Thursday, July 22, 2004

Eden, Mind and Karma

A question asking that Christians will get to Eden because that is what their mind knows. So does that mean that i can visit Eden too if i meditate on it?

Hi, to address your question indirectly

- when ***** says:
"Because the only world we know is what the mind knows. There's really nothing out there that is not also in here"

- this alludes to the teaching that what we experience is ultimately all mind. There are many aspects and implications to this. For example, it points to us never being able to experience anything 'out there'. Our only knowledge or experience in within mind. Our experience is of arisings in mind, which may or may not accurately reflect anything which we imagine to be 'out there', but we have absolutely no direct knowledge whatsoever of what may be 'out there'. This is extremely profound and far reaching.

Cutting away the idea that there is somehow an objective reality out there, and recognising that all perceptions, and our entire experience is mind made obviously cuts away the idea that there is a heaven, eden or any other paradise (including pure lands!) which exist 'outthere', which we can therefore 'go to' when we die, or before.

Whilst we are not enlightened, our perceptions take place in the 6 consciousnesses, and are necessarily 'ignorant'. The sixth consciousness, (deluded) mind overlays its conceptual understandingon all the perceptions that arise from our other 5 senses. As such, we 'see' our experience through the 'glasses' of our 6th consciousness. As this consciousness makes sense of perceptions in accordance with our karma, it understands or decodes them on the basis of that karma. This means that we quite literally see things in terms of our past experience. The example is often given of most humans most of the time seeing water as something refreshing to drink, whereas the same thing would be seen by a preta as molten lava, the devas as nectar etc.

We do not directly 'see' the perception, we actually 'see' the conceptual overlay. This is why the quality of 'clarity' is so important in Mahamudra. The relation between the conceptual overlay (which is determined by karma) and the perception from the 5 other consciousnesses is said to be like looking at pebbles through the
running water of the stream.

So, coming back to your question, as to whether we can visit Eden etc - well, perhaps and no. No in the sense outlined above that there is no objective Eden existing 'out there'. But perhaps in the sense that all that you experience is mind, is arisings in mind, then if the experience of visiting Eden arises in your mind, then you areactually there! Eden experienced in the mind, or a Pure Land, or a Buddha figure, or a chocolate bar, or pain, or a thought, or anything else are all the same in this respect - they are just arisings in the mind, which are ultimately empty, without substance, like a dream, like a rainbow, but which nevertheless do seem to appear to the mind, and which we do seem to experience.

It follows that if you meditate on Eden or anything else which you conceive to be a place, then you will likely experience 'being there', for what it's worth.

On that note I would like to add in parting that one of my teachers from some years back came from a Christian background, and was a someone who experienced very deep states of Shamata. He had many visions in the course of his dhyana experiences, and the vast majority of them were of angels, even though his practice was on Padmasambhava. His karma 'made sense' of his experience in terms of what he had previously acted and known, as so this is how these experiences appeared to him.

For us I'd venture to suggest it matters less what the experience is, from the point of view of 'content', much of the time, but rather matters more in terms of its 'form'. In other words, don't get caught up in the story in your mind, but see it for what it is - empty arisings, the play of mind, just appearances which cannot ultimately be grasped.

don't know if that in any way addresses your question, Svetlana?

As a final note, I'd wish to respond to Baldo's assertion that "There's really nothing out there that is not also in here" by suggesting that there is no way we can possibly know that. We can come to the recognition that all that we experience is mind and within mind, but we cannot possibly know if there is anything 'out there' which is also not in our minds. Practically, if it isn't in our mind, it doesn't exist, but that's not quite the same thing :-)

best wishes

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