I was listening to a talk yesterday on the consciousness aggregate. The teacher described consciousness as a kind of "bare awareness" and compared it to a mirror which reflects various objects; moreover, he said the quality of consciousness is essentially the same regardless of the objects or situation. Whether we're sober or drunk, dreaming or awake, driving a car or taking a walk, the capacity of awareness (the sense of there being an observer or witness) has this mirror-like characteristic.
However, he then went on to discuss consciousness as being conditioned/dependently originated. Referring to MN 38, he talked about Sati's mistake and why it's a mistake, and about how in practice we can get to the point where we observe the conditionality of consciousness.
I'm puzzled, though, as to how consciousness can be both a mirror with an unchanging quality and, at the same time, something which is conditioned. Aren't these at odds with each other? Anyone feel up to explaining?
On a different note, when we talk about mind-moments (citta) conditioning subsequent mind moments, is it kamma which drives the whole process along? I'm thinking here of the ocean waves analogy -- waves succeed each other in the way that citta do, one subsiding and another arising. But wave motion in general is caused by gravitational forces and winds -- would this be analogous to the forces of desire and craving and their manifestation as kamma?
(note: edited to clear up some confusion of terms)