World Honoured One what form does consciousness assume? Why is it called consciousness? When sentient beings are dying they frantically jerk their hands and feet , their eyes change colour , they are constricted and cannot move freely , their sense organs function no more and their [four] elements disintegrate. After the consciousness leaves the body, where does it go? What is its self nature? What form does it take on? How does it leave the old body to receive a new body?
The Elucidation of consciousness Sutra
Thus I have heard. Once the World Honoured One was dwelling in the bamboo grove of Elder Karanda, in the great city of Rajahra, together with twelve hundred fifty great monks who were all Ahrats. These monks had ended their defilement and were no longer subject to afflictions. They had acquired ease and achieved liberation from passions and from ignorance. They perceived the past the present and the future without hindrance> these great dragons had , in accordance with the Buddha’s Teachings, done what they set out to do and abandoned the great burden of Samsara. They had gained benefit for themselves. They already freed themselves from the sufferings caused by samsaric existence. By the power of right wisdom, they knew well beings’ propensities. These great Sravakas were led by Elder Sariputra.
Also in the assembly were innumerable Bodhisattvas-Mahasattvas.
At that time in the dwelling place of the World Honoured One , most of the monks felt tired and lethargic. They looked listless and could not deport themselves properly. Thereupon the face of the World Honoured One beamed like an opened lotus flower. All the monks became fully awake and straightened themselves up wit hdignity. They thought, “ Now the Buddha, the World Honoured One emits bright light from His face. What Dharma will he teach to benefit sentient beings greatly? “
At that time, Young Protector, a youth , joined his palm respectfully, bowed down with his head to the Buddha’s feet and said to him, “World Honoured One, you always take pity on all sentient beings and hold them in your embrace and protection. I wish to ask a few questions, may the World Honoured One grant me permission.”
The Buddha said to Wise Protector. “Your request is granted, you may present your doubts and I shall answer them with detailed explanations”.
Wise Protector asked the Buddha, “World Honoured One , although sentient beings know that consciousness exists they cannot understand it thoroughly if it is not explained clearly, just as one knows there is a treasure if it is not locked up in a box. World Honoured One what form does consciousness assume? Why is it called consciousness? When sentient beings are dying they frantically jerk their hands and feet , their eyes change colour , they are constricted and cannot move freely , their sense organs function no more and their [four] elements disintegrate. After the consciousness leaves the body, where does it go? What is its self nature? What form does it take on? How does it leave the old body to receive a new body? How can it leave one body here and , taking all the sense –fields with it be born again and again in various other bodies to undergo karmic results ? World Honoured One , how can sentient beings produce sense organs after their bodies decay and disintegrate ? How can one be rewarded in future lives for meritorious deeds performed by the present body? How can the consciousness be nourished and grow in the body? How can the consciousness change and modify itself in accordance with the body? “
The Buddha answered, “Marvellous, marvellous!” Wise Protector, your questions are excellent. Listen attentively and think well about this, i will explain it to you. “
Wise Protector said to the Buddha, Yes World Honoured One, I will accept your teachings with respect.“
The Buddha told Wise Protector, “the consciousness moves and turns and transmigrates and comes and goes like the wind. Wind has no colour nor shape and is invisible, yet it can generate and stir up things and cause them to take on different shapes. It ma y shake trees so violently that they break or slip with a loud crack. It may touch sentient beings body with cold or heat and make them feel pain or pleasure.
The wind has no hands, no feet, no face, no eyes , no shape, or light and cannot be manifested. It shows its various functions only when proper causes and conditions are met. The same is true of the elements of feeling, awareness and dharmas. These elements too are devoid of colour and shape and depend on proper causes and conditions to display their functions.
“Wise Protector, when a sentient being dies, the elements of feeling, awareness and dharmas together with consciousness is born again in a new body.
“As an illustration, when the wind passes over exquisite flowers , the flowers remain where they are, while their fragrance spread far and wide. The substance of the wind does nto take in the fragrance of the exquisite flowers. The substances of the fragrance, the wind and the organ of touch have neither shape nor colour, but the fragrance cannot spread far away without the power of the wind. Wise Protector inteh same way, after a sentient being dies, his consciousness will take birth again together with the elements of feeling, awareness and dharmas, the consciousness is reincarnated through [the union of] its parents, who are the conditions of its rebirth.
“By virtue of sweet flowers, the nose smells fragrance; by virtue of the sense of smell, the fragrance is experienced; by virtue of the wind we see and feel the effect of the wind , whose power spreads the fragrance far and wide. Similarly from consciousness comes feeling; from feeling comes awareness;from awareness come dharmas; and as a result, one can tell good from evil…”