ALAYAVIJÑ0NA IN THE CHENG WEISHI LUN a buddhist theory of the subliminal mind
In the last chapter, I briefly traced the origin of the concept of 1layavijñ1na. I investigated the rationale behind the Yog1c1ra postulation of 1layavijñ1na as a new form of consciousness, vijñ1na, which is initially designed to provide support for the meditator during two meditative states wherein mental activities are supposed to have stopped. However, once formulated, the development of 1layavijñ1na takes a course of its own, and the concept is expanded to accommodate other doctrinal needs of Buddhism, the most important of which is to account for our sense of self and our cognition of external objects. In this chapter, we will look into the concept of 1layavijñ1na in its more developed form as presented in the Cheng Weishi Lun (Vijñaptim1trat1siddhi-
é1stra,The Treatise on the Establishment of the Doctrine of Consciousness-Only, hereafter CWSL).1 The authorship of CWSL is traditionally attributed to Xuan Zang, the famous seventh-century Chinese Buddhist pilgrim and translator. He traveled to India between 629 and 645 and brought back to China numerous Buddhist scriptures. Many of his Chinese translations of Indian Buddhist scriptures have been widely accepted as the most authoritative. The CWSL is one of two texts by Xuan Zang that is not a translation.2 It was composed as an extended commentary on Vasubandhu’s Thirty Verses (TriÅéik1), a key text in Yog1c1ra Buddhism, and incorporated commentaries on the TriÅéik1 by prominent Indian Yog1c1ra Buddhists, of which only Sthiramati’s survives today in Sanskrit.3 The text sides with Dharmap1la’s commentary and uses it as the ultimate authority in the interpretation of TriÅéik1.4 In TriÅéik1Vasubandhu presents a comprehensive picture of dif-
ferent layers of the mind and their interactions that constitute our mental life. Given the orthodox Buddhist doctrine of impermanence that applies to both the self and external objects, Buddhists reject any substantive identity. As we have seen in Chapter One, this rejection brings to the fore the problem of continuity, which is hidden behind identity. What makes continuity attractive to Buddhists is that it is mistakable as identity. Accordingly, they argue that identity is the result of misidentification of continuity. That is, continuity is mistaken as identity. Now the task facing Buddhists is how to account for continuity without appealing to identity. This is what I have called the “problematic of continuity” in Buddhist philosophical discourse. The formulation of 1layavijñ1na is precisely an effort in that direction.
We have discussed three ways continuity has been conceived historically.5 First, continuity is change of properties of an unchanging substance. Second, continuity is nothing but an immediate contiguity, with the immediately preceding moment being the efficient cause of the immediately succeeding moment. Lastly, the conceptualization of continuity involves a rejection of the momentariness of an instant and instead sees a horizon consisting of the immediate past, the present, and the immediate future within each instant. As we have seen, Sarv1stiv1da adopts the first way and Sautr1ntika the second. All three ways,
with certain nuanced but important modifications, are adopted by Xuan Zang. His strategy consists of three steps. First, he adopts the Madhyamaka Buddhist position that all existents are empty of any intrinsic nature;6 he interprets this to mean that a being does not have any metaphysical identity but is itself a continuum of momentary entities. Second, he attempts to reduce the continuity of external objects to the continuity of conscious activities; this is the culmination of the idealist tendency of Buddhism. Third, once the primacy of consciousness is established, he then moves to the theorization of the possibility of enlightenment as a continuous process from the deluded state of consciousness to the enlightened one. Apparently, the second step holds the key to a viable account of continuity for the Buddhist and in this chapter I will focus on precisely this second step. I will evaluate Xuan Zang’s effort to account for
continuity vis-à-vis his presentation of 1layavijñ1na. We will see that 1layavijñ1na is conceived as a grounding but changing consciousness, consisting of ever-changing seeds whose subliminal existence warrants a congruity between successive dharmic moments. I will focus on this question: Does 1layavijñ1na as presented in the CWSL eventually solve the problematic of continuity within Buddhist discourse, and if so, how?
The Primacy of Consciousness
In order to argue for continuity within the dormain of consciousness, Xuan Zang has to establish its primacy first. His strategy is to challenge the reification of the two aspects of a cognitive experience, namely, mind and its object. He considers mental process and its object to be two aspects of the same cognitive experience;7 neither one is independent of the other. However, the mutual dependency of mental activities and external objects alone does not establish the primacy of the former over the latter. That is, Xuan Zang still has to justify his approach, which prioritizes the mental-aspect over the object-aspect. Hence, he needs to make the argument that an object is not independent of the cognitive structure through which it is cognized and verified.
According to Xuan Zang, there are ultimately two kinds of beings, dharma and 1tman,8 which correspond to the two realms of existences, external and internal. Dharma refers to the external and 1tman the internal. Let us take a look at how he makes the argument that the real existence of the two is irrelevant to his philosophical endeavor. Xuan Zang defines the way the two terms are used thusly: “‘0tman’ (Ch: wo) means ownership and domination whereas ‘dharma’ (Ch: fa) means norms and grasping” (8). He contends that 1tman and dharma are the result of the misidentification of a continuum as identity or substance. It is with this observation that Vasubandhu begins his TriÅéik1:
1tmadharmopac1ro hi vividho yan pravartate/ vijñ1napariâ1me ’sau pariâ1man sa ca tridh1/ vip1ko manan1khyaé ca vijñaptir viùayasya ca For the various metaphorical usage of “self” (1tman) and “objects” (dharma) is employed on the basis of the transformation of consciousness. And that transformation is threefold: retribution, intellection, and perception of the sense field.
There are a number of points worthy of our attention here. First of all, Vasubandhu points out that self (1tman) and objects (dharma) are nothing but metaphors. As such, they have no reference to real self-contained entities. Then what are the referents of 1tman and dharma? According to Vasubandhu, 1tman and dharma correlate to no reality beyond the realm of the mind. Instead, our sense of 1tman and dharma is nothing but the result of the transformation of consciousness.9 This transformation is threefold: the five sense consciousnesses together with the sixth, or sense-centered, consciousness (manovijñ1na) that discriminates and cognizes physical objects; the seventh, or thought-centered, consciousness (manas),that wills and reasons on a self-centered basis; and the eighth, or storehouse, consciousness (1layavijñ1na).
At first sight, the claim that both 1tmanand dharmaare the results of the transformation of consciousness easily associates it with the position of a metaphysical idealist, if metaphysical idealism can be roughly understood as a view that holds the ultimate reality to be mental or spiritual, or mind-dependent.10 Is Xuan Zang’s Yog1c1ra Buddhism a form of metaphysical idealism? Let us look at how he accounts for the self and the external world by appealing to the transformation of consciousness.
When a defiled consciousness itself is born, it is manifested in two apparent characteristics [Sk: lakùaâas; Ch: xiang]: as the appropriated [Sk: 1lambana; Ch: suo yuan] and the appropriating [Sk: s1lambana; Ch: neng yuan]. . . . As an apparent object, the appropriated explains the perceived aspect of consciousness [Sk: nimittabh1ga;Ch: xiang feng]. As an apparent subject, the appropriating explains the perceiving aspect [Sk: daréanabh1ga; Ch: jian feng]. (138) To put it simply, there is a dual structure in all of our—obviously defiled—cognitive activities, namely the perceiving aspect, daréanabh1ga, and the perceived aspect, nimittabh1ga.
As ShunkyOKatsumata (245) acutely observes, Xuan Zang makes this case by adopting Dharmap1la’s controversial commentary of verse seventeen of Vasubandhu’s TriÅéik1 because it is not clear whether TriÅéik1 can be read in such a way if we are to be faithful to the literal meaning of the text. vijñ1napariâ1mo ’yaÅ vikalpo yad vikalpyate/ tena tan n1sti tenedaÅ sarvaÅ vijñaptim1trakam The transformation of this consciousness is imagination. That which is imagined does not exist.
Therefore all is cognition-only.
However, as Katsumata points out (245), in Xuan Zang’s commentary that follows Dharmap1la’s explanation, this verse is interpreted as stating that the transformation of consciousness is the result of its being bifurcated into the discriminating and the discriminated. Because neither of the two exists outside of consciousness, there can be nothing but consciousness. This interpretation
argues for the transformation of consciousnesses by pointing to the perceiving and the perceived aspects of the eight consciousnesses and their concomitant mental activities (citta and caittas), and as a result, the perceiving aspect of the transforming consciousness becomes the discriminating aspect and the perceived aspect the discriminated. Therefore, because the self and entities do not exist apart from the bifurcation of the transforming consciousness, it is said that all is consciousness. (Katsumata, 246)
This is an important departure from Vasubandhu’s text and a key development of the Yog1c1ra teaching by Dharmap1la and Xuan Zang. What is significant is that to Xuan Zang this dual structure is intrinsic to consciousness. That is to say that consciousness has an inherent structure to it, or, to use the traditional terminology in Indian philosophical discourse, consciousness is formed (s1k1ra)and it is not formless (nir1k1ra). The CWSL defends the position this way: If the mind and its concomitant mental activities (citta and caittas) did not have in themselves the characteristics of the appropriated, they would not be able to appropriate their own objects. Otherwise they would be able to appropriate indiscriminately all objects because they would appropriate their own objects as the objects of others and appropriate the objects of others as their own. (138)
What is being argued here is that if consciousness does not have the perceived aspect within itself, it would be impossible for consciousness either to perceive anything as its own object or to perceive discriminately. Two issues are at stake in this connection. First, how is it possible for consciousness to perceive its own object? If consciousness is formless, and all the forms, namely its content, would come from without (because what is external to consciousness is publicly available, it cannot become the private object of consciousness), without the private object, consciousness would not have its own object. If, however, consciousness has an inherent form, such a problem can be easily resolved because in that case the form vis-à-vis the object/content is intrinsic to itself. Second, if consciousness is formless, how can it perceive objects discriminately instead of indiscriminately perceiving all objects? Why does it perceive some objects instead of others at one point or another? This is especially problematic when any apparent external object is absent.
