There Is No Suffering 69

Sense Faculty, Sense Object, and Sense Consciousnesses of Mind

The dhatus condition our experience of a particular sense object. Two people’ s recollection of a meditating cushion can be very different. One person can relate to it with dread, another with enthusiasm. Dread and enthusiasm are mental factors that work with the mind faculty to color, or condition, the primary mind ( vijnana), or the six sense consciousnesses. The recollection of the cushion is the sense object. And the imprints derived from the reaction of dread and enthusiasm is stored in one’ s consciousness. Here, consciousness refers both to the discriminating mind as well as to the base-consciousness. Therefore, in the case of the mind, just as with the other senses, the faculty, sense object, and sense consciousness have no independent existence.

Sense objects of the mind include all the symbols that we use to represent various objects, feelings, or concepts. These symbols have no meaning by themselves. We ascribe meaning to them so that we can think and communicate. You may be aware of a symbol, but unaware of its meaning. For instance, I may say the name ‘Oswald Pierre.’ If you know the man, then the symbol has relevance and you can think about him. If you do not know him, then they are just sounds or markings on a page. Another example: I say the word ‘dragon,’ and your mind fabricates an image: a large or small winged or wingless monster with varying attributes and abilities that can be benevolent or evil. It depends on who is doing the imagining. Even though there is no such thing in our world as a dragon, we have a symbol for it. The symbol and what it refers to have no real existence.