The Stains Infecting the Creative-Energy Drops
Let’s say the winds of karma are simply the mounts of the mental consciousness that occurs during each of the four occasions and analyze further.
On the basis level, the creative-energy drops are infected or tainted with the tendencies and habits of the emotional and cognitive obscurations, imbuing them like water into soft wood.
- Among the emotional obscurations, the taints here refer to the tendencies of the disturbing emotions, which give rise intermittently to the disturbing emotions.
- Among the cognitive obscurations, the taints here refer to the constant habits of grasping for true existence, which constantly give rise to appearances of true existence. Until the emotional obscurations are stopped, these taints also constantly give rise to grasping for the appearance of true existence to correspond to how things actually exist.
Both these intermittent tendencies and constant habits are noncongruent affecting variables (ldan-min ‘du-byed, neither forms of physical phenomena nor ways of being aware of something). They are merely imputed (designated) on a basis for imputation (gdags-gzhi).
The Kalachakra commentaries all agree that they cannot be imputed on the creative-energy drops themselves as their basis for imputation, since the drops are material substances. Unlike other noncongruent affecting variables, such as motion, which can be imputed on material substances, tendencies and habits can only be imputed on a mental continuum.
The commentaries explain that these tendencies and habits are imputed on the continuum of the subtlest consciousness that imbues the creative drops like water imbuing soft wood. Tsenshap Serkong Rinpoche, however, pointed out that the natal place (skye-gnas) of clear light subtlest consciousness is located only in the center of the heart chakra and that this subtlest level of consciousness and its subtlest energy-wind remain there throughout our lives as the so-called “undissipating drop” (mi-shig-pa’i thig-le). Therefore, Tsenshap Serkong Rinpoche asserted that what is imbuing the subtle drops must refer to just a subtler level of consciousness, not the subtlest level.
From one point of view, however, one could say that the clear light subtlest level of consciousness underlies every moment of cognition, so it would also underlie moments of subtle consciousness and thus it is still the clear light subtlest level of consciousness that is the basis for imputation for the tendencies and habits of the two obscurations.
- More precisely, according to Gelug Prasangika, these tendencies and habits are imputed on the conventional “me” that can be imputed on the continuum of clear light subtlest mind.
- For the sake of simplicity, however, let us say that the tendencies and habits of the two obscurations are imputed on the conventional “me” designated on subtle consciousness, namely some level of mental consciousness.
Since consciousness always has energy-wind as its mount, then it would be subtle energy-wind/subtle consciousness that imbues the drops and has the tendencies and habits of the two obscurations imputed on the conventional “me” labeled on them.
Since the nature of subtle energy-wind is that it is always moving through the subtle energy-channels, it seems unreasonable that there is a stationary subtle wind imbuing the drops and bearing the stains of the emotional and cognitive obscurations. My hypothesis is that the 21,600 winds of karma that are passing through these four drops are the subtle winds that imbue these drops and that bear the stains of the emotional and cognitive obscurations.
The way in which the winds of karma carry the tendencies and habits of the two obscurations would be that the conventional “me” with these tendencies and habits imputed on it is labeled on each of the 21,600 subtle wind/minds at the moment during which it is imbuing one of the creative-energy drops.
The Causal Role of the Stains
The intermittent tendencies of the disturbing emotions imputed on those karmic wind/minds are the obtaining cause for the disturbing emotions that accompany moments of experiencing these four occasions.
The constant habits of grasping for true existence are the obtaining cause for the constantly arising appearances of true existence and grasping for them to correspond to reality.
The Relation between Karma, the Appearances of the Four Occasions, and the Winds of Karma
Each moment of the four occasions is made up of five aggregate factors of experience (phung-po lnga):
- a form of physical phenomenon that appears (in this case, the subtle form of a mental hologram that can only be cognized by mental consciousness),
- a primary consciousness (in this case, mental consciousness) that cognizes the subtle form,
- distinguishing (‘du-shes) a characteristic feature of the subtle form,
- feeling a level of happiness (tshor-ba), and
- other affecting variables (‘du-byed), such as intentions (‘dun-pa), karmic urges (sems-pa), disturbing emotions, constructive emotions, etc.
