Vows, commitments and modern life: Purified consciousness

The four commitments of the family of Buddha Akshobya

The difference between a Buddha and a samsaric being is the basis of imputation for their “I.”  A samsaric being imputes their “I” onto the contaminated body and mind of a samsaric being, and a Buddha imputes their “I” onto the pure body and mind of an enlightened being.  The body and mind of a being can likewise be thought of as “the five aggregates.”  The body of a being is the “form” aggregate, and the mind of a being is the remaining four aggregates of consciousness, discrimination, feeling and compositional factors.  Each of the five Buddha families corresponds to one of the five aggregates.  Buddha Vairochana corresponds to the completely purified form aggregate, and Buddha Akshobya corresponds to the completely purified aggregate of consciousness.  Therefore, the practice of the four commitments of Buddha Akshobya primarily function to generate within our mind the completely pure aggregate of consciousness of a Buddha.  The consciousness aggregate essentially has two main functions, the first is to “know” and the second is to serve as a storehouse for our karmic potentialities.

A contaminated aggregate of consciousness “knows” contaminated objects and stores contaminated karmic potentialities.  An object is contaminated if it is seen to be one with its inherent existence, and a karmic potentiality is contaminated if its generating mental action was a delusion.  A pure aggregate of consciousness only knows pure objects and stores only pure karmic potentialities.  A pure object is one that is seen as one with the emptiness of the very subtle mind of great bliss realizing it.  A karmic potentiality is pure if its generating mental action was a pure mind, free from grasping at inherent existence.  The training in the four commitments of Buddha Akshobya, therefore, function to uproot and cleanse our consciousness of all of the contaminated karmic potentialities stored there so that it can without obstruction know all objects of knowledge directly and simultaneously.

 

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