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A buddhist perspective on lucid dreaming: Page 2 of 3

The Coarse-Rational Way of Contacting Reality

Elucidated Through a Presentation of the Five Skandhas

The first skandha relates the corporeality of the object in terms of the qualities of form/color, sound, smell, taste and tactility, and, the corporeality of the subject, in terms of our body and especially in terms of the physical sense organs and faculties. The first moment of contact or perception of the object, within the ordinary waking state, is through the functional dynamism of the first skandha, our physical body. Our five senses individually contact with the related qualities of the object. From the senses the sense impressions go to the five respective sense consciousnesses. Neither the senses nor the sense consciousnesses have intellectual abilities.

Immediately after the sense contact, the second skandha, the basic feeling-evaluation (Tibetan tsor-ba; Sanskrit vedana) which differentiates into attraction and rejection, sets in. The middle part of the "wheel of existence," symbolized by a pig, a doe, and a snake, refers to lack of intrinsic awareness (Tibetan ma rig-pa) and to this basic feeling differentiating attraction and rejection (Tibetan ’dod-chags for attraction, zhe-sdang for rejection).

The third moment of perception can roughly be described as the "taking in" of the sense-impressions by consciousness. In the ordinary waking state the sense-impressions are not just "taken in" but, especially within our modern, Western, highly materialistic cultures, the sense-impressions are almost simultaneously "tak-en over" by a consciousness dominated by a coarse-rational approach. This leaves the person with very little if any conscious awareness of the pure sense-impressions.

The coarse-rational consciousness refers to the consciousness which establishes that the perceived object is in accordance with the stored image, and with the name/ connotations of similar, already perceived, objects. All this is created within a cer-tain complex cultural/individual view of reality.

The image we create of an object has first been singled out of its natural inter-connectedness with the whole and given a name. This image, when it is first created, will most often come between oneself and future similar objects "perceived." There-fore, instead of actually perceiving the object, in the ordinary waking state, we mainly perceive our already created image of a similar object, and seldom meet the object more intimately than that.

The naming/language part in itself is most useful. However, in the coarse-rational approach the name/language has a tendency to take over reality, i.e., we give the language more meaning than reality itself. Ontologically, we exchange reality with the map of reality.

Following the "taking in" or "taking over" of the sense-impressions by con-sciousness, the feeling-discrimination between attraction and rejection referred to above now arises. Pleasant feelings arise when the object in focus seems to nourish and/or protect our image of ourself, and unpleasant feelings arise when our image of ourself is endangered. The coarse-rational contact gives the direction for the feeling-evaluation of oneself and the feeling-evaluation increases one’s belief in the coarse-rational perception/cognition. In general, the feeling-evaluation has the last word in reality proof and in decisions.

When the feeling-evaluation of oneself in relation to the object thus arises, it enhances the further building of a coarse-rational interpretation of the object. For instance, if one first evaluates the object as good and supportive of oneself, one naturally approaches and contacts more or less solely its "positive" sides. If, how-ever, one first evaluates the object as confronting or undermining with regard to one’s image of oneself, one’s interpretation and contact is skewed toward its nega-tive aspects. This description may sound trivial, but it has a great impact on our perception/cognition of reality.

Due to the dynamism between the coarse-rational interpretation and the feeling-evaluation of the object, the different emotions accordingly arise. Here we enter the domain of the fourth skandha, the skandha pertaining, among other things, to men-tation/emotion. In this way, we create our coarse-rational emotional reality, which we automatically and more or less subconsciously superimpose of the actual sense impression of the object in focus. This, our creation of reality, is to a great extent fictional, and has often very little in common with the basic "pure" sense-reality.

The fifth skandha, the aggregate pertaining to our basic, consciousness energy refers to the main essence of being. This rnam-shes type of consciousness energy is underlying and gives energy to any psychological/mental function. That is, any kind of perception depends on the rnam-shes basic consciousness energy; the sensing, the coarse-rational perception/cognition, the feeling-evaluation, the emotions, etc. If we take away all the above mentioned psychological/mental functions of the first four skandhas, the consciousness energy as such is still maintained, continuing in and throughout all other states of being. Any of our mental/physical acts pertaining to the first four skandhas leave bag-chags, mental imprints in the basic psycho-physical energy of consciousness. These are carried through into any other state of being, for instance into the dream state of being, from whence they again emerge, being part of the manifest dream.

The coarse-rational, perception/cognition of reality is thus, as pointed out above, not "pure," but gives us a projected view of reality, which always is mixed up with our beliefs, fears, self-protective tendencies, emotional states, etc.

In the beginning of this paper, the importance of first obtaining a balance be-tween the coarse-rational and the nonrational relation with reality was stressed. I referred to "a state of being in relation with reality," which is not so corrupted by the coarse-rational approach, but is in closer connection to the basic psychophysical energy of consciousness, that is, closer to the actual nature of being.

In order to diminish and break coarse-rational creations, we have to use an ap-propriate kind of consciousness, which works in a different manner. For our purpose we have different natural states: the deep meditation state, the dream/bardo state or the deep sleep/death state of being.

Author: 
Tarab Tulku XI