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The Arising and Cessation of the Five Skandhas
VOLUME 8, Chapter 8
I3 The false thinking of the thinking skandha.
J1 Body and mind in mutual response.
Once your thoughts arise, they can control your body. Since your body is not the same as your thoughts, why is it that your body follows your thoughts and engages in every sort of grasping at objects? A thought arises, and the body grasps at things in response to the thought.
Once your thoughts arise, they can control your body. These false thoughts that you have drive your body, but your body is not your thoughts. Since your body is not the same as your thoughts, since the body and the mind are not the same sort of thing, why are they aware of each other? Why is it that your body follows your thoughts and engages in every sort of grasping at objects? Why is it that when you give rise to a thought, your body acts accordingly? A thought arises, and the body grasps at things in response to the thought.
Why is your body controlled by your thoughts? As soon as you have a thought your body wants to grasp at the object you are thinking about. Why does your body function in unison with your thoughts? What is a thought? You can have one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten thoughts, but here the text refers to just one thought. The Prajna Sutra of the Humane King Who Protects His Country says that there are ninety kshanas in a single thought. A kshana is an extremely short period of time. And yet within one kshana there are nine hundred births and deaths, that is, nine hundred productions and destructions. Thus it is said,
When not a single thought arises,
the entire substance manifests.
When the six sense faculties suddenly move,
one is covered by clouds.
If you could keep from having a single thought, the entire substance would manifest. What entire substance? The great function of the entire substance, the treasury of the Tathagata. It is your inherent family treasure; it is the scenery of your homeland; it is your original face. Upon the slightest movement of the six sense faculties, you become obscured by a covering of clouds. If a cultivator reaches the point where he does not have a single thought then the ghosts and spirits have no way to get at him.
If not a single thought arises, then not a single thought passes away. If you cannot prevent thoughts from arising, then you cannot prevent them from passing away. This is an important point. If you can understand it then when you do not have a single thought the entire substance will manifest. But if your six faculties move again, you will be obscured by the dark clouds.
J2 Discussing its extent and concluding with the name.
When you are awake, your mind thinks. When you are asleep, you dream. Thus your thinking is stirred to perceive false situations. This is the third kind of false thinking, which is characterized by interconnectedness.
When you are awake, your mind thinks. A few days ago, I talked about Lord Zhuang who was born as his mother was waking up. Because of this, his mother resented him and favored her second son, Gong Shuduan. She wanted the second son to inherit his father's throne and become the king. Therefore, she repeatedly asked King Wu to pass the throne to his younger son rather than to his older son. But King Wu would not allow it and so Lord Zhuang still became the king. When Lord Zhuang became king, his mother told Gong Shuduan to instigate a rebellion. But that also failed. So that is the story of Lord Zhuang. When you are awake, the thinking skandha is in control.
When you are asleep, you dream. When you are asleep, you dream. Your thinking skandha produces dreams. Previously, we mentioned how the thinking skandha could make one perceive things incorrectly in one's sleep. For example, if you are asleep and people are beating on clothes or pounding rice nearby, you may hear it as bells and drums being played. Thus your thinking is stirred to perceive false situations. When you dream, your thinking skandha makes you perceive the false situation of bells and drums being played.
This is the third kind of false thinking, which is characterized by interconnectedness. "Interconnectedness" means working together. The thinking skandha functions whether you are awake or asleep, so we call this "inter-connection," which means mutual cooperation. This is the third kind of false thinking, and it is associated with the thinking skandha.
I4 The false thinking of the formations skandha.
J1 Lack of awareness of bodily changes.
The metabolic processes never stop; they progress through subtle changes: your nails and hair grow, your energy wanes, and your skin becomes wrinkled. These processes continue day and night, and yet you never wake up to them.