As is well known, Hindu realists, such as Ny1ya philosophers, argue that consciousness is formless and all distinction is derived from outside of consciousness. But there are at least two difficulties associated with the realist position, namely how to account for misperception and dream experience; in both of these cases there are no corresponding external objects. Without going into the complexities of the arguments,11 it should be clear that formlessness or receptivity is at least not sufficient in explaining consciousness. Realists take the view that consciousness is formless, hence receptive, whereas Yog1c1rins think that consciousness has an intrinsic structure to it, hence it is formed. The realist theory of the receptivity of consciousness, such as Ny1ya’s, has an easier time explaining the collectivity of experience because according to it, the foundation of the collectivity is from without, therefore independent of consciousness. However, it has a much harder time explaining misperception, dreams, and the personal nature of cognitive experience. The idealist theory of formed consciousness, such as Yog1c1ra’s, has just the opposite advantages and disadvantages. It is admittedly more successful in explaining the private aspect of our cognition, but how can an essentially private cognition become publicly available in the Yog1c1ra theory? I will deal with this issue later in the chapter.
If the mind and its concomitant mental activities did not have in themselves the characteristics of the appropriating, they, like space, would not be able to appropriate any object. Otherwise we would have to say that space itself can appropriate objects. (138)
This point is less controversial because, after all, the distinguishing characteristic of consciousness is its subjectivity and cognitive ability. However, what is of special interest to us here is that Xuan Zang takes the subjectivity of consciousness as just one of its components; both subjectivity and objectivity are intrinsic to the structure of consciousness: “Therefore the mind and its concomitant mental activities must have two aspects, the perceived aspect (nimittabh1ga)and the perceiving aspect (daréanabh1ga)” (Xuan Zang, 138).
However, there is still a problem with this view:
That which nimittabh1ga and daréanbh1ga depend on is itself called the “thing.” This is the “self-corroboratory” aspect, svasaÅvittibh1ga. If this bh1ga did not exist, there would be no recollection of the mind and its concomitant mental activities (citta-caittas), just as there is no memory of situations that have never been experienced.
(Xuan Zang, 140)
To put it simply, according to Xuan Zang, each conscious moment has to be aware of itself so that memory or recollection of that moment can be possible. In other words, aside from the aspects of the perceiving and the perceived, there has to be an awareness of this perception of the perceived so that this perception can be recollected; otherwise, each perceptive moment would be self-contained. If that were the case, successive moments of perceptive experience would be rendered unrelated, resulting in the impossibility of memory and recollection of experiences.
Be this as it may, Xuan Zang has to address the following concern: Is this self-corroboratory aspect also contained within each moment of perceptive experience or does it lie without? If it is outside of each moment of perception, it would resemble some notion of an uninvolved self—or to use Bina Gupta’s term, s1kùin (“the disinterested witness”),12 which is the empirical manifestation of the eternal 1tman. This would mean that some metaphysical concept of self, already rejected by Buddhists, would sneak back into Buddhist discourse. On the other hand, if the self-witnessing division is within each cognitive moment, the succession of moments becomes unaccounted for, hence defeating the very purpose of its postulation in explaining the possibility of memory and recollection. In this connection, we find the following statement in the CWSL:
Transformation (pariâ1ma) of consciousness means that consciousness itself is transformed into two aspects, nimittabh1gaand daréanabh1ga. These two aspects originate by depending upon the self-corroboratory aspect (svasaÅvittibh1ga). (10)
What interests us in the above passage is that the perceiving and the perceived divisions originate from the self-corroboratory division of consciousness. This means that the two functional divisions of the perceiving and the perceived are within the self-corroboratory division of each conscious moment. Consequently, this third self-corroboratory division is apparently not outside of the two functional divisions. But the question remains, how can the momentary self-witness division warrant the continuity of the cognitive experience to account for the possibility of memory and recollection of a particular experience? On the one hand, this self-corroboratory aspect gives rise to the two functional divisions, while on the other hand it retains the effects generated by the cognitive
experience of the two functional divisions of each conscious moment. In other words, the self-corroboratory division and the two functional divisions are mutually causal. Apparently, the self-corroboratory division is not simply witnessing the activities of the other two divisions but is also involved itself. The self-corroboratory division is involved in two ways, according to Xuan Zang: It gives rise to the two divisions and receives the seeds as the effects retained from the function of the two divisions. This means that the continuity of consciousness relies on its self-corroboratory division, not the two functional divisions; although the two functional divisions can appear to be continuous, their continuity derives from the continuity of the third division as its manifestations.
Hence, the CWSL concludes that “it is on the basis of these two aspects that 1tman and dharmas are established, because there is no other basis” (10). On the issue of the existence of dharma, the external world in this connection, a typical metaphysical idealist position denies the independence of a world apart from our cognition of it. Xuan Zang’s claim that dharma is the result of the transformation of consciousness appears to be the quintessential metaphysical idealist position. However, the CWSL apparently tries to steer itself clear of the metaphysical question here. Accordingly, after carefully examining the structure of
our cognitive experience of an external object, the noncontroversial conclusion is that within each cognitive moment there are an experiencing subject and an experienced object, putting aside the self-corroboratory division for the moment. So far this is acceptable to Xuan Zang, and any step further is to him an unacceptable move because it means to posit the existence of that which is independent of this cognitive structure. Here is how Xuan Zang raises the objection: How can we tell that there really are no external objects, but only internal consciousness appearing as external objects? It is because the existence of a real 1tman and real dharmas cannot be ascertained. (12)
In fact, Xuan Zang is not denying the possibility of a real 1tman or real dharmas but is simply pointing out that their reality cannot be ascertained independent of consciousness. This means that the perception of an external world does not, by itself, warrant the existence of such a world, and that there is no a priori reason to either affirm or deny, within the parameters of consciousness, the existence of the “real” external world. In fact, Xuan Zang argues that to posit an external world independent of our cognition of it is an unnecessary theoretical complication insofar as the adequacy of explaining our cognition is concerned; and I call this “qualified metaphysical idealism.”13 It is not simply a reflection of the relationship between consciousness and the world, which would be epistemological, but rather how the realm of consciousness becomes the world as we experience it. Therefore, it is a form of metaphysical idealism in the sense that it holds the view that the realm of consciousness is the world. It is qualified in the sense that any existence outside the realm of consciousness is neither affirmed nor denied.14
This qualified metaphysical idealist position is evidenced by the following remark: “In all of the graspings of dharmas, there might or might not be dharmas exterior to the mind, but there always are dharmas interior to the mind” (Xuan Zang, 88). It is revealing to note that Xuan Zang actually starts by conceding that in certain cases our experience of a physical object may indeed have a corresponding object exterior to the mind. The caveat in this connection is the contingent nature of such a correspondence; as he rightly observes, not all experience of an external object has its corresponding object external to the mind. A stock example would be dream experience, wherein the experience of an external object does not have any correspondence beyond the realm of the mind. Obviously in some of our experiences of external objects, their externality is not a necessary condition. This amounts to saying that the externality of objects is only a contingent factor in our experience of physical objects, whereas their internal representation within the realm of consciousness is a necessary component of all our experiences of physical objects. Or to be more exact, our experience of objects is real but their external existence is not necessarily so.
Opponents might argue that unless there is a real external world it would be impossible for the sense of externality to arise in the first place, including in dreams. Such an argument is a typical realist “line” and Xuan Zang, being an idealist (albeit a “qualified metaphysical idealist”) cannot accept the realist presupposition in the argument. In any case, Xuan Zang is simply not interested in tracing the origin of our cognition, which would result in a hopelessly circular inquiry into whether it is the real existence of the external world that gives rise to the sense of externality or the other way around.15 What fascinates him is this question: Why is consciousness able to create an external world in the absence of it? In order to respond to such a question, a thorough inquiry into the nature of consciousness is called for, and this is precisely Xuan Zang’s goal. Hence we find the CWSL claiming that: On the basis of the manifold activities of inner consciousnesses that serve as conditions for one another, the cause and effect are differentiated. The postulation of external conditions is not of any use. (574)
To Xuan Zang, the same logic is applicable to both the subject and the object of our experience regarding the positing of their existence. In other words, if the experience of an external world does not warrant the existence of one, the experiencing of a subject cannot, by the same token, be used to justify the existence of a self. Xuan Zang, in keeping his commitment to the Buddhist doctrine of an1tman, rejects the existence of a self as the owner, as it were, of the experience. His line of defense is similar to the one against the existence of an external world. That is, the existence of a substantive self cannot be ascertained within the parameters of consciousness. Although he agrees that there is a subject/object structure in our cognitive experience, the subject cannot be translated into a self, 1tman, independent of the cognitive structure because the subject itself also undergoes changes in the course of experience.
