Lorig: Way of Knowing Mind – Session 10


Five Omnipresent Mental Factors and
Other Mental Factors in Details.

Hello to all of you. 

It is the mental factors today, of course there are 51 of them, we have been through some in the last class, we can go through some of them today. There are lots of mental factors which are quite interesting, and generally it’s important to know all of them, but these mental factors are not really easy to understand very clearly, but still we will try to go through those as much as we can. First I will go an overview of this mental factors, what they actually are, and then I would like to go through some of them, which are very much common, for example, some of these mental factors like sleep is kind of interesting, and I’m sure all of you wish to know what that is. 

So in the last class [session 9] we have been through the five omnipresent mental factors and then ‘five determining mental factors’. Today we will be going through ‘eleven virtuous mental factors’, ‘six root afflictions’ and then ‘twenty secondary afflictions’ and ‘four changeable mental factors’ as a sort of a reminder we have: there are six main minds and 51 mental factors. So the 51 has been classified roughly, it doesn’t mean that all the mental factors are included in this 51. 51 is just roughly and the number 51 specifically is according to the Great Master Vasubandhu. 


The five determining factors I think we have been through this last time are: aspiration, belief, mindfulness, stabilization and wisdom. The reason why it is called 5 determining factors is because these are two explanations. First, it has its own certain object, this is one explanation and the second and the very common explanation why these are called determining factors is because these factors realize its object and these five factors are with most of those main minds which realize its object. 

So there are three minds which realize its objects I’ve told earlier: The first is the ‘direct perceiver’, ‘valid cognizer’; ‘inferential valid cognizer’ and then ‘subsequent valid cognizer’. So this ‘five determining factors’ are with, I would say, most of those minds which realize its object, so the word ‘determining’ is also one of the word which is pretty much synonymous with realizing its object. 

So aspiration is one of the mental factors which is more aspire or to try to seek the object, is what aspiration does. And then the second one is belief, ‘belief’ is more like in Tibetan it is /moe pa/ that’s more like engaging into the object joyfully, which is the second one. The third one is mindfulness, the ‘mindfulness’ is mental factor which holds the object of observation and the basis or the aspect of the object. And then comes the stabilization, as you all know, ‘stabilization’ is like it helps to keep the focus on that particular object without losing the concentration. Then comes the wisdom

There you go [see the diagram at the end of the text], this is the sevenfold division of the mind, and then if you go below there is one another twofold division of the mind and then now we are at the five determining of factors. Here you’re gonna find like two columns, the first one, main minds as you can see, the main minds is either classified into two, which is the sense consciousness and mental consciousness. Or the other way to classify, you can also classify the main minds into six categories by dividing the five sense consciousness into five, that’s what you see in the first column. 

And then the mental factors, the rest of the six columns are for mental factors. So the mental factors as I’ve been through the ‘five omnipresent factors’ are, as you can see over there on the screen, the feeling, discrimination, intention, mental engagement and contact which we have been in the last class and the one which is in red color. 

So now here we are going through the five determining factors or these are the five factors which come along with majority of those minds which realize its object. Aspiration, as I told you, it is a mental factor which mainly works on seeking or aspiring to seek that object. Belief, as I told, engages the object with the sort of a joy. Mindfulness, it is a mental factor which holds the object of observation and the aspect of the object. Stabilization, of course, this is the mental factor which helps to keep the focus on object without losing the concentration. Then the wisdom is the mental factor which helps to analyze the object or examining the aspect of the object is what wisdom does. So these are called ‘five determining factors’, it is because, as I’ve mentioned, according to one explanation, it has a certain object, certain confirmed object or the common explanation would be it is called determining object because it realize its object. 


The next group is the ‘eleven virtuous factors’. Here when we talk about virtuous factors, virtues, so these eleven mental factors are positive, it is the one of the common words that people use, virtues vs sins. In Buddhism I prefer to use more like positive actions instead of virtues and then negative actions for the sins, that is more accurate. But overall the virtue or a positive action actually means any action of body or any speech or any mind if it yields or if it brings out a result in happiness, then you would say it is a virtue or it is a positive action. The positive action, virtue or a sin is not something that somebody decide, but positive action is something if it gives a happiness as a result. Those positive actions which bring happiness as a result are called virtues and those negative actions which bring suffering as a result are called sort of a sin or a negative action. So here these eleven are virtues which means that these eleven gives happiness as a result. 

