Sokuzan’s talk is inspired by “Verses on the Faith Mind” by Hsin-hsin Ming, the Third Patriarch of Zen [d. 606 AD]
The title of this talk points to the way the ego mind wants to solidify the identity that chooses.
The term “consciousness only” associated with the Yogacara school of Buddhism is often misunderstood. To help us understand the intention of the teachings, Sokuzan reads from the introduction to The Twenty Verses in “Seven Works of Vasubandhu”, translation and commentary by Stephan Anacker.
The “Eight Consciousnesses” is a conceptual model of the Yogacara, or Mind-Only school of Buddhism that divides consciousness into eight types as a way of working with mind. The seventh consciousness, often called “klesa mind” or the ego identity, tends to solidify the illusion of a self separate and other by grasping, rejecting, or ignoring how this appears. In sitting meditation, we work with the mind by holding still and practice just observing that which appears.
Sokuzan talks about the practice of “Tonglen”, or sending out positivity and receiving negativity while riding the breath, reversing the tendency of ego. He suggests that without a strong awareness practice, taking in negativity may cause more difficulty and instead recommends the practice of “Maitri Bhavana” or extending the intent of loving kindness to others.