Simple Comments on The Alaya Consciousness
The continuum body of flowing thoughts
whose origins are deep and subtle
That incessant never ending flow
is called the alaya consciousness.
Its ultimate origins cannot be fathomed
So the origin is simply called "ignorance"
It’s not that you make an "ignorant" mistake of first thought,
It’s "ignorance" in that the origins can’t be known.
In cultivation you aim to purify the alaya
which means you want to purify the whole body of consciousness
so that the stream that must appear is always quite pure
in goodness, compassion and skill.
What knows the alaya consciousness is termed empty awareness
or sometimes it’s called "prajna wisdom"
It’s a non-moving ever present function that knows without thought
And is still a "guest" rather than the ultimate "host."
If you enter a room of pitch darkness
That blackness should be considered a color
The eyes see the color of only dark black
not because of light but because the function of prajna is there
So the "clear light" of prajna awareness
is really no light or physical illumination
we just say that awareness is an ever present clear knowing substrate that’s always there
otherwise the blackness couldn’t be seen
Whatever you see of the world around you
is actually only your mind flowing
Everything you experience are only consciousness images
The world you see therefore is only You.
That entire body of human experience
Is what we call Consciousness-Only
But what knows it, sees it or experiences this All like the dark room
is the non-moving prajna wisdom that’s always there.
Prajna is separate and yet it’s not separate
It just shines without moving and without objects
If you realize this thing you can separate from the flow of illusion
and enter the cultivation trail.
So in cultivation you must first realize the truth of Mind-Only
and then strive to realize the underlying prajna knowing
That "sees" the alaya whole without being sucked into the same thing
and then you’re on the road to the true Self.
What you have to understand is that awareness has the potential of knowing, but it is called awareness when knowingness has not yet arisen. Because it is empty like this, it is pristine, clear, ever present existence. The path of spiritual practice is to help you achieve the state of ready awareness in a condition of now. This is called wisdom, or prajna or transcendental knowing when awareness knows without clining, and just reflects things as they are.
You should never block awareness by holding anything in the mind because that blocks this ever present clear one. Rather, always just let thoughts be born. That’s the correct functioning of the mind. You cannot stop the stream of thoughts anyway. They wil alwasy come. You can only know them without clining.
When thoughts are not there, which is the case in-between successive thoughts, just abide in the true nature of empty awareness, ready to let thoughts be given birth again. Just never cling to the mind and you’ll always be in awareness. If you stay in that state of presence without clinging because it’s become natural, then subtle mental pollutions of attachment you didn’t even know you were performing will eventually disappear and then you’ll discover that ready awareness is universal. You are just clinging to local consciousness because of the habit of identifying with the body, but since true Mind is everywhere, you can realize That when you practice beingness without clinging. It’s not a matter of thinking the right thoughts…
You don’t create universal awareness. Universal awareness is always there and you’re just covering it over with clinging. If you can throw all your clinging away by emptying it out, then you’ll find that awareness encompasses the cosmos. It encompasses all of creation. Everything that arises is within its body of pure essence. What you can perceive right now is limited because you are clining to the body and ITS five consciousnesses.
There is a state prior to the arising of conscious perception, called empty awareness, just as there is something there prior to your awakening in the morning event hough you are in a state of oblivion or ignorance before waking. That state is there all along during wakefulness, deep sleep, and even when the knowledge of “I am” is operating or not operating. There is something constant, a continuous substrate that is has always been there all along and will be there all along. The problem is that we get so caught up in what arises upon this substrate that we mistake the scenery for the light. We get caught up in the display of Consciousness-Only that we can never realize what it is that lets us KNOW this, what’s its basis. Like seeing the black of a dark room, that which lets us REALIZE the darkness is wisdom illumination, or clear awareness. No matter where you go in the universe, to the Heavens or Hell, you are never apart from It. It is always with you just as the originla nature is alwasy with you. The function of the original nature is this awareness. The essence behind awareness is the fundamental nature, the empty essence that is real, non-moving, silent, still, pristine, immaculate, perfect, complete …. but which isn’t inert because it gives birth the the realm of illusions, namely consciousness that cannot stay.
That underlying substrate of knowing is empty awareness. It is pure, unblemished, pristine and clear. It is pure so it is free of thoughts and forms, and thus pure through and through. Free of thoughts, it is unmoving and changeless. It is a function of your fundamental nature because it is a function that co-exists with its body of essence that shares its same characteristics. Spiritual practice is to find this ultimate one that is the essence or body of awareness. That’s what spiritual practice is all about. It’s called "empty" because everything you think it is, it is not…it is empty of all those things. "Neti, neti, not this, not this." So it’s called absence of existence, but also neither existence or non-existence because you cannot identify it as something, and also because though empty it gives birth to this world of forms (which is existence).
And thus the Middle Way is to know This One and illusion without clinging to either. Can you get there? I hope you understand it better now. The samadhi states are just practice vehicles and resting stations to help you prepare to realize This One, which is why they belong to the Stage of Intensified Practices within the five phases of cultivation.