By Souls of Silver
Understanding human consciousness is essential to understanding the mind. It is an elevated state of being aware. The first step is to identify the different elements and layers of consciousness. It is imperative that we first recognize and unravel the different facets of consciousness and their relation to each other. Only then is our meditation complete and we move forward in our understanding of the mind.
Consciousness is awareness of the surroundings and more. It has many aspects. Peeling away the layers unearths hidden depths of wisdom, knowledge, and memory. Consciousness is never static, says Buddha. It flows and has four layers – consciousness of the mind, sense, store, and manas.
Mind Consciousness-The First Layer
The first form of consciousness is that of your mind. It is linked to work. Our energy is consumed. It empowers us to make plans and analyze. Our body works in tandem with it. It cannot exist without consciousness and consciousness needs a body to reveal itself.
It is necessary to first clear the misconception that your brain gives birth to consciousness. Your brain consumes a fifth of the energy of the body but is merely 2% of its weight. It is apparent that the analytical use of the mind takes up much of our energy. To conserve energy, we should attend to the present. We should not allow the self to be swayed or overwhelmed.
The Consciousness Of The Five Senses
The senses of taste, touch, smell, hearing, and sight constitute the sense consciousness. They are the doors through which the objects we perceive enter our consciousness. It is the interaction of three components. First the five senses, second the sensing of object, and finally, our own experience.
Store Consciousness – The Archives
This is the innermost layer. Different traditions of Buddhism refer to it in different ways. It is a subconscious repository of impressions of all our actions past and present. It also keeps and preserves all past information handed down by our ancestors, and present information. Every new creation is converted to a seed. It is then stored in the consciousness and preserved. The final and most vital function of store consciousness is to analyze this information. But it spends less energy than mind consciousness. So, if you can limit the stress on your brain and exert control over unnecessary thought processes, you save energy. Let store consciousness take over the burden of processing.
Store consciousness performs several involuntary actions without the intervention of the mind. The material choices we make are not our decisions even though we like to believe it. Store consciousness makes the choice. Our likes and dislikes, our aesthetic senses are discreetly manipulated. Our mind also feeds off the store consciousness of others in a group. Other’s perceptions influence us. So ultimately, we are also manipulated by the collective consciousness.
The third role is in its ever-flowing nature. Store consciousness is the garden. It is tended by the mind consciousness, the gardener. Belief in the garden yields the best result. The gardener should trust the garden and make the best choices or decisions for us. The store consciousness is the hard drive which stores, preserves, and maintains. It is only retrieved by mind consciousness.
But there is a vital difference. The information stored is more akin to the organic seed than the cold information stored in a computer. Negative seeds can transform, for example, hatred into compassion. And a positive element, like love can be nurtured. Thus, stored information can change.
This is the consciousness that possesses us. There are aspects of ignorance within store consciousness like fear, anger and delusion which form into an energy and desire possession. This consciousness is termed as Manas and it keeps faith in a separate self. The concept of the self as a separate entity is the basis of manas. To this purpose, it adheres to store consciousness. It appropriates that from which it emanates.
The Interaction Between The Layers
Of the four layers, the store consciousness always remains active. The mind functions may be interrupted, for example, when a person sleeps. The sense also functions in tandem with store consciousness bypassing the mind. The instinctive reaction also bypasses the mind.
Making Sense Of The Mental Formations
Buddhism looks at everything as a form which reveals itself when certain things integrate but also change all the time. Mental formations exist in consciousness and make up its very content. Of the 49 or 51 mental formations, the first five are contact, attention, feeling, perception, and volition. Their concentration and intensity vary in different levels of consciousness.
The propagation of meditation makes us look deep within ourselves and helps us detach the thinker from the thinking. When self is negated, our illusion is removed. We transform. Manas consciousness crumbles and makes us happy and free.
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