Eight Fold Path
Whether there is an external world or what the external world is like, all of this is meaningless because we simply do not have the capability to explore the things in our external world, and we don't even know if there is an external world.
What we know is that there is consciousness arising from the interaction of things and senses. Whatever consciousness arises, we become aware, including the so-called things and senses. Therefore, consciousness encompasses the entire world we know, or in other words, the entire world we know belongs to the realm of consciousness.
Just as burning itself is the phenomenon produced by conditions, people often say that fire burns wood, but in reality, fire and burning are just popular expressions for the intense reaction of wood, heat and oxygen, and there is no factual sense in which fire can actually burn wood. Awareness is the same; there is no factual sense in which something can be aware of something else. Awareness itself is the phenomenon produced by senses and things (coming together).
Consciousness is an instantaneous phenomenon
Consciousness is an instantaneous phenomenon, just like light, sound, and shadows; it doesn't stay, cannot be preserved, is ever-changing, and inconsistent from one moment to the next. Everything we know about the world also belongs to the realm of consciousness, so everything we know about the world is also something that doesn't stay, cannot be preserved, is ever-changing, and inconsistent from one moment to the next, just like light, sound, and shadows. If you understand these three points, we can move on. First, let's take a look at an animated image.
This animated image has a characteristic: each character appears briefly for a moment and then disappears. So, to understand what this image is saying, you need to focus your attention on this image and not miss any new characters that appear. When you have watched the entire animated image without missing a single character, and if you haven't forgotten the characters you've seen, with a little recollection, these characters will connect in your mind to form a sentence, and you will understand the meaning of the entire sentence.
The arising of consciousness is like the appearance of these characters; consciousness is continuously arising like these characters, continuously appearing; consciousness arising within a certain period of time is like the characters appearing within a certain period of time; people's understanding of a segment of consciousness is like understanding a segment of text.
As mentioned earlier, consciousness encompasses the entire world we know, so our understanding of the world is actually our understanding of consciousness. If we want to truly know the truth of our entire world, then we should first truly know the truth of our own consciousness.
Seeing this, if one can understand, then everything becomes simple. Just like truly knowing the animated image as mentioned earlier, to truly know consciousness or the world, we first need to know every consciousness without omission, which is called "right knowledge." Secondly, if we want to understand the consciousness generated within a certain period of time, we must not forget any of the consciousness that occurred during that time, and this is called "right mindfulness." Right knowledge and right mindfulness together are called "right mindfulness." To not omit any of the consciousness generated within, to not forget any of it, and to completely and stably focus on right knowledge and right mindfulness, this is called "right concentration."
The principles seen during right concentration are continuously producing right views. Right views give rise to right intentions, plans, decisions, resolutions, aspirations, and wills under the drive of right views, and these are called "right intentions." Actions of the body and speech produced under the drive of right intentions are called "right actions," "right livelihood," and "right speech." The actions of the inner mind include right mindfulness and right concentration.
To cultivate all these good, truthful thoughts and actions and to eliminate all unwholesome, incorrect thoughts and actions is called "right effort." Due to right effort, people continuously practice right knowledge and right mindfulness and attain right concentration. The complete and true understanding of the principles of consciousness, body, and mind operation seen during right concentration continuously produces right views. Right views in turn continuously produced right intentions. Right intentions make people continually decide to practice correct actions of body and speech and more right knowledge and right mindfulness.
The continuous practice of right knowledge and right mindfulness extends right concentration, and sustained right concentration gives rise to more right views... In this way, the Eightfold Path is like a snowball, continuously strengthening people's abilities in willpower, diligence, memory, concentration, and wisdom.
When these five abilities are sufficiently strong, all consciousness is known without omission through right knowledge, and ignorance about the operation principles of consciousness, body, mind, and even the entire world is completely removed. If people can completely remove ignorance, then all actions, including thoughts, will cease. In a previous article, we mentioned that thoughts are like heat and can trigger the production of consciousness in senses and things. When all thoughts cease, all consciousness no longer arises.
Therefore, for those who wish to attain liberation, they should possess complete right knowledge and right mindfulness, not be negligent, and continue until they personally experience the complete cessation of all consciousness, self-knowing liberation, and self-realized Nirvana.