What Is the Mind?

Well, then, where is this self-clinging?

That which clings to “I” is the mind; that which clings to “other” is also the mind.

So the next question is: Where is the mind?

It must be somehow in the body, because when the mind is not present, we have only a corpse.

So ask yourself, is it in the top part of the body or the lower part?
How big is it?
What colour is it?

If you pull a hair out of your head, it hurts, doesn’t it? If you prick your foot on a thorn, it hurts, doesn’t it?

The mind and body must be somehow coextensive, mustn’t they?

It’s as though the mind and body were stuck to each other.

On the other hand, when someone is killed in an accident, where does the mind go? How did it leave the body and from where?

It’s only when we examine the mind correctly that we discover how many false assumptions we have — false assumptions that, for the moment, are completely unnoticed.

We cling to things as though they were permanent and will last forever.

This is the measure of our delusion, tightly fettered as we are by this so-called “I” of ours — this “I,” in the interests of which, our mind enslaves our body and our speech, and creates all sorts of difficulties and hardships.

When we arrive at a correct understanding of the mind, we can see that our present thoughts are just like waves on the water. At one moment they arise; at another they dissolve.

And that’s all there is to it: the mind is nothing but thoughts.

The mind, which is empty, arises as thought, and this is also empty.

The stream of consciousness, which is empty, is carried away by thoughts that are likewise empty.

This is how the mind falls and remains in the six realms of samsara. It is the mind itself that fabricates samsara, and it does so because it fails to recognize its own nature.

Now that we have some idea of the mind’s nature and how it works, we must bring it under control and master it.

In order to do this, it is said that that we must keep our body perfectly still. Moreover, if the body is straight, the subtle channels will be straight. If the subtle channels are straight, the wind-energy will be unobstructed. And if the wind-energy is unobstructed, the mind will rest in its natural, unaltered flow. Therefore, keep your body still and reduce your speech to a minimum.

Don’t think about what you have just been doing. Don’t think about what you are going to do later. Without concern for the past or the future, let your mind rest in its natural state.

This state, in which the mind is left as it is, untampered with and natural, is called “rest” or “stillness.” This “stillness” is actually just the mind itself. You could call it the “mind of the present moment,” or the “awareness of the present moment.” But whatever you call it, it is what — in this very moment — is actually knowing and joyfully aware.

A mind that is not agitated by thoughts concerning the past, present, and future, a mind that is thought-free, is a state that is stunningly vast and open. It is full of joy.

Even when the mind’s nature is recognized, it is impossible to describe. It is empty. It rests in awareness. But this resting in the radiance of awareness does not last long. There is nothing permanent about it, for thoughts will certainly arise, strong and clear.

We talk about “arising” because thoughts flash into appearance like lightning in the sky, or swell like waves on the ocean. They are in constant movement. At the outset, thoughts appear and disappear in endless continuity. So, when beginners like us meditate, we must recognize thoughts as they arise. If we fail to recognize them, their movement continues unnoticed below the surface and we are carried away by them. Meditating like this is of no help to us.

If you are able to continue meditating properly, certain signs will appear. For instance, some people experience a kind of physical well-being. Others, because of the particular disposition of their subtle channels and energies, experience a powerful sense of bliss. For others, it is more like a deep sleep or an all-engulfing darkness.

Whether you experience bliss or clarity, avoid any kind of expectation. Do not think to yourself, “Oh, my meditation is working. I’m making progress. If only I could have more of these experiences!”

On the other hand, if you experience a kind of darkness, a thoughtless blankness, clear it away over and over again. If you don’t, your meditation will sink slightly.

Some people have lots of thoughts when they meditate — an unstoppable flood. If this happens to you, don’t get upset and think that your meditation is a failure. It is just a sign that you are becoming aware of all the thoughts that under ordinary circumstances pass unnoticed. So don’t let it bother you. Don’t think you have to suppress or eliminate your thoughts.

Whatever happens, it is said that you must meditate without hope or fear, doubt or expectation. That’s the main thing.

It is thanks to the blessings of the Lama that realization will dawn. Therefore pray to him, mingling your mind with his. If you do, there will come a moment when you will see that what is called the Buddha is not different from your own awareness, and that there is nothing to subdue or master other than your own thoughts.

The sign that your meditation has hit the mark is that your devotion to the Lama will deepen and your compassion for beings will gain in strength. You will be your own witness and you will gain great confidence in the practice.

If you gain control over your mind, then even if you are at the point of death, you will understand that it is only because of a particular thought that there is an impression of dying — but that the nature of the mind is utterly beyond both birth and death. It would be excellent if you could gain this confidence.

So keep this little, essential, instruction in your hearts. This conviction and confidence is what we call the Dharma — the inner qualities that you gain. If you vacillate and think of Dharma as something extraneous to you, thought up by somebody else, you will not benefit from it. Instead, do yourself a favour and get out of samsara! Be convinced that your mind must separate from samsara, with its karma and defilements. If you do, everything will be fine.

Please practice. Pray constantly that you will have no obstacles on your path and that you might be able to capture, in this very life, the primordial citadel. And I will add my prayers to yours.

– Dudjom Rinpoche – Counsels From My Heart

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