. Therefore, it cannot e ethically evaluated.
In the instruction given to monks clearly shows that development of mind has to begin at this stage. " The monks advice do cultivate mind at the Cakkhuvinnana stage, then, Bahiya, thus must you train yourself in the seen these will be just the seen, in the heard just the heard, in the imagine just the imagined, in the cognise just the cognised. Thus you will have know their pave that is how you must train yourself.
The earlier view of vinnana also signifies the cognitive consciousness. This includes all residual mental funcions, which produces a full cognition. At the first stage, vinnana is something functionary generated by the interaction of the animated organism, with external matters. But the process of full cognition does not arise here. This is not the final stage in the process of sense cognition, because here the object is not completely comprehended for the perception of material object, there should be other condition.
"Ajjhattikan ca avuso mano aparibhinnam hoti bahira ca dhamma na apatham agacchanti no ca tajjo samannaharo hoti nevatava tajjassa vinnana bhagassa patubhavo hoti- mind, that is intact but external dhammas do cone within its range and there is no appropriated impact, therefore, there is no appearance of the appropriate section of consciousness" (M.N-I-190). This quotation describes the necessary three conditions of cognition (vinnana). The first, the mind as the organ of dhamma, the origin itself must be unimpaired, second, the external object, coning within the field of mental state; third an appropriated impact and of attention.
The sutta says that when these factors are processive, then the emergence of the cognitive consciousness (vinnana) take place. It is important here to study the word "tajjo samannahara". Samannahara means attention, concentration, bringing together. According to commentarial explanation Samanahara means attention Cakkhum ca paticca rupe ca bhavagan avatetva uppajja ca mana manasikaro" . " Tajo" means born there from. Thus this condition there is act of attention should be there to have cognitive consciousness (vinnana). This is act of attention is a deliberate action. But as to the commentarial explanation, there is the meaning of "tajjo- born there from" means act of attention and automatic but the act of arises after the impact of the sense organ, object and visual consciousness.
These functions are automatic, but thereafter act of attention has to be brought about. Therefore it is better to say that it is a deliberate act. When the act of attention is over, one can cognise the object. In this sense, vinnana is rather a cognitive consciousness. In the process of cognitive, or in the act of attention, different mental activities naturally take place. Phassa is one of the mental activities. Phassa has the manifestation of bringing things together. It brings about a sort of cognition between the sense organ, the object and sensation. According to Nikaya literature there are two kinds of phassa (conduct):
1. Patigha samphassa, it refers to our impression, which comes through the five senses.
2. Adhivacana samphassa, it refers to the impression that comes through mental contact.
According to Abhidhamma, Phassa is described as the effect of combination of these three. It also explains 'phassa' is as a sort of non-material relationship. There is no physical impact but there is something similar to it. Visuddhimagga also clearly mentions that phassa is non-material. "Ayam hi dhammo samano". But its function is touching the object. "arammane phusana karena eva pavatati"(vs. 463)
Even the later Abhidhamma scholars tried to show that phassa is not a sort of act of impinging on the object, but act of cogitation. The stereotype definition in the Visuddhimagga descries that phassa has the characteristic of touch, the function of impact and the manifestation bring things together. It is interesting to read that even Buddhaghosa emphasised that phassa has the manifestation of bringing things together "Sannipata paccupatthana". That is the coming together of three factors, phassa is a name for this coming together of three factors. When these four factors come together, there arises feeling, this is merely the reaction to contact. Feeling comprises five types of sensitivities, i.e agreeable bodily feeling, disagreeable bodily feeling, agreeable mental feeling, disagreeable mental feeling and feeling of indifference.
Apart from the knowledge of sensitivity, there arises 'Vitakka' which means thinking, reflecting, another work which goes with this vitakka is 'Vicara' which means investigation. At the stage of vitakka, reasoning on the original data is occurred. It is pre-verbal mental utterance. Vicra is an advance stage. It is a subsequent stage of vitakka. It
also means examination. These two factors always go together, but they refer to two different levels of the same stage. The final stage of the process of cognition is named as Papanca.
That is the mental proliferation, expansion or manifoldness. In early stage, data collection is made. At the stage of papanca, the concepts are made. It is an inexorable subjection to an object. In the Abhidhamma, this situation is called " Kappana" or "Parikappana" which means synthetic function of the mind. Papanca is essentially connected with the process of sense perception and papanca is the final state in the process of sense-cognition. Therefore, it is signifies the growth of conceptual aspect of process. This is not a contingent state " Yam papanceti tatonidanam purisam papancasanna sankha samudacaranti atitanagata paccupannesu cakkhu vinneyyesu rupesu"(M.N.111). What one proliferates conceptually due to that concepts characterised by the prolific tendency assail him in regard to material shape cognisable by the eye belonging to the past, future and present. Papanca is associated with the worldly imagination. This is the state, which tend to obscure through the nature of the object. Here, language has a very important role to play, because papanca is associated with language.
