4 hours ago
Can anyone explain the subtlest form of mind and how it goes from one life to the next?
I am currently reading "Approaching the Buddhist Path" and His Holiness explains that there are different levels of mind. The subtlest form is not dependent on physical forms to exist, and he says it is this that transfers from one life to the next after the physical form dies.
I think my question is, does this mean that this subtlest form of conscioussness is a fundamental substrate of reality, essentially?
I'm hoping someone can expand on this topic of subtle conscioussness, also referred to by His Holiness as "fundamental, innate mind of clear light."
Thanks everyone <3
xabir (Soh) replied:
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2 min. ago
It is important to understand that the subtlest clear light mind is not some unchanging substrate that is the atman-brahman of other religions.
It is considered by Dalai Lama to be a momentary mind-stream. Each moment of clear light consciousness is anew but dependent on a previous moment for it to arise. Its arising and ceasing is momentary, (unlike some static unchanging ground of being or substratum of other religions), yet because its continuum is uninterrupted like a river, it is termed "abiding" in a certain sense.
Here is what he said:
Question: Is the fundamental innate mind of clear light dependent on causes and conditions? If it is not dependent, how can it be empty of independent existence?
HHDL: This is a very good question. Often in texts we find mention of the fundamental innate mind of clear light being not produced by causes and conditions. Now here it is important to understand that in general when we use the term 'produced phenomena' there are different connotations. Something can be called 'produced' because it is a production of delusions and the actions they induce. Again, it may also refer to a production by causes and conditions. And there is also a sense of 'produced' as being cause by conceptual thought processes.
Certain texts speak of the activities of the Buddha as permanent and non-produced in the sense that they are continuous, and that as long as there are sentient beings, the activities of the buddhas will remain without interruption. So, from the point of view of their continuity, these activities are sometimes called permanent.
In the same manner, the fundamental innate mind of clear light, in terms of its continuity, is beginningless, and also endless. This continuum will always be there, and so from that specific point of view, it is also called 'non-produced'. Besides, the fundamental innate mind of clear light is no a circumstantial or adventitious state of mind, for it does not come into being as a result of the circumstantial interaction of causes and conditions. Rather, it is an ever-abiding continuum of mind, which is inherent within us. So from that view point, it is called 'non-produced'.
However, although this is the cause, we still have to maintain that, because it possesses this continuity, the present fundamental innate mind-this present instant of consciousness-comes from its earlier moments. The same holds true of the wisdom of Buddha-the omniscient mind of Buddha-which perceives the two truths directly and simultaneously, and which is also a state of awareness or consciousness. Since it is a state of awareness, the factor which will eventually turn into that kind of wisdom, namely the fundamental innate nature of clear light, will also have to be maintained to be a state of awareness. For it is impossible for anything which is not by nature awareness to turn into a state of awareness. So from this second point of view, the fundamental innate mind of clear light is causally produced.
From Dzogchen: Heart Essence of Great Perfection by The Dalai Lama.
Dalai Lama on the Clear Light
“According to Dam-tsik-dor-jay, a Mongolian from Kalka, when the [tantric] view of the Great Perfection is taught, it also is divided into two categories, objective and subjective. The former can be understood in the vocabulary of the New Translation Schools [Kagyud, Sakya, & Gelug], just explained, as the objective clear light, that is to say, as emptiness which is the object of a wisdom consciousness. In the Great Perfection [tantras of the Nyingma school,] the term ‘view’ most frequently refers not to the object emptiness, but to the subject, the wisdom consciousness and , more or less, a union of the object – emptiness – with the subject – the wisdom consciousness realizing it. This innate fundamental mind of clear light is emphasized equally in the Highest Yoga Tantra systems of the New Translation Schools and in the Nying-ma system of the Great Perfection and is the proper place of comparison of the old and new schools.
In the Great Perfection, however, the subjective view, that is to say, the mind which takes emptiness as its object – is not the ordinary of coarse mind described in the Perfection Vehicle of the Great Vehicle but a subtle mind. It is basic knowledge (rig pa), clear light (‘od gsal), the fundamental innate mind of clear light (gnyug ma lhan cig skyes pa’i ‘od gsal) which is the final status (gnas lugs) of things…
The fundamental mind which serves as the basis of all phenomena of cyclic existence and nirvana is posited as the ultimate truth or nature of phenomena (dharmata, chos nyid); it is also called the ‘clear light’ (abhasvara, ‘od gsal) and uncompounded (asamskrta, ‘dus ma byas). In Nying-ma it is called the ‘mind-vajra’; this is not the mind that is contrasted with basic knowledge (rig pa) and mind (sems) but the factor of mere luminosity and knowing, basic knowledge itself. This is the final root of all minds, forever indestructible, immutable, and unbreakable continuum like a vajra. Just as the New Translation Schools posit a beginningless and endless fundamental mind, so Nying-ma posits a mind-vajra which has no beginning or end and proceeds without interruption through the effect stage of Buddhahood. It is considered ‘permanent’ in the sense of abiding forever and thus is presented as a permanent mind. It is permanent not in the sense of not disintegrating moment by moment but in the sense that its continuum is not interrupted…
With respect to identifying the clear light in the Great Perfection: when, for instance, one hears a noise, between the time of hearing it and conceptualizing it as such and such, there is a type of mind devoid of conceptuality but nevertheless not like sleep or samadhi, in which the object is a reflection of this entity of mere luminosity and knowing. It is at such a point that the basic entity of the mind [clear light] is identified.
“Union of new Old Schools” in Kindness, Clarity, & Insight (trans. Hopkins)
Dzogchen teacher Acarya Malcolm Smith said:
Yes, I understand. All awarenesses are conditioned. There is no such thing as a universal undifferentiated ultimate awareness in Buddhadharma. Even the omniscience of a Buddha arises from a cause.
isn't this cause, too, an object of awareness? Isn't there awareness of this cause? If awareness of this cause is awareness itself, then isn't this awareness of awareness? What causes awareness of awareness, if not awareness?
If awareness is the cause of awareness, isn't it its own cause?
Omniscience is the content of a mind freed of afflictions. Even the continuum of a Buddha has a relative ground, i.e. a the rosary or string of moments of clarity is beginingless.
Origination from self is axiomatically negated in Buddhadharma,
Each moment in the continuum of a knowing clarity is neither the same as nor different than the previous moment. Hence the cause of a given instant of a knowing clarity cannot be construed to be itself nor can it be construed to be other than itself. This is the only version of causation which, in the final analysis, Buddhadharma can admit to on a relative level. It is the logical consequence of the Buddha's insight, "When this exists, that exists, with the arising of that, this arose."
I am not referring to cognition, rather, the causes of that cognition.
Cognitions arise based on previous cognitions. That's all.
If you suggest anything other than this, you wind up in Hindu La la land.
There is no such thing as a universal undifferentiated ultimate awareness in Buddhadharma.