In this way, Xuan Zang has successfully established the primacy of consciousness by rendering irrelevant any speculations of real existence outside the cognitive structure of consciousness. What he needs to do next is to explain the relationship among different kinds of consciousnesses and their transformations. The success or failure of his effort depends on whether he is able to address this critical question: Is consciousness alone sufficient to account for our cognitive experience? To this end, Xuan Zang has engaged in a painstakingly detailed analysis centered around a new form of consciousness, 1layavijñ1na. The significance of 1layavijñ1na in the Yog1c1ra system lies in the fact that until the postulation of this consciousness, Buddhists did not really have a good and convincing explanation of the apparent continuity of our everyday experience, memory, and sense of self, given the central Mah1y1na Buddhist doctrine of non-substantiality of reality, é[nyat1. Let us now turn to the concept of 1layavijñ1na as presented by Xuan Zang in the CWSL.
The early Buddhist model of consciousness consists of five senses (visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, and tactile) and the mind, whose object is mental. The Yog1c1ra theory of consciousness significantly revises and expands this traditional model.16 It splits the mind in the traditional model into two consciousnesses: manovijñ1na and manas. Manovijñ1na is called “sense-centered consciousness,” and it works in conjunction with the five senses. These six, namely manovijñ1na and the five senses, constitute one kind of consciousness that “appropriates crude objects” (Xuan Zang, 96). This means that the objects of
this group of consciousnesses are “external objects.” Any perception of “external objects” requires the co-presence of “such factors as the act of attention (manask1ras) of manovijñ1na, the sense-organs (indriyas), (whose attention is directed in accordance with manovijñ1na), the external objects (viùayas) towards which this attention is directed” (Wei Tat, 479). In other words, the role of manovijñ1na is to direct the attention of sense organs toward their objects to
produce clear perceptions of these objects. Manovijñ1na also has a cogitative or deliberative function, but such a function is crude and unstable and it might be interrupted in certain states.17 The uninterrupted mind is called manas, which “is related to the view of the existence of self” (Xuan Zang, 314). This means that manas is responsible for the genesis of the idea of personhood, the essence of a person. Its function is intellection and cogitation: “It is called
‘cogitation’ or ‘deliberation’ because it cogitates or deliberates at all times without interruption in contradistinction to the sixth consciousness (manovijñ1na), which is subject to interruption” (Wei Tat, 97). Compared with manovijñ1na, manas is fine and subtle in its activities (Xuan Zang, 478). Hence the delusion it generates, namely the idea of self, is much more resistant to being transformed to reach enlightenment. Manovijñ1naworks with the five senses in cognizing “external” physical objects; manas works with another consciousness, which is for the first time postulated by Yog1c1ra as the storehouse consciousness (1layavijñ1na), or the eighth consciousness. Manas is attached to 1layavijñ1na and regards it as the inner self (104). 0layavijñ1nais also known as vip1kavijñ1na,ripening consciousness, or m[lavijñ1na,root consciousness. “It is the eighth consciousness, the maturing or retributive consciousness (Sk: vip1kavijñ1na; Ch: yishu shi) because it has many seeds that are of the nature of ripening in various ways” (96). This
consciousness is meant to account for the karmic retribution within the doctrinal boundary of Buddhism in that it stores the karmic seeds until their fruition, and this karmic continuity is one crucial kind of continuity that Buddhists try to explain without reification. The tactic here is to render this retributive consciousness subtle and subliminal; its activities surface only when conditions allow, that is, when karmic retribution is fulfilled. This is a completely different form of consciousness from those in the traditional model in that the traditional forms of consciousness are strictly causal, meaning they are
object-dependent in their cognitive activities. 0layavijñ1na,by contrast, does not depend upon any specific object and it grounds the other seven consciousnesses, which include manas as one kind and manovijñ1na and the five senses as another. These three kinds of consciousness are all called ‘consciousnesses that are capable of transformation and manifestation’ (pariâ1mi vijñ1na). The manifestation (pariâ1ma)of consciousness is of two kinds: manifestation with respect to cause (hetupariâ1ma) and manifestation with respect to effect (fruit) (phalapariâ1ma). (Wei Tat, 97)
The manifestation as cause refers to the seeds, bEja, stored in 1layavijñ1na,and the manifestation as effect to the eight consciousnesses. In other words, according to the Yog1c1ra theory, the seeds give birth to the eight consciousnesses. It is obvious that the conceptualization of 1layavijñ1na is premised upon the theory of bEja. Therefore, let us continue our study of 1layavijñ1na with a closer examination of the Yog1c1ra theory of bEja. Xuan Zang’s Yog1c1ra Theory of BEja
Xuan Zang defines bEja thusly in the CWSL: “They are those which, found in the root-consciousness (m[lavijñ1na) as various potential forces, immediately generate their own fruits” (108).18 One point of interest in the definition of a bEja is the stipulation that bEjas are in 1layavijñ1na. This has to do with the relationship between bEja and 1layavijñ1na, which will be crucial in the Yog1c1ra effort to account for continuity without reification. I will leave this for later in the chapter. What concerns us at this juncture is the point that bEja is a potentiality that immediately engenders an actual dharma. Being
potential, a bEjais not actual, compared with the fruit to which it gives birth, a dharma, which is actual. Does this mean that a bEja does not have a real existence, but only a nominal one? Aware of such possible confusion, Xuan Zang moves to clarify this right away by stating that “the bEjas are real entities” and that “those which have only nominal existence are like non-existent entities and cannot be a causal condition, hetupratyaya” (ibid.). Apparently, Xuan Zang categorizes entities into two kinds, real and nominal. Both actual and potential are regarded as real by Xuan Zang, but nominal is regarded as merely fictional, hence unreal.
A comparison between Xuan Zang’s definition of bEja and William Waldron’s interpretation of it—which is based on the Abhidharma literature—may shed more light on the struggle Xuan Zang has in defining bEja as a potentiality. According to Waldron, bEjas are
not real existents (dravya) at all, but simply metaphors for the underlying capacities (éakti or sam1rthya), potentials and developments of mind in terms of the life processes of insemination (paribh1vita), growth (vóddha) and eventual fructification (vip1ka-phala: “ripened fruit”). (1994, 220) It is conceivable that Xuan Zang would dispute at least the wording of Waldron’s interpretation of bEjas as “not real existents . . . but simply metaphors.” Indeed, the CWSL tells us that Sthiramati maintains the view that a bEja has only a nominal existence. This position is shared by Sautr1ntikas, but it is rejected by Xuan Zang (108). Waldron’s interpretation somewhat echoes Sthiramati’s position on bEjas. Apparently, Xuan Zang is struggling to give bEjas a higher sense of reality than simply a nominal or metaphorical one.
Hence the distinction Xuan Zang makes is between potentiality and actuality, rather than reality and nominality as is the case with Sthiramati. Accordingly, there are entities that are actually real, like dharmas, and others that are potentially real, like bEjas.
What kinds of potentials does the postulation of bEja register? BEja is also called habit energy or perfuming energy (v1san1), and Xuan Zang lists three kinds of v1san1: “image (nimitta), name (n1ma), and discriminating influence (vikalpav1san1)” (138). The image (nimitta) refers to the dual structure of our perceptual activities, and discriminating influence (vikalpav1san1) to the dual structure of our conceptual activities. N1ma refers to the linguistic activities that involve naming and conceptualizing.19 Xuan Zang sums up the seeds by explaining that they are the potential proceeding from the two gr1has and
the potential producing the two gr1has (580). The two gr1has refer to the grasping (gr1haka)and the grasped (gr1hya). This means that all of our conscious activities, be they perceptual, conceptual, or linguistic, share the same dual structure, the grasping and the grasped. Such a discriminatory function of our mental activities produces bEjas, and the bEjas thus produced also perpetuate this discriminatory function, dragging us back into the transmigratory realm. Therefore we find the CWSL declaring:
According to the CWSL, bEjas have six characteristics: They are momentary, constitute a continuous series, belong to a definite moral species, depend on a group of conditions, lead to their own fruits, and are simultaneous with their fruits (126–128). The momentariness of seeds means that they “necessarily vanish right when they are born” (126), which makes them the most active elements capable of generative activity, engendering either succeeding seeds or actual dharmas. Their generative activities bring about two results. First is the succession of seeds constituting a continuous series, second the simultaneous
support as the ground for actual dharmas. Moreover, a seed can only give rise to a fruit, either a succeeding seed or an actual dharma, whose nature is similar to that of the seed itself. Otherwise, if a seed can generate a succeeding seed or an actual dharmaof a different kind, the world would be haphazardly ordered without any regularity. Therefore, for Xuan Zang, a defiled seed can only give rise to a defiled dharma and a pure seed to a pure dharma. Hence, seeds belong to a definite moral species: defiled, pure, or nondefined. For potential to become actual, there has to be a collaboration of conditions. In addition, “each bEja produces its own fruit whose nature is similar to its own. That is, the bEja of r[pa generates r[pa, and the bEja of citta generates citta” (128). However, what attracts our attention is the characteristic of bEjas being simultaneous with their fruits.
