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A beginner who visualizes the body of a deity and does not know the distinctive characteristics of the different

aspects of consciousness would think that the deity must be seen as clearly during mental meditation as if seen directly with the eyes. The eyes, however, have a much coarser way of perceiving concrete forms. Beginners do indeed meditate in the hope of attaining such clarity. Nevertheless, it will not arise, because the meditation on a deity does not happen through the medium of the eye consciousness, but through the medium of the mind consciousness. The objects of the mind consciousness are much less clear. The mind consciousness most definitely does not work like the eye consciousness. That's why some meditators who perceive a vague mental image think they are not capable of meditating correctly on a deity. The result is that they develop an aversion for their meditation. Those, however, who understand that each consciousness perceives in a different way know that mental images aren't as clear as the forms perceived with their eyes, and therefore they are content with their meditation. They know how to meditate, do indeed so meditate, and thus their meditation works well... The mind consciousness does not recognize clearly, does not see clearly, nor does it perceive the sense objects clearly. Nevertheless, it is endowed with extraordinary qualities that are not shared with the sense consciousnesses. Its special qualities are the many different thoughts that appear within it. In this way, among all the six collections of consciousnesses, the mind consciousness has the busiest job! The five sense consciousnesses merely perceive. The mind consciousness, however, judges this mere perception immediately afterwards with thoughts such as "That's good" or "That's bad." For this reason the mind consciousness is especially important for us as human beings. For as long as we circle within samsara, the mind consciousness plays the most important part in this. It is also extremely important in terms of our dharma practice. When, for example, we visualize a deity, from whose perspective do we meditate? It is not the eye consciousness that meditates on the form, because the five sense consciousnesses cannot meditate. It is the mind consciousness that meditates, in so much as it brings the form to consciousness. When we know this, we understand why it is that during the meditation on a deity the visualization does not appear so clearly. Mind does not take an object directly; instead, it perceives its own self-created mental images of the apprehended objects. Thus, whether your visualization is clear or not depends on the stability of your mind.

In the meditation on calm abiding also, it is not the five sense consciousnesses that meditate, but the mind consciousness. Some practitioners believe that when they constantly see objects with their eyes while meditating on calm abiding, their meditation is impaired, or that when they perceive sounds with their ears, their meditation will not be that beneficial. However, the five sense consciousnesses are not in the least able to create anything; therefore they cannot distract our mind either. The eyes indeed see forms, but it doesn't matter. Likewise the ears hear sounds, and the nose perceives smells, yet this does not disturb the meditation in the least, because the sense perception does not involve any thoughts. It is only a matter of mere appearances. This is the reason why we do not have to stop them. We would not even be able to stop them, nor do we have to modify anything in any way. The sense perception just happens naturally, by itself. Then what is it that we have to do? While the mind consciousness meditates on calm abiding, it moves wildly. In moving it remembers the past, thinks ahead of the future, or finds itself within the present. It is shaken by many different thoughts: thoughts of happiness, thoughts of suffering, and many other kinds. When the mind does not continuously change in this way, but has instead become stable and is able to rest within itself, then it can be said that we remain within the meditative concentration of calm abiding.

Now, there are some skeptical persons who may think that when the mind is not moved by many thoughts, it will be in a stupid state. But stupidity does not arise just because the mind relaxes a little. On the contrary, the mind usually thinks too much. We are used to thinking uninterruptedly and continuously. If we look at these thoughts more closely, however, we discover that we seldom think meaningfully at all, and that most of our thinking is rather senseless. Such senseless thinking happens frequently and repeats itself over and over. In this way our many endlessly occurring thoughts are continuously going around and around in circles. If we are able to decrease this senseless thinking, meaningful thoughts will naturally arise all by themselves. And this is exactly the reason for the meditation on calm abiding: when the mind relaxes, senseless thinking will effortlessly diminish.