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Notes on the Ego as Seventh Consciousness

The state of transposed substance that has the obscuring indeterminate nature is the connection between the sentience and the basis.

The state of transposed substance has two modes: the real and the seeming. Real transposed substance refers to the seventh consciousness relating to the eighth consciousness by falsely transposing the latter's perceiver division into a 'self'. That 'self' has no reality of its own, but is based upon the substance of the perceiver division of the eighth consciousness. [The seeming transposed substance refers to the sixth consciousness's relations with external states.]

The seventh consciousness is referred to as the "Ego", "Ego-self", and for cases of mental disturbance, "Ego-delusion" e.g. paranoia, phobia, anxiety to the point of confusion and hallucination (mental mirages).

The "self" is a delusion arising from the experience of the eighth consciousness' perceiver division. Having no independent reality, it appears in the mind (manas, or Sixth Consciousness) as the hallucination of the "self".

The obscuring indeterminate nature is one of two modes of the indeterminate nature, the third of the Three Natures. The other mode is the non-obscuring indeterminate nature. Obscuring refers to those states of consciousness that have the function of, literally, 'covering' one's true nature. That is what the seventh consciousness does. As will be explained, it 'covers'--it distorts the true nature of--the perceiver division of the eighth consciousness. The non-obscuring nature refers to the perceived division of the eighth consciousness. It is said to be non-obscuring because it does not distort or obscure the true nature of the mind.

"Obscuring" refers to the ability to hide (occultation). Its opposite is "non-obscuring."

The seventh consciousness obscures the mind (manas) regarding the eight consciousness. By hiding the true nature of the mind, the ego mistakes the eighth consciousness for the "self".

In the mind arises the thought "I have a self", and close examination of the ego leads to obscuring the eighth consciousness.

Sometimes, the more you confront yourself with the truth, the more the "self" establishes itself as "real".

With meditation though, it is possible to remain calm and perceive the seventh and eighth consciousness as they truly are.

The eighth consciousness is non-obscuring since it does not distort or obscure the true nature of the mind.

In between the seventh consciousness--'sentience' in the verse--and the perceiver division of the eighth consciousness--'basis' in the verse--there arises a state of transposed substance, which is the object of the seventh consciousness and which is identified by the seventh consciousness as being the 'self'. This is the process that obscures one's true nature.

Through one's sentience, one misperceives the basis of eighth consciousness as the "self". Hence "sentient being" is synonymous with "one who mistakes the basis of consciousness for the self", and also implies that sentience is not empty of ego-delusion nor empty of ego-self.

However, only the seventh consciousness is full of "ego-delusion" arising as the "self" or "ego-self".


VERSES DELINEATING THE EIGHT CONSCIOUSNESSES by Tripitaka Master Hsuan-Tsang of the Tang Dynasty, Translation and Explanation by Ronald Epstein:

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