Part Two: The Sixth Consciousness
the first four lines discuss the range of the sixth consciousness; the
second four discuss its role in the creation of karma and in the
resultant karmic activity. The final four explain its transformation
Having Three Natures and with Three Modes of Knowledge, it pervades the Three States.
Three Natures are the wholesome, the unwholesome, and the
indeterminate. The Three Modes of Knowledge are direct perception,
inference and fallacy. The Three States are the natural state, the
state of solitary impressions, and the state of transposed substance.
They have already been explained above (see Part One, line one). The
sixth consciousness uses all three modes of knowledge in its awareness
of the three states. The Three Natures refers to classification of the
moral nature of its activity. The distinction-making of the sixth
consciousness is considered to be of a wholesome nature if it is
beneficial. Such activity arises karmically as a result of good roots,
that is, it is the fruition of the seeds planted by wholesome activity
in the past. The situation is the opposite for distinction-making of an
unwholesome nature. Indeterminate distinction-making is neither
beneficial nor non-beneficial and arises from past activity that was
correspondingly so. The last type, the indeterminate nature, is divided
into the obscuring indeterminate nature and the non-obscuring
indeterminate nature; they will be explained below in the section on
the seventh consciousness.
As it turns on the wheel, it easily comes to know the Three Realms it turns within.
Three Realms are the realm of desire, the realm of form, and the
formless realm. What causes our revolving within the Three Realms on
the wheel of the Six Destinies are the distinctions made in the sixth
consciousness. The distinctions lead to karmic activity and then to
karmic retribution. Because of its great power of making distinctions,
the sixth consciousness easily distinguishes and classifies the
different states—environments—of the realms with which it comes into
It interacts with all fifty-one Dharmas Interactive with the Mind.
sixth consciousness interacts with all fifty-one of the Dharmas
Interactive with the Mind. The fifty-one are listed in the appendix on
the One Hundred Dharmas and are described in the Shastra on the Door to
Understanding the Hundred Dharmas.
Whenever it is wholesome or unwholesome, they make distinctions and accompany it.
the activity of the sixth consciousness is wholesome, it is accompanied
by the Eleven Wholesome Dharmas of the One Hundred Dharmas. When its
activity is unwholesome, the dharmas of affliction arise in conjunction
Its Three Natures, the Three States it relates with, and its Three Kinds of Feeling are constantly in flux.
other words the moral classification, and so forth, of the sixth
consciousness changes from moment to moment. The sixth consciousness is
involved in a constant flux of distinction-making. In the case of the
Three Natures, wholesome, unwholesome, and indeterminate indicate the
moral categories of its activity; in the case of the Three States—the
natural, and those of solitary impressions and of transposed
substance—the categories indicate degrees of reality; and in the case
of the Three Kinds of Feeling, the distinctions of pleasure, of pain,
and of neutral feelings classify the emotional and perceptual
experiences we undergo on their most fundamental level of reception.
One difference between the Three Natures and the Three Kinds of Feeling
is that the former is an analysis of causal activity and the latter is
an analysis of experiential effect.
The basic and subsidiary afflictions together with faith and other wholesome dharmas always arise jointly with the sixth consciousness.
afflictions and wholesome dharmas are all dependent upon the sixth
consciousness. In other words they are not really separate from it but
represent further categorization of distinctions within it. However, as
explained above, depending on the nature of the sixth consciousness at
any particular moment, the afflictions and the wholesome dharmas do not
necessarily all arise together, that is, at the same time.
In physical action and in speech it is the most important.
the creation of karma the volitional activity of the sixth
consciousness plays the most important role. Examination and decision,
which are both functions of the sixth consciousness, lead to activity,
which creates both speech and bodily karma.
To be continued