So the eleven as you can see: the faith, shame, embarrassment, non-desire, non-hatred, non-ignorance, effort, pliancy, conscientiousness, equanimity and nonharmfulness. Generally some of these may not be similar to the words that people use in day-to-day life, so I will go through some of these just to make sure or just to clear in a way. 

Faith again, when it comes to faith, it could be a faith to anything. You may wonder why it is a virtue? Here the faith is faith towards something positive, for example, faith in the law of causality, faith in the existence of next and previous lives, of course, faith towards Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. So all these positives by having that it helps people engage into positive actions and it avoids people to engage in negative actions, that is what it is. 

The second one here is a shame. So here shame and embarrassment. Shame is the different, it may look a bit similar, or maybe it’s a bit confusing what is shame? What is embarrassment? Kind of similar, but here shame is because of oneself, embarrassment is because of others. 

Here shame in Tibetan we have the word /ngo tsha pa/. It’s such a mental factor which avoids you to engage in something negative because of what you are. For example, you are a Buddhist, let’s say you are not doing something wrong by thinking that “I am a Buddhist, I cannot do this and that, so I feel shame of doing this and that because I’m a Buddhist” is what we call shame.  “I feel uncomfortable to do this and that because I’m a Buddhist, because I’m a mother, father, brother, friend or this and that”, that is a shame

Embarrassment is more towards others. Embarrassment is to feeling uncomfortable to engage in something, not because of what you are, but because of others. For example, somebody has been very kind to you, let’s say, our parents has been very kind, they’ve sacrifice a lot this and that. But sometimes we feel uncomfortable to do such a things, “it’s not good, I shouldn’t do this and that because they are my parents, they are my teachers, they’re my friends, they are my neighbors”, so that is more of embarrassment. 

Both are pretty much same in feeling uncomfortable to engage in certain activities, but if it is because of oneself, then it’s a shame, if it is because of others than it’s embarrassment. 

And the non-desire exactly is not just absent of desire, but non-desire is actually a mental factor and non-desire is more like to to feel content with certain things, the mental factor which is called non-desire, is not only the opposite of desire, but it is the mind which perceives pretty much opposite of desire at the same time, a mind which feels content with what one has or the mind which thinks that “Oh I don’t need that or I don’t need this”. So that is what it is, and of course it is a virtue, because that’s what brings happiness as a result and embarrassment and shame avoid us to engage in wrong activities, that is also a virtue or a positive action because that also brings us happiness as a result. 

The faith again, the faith towards the law of causality, the cause and effect help us to refrain from engaging into negative actions, and faith again brings us happiness, with this at least you should be able to know the clear-cut meaning of positive action. So here the non-ignorance again the same.

The effort, according to those Buddhist texts, the effort here, like /brtson ‘grus/, people might wonder like effort can be towards something negative, let’s say, somebody killing some animals, somebody makes a living out of killing chicken or some animals, so a person can also put effort in doing what he’s doing in something negative. But here ‘the effort actually, if a person is putting effort in something negative, then it is not the genuine effort. So here effort is more of putting hard working towards something positive. 

Then comes the pliancy, consciousness, equanimity and nonharmfulness. So these all should be something that should yield and result in happiness. 


And the next column comes the six root afflictions. Here the reason why these are called root is because these act as the main cause of the rest of the afflictions and also the main cause of negative actions which result in suffering. So these root afflictions, six of them are: desire, anger, pride, ignorance, doubt, and afflicted view. But the first is kind of easy, desire or attachment. So attachment or desire, “I think that I have a desire to become Buddha”, so is that all know, “I have a desire to achieve this and that”, it is also negative? I would say no. Like all the desires are not negative which is why it says here desire, the afflictive emotions, afflictive or destructive emotions. 

