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Buddhadharma : Summer 2006
summer 2006| 36 |buddhadharma it’s not your mind consciousness that does it. We don’t think, “Oh, there is an accident, therefore I have to quickly swerve to the right.” That instinct of self-defense comes from store consciousness. In the cold room at night, even though you’re not dreaming, and mind consciousness isn’t functioning, the feeling of cold still penetrates into the body at the level of sense consciousness, which makes a vibration on the level of store consciousness, and your body moves the blanket up to cover you. Whether we’re driving, manipulating a machine, or performing other tasks, many of us allow our sense consciousness to collaborate with store consciousness, which enables us to do many things without the intervention of mind consciousness. When we bring our mind consciousness into this work, then suddenly we may become aware of the mental formations that are arising. The word “formation” (samskara in Sanskrit) means some- thing that manifests when many conditions come together. When we look at a flower, we can recognize many of the ele- ments that have come together to make the flower manifest in that form. We know that without the rain there can be no water and the flower cannot manifest. And we see that the sun- shine is also there. The earth, the compost, the gardener, time, space, and many elements came together to help this flower manifest. The flower doesn’t have a separate existence; it’s a formation. The sun, the moon, the mountain, and the river are all formations. Using the word “formation” reminds us that there is no separate core of existence in them. There is only a coming together of many, many conditions for something to manifest. As Buddhist practitioners, we can train ourselves to look at everything as a formation. We know that all formations are changing all the time. Impermanence is one of the marks of reality, because everything changes. Formations that exist in consciousness are called mental formations. When there’s contact between a sense organ (eyes, ears, mouth, nose, body) and an object, sense consciousness arises. And at the moment your eyes first gaze on an object, or you first feel the wind on your skin, the first mental formation of contact manifests. Contact causes a vibration on the level of store consciousness. If the impression is weak, then the vibration stops and the current of store consciousness recovers its tranquility; you con- tinue to sleep, or you continue with your activities, because that impression created by touch has not been strong enough to draw the attention of mind consciousnesses. It’s like when a flying insect lands on the surface of the water and causes the water to ripple a little bit. After the insect flies off, the surface The function of manas is to cling to store consciousness as a separate self. The moment the vision of no-self is there, manas, the elusive notion of “I am,” disintegrates, and we find ourselves enjoying, in this very moment, freedom and happiness.