Sunday, February 28, 2010

Monkey Mind & Buddha Mind

 Monkey Mind & Buddha Mind become one...

The breath slowly flows in and out, the sounds of birds, neighbors, and a fan fading into a quiet joy that engulfs the mind, thoughts dissolving into nothingness. In this peace, the restless 'monkey mind' has ceased to chatter, and no longer swings from branch to branch, but instead merges into the serene inner forest of the silent mind. Such is the psychological state that meditation can bring, freeing oneself from, well, one's self. It is such experiences of a rested mind that give a glimpse of the fruits of meditation, and show us that beneath the mad monkey mind that leaps about frantically looking for next tasty nut or banana there is the serene simian called 'Buddha Mind.'

Often in meditation, that monkey mind doesn't transform into a peaceable primate, but continues to scurry about, distracting attention. Indeed, it is common for thoughts to appear to increase in intensity during concentrated meditation practice. This is either because whilst in the confines of the practice the monkey mind reacts with increased activity, or because in focused meditation thoughts are 'lit up' and are noticed more than they normally are. Despite these apparent setbacks to cultivating meditative practice, they are in fact signs that the mind is becoming clearer to us, and the answer is not to get caught up in thoughts nor to resist or suppress them, but simply to watch. If we have the patience, and any longtime meditator will tell you of the importance of being patient, thoughts will dissipate by themselves; the mind will cease all its monkey business by itself, and reveal the ever-present Buddha Mind out of which all comes.

Buddha Mind is our real nature, the unconditioned 'Mind' - and words are metaphors here, remember - that lies beneath the conditioned monkey mind that is interdependent with the world with which it interacts. Moreover, the monkey mind, our everyday mind, is conditioned by our genes, our upbringing, our subconscious, our memories, fears and loves - no wonder it dances about so madly if allowed to, for this is its natural response to so many complicated and contradictory conditioning factors. At some point in meditation, however, the mental monkey gives way to Buddha Mind, and this naked awareness is free from the clinging that causes so much suffering in our lives. It is also often called 'No Mind', because it is so different to the usual mind that we identify with, and because it is without particular features, unlike the everyday mind (and universe) that we usually experience.

If this Buddha Mind remains clear of any monkeying around, it can transform the very same everyday lives that are usually so full of stress and strains. To experience this moment as a confined mind with all kinds of pressures and predispositions is to live under the canopy of a threatening forest where the monkey in us can be attacked and injured any moment. Alternatively, to experience this moment as No Mind or Buddha Mind without any pressures and predispositions is to live freely, spontaneously interacting with a world that goes far beyond the limits of the monkey's threatening forest. Firstly, however, it will help the transformation from monkey to Buddha by practicing meditation in order to quieten the chattering of the distracted and distracting monkey, so that when this monkey-infested world is encountered, it is the serenity of the Buddha Mind that experiences it, and not the agitated simian soul that sees everything as a threat.

Any interesting experiences and insights regarding the monkey mind or Buddha Mind? 
If you do, why not share them by clicking on the comments link below?


Was Once said...

What first came to my monkey mind, that learning first hand patience with your own mind, probably far exceeds any other way. Start with my own delusions and lack of patience, then I can be of better service to others.
I do tell new meditators, to relax about any expectations, even a 'bad sit' will be of some benefit as it all cumulative like weight training. I wish I knew this earlier in life, but that is a Kamma lesson.
Body scan, breathing, counting(never works for me- too conscious), or even listening to guided talks from and being comfortable yet alert(it is not TV) will turn off most aversion that fuels that monkey mind.

Unknown said...

I've been sprung! How did you get my photo? There I was thinking I had found a secluded spot!

G said...

Good points, Was Once, especially about the importance of patience, a quality promoted by the Buddha as of prime importance. And, as you write, a 'bad sit' isn't really a bad sit in the long run.

Gladstone - that's you? We must be (inter)related!

Anonymous said...

The monkey-mind is a rebellion against boredom. Much like a child, or a monkey. When they have something that is of interest occupying their attention, their minds often are relatively focused. The jumping around, monkey-mind, is the mind's attempt to latch onto something of interest. It hasn't yet learned to be content with itself.
Nice topic choice, thank you.

G said...

Thank you Venerable Jo Jo. This emphasis on the monkey mind equating to boredom relates nicely to Was Once's comment regarding patience. The latter being the cure for the former, resulting in contentment.

Bean said...

a storm gathers
we watch in fascination
as it passes by

<3 thank you

G said...

Thank you Bean. Beautifully put.