So if this desire is basically the exaggerated mind which sees the object, the apprehended object, the object that has been perceived much better than it actually is. It is the exaggerated one, so this desire doesn’t sees the object as it is, but it exaggerated it, and then you are pretty much lured by it. So such a thing, such an emotion is called desire. 

The anger is again the same, if you get angry to someone, you see that person much worse than it actually is, you see what the  person does much worse than it actually is, and again, a pride in Tibetan we have /nga rgyal/ for the pride.  Pride, I would say, the frozen mind, a very closed, the frozen mind and a pride is very closed, even the Tibetan word  /nga rgyal/  is more like the /khyags pa/, sort of a frozen. 

And then the ignorance which is kind of easy. The afflicted doubt here, what does it mean by afflicted doubts? Are all the doubts afflicted doubts? No, not all the doubt are the root affliction. So here the afflicted doubt is those doubts towards such an object which acts as a cause of many problems, for example, having a doubt towards the cause and effect, having a doubt towards the previous and next life. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have a doubt, having a doubt is good, but there are certain doubts which only give negative results. Of course, from a Buddhist point of view, in doubt towards the Buddha, the curiosity is very important, and that’s something you should have if you don’t understand the thing. The general doubt is very important, but there is some doubts which only give, which activate more negative afflictions, which result in suffering.

Afflicted view again, having a wrong view. There are wrong views like if you kill a cow or sacrifice a cow or in ancient there are some cases that people sacrifice others like people literally kill other as a name of sacrifice by thinking or believing that they’re gonna born in somewhere nice, they wanna achieve something nice if they do this and that, so these are afflicted views. And also such a view that says that there is no next life or there is no cause and effect, so these are afflicted views, these act as a root affliction. 


Then comes the twenty secondary afflictions. The reason why it’s called secondary is because from one reason, these are very close with its own, some of the root afflictions or these are produced by the six root afflictions. So the belligerence, resentment, concealment, spite, jealousyagain, the jealousy here is feeling uncomfortable to see other progressing, feeling uncomfortable to see something growingmiserliness, deceit, dissimulation, haughtiness, harmfulness, non-shame, non-embarrassmentthen the non-shame and non-embarrassment is pretty much same with the eleven, in the eleven factors you have this shame and embarrassment, now is just the opposite. Of course, these are afflictive emotion because of nonshame and non-embarrassment people engage in lot of negative actionslethargy, excitement, non-faith, laziness, and then non-conscientiousnesshere instead of non-conscientiousness, nonmindfulness would be, maybe easier to understand – and forgetfulness, non-introspection and then distraction

So these are the 20 secondary afflictions which the six root affliction induce. When you have the six root afflictions, these are something that these six root afflictions produce and because of that people engage in wrong actions. 

And again before that, if you just want to know what affliction means, as you can see here is like the six root afflictions and the 20 secondary afflictions. The reason why these are called affliction or other words, these are destructive emotions, the reason why these are called affliction or destruction emotions because whenever any of these activities within us, it gives suffering, whenever it activates in us it take away the peace of our mind. Any of these activate in us, even at the time it is activated, the person is not in peace. Take an example of jealousy or anger, whenever a person is angry, the person is not happy at that time. So whenever a person has these 26 emotions within them, the person is not happy or the peace of the mind is taken away, so why these are called destructive emotions, emotions or afflictions, afflictive emotions. 


Then comes the four changeable factor, as I’ve mentioned earlier, the reason why these four are called ‘changeable’ because it can convert into positive actions, these four can convert into negative actions. Again, these four can be a neutral, for example, in terms of sleep, it depends on the intention why you are sleeping or the motivation of your sleep. If your motivation of your sleep is positive, then the whole sleep, if you are sleep for like five hours or maybe six hours, the whole six hours become positive, you accumulate virtues or you accumulate merits for the whole six hours of your sleep if you have a right, correct intention, correct motivation right before you sleep. 

