Understanding the All-ground Consciousness and Afflictions


Tulku Migmar explains the function of the all-ground consciousness. The five sense consciousnesses derive from the all-ground consciousness. If we can let objects appear to the sense and then all-ground consciousnesses without forming any concepts about them, that is the nature of buddhahood. This is the path of the Great Seal, Mahamudra, and the path of the Great Perfection, Dzogchen. It is quite simple.

If when the mind or consciousness meets with an object through the medium of the sense faculties it can either remain facing inwards or it can begin forming concepts. The first option, facing inward, is what we call nirvana, or buddhahood. But if it starts forming concepts of attraction, aversion, and indifference, then cyclic existence begins. This trio of attraction, aversion, and indifference is not innate to the mind. This cycling of the mind which is caught up in sense perceptions and subsequent judgment is the definition of samsara. We lose control of our minds, and surrender control, losing our freedom. This is what we aim to realize in our meditation.

These three factors are the root afflictions. These afflictions begin to proliferate—we speak of five negative emotions. Within the Buddhist analysis, we identify 84,000 negative emotions. None of these are innate to the mind. This was a discovery of the Buddha 2500 years ago.

All of these different afflictions come with different strengths. We can see this when we observe very young children. As soon as children see smartphones, they become attached to them. Perhaps these kids are the reincarnation of techies!

Our minds become discontent and we indulge or spoil our minds by looking outward to satisfy them. But craving continues and we remain unsatisfied. We don’t find happiness this way. We keep feeding the relentless craving of our minds, even if we know it won’t bring us what we want. We know that anger is not desirable, but instead of calming our minds when anger arises, we begin to shout. That only feeds the anger—it makes it worse.

The Buddhist presentation of the cyclical process that Tulku Migmar is introducing here is described in the Twelve Steps of Dependent Arising or Dependent Origination.

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