Part One: The First Five Consciousnesses
‘The direct, veridical perception of natural states can
involve any of the Three Natures’
All distinction-making consciousness, has as its most basic distinction that of subject and object. The functioning of the subject-component of consciousness is also of three types, known as the Three Modes of Knowledge. Direct, veridical perception is the first. The others are inference and fallacy. Fallacy includes dreams and hallucinations. Only veridical perception functions within the fields of the five consciousnesses (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching).
Likewise, a state refers to the object-component of consciousness. The object component is classified as being one of the Three Kinds of States:
1) natural state,
2) state of solitary impressions,
3) state of transposed substance.
The natural state refers to states—the perceived aspects of consciousness—as they really are, that is, undistorted by the attachment to self and other or by attachment to dharmas. The natural state is unconditioned by mental causation.
The second kind, solitary impressions, has no basis in the states as they really are, but consists of imagined categories of the sixth consciousness such as the hair of a turtle or the horns of a rabbit. The third, the state of transposed substance, refers to states that are distorted by false thinking and ultimately by the mark of a self. Only the first of the Three Kinds of States, the natural state, occurs in relation to the five consciousnesses.
Every moment of consciousness can also be characterized as having a moral nature. Again the analysis is threefold. The Three Natures are the wholesome, the unwholesome, and the indeterminate. Consciousness characterized by a wholesome nature tends towards the creation of good karma, whereas that of an unwholesome nature tends to create evil karma. The indeterminate nature is neutral, neither good nor evil. Since the five consciousnesses do not contain the potential for making moral distinctions, by themselves they are only indeterminate in nature.
Because the five consciousnesses always arise together with the sixth consciousness, which does distinguish good and evil, the five consciousnesses do partake of all three natures insofar as they are intimately connected with the sixth consciousness. As the first five consciousnesses function, the sixth consciousness simultaneously makes moral determinations of their contents. Apart from the activity of the sixth consciousness, the causal relationship of the first five consciousnesses to their states—sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and tactile objects—is exclusively in terms of direct veridical perception.
‘Three consciousnesses—eyes, ears, and body—occupy two grounds.’
The analysis now moves to what we might call the "vertical" dimension and informs about the levels of the conditioned world on which the five consciousnesses arise. The "two grounds" refer to the first two of the Nine Grounds. The Nine Grounds are as follows:
a) the first ground is comprised of the realm of desire, which includes the five destinies of hell-beings, hungry ghosts, animals, asuras, and humans, and the Six Desire Heavens portion of the destiny of the gods;
b) the second, third, fourth, and fifth grounds are the Four Dhyana Heavens; and
c) the sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth grounds are the Four Stations of Emptiness.
The Nine Grounds
The Formless Realms (also known as the Four Stations of Emptiness)
9. Neither Cognition nor Non-cognition
8. Nothing Whatsoever
7. Infinite Consciousness
6. Infinite Space
The Realm of Form
5. Fourth Dhyana (Stage of Renouncing Thought)
4. Third Dhyana (Stage of the Wonderful Bliss of Being Apart from Joy)
3. Second Dhyana (Joyful Stage of the Arising of Samadhi)
2. First Dhyana (Joyful Stage of Leaving Production)
The Realm of Desire
1. Six Desire Heavens and the destinies of humans, asuras, animals, hungry ghosts, and hell-dwellers.
To be continued