In Buddhist psychology, we talk about ‘store consciousness’. Store consciousness is the lower part of our consciousness which stores many things; we call them seeds — seeds of happiness, seeds of sorrow, seeds of pain, all kinds of seeds. And that part of our consciousness is described as being like a garden, or soil, or earth, which preserves seeds.
The upper part of our consciousness is called ‘mind consciousness’, and this is linked to the intellect. So a dharma talk should be considered to be like rain falling down on the earth. We should let the rain touch the soil and to penetrate into it. Then there is a chance that the seeds that are buried in the depths of our consciousness will be touched by the talk. We should not, therefore, use mind consciousness a lot. We should refrain from thinking, from comparing, from judging; we should just allow the dharma talk to fall like rain and to penetrate into the soil of our store consciousness. And that is why it is better to stay in a state of half sleep rather than to use your intellect! While you are snoring, the dharma talk is able to sneak in! But if you use the intellect, it is like using a lot of buckets to receive the water, and that prevents the rain from penetrating into the depths of your consciousness.
It is certain that we have seeds of happiness, seeds of joy, of peace, of love, in us, but it may be that during our daily lives, nobody knows how to touch those seeds. That is why they don’t grow. They remain deeply buried in the bottom of our consciousness. Maybe during a dharma talk, however, you allow the talk to come down and touch these seeds.
Dharma talks can also come down and touch the seeds of suffering in us. The contact between the dharma and the seeds of suffering might then provoke a kind of transformation. The best thing to do during a dharma talk, therefore, is not to think, not to compare, to measure, or to reflect.
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First published in the August 1994 Buddhism Now.