Saturday, December 7, 2013

Seeing Buddha Mind

The proof is in the seeing.

"The primary misconception about the mind and body is the false view that the mind dwells in the physical body."
(Buddha, Shurangama Sutra)

In Buddhism, mind is often used to indicate the perceiver, the knower; spacious awareness. Looking now, I see all things, including this body, arising in this mind, not mind in a body. This may sound crazy, for common sense dictates that the mind resides on the body - but is this actually true from direct experience? The only way to know for ourselves whether the mind is in the body or the body is in the mind is to look and see for ourselves. And by look and see, I literally mean look and see.

Taking 'mind' to indicate awareness, that which knows, look now. All the objects that you can see right now, where do they occur? They exist in awareness, in this very mind. In reality, I cannot see mind contained in anything; it is unrestricted, unshackled by a container, bodily or otherwise. Instead, all things exist in this no-thing, this Buddha Mind which is none other than my true being. This observation is confirmed by the Buddhist monk Ajahn Brahm, who has said:

"Indeed, remembering that the mind is the biggest thing in the world - the mind cannot be within three-dimensional space, but three-dimensional space is within the mind - the mind contains the universe."
(Ajahn Brahm, 'Who Ordered This Truckload of Dung?')

All very well from one's personal point-of-view, you might say, but this isn't exactly scientific, is it? Well, let's see. Science teaches us that we experience the world in our mind, as data is collected via the five physical senses and perceived in the mind. An example is that of what we see. Light bounces off objects and hits the eye, which then sends this visual data to the brain. It is here, in the mind that sights are then experienced, recognized and responded to. 

Moreover, we see the world as our mind reconstructs it from the sense data that it collects. Therefore, any preconceived ideas that we have about the world will affect the way that we experience it. This reflects Buddha's opening words in the Dhammapada, when he states that, Mind precedes all things. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought. The world, as we experience it, is dependent upon our senses and the mind in which it is perceived. Ask any two witnesses from a crime scene what they saw, and they will in all likelihood recall somewhat different events, dependent on their minds.

"All buddhas and all sentient beings are nothing but the one mind, beside which nothing exists. This mind, which is without beginning, is unborn and indestructible."
(Huangbo, Chuan Xin Fa Yao)

So, looking now, seeing 'all sentient beings' - humans, animals & insects - they are seen to be in the mind, nowhere else. As to this mind itself, is it perceived to be made of destructible things that will fade & die away? When looking now, I can find no such impermanent things, only the no-thing in which all worldly things are born, live & die. So, although this body was born, and will one day die, this mind is unborn and cannot die. 

Buddhist and scientific descriptions of how we experience the world are confirmed through actually looking & seeing what we truly are. 'Buddha Mind' hosts the entire cosmos within itself, not the other way around, and this awareness is not experienced as an impermanent thing, but rather a no-thing that has no perishable characteristics. Buddhist truth, scientific truth & experiential truth turn out to be one and the same truth, experienced through a simple act: Seeing!


Anonymous said...

There is an interesting look at modern science here:

Anonymous said...

Just a few points, if you don’t mind me bringing them up:

First of all, this idea of one big mind doesn’t quite stack up, particularly if you take into account the view of the Yama realm (one of the Deva realms), or nagual in Indian terms, where individual minds are seen as a type of energy form (the real third eye). The mind doesn’t actually contain the universe it creates the universe in some realms, in others there is no planet, let alone a universe.

We also evolve from single cells that have their own individual mind, which of course evolves too. Anicca is behind evolution. If you look at ants, then you could say that about ants, as there is basically one mind that controls the whole lot nest, so they don’t have individual minds. Perhaps other insects like bees also follow this trend.

The one thing that is common to all beings is that we all exist in the same space, the void, and those who become Aryans, Sotapannas to Arahants, take this void as reality and align their minds with it to become empty and pure (an experience of nirvana is an experience of the void). This void is the biggest thing there is. As for a big mind, the Brit and the Chinaman must be talking about Father Christmas (sorry).

Apart from the meaning of the title ‘Buddha’ and the history there is really no difference between one empty mind and another, other than the experience of their development, hence giving rise to greater knowledge in the case of The Buddha.

G said...

Thanks for your comments, Anonymous. You make them well, and from an objective perspective, they are perfectly correct. But, in the article, the important words to note are "looking now." It is seeing the world in the context of this emptiness right now & living from it that is being suggested, not thinking about it nor intellectualizing on various matters. Not that this denies your points, but that they can be seen in the context of this emptiness that hosts all. And, yes, this empty mind is open to all, equally - we simply need to look & accept what we see. Living from this 'Buddha Mind' will transform the world that we perceive, and also transform our selves.

Be well,

Anonymous said...

The mind can 'die' of course if there is no further karma to sustain or create further existence, as in the case of the oil lamp that goes out because the oil gets used up. Only we as individuals can do this, only we can turn off the light switch.