Wednesday, June 25, 2014

What is the mind?

Are you aware of the different roles and personalities you play in your life?  How all of them represent a part of you, but do not fully encompass every aspect of who you are.  For example, who you are at work versus who you are with your mother versus who you are when you are with your friends at a game. 

Certainly there are common characteristics that carry through, but each is different and unique.  Who you are is shaped by your environment and the people around you.  None of them is permanent and lasting. 

It is the same with the mind.

The Buddha enumerated many different aspects of mind in order to fully elucidate what it is.  Mind can be broken down in the following eight layers:

1-5. Five sense consciousness (eye, ear, nose, taste, touch)
6. Conceptual consciousness
7. Afflicted consciousness
8. Foundational consciousness

The first five act as witnesses to the phenomenal world.  Conceptual consciousness provides the commentary.  Afflicted consciousness is all of our neurotic habits and biased perceptions.  Foundational consciousness is the platform upon which all of them carry through, day after day, lifetime after lifetime.

Why is this important?

Most forms of meditation facilitate a particular mental state.  A mental state falls within the expanse of conventional mind- it is somewhere within these eight layers.  As long as we are within these eight layers of mind we are not free- we are bound. 

So check your meditation.

Are you grasping to sights, sounds, feelings?  Are you grasping to bliss, clarity or non-conceptuality?  Where are you fixated on a ground?

To meditate and not to liberate, what's the point?

The only way to liberate your mind is to recognize the play of the conventional mind- the play of the five sense consciousnesses, the play of thoughts and the play of neurosis.  Our mind does all sorts of funny things when we watch it.  If we are free from grasping, the play of conventional mind dissolves into the nature of mind. 

The nature of the mind has the quality of liberation.  Recognize it as such- a profound calm, pristine clarity, free from thought or elaboration. 

You can't even say 'This is it' without grasping, but you can know it directly.

Let's get started.

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