Annual India Tours
These lectures were transcribed by T Vd Broek. Heartfelt
gratitude is offered for all the hours of work spent on this Dharma activity.
These talks are offered free of charge. They have been slightly edited.
December 9 1990
We were dealing with consciousness in meditation, the three analogies of like space, like an ocean, and like a mountain because in trying to establish a greater sense of conscious wholeness, if we always relied on our intellectual position it is dubious whether it is correct or not. For example, at one point people believed the world was flat. In that way they developed an intellectual scheme of reality and based many actions on it. In the same way, if we base our actions according to an intellectual perspective, it can be that although we are close to the mark, it is sometimes not as effective for us. Rather if we base our activities on just a deeper knowledge or experience of ourself, versus knowledge, for example I know this is a wool carpet, but that does not mean I know how to make a wool carpet. I do not have the experience. But I can look at it and say wool carpet.
The same thing with yourselves. You can have some philosophy about how your mind is, how does mind function. Last week we moved into looking into the object and subject and the interaction with those as being realms of being more conscious of. Tonight we are working on that same point. Trying to gain a greater experience rather than just intellectual knowledge. We actually gain some experience of your mind, how it functions, how it sets itself up and such things. Tonight we are going to deal with continuity of consciousness.
In the teachings they talk about beginningless mind. That mind has no beginning because if there were a beginning, then there would be an end. And also then there would have to be the creator of that mind. There are many problems in that. For a Buddhist, they find that difficult to be able to deal in those concepts because of the short falls of the philosophy in terms of being explainable. Therefore in Buddhism, they say mind is beginningless. There has never been a beginning. This is difficult. You have to think of it that if you go back into your consciousness, that stream of consciousness has never had a time when it was not reproducing itself in an on going process. That process will also be endless.
What is consciousness? There are what is termed primary and secondary states of consciousness. These can be divided into three levels, what is termed as the manifest, the subtle, and the very subtle. The manifest is life energy and refers to the senses and things like that. Subtle is the intellectual side such as personality, perceptions, and how to put things together. Very subtle is the energy with no intellectual capacity. There is just the energy itself producing itself in each mind moment.
Of those three, it is said that the coarse or manifest and subtle can cease functioning, but the very subtle cannot cease functioning. It will always be creating itself in energy. So when you as a living entity come to the end of your life, the manifest energy is said to cease or die, the subtle energy such as your intellectual ideas and personality will become diminished in their capacity to be expressed and finally will cease upon the time of us actually dying.
In that way the continuity of self into the next lifetime, the personality of this lifetime will die and you will not have a personality in the the next lifetime which will have any direct connection with this personality. But there will be subtle connections based on the very subtle level of consciousness. That does not cease at the time of death and will leave this body carrying the imprints of the personality and manifest activity upon itself and go to the next rebirth. You could see it as a potential for certain types of activity. But in the future life time there has to be the availability of certain activities to ripen those. In that lifetime if the circumstances were made available to you, those latent imprints would be awakened. If not, those imprints would remain latent and not manifest at all. Others would persist such as self preservation would persist. They refer to it as consciousness, as to how generous it was or how warm it is, and as to the reasons of it, the imprint does continue and will manifest given the opportunity to express itself. But the particular personality in its details would cease, but the manner of the person will not cease.
In that way when you look at yourself, what is created in each moment is the personality that you have and is created from the imprints of this lifetime. Parents, ethnic group, culture group and such things. The subtle level of who you are, like how warm you are, the karma that you create as that person, generous, patient, etc, those sorts of things are important for us as an individual to try to cultivate because it makes our consciousness more developed, deeper in a sense, more realized, more enlightened, and then that in a future lifetime can manifest with the right opportunities. For example, religion. That then could be expressed because of the positive feelings and such which are expressed through a positive philosophy.
Mostly I want to leave you with for the meditation, looking at yourself as a stream of continuity. The technique used is to try to allow ourself to become greater than just our intellect. We try to become a level of consciousness which is vast and open, stable and deep. If you focus on that, that stream of consciousness is the production of mind moment upon mind moment. The space between each moment is literally one hundred thousandth of a second in the actual text. There are many moment producing the next set of mind moments and so on. As a meditator you try to cultivate mind moments which are more capable of dealing with reality, more grounded in a sense of being rather than developing which is based on intellectual views because they might be wrong. You want to base your on going process of whom you are on the quality of your being rather than the activities of your being.
Try to feel through and say there is conscious sense data which is considered manifest. There is the mind conceptualism which I carry with me within myself which is based on my parents and interactions and such. Then there is the very subtle level of consciousness which can be termed as where the imprints of my activities are. Examine activities such as generosity. Do I throw things around at people and have a flighty mind, or do I have a movement of empathy trying to touch base with what it means to be with someone who is lacking. With generosity, it is a deeper movement of consciousness rather than a flighty one. It should be one of just appreciating the need and such. So it is the deeper movement of consciousness rather than one based on dogma or something. That is the meditation.
Copyright 1994 Daka's Buddhist Consulting
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