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FUNCTIONS OF EIGHT KINDS OF CONSCIOUSNESS IN YOGCRA

ANKUR BARUA

Introduction The Yogcra school of Buddhist thought was founded by the two brothers, Asanga and Vasubandhu in the fifth century. Origins before this could be traced only through traditions where Asanga was believed to be mentored by a man known as aitreya

who might not be historical.! Yogcra was already hundreds of years old by the time of Asanga." #owever, the $foundational scri%ture& of Yogcra considered to be Asanga's te(t entitled, $The )cri%ture on the *(%lication of +nderlying eaning

,)amdhinirmocanasutra-&.!,. The original te(ts of Yogcra no longer e(ist in their original )anskrit version. But only /hinese and Tibetan translations are available at %resent. The ga% between the original teachers and the written tradition has fostered misunderstanding about Yogcra %hiloso%hy..,0

Evolution of Yog c r! Yogcra ,y12gk3r"- 4)anskrit 5 yoga %ractice6, is a %hiloso%hical school of ahayana Buddhism, also known as the Vijnavada or /onsciousness )chool.0,7 The founders of this school in 8ndia were thought to be aitreya's disci%le Asanga

,c..97:0.;- and Asanga2s younger half<brother Vasubandhu ,c.0;;:0=;-.7,> #ere, we

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must remember that though the

aitreya Bodhisatta or Buddha was not a historical aitreya

figure, but there is a %ossibility of historical e(istence of an Arahant named

who is believed to be the teacher of Asanga. 8f this is true then the historical aitreya should be dated during ,c."9;:.7;-. Vasubandhu also systemati@ed the Abhidhamma of Buddhist %hiloso%hy. Before being introduced to the Yogcra %hiloso%hy by his brother Asanga, he was a )autrantika thinker and an e(%ert in Abhidhamma.0,7,>

The Yogcra school held that consciousness ,vijna- is real, but its obAects of constructions are unreal. The school2s teachings are thus often characteri@ed by the %hrase $consciousness<only& ,citta-matraor $re%resentation<only& ,vijnapti-

matra-.>,9

The content of consciousness is %roduced not by inde%endently e(isting obAects but by the inner modifications of consciousness itself. A theory of eight kinds of consciousness was formed to e(%lain how this %rocess functions. The dee%est level of consciousness is the $store<consciousness& ,laya-vijna-, which is both individual and universal and contains the seeds or traces of %ast actions, which are %roAected into manifestation through the $defiled mind& and the si( sense< consciousnesses ,the five %hysical senses %lus mind or thought-. The school was transmitted to /hina as the Ba<hsiang. 8t eventually it got synchroni@ed with the adhyamika school.9,=,C

Yog c r!# A R$!ction to t%$ Conc$&t of Sun'!t!

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Yogcra is influenced by the ?raAna%aramita sutras, scri%tures of Buddhism or the iddle Day. EagarAuna, the first<known author of

adhyamaka adhyamaka

tradition, taught $sunyata& by u%holding the view that em%tiness was the ultimate reality and this insight destroyed all understanding. #e reAected all theory and all %hiloso%hy as illusory, believing them to be definitively negated by the dialectic of em%tiness.! *m%tiness or voidness, was intended to mean that the world is $em%ty of any imagined creator being or self entity or any notion of an absolute.&!,",.

Yogcra is a reaction to the $sunyata& conce%t. Though Yogcra is often seen as a com%lete break from the doctrine of em%tiness and substituting a new idealism in its %lace, but this was not the actual intention behind the formation of Yogcra school.!; The goal of the first Yogcra %hiloso%hers was to move beyond the limits of em%tiness.C,!; Asanga wanted to $revive& the EagarAuna and adhyamaka

%hiloso%hy. #e wanted to create a strong view of the structure of consciousness through an investigation into meditation and use it to rethink the notion of em%tiness so that it did not sto% with the destruction of all views.! Vasubandhu gives his definitive e(%lanation of em%tiness in the very beginning of his writing, the adhyantavibhaga. 8n the em%tiness or voidness itself, something e(ists and %ersists. This conclusion is not found e(%licitly in adhyamaka.!; Yogcra was also

a res%onse to non< ahayana schools including Theravada and )arvastivada.!;,!!

