A reminder from the last issue:
The Buddha strongly negated Ananda's idea that the conscious mind was his mind. Ananda was frightened, so the Buddha comforted him, and explained that the mind should be complete in and of itself.
"Granted that the mind you are using has an inseparable connection with defiling objects, we must examine those objects. They are all impermanent; they will pass away and cease to exist. Since your mind is part and parcel of them, it, too, is impermanent and will pass away and cease to exist. But our true mind is our Dharma body. If the mind you are using, composed of impermanent elements, were the true mind, then that would mean our Dharma body could pass away and cease to exist. If your mind, your Dharma body, could be extinguished, then what would it be that could certify to Patience with the Non-production of Dharmas? What would it be that could come to realize that nothing exists and not be frightened by that realization?"
Dissipation, Insanity, Dreams, and Shadows Delude You
The mind Ananda is using is the sixth consciousness, called the Solitary Mind Consciousness. Its functions rely on sense stimuli from the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, or from its own functions as mind. The Solitary Mind Consciousness has four aspects, all of which exist in relation to the sense stimuli: 1) our ordinary everyday state of mind, which is scattered. 2) insanity. 3) dream states. 4) samadhi, meaning a state of holding to a temporary quietude where new sense stimuli do not enter. But, in this kind of samadhi, the sense stimuli already experienced remain dormant and still exist like shadows. The Buddha ends this discussion by pointing out that the whole reason Ananda is still not a sage is because he attaches to this sixth consciousness as being his mind.
In the dialogue between the Buddha and Ananda, the Buddha has proven that not only does Ananda's mind not have a location, but in fact that it is false to begin with. Ananda, knowing that the Buddha speaks true and actual words, is frightened. A bit desperately, he points out that the impetus to do good comes from that mind and the impulse to do evil also originates in that mind. His own resolve to leave the home-life and cultivate also arose from that mind. If the Buddha is going to negate the existence of that mind, then Ananda is convinced he will be devoid of any cognizant awareness whatsoever.
And so, although the Buddha has succeeded in making Ananda realize the non-existence of his false mind, the Buddha has to comfort Ananda regarding the true mind. Consequently, the Buddha uses provisional teaching to assure Ananda that his true mind certainly does not lack substance. Thus, that passage of text should not be taken literally, but with the understanding that the Buddha wants Ananda and all of us to gain Patience with the Non-production of Dharmas. If Ananda could gain that kind of patience whereby "upon perceiving that not the slightest dharma comes into being and not the slightest dharma ceases to be, he can bear it in his mind," then he will not experience fear even at knowing that the true mind is devoid of substance. For now the Buddha is content to stress the non-existence of the false mind. "Your true mind has the power to distinguish, apart from involvement with any internal (mental) or external (tangible) dharma. Examine your mind. Can it do that? If it can't, then it is subject to impermanence, because all dharmas are impermanent. That would mean that your Dharma-body, embodying such a mind, would also be subject to impermanence. If all that were the case, then by what basis could you certify to Patience with Non-production of Dharmas?" Ananda couldn't answer.
The Buddha concludes: "The reason that cultivators can reach the nine successive stages of samadhi (all still within the Triple Realm), but can't go on and become Arhats is because they attach to this false thinking that is subject to production and extinction and mistake it for being true and actual. And that is the same reason why, although you are learned, you haven't attained sagehood."