We have seen that the disturbing emotions arise from their specific tendencies as their obtaining causes. Similarly, the constructive emotions, such as love and compassion, arise from their specific tendencies as their obtaining causes.
The rest of the components of the five aggregates are unspecified (lung ma-bstan), which means that Buddha did not specify them to be either constructive or destructive. They are ethically neutral. All these unspecified factors arise as the results, in general, of positive and negative karmic forces (bsod-nams and sdig-pa), positive and negative karmic tendencies, and karmic constant habits.
Just as the tendencies and habits of the two obscurations are imputed on the conventional “me” imputed on the subtle consciousness/wind of the winds of karma, so too the karmic forces, tendencies and habits are also imputed on it.
There are three kinds of karmic result, one of which has two parts:
- ripened results (rnam-smin-gyi ‘bras-bu), namely all these unspecified factors, including the content of the mental holograms that appear in the four occasions, the level of happiness or unhappiness that we feel while mentally cognizing them, the intention or wish to do something in relation to that appearance, and the compelling urge (the mental karma) that draws us into thinking to do or say something,
- results that correspond to their cause in our behavior (byed-pa rgyu-mthun-gyi 'bras-bu), referring to the intention or wish to do something in relation to these mental holograms,
- results that correspond to their cause in our experience (myong-ba rgyu-mthun-gyi 'bras-bu), referring to our experiencing the content of the mental holograms with mental consciousness,
- dominating results (bdag-po'i 'bras-bu), referring for instance to the environment that we experience as part of the content of the mental holograms.
[See: Causes, Conditions and Results]
The way in which these unspecified components of our aggregates derive from the karmic forces, tendencies and habits imputed on the conventional “me” imputed on the subtle consciousness/wind of the winds of karma is:
- The negative and positive karmic forces are either destructive or constructive phenomena and so they are the ripening causes (rnam-smin-gyi rgyu) that give rise to the content of the mental holograms, levels of happiness, and so on, as unspecified (neutral) ripened results. This is like unripe fruit ripening into ripe fruit.
- The positive and negative tendencies are unspecified as being either destructive or constructive. They are the obtaining causes for the mental holograms, like a seed for the fruit.
- The two types of result that correspond to their cause and the dominating results come jointly from the karmic forces and karmic tendencies.
- The karmic constant habits give rise to the mental consciousness in these occasions being limited in the sense of not being omniscient.
The drops of the four occasions and the mental holograms that arise with them as their basis for actualization are not included among the obscurations preventing either liberation or enlightenment. Although they automatically disappear and no longer occur once we reach enlightenment, they are not objects to be gotten rid of (spang-bya, objects to be abandoned) by applying direct opponents. If they were, then the absurd conclusion would follow that the facsimile pathway devoid forms are obstacles to enlightenment, because they have as their basis for actualization the awake-occasion drops.
This line of reasoning is parallel to the line of reasoning that applies to conceptual cognition. We no longer have conceptual cognition when we are Buddhas, but conceptual cognition is not an obstacle to enlightenment; otherwise if it were an obstacle to enlightenment, then the absurd conclusion would follow that relative bodhichitta is an obscuration preventing enlightenment, because it is conceptual.
What is to be gotten rid of by applying opponents are the tendencies and habits of the two obscurations (emotional and cognitive), as well as the potentials, tendencies and habits of karma. As we have seen, these potentials, tendencies and habits are carried by the winds of karma in the manner of being imputed on the mental consciousness that is mounted on these winds. Because of these tendencies and habits, the mental holograms of the four occasions arise in the various aspects that they do and our cognition of them is accompanied by unawareness, grasping for their true existence, disturbing emotions and attitudes, and the compulsion to repeat our previous behavior influenced by unawareness and so on.