Signific!nc$ of Yog c r! Yogcra was a synthesis created in res%onse to all e(isting schools of Buddhism during the third century B/. Yogcra e(tracted the common teachings from all the

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Buddhist traditions and made an attem%t to resolve the %roblems that most of them were facing. The key e%istemological and meta%hysical insights of Yogcra evolved from the common Buddhist belief that knowledge comes only from the senses ,viAna%ti-.0,7,> Dith a new insight, Yogcra %ro%osed that the mind, itself, was an as%ect of viAna%ti. Asanga further recogni@ed that though the mind can sense its own obAects, which are known as thoughts ,a%%erce%tion-, but it cannot verify its own inter%retation. As the senses are constantly misinter%reted, our thoughts ,a%%erce%tions- are also misinter%reted in the same way. These misconce%tions are instinctive and nearly universal because they are caused by the desires, fears and an(ieties that come with animal survival. This results in an automatic assum%tion of substance for self and obAects ,atman and dharma- which are created to su%%ress our fears.0,>

Yogcra de%arts from the common Buddhist understanding not only in its view of the %roblem, but also in its view of the solution. De cannot %erceive correctly the %erce%tion that we do not %erceive reality correctly. )o, we never can actually verify our a%%erce%tion with %erfect accuracy.0,> Yogcra talks about $gras%erFgras%ed& rather than $subAectFobAect& res%ectively and also introduces a causal relationshi%. De gras% because we desireG desire comes from a sense of need. Dhat we fundamentally lack is a self, thus we seek to %reserve what we do not have. Because we strive to survive, we do not naturally challenge the assum%tion of our own being. The solution is to disown the %henomena within our minds as our own. )ensations of %leasure and %ain, belief, ignorance, language and reason are the strategies em%loyed to %reserve the self which come at the e(%ense of our unending sense of need.0,>

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(!riou) T'&$) of Con)ciou)n$)) in Yog c r! The most famous innovation of the Yogcra )chool was the doctrine of eight consciousnesses. *arly Buddhism and Abhidhamma described si( consciousnesses, each %roduced by the contact between its s%ecific sense organ and a corres%onding sense obAect. Thus, when a functioning eye comes into contact with a color or sha%e, visual consciousness is %roduced. /onsciousness does not create the sensory s%here, but is an effect of the interaction of a sense organ and its true obAect. 8f an eye does not function but an obAect is %resent, visual consciousness does not arise. The same is true if a functional eye fails to encounter a visual obAect.!;,!!,!"

Arising of consciousness is de%endent on sensation. There are altogether si( sense organs ,eye, ear, nose, mouth, body, and mind- which interact with their res%ective sensory obAect domains like visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, tactile, and mental s%heres. #ere, the mind is considered to be another sense organ as it functions like the other senses. 8t involves the activity of a sense organ ,manas-, its domain ,mano<dhtu- and the resulting consciousness ,mano<viAHna-. *ach domain is discrete and function inde%endent of the other. #ence, the deaf can see and the blind can hear. ObAects are also s%ecific to their domain and the same is true of the consciousnesses like the visual consciousness is entirely distinct from auditory consciousness. There are si( distinct ty%es of consciousness namely, the visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, tactile and mental consciousness. The si( sense organs, si( sense obAect domains and si( resulting consciousnesses com%rise our

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eighteen com%onents of e(%erience and are known as the eighteen dhtus. According to Buddhism, these eighteen dhtus are the com%rehensive sensorium of everything in the universe. !;,!!,!",!.

