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Buddhadharma : Summer 2006
buddhadharma| 35 |summer 2006 of ignorance – delusion, anger, fear – and these elements form a force of energy that clings, that wants to possess. This is the fourth level of consciousness, called manas, which I like to translate as “cogitation.” Manas consciousness has at its root the belief in a separate self, the belief in a person. This con- sciousness, the feeling and instinct called “I am,” is very deeply seated in store consciousness. It’s not a view taken up by mind consciousness. Deeply seated in the depths of store conscious- ness is this idea that there is a self that is separate from non-self elements. The function of manas is to cling to store conscious- ness as a separate self. Another way of thinking of manas is as adana conscious- ness. Adana means “appropriation.” Imagine that a vine puts forth a shoot, and then the shoot turns back and embraces and encircles the trunk of the tree. This deep-seated delusion – the belief that there is a self – is there in store consciousness as the result of ignorance and fear, and it gives rise to an energy that turns around and embraces store consciousness and makes it the only object of its love. Manas is always operating. It never lets go of store conscious- ness. It’s always embracing, always holding or sticking to store consciousness. It believes store consciousness to be the object of its love. That’s why store consciousness isn’t free. There’s an illusion that store consciousness is “me,” is my beloved, so I can’t let it go. Day and night there’s a secret, deep cogitation that this is me, this is mine, and I have to do everything I can to grasp, to protect, to make it mine. Manas is born and rooted in store consciousness. It arises from store consciousness and it turns around and embraces store consciousness as its object: “You are my beloved, you are me.” The function of manas is to appropriate store consciousness as its own. Now we have the names of the four layers of conscious- ness, and we can see how they interact. Store consciousness is a process – always flowing, always present, never interrupted. But mind consciousness may be interrupted. For example, when we sleep without dreaming, mind consciousness is not operat- ing. When we’re in a coma, mind consciousness stops work- ing completely. And there are deep concentrations when mind consciousness completely stops operating – there’s no thinking, no planning, nothing – yet store consciousness continues to operate. Some neuroscientists use the term “background conscious- ness” to describe store consciousness. And the level of mind consciousness is what they call, simply, consciousness. Whether you’re awake or you’re asleep, whether you’re dreaming or not dreaming, the work of processing and storing information is continuously done by store consciousness, whether you want it to or not. There are times when sense consciousness operates in col- laboration with store consciousness without going through the mind. It’s funny, but it happens very, very often. When you drive your car, you are able to avoid many accidents, even if your mind consciousness is thinking of other things. You may not even be thinking of driving at all. And yet, most of the time at least, you don’t get into an accident. This is because the impres- sions and images provided by eye consciousness are received by store consciousness, and decisions are made without ever going through mind consciousness. When someone suddenly holds something close to your eyes – for instance, if someone is about to hit you, or when something is about to fall on you – you react quickly. That quick reaction, that decision, is not made by mind consciousness. If you have to make a quick maneuver, Thinking without a thinker. Feeling without a feeler. All the fifty-one mental formations take place and manifest without a self behind them.