“Just as a silkworm makes a cocoon in which to wrap itself and then leaves the cocoon behind, so consciousness produces a body to envelop itself and then leaves that body to undergo other karmic results [ in a new body].
“Because there is a seed, there are the color, fragrance, and flavor [of a plant]. [Similarly,] after the consciousness leaves the body, the sense-organs, sense objects, feeling, and the element of dharmas go wherever the consciousness goes.
“Where there is a wish-fulfilling pearl, there are comforts; where there is the sun, there is light. The same is true with the consciousness: feeling, awareness, conception, the element of dharmas, and so forth go wherever the consciousness goes.
“When the consciousness leaves the body, it carries all the body’s attributes with it. It assumes an [ethereal] form as its body; it has no body of flesh and bones. Because it has the senses, it has feelings and subtle memory and can tell good from evil.”
Consciousness is the seedbed from one existence to another. All dharmatic-elements follow its lead. Through its sensate functions it discerns between good and evil, true and false. But as we shall soon see, the Unborn is beyond both good and evil.
“The fruits of date, pomegranate, mango, bimba, Persian date, kapittha, and so on are pungent, bitter, sour, sweet, salty, or astringent. They differ not only in taste, but also in their capacity to quench thirst. After the fruits [ripen and] decay, their flavors go with the seeds no matter where the seeds are sown. In the same way, feeling, memory, and good and evil [karmas] go wherever the consciousness-seed goes. It is called consciousness because it knows that it has left one body to receive another one, knows the good and evil karmas [it has performed), knows that it is accompanied by the karmas, and knows that it will be reincarnated together with the karmas to undergo due karmic results. It is called consciousness because it knows all that the body has done.”
Consciousness KNOWS, it is the knowing-factor. It is the recognition of I Am. The I Am is being itself. Without this sattva, consciousness cannot appear. But in the Unborn I do not even know I AM. Prior to consciousness there is never any knowing this I Am-ness. The Unborn is your true nature. IT is deathlessness Itself. The explosion of existence on the Unborn is a spontaneous occurrence, not something-self-willed. Existence is the superimposition of consciousness upon the Unborn. In ejaculatory fashion, consciousness sprays itself all over the field of apparent conditions; yet, there is in actuality nothing to see, nothing to grasp, nothing to fulfill. Freeze-frame that you are not the body-consciousness with its mundane mind and even the apparent witness to all this phenomena; when abiding as such within this sense-less and shape-less actuality, all habitual notions fade-away with the incessant self-realization that “I am not this, I am not that.”(neti, neti)
“The element air has no form to be grasped and no substance to be held. However, when proper causes and conditions combine, it can manifest its existence in many ways; it can carry cold and heat, waft fragrance and stench, sway trees, and blow violently to destroy things. In the same way, consciousness has no form or substance, and cannot be seen or heard. However, when proper causes and conditions combine, all its attributes appear. Maintained by consciousness, the body feels pain and pleasure, looks healthy, goes and comes, advances and stops, speaks and laughs, experiences joy and sorrow, and performs clearly visible actions. [Seeing these,] one knows there is a consciousness.
Consciousness is the mirror-image of who you really are. When conditions ripen consciousness acts in the only way it knows, and that is often to perpetuate the false-image.
The Buddha said to Elder True Moon, “. . . True Moon, in the body born of parents, solid matter is of the element earth, fluid is of the element water, warmth is of the clement fire, and motion is of the element air: that which is aware of and remembers sounds, odors, tastes, textures, and so forth is the consciousness. “
True Moon asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, when a sentient being is on the point of death, how can the consciousness leave the body? How can it move into another body’? How can it be aware of its own leaving the body?”
The Buddha replied to True Moon, “When a sentient being is rewarded with a body according to his karmas, the consciousness will maintain that body without interruption, like a stream. When the sentient being’s life comes to an end and his body dies, the consciousness will leave his body to take birth again together with his karmas.
“As an illustration, consider a mixture of water and milk: when it is boiled over a fire, milk, water, and cream will all separate. Similarly, True Moon, when the life of a sentient being comes to an end, his body, consciousness, sense-organs, and sense-objects will all disperse because the power of karma is exhausted. The consciousness will then become the only reliance of [the ethereal mind-body complex] and will contact various objects, make up [all sorts of] notions about them, and be reincarnated, together with the good and evil karmas, to undergo other karmic results.
