Conciousness and the Eight Fold Path

Author: Linmu

From a previous article, we can determine the following:

  1. Regardless of the existence of the external world or the nature of external things, it is all meaningless to us because we lack the ability to explore external things, and we cannot even know if there is an external world. What we know is merely the consciousness arising from things and our senses. Our consciousness contains the entire world we know, or in other words, everything we know belongs to the realm of consciousness.

  1. Just as burning is a phenomenon produced by conditions, people often say fire burns wood, but in reality, fire and burning are just popular expressions for the intense reaction between wood and oxygen, and there is no factual truth that fire can burn wood. Awareness is similar; there is no factual truth that anything can be aware of something. Awareness itself is a phenomenon produced by senses and things.

  2. Consciousness is an instantaneous phenomenon, like light, sound, shadows, etc., it does not stay, cannot be preserved, constantly changes, and is inconsistent. Since everything we know belongs to the realm of consciousness, the world we know will also not stay, cannot be preserved, constantly changes, and is inconsistent, like light, sound, shadows, etc. If everyone understands these three points, we can move on.

First, let's look at an animated picture.

This animated picture has a characteristic where each word appears briefly and then disappears. Therefore, to understand what this picture is saying, one needs to focus attention on the picture and not miss any new word that appears. After reading the entire animated picture word by word without missing any, if we remember the words we saw and engage in some recall thinking, these words will connect in our minds to form a sentence, and we will understand the meaning of the whole sentence.

The arising of consciousness is like the appearance of these words; continuously arising consciousness is like these continuously appearing words; the consciousness produced within a period of time is like the words appearing within that period; people's understanding of a period of consciousness is like their understanding of a piece of text.

As we mentioned earlier, consciousness contains the entire world we know, so our understanding of the world is actually an understanding of consciousness. If we want to truly know the truth of the whole world, we should first truly know the truth of our consciousness internally.

If everyone can understand up to this point, then everything is simple. Just like truly knowing the animated picture earlier, to truly know consciousness or the world, we must first know every consciousness without missing any, which is called "Right Knowledge." Secondly, to understand the consciousness within a period of time, we must not forget any of the consciousness that occurred during that period, which is called "Right Mindfulness." Right Knowledge and Right Mindfulness together are called "Right Mindfulness." Not missing any consciousness arising internally, not forgetting any consciousness, fully and firmly and continuously focusing on Right Knowledge and Right Mindfulness is called "Right Concentration."

The principles understood during Right Concentration, such as what is seen, understood, and grasped, represent true wisdom, called "Right View." The principles contained in Right View regarding the operation of consciousness, body, mind, and the whole world are known as "Dependent Origination."

The inclinations, plans, decisions, resolutions, aspirations, and willpower that arise from Right View are known as "Right Intention." The bodily and verbal actions driven by Right Intention are "Right Action," "Right Livelihood," and "Right Speech."

The internal actions that occur include Right Mindfulness and right concentration. The efforts made to generate all these good, true thoughts and actions, and to eliminate all unwholesome, wrong thoughts and actions, are known as "Right Effort." Through Right Effort, people continuously practice Right Knowledge and Right Mindfulness, leading to Right Concentration.

The complete and true understanding of the operational principles of consciousness seen during Right Concentration will continuously generate Right View. From Right View, Right Intention arises continuously, which leads to continually deciding to practice correct bodily and verbal actions and more Right Knowledge and Right Mindfulness. The continuous Right Knowledge and Right Mindfulness prolong Right Concentration, leading to more Right View... In this way, the eightfold path, like a snowball, enhances people's abilities of will, diligence, memory, focus, and wisdom.

When these five abilities are strong enough, one can be fully aware of every consciousness without missing any and completely eliminate ignorance of the operational principles of consciousness and even the entire world. If people can completely eliminate ignorance, all actions, including thoughts, will cease. In the previous article, we mentioned that thoughts are like heat and stimulate the production of consciousness from senses and things. When all thoughts cease, all consciousness ceases to arise.

Therefore, for those seeking liberation, they should possess right knowledge and right mindfulness, not be negligent, persist until personally verifying the cessation of all consciousness, knowing liberation, and realizing Nirvana.