Monday, June 27, 2005

Mind Moving and Mind Still

"If both the moving and the calm aspects of the mind are the same, then why should we meditate and learn to reach the calm aspect?"

In an important sense, both aspects are not the same. From the relative point of view, are they the same? Do they both appear in the same way?

From the ultimate point of view, perhaps one could say they are both the same, in that they are both empty. Certainly they have 'same taste', but does that mean they are both the same?

Perhaps the traditional way to say this is that both have the same essence - i.e. that of emptiness, or the nature of dharmata. Sometimes saying they have the same reality seems to create confusion for some people .... as if reality was 'something' which is in some way existent, whether 'behind' or 'within' what we perceive ....

Whether mind is at rest or mind is moving, it has the same essence - emptiness ...

"Why do we need to purify something like Karma which doesn´t actually exist?"

Perhaps saying 'it doesn't actually exist' suggests something too strong - maybe 'doesn't actually exist in the way we think or assume it exists' is sometimes a more useful description? Sometimes we say 'doesn't exist' as that strongly corrects our opposite assumption, but we can swing too far the other way too, and so 'doesn't exist in the way we assume it to exist can then be a useful corrective.

But regarding the point of doing purification of karma practices - well absolutely, they are a skilful means. And so is cultivating a still mind. In this case, the main reason we learn to cultivate the still mind is that it is the easiest place for us to start looking at the nature of mind. In other words, we cultivate mahamudra shamatha in order to practice mahamudra vipassana.

Once we have some skill at shamatha, and are not swept away by thoughts that arise, then we are able to look at the mind at rest and see its nature, look at the mind in movement (i.e. with thoughts - usually by deliberately causing a thought to arise) and see its nature, and look at mind with appearances (i.e. the arisings from the other 5 senses), and again see its nature. What we will see will be the same essence in each case - emptiness. But the conventional nature will not be the same in each case.

So without the ability to reside in shamatha and not get swept away with thoughts, we are not able to cause thoughts to arise, and to see into their nature. We'd just be caught by those thoughts, and carried away, and then lose our ability to see deeply.

So we aren't trying to get away from mind with movement all the time, and just be in mind without movement, or still mind .... but using the practice of cultivating mind without movement so that we have the ability to look directly at the nature of the mind - however it is ..... when we can look at mind however it is, then it doesn't matter any more how it is, we can always just look deeply. So all of life, all of our experience becomes fertile ground for seeing, all of it comes onto the path, and all of it is truly 'practice'.

(responses on a Dharma list)


Anonymous said...

The mind is the smoke in front of our real existence which is still and calm. As long as we are attracted by the mind we cannot experience our real identity. Like pure light cannot be seen but only its reflections from a matter which makes it visible (the matter that is). Similarly our mind is the dark side or the matter which keeps us occupied. When the smoke is cleared away the identity remains in a pure and omnipresent I AM existence. The identity stays and the illusionary mind concept just vanishes.

When the identity realises that the mind is but illusion as well as time and start to be in the true existence then Karma vanishes as well. It is not needed anymore - it cannot teach anything to the identity anymore since this is an abstraction and not associated with the physical aspect.


Chodpa said...

Hi there, many thanks indeed for your kind comment, and presentation of your views.

I have to say, however, that your view does not accord with that of the Kagyu masters, as I understand it, nor with my own experience.

Of course it might be that you use such terms as 'the identity', 'our real identity' and 'pure and omnipresent I AM existence' in a way that is entirely different to the way I make sense of those terms, and that therefore we point towards the same thing. But somehow I suspect that is not the case.

Well, all that's just to point to how my experience differs, and that is just simply just that :-)

very best wishes to you regardless, and may all blessings be yours,


Anonymous said...


just to clarify the terms. By 'the mind' I mean chitta or our lower self (=lower manas) and the 'identity or the I AM presence' is the higher manas/buddhi (in very broadly speaking).

What I mean by the Karma vanishing is actually the 5th Initiation or the enlightenment. And naturally the disappearing of the lower manas is the 4th Initiation or also known as The Crucifixion in the west.

The wonderful thing is that there is so many paths to the One!

With radiating love,