Gautam Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, in his teachings, always led emphasis on the purification of thoughts and awakening of the mind. He wandered from one place to another, teaching people the renewal of mind, the concept of mind consciousness, and how to eliminate sufferings of the present life and even after life. The word Consciousness is derived from the Latin word ‘Conscientia’ meaning moral conscience, to be able to judge between the right and the wrong. Most of the Buddhist traditions have differently interpreted the ways to awaken the mind. Precisely, Buddhism and consciousness of mind are deeply interconnected with each other. Most of the teachings of Buddha is based on the knowledge of the mind. Many meditation techniques in Buddhism, practice with the removal of impurities of the brain, and then leading to more conscious thought. The meditator, who has profound knowledge of the technique and is consistent in practicing the methods taught, achieves the desired results, i.e. a conscious mind.
Meaning of The Eight Consciousness
There are three branches of Buddhism – Mahayana, Theravada, and Vajrayana Buddhism. Presently Mahayana and Theravada, are the two main existing branches in Buddhism, and they lead to the organization of different Buddhist philosophies and practices. Mahayana is referred to as the path of Bodhisattva, in search of complete enlightenment for the betterment of the living. The Eight Consciousness is a categorization of the eight conscious states, formed in one of the schools of Mahayana Buddhism called Yogacara. The school cites five sense consciousness along with mental awareness, defiled spiritual awareness, and storehouse awareness as the remaining three. It is believed that the eight consciousness stores the imprints of past experiences, which is the foundation of karma in the present life and after reincarnation.
The eight consciousness are as follows –
- Visual consciousness (related to eyes)
- Auditory consciousness (related to ears )
- Olfactory consciousness (related to the nose)
- Gustatory consciousness (related to the tongue)
- Tactile consciousness ( related to the body )
- Mental consciousness (related to mind)
- Defiled mental consciousness
- Storehouse consciousness
According to some ancient believers, the concept modifies to the five pearls of wisdom- the wisdom of dharmadhatu, mirror-like wisdom, wisdom of equality, knowledge of judgment or discrimination, and complete wisdom.
History of the Eight Consciousness
All the existing schools of Buddhist believe in the reality of six consciousnesses. Also known as Vijnana in Sanskrit terms. However, the Yogacara school of Buddhist, believes in the existence of two new primary knowledge other than six primary consciousness, to explain the concept of karma more appropriately. The six primary ones consist of the five senses and the mental consciousness makes the sixth. The works of Yogacara school gives detailed explanations on how the mind works and create the experiences that one faces in reality. The reports focus more on the detailed understanding of the skills instead of the system of ontology. Some of the ancient monks believed that some of the ‘underlying dispositions’ are the reasons for the cycle of wandering or reincarnation. However, the Theravada branch has different theories related to this.
The followers of Buddha played an essential role in the widespread of Buddhism. Apart from India, Buddhism has planted its roots in many Asian countries. Buddhism in Singapore is the most widely practiced religion in the country. It was spread by the migrants Buddhist followers over the past centuries. The historic monasteries like Thian Hock Keng and Jin Long Si Temple can be reached out for the history of Buddhism. Various Buddhist organizations are practicing Buddhism in Singapore, where the Singapore Buddhist Federation is the leading organization. With the increase in religious freedom, more and more people are trying to participate in Buddhist organizations. There are many institutions, youth groups, and events that are making Buddhism as far as possible.
How does the process work?
It is believed that initially, all living beings have storehouse consciousness, which is in a calm state. The disturbances occur when there is discrimination, selfishness, pride, etc. that pave a path for the materialistic attachment. This causes distress in the spheres of the six senses. This in turn creates different experiences and also the so-called karma. The attachment to worldly desires and materialistic objects create karma. And once the living beings fall in the trap of desires, they search for different ways to fulfill their desires. So the distressed awareness, in everyday life leads to the formation of karma. The troubled mind always thinks about self, imprinting it in the storehouse consciousness. The distressed mind –
- Is still connected with the belief in self (Atma drusti)
- Negligence about the person (Atma moha)
- Self-pride ( Atma mana)
- Self-love ( Atma sneha )
There are some undefined and complicated evils. The threads are related to the same characteristics as that of the three principalities in which an alive soul is categorized in residing people’s pure and impure mind projected through the distressed self. If one eliminates all the impurities present in mind, then the state of termination of sufferings can also be achieved called Nirvana. Precisely, conquering over the eight consciousness leads one towards the ending of its distress.