T 1670B Nāgasena Bhikṣu Sūtra

Part 2: Dialogues

2.29. Visual-consciousness and Mental-consciousness

The king said, “When visual-consciousness arises, does mental-consciousness also arise at the same time?”

“Yes, they arise together.”

“Which consciousness arises first?”

“The visual-consciousness arises first, then mental-consciousness second.”

“If so, does the visual-consciousness speak to the mental-consciousness: ‘Where I arise, you likewise arise,’ or does the mental-consciousness speak to the eye-consciousness: ‘Where you arise, I will likewise arise’?”

“No, they do not thus speak to each other.”

“You have said that they arise at the same time, why is there no communication between the one and the other?”

“There are four circumstances under which there is not communication. What are the four circumstances? They are (1) following on, (2) the existence of a door, (3) walking along the rut, (4) arithmetic. There is no communication under these four circumstances.”

(1) Then the king asked, “What is ‘following on’?”

Nāgasena said to the king, “When it rains at the top of a mountain, where will the rain water flow?”

“It will flow downwards.”

“After that, if it were to rain again, where will this rain water flow?”

“It will flow in the same way as the first water had gone.”

Then Nāgasena asked the king, “Would the first rain water speak to the second, ‘You should follow me,’ and the second then speak to the first, ‘I will follow wherever you go.’”

The king replied, “The two waters each goes their own way, the former does not speak to the latter (and the latter also does not speak to the former).”

“The visual-consciousness is just like the water.

The visual-consciousness does not speak to the mental-consciousness, ‘You should follow me to arise.’ The mental-consciousness also does not speak to the visual-consciousness, ‘I will follow you to arise.’ The visual-consciousness and mental-consciousness do not speak to each other. This is called sloping down. It is the same with regard to ears, nose, tongue, body and mind.”

(2) “What is ‘existence of a door’?” the king asked again.

“It is like a great city with only one gate and a person in the city wants to go out. From where can he go out?”

“He can go out through the only gate.”

“And if another man also wants to go out, how could he go out?”

“Certainly he should go out from the only gate by which the first man has gone out.”

Then Nāgasena said, “Would the first man say to the second man, ‘You should follow me,’ or would the second man speak to the first man, ‘I will go out from the gate by which you go out.’ Would the two men speak to one another thus?”

“They would not speak to each other thus.”

“The consciousness is like the door. The visual-consciousness does not speak to the mental-consciousness, ‘You should follow me to arise,’ and the mental-consciousness also does not speak to the visual-consciousness, ‘I will follow you to arise.’ The visual-consciousness and mental-consciousness do not speak to one another. This is called the existence of a door. It is the same with regard to ear, nose, tongue, body and mind.”

(3) The king asked Nāgasena, ‘What is ‘walking along the rut’?”

Then Nāgasena again asked the king, “Suppose, the first cart would go and leave a rut, then how should the second cart go?”

“The second cart should follow the rut left by the first cart,”

“Would the first cart tell the second, ‘You should follow my rut, or would the second cart tell the first, ‘I will follow your rut.’ Do the two carts speak to one another thus?”

“No, they do not speak to one another thus.” said the king.

“It is the same with regard to people.

The visual-consciousness does not speak to the mental-consciousness, ‘Where I arise, you likewise arise,’ and the mental-consciousness also does not speak to the visual-consciousness, ‘Where you arise, I will likewise arise.’ It is the same with regard to ear, nose, tongue, body and mind. They do not speak to one another thus.”

(4) The king said to Nāgasena, “What is ‘arithmetic’?”

Nāgasena replied, “Here arithmetic means valuation. The sciences, writing, etc. are included in arithmetic. When the eyes, the ears, the nose, the mouth, the body and the mind work little by little, one knows. So due to the coming together of the six things, there arises awareness. Awareness cannot arise from only one of the six things.”

“Excellent Nāgasena.”