When the bEjaengenders the actual dharma,the cause is simultaneous with the fruit. When the bEja engenders a bEja which is similar to it, the cause is anterior to the fruit. But we attribute ‘causal activity’ only to present things, not to future things (not yet born) and past things (already destroyed) which have no specific nature (svabh1va, reality). Hence the name of bEja is reserved for that bEja which engenders the actual dharma, not for that which leads to the production of a bEja similar to itself. (Wei Tat, 127)
Furthermore, when coupled with such mutually contradictory concepts, the simultaneity of cause and effect is not limited to the generation of entities by seeds, nor is it explained merely psychologically with respect to the generation of seeds through the perfuming by entities, even though at first glance it appears to be a psychological phenomenon. This suggests that there has to be a doctrinal explanation. (275)
In other words, there has to be a doctrinal consideration in Xuan Zang’s counterintuitive stipulation of the simultaneity between cause and effect. Indeed, in this regard, we find Xuan Zang contending that if the cause precedes its effect, when the effect comes into existence its cause will have been gone. If this were the case, in what sense can we claim that the cause causes the effect because the cause and the causal activity belong to the past, and hence no longer exist? By the same token, if the effect succeeds its cause, when the cause is engaged in the causal activity its effect has not yet emerged.
Such a position on causality is unique to Dharmap1la/Xuan Zang’s Yog1c1ra system, which is not necessarily accepted by other Yog1c1rins (Fukaura, 1:353–355). Here Xuan Zang clearly has the Sarv1stiv1da position on causality in mind. Sarv1stiv1dins advocate that things in the past, present, and future all exist. By resorting to this doctrine, Sarv1stiv1dins contend that the cause and the effect are simultaneous because an existent dharma can always produce an effect as its cause, hence rendering the problematic of continuity irrelevant. There are numerous problems that make it difficult to defend such a position, the most important of which is its abandonment of the orthodox Buddhist teaching of the non-substantiality of dharma. Consequently, this view on the existence of
dharmas in all three stages of time is rejected by Yog1c1rins like Xuan Zang. However, Xuan Zang does embrace the Sarv1stiv1dins’ stance that the cause and the effect have to be simultaneous in order for causation to take place, although in his case, the simultaneity of cause and effect is possible only when the cause is a potential and the effect is an actual dharma. This means that, to Xuan Zang, causality can take place only in a situation wherein potentiality causes actuality, and the two have to be simultaneous. However, it is no longer causality as we normally understand it, because the conventional understanding of causality does not require the simultaneity of the cause and the effect but their succession; this is not to say, however, that any succession is necessarily causal.
What, then, is the causality that Xuan Zang talks about here when he stipulates that cause and effect have to be simultaneous? If causality necessarily involves the succession of effect after cause, his insistence on the simultaneity of cause and effect actually transforms causality into grounding, with the dharma grounded in the bEja, the actual grounded in the potenti
al. Simultaneity of the cause and the effect renders the former the ground for the latter. To quote JunshO Tanaka again: Because the generation of entities (dharma) by seeds (bEja) does not require time, it surely has to be viewed as indicating the root of possibilities. In other words, we should not interpret it as the cause that generates seed-carrying entities, but rather as the root [or ground] for the generation of entities. (269) Because one is potential and the other actual, there is no conflict between the two in order for both to exist at the same time and in the same place with the potential grounding the actual.
What is 1layavijñ1na?According to the CWSL,this concept has three aspects:
1) It is that which stores up bEjas (Ch: neng cang);
2) It is that which is stored (Ch:. suo cang);
3) It is that which is attached to (Ch: zhi cang). (104)
Put simply, 1layavijñ1na is that which stores up seeds that are perfumed by the defiled dharmas, and it is the object of attachment by manasresulting in the erroneous notion of 1tman. Here 1layavijñ1na is granted a sweeping role in accomplishing the objective of explaining everything from within the structure of consciousness without having to appeal to anything outside of that structure. In other words, the formulation of 1layavijñ1na makes the Yog1c1ra idealist system, albeit in the qualified sense we talked about earlier, complete by rendering consciousness alone sufficient to explain all of our experiences. Let us begin our inquiry of Xuan Zang’s presentation of 1layavijñ1na with its relationship to the bEja.
0layavijñ1na and BEja
As the bearer of seeds, 1layavijñ1na is closely related to bEja, but the exact nature of this relationship is difficult to determine. Here Xuan Zang encounters a thorny issue. If 1layavijñ1na is understood as that which stores up bEjas, we are faced with this question: Even though bEjas are momentary, as we have discussed, does the postulation of 1layavijñ1na as their storehouse make it a permanent dwelling place for bEjas? As KOitsu Yokoyama rightly observes: Now, if we only pay attention to the point that various dharmas as fruits are stored in this consciousness, this 1layavijñ1nabecomes that which stores in itself the seeds that are the fruits of various dharmas. To use a space metaphor, 1layavijñ1nais the storing place where bEjas as goods are stored. However, 1layavijñ1na and bEja are not material things like storage or stored goods, but rather something spiritual. Consequently, there arises a complex question in their relationship. (148–149)
If 1layavijñ1na is a permanent dwelling place for bEjas, it would be against the Buddhist doctrine of impermanence. It would also defeat the very purpose in the postulation of 1layavijñ1na, which is to account for continuity without accepting any form of substantialization in line with the general Buddhist position against reification as demonstrated in such core Buddhist concepts like pratEtyasamutp1da(dependent origination), anitya(impermanence), an1tman(no-self), and é[nyat1(emptiness). This is indeed a key conceptual difficulty in the Yog1c1ra formulation of 1layavijñ1na. Xuan Zang is well aware of the trap in making 1layavijñ1na into some kind of permanent entity. In tackling this critical issue regarding the relationship between bEjaand 1layavijñ1na, we find the CWSLclaiming that
the bEjas are neither identical with nor different from the root-consciousness (m[lavijñ1na) and the fruits. This is because only such a relationship, between consciousness itself and its activities and between the cause vis-à-vis bEjas and the fruits vis-à-vis dharma, is reasonable. (108)
The relationships between bEja and 1layavijñ1na and between the cause (hetu) vis-à-vis a bEja and the fruit (phala) vis-à-vis an actual dharma are characterized as neither identical nor different. What is especially interesting here is the claim Xuan Zang makes that bEja is the activity of 1layavijñ1na. Moreover, “the bEjas depend on the eighth consciousness itself (svasaÅvittibh1ga), but they are only the perceived aspect (nimittabh1ga) because the perceiving aspect (daréanabh1ga) always takes them as its objects” (ibid.). SvasaÅvittibh1ga of the eighth consciousness, namely, the self-corroboratory aspect of
1layavijñ1na that is perfumable, refers to its susceptibility to the influence of other aspects (Wei Tat, 109). This means that bEjas depend on the self-corroboratory division of 1layavijñ1na. Furthermore, bEjas are the nimittabh1ga,the object-aspect, of the eighth consciousness because they are always taken by its perception-aspect as its object. We have seen in our earlier discussion that the perceiving and the perceived aspects (nimittabh1ga and daréanabh1ga) of 1layavijñ1na arise out of its self-corroboratory division. When this is juxtaposed with Xuan Zang’s claim that bEja is the activity of 1layavijñ1na,the natural conclusion is that 1layavijñ1nais more than the collection of bEjas and that bEja is only one of its aspects, namely the perceived aspect. The other aspects of 1layavijñ1na are its perceiving aspect and its self-corroboratory aspect. This is how 1layavijñ1na is formulated as a form of consciousness itself, instead of simply as a collection of seeds.20
However, when Xuan Zang argues that 1layavijñ1na is neither identical with nor different from the bEjas, as we have seen above, he is clearly in a dilemma that he is keenly aware of. The two are obviously not the same because the latter is only one aspect of the former. However, Xuan Zang cannot make them different either; that would lead to the substantialization of 1layavijñ1na against the orthodox Buddhist view that substance is itself the continuum of activities and that there is no substance separate from such a continuum. In order to find his way out of the dilemma, Xuan Zang makes 1layavijñ1na “neither permanent nor impermanent” (170). The rationale is provided as a commentary on the fourth stanza in Vasubandhu’s TriÅéik1: “It is in perpetual transformation like a torrent.”
“Perpetual” means that this consciousness has continuously evolved without interruption as a homogeneous series since before the beginning of time, because it is the basis that establishes realms of existence (dh1tu), directions of reincarnation (gatis), and forms of birth (yoni), and because it does not lose bEjas it holds due to its firm nature.
“Transformation” means that this consciousness arises and perishes instantaneously and mutates from one moment to the next. Due to the constant extinction of cause and generation of fruit, it is never a single entity. Hence it can be perfumed by other consciousnesses to produce bEjas. “Perpetual” states that it is uninterrupted; “transformation” suggests that it is impermanent. (Xuan Zang, 170)
Xuan Zang is trying to achieve two objectives here. One is to make 1layavijñ1na causally connected with other consciousnesses, hence it is said to be perfumable. The other is to make it a continuous series of activities but not a substance of some sort. The first objective is necessary because otherwise 1layavijñ1na would be rendered unaffected by activities of the other consciousnesses, resembling the 1tman. The second objective is needed because otherwise our experience of the world would become chaotic if the foundation of our cognition, 1layavijñ1na, is discontinuous and haphazard. The first point addresses the self-corroboratory aspect of 1layavijñ1na. Because it is causally connected with the other two aspects—the perceiving and the perceived—of 1layavijñ1naas well as the other seven consciousnesses, the self-corroboratory aspect of 1layavijñ1nawould not be regarded as some sort of witnessing consciousness standing apart from and unaffected by the cognitive process (like the Hindu Advaita Ved1nta notion of s1kùin, which is the empirical manifestation of 1tman). The second point, on the other hand, makes the activities of 1layavijñ1naabide by the rule of dependent origination:
Since before the beginning of time this consciousness has been of the nature that the generation of fruit and the extinction of cause take place instantaneously. It is not impermanent due to the generation of fruit; it is not permanent due to the extinction of cause. To be neither impermanent nor permanent: This is the principle of dependent origination (pratEtyasamutp1da).Hence it is said that this consciousness is in perpetual transformation like a torrent. (Xuan Zang, 172)
It is not permanent, in the sense that it is itself an activity, not a substance; it is not impermanent, in the sense that the activity is a continuous and uninterrupted process. Xuan Zang here appeals to the central Buddhist doctrine of dependent origination to account for the law regulating the activities of consciousness. In this way, Xuan Zang proves that 1layavijñ1nais not some permanent dwelling place for bEjas or permanent ground for the dharmas but rather is itself a continuum of activities.
