Wednesday, July 22, 2009

DVD Class 2b Notes

Continuing with the emptiness of the skandhas / no-self.

The 4th Skandha: Mental formations

Mental formation relates to movement of mind. For example:
the movement of attached mind
the movement of averse mind
the movement of jealous mind
the movement of virtuous mind

From such movement, we accumulate karma. We engage in karmic actions of positive and negative actions. Positive actions are those that are beneficial to oneself and others. Negative actions are those which are harmful to oneself and others. These actions are called the fourth skandha.

Feeling and Perception, the second and third skandhas, are also mental events. In a detailed analysis, you could refer to a total of 51 mental events. Of these:

There are the 6 root afflictions
20 secondary afflictions
11 virtuous mental events
4 changeable
and so on, there are many of them.

We focus on these as being a self, fixate on them as being an “I.”

For instance, when we have a strong emotion or a virtuous thought, we think of it as “I”. Are these the self of individual? The self of person? Actually, we should examine all these mental formations one by one as they arise. If we have a virtuous thought that arises, we can ask, “Is this virtuous thought the self or is it not the self?” We have a strong fixation on both virtuous and nonvirtuous mental events.

In relative truth, there are virtuous and nonvirtuous actions. But from the ultimate point of reality, the true nature, you don’t find any true, existent self as virtuous or nonvirtous in any of these mental formations.

So we should look and see...
Is this one with the self?
Is it permanent?
Is it singular?
Is it independent?

The aggregate of formations is the accumulation of karma. Due to all of these various movement, we accumulate different sorts of karma, positive and negative.

The 5th Skandha: Consciousness

We have six collections of consciousness:
eye, ear, nose, tongue, body

Which of these is a self? The eye consciousness? The ear consciousness? The mental consciousness?

From the Cittamatra school, they speak of two more:
Seventh consciousness: klesha mana
Eighth: Alaya or all-base consciousness

From the Mahayana point of view, the all-base consciousness is the basic continuum of consciousness. The manifestation of the all-base consciousness is unclarity or vagueness. The essence of the alaya-vijnana is that it is neutral in character, neither virtuous nor non-virtuous.

It is the basis for the implantation of all habitual tendencies. It is the warehouse, the place where we record/store all our habitual seeds. When it meets with the proper conditions in the future, the seeds ripen and manifest out. Then we experience suffering, joy, good, bad, all these worlds.

The 7th consciousness – klesha – afflicted mind -- looks at the 8th consciousness and misperceives that as an I or me. The afflicted mind mistakenly views the all-base consciousness and thinks of it as an I or me.

When we look at the details, the sixth consciousness is the one that plants the seed in alaya. All the five sensory perceptions perceives things, but they are taken by the sixth concsiousness to the alaya and plant the seeds there.

In any case, what we are doing here is to look at the skandha of consciousness. It is quite a large group of consciousnesses coming together. This is a big mental operation.

When you look at all that, you have to ask, “Where is the self?”
We should look into this and ask,
Is the eye consciousness the self? ear, body, nose, etc?

We should also ask whether the aggregate of consciousness is the same thing or different from the self. Are these consciousnesses and the self the same or different?

We should also analyze consciousness from the perspective of the three ignorances.

We have this general sense that consciousness is a stable, permanent thing. Singular and doesn’t depend on other things (autonomous).

So we must analyze and see if any aspect of consciousness actually does possess these qualities.

What has been explained so far is the meditation on the selflessness of persons. When we cling to ourselves as “I” or “self” we are clinging on to the skandhas. So when we take them apart and analyze them, we see there is no solidly existing self there. This is the first stage of meditation on emptiness.

Khenpo Gyamso Rinpoche:
When one does not mistake the skandhas for the self, this is asserted to be the realization of the selflessness of persons.

If you know how to rest and relax in that, this is meditation on the selflessness of persons.

Sometimes in the meditation lineage it is known as the key instructions on searching the mind, asking yourself questions such as, “What is mind? Where is mind?” and so on. So we look at each of the skandhas and look for mind. Mind interchangeable with self in this usage. So we could call it searching for mind or searching for self.

When we don’t look and analyze, the self and mind seem to exist quite well. But when we look into its nature further and penetrate the essence more, we come to this point of finding nothing really existing there.

So how do we meditate on such selfless nature? It is taught by Jamgon Kongtrul in Treasury of Knowledge:
As for the way to meditate, analyze with prajna (knowledge) the reality of selflessness. And after that, rest evenly in freedom from elaborations.

So the meditation on selflessness is first to analyze the meaning of selflessness with one’s discriminating intelligence, and then to rest evenly, in equipoise.

We analyze the self with reasoning and so forth, and after our analysis when we realize the non-existence of self, we rest within that state.

So as was said before, it is important to alternate analytical meditation with resting meditation.

First do the resting with breathing, calm your mind.
Then analyze
and when you get to discursive, come back to resting
then analyze again.

If your analytical mediation becomes too much and makes you disturbed, you should switch to resting. If your mind becomes lethargic or torpid, you should switch to analytical.



Friends are empty forms like a water moon
To think of them as being truly real
Will only make your many sufferings increase.

To know they’re empty forms like a water moon
Will make illusion-like samadhi increase
Compassion free of clinging will increase

And non-referential view will also increase
And meditation that’s fixation-free
And conduct free of doer deed increase

Of all the many marvels, this by far the most marvelous
Of all the many wonders, this by far the most wonderful.

--Khenpo Gyamtso Rinpoche

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