Unconscious vs Conscious and Percieving Mind Moments

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    Alexander B

    I am currently in stage 4, and was reading about moments of consciousness, and am having difficulty wrapping my head around it, particularly the distinction between unconscious moments of consciousness and conscious moments of consciousness. My main question regards the models conception of unconscious moments of consciousness, how can an unconscious moment still be considered a mind moment on the same level with other moments that are associated with stimuli from the other senses? What is an unconscious moment of consciousness and how can we even know what these moments are to classify them as unconscious mind moments if we are not actually consciously perceiving them? Another question about about unconsciousness and dullness: the book seems to relate these two as if they fall under the same category but if we were not consciously sensing some feeling of dullness how then would we be able to classify it as dullness and give it qualities like mildly pleasurable, so is it really an unconscious moment?

    I really appreciate any comments you have about this and if they are unanswerable I understand.




    Hi, I give a try. Remember that the model is there for usefulness — truth is not relevant.

    Dulness is defined as a lot of non perceiving mind moments. Ppg 164-165. This is not the same as unconscious moments of consciousness, which dont exist in the book – Its an oxymoron right? 🙂 I think this mix up of definitions has created problems for you. Am I correct?. So you are correct that one cannot know unconscious actions or processes— they are in the dark.
    But I have noticed stuffs I do on autopilot so some stuffs can be corrected with mindfulness or mindfulness with clear comphrehension.

    As I understand it ( have not experienced it yet) There are a lot of subconscious processing — some of it might surface to consciousness . There the sub minds can hang out, share information; interact and together vote (those that where invited at least) for a certain action pp191-192.


    Hi Alex,

    I hope others will weigh in to properly address your question. You are right when you say that we can not perceive things that arise in the unconscious. Unconscious objects must be projected into consciousness in order for us to be first, aware of them and then secondly, to pay attention to them. Of course we know that things that enter into consciousness, first arise in the unconscious. So moments of perception, sensation, thought, etc all must exist in the unconscious. It is not until they enter into consciousness, however, that we consider them moments of consciousness. I am not aware of a reference to “unconscious” moments of consciousness.

    As to your second question regarding dullness and non-perceiving moments of consciousness. Non-perceiving moments are projected into consciousness. If enough of them are presented in a given time dullness will occur. This is a very low energy state that is as you’ve, said mildly pleasurable, but is not conducive to training the mind. Dullness subverts awareness and attention and therefore mindfulness. Continuing to sit in dullness can slow the unification of the mind and delay the arising of joy, vibrancy and tranquility that ultimately comes with the pacification of the mind.

    I find it wonderful that you are considering these questions so deeply. If I have misunderstood what you are referring to in the book please let me know.

    Kind Regards,
    Colleen Vaughn, Dharma Treasure Teacher in Training


    Hello again Alex,

    Your question has me wondering, if non-perceiving mind moments, might not exert the same sort of effect on the brain that some drugs have on the brain. Xanax for example enhances the activity of the neurotransmitter GABA which in turn inhibits the activity of excitatory neurotransmitters resulting in “decreased alertness, poor memory, decreased muscle tone and co-ordination, blunted emotional responses, etc

    Both dullness and many recreational drugs will interfere with what we are trying to do in meditation, but both can be mildly pleasurable.

    Magnolia, I saw your response after I posted my first post. I agree with everything that you wrote!


    Cliff W

    Dear Alex
    I think things might be clearer for you if we made a distinction between moments of consciousness and mind moments. Moments of consciousness would be moments of knowing so it would be pretty difficult to have an “unconscious moment of consciousness”. Its hard to come up with a good definition of mind but one I like is by Dr. Dan Siegel from a post by David Korsunsky
    First and foremost he explained that of all the psychologists and all the psychiatrists he has spoken with, none of them have a working definition of what the human mind is. According to Dr. Siegel, these professionals can certainly explain what the brain is, but the brain is not the mind, it is only one component of mind. So Dr. Siegel presented his definition for what the human mind is and then proceeded to explain this definition. According to Dr. Siegel, the mind can be defined as follows:

    “The human mind is an embodied and relational process that regulates energy and information flow”

    It’s embodied because there are several important components of mind that are contained within the body, namely the brain and the central nervous system. It is relational because a healthy mind is equally dependent on having healthy relationships with other people. We are social creatures by nature, and being social with others is part of the default programming in humans. Healthy relationships are thus a key to a healthy mind. For example, if we are in unhealthy relationships (whether it’s a marriage, a relationship with a family member or a relationship with a co-worker) this has an effect on how we feel and how we behave. Similarly, if we had a lesion or damage in the brain, this would also affect how we feel and how we behave, hence mind is equally dependent on both the embodied and relational.

    As for dullness, it is related to non-perceiving moments of consciousness. The relation would be between the number of perceiving moments of consciousness vs nonpreciveing moments in a given time period. When the moments are overwhelmingly nonperceiving you are asleep.


    Alexander B


    Thanks I think differentiating between mind moments and moments of consciousness does clear up some of the confusion I was having, I guess that I was under the impression that all of our experience could only be classified as a collection of conscious moments, so the confusion comes from having some other moment not coming from our senses or perception still being a part of our subjective experience, which we call the unconscious mind moment. And also the fact that this is not considered a moment of perception has me confused, because how would it then be a part of our conscious experience if some sort of information was entering our body through one of the senses. It literally doesn’t make any sense. I think that I just have to accept that there is fundamental uncertainty when making models about our own experience, and that these models are only an attempt to fill in this uncertainty.

    Thanks for everyone’s responses I really appreciate it.





    In my experience, moments of dullness always arise as a result of lapses of attentional awareness on the sensation of the breath – for me this usually occurs due to physical or mental tiredness. It is much easier to avoid dullness if the mind and body is ‘fresh’ i.e. for me, first thing in the morning (or in the book, Culadasa provides several techniques graded in severity for addressing such dullness). The dullness manifests as nonsensical short dream sequences and visual imagery – these are the moments of dullness which occur when I let go of the effort required to maintain attention on the breath, and I consider these to be unconscious moments – sometimes I can recall the visual imagery and sometimes not, but they are always due to a lack of attention (i.e unconsciousness). One might say that these moments of unconsciousness or dullness are still consciousness, and that is true, but here the major point of the meditation is to train the attention on the breathing sensation, and this requires energy, which in Therevada buddhism is one of the seven factors of enlightenment. At least that is my take on the matter – hope it helps…

    Metta, Bluelotus9

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