Exploring Consciousness

The Abhidhamma has been referenced in a number of previous writings and it resurfaced again in a recent study group as we were exploring ?Consciousness.? I invite you to enter into a body of knowledge that lies within it that I have found of great value over the years, the 52 Mental Factors of Consciousness.

The source text that I have found to be an easier entry point is The Psychological Attitude of Early Buddhist Psychology by Lama Anangarika Govinda. A Burmese monk, Ajahn Ariyavamso, introduced me to the Abhidhamma, and a few years later a fellow student brought me to Govinda?s work.

Being a natural investigator of ?givens,? I was prompted to explore the idea of Consciousness and find out more about it. From a practical standpoint, I felt that if I were going to use this word/concept, it would be helpful to have a better understanding of ?what? it is and not accept blindly what I may read or hear about it.

I use the analogy of ?alphabets? and how we need the basic building blocks to express in verbal or written language what we are experiencing on a subtler level (the inner dimension). I have discovered that if I can get to the basic building blocks in a life experience, the inner meaning does not evade me much, and I am able to retrieve that which is of value and use it as a light that illuminates the everyday living.

Lama Govinda summarized the 52 Factors of Consciousness in a chart which I use as an alphabet and a map. It organizes the factors and helps me see how the factors of consciousness work together as a system. As letters of an alphabet require other ingredients to make it intelligible, so too, do the factors require more effort in the study of The Abhidhamma.

Not long after I wrote the above, I heard Dr. Mario Martinez on WBAI and decided to find out more about his work. The following YouTube lecture, ?Embodying The Four Immeasurables,? was insightful and connects into the 52 Mental Factors of Consciousness. For those who use the chart by Lama Govinda, the Pali words for the Four Immeasurables, or the Four Sublime Abodes, are Metta. Karuna, Mudita, and Upekkha.

Embodying The Four Immeasurables with Dr. Mario Martinez

Worthy of effort,


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