The metabolic processes never stop; day and night they continue. This is the formations skandha, which flows on unceasingly like waves. As one thought ceases, the next one arises. As that thought passes by, the next one comes up. They arise and cease one after another. These metabolic and transformational processes never end. They just go on working, never stopping to rest. They progress through subtle changes which you cannot perceive because they are so minute. Without your realizing it, the house is moved out from under you, and everything looks different. What are these subtle changes?
Your nails and hair grow. If you don't cut your nails for two days, they grow a little bit. After three days, they are a bit longer. After four days, they are longer still. Each day, they are longer than the day before. But do you know how much they grow in each second and each minute? Do you know how they grow longer? If you don't trim your hair for a month, it may grow almost half an inch. But how much does it grow each day? You don't know. You say, "Well, I'll calculate it." Sure, but will it be accurate? You can try using a computer to calculate it and see if the computer knows. Your energy wanes. Your energy decreases from day to day.
People are full of energy and zest in their youth, and they also have a lot of vitality in their prime. However, as they get older they start losing their energy. Although it's not totally gone, your skin becomes wrinkled. Your skin gets lined like a chicken's skin, and your hair turns as white as crane feathers. Your features become terribly aged, and you can no longer pass yourself off as a young person. No amount of makeup can transform your eighty-year-old face into that of a twenty-year-old. These processes continue day and night. This work goes on day and night, your nails grow, your hair gets longer, your energy wanes, and your skin gets wrinkled. It's more reliable than a clock.
If you don't wind up your clock, it will stop. But you don't have to wind up your metabolism; it does its work just the same, unless you die. When you're dead, it stops working. And yet you never wake up to them. They pursue you day and night, through your youth, your prime, and your old age, right up to your death. After you die, you get reborn, and then you have to die again. You undergo endless rounds of birth and death, without ever waking up. You go right on being confused through it all. You're muddled when you come and muddled when you go. That?s what the false thing of the formations skandha is all about.
If these things aren't part of you, Ananda, then why does your body keep changing? And if they are really part of you, then why aren't you aware of them?
If these things aren't part of you, Ananda, then why does your body keep changing? Your body goes through all these transformations, the nails and hair grow longer, the energy wanes, and the skin gets wrinkled. You say your fingernails aren't yours? Then why do they continually grow long? You say the hair isn't yours? Then why does it keep growing on your head?
You say the energy isn't yours, but why do you sometimes feel weak when your energy is insufficient? If your face isn't yours, how is it possible for it to become wrinkled? If you say the wrinkles don't have anything to do with you, why does your face get wrinkled? Why do those changes occur to your own body? If this isn't you, then why does your body keep changing? From your youth, you are transported into middle age. From middle age you move on to old age. From old age you go right on to death. You cannot say these things are not yours. If this isn't your body, then you are not real.
And if you insist that they are really part of you, then why aren't you aware of them? Why can't you sense them at all? Your nails and your hair are growing, but you do not perceive it happening. Your energy is waning, but you do not feel it. Your face is getting wrinkled, but you cannot detect it nor do you know when the change took place.
This is a double refutation: If you say they belong to you, that's incorrect; but if you say they do not belong to you, that's also incorrect. And so, what is it you ask? It's false thinking! That's their source. They are all creations of false thinking.
J2 Discusses its extent and concludes with the name.
Your formations skandha continues in thought after thought without cease. It is the fourth kind of false thinking, which is subtle and hidden.
Your formations skandha functions continuously, but its subtle movements are not at all easy to perceive. They are secret and obscure, and you are not aware of them at all. This is the fourth kind of false thinking, which is associated with the formations skandha.
I5 The false thinking of the consciousness skandha.
J1 Directly destroying the duality of true and false.
Finally, if your pure, bright, clear, and unmoving state is permanent, then there should be no seeing, hearing, awareness, or knowing in your body. If it is genuinely pure and true, it should not contain habits or falseness.
