What occurs in the absence of recognition, in the absence of awareness of the true nature of one’s mind, is that the emptiness of mind, not being recognized as what it is, is mistaken to be a self. So the emptiness aspect, or the empty essence of mind, is the basis for designation of the imputed self.
But mind is not just empty. It is cognitive lucidity that is empty. The cognitive lucidity, in its intensity, is mistaken to be an object, is mistaken to be external to this imputed self. On the basis of the two main characteristics of mind, emptiness and lucidity, there is the designation of self and other, or subject and object.
The way in which we generate the presence or assume the existence of objects on the basis of the lucidity of mind is like what happens to us when we go to sleep. When you go to sleep there is a state which in English I think is called “hypnogogic.” Before you start to dream, the images that will eventually arise as dream images are still thoughts. During the period when they are thoughts, they are simply things that are arising in your mind. But as you become more and more asleep, you mistake these thoughts that are arising for actually occurring events. In other words, the thoughts themselves become images that are experienced as objects; this is how thoughts become dreams. This is very similar to the way in which, under the sway of ignorance, we mistake the lucidity or clarity of mind to be an object external to ourselves. On the basis of the presence of that dualism, that imputation of self and other, the six consciousnesses are brought up or caused to become active through the function of the immediate mind.
When in that way the six consciousnesses arise, then there occurs the appearance of the sense organs encountering their objects. As far as the way things appear to function, there is definitely the appearance in our experience of external objects which are encountered by the sense organs, producing consciousness or awareness of that object. According to how things really are, in fact what we perceive as external objects and what we perceive as the internal faculties are really aspects of the consciousnesses themselves. For example, when your eyes see form, then what we would normally say is occurring is that there is an external object which your eyes are capable of encountering. Through the encounter between the eye and the object, there is generated a visual consciousness. From the point of view of the way things are, what you perceive as external form is the objective or lucidity aspect of the visual consciousness itself; i.e., the eye consciousness itself appears as form. The emptiness aspect of the eye consciousness is what you experience as, or presume to be the subject experiencing that imputed object. The way a consciousness actually manifests as its apparent object, is like, for example, when you dream of mountains and beings and react to them with fear and happiness and joy and boredom and everything else. In our normal daytime experience these things do seem external to us. We really think and really believe that this lucidity aspect of the mind really is out there, really is external form and so on. We really believe and really experience it in this way—that the emptiness aspect of mind really is in here and really is the experiencer, that which experiences the object.
The interaction of all of this, the emergence of the six consciousnesses and, therefore, the appearance of the subjects and objects in those six consciousnesses, is all arranged or brought about by the immediate mind. Nevertheless, the experience of the five sense consciousnesses is direct and nonconceptual. As I explained earlier, it has no connection with past or future. On the basis of the experience, some sensation is generated. The sensation causes the emergence of the sixth consciousness, which then generates conceptuality about the experience. The sensation is labeled as pleasant, unpleasant, good, bad, and so on, and then there is a recognition of the characteristics of the object. That is how confusion happens.