As ShunkyO Katsumata (225) points out, in the above interpretation Xuan Zang follows Dharmap1la by inserting of the word “perpetual” into Vasubandhu’s TriÅéik1. The original Sanskrit word in Vasubandhu’s text that can imply such a meaning is srotas1,which means “as a stream or torrent” (ibid.). Because “perpetual” becomes so important in Dharmap1la/Xuan Zang’s commentary, we can clearly see their departure from Vasubandhu, wherein lies their creativity: In Dharmap1la’s exposition, the principle of dependent origination is articulated as the successive series of 1layavijñ1na that is neither impermanent nor permanent and is without interruption. Therefore, here, after the theories of causality held by Sarv1stiv1dins, SaÅmatEyas, Sthavirav1dins, Sautr1ntikas, and others are tossed out, we can conclude that “the correct doctrine of dependent origination in Mah1y1na Buddhism, which stipulates the succession between cause and effect, is rendered credible.” (Katsumata, 227)
This is how Xuan Zang uses 1layavijñ1na to reinterpret dependent origination without having to postulate any entity that continues from one moment to the next. As a result, pratEtyasamutp1da becomes the law that governs the activities of 1layavijñ1na. 0layavijñ1na and the Seven Consciousnesses
Now that Xuan Zang has established the primacy of consciousness over the objective world—if he can demonstrate, first, that the continuum of the conscious activity is the result of its following the causal law and, second, that our experience of externality is the result of the self-externalizing activity of consciousness—he will succeed in explaining continuity within the confinement of the Mah1y1na Buddhist orthodoxy of the non-substantiality of reality. What is at stake in achieving the first goal is the sorting out of the relationship among the various forms of consciousness, namely the eight consciousnesses. That is, Xuan Zang has to explain that the manifestation of consciousness itself follows the causal law. In order to reach the second goal, he has to explain how the selfexternalization of consciousness takes place. Let us begin our inquiry with an examination of the first question, namely how the CWSL makes the case that the causal law governs the various dynamics of consciousness.
Causal Relationship among Consciousnesses
This right principle is profound and mysterious beyond words. Such words as cause (hetu) and fruit (phala) are mere metaphorical postulates. When the phenomenon that the present dharma produces its succeeding dharma is observed, the succeeding fruit is postulated so as to explain the present cause. When the phenomenon is observed that the generation of the present dharma is due to a preceding dharma, the past cause is postulated to account for the present fruit. “Metaphorical postulates” means that it is the present consciousness itself that appears as a future effect or a past cause. Thus the rationale of the causal principle is clear. It is far from the two extreme views of permanence and impermanence and is in accordance with the Middle Path. (174)
What is interesting in this passage is that Xuan Zang regards the principle of causality as mysterious and cause and effect as merely metaphorical postulates. He is obviously well aware of the conventional understanding of causality as the succession between cause and effect. However, he claims that the cause and the effect can only be understood metaphorically because they are not simultaneous, as we have discussed previously. The true nature of causality is, according to Xuan Zang, that the present consciousness itself appears as the semblance of a future and a past, of cause and fruit.21 In other words, there is only the activity of consciousness at each present moment, and past/future and cause/effect are nothing but the self-differentiating activities of consciousness at each present moment.
The natural question, then, seems to be: What is this selfdifferentiating activity of consciousness? It relates to the different manifestations of consciousness in the Yog1c1ra system. In this connection, we find Xuan Zang saying:
Although consciousness can be transformed into infinite forms, what is capable of such transformations is of three kinds only. The first is the ripening consciousness (Sk: vip1ka; Ch: yishu), namely the eighth consciousness, because it holds bEjas that are of the nature of ripening in varied ways. The second is the deliberative consciousness, namely the seventh consciousness, because it is always engaged in deliberation and speculation. The third is the consciousness that discriminates spheres of objects, namely the first six consciousnesses, because the spheres of objects are crude. The word “and” in the stanza indicates that the six consciousnesses form one group. The above three kinds are all called consciousness that is capable of transformation. (96)
Put simply, the manifestation of consciousness at each moment is simultaneously a threefold process: retribution process, selfcogitation process, and cognitive process of objects other than the self. The three processes are intermingled with each other at each moment:
The consciousness that perfumes (daréanabh1gaof a pravóttivijñ1na) is born of bEjas: at the moment of its birth, it is a cause capable of increasing and creating bEjas. Hence three dharmas must be considered: the bEjas that engender the consciousness, the engendered consciousness that perfumes and creates bEjas, and the bEjas created or caused to grow by the perfuming influence of the engendered consciousness. These three revolve in a cycle reciprocally and simultaneously functioning as cause and effect, just as a candle-wick engenders the flame and the flame engenders the incandescence of the wick. (Wei Tat, 133)22
Pravóttivijñ1na refers to the seven consciousnesses, namely the five senses, manovijñ1na, and manas. They are born of bEjas, but they also perfume bEjas, resulting in either the creation of new bEjas or causing the existing ones to grow. These three processes, namely the birth of the seven consciousnesses by bEjas, the birth of new bEjas as the result of perfuming by the seven consciousnesses, and the growth of existing bEjas as the result of perfuming by the seven consciousnesses, move in a cycle, reciprocally and simultaneously functioning as cause and effect.23 This is what the CWSLmeans when it states that “the transformation (pariâ1ma) of consciousness is of two kinds: The first is its transformation as cause (hetupariâ1ma) . . . and the second is its transformation as effect (phalapariâ1ma)” (96).
However, if the three processes are going on simultaneously at each present moment, how can they account for the past and the future as Xuan Zang claims? A closer look at the threefold process will reveal that although the three are in a simultaneous process, past and future are contained in each present moment. More specifically, the perfuming of bEjas by the seven consciousnesses and the engendering of seven consciousnesses by bEjas are processes wherein the cause and the effect are simultaneous; the engendering of new bEjas by their predecessors is a process wherein the cause and the effect are successive. As Xuan Zang explicitly points out, “In the bEjas’ generation of similar bEjas, the cause and the effect are not simultaneous; in the mutual generation of bEjas and
dharmas, the cause and the effect are simultaneous” (254). Therefore, both the past and the future are contained within the present; let us recall Xuan Zang’s claim: “It is the present consciousness itself that appears as a future effect or a past cause” (174). Obviously, Xuan Zang’s Yog1c1ra theory incorporates both the Sarv1stiv1da position on the simultaneity of cause and effect and the Sautr1ntika view on the succession of bEjas. More importantly, by accommodating both views Xuan Zang recognizes a horizon within each moment in that each moment contains the past, the present, and the future within itself. This is how Xuan Zang manages to incorporate the third approach to continuity I discussed at the beginning of this chapter.
However, for Xuan Zang to explain the order in our experience by analyzing the relationship among consciousnesses without appealing to the existence of that which is experienced, he has to answer this question: Is consciousness alone sufficient in explaining our experience? In order to deal with this, the CWSL further elaborates the relationship among the eight consciousnesses into four conditioning categories: hetupratyaya (condition qua cause), samanantarapratyaya (condition qua antecedent), 1lambanapratyaya (condition qua perceived object), and adhipatipratyaya (condition qua contributory factor). Let us briefly examine them one by one.
First is hetupratyaya,condition qua cause, defined by Xuan Zang as the condition under which “the conditioned dharmas (saÅkótas) themselves produce their own effects” (534). This refers to two kinds of causal conditions, namely the bEjas and the dharmas:
The bEjas with respect to the two following cases are hetupratyaya: they can generate succeeding bEjas of the same kind and can produce dharmas of the same nature simultaneous with them. Dharmas refer to the seven transforming consciousnesses (pravóttivijñ1na) and their contents. (ibid.)
This hetupratyaya is basically a reformulation of our previous discussion of the Yog1c1ra causality theory. As I pointed out earlier, such a causal theory is unique to Dharmap1la/Xuan Zang’s Yog1c1ra system because it stipulates that cause and effect are simultaneous— except in the case of bEjas engendering bEjas, wherein there is a succession between cause and effect. Because bEjas are only potential, not actual, even though there is a succession between bEjas vis-à-vis cause and bEjas vis-à-vis effect, it is a succession of potentials, an undetected succession. Nevertheless this still means that true succession can only be
succession of bEjas, albeit an undetected occurrence. Dharmic moments, namely the seven consciousnesses as a group—because there is no succession among them—are mediated by their own bEjas: “[T]he successive transformations of similar dharmas are not hetupratyaya one for the other, because they are born from their own bEjas respectively” (534–536). For Xuan Zang, the conventional understanding of causation is a mediated kind of causation, mediated by bEjas. In other words, causation in Xuan Zang’s theory looks like this: dharmaperfumes bEja;bEjacreates a succeeding bEjaof a similar kind; new bEjaengenders new dharma,whose nature is similar to the dharmaof the preceding moment. Our conventional understanding of causation does not heed the mediating role played by bEjas.
