Our conscious mind is small in comparison to our vast unconscious mind. This unconscious mind is part of what Thich Nhat Hanh referred to as store consciousness. Describing consciousness as like a house, Thich Nhat Hanh suggested that store consciousness is the basement and mind consciousness is our living room. Mind consciousness is our active awareness, our conscious mind. Store consciousness, sometimes called root consciousness, is in the lower levels of our consciousness. This is where all our past experiences are stored along with the seeds of our reactions to the triggers we experience every day. Although we may not be fully aware of what is in our store consciousness, we can influence the manifestation of its contents in the conscious mind.
In Buddhist teachings, we find reference to the 51 mental formations which can be manifested in our conscious mind from seeds often stored deep in our store consciousness. A formation maybe considered as something that manifests when different conditions come together. Formations that exist in our consciousness are called mental formations. A mental formation is something that is formed in our mind, manifested from different thoughts, feelings, and ideas whose seeds are often kept deep in our store consciousness or our unconscious mind.
We may be unaware of the seeds in our store consciousness until one or more of the seeds is touched and watered by something we hear, see, read, or think and we begin to experience feelings such as anger, sorrow, joy, or love. This is the seed coming up and manifesting in the upper levels of our consciousness, our living room, where is becomes a more conscious mental formation. We may enjoy the manifestation of positive seeds such as happiness, compassion, joy, or love, but the manifestation of negative seeds such as anger, fear, suspicion, or sorrow can bring discomfort into our living room.
Seeds of mindfulness and intention can also be touched, watered, and brought up into our conscious mind. These positive seeds can bring a zone of energy into our consciousness. In his teachings about store consciousness, Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us that the practice of mindfulness can help with recognizing and identifying the seeds that are in us. By cultivating the energy of mindfulness, we can recognize the positive wholesome seeds that are there. We can practice touching the positive seeds so that they are manifested in our conscious mind every day. Then we will be able to move the negative mental formations back into store consciousness. This practice of mindfulness can help positive seeds to grow, and help avoid the growth of the negative seeds within us. How can you practice watering the positive seeds of consciousness today and everyday?
Originally published on the Dr. Paul Ward Blog.