While if you sleep with the negative intention or a wrong motivation or in a simple word, when you are sleeping if you think of something negative, if you think of somebody, maybe to harm someone, or maybe any wrong thought, this may convert your whole sleep into non virtuous action, so it’s very important. And also during the sleep is very important to train yourself to get habituated to think of something positive because this can help us during our death as well. If you train yourself to think something positive right before you fall in sleep, this can help you to have a positive thought right before you die. 

First, let me explain you what the sleep is. Sleep actually is not a physical action, sleep actually is a mental factor. Whatever you see on the screen right now, these are all mental factors. Sleep is actually a mental factor, is one mind, one of the consciousness and also if you ask me “what kind of consciousness is that?”, then I would say it’s an ignorant consciousness. It’s an ignorant consciousness which doesn’t knows its object, it is an ignorant consciousness which is not clear with its object. 

If you say “What are its function? What is it does?”. A sleep is actually an ignorant consciousness which blocks the five senses from perceiving their own object, such a mental factor is called sleep. When we fall in sleep, actually one mental factors activates, so the function of that mental factor when that mental factor activates, it blocks the five sense consciousness. So the function of the sleep is to block the five consciousness and keep them in a dormant manner. At the same time, the sleep itself, the nature of sleep, is an ignorant consciousness and the function is to block the five sense consciousness. So such a mental factor is called sleep. 

So when a person falls in sleep, the first thing that it does, the sleep blocks the eye consciousness, it avoids the eye consciousness from seeing its object. That is the first thing that the sleep does. Then the second thing is the ear consciousness, it blocks the ear consciousness from hearing the sound. Then it blocks the nose consciousness to feel the smell and it blocks the tongue consciousness and it blocks the physical consciousness. It is very subtle that you may not hear or see the sequence of that, but this is how the sleep does.  And by blocking the five sense consciousness, it remains you in a sort of an ignorant manner, so you don’t know what’s going on around, you don’t see, you don’t smell, you don’t hear, you don’t taste or you don’t feel from your body. So such a mental factor is called sleep. 

For an ordinary person, sleep is very important as well, but at the right time, a sleep for a suitable period of time is important. So that’s why with the positive intention ‘OK, I’m sleeping so that my body can have enough or all my sense consciousness, the five sense consciousness can have a proper rest so that it can function nicely, so that I can use that into doing something positive, so that I can live long enough to do more good things, so that I can live long enough to be able to practice’. So if you fall in sleep with such an intention, with such a motivation, then you are basically converting the whole time of sleep into positive. If you are sleeping for five hours, you literally has converted the five hours into positive. 

Or if you fall in sleep by thinking that “Oh he has done something bad to me or she has done something bad to me this and that” then automatically it activates some kind of ill will towards the person or you are thinking of something bad about somebody, so that actually influences the whole sleep and basically the whole sleep becomes something negative and you accumulate such unknown virtuous actions or negative actions for the whole period of sleep. So it’s very important to have a positive sleep, or even if having to convert these sleep into positive, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to think that “I’m sleeping because of this and that, I’m blocking my five sense consciousness because of this and that”, you don’t have to think that, you can even think of compassion, you can even think of bodhicitta. And when you think of compassion,  bodhicitta, you may also wake up in very positive mental state. 

It helps people to have a calm, peaceful sleep and so it is also one of the very effective way to train oneself with a bodhicitta or a compassion so that even when we pass away, it can help us to think of such great practice, like the practice of love, compassion, or bodhicitta when we die. So in the exact same sequence of the way we fall in sleep, we also die in the same way. When, as I said, the sleep blocks the eye consciousness and the ear, the nose, tongue and the physical consciousness exactly the same manner that five sense consciousness cease to exist. Exactly in the same sequence when we die, the first thing that dissolve is the eye consciousness, then slowly the ear consciousness, then the nose tongue and the physical consciousness. So the way it dissolves or the way it get blocked exactly the same way. 