Therefore, there is only succession, not direct causation, between dharmas mediated by bEjas. Seibun Fukaura (1:354) compares the generation of dharmas by bEjas to the casting of shadows by objects. Just like the causal relationship between objects and their shadows and their simultaneous existence, bEjas and dharmas coexist simultaneously despite the causal relationship between the two.
The dharmaof the preceding moment is, according to the CWSL, samanantarapratyaya (condition qua antecedent) of dharma of the succeeding moment. This is the second condition Xuan Zang lists, meaning that “the eight consciousnesses and their concomitant mental activities form a group in the preceding moment and pass into the succeeding group of similar kinds without any mediation” (536). Apparently “the eight consciousnesses are not samanantarapratyaya between themselves because several species of consciousness coexist” (Wei Tat, 537). In other words, this condition concerns the succession between dharmas, not those that are simultaneous with one another, as in the case of hetupratyaya, condition qua cause. The eight consciousnesses as a group at the present moment are the samanantarapratyaya of the eight consciousnesses of the succeeding moment. This is apparently the conventional understanding of causation in that there is a successive relationship between the cause and the effect.
Interestingly, however, impure dharmas can be samanantarapratyaya of pure dharmas (Xuan Zang, 538); because the impure cannot be the cause of the pure, Xuan Zang needs something else to explain the succession of the pure after the impure, namely the pure dharma from the dharmadh1tu. This line of thought is a clear indication that the theorization definitely has the possibility of enlightenment in mind. Xuan Zang has to maintain the view that the pure can succeed the impure, or else there would be no possibility for enlightenment because we are all currently in the impure state. However, he also wants to maintain the
homogeneity between successive dharmic moments, otherwise there would be disorder and chaos in our experience. This would lead to the unintelligibility of the world as we experience it, regardless of whether it exists independently of consciousness or not. Consequently, Xuan Zang makes a distinction between succession and causality. Because there is only a relationship of succession between two dharmic moments, even when they are heterogeneous, the law of causality that guarantees the order of our cognition—hence of the world as we experience it—is not violated as long as there is a causal relationship between successive bEjas whose relationship with their respective dharma is also causal.
The third condition is 1lambanapratyaya,condition qua perceived object, referring to “the dharmas upon which the mind and its concomitant activities, which perceive those dharmas as such, depend” (542). This condition apparently accounts for the objective grounding of our cognition and it holds the key to the success or failure of Xuan Zang’s effort to explain the adequacy of cognition by appealing to the transformation of consciousness alone. He distinguishes two kinds of 1lambanapratyaya,close (Ch: qin) and remote (Ch: shu):
If a dharma is not separated from the appropriating consciousness and it is cogitated by daréanabh1ga and taken as its inner support, we can tell that it is the close 1lambanapratyaya. If a dharma,though separated from the appropriating consciousness, is the material capable of generating that which daréanabh1ga cogitates and takes as its inner support, we can tell that it is the remote 1lambanapratyaya. (542–544)
In Seibun Fukaura’s words, “the close 1lambanapratyaya is that which mental dharmas depend on directly” (1:375), and “the remote 1lambanapratyaya, as the material that mental dharmas depend on indirectly, is manifested as the nimittabh1ga that daréanabh1ga relies on” (1:376). In other words, the remote 1lambanapratyaya is an entity that is capable of producing the close 1lambanapratyaya within that consciousness upon which daréanabh1ga, the perceiving aspect, finds its support as its nimittabh1ga, the perceived aspect. The remote 1lambanapratyaya here refers to a dimension in our perceptual experience of an object that is not personal. Xuan Zang, in differentiating two kinds of 1lambanapratyaya, recognizes that there are two dimensions of the perceived. The close one is the personal dimension of the perceived whereas the remote one is the non-personal dimension. The remote “generates” the close.
Xuan Zang realizes that a viable idealist theory of cognition must account for the collectivity of our experience. However, because he is a metaphysical idealist, albeit in the qualified sense mentioned earlier, his effort to explain the collectivity of our experience has to seek that collective dimension withinthe parameters of consciousness and differentiate it from the personal dimension. There is no meaningful external world within his system to which he can appeal in explaining the collective dimension of our experience. This is the primary reason for the postulation of the remote 1lambanapratyaya, which can account for the collectivity of our experience without going outside the realm of consciousness.
Within the domain of consciousness, what belongs to the collective dimension and what to the private dimension? In this connection, we find that one can experience the body and land belonging to another person because the content of the other’s eighth consciousness resulting from its transformation is the basis of the contents of one’s own consciousness. On the other hand, one’s own bEjas or indriyas are not experienced by others because the evolving eighth consciousness of the other is not the same as one’s own evolving eighth consciousness.24 This is because not all sentient beings’ bEjas are of the same number. Therefore it should be said that we cannot ascertain whether or not the remote 1lambanapratyaya exists in the eighth consciousness in all cases of existents. (Xuan Zang, 544)
Xuan Zang is making an unequivocal distinction between the personal dimension and the collective dimension of our experience. The first point made in the above passage is that different people share common experiences of bodies and lands (which is the realm of existence in which they are born, the world) as the result of the common basis in the transformations of their eighth consciousnesses. The second point is that people’s sense organs are private. If this is juxtaposed with the idea of remote and close 1lambanapratyaya, it becomes clear that in the two aspects of our cognitive structure, namely the perceiving and the perceived aspects, the perceiving aspect is the sense organ and it is private, but the perceived aspect has both a personal dimension vis-à-vis the close 1lambanapratyayaand a collective dimension vis-à-vis the remote 1lambanapratyaya.
However, there appears to be a conflict in Xuan Zang’s discussion of the relationship between the remote and the close 1lambanapratyaya. In one passage, Xuan Zang (544) argues that consciousness may or may not have a remote 1lambanapratyaya but it necessarily has a close 1lambanapratyaya, whereas in another passage (ibid.) he contends that the remote 1lambanapratyaya is the cause of the close 1lambanapratyaya, which means that consciousness cannot have the close one without the remote. Xuan Zang appears to be struggling between an intentional analysis of consciousness and a causal explanation. Intentional analysis, as Edmund Husserl—the father of phenomenology in the twentieth century —defines it, is to see consciousness as essentially that which is of an object; on the
other hand causal explanation takes consciousness as that which is by an object, which means that it is causally connected with thingsevents in the natural world. When Xuan Zang argues that consciousness may or may not have a remote 1lambanapratyaya, he is clearly aware of the intentional structure of consciousness within which the remote 1lambanapratyaya, or real object in Husserl’s terminology, is not a necessary component. However, when he contends that the remote 1lambanapratyaya is that which “produces” the close 1lambanapratyaya,he appears to resort to the causal analysis in explaining the relationship between the remote and the close 1lambanapratyaya. The causal analysis contradicts the intentional analysis in this particular case because in the former passage the remote object is a necessary condition for the close object, whereas in the latter passage the remote object is not a necessary condition for the
close object. Nevertheless Xuan Zang clearly privileges the intentional analysis over the causal explanation by virtue of the fact that he devotes much of his CWSL to the former while paying little attention to the latter. Such a position can be justified in that the causal explanation presupposes the intentional analysis because only the intentional analysis can locate the cause in the causal explanation. Put differently, to locate the remote object as the cause of the correlating close object, one must investigate that very close object through the intentional analysis, whereas the causal explanation, without the intentional analysis, falls into an infinite regress. But we are still left with this question: What is the relationship between the remote object and the close object? I will return to this when I discuss the self-externalization of consciousness later in this chapter.
The last condition that Xuan Zang talks about is adhipatipratyaya, condition qua contributory factor, defined as “a real dharma (conditioned or unconditioned, as opposed to imaginary dharmas), possessing potent energy and capable of promoting (first nine hetus) or counteracting (tenth hetu) the evolution of another dharma” (Wei Tat, 547).25 Needless to say, the real dharmas here refer to the eight consciousnesses, and this means that the eight consciousnesses are adhipatipratyayato one another (Xuan Zang, 570). This conditioning factor addresses the subjective—hence the private—aspect of conditioning, which involves the support of sense organs as the perceiving aspect in the structure of our cognition. This is the simultaneous support of consciousness. Specifically, the five senses have four supports: five sense organs as the object support, manovijñ1na as the discriminating support, manas as the pure-impure support, and
1layavijñ1naas the root support (266–268). Manovijñ1na,which normally functions with the five senses in their discriminatory cognitive function of the external world, may be functioning alone while the activities of the five senses have stopped (e.g., in a dream). It has as its support manas and 1layavijñ1na. Manas has as its support 1layavijñ1na while also taking 1layavijñ1na as its object (280). 0layavijñ1na has manas as its support. More interestingly, Xuan Zang claims that all three previous conditions are adhipatipratyaya (546). This means that all the causes and conditions are essentially activities of the eight consciousnesses. He needs this postulate to complete his idealist system by bringing all the conditions back to different manifestations of consciousness itself. This is what Xuan Zang means when he states that it is the present consciousness that is manifested as the semblance of cause and effect, past and future.