Language (namapannatti) and concept (attapannatti) are inseparable. They always go together. Though conceptual activity presupposes the language, they go together. It is clear that these two languages and concept come into operation the state of papanca. But Buddhaghasa in his explanation had ignored the essential connection with language. He used the word "papanca kotthasa" which means part of papanca to connote other material factors. Thereby he ignored the original meaning.
The same sutta, further explains how papancasanna overwhelms the worldliness "Yatonidanam bhikkhu purisam papancasannasankha samuda caranti ettha ce natthi abhinanditabbam abhivaditabbam ajjhositabbam es'ev'anto raganusayanam patighanusayanam ditthanusayanam vicikicchanusayanam mananusayanam bhavaraganusayanam avijjanusayanam dandadana-satthadana-kulaha-viggaha-vivada-tuvantuva-pesunna-musavadanam etth'ete papakaakusala dhamma aparisesa nirujjhantiti ( M.N.I. 109). If, O, monks, one neither delights in or asserts nor clings to that which makes one subject to concept characterised by the proclivity (tendency) to attachment views, ignorance, etc.
This quotation clearly mentions that papanca lead to create the concept. If one does not delight in papancasanna, subjection to papancasanna, one would be realised from all notions. Thus papanca corresponds to views etc. This also hinted that the intuition of ego into the sense perception occurs at this cognitive stage. Due to this, one becomes the victim of one's own conception, craving, conceit, view are three aspect of notions of the self. Thus papanca manifest itself through this psychic factors.
"Papanca yeva papanca sankha tanha papanca sankha ditthi papanca sankha mana papanca sankha" Papanca themselves are "papanca-sankha " to with tanha papancasankha. With accord to the atthakatha of Buddhaghosa, "papanca-sanna sankha" defined as craving, view and conceit. "Tanha ditthi manam etam adhivacanam "(M.N.Atthakatha.II. 10). Thus these factors are rather the result of papanca, the root cause of the papancasankha. According to sutta Nipata is the acceptance of self, "mantaham asmi" I am he who thinks.
A passage in the sutta Nipata clearly shows the connection of papanca with the same perception. " Yavata avuso channam phassayatananam gati tavata papancassa gati yavta papancassa gati tavala channam phassayatananam gati channam avuso phassayatananam asesaviraga nirodha papancanirodho papancavupasamo. (A.N.II.161). So long your reverence, as there is going to the contact for just so long is there a going to papanca, but by the passionless ending without remainder of the contact, there is coming down of papanca. This quotation shows that papanca is dependent on mental activities, that is vitakha, vicara, phassa etc.
Papanca is an emotionally involved activity. Papanca gives rise to desire it is a conscious activity of concrete image formation.
"Papancasanna itaritara nara papancayanta upyanti sannino manonaya gehasitanca sabbam panujja nekkjammasitam iriyati( S.N.IV.71)-all men who have only prolific image, production go on associating when perceiving but he drives out everything that is mind-made and connected with lay life and goes on the life of renunciation. Papanca is a characteristic of all mental life. The entire image criterions are controlled by papanca. It also has a connection with wishful dream and analytic thought. Understanding of a thing implies a dual relationship that is subjective aspect and objective aspect. papanca is the general term for the both aspects. This experience gives us knowledge of phenomena world. This papanca is also equivalent to " Kamma vinnana" that is why it says who is given to papanca like a deer enjoying papanca, he will fail tareach Nibbana(A.N. 3.294)
In sutta Nipata, we find that papanca is illustrated as a compounding factor with nama-rupa(name and form). Anuvicca papanca namarupam ajjhattam bahiddha ca rogamulam sabbarogamulabandhana pamutto anuvidho tadi pavuccate tathatta(Sn.98). Having understood the prolific, name and form, the root of illness externally and internally, one is released from bondage to the root of all illness.
The common illustration is that name and form is conditioned to vinnana, but here, papanca is used to denote the same idea, the origin of suffering is traced to vinnana "yam kinci dukkham sambhoti, sabbam vinnana paccaya (Sn.734). Thus last stage of vinnana is empirical consciousness. Destruction of the empirical consciousness is the cessation of the phenomenal world. This empirical consciousness is produced by the related psychic factors, such as vedana, phassa, vitakka, papanca etc. Person can avoid these situations if he does not delight on all these psychic factors, thereby he could an end into vinnana "ajjhattan ca bahiddha ca vednam nabhinandato evam satassa carato vinnanam uparujjhati (Sn.215).