Finally, if your pure, bright, clear, and unmoving state is permanent, then there should be no seeing, hearing, awareness, or knowing in your body. At this point, when you experience a pure brilliance and your state is clear and imperturbable, if you say this is a permanent state, then the functions of seeing, hearing, awareness, and knowing should not occur in your body. If it is genuinely pure and true, it should not contain habits or falseness. Habits and false thinking should not arise.
How does it happen, then, that having seen some unusual thing in the past, you eventually forget it over time, until neither memory nor forgetfulness of it remain; but then later, upon suddenly seeing that unusual thing again, you remember it clearly from before without forgetting a single detail? How can you keep track of the permeation that goes on in thought after thought in this pure, clear, and unmoving consciousness?
How does it happen, then, that having seen some unusual thing in the past, you eventually forget it over time, until neither memory nor forgetfulness of it remain. What is the reason for this? You may have seen something very peculiar, but after many years, you have no memory of it and you have no forgetfulness of it either. If you're able to say that you've forgotten something, that means you still have some recollection of its occurrence. However, now there is neither memory nor forgetfulness of it.
But then later, upon suddenly seeing that unusual thing again, you remember it clearly from before without forgetting a single detail. If you suddenly see that strange thing again, you will recall how you remembered it how you encountered it in the past and how it appeared to you then. You will not forget a single detail.
How can you keep track of the permeation that goes on in thought after thought in this pure, clear, and unmoving consciousness? In that clear and unmoving state, a kind of permeation is going on in thought after thought. How does one keep track of this? How does one recollect it? How do you explain the situation of having put something completely out of mind, only to remember it again when you encounter it again? Before seeing it again, you cannot recall it.
But once you encounter it, you automatically recall it. How can this be reckoned? Who could keep these books straight? Who keeps track of this? This proves that although you have temporarily forgotten about it, your eighth consciousness remembers. That's why when you see the thing, you remember. There isn't really anyone keeping track. It's naturally stored in the eighth consciousness.
J2 Uses an analogy to explain.
Ananda, you should know that this state of clarity is not real. It is like rapidly flowing water that appears to be still on the surface. Due to its speed you cannot perceive the flow, but that does not mean it is not flowing. If this were not the source of thinking, then how could one be subject to false habits?
Ananda, you should know that this state of clarity is not real. That still and unmoving place described above is not really still after all. Why not? It is like rapidly flowing water that appears to be still on the surface. When you look at it, it seems to have no waves and no current. Due to its speed you cannot perceive the flow, but that does not mean it is not flowing. Since there are no waves, you cannot see that the water is flowing. But that doesn't mean that there's no flow. It's flowing, but you cannot see it because there are no waves.
Earlier, we discussed the formations skandha; now we are discussing the consciousness skandha. If this were not the source of thinking, then how could one be subject to false habits? If there were no false thoughts in the consciousness skandha, then it would not be influenced and permeated by false habits.
J3 Indicates accurately its time of cessation.
If you do not open and unite your six sense faculties so that they function interchangeably, this false thinking will never cease.
If you do not achieve the state where you can open and unite your six sense faculties so that they function interchangeably, if you have not reached that level of cultivation, this false thinking will never cease. Unless you attain the state in which you can use your six sense faculties interchangeably, this false thinking will not go away.
J4 Discussing its extent and concluding with the name.
That's why your seeing, hearing, awareness, and knowing are presently strung together by subtle habits, so that within the profound clarity, existence and nonexistence are both unreal. This is the fifth kind of upside-down, minutely subtle thinking.
That's why your seeing, hearing, awareness, and knowing are presently strung together by subtle habits. The functions of your six sense faculties, seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, tactile awareness, and knowing, are strung together by subtle habits, like beads on a string. These habits are extremely subtle and hard to detect. So that within the still, profound clarity of your nature, existence and nonexistence are both unreal.
You may maintain that they exist, but they do not really exist. You may claim they don't exist, yet they do exist. This kind of intangible situation is the state of the fifth kind of upside-down, minutely subtle thinking. This kind of false thinking is also very subtle and difficult to detect.