To sum up:
In the transformations of the eight consciousnesses as a group, there must be adhipatipratyaya amongst them but not hetupratyaya or samanantarapratyaya. There may or may not be 1lambanapratyaya. (570)
Hetupratyaya involves the relationship between the eight consciousnesses and bEjas, an intra-moment relationship, whereas samanantarapratyaya deals with the relationship between the eight consciousnesses as a group at one moment and the succeeding moment, an inter-moment relationship. 0lambanapratyayaand adhipatipratyaya,in explaining our sense of externality, address the internal relationship among the eight consciousnesses at each moment, an intra-moment relationship; the former is the perceived/objective aspect and the latter the perceiving/subjective aspect as well as the perceived/objective aspect, as expressed in the following remark: “The same nimittabh1ga is both 1lambanapratyaya and adhipatipratyaya of the daréanabh1ga whereas the daréanabh1ga is only adhipatipratyaya of the nimittabh1ga” (572).
Through this detailed analysis of the relationship among the consciousnesses, Xuan Zang has firmly established the realm of consciousness as both necessary and sufficient in explaining our experiences, personal as well as collective. The formulation of 1layavijñ1na as the ground of our experience not only incorporates the three kinds of continuity previously listed but also expands that scheme. As we have seen, Xuan Zang has actually accepted the Sarv1stiv1dins’ position on the simultaneity of cause and effect, except that Sarv1stiv1dins fall into the trap of substantialism in its extreme form by maintaining that dharmas in the past, present, and future all exist simultaneously. Xuan Zang, on the other hand, interprets the simultaneity between cause and effect as the cause grounding
the effect, although the ground, 1layavijñ1na, is itself always in the process of transformation. Moreover, since bEjas are potential, not actual, their causal succession takes place undetected. Due to the homogeneity between the successive bEjas, their succession can be misidentified as some entity persisting through the change. Mediated by bEjas, there is a congruity between successive dharmic moments, but not direct causality, as we have seen earlier. This view is shared by Sautr1ntikas. By recognizing a structure of past, present, and future within each moment that manifests itself in the semblance of the past and the future (Xuan Zang, 174), Xuan Zang incorporates the third approach to continuity I discussed earlier that effectively does away with the instantaneous nature of a moment.
These three scenarios of continuity encapsulate the first two kinds of conditioning discussed in the CWSL, namely hetupratyaya, condition qua cause, and samanantarapratyaya, condition qua antecedent. The latter two kinds, namely 1lambanapratyaya,condition qua object, and adhipatipratyaya, condition qua agent, examine the causal conditioning from both the objective and the subjective sides; they enable Xuan Zang to explain our experience of externality and subject/ object duality without appealing to the actual existence of any external objects independent of consciousness.
The Self-Externalization of Consciousness.Now that Xuan Zang has established that the relationship between different kinds of consciousness is governed by the causal law, the next step is to explain how an internal process vis-à-vis the consciousness activities can give rise to the sense of externality, so as to complete his case that the actual existence of an external world is irrelevant.26 Two issues are at stake in this effort. First, Xuan Zang needs to make the case that externality is the result of the self-externalizing activities of consciousness. Second, he has to explain how an essentially private self-
On the first issue, we find the following remark in the CWSL:
At the moment the perceived is apprehended, it is not grasped as external; only later manovijñ1na, in its discriminatory function, creates the illusion of the external. Therefore, the domain of the perceived is the result of the transformation of nimittabh1ga of consciousness itself. In this sense, the perceived exists. However, when it is grasped by manovijñ1na as externally real objects, it does not exist. Moreover, in the domain of objects, the objects are not objects even though they appear so; they are not external even though they appear so. They are like dream objects, which should not be grasped as real and external objects. (520)
According to Xuan Zang, the sense of externality does not arise at the moment when immediate perception takes place. In other words, at the moment of immediate perception, there is no differentiation between the internal and the external. There is perception only. The sense of externality only arises as a result of the discriminatory function of manovijñ1na, the sixth consciousness, which transforms a percept into the image aspect of manovijñ1na,namely nimittabh1ga. Xuan Zang uses a dream to illustrate his point that consciousness itself is capable of creating the sense of externality. In a dream state, even though the five senses have stopped their functions, the continued activities of manovijñ1na still create the sense of externality (266). This is a clear indication that it is manovijñ1na that creates the sense of externality, and that the sense of externality does not have to be premised upon the actual existence of external objects independent of consciousness.
However, what is it that manovijñ1na externalizes that makes us experience the externality of the world? This has to do with the objectification of consciousness. We have seen earlier in this chapter that two conditions are responsible for the objective dimension in our cognitive structure, according to Xuan Zang’s Yog1c1ra scheme, namely the 1lambanapratyaya, condition qua object, and the adhipatipratyaya, condition qua agent. According to Xuan Zang, the 1lambanaof manovijñ1naincludes 1layavijñ1na,manas,and the five senses (570), and these objects of manovijñ1na are also themselves consciousnesses, namely
adhipatipratyaya. What is relevant to our purpose here is 1layavijñ1na. In this regard, we find Xuan Zang stating that “when 1layavijñ1na itself is born through the power of causes and conditions, it is manifested internally as bEjas and a body with sense organs and externally as the world” (136). Here Xuan Zang points out that 1layavijñ1na manifests itself into two realms, internal and external. The internal refers to the bEjas and the body with sense organs, and the external to the world. When this is juxtaposed with the claim that it is manovijñ1na that differentiates the external from the internal, it is clear to us that the dual manifestation of 1layavijñ1na is the result of externalizing activities of manovijñ1na.
What is even more interesting, however, is that, according to the CWSL, there are common or universal bEjas in 1layavijñ1nathat provide the objective basis for externality: “The word ‘place’ (sth1na) in the stanza refers to the fact that the ripening consciousness (vip1kavijñ1na) manifests as objects in the external world through the ripening of its universal bEjas” (144). This means that there are two kinds of seeds, private and universal. Private seeds give rise to one’s own body with its sense faculties, namely the seven consciousnesses, whereas universal seeds generate non-private dharmas, which appear to be the external major elements and derived matter. As JunshO Tanaka rightly points out, the universal bEja
is postulated as the foundation for the possibility of collective experience. Collective experience means that which is manifested as an existing entity in the consciousnesses of the majority [of sentient beings] and is therefore commonly experienced. (277)
Tanaka further differentiates four subcategories of entities in terms of their private and universal seeds: the common in the common, the non-common in the common, the non-common in the non-common, and the common in the non-common (278). Accordingly, the common in the common refers to entities like mountains and rivers, the non-common in the common private properties like houses and land, the non-common in the non-common one’s own body, and the common in the non-common other people’s bodies (ibid.). Moreover,
even though the consciousnesses of sentient beings are manifested differently, what are manifested are similar, with no difference in terms of locality. This is just like many lamps lit together, such that the lights appear as one single light. (Xuan Zang, 144)
contexts and dialogue
In this passage, which immediately follows the previous one in the CWSL arguing for the universal bEjas as the ground for collective experience of the world, Xuan Zang seems to backpedal from the position of that preceding passage by saying that the common world is the result of the manifestation of private consciousnesses. The idea of the universal bEjas does not even appear to be necessary. The message Xuan Zang is trying to convey here, if we look at the two passages together, is that the commonness of the world as we experience it is not a real one but an apparent one. Such a common world is constituted by the manifestation of essentially individual and private conscious processes, whose apparent commonness is attributed to the working of the universal bEjas. In other words, the universal bEjas do not account for a real common world but only an apparent one. This is tantamount to claiming that the universal bEjas themselves do not share the same degree of reality as the private bEjas in Xuan Zang’s Yog1c1ra system.
If we bring in the close and the remote 1lambanapratyaya discussed earlier, it becomes obvious that the remote object of consciousness refers to the dharmas generated by the universal bEja and the close object by the private bEja. Because the remote/universal object is only apparent, not real, its universality is then premised upon its seeming externality resulting from the externalizing activity of manovijñ1na. In other words, the universality of bEja is directly linked to the externalizing activity of manovijñ1na. This means that the universal bEja correlates with the externalizing activities of manovijñ1na in that there is a universal structure in what is externalized by manovijñ1na. The sense of the remoteness of an object is the result of such an externalization of
manovijñ1na. To be more exact, the sense of the remote object is constituted by the externalizing activity of manovijñ1na, which has a universal structure. As to whether such a remote object actually exists or not, it is not a question that can be explained within Xuan Zang’s qualified idealist system. Neither is he interested in such a question. This explains Xuan Zang’s claim that while the close object is a necessary condition for consciousness, the remote object is not. Therefore, the issue concerning the relationship between the remote and the close objects is resolved by attributing the origin of their senses to the operation of manovijñ1nawhile shelving the metaphysical question of whether a remote object actually exists or not.
Consequently, for Xuan Zang, there are three different senses of the “world”: 1) the apparent common receptacle world that is the result of the operations of all eight consciousnesses of an individual that belong to the community of individuals in the everyday waking state; 2) the private world that results from the operations of manovijñ1na, manas, and 1layavijñ1na of an individual in dreams; and 3) the world of the enlightened. He uses the second to explain the first while leaving the third out of the explanatory scheme regarding the externality and commonness of the objects of our everyday experience. What distinguishes the first from the second is the cooperation of the five senses.
