And be still.
No need to force it,
Just let it come naturally.
Allow yourself to disengage from thoughts
and simply rest in being.
Allow things to be as they are:
No need to suppress or control.
Allow yourself to naturally detach from thoughts,
So they don’t stick to you.
Your breathing becomes easy:
This is the natural state.
Allow happiness-love to arise,
Sometimes with force.
Be still. Allow love.
This happiness-love is what you truly are.
This loving-aware-presence is you.
In stillness, be this, be love.
It is not that you are feeling love-happiness:
You are love-happiness,
That is you,
And all arises in you,
All arises in Love,
Be love, be love.
Allow the false identity to slip away:
It is just a bundle of thought-energy,
An energetic wisp.
Seen for what it is,
the little ‘me’ is subsumed into Love,
Consumed by Love
Consumed by Love,
Where is the room for ‘you’ and ‘me’?
Where is the room for ‘here’ and ‘there’?
And as you dissolve in Love,
Love, in its own way and time, takes you beyond itself,
And yet all there is is Love.
Of course the best position varies from person to person – you can meditate standing, walking, sitting, lying…perhaps some other postures too!
Generally, for sitting meditation, any position that is comfortable for you that allows you to adopt a straight back is good. Generally means having your knees being below the level of your hips, so either sitting with your knees low or sitting on a cushion of some kind to raise the hips
This post was originally posted on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/tomdas.nd)
Spend less time on Facebook. More time in Stillness. Stillness means absense of the ego, or absense of the ‘I thought’. So be still.
Use the question ‘Who am I’ to induce recognition that there is no ‘I’ or ‘me’, and then rest there, inStillness. Be Still.
Everything you do that is not Being Still is reinforcing the ego. Everything. So Be Still.
Focus on your own sadhana (practice). No need to argue with others. No need to save others. Don’t post-pone your own realisation. Be with yourSelf. Be Still.
Let go of the ‘I thought’. Gently, and persistently, allow it to dissolve in You, Stillness. It is through stillness that genuine insights occur, not through clever words or poetry. And even these insights are to be let go of, for insights are just more illusion, more ego. So be Still.
Everything you see/feel/touch/think/sense – this is all part of the dream, the ignorance, the ego. It’s all the ego. How to realise this? Be Still.
Every moment you are not being still, you are perpetuating the ego. The ego is always evil. Even nice egos are evil – it’s just a matter of degree – even nice egos contain the seeds of partiality, distortion, destruction and suffering. So let go, allow the ego to dissolve, in Stillness. Be Still.
Being Still is not something you do or try to do. That is just more Ego. Being Still is not-trying, not-doing, no ‘I thought’. It is a letting go, a release and thus a return to peace, to Stillness.
The ego will often try to find a way, a reason, an excuse, not to be Still. It will favour teachings that prevent stillness, that say stillness is not necessary. Notice this, see how canny the devil is, and be with God. Be Still.
If the ego is already an illusion, then why the need to be still? Because, through the force of habit, ignorance/the ego constantly rises up, creating the world and attachment to it, and lasting peace does not dawn. Ignorance continues and the teachings remain largely mental/intellectual. The mischief (and suffering) continues.
How to remedy this?
READ THIS AGAIN SLOWLY SEVERAL TIMES, ENSURING THE MESSAGE OF EACH PARAGRAPH IS PROPERLY UNDERSTOOD
I thought I’d share another one of Hui-Hai’s insights. He’s an expert in explaining Buddhist doctrines to Buddhist seekers. Here Hui-Hai shows us the provisional utility of words, and also points out their essential voidness. There is no contradiction in this.
Questioner: What does it mean when the sutra says: “The sound of discussion has ceased, and the role of thought is done”?
Zen Master Hui-Hai: Words are used to manifest the doctrine. After understanding the doctrine, then, words are useless. The doctrine is void, voidness is the Tao, and the Tao is without words. This is the meaning of “The sound of discussion has ceased”.
Since the real meaning of the doctrine does not give rise to a single thought or perception and because no thought or perception arises, it is unborn. Furthermore, because it is unborn, then the fundamental nature of all forms is void.
