Explanation of the Title:
VERSES DELINEATING THE EIGHT CONSCIOUSNESSES
"Verses". The work is written in verse so that it can be easily remembered. However, it is not so easily understood without an explanation or without having first studied the doctrinal teachings extensively
The verses are divided into four sections of twelve lines each. The first section explains the first five consciousnesses, and the remaining three explain the sixth, seventh and eighth consciousnesses respectively. The first eight lines of each section explain the normal characteristics and functioning of the consciousness, while the final four lines explain the characteristics and functioning after the transformation of consciousness into wisdom.
"Delineating". The Chinese, gwei jyu, literally means compass and T-square. In other words the verses map for us the boundaries and characteristics of the eight consciousnesses.
"Eight consciousnesses." Consciousness is used exclusively in the sense of distinction-making activities of the mind, which include both the mking of the distinctions and the distinctions made. Conscious awareness and what is normally unconscious are both considered aspects of consciousness in the Buddhist sense of the word.
The eight consciousnesses are:
1) eye-consciousness or seeing,
2) ear-consciousness or hearing,
3) nose-consciousness or smelling,
4) tongue-consciousness or tasting,
5) body-consciousness or tactile feeling,
6) mind-consciousness or cognition,
7) manas, the
defiling mind-consciousness which is the
faculty of mind, and
8) alaya, or storehouse, consciousness.
They are described in detail in the discussion of the verses themselves.
to next section.