“True Moon, as an illustration, consider the great auspicious butter. It is prepared by boiling a combination of various good medicines together with the butter. The attributes of ordinary butter all vanish; instead, the butter becomes saturated with the powers of the good medicines and their six flavors: acrid, bitter, sour, salty, astringent, and sweet. It nourishes the body and gives it a sanguine look and a pleasant odor. Similarly, after leaving the [dead] body, the consciousness will take birth again to undergo other karmic results, together with the element of dharmas and good and evil karmas.
the ethereal mind-body complex: This refers to a sentient being in the intermediate state (Tib. Bar-do), in which there is an ethereal body without tangible biological constituents. (notes from the text)
“True Moon, the essence of such butter is like the body. Butter combines with the medicines to become the great auspicious butter, just as the sense-organs combine with dharma-objects to produce karmas. Karmas nourish the consciousness in the same way as the medicines flavor butter to make it the great auspicious butter. When nourished with this butter, one beams and becomes full of energy, peaceful, and free from all diseases; similarly, when nourished by good karmas, the consciousness acquires blissful rewards. When fed with improper butter, one turns pale instead of acquiring a rosy complexion; similarly, when nourished by evil karma the consciousness suffers painful retributions.
True Moon, though having no hand, foot, or eye, the precious great auspicious butter can absorb the colors, fragrances, flavors, and powers of good medicines. In a similar manner, after leaving the body and sense-organ complex, the consciousness can take up the element of dharmas, feeling, and good karmas to assume the intermediate existence between death and reincarnation and acquire the wonderful memory of a god. It will see the six heavens of the Realm of Desire and the sixteen hells. It will see itself as having a body with shapely limbs and beautiful sense-organs. When it sees the dead body it has left, it will say, ‘This was the body of my previous life’.
six heavens: Also, six desire heavens or six heavens of desire. In ancient Indian cosmology as adopted by Buddhism, the six heavens located in the world of desire and situated between the earth and the Brahma Heaven. Beings in the six heavens are dominated by desire. The six heavens are, in ascending order, the Heaven of the Four Heavenly Kings, the Heaven of the Thirty-three Gods, the Yāma Heaven, the Tushita Heaven, the Heaven of Enjoying the Conjured, and the Heaven of Freely Enjoying Things Conjured by Others. The Heaven of the Four Heavenly Kings is located halfway up Mount Sumeru, and the Heaven of the Thirty-three Gods, at its summit. The other four heavens are in the air, that is, between the summit of Mount Sumeru and the Brahma Heaven. Among them, the Heaven of Freely Enjoying Things Conjured by Others, often called the sixth heaven, is known as the abode of the devil king. (Nichiren Buddhist Library)
Eight Hot Hells (Skt. aṣṭa uṣṇa naraka; Tib. ཚ་དམྱལ་བརྒྱད། Wyl. tsha dmyal brgyad)
Reviving Hell (Skt. saṃjīva; Wyl. yang sos)
Black Line Hell (Skt. kālasūtra; Wyl. thig nag)
Rounding Up and Crushing Hell (Skt. saṃghāta; Wyl. bsdus ‘joms)
Howling Hell (Skt. rāurava; Wyl. ngu ‘bod)
Great Howling Hell (Skt. mahāraurava; Wyl. ngu ‘bod che ba)
Heating Hell (Skt. tāpana; Wyl. tsha ba)
Intense Heating Hell (Skt. pratāpana; Wyl. rab tu tsha ba)
Hell of Ultimate Torment (Skt. avīci; Wyl. mnar med)
Eight Cold Hells (Wyl. grang dmyal brgyad) are the:
Hell of Blisters (chu bur can)
Hell of Burst Blisters (chu bur rdol ba)
Hell of Clenched/Chattering Teeth (so tham pa)
Hell of Lamentations (a chu zer ba)
Hell of Groans (kyi hud zer ba)
Hell of Utpala-like Cracks (utpala ltar gas pa)
Hell of Lotus-like Cracks (padma ltar gas pa)
Hell of Great Lotus-like Cracks (padma chen po ltar gas pa) (Tibetan Buddhist Encyclopedia)
acquire the wonderful memory of a god: this is only conferred upon those with exceptional noble karmas; as the sutrayanas state, this usually is only a condition of predestination.
“It will also see a celestial palace, which is high, imposing and full of decorations. There are flowers, fruits, plants, and trees entangled with vines which have tendrils as shiny as new gold chains inlaid with various gems. The sight will fill the consciousness with exultation. Being very fond of the palace, it will take birth there.
“For a person with good karmas, to give up one body and receive another is comfortable and painless, just like a rider’s dismounting from one horse and mounting another. As an illustration, when a brave man skilled in fighting sees enemy troops coming, he will put on strong armor and ride on a brave horse to meet them fearlessly. Similarly, when a person endowed with good roots breathes his last, his consciousness will happily leave the old body and sense-organ complex and take birth again in the Brahma Heaven, or even in the Akanistha Heaven, to enjoy wonderful pleasures.”
or even in the Akanistha Heaven: “Lower-to-None.” Uppermost and most ethereal plane of the Form Realm, where Tantric teachings and transformations take place; this is usually reserved for the most noblest of Maha-Bodhisattvas.