The manas consciousness produces various erroneous discriminations toward the states encountered or manifested by the mind. The mind consciousness is also called the "continuous consciousness." Due to erroneous discriminations, one experiences joy for pleasurable states. Thoughts of joy and suffering follow upon one another without cease. Relying upon them, destructive karma arises, causing successive births and deaths.
There are altogether eight consciousnesses. The first is the "alaya," also known as the eighth consciousness. Then there is the seventh, the "manas" consciousness. The sixth, the mind consciousness, is followed by the five consciousnesses of eye, ear, nose, tongue, and body, making eight in all. The expression "field of the eighth consciousness" has the meaning that you reap what you sow. (All of this pertains to a person's inherent psychological make-up.) Now let us individually discuss their functions, of which most people are not aware.
The eighth consciousness is capable of transforming into three kinds of consciousness, namely, the "varyingly maturing consciousness," the "consciousness of deliberation," and the "consciousness of discrimination."
"Varyingly maturing" has three meanings: (1) "Maturing after a change." The cause itself undergoes a change before the fruit "ripens." Varyingly maturing effects are this way, and so are uniform effects. (Examples of uniform effects are a killer being killed and a swindler getting swindled. Examples of varyingly maturing effects are a swindler falling ill and a thief getting caught in a fire.)
(2) "Maturing at different times." This means the effect does not mature simultaneously with the cause. When the karma is being created, one can already consider the effect maturing, because the karmic seed and the fruit which ripens exist simultaneously. Therefore, this refers not only to the seed, but to both the creation of karma and the undergoing of retribution.
(3) "Maturing in another category." This means that the effect is fundamentally different from the cause, while its maturation relies on the strength of the cause. That is, the causes are good and evil, but the fruit is neutral. Karma that is good or evil incurs retribution of a neutral nature (neither good nor evil, but only bitter or pleasurable.)
The Consciousness-Only Treatise, Roll 2, uses the causal consciousness and result-consciousness to explain the three consciousnesses' varyingly maturing habits and effects, showing how the eighth consciousness is a neutral, result consciousness incurred by good and evil karma, hence its name, the varyingly maturing consciousness.
The seventh or manas consciousness is also called the "consciousness of deliberation." Deliberation means thought and calculation. Manas is a Sanskrit word meaning "mind." "Mind" carries the meanings of "dependent" and "thinking and calculating." This consciousness engages in constant examination and deliberation. It is called "mind" because it upholds karma.
Since the sixth consciousness depends upon this consciousness, it is called the "mind consciousness," taking its name from its host. Since beginningless time, the seventh consciousness has taken the seeing division of the eighth consciousness as the self and the true Dharma. But if deliberation is done by the mind, then in terms of the mind's perception of states, then it is fitting that among all the consciousnesses, the seventh consciousness is given the name "consciousness of deliberation," for it possesses the qualities of constancy and examination. Constant means continuous and uninterrupted. Examination refers to profound understanding gained through calculation. While the eighth consciousness is continuous and uninterrupted, it lacks the quality of examination that reaches deep understanding through calculation. The sixth consciousness is able to think and deliberate, yet it lacks constancy. The first five consciousness are neither constant nor capable of examination. The seventh consciousness is the only one with both qualities. Its capabilities are especially great. At all times it takes the seeing division of the eighth consciousness to be the "self." All the sufferings, as well as the births and deaths that we experience are brought about by the karmic force of this consciousness.
The first six consciousnesses perceive and discriminate states. The
Consciousness-Only Treatise in Twenty Stanzas says, "Mind, intellect, and consciousness differ only in name." According to their characteristics, the eighth consciousness is known as mind, the seven as intellect, and the first six as consciousness. "Mind" has the connotation of accumulating; "intellect" carries the sense of discriminating. The three terms each have two meanings. "Mind" connotes both the accumulation of phenomena and the accumulation of seeds. The accumulation of phenomena occurs in all the consciousnesses. (The seeing division of each consciousness accumulates phenomena in its substance and in its practice and understanding.) The accumulation of seeds occurs only in the eighth consciousness, which gathers all seeds and brings about manifestation and activity. "Intellect" has the two meanings of continuous awareness and deliberation. Continuous awareness characterizes all the consciousnesses, while deliberation is unique to the seventh consciousness. "Consciousness" has the two meanings of subtle discrimination and coarse discrimination. Subtle discrimination occurs in all the consciousnesses, while coarse discrimination occurs only in the first six consciousnesses.
To be continued