As Abhidhamma grew more com%le(, dis%utes intensified between different Buddhist schools along a range of issues. 8n order to avoid the idea of a %ermanent self, Buddhists said citta is momentary. )ince a new citta a%%erceives a new cognitive field each moment, the a%%arent continuity of mental states was e(%lained causally by claiming each citta, in the moment it ceased, also acted as cause for the arising of its successor. This was fine for continuous %erce%tions and thought %rocesses, but difficulties arose since Buddhists identified a number of situations in which no citta at all was %resent or o%erative, such as dee% slee%, unconsciousness, and certain meditative conditions e(%licitly defined as devoid of citta ,saIAHJ<sam%atti, nirodha<sam%atti-. )o, the controversial Kuestions wereL from where does consciousness reemerge after dee% slee%M #ow does

consciousness begin in a new lifeM The various Buddhist attem%ts to answer these Kuestions led to more difficulties and dis%utes. Bor Yogcra the most im%ortant %roblems revolved around Kuestions of causality and consciousness.!;,!!,!",!. Yogcrins res%onded by rearranging the tri%artite structure of the mental level of the eighteen dhtus into three novel ty%es of consciousnesses. ano<viAHna

,em%irical consciousness- became the si(th consciousness %rocessing the cognitive content of the five senses as well as mental obAects ,thoughts, ideas-. anas

became the seventh consciousness, which was %rimarily obsessed with various as%ects and notions of NselfN. #ence, it was called Ndefiled manasN ,kliOPa<manas-.

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The eighth consciousness, laya<viAHna also known as Nwarehouse consciousness,N was totally novel.
!;,!!,!",!.,!0

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Und$r)t!nding function)!!,!",!0

our

*ind+Eig%t

,ind)

of

con)ciou)n$))

!nd

t%$ir

T%$ Eig%t Kind) of Con)ciou)n$)) Fir)t fiv$ con)ciou)n$))$ )0 !. eye < visual ". ear < auditory .. nose < olfactory 0. tongue < gustatory 7. body < tactile

Tr!n)for*!tio n into four t'&$) of -i)do*

Function) of t%$)$ Eig%t Con)ciou)n$))$)

Co*&!ri)on .it% t%$ Co*&ut$r D!t! /roc$))ing S')t$*

D!t! Coll$ction C$ntr$# -i)do* of Succ$))ful /$rfor*!nc$

Dindows to the e(ternal world or contact with the e(ternal environment to collect information

R!. D!t! In&ut

S$n)$ C$ntr$# Si1t% or 2ind con)ciou)n$)) >. ind -i)do* of -ond$rful Cont$*&l!tio n

D!t! /roc$))ing# T%$ C/U 3c$ntr!l &roc$))ing unit4

?erforming the functions of cognition and differentiation T%oug%t C$ntr$#

Borming conce%tions out of %erce%tions.

S$v$nt% con)ciou)n$))

-i)do* of E5u!lit'

D!t! !n!l')i) ?lays the role of thinking on a self< centered basis.

anas consciousness

As the result of Qself< centered' situation, all the selfish thoughts, egotistic o%inion, arrogance,

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self<love, etc. would arise. Eig%t% con)ciou)n$)) Gr!nd0round0 *irror0li,$ -i)do* Stor$ C$ntr$ 3)tor$0%ou)$4# *ach seed has infinite %ower to %roduce a manifestation. D!t! Stor!g$

Rlaya consciousness

The new seeds are %erfumed from time to time

T%$ Eig%t% Con)ciou)n$)) 3l!'! Con)ciou)n$))4 !!,!",!.,!0 Darehouse /onsciousness was defined as the rece%tacle of all seeds, storing e(%eriences as they NenterN until they are sent back out as new e(%eriences. This is the same way as a warehouse handles inventories. 8t was also called vi%ka consciousness, where vi%ka means the NmaturingN of karmic seeds. )eeds gradually matured in the re%ository consciousness until karmically ri%e and can reassert themselves as karmic conseKuences. Rlaya <viAHna was also called the Nbasic consciousnessN ,mSla<viAHna- as it retains the karmic seeds that both influence and are influenced by the other seven consciousnesses. Bor e(am%le, when the si(th consciousness is dormant ,while one slee%s, or is unconscious-, its seeds reside in the eighth consciousness. They NrestartN when the conditions for their arising are %resent. The eighth consciousness is a mechanism for storing and de%loying seeds of which it remains unaware. The Darehouse /onsciousness acts as the %ivotal karmic mechanism, but is itself karmically neutral. *ach individual has its own Darehouse /onsciousness which is nothing more than a collection of ever<

