Annual India Tours
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.
Nanaimo Aug 4 1992
"You should then fix your attention on the nature of the mind itself as an impermanent phenomenon that can clearly and validly know things. Firmly tighten your attention, you must try to see this bare nature of your mind as clearly and starkly as possible, and see nothing else. Whatever extraneous thoughts arise, either try to recognize them for what they are, or, like your opponent in a duel, cut them off immediately as soon as they occur."
In the west, looking at the mind, beyond the concept of what goes on in the brain and such, is not common. But as a consciously cognizing phenomena, which our mind is, we can do with our own investigations. We should differentiate levels or types of consciousness, of which there is said to be five external doors to conscious awareness, and then mind consciousness.
Although some of you are familiar with this it, I want to just review because it helps identify what we are moving towards. If we take something like form. You look at something and see a form. That phenomena which is a visual imagery that comes through your eyes, is considered to be not mind. They are secondary mind, I should maybe say, because they are a sense door, a door or conscious awareness, in this sense it is aware of conscious forms or aspects. When you look at something you never see the true entity, you see the aspect of that entity from that particular angle, whatever. And normally you surmise what the remaining portion looks like to assume it is the object it is. For example if you see a foot, a big foot, you think oh, it is quite a large person. You did not see the rest of the body, you just saw the foot, but you surmised what the body looked like!
In that example, foot is visual consciousness and is seen as secondary, not primary mind. Where your thought, this is a very big foot so there must be a big person there, that is your mind which is then making judgements. Also your mind when it looks at something and cognizes, watch, that is considered to be primary mind, or the mind which is then mind consciousness because it has been able to give a name to it and such things. For example, Seiko watch, and a few other details, those aspects which then add name and detail to the basic image, are your mind consciousness. So when you do meditation, and specifically when you are trying to recognize the nature of mind itself, you can with this information, start to differentiate different levels of mind, or mind in what you really want to observe, versus just a "limb" on mind, such as the limb of visually cognizing and such.
For meditation, it says, you should try to work with mind itself. I talked about this last week and I want to continue. Mind is actually termed as something which is clear, because it is formless. Each one of you has your own thought about yourself. That is formless, and it shifts. When you go to the hairdresser and have you hair trimmed, or put on different clothes, you have a sense of your image about yourself. So your mind assumes or identifies with different imagery which is like how you think you look. And even that can be not too clear. But there is the mind knowing itself as "I am very beautiful today because I just had my hair done."
So mind which is knowingness and clear and formless, then assumes certain sorts of attitudes or imagery about itself. If you think about it, what you have done is taken an image about yourself and then identified with it, or played off with it. It sets up a duality. This is part of me, and this is this beautiful! And it sort of reflects on that and makes good feelings, or something! Or, when you get a pimple on your face. You become very conscious of it, and although it may be very small, your mind makes it a great big pimple! Whenever anyone talks to you, you think everyone is looking at my pimple! To them it is probably no big deal and they are just seeing you for a person.
Again, you can see mind in knowingness is creating it's own environment. We never really investigate that! We never look at how mind plays with itself up and sets itself up in various ways. And of course, part of mind is also the various karmic imprints we have, we say there are some imprints coming from previous lives which give us inclinations to certain ways, it is not specifics. In general for most people, there are no specifics from previous lifetimes, but they are inclinations which in this lifetime are ripened by certain circumstances. So if you have an artistic skill in a particular area, then in this lifetime when you came close to that, or were in an environment which had those particular things for that artistic expression available, maybe you excelled. Whereas when other things were around, you did not excel. So there is a karmic imprint or inclination.
Or, particular type of friends you are drawn to, such things like that. That is all mind. But again, if you think about it, it is an impermanent thing. One, for example, the details of the previous lifetime are lost, but familiarity towards that type of activity is still there. So that is what is carried in our mind's stream. Again, it is formless so it has adaptability, it can change. So that is the mind in regards to it's formless nature. It assumes and changes to what it identifies with. It knows in the sense that it has an understanding about itself. Like I say, just like right now, you look out with your eyes and you see objects. And as soon as you can identify, an apple tree, or bricks, or carpet. Mind takes this visual imagery and puts it into context. It's summertime!