As we have also seen, it is difficult to ascertain what actually makes up these holograms. The hypotheses that these holograms are basis-level devoid forms or that they are made up of the winds of karma as their simultaneously arising causes cannot be substantiated by either logic or scripture. The most promising candidates for being their simultaneously arising causes are the subtle energy-winds of the eighty universally-occurring types of subtle conceptual minds, although further analysis is required for reaching a conclusion about this hypothesis.
With non-conceptual cognition of voidness, we attain true stoppings of the factors that activate the various potentials, tendencies and habits carried by the winds of karma. Simultaneously, with unchanging clear-light blissful awareness of voidness and the stacking of 21,600 white and red bodhichitta drops in the central channel of a definitional devoid form arisen at our navel chakras, we attain true stoppings of the coursing of the winds of karma. With the winds of karma no longer carrying these potentials, tendencies and habits, and no longer flowing through the creative-energy drops of the four occasions, the mental holograms of the four occasions no longer arise. With the attainment of enlightenment, the winds of karma and the creative-energy drops of the four occasions disappear like a rainbow as we arise with the Four Enlightening Corpuses of a Buddha.
Topics for Future Analysis: The Karmic Impulses of Actions of the Body and Speech
Note that since the four occasions are referring merely to the mental cognitions of these four occasions, the only karma that is involved here is the karma associated with actions of the mind. In the case of actions of the mind, karma is the mental factor of a mental urge (sems-pa, Skt. cetana) that focuses on a person or object and draws the consciousness and its accompanying mental factors along with it to also focus on this person or object and to enact some action of body, speech or mind regarding that person or object in accord with the accompanying mental factor of intention ('dun-pa, Skt. chandas).
The karma associated with actions of the body or speech, as asserted by Madhyamaka, comprise both revealing forms (rnam-par rig-byed-kyi gzugs, Skt. vijnaptirupa) and nonrevealing forms (rnam-par rig-byed ma-yin-pa’i gzugs, Skt. avijnaptirupa).
- The revealing form of a physical action is the compulsive motion or movements of the body as the method implemented for causing the action of the body to take place. The revealing form of a verbal action are the compulsive utterances of our voice as the method implemented for causing the action of the speech to take place. These revealing forms may be constructive, destructive or unspecified. They are knowable by either visual or audial cognition and they are “revealing” in the sense that they reveal the ethical status of the consciousness that caused it to arise. They last only so long as the action of body or speech takes place.
- The nonrevealing form of a physical or verbal action is a subtle form not made of particles and is knowable only by mental cognition. They are caused by a strong constructive or destructive motivation and, consequently are themselves either constructive or destructive, but they are “nonrevealing” in that they do not reveal the ethical status of the consciousness that caused it to arise. They begin with the onset of the action as part of the mental continuum. They do not degenerate, but continue with the mental continuum after the action has ceased, so long as the intention remains to continue to repeat the action. They cease when the intention fully arises never to repeat the action again.
Although physical and verbal actions may occur while we are awake and mentally cognizing the mental holograms of the four occasions, any non-physical actions committed in the mental holograms of the awake and dream-occasions – such as imagining or dreaming of murdering someone or verbally teaching the Dharma to someone – are merely mental actions. As mental actions, they do not entail the revealing forms of physical or verbal karma.
The non-physical actions committed in the mental holograms while awake or dreaming, being merely mental, also do not entail nonrevealing forms. Nevertheless, the nonrevealing forms of physical and verbal actions we have committed previously or might be presently committing would be present with the mental continuum while mentally cognizing the mental holograms of the four occasions.
Although the winds of karma may be involved in some way with both the revealing and nonrevealing forms of the physical and verbal karma present during the four occasions, analysis of this is beyond the scope of the present article.