Understanding Fa Hsiang Sect (Part 4/4)

Understanding Fa Hsiang Sect (Part 4/4)

Three Manifestation Potentials [三能變]

According to Fa-hsiang ‘s doctrine, all sentient beings and non-sentient matters are manifestations of consciousnesses. The seeing portion is the ability to be conscious and aware, while the seen portion is the phenomena in the entire world. Both portions are the integrated manifestation of the eight consciousnesses. These eight consciousnesses can be classified into three groups with respect to its characteristic of manifestation of the object-domains [境]. It is known as Three Manifestation Potentials.

  1. Primary Manifestation [初能變]– also known as Ripening Manifestation [異熟能變]. It refers to the ‘seeds’ in Alaya consciousness. When they come across the causal conditions that advance or enhance to a higher state, it will then manifest to object-domains.
  2. Secondary Manifestation [次能變]– also known as Thinking Manifestation [思量能變]. It refers to the Manas consciousness. Though the seeds are ripened to manifest, they must rely on the Manas consciousness to think and create a virtual ‘self’, so as to realize the ‘existence’ of the relative object-domains.
  3. Third Manifestation [第三能變]– also known as Discriminative Manifestation [了別能變]. It refers to the first six consciousnesses. All phenomena and object-domains (‘six dusts’) can only be recognized and discriminated by the six sense organs. Just like sleeping, we are not aware of any ‘existence’ as our sense organs do not function.


Four Kinds of Conditional Arising [四緣生法]

The manifestation of consciousnesses to all Form Dharmas, Mind Dharmas and other Dharmas depends on the causal conditions, which must be necessary and sufficient. There are four kinds of conditions:

  1. Causal conditions [因緣]– the cause of any effect due to the interaction between the seeds of the Alaya consciousness and the subsequent actions and phenomena. They are the conditions based on immediate causes.
  2. Non-intermittent conditions [無間緣]– immediate cause without interval. It confines to the Mind Dharmas only. It refers to the prior thought and subsequent thought, one after the other without interval.
  3. Conditioned conditions [所緣緣]– causal conditions that influence other conditions. It refers to the Dharmas of Mental Functions.
  4. Augmenting conditions [增上緣]– like a catalyst to accelerate a condition to come to effect.

Two Views on No-self and Two Obstructions

In Buddhism, there are two views on No-self. ‘Self’ means the self-nature [自性].

Firstly, ordinary people do not understand the emptiness of the Five Skandhas, thus believe in the existence of independent and self-controlled ‘self’. It is known as the view of being-self [人我見].

Similarly, ordinary people insist to have a real substratum and function for Dharmas, as they arise from the causal conditions. In reality, a Dharma has no self-nature. It is known as the view of Dharma-self [法我見].

Both of them are wrong, according to the analysis of the eight consciousnesses. If we can break the view of being-self, we will be liberated from the Obstruction of Affliction [煩惱障]. It is what the Hinayana practitioners aim to achieve in the state of Nirvana.

For the Mahayana Bodhisattva, they can thoroughly understand the meaning of causal conditions of all Dharmas, and hold the view of no-self in both being and Dharmas. Thus, they are liberated from the Obstruction of Wrong View [所知障]. As they understand Dharma of dependence upon others [依他起性], they will certify the Dharma of ultimate and perfect reality [圓成實性].

Fourfold Wisdom of Buddha [四智]

When one’s knowledge and wisdom have been perfected through cultivation, the eight consciousnesses will turn into perfect wisdom as follows:

  1. Wisdom that Accomplishes All [成所作智]– transformed from the five consciousnesses.
  2. Wisdom of Good Observation [妙觀察智]– transformed from the mind-consciousness (Mano-consciousness)
  3. Wisdom of equanimity [平等性智]– transformed from the Manas-consciousness
  4. Wisdom of Magnificent Mirror [大圓鏡智]– transformed from the Alaya-consciousness

The Fivefold Practice in Mere Consciousness [五重唯識觀]

There are five levels of contemplation for the cultivation and practice in Fa-hsiang sect.

  1. To sever the unreal and keep the real [遣虛存實]– It refers to the Threefold Nature of Dharmas. We should sever the Dharmas of sole imagination, leaving the Dharmas of dependence upon others and the Dharmas of ultimate and perfect reality. With respect to relativity of existence and emptiness, emptiness is severed and existence is kept.
  2. To renounce the impure and retain the pure [捨濫留純]– We should renounce the external defiled objects and phenomena, and retain in the state of pureness in our internal mind. With respect to the relativity of mind and object / phenomena, the object / phenomena is renounced and the mind is retained.
  3. To follow the ‘branches’ and proceed to the ‘main’ [攝末歸本]– It refers to the Four Functional Portions of Dharmas. We should follow the ‘branches’ of the seen portion and the seeing portion of Dharmas, so as to proceed to the original (‘main’) self-realizing or self-assuring portion of Dharmas. With respect to the relativity of substratum and function, the function is to be manipulated so as to go back to the substratum.
  4. To conceal the weakness and reveal the strength [隱劣顯勝]– ‘Weakness’ refers the mental functions [心所], and ‘strength’ refers to the master of mind [心王], the eighth consciousness. With respect to the mental functions and the master of mind, the former should be concealed, while the latter should be revealed.
  5. To discard the phenomena and certify the noumenon [遣相證性]– to discard the discriminative phenomena, and certify the non-discriminative noumenon, with respect to the relativity of phenomena and noumenon.

The first four are the characteristics of Mere Consciousness and the last one is the nature of Mere Consciousness.

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