Next, since the fundamental nature of all forms is void, then everything in the world is non-existent.
Finally, since all things are fundamentally non-existent, “the role of thought is done”.
Words are used to manifest the doctrine. After understanding the doctrine, then, words are useless.
Also see How spiritual teachings work
It’s all too common for seekers of enlightenment to fall into conceptual traps. Rather than using beliefs to free themselves from beliefs all together, the verbal teachings are instead often clung to, like a drowning man clutching at a straw.
One concept that can be useful along the way is that of the Absolute, but like all concepts it is also a potential trap, in that we can fall into believing in the Absolute without any real experience, or worse, only a partial experience that gives us the false impression we actually know something when we in fact do not.
In this following passage we see Ch’an Master Hui Hai in dialogue with a Tripitaka master, (The Tripitaka are the traditional written scriptures of Buddhism). Deliberately Hui Hai gives the ‘wrong’ non-traditional answer initially in order to free the questioner from fixed views and show that the Teaching (Dharma) can be expressed in a myriad of ways.
At the end of the dialogue the Tripitaka master expresses his respect and amazement at how the Southern school – the ‘Zen’ school of sudden enlightenment of which Hui Hai is part – is truly unfathomable:
Once a Tripitaka Master asked: “Does the Bhutatathata (Absolute Reality) ever change?”
The Master [Hui Hai] replied: “Yes, it does change.”
The Tripitaka Master retorted: “You, Venerable Ch’an Master, are wrong!”
The Master then asked the Tripitaka Master: “Does the Bhutatathata exist or not?”
The Tripitaka Master answered: “Yes, the Bhutatathata does exist.”
The Master replied: “So if you say it does not change, then you are just an ordinary, worldly monk. Doubtlessly, by now you must have heard that the lowest vices can be changed into the highest virtues, the three poisons into the three cumulative disciplines, the six consciousnesses into the six supernatural powers, all the defilements into Bodhi, and the most abysmal ignorance into the highest wisdom. Thus, if you say that the Bhutatathata does not change, then you, a Tripitaka Master, are really a heterodox-sect follower. [ie. a heretic]”
The Tripitaka Master responded: “If you put it that way, then I have to admit that the Bhutatathata does change.”
The Master retorted: “But if you, indeed, hold that the Bhutatathata does change, that is also a heterodox view.”
The Tripitaka Master asked: “Ch’an Master, you just said that the Bhutatathata does change, but now you say it does not change. How can that be?”
The Master responded: “If one sees his own nature clearly – which, like Mani-Jewels, can manifest itself in different colors – then he is correct in saying that the Bhutatathata both changes and does not change. In contrast, however, if one has not seen his own nature, he will, on hearing that the Bhutatathata changes, grasp at the idea of mutability. Also, oppositely, he will, on hearing that the Bhutatathata does not change, grasp at the idea of immutability.”
The Tripitaka Master concluded: “Now I really understand what is meant when it is said that the Southern Ch’an Sect is truly unfathomable!”
This last answer of Hui Hai is particularly instructive – he essentially states that the Truth expresses itself in different ways, just like jewels can be of various colours. If one has intuitively seen this Truth, then one can correctly express this truth, even with seemingly opposed verbal statements, as these statements are coming from a ‘place of Truth’. However, for one who has not seen, the verbal statements are always incorrect, even when they are ‘officially correct’, as the essential insight is not present, and the statements are not expressions of Truth but expressions of the ignorant ego-mind.
These ego/ignorance-ridden statements are not liberating – they are simply a clinging to an empty doctrine. These insight-less statements merely give strength to the false-ego that thinks it knows something, strengthening and perpetuating the ego/sense of separation of both the one speaking and anyone listening.
(Note that I use the word ego here as a synonym for ignorance, the false belief in separation or the false belief in a separate entity that authors thoughts and actions)
The Diamond Sutra is considered to be one of the most important and venerated of Buddhist scriptures. The text itself says that it can be considered to be the ‘diamond that cuts through illusion’ and that understanding it will lead to ‘the Highest Perfect Wisdom’.