So if you train yourself, when you are not able to see anymore, you’re still able to think. So in such a period of time, if you train yourself to think that it can be anything, it can be to do “OK, I will do something positive, when I wake up I will do this and that” or maybe to think of love or compassion, equanimity or mindfulness about something, or maybe you just remember the kindness of the Buddha or kindness of those great Masters of the past, you remember the kindness of your parents, you can just remember anything that you have done something, I mean, any positive thing that you have done in your life “Oh I had in privilege to do this and that in my life, I was able to do something for my neighbor, I was able to do something for the environment so that it can help others”. 

So you can think of any positive action that you have done in that day, in that month, in that year, in the whole life. So these are something that a person can do and that can be really fruitful, and this is how one can convert the sleep, the whole sleep into positive. When you have such a positive thought right before you sleep, then there is very much likely that you can also have some positive dreams. 

And also, the contrition, investigation, analysis. As I told earlier, investigation, if you are doing this investigation with a good motivation to help something positive, investigation to serve others, these are also positive. Analysis is also always very good if you feel sorry for or if you regret, as I mentioned earlier, if you regret to something that you have done and which is negative, then it becomes a positive. Investigation and analysis again the same, if you analyze on something positive then it becomes a positive, if you analyze on impermanence, if you analyze on the emptiness, if you analyze how you can do better, if you analyze your own action with the intention to improve yourself, so these are all such a emotion that you can convert into positive if you know how to do, because this can be changed into positive or negative so these are called changeable factors.

So these are the 51 mental factors. And for the next class, it’s just revision, we will go through those quiz, and then we might have a little more activities that we will go through and also help us to remind the previous classes. Now we just have two more classes left, the next one we will go through that and then the next one will go through how you can apply those, how it can be helpful in the last class. 

In the four changeable mental factors, contrition, in Tibetan it is more like /gyod pa/, /gyod pa/ is more like to feel sorry for or to feel regret and, of course, feeling remorse. So as I’ve mentioned, that is also very important, generally when people do something wrong, one of the things that avoid them from feeling sorry, one of the things that avoid people to say sorry to someone if it is hurting someone or to feel regret, is the ego. 

Sometimes people think that they know that they have done something wrong, but again they hold on it, and the reason why they hold to that is because of the ego. So ego is sort of avoiding them from saying sorry or to have the regret or do this and that. And in a Buddhist perspective, that is very important to feel sorry for or to feel regret, it is one of the way to purify the past negative action. And if you have done something bad in the past, maybe in this life or a previous life, the one and only reason to wash away that karma, that bad karma, let’s say if you have done something wrong in this life or a previous life, then it remains as a sort of a seed in the continuum of our mind, when the condition arises, it activates and then we suffer. 


So there are two ways that those seeds can be washed away. The one of the ways to wash those seeds is by suffering, the another way is by purification. The purification should be done with the four power opponents. Among the four power opponents, the second one is to feel regret. The stronger you feel regret about what you have done, the better you will be able to purify. So that is very important even to purify one’s own past karma and if I don’t see there is any question and also we have 8 minutes so I go through the four power opponents with which we can purify the past karma. 

There are two ways, first one is called the basis. If I just say from a practical point of view, the first one is, maybe you can do it in front of the Buddha statue, maybe you can do it in front of the whole sentient beings, you can just imagine the whole sentient beings or the whole world is right in front of you. I’m talking about all the living beings are right in front of you because whatever you have done wrong is related to other sentient beings. Or maybe instead of that you can just think of the Buddha right in front of you or Buddha, Dharma and Sangha in front of you,  then you can take refuge, and to aspire with the boddhicitta to have compassion towards all the sentient beings, or to have a compassion towards yourself  first and then to all the sentient beings. 

And then the first thing is to say what you have done wrong, if you remember that “I have done this wrong, that wrong, I got angry this morning, I did this something, this and that, or there could be a lot of activities that I may not be aware of that might be a negative of in this or in previous life”. So just confess “I’ve done this wrong and that wrong”. This is pretty much also in a Catholic Church, isn’t it? They will go and say what they’ve done wrong, and then there is a father behind the curtain or something, they hear. I like that part, that is good, but I’m not sure if there is enough from a Buddhist perspective to really get purified. But that is very important, I think that even if I see from a Buddhist perspective that helps a person to purify, at least the person they doesn’t feel, doesn’t carry out that have a guilt in them. When you say something that you have done wrong, obviously the person starts to feel better right after that. So this is something positive. 