The other part of mind which is to be known, is energy. If you take a coin, there are two sides of one coin. Like that the mind has two sides. One side is knowingness, and the other side is energy. But really, like a coin which cannot exist without both sides, the mind does not exist without energy. So in looking at your mind, when you are tired physically, mind has not so much energy, it becomes sluggish. When you have a fairly relaxed and comfortable mind, it has more possibility of energy. Then again, when something has excited you, you can say your body is affecting your mind, because it is being stimulated by various hormones and such, but also there is the mind which becomes more bright and sharp. Especially when there is interest. If you are interested in something, it is incredible how much you can concentrate on it because the mind goes into that. It can spend two hours and not realize that two hours have passed.
So again, there are ways of becoming more conscious of the mind as a phenomena. As a thing. In this sense, when you allow yourself to become conscious of mind in it's true nature, or mind as an experience, then when the various objects of mind arise, just try to recognize them as images of mind. It's like you have a clean slate and certain images, certain thought formations come. Certain attitude positions start manifesting. That is mind.
There is a wonderful teaching from the Dzog Chen Ningmapa tradition which is called the great completion. It says everything is pure. It means, in all phenomena that arise within the mind, they are all considered what is called Samanthabadra. It is just a Buddha. But what it means is that all forms, all experiences, are manifestations of the Buddha in that there nothing which is impure. It is our mind that discriminates and says which is good, bad, left, right, up and down which makes all the problems. The reality is beautifully pure. It is the reflection of the Buddha Samanthabadra.
So in that, when you sit to meditate you should have no rejection of certain thought forms. Nor should you have attraction to certain thought forms. Rather you should allow your mind to just abide in it's nature. And when various things arise, just say, this is mind itself. That is why the text says, recognize them for what they are. They are just mind itself. If you did analyze it, you could say it is due to karmic imprint, or it is due to stimulation from sense data, whatever.
The point is that it is just the mind itself. And if you recognize that, you have a terrific key to liberation because you are starting to recognize mind in it's manifesting aspects and images.
But we are trying to realize mind in it's stark nature. In that sense, you try to allow the mind to settle. And when images arise, it is not to do anything about it. Just allow the image to go and try to recognize it for what it is and go beyond the image. Recognizing that is mind. That is then conscious energy and knowingness. And that is about all you can say. Just to recognize that is a knowingness. There is an ability to know something. So when a certain thought arouses which is identified with the me, that is just mind. It is not other than mind and energy, and it is able to have all sorts of different aspects because it is formless. Because it is formless it is about to assume many different shapes, sizes, colors and textures, and never be limited to that one manifestation.
For the meditation for this evening, as it says, to allow ourself to firmly grasp the nature of mind in it's stark clarity or nudity with no image whatsoever. With no covering. And focusing on that, when thoughts arise, to recognize them as my mind. Recognizing that, you take all the power out of it. If it is a delusion, you strip it of it's power. If you are not, of course you become deluded. But if you are effective, you can say this is mind, and you pop it's bubble, so to speak. In regards to virtuous thoughts, really they are only mind also. They are a little more productive for causing happiness in our life, but they are not any ultimate final reality. They are just an aspect of karma which gives us more happiness in our life.
So when you do meditate, try to recognize mind as knowingness. Some of you might sit there and the mind spins its thoughts. In having all those little thoughts, just step back and recognize that that is mind too! That is knowingness. And the knowingness is vary concerned, thinking all these little thoughts. As soon as you do, the mind sort of opens up and isn't so fixed on its own personality or character, or whatever it has. It is important to go beyond the grasping of one's individual personality as being any sort of final entity. The personality has multiple facets. And therefore to not get hung up about any one of them is a much more intelligent way rather than clinging to certain ones and rejecting others. That can be very traumatic for ourselves.
For the meditation, the keys are to know that you sitting there are a conscious experience. That is mind. Mind is clear, knowingness and energy. And in that it is an impermanent phenomena. And as you sit, keep the clarity of being, that you don't grasp to any thought or identification that arises within the meditation.
Copyright 1994 Daka's Buddhist Consulting
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