Points of Controversy

11.3. Of Insight and Ordinary Consciousness

Controverted Point: That insight (ñāṇa) is not conjoined with consciousness.

Theravādin: But are you prepared to identify insight, with all that is admittedly detached from consciousness: with matter, Nibbāna, or the organs and objects of sense? Scarcely!…

Or are you prepared to declare “insight” as having nothing in common with understanding? For you will admit that understanding, as controlling power or force, as supremely right view, as intuitive search for truth, is not detached from, but is bound up with, consciousness?

Insight, again, as we agree, includes, involves the activity of the aggregate of the coefficients of consciousness, as also does understanding. Both of these are conjoined with consciousness. How then can insight be detached from it? Hence, if you maintain that insight and understanding, both involving conscious coefficients, are respectively detached from and conjoined with consciousness, you are committed to this: that the aggregate of coefficients is in part conjoined with, in part detached from, consciousness—which you of course deny… .

Pubbaseliyas: You contend then that an Arahant who is enjoying cognitions by way of sight, etc., may be said to “have insight”?

Theravādin: Yes.

Pubbaseliyas: But is his insight conjoined with that consciousness (sight, etc.)?

Theravādin: No, that cannot truly be said… .

Pubbaseliyas: Then my proposition holds.

Theravādin: But such an argument holds equally for “understanding,” if you substitute that for “insight.” And you have admitted the connection between understanding and consciousness.