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changing Nseeds.N 8t is continuously changing and therefore not a %ermanent self. )o, there is no universal collective mind in Yogcra.

Four -i)do*) fro* Eig%t Con)ciou)n$))$)!;,!!,!",!.,!0

(1) The first five %erce%tual consciousnesses are transformed into the Disdom of
)uccessful ?erformance. This wisdom is characteri@ed by %ure and unim%eded functioning ,no attachment or distortion- in its relation to the ,sense- organs and their obAects.

(2) The si(th consciousness is the %erce%tual and cognitive %rocessing center. 8t is
transformed into the Disdom of Donderful /ontem%lation which has two as%ects corres%onding to understanding of the $em%tiness of self& and that of the $em%tiness of dharmas&.

(3) The seventh consciousness defiles the first si( consciousnesses with self and
self<related afflictions. 8t is transformed into the Disdom of *Kuality which understands the nature of the eKuality of self and of all other beings.

(4) The eighth, the storehouse consciousness, is transformed into the grand<mirror<
like wisdom. This wisdom reflects the entire universe without distortion. Tike mirror can reflect many obAects simultaneously, the wisdom can %erceive many obAects accurately and simultaneously. This can be achieved by %ro%er transformation of the Rlaya<viAHna to this wisdom and is considered to be the state of the Buddhahood.

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Conclu)ion 8n Yogcra conce%t, true knowledge begins when consciousness ends. Thus, $*nlightenment& is considered as the act of bringing the eight consciousnesses to an end and re%lacing them with enlightened cognitive abilities ,AHna-. #ere, the si(th consciousness , anas- becomes the immediate cognition of eKuality ,samat< AHna- by eKuali@ing self and other. Dhen the Darehouse /onsciousness finally ceases it is re%laced by the Ureat irror /ognition , ahdarVa<AHna- that sees and

reflects things truly as they are ,yath<bhStam-.=,C,!!,!0 Thus, the gras%er<gras%ed relationshi% ceases and the mind %roAects the things im%artially without e(clusion, %reAudice, antici%ation, attachment, or distortion. These N%urifiedN cognitions remove the self<bias, %reAudice and obstructions that had %reviously %revented a %erson from %erceiving beyond his selfish consciousness. )ince enlightened cognition is non<conce%tual, its obAects cannot be described. )o, the Yogcra school could not %rovide any descri%tion regarding the outcome of these ty%es of enlightened cognitions e(ce%t for referring these as 2%ure2 ,of imaginative constructions-. There was also another Yogcra innovation in the field of consciousness. This was the notion that a s%ecial ty%e of cognition can emerge and develo% after the attainment of enlightenment. This %ost<enlightenment cognition was called $%WOPhalabdha<AHna&. 8t is concerned with how and *nlightened One can engage himself in assisting other sentient beings in overcoming the suffering and ignorance. >,=,!!,!.,!0

Though, in sim%le terms, Yogcra means, $the school that %ractices the way of yoga,&" but the %ractical methodology of yogic meditation merely reveals the

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meaning of the underline %hiloso%hy. 8nsight meditation is actually a means of abandoning delusions about the self and about the world. The original teachings reveal the insights of Yogcra and re%resent the greatest %hiloso%hical

achievement of the east, which sur%asses the accom%lishments of Destern %hiloso%hy.!0 )o, a great deal of understanding is reKuired if we want to com%letely understand and assimilate the inner conce%ts of Yogcra.

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