Presented by Jhampa Shaneman
These lectures were transcribed by T Vd Broek. Heartfelt gratitude is offered for all the hours of work spent on this Dharma activity. These talks are offered free of charge. They have been slightly edited.
Feb 24 1991
It is important to broaden your understanding of the meaning of cause and effect. It is complicated and not as simplistic as good and bad, sins and merits. As our experience of reality is based on the cause and effect of experience, along the lines of, we have a certain karmic level we are at, which we have been experiencing reality around us in a particular conscious way, at this time we should try to put ourself in the most positive reference we can so we start to broaden our perspective or create more positive karma, so we are more capable of understanding our own personal reality.
You can here this evening. In coming here you had the thought, I am going to go to meditation. In that, there will be personal reasons why you did it. And so, if you can touch base with those, and for a Buddhist, the way to develop positive merit, is the inclination or interest towards being more positive or realized and conscious person, and finally an enlightened person, is to broaden that. To make it more positive is to broaden that and realize that other people either consciously or not, wish to be happy and free of suffering. If we open our mind again and again in that way, we will actually become a more positive person and create more positive experiences for ourselves.
The outer world is place where you demonstrate who and what you are. It is not your thoughts which are important, there is emphasis on how you act. In Buddhism it is said this needs to be investigated. Look at it. Your body and actions of speech only arise if the mind is motivated or activated. The actions of body and actions of speech is therefore secondary. The most important thing is to be conscious of the mind.
In the law of cause and effect, it would be to be more conscious of the type of karma we are creating. Often in the west we make that the way our mind is is unimportant. The attitude we have is not as important. This is generally. Of course if you move into psychology, your attitude is more emphasized. Generally we can say that the inner mind and the attitude is not recognized by the general public as important. Whereas for a Buddhist, it is totally important. The attitude is the whole source for how you are, how you experience yourself, and how you act in the world around you.
So regarding mind and the law of cause and effect, there is defined primary consciousness and secondary levels of consciousness. Secondary levels are considered to be senses, eyes, ears nose tongue and body sense organs. They receive the data around you. Primary mind is the mental consciousness which has different levels of conscious awareness, rough, medium and fine levels of consciousness. Coarse levels are said to be the conscious awareness using the sense organs. Medium levels are said to be thought patterns and such things, the volition of the mind is said to be more refined than the coarse apprehension of particular sense fields. And Finally, the most subtle level of consciousness is said to be the mind which is free from intellectualizing, it is only attained with deep concentration or at the time of death. Those establish the three levels of consciousness which are to be experienced.
Regarding those, that one should be more conscious of is the mind consciousness and the types of volition we have and such things. And karmic creation is created within that. Mostly I am giving you the presentation of how Buddhism looks at the experience of reality. It is divided into being a sense field, the sense organs, and the apprehending consciousness. That sense data on those levels are considered coarse. That the volition of consciousness is considered to be more refined. And the most subtle level of consciousness would only be attained if you were a deep meditator and you would experience a state of consciousness which could be free of mental volition, although still would be under the influence of various karmic imprints. But it would be free of the volition aspect of being able to appraise and apprehend the phenomena as it is happening around you.
Regarding cause and effect, essentially it is to become more conscious of how the sense data interacts with your own conscious mind. And it is important to recognize minds consciousness as an important area to become more conscious of. How do we think? How are we feeling? How are we creating our experience? In many ways it is trying to help you differentiate sense input and your mind as being a participant in that. Very often we are so much on the surface that we do not have capacity to be able to differentiate our mind and the sense data we are experiencing immediately. We put them as being one and therefore then say that this person is good or that person is bad! We do not have a lot of reflection involved in it.
With the meditative process, the idea is to try to separate sense data from the inner mind. And then, to try to gain a view or perspective on where you are personally sort of karmically. It means in modern terms, how does your mind process the data that you have or that you experience? And then how do you come to the conclusions on the on going process of creating new karma experiences for yourself. So it is to try to become more conscious of how you are and how you act with the world around you, and then, hopefully to be able to abandon negative ways that you develop yourself. You could say simplistically say, the gross body is killing, stealing, adultery. Regarding speech is slanderous, lying abusive speech and gossip. And regarding mind is having ill will, covetousness and ignorance which is a state of unconsciousness.
So we should try to get our mind not to be involved in those patterns and to try to establish a positive basis. If not, at least a more conscious basis regarding how our mind is continually processing information.
The most simple thing I would like to share with you in regards to that in the sense of as you sit there as a meditator, and you are allowing yourself to become more observant of your mind as the inner mental consciousness separated from eye ear nose tongue data, is to be conscious of the fact that very often you will have very negative thoughts or very unhappy thoughts, depressing thoughts or whatever you might have. And then also, positive thoughts. In the experience of that, like if you look at this room as being the mental consciousness. Maybe it is like being in someone's head. And in each one of us is a different set of thought patterns. Maybe she has an aggressive sense of negativity that is being like ill will. And someone else has a sense of jealousy. Maybe these can be very functioning in your mind. But if you have quite a meditative mind, you are deeper and stable within yourself. You can actually experience negativity and allow yourself to be calm about it. It is like it is just one aspect of your mind. It happens to be a little more vocal or more in control at this particular moment. But it does not mean it owns total consciousness.
It is like different people in the room. If one becomes very animated, the others can become quiet and calm and not allow that one person to completely control the situation. So also with your own mind. You should try to learn, when negativity arises, you do not immediately voice your hand because you are being a bad person! In the fundamentalist religious context, one might consider that as appropriate. A more enlightened level experience is to allow yourself to accept that you are deluded. That you are a deluded entity. And in being deluded, you are going to have all sorts of gross and types of feelings come through. Hatred, ill will. Or desire. Passion. But if you allow that to become the dominant state of consciousness, you allow yourself to say there are many states of consciousness within me. And you become more relaxed. It will change. Mind is impermanent. And then you become more even keeled about your life.
To be able to come to that level where you have strong intensive feelings and you can allow yourself to become more tranquil or peaceful with them, is the ability to differentiate sense data, mind consciousness, to be more responsible for your own personal karma which means to be more responsible for your own attitude and to try to develop a more positive attitude.
The bottom line is established on conscious awareness. And so for you as individuals, if you want to have a true enlightening experience, the fundamental basis has to fall on conscious awareness. And once you have conscious awareness, then thinking about cause and effect and such actually becomes effective for you. Otherwise it is information which is more clutter for your mind. It is not very effective for you.
So for the meditation, I can come back to the analogies, openness like space, stability like a mountain, depth like an ocean. They should always be part of your meditation experience. We are dealing more with the law of cause and effect, but it is really your mind. And you mind, how it is experiencing and how it is re creating yourself. Try to become more conscious of that and try to establish those facets or things which will transform you, make you a more even keeled, more slowly enlightened person.
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