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Buddhadharma : Winter 2017
84 Buddhadharma: The PracTiTioner's QuarTerly nature is empty. Consciousness is defined not by its content, the mental factors, just as the furniture doesn’t define a room. Emptiness gives us the freedom to rearrange our mental furniture to make the room more pleasant for ourselves and others. Clarity is the natural function of cognition through our senses: seeing form, hearing sounds, and understanding concepts. This is the natural way we are wired. In this way, all of our experiences are already complete. Everything that needs to be done has already been accomplished. Self-referentiality is just an overlay. There’s no need for it. Moment by moment, we are already free. From the Chan, or Zen perspective, this is Yogacara’s teaching on the perfected nature of reality, or as I like to say, “It’s all good!” Yogacara texts use the analogy of a rope to describe these three natures of reality. First, we typically don’t see things as they are. Our mental factors constantly skew the way we experience the world. We encounter a rope but see a snake. This is the imagined nature. Sec- ond, everything is made up of everything else, interrelated and inter- dependent. There is no separateness of self and others. Rope is made up of hemp, non-rope; this is the interdependent nature of things. Similarly, what we consider to be mind is made up of momentary mental factors, some of which are wholesome, while others are unwholesome. Third, not only is everything interrelated but there’s actually no thing, in here or out there. When an awakened mind perceives that self and others are fabrications, openness and freedom result. There is neither suffering nor the cessation of suffering. All beings are already liberated. Buddhahood is already attained. This is the perfected nature of all things. These three natures are something we can work with anytime, anywhere. But to do so, we must first familiarize ourselves with Yogacara’s conceptual framework. The eIghT conscIousnesses Yogacara details eight types of consciousnesses, which are present at any given moment in time. These eight are also known as the primary minds, or “mind-kings.” The first six are seeing-conscious- ness, hearing-consciousness, smelling-consciousness, tasting-con- sciousness, tactile-consciousness, and discriminating-consciousness. The seventh is self-referential-consciousness, and the eighth is the