In this post I have grouped excerpts from the Diamond Sutra into themes and so hopefully the essence of the teachings are readily conveyed. Please note that The Diamond Sutra itself is not actually very long, so if you are interested, I would readily encourage you to read the original in full.
It was composed perhaps as early as the 1st century BCE in Sanskrit, and forms part of the Prajnaparamita (perfection of wisdom) sutras in the Mahayana Buddhist tradition. It is also given particular importance in various Zen/Ch’an schools, which are often themselves considered to be part of the Mahayana tradition.
Interestingly, a Chinese version of the scripture is one of the oldest examples of a printed book, dated from 11th May 868, about 500 years before the Gutenburg. The original can be currently seen in the British Museum and is officially ‘the earliest complete survival of a dated printed book’.
This sutra takes the form of a conversation between Buddha and one of his disciples, Subhuti. I have used the translation from Alex Johnson, primarily because it is easy to read and is without technical terms.
This teaching leads to the ‘highest perfect wisdom’
The Buddha then replied:
“…If sons and daughters of good families want to develop the highest, most fulfilled and awakened mind, if they wish to attain the Highest Perfect Wisdom and quiet their drifting minds while subduing their craving thoughts, then they should follow what I am about to say to you. Those who follow what I am about to say here will be able to subdue their discriminative thoughts and craving desires. It is possible to attain perfect tranquillity and clarity of mind by absorbing and dwelling on the teachings I am about to give.” Then the Buddha addressed the assembly.
(from Chapter 2)
The basic teaching
“…all living beings will eventually be led by me to the final Nirvana, the final ending of the cycle of birth and death. And when this unfathomable, infinite number of living beings have all been liberated, in truth not even a single being has actually been liberated.
“Why Subhuti? Because if a disciple still clings to the arbitrary illusions of form or phenomena such as an ego, a personality, a self, a separate person, or a universal self existing eternally, then that person is not an authentic disciple.”
(from Chapter 3)
Is the Buddha his body?
“Subhuti, what do you think? Can the Buddha be recognized by means of his bodily form?”
“No, Most Honored One, the Buddha cannot be recognized by means of his bodily form. Why? Because when the Buddha speaks of bodily form, it is not a real form, but only an illusion.”
(from Chapter 5)
Illusion and reality
The Buddha then spoke to Subhuti: “All that has a form is illusive and unreal. When you see that all forms are illusive and unreal, then you will begin to perceive your true Buddha nature.”
(from Chapter 5)
Will people benefit from reading or hearing this sutra?
“Without a doubt, Subhuti. Even 500 years after the Enlightenment of this Buddha there will be some who are virtuous and wise; and while practicing compassion and charity, they will believe in the words and phrases of this Sutra and will awaken their minds purely. After they come to hear these teachings, they will be inspired with belief. This is because, when some people hear these words, they will have understood intuitively that these words are the truth.
(from Chapter 6)
Who will benefit from hearing this message?
“But you must also remember, Subhuti, that such persons have long ago planted the seeds of goodness and merit that lead to this realization. They have planted the seeds of good deeds and charity not simply before one Buddhist temple, or two temples, or five, but before hundreds of thousands of Buddhas and temples. So when a person who hears the words and phrases of this Sutra is ready for it to happen, a pure faith and clarity can awaken within their minds.”
“…this person must have discarded all arbitrary notions of the existence of a personal self, of other people, or of a universal self. Otherwise their minds would still grasp after such relative conceptions. Furthermore, these people must have already discarded all arbitrary notions of the non-existence of a personal self, other people, or a universal self. Otherwise, their minds would still be grasping at such notions.”
(from Chapter 6)
If I am seeking enlightenment, what view should I take of the teaching?
“Therefore anyone who seeks total Enlightenment should discard not only all conceptions of their own selfhood, of other selves, or of a universal self, but they should also discard all notions of the non-existence of such concepts.”
(from Chapter 6)
Are these teachings true?
