Four Layers of Consciousness

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Thich Nhat Hanh: The Four Layers of Consciousness

The Inner Workings of Our Minds

Abhidharma, Buddhism’s map of the mind, is sometimes treated as a topic of merely intellectual interest. In fact, says Thich Nhat Hanh, identifying the different elements of consciousness, and understanding how they interact, is essential to our practice of meditation.

The Vietnamese Zen Master, Thuong Chieu, said:

When we understand how our mind works, our practice becomes easy.

To understand our minds, we need to understand our consciousness.

The Buddha taught that consciousness is always continuing, like a stream of water. Consciousness has four layers. The four layers of consciousness are mind consciousness, sense consciousness, store consciousness, and manas.

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brahmakara vritti

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Image result for waves of thought

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by Swami Sivananda

Vritti – its Nature And Function

Vritti means a whirl-pool. It is a wave of thought that arises in the Antahkarana. Vrittis are modifications of the mind. They are the effect of Avidya. When Avidya is destroyed by Jnana, Vrittis get absorbed in Brahman (Laya), just as water thrown in a heated pan is absorbed in the pan.

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mystery within mystery

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hsüan chih yu hsüan

(xuan zhi you xuan)

mystery of mysteries

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Lao Tzu – Tao Te Ching Verse One (several translations)

These two things spirit and matter, so different in nature, have the same origin. This unity of origin is the mystery of mysteries, but it is the gateway to spirituality.

(Translated by Dwight Goddard – 1919) Continue reading

naturally unobstructed

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Related image

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Zen Master Hongzhi:

The Ancient Ferryboat in Bright Moonlight

A patch-robed monk’s authentic task is to practice the essence, in each minute event carefully discerning the shining source, radiant without discrimination, one color unstained. You must keep turning inwards, then [the source] is apprehended. This is called being able to continue the family business. Do not wear the changing fashions, transcend the duality of light and shadow. Accordingly the ancestors’ single trail is marvelously embodied. The residual debris of the world departs, its influence ended. This worldly knowledge does not compare to returning to the primary and obtaining confirmation. Observing beyond your skull, the core finally can be fulfilled and you can emerge from the transitory. The reeds blossom under the bright moon; the ancient ferryboat begins its passage; the jade thread fits into the golden needle. Then the opportunity arises to turn around, enter the world, and respond to conditions. All the dusts are entirely yours; all the dharmas are not someone else’s. Follow the current and paddle along, naturally unobstructed!

source PDF p.16

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My Comment:

So much of Master Hongzhi’s teachings are full of images that invite us to leave thinking and to allow ourselves to be pulled into the stream of Eternal. I started reading these teachings, almost poems, close to three years ago and this passage above is the first one I stayed with for a longer period. Reading it now I notice other aspects I had not even seen before. In this sense I encourage the reader to approach these poems with the attitude of discovery and the sentiment of awe.

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no effort

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Image result for mount hood in snow

click image to enlarge

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What effort does it take to just be here now?

Gangaji

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My Comment:

Upon hearing Gangaji speak these words the realization dawned that there was a subtle ‘efforting’ going on incessantly in me, in that part of me that wants to achieve and accomplish something. It is a useful function of my mind to prompt me as to what needs to be done so that my physical existence doesn’t encounter obstacles and obstructions. However, these ‘needs’ are related to the world of subject-object and are valid only for that realm.

When I turn my attention inwards there is nothing to accomplish beyond letting go of what is distracting me from seeing the ‘what is’, or the ‘Thusness’ as Zen calls it. The discipline of letting go of distractions is what Gangaji speaks to here.

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