At this juncture, let us focus our attention on the first sense of the “world” because this is where the issue concerning the experience of a common world is at stake. Xuan Zang enumerates three kinds of non-private dharmas, namely, the receptacle world, another person’s mind, and another person’s body. The receptacle world is what appears to be a common world, the sense of which is constituted by a community of individual consciousness. As for another person’s mind, Xuan Zang treats it no differently from any external physical object, as is evident in the following remark:
One’s consciousness can comprehend another mind as a seemingly external object like a mirror where what appears to be an external object appears. However, such a comprehension is not direct. What can be comprehended directly is the transformation of the mind itself, not another mind. (522) In other words, another person’s mind is the unfolding of one’s own mental activities; it can be understood within the discriminatory cognitive structure of the grasper and the grasped in one’s own conscious process.
With regard to another person’s body, Xuan Zang contends that on the one hand sense faculties and their supporting physical body are the result of the maturing of private bEjas (148). On the other hand, because of the power of the ripening of the universal bEjas, this vip1kavijñ1na transforms itself in such a way that it resembles other persons’ sense organs in the locus of their bodies. Otherwise, one would not be able to enjoy the sense organs of other persons. (ibid.)
Put simply, even though one’s sense faculties or body are developed out of one’s own particular series of seeds, the operations of the five sense faculties give rise to the sense of collectivity of the human body.
To sum up, in Xuan Zang’s Yog1c1ra system, the private and the collective, the individual and the universal, are identical entities, with different senses attributed to them by the operation of manovijñ1na and the cooperation of the five sense faculties. Thereby, Xuan Zang has made his case that the apparent commonness or collectivity of the world is the result of the externalization of a community of individuals, each of which is constituted by eight consciousnesses.
0layavijñ1na and the Self
Finally, we are faced with the question we set out to answer: Has Xuan Zang achieved his objective in explaining continuity within the Buddhist orthodoxy through his presentation of 1layavijñ1na? To answer this question, we first have to know what kinds of continuity Yog1c1ra Buddhists like Xuan Zang are concerned about. This can be detected in the list of logical arguments Xuan Zang gives in support of the existence of 1layavijñ1na in the CWSL.28 He states
(202–244) that 1layavijñ1na is
1) the vip1kacitta that holds bEjas;
2) the uninterrupted retributive mind;
4) that which appropriates the body;
5) the support for life and heat;
9) the mind in nirodha-sam1patti;
Obviously Xuan Zang is preoccupied with the continuity of subjectivity, within one lifetime and between lives. In the final analysis, his theoretical effort to explain the continuity of subjectivity is aimed at accounting for the self as a continuum; this is evidenced by the three meanings of 1layavijñ1na given in the CWSL, one of which asserts that 1tman is the result of attachment to the eighth consciousness (104), as we have seen previously. His explanation of an external object as a continuum is the extension of the continuity of subjectivity; for him the continuity of subjectivity and the continuity of objectivity are two
aspects of the same cognitive process. The former holds primacy over the latter, while the actual existence of external objects independent of consciousness is rendered irrelevant. Let us now take a closer look at how Xuan Zang explains our sense of self as a continuum within the Yog1c1ra theoretical edifice he has presented. Because he regards 1tman as the result of attachment and misidentification of the continuum of 1layavijñ1na as an identity, my efforts will focus on examining how such a misidentification takes place.
According to the CWSL, attachment to 1tman is of two kinds: that which is innate and that which results from mental discrimination (20). The innate kind is always present in the individual, and it operates spontaneously without depending on external false teachings or mental discriminations (ibid.). It is itself divided into two kinds:
The first is constant and continuous, and it pertains to the seventh consciousness, which arises together with the eighth consciousness and grasps the mental image of the latter as the real self. The second is sometimes interrupted and it pertains t
Xuan Zang differentiates two senses of self here: one is constant and the other is sometimes interrupted. Such a differentiation is made with an eye on our different senses of the self in the waking state, the dream state,29 and the deep meditative state, which, it may be recalled, is the primary concern in the initial postulation of 1layavijñ1na. If our sense of self is limited to the waking and even the dream state, wherein the content of consciousness is recollectable, it would run the risk of being lost during the deep meditative state. This is the reason behind the differentiation made between these two
senses of self. In the first case, the sense of self that is constant pertains to the seventh consciousness, manas, which adheres to 1layavijñ1naas the self because both manasand 1layavijñ1naare constant and never interrupted until enlightenment is reached. In the second case, the sense of self that can be interrupted pertains to the sixth consciousness, which operates with the five senses as in the waking state or without them as in the dream state. The second sense of self is interrupted during certain deep meditative states.
In the case of the first sense of self, we have learned that 1layavijñ1na has three aspects: the perceiving (daréanabh1ga), the perceived (nimittabh1ga),and the self-corroboratory (svasaÅvittibh1ga), which are manifested as the external world on the one hand and the internal bEjas and sense organs possessed by the body on the other. Which aspect is the one to which manas attaches itself and which is misidentified as the self? In this connection, Xuan Zang says: Manas appropriates only the daréanabh1ga of the 1layavijñ1na, not its other bh1gas, because daréanabh1ga has, since before the beginning of time, been a continuous and homogeneous series, as if it were a constant and an identical entity. Because this bh1ga is the constant support of various dharmas, manasattaches to it as the inner self. (282)
So it is the perceiving aspect, daréanabh1ga, of the eighth consciousness that manastakes as its object and misidentifies as the self, but daréanabh1ga is a homogeneous continuum even though it appears as eternal and one. This is how continuity is misconstrued as identity. The “self” in the second sense of the word is due to the activities of the sixth consciousness, manovijñ1na, with or without the cooperation of the five senses. However,
manovijñ1na, like the visual consciousness, et cetera, must have its own support manifesting its own name. Such a support does not arise from condition qua immediate antecedent (samanantarapratyaya), but from condition quaagent (adhipatipratyaya) instead. (Xuan Zang, 328)
As Wei Tat rightly points out, such a support of manovijñ1na is manas, the seventh consciousness (329). Put simply, the sixth consciousness should have its own sense organ, just as the eye is the sense organ for visual consciousness. Here manas is viewed as the sense organ for manovijñ1na. However, as we have previously seen, manasis also said to be one of the 1lambanasof manovijñ1na(Xuan Zang, 570). This means that manas is both the support qua sense organ and the support qua object of manovijñ1na. This is in line with Xuan Zang’s general position, which treats subject and object as two aspects of the same experiential
process. Because one of the functions of manovijñ1na is its externalizing activities, if all these are juxtaposed side by side, the overall picture we get of the generation of the self involves the following processes: the perceiving aspect, daréanabh1ga,of 1layavijñ1nais an ever-evolving continuum to which manas attaches and misidentifies as an identity; this identity is then externalized by the activities of manovijñ1na as 1tman standing outside the cognitive structure of subject and object.
There is another sense of self that Xuan Zang talks about, in contradistinction to the above two innate senses of self. It is caused by mental discrimination and derived from the force of external factors including false teachings and discriminations. This sense of self pertains exclusively to manovijñ1na. Attachment to 1tman is also of two kinds:
The first, preached by certain heterodox schools, refers to the aggregates that arise out of the mental images in manovijñ1na. Through discrimination and intellection, manovijñ1naattaches to those aggregates as a real self.
The second refers to the characteristics of the self, preached by certain heterodox schools, that arise out of the mental images in manovijñ1na. Through discrimination and intellection, manovijñ1na attaches to those characteristics as a real self. (22)
In the first case the self is conceived as the object of self-belief. This is the view held by V1tsEputrEyas. Xuan Zang refutes that it is the five skandhas, not 1tman, that is the object of self-belief. Because the five skandhas are themselves impermanent, the permanence of 1tman is hence rejected. In the second case the self is the product of various 1tman-concepts of a false teaching that refers to the Vedic teaching of 1tman. Because these typical Buddhist refutations of other views of self in defense of their own position are common knowledge to students of Buddhism, I will not go into them in detail here. It is worthwhile to take note of Xuan Zang’s own violation of suspending judgment on the existential status of any extra-conscious entities when he declares that 1tman does not exist, since its existential status is suspended within his philosophy. All he can actually do is reject the existential question of 1tman altogether on the grounds that it can neither be affirmed nor denied within the confines of consciousness.
In this chapter I have tried to present the concept of 1layavijñ1na, as well as the rationale behind Yog1c1ra’s effort in formulating the concept, as expounded by Xuan Zang in the CWSL. Xuan Zang is very conscious of the limitations imposed by Buddhist orthodoxy on his theoretical endeavor. In my opinion, he is largely successful in explaining subjectivity as a continuum and the continuity of experience by analyzing consciousness alone without appealing to anything
outside and by ably rendering externality irrelevant in his system. His effort underscores a vigorous attempt to fortify the Buddhist doctrine against any form of reification and substantialization. In explaining the self as a subliminal continuum he effectively endorses the view that our sense of self is closely related to some subliminal mental activities of which we are largely unaware in our daily life; this view is echoed by modern psychoanalysts like Freud, Jung, and others.
In the following chapters, I will compare Xuan Zang’s Yog1c1ra approach with that of modern psychologists, including Freud and Jung, in order to test the viability of approaching the Yog1c1ra notion of 1layavijñ1na through the notion of the unconscious developed by Freud and Jung in modern psychology. In so doing, I also hope to expose the underlying issues that are addressed in the way these theories are formulated in search of larger implications for the traditions they represent to promote possible future integrations.