But from Buddhist perspective, either you think of the whole sentient beings right in front of you, and to them you are confessing all you are thinking of the ambassador, the Buddha who is taking in charge of the happiness of all sentient beings, who is like working day and night or all the activities of Buddha is to benefit other sentient beings, for the sake of all these sentient beings. So you just think of that and then you confess all of those and then you feel sorry for what you have done. Then you make a promise that “I will not repeat such things again, and then instead of that, I will engage in positive actions”. Then you can do any positive action. 

So this is the method to purify from a Buddhist perspective, and if you have done one time, it doesn’t mean that you get rid of all the sins or all the negative action that you have done before. According to Buddhist text, it says that if the negative action is very light, then you might get rid of that right away, if the negative action is really heavy, then it gets lighter and lighter.


Do all sentient beings possess all these minds?       

No, the arya beings don’t have the five root afflictions. Although the arya beings might have anger, the arya beings might have attachment, but these are not afflictions, because it’s like there is a acid, if you put a lot of water in it, the acid is there but then it’s not powerful as an acid anymore. So similarly the attachment and anger might be there in the arya beings. Arya beings are the beings who are Sangha or arya beings are those beings who realize emptiness with the ‘direct perceivers’. The holy beings, extraordinary beings is what we call which relies impermanence or emptiness directly. So the attachment and anger in those beings are not root afflictions because those are not powerful enough. 

So not all the sentient beings have these minds, then those virtues, you won’t say that all the sentient beings have all of them. But all the sentient beings have mind, that is one thing for clear. As long as there is a mind, the five omnipresent mind should be there and all the sentient beings know something, some of these determining factors is also there, and then the eleven of virtues, everybody has done something positive, that is positive in everyone, even the terrorists, they care about their family in some sense, with some certain limit of ignorance, it depends on different in terrorists. But still they have love towards someone, at least they love themselves. Suppose there is a terrorist, he’s sort of suicide bomb who is carrying a suicide bomb, he’s going somewhere and he’s believing he’s been brainwashed or something, he’s believing that this is what he’s gonna, he will get some as something as a reward, maybe he’ll born in heaven or something, this and that, he think that this is what that God wanted them to do, or something want him to do. 

So there is a love towards themselves, then he want to do something for himself, he want to be born in some heavenly realm. There is this love towards themselves, at the same time they are ignorant, so even if they love themselves, they do things that harm themselves, they literally kill themselves at least, even if they carry the suicide bomb in a desert, at least they can they kill themselves. 

There is positive and negative. So there is positive in every sentient beings, there is negative in most of the sentient beings, certain negative is always there in ordinary beings. So basically yes, all the sentient beings have mind but not all these minds.  


So I think we are done with the time. Very happy to roughly conclude these 51 mental factors and so next class, we’ll try to together all the quiz that we have done in the past. We will go through them and then we might have some new activities so which we will also do and then try to see how many of them we remember, and it is a sort of a reminder as well, so if we have time we can go through or maybe that time I  read, you may not be able to listen. I think for me to listen to someone for one hour takes more time than reading the same thing. So maybe we have the written version of all the previous classes, you can go through that, you can read it much faster than you can listen or maybe you can just look at your notes if you have and then try to remember all those things that you have learned in the past classes. 

So that in the next class is when we go through this quiz, it will be much helpful and it will become much more effective in terms of reminding you. Alright, with this I would like to conclude. Thank you very much, Chessy, I know that it’s quite early over there in some of your time. Thank you very much to giving your time to know more about the mind with the intention to help oneself and people around, I truly appreciate that. Thank you very much Chessy for organizing the classes and thanks Trinh and Tata for writing up, making posters and all these things, and thank you everyone for doing something for the world, for sentient beings, I truly appreciate. 


Diagram -EN