“When the Buddha explains these things using such concepts and ideas, people should remember the unreality of all such concepts and ideas. They should recall that in teaching spiritual truths the Buddha always uses these concepts and ideas in the way that a raft is used to cross a river. Once the river has been crossed over, the raft is of no more use, and should be discarded. These arbitrary concepts and ideas about spiritual things need to be explained to us as we seek to attain Enlightenment. However, ultimately these arbitrary conceptions can be discarded.
(from Chapter 6)
The highest, most fulfilled, most awakened and enlightened mind
Then Buddha asked Subhuti, “What do you think, Subhuti, has the Buddha arrived at the highest, most fulfilled, most awakened and enlightened mind? Does the Buddha teach any teaching?”
Subhuti replied, “As far as I have understood the Buddha’s teachings, there is no independently existing object of mind called the highest, most fulfilled, awakened or enlightened mind.
Nor is there any independently existing teaching that the Buddha teaches.
Why? Because the teachings that the Buddha has realized and spoken of cannot be conceived of as separate, independent things and therefore cannot be described. The truth in them is uncontainable and inexpressible.
(from Chapter 7)
“…And yet, even as I speak, Subhuti, I must take back my words as soon as they are uttered, for there are no Buddhas and there are no teachings.”
(from Chapter 8)
“No, Most Honored One. According to what I understand from the teachings of the Buddha, there is no attaining of anything called the highest, most fulfilled, and awakened mind.”
The Buddha said: “You are correct, Subhuti. In fact, there does not exist any so-called highest, most fulfilled, and awakened mind that the Buddha attains…Someone would be mistaken to say that the Buddha has attained the highest, most fulfilled, and awakened mind because there is no such thing as a highest, most fulfilled, or awakened mind to be attained.”
(from Chapter 17)
Does a Buddha consider themselves to be enlightened?
“Tell me, Subhuti. Does a Buddha say to himself, ‘I have obtained Perfect Enlightenment.’?”
“No, Blessed One. There is no such thing as Perfect Enlightenment to obtain. If a Perfectly Enlightened Buddha were to say to himself, ‘I am enlightened’ he would be admitting there is an individual person, a separate self and personality, and would therefore not be a Perfectly Enlightened Buddha.”
(from Chapter 9)
How to practice
“A disciple should develop a mind which is in no way dependent upon sights, sounds, smells, tastes, sensory sensations or any mental conceptions. A disciple should develop a mind which does not rely on anything. Therefore, Subhuti, the minds of all disciples should be purified of all thoughts that relate to seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching, and discriminating. They should use their minds spontaneously and naturally, without being constrained by preconceived notions arising from the senses.”
(from Chapter 10)
“Therefore, Subhuti, disciples should leave behind all distinctions of phenomena and awaken the thought of the attainment of Supreme Enlightenment. A disciple should do this by not allowing their mind to depend upon ideas evoked by the world of the senses – by not allowing their mind to depend upon ideas stirred by sounds, odours, flavors, sensory touch, or any other qualities. The disciple’s mind should be kept independent of any thoughts that might arise within it. If the disciple’s mind depends upon anything in the sensory realm it will have no solid foundation in any reality.”
(from Chapter 14)
Is there a clear teaching to be taught?
“What do you think, Subhuti? Has the Buddha taught any definite teaching in this Sutra?” “No, the Buddha has not taught any definite teaching in this Sutra.”
(from Chapter 13)
Does a Buddha have characteristics?
“Subhuti, what do you think? Can the Buddha be perceived by means of his thirty-two physical characteristics?”
“No, Most Honored One. The Buddha cannot be perceived by his thirty-two physical characteristics. Why? Because the Buddha teaches that they are not real but are merely called the thirty-two physical characteristics.”
Subhuti’s response to the teachings
At that time, after listening to this Sutra, Subhuti had understood its profound meaning and was moved to tears.
He said, “What a rare and precious thing it is that you should deliver such a deeply profound teaching.”
(from Chapter 14)
The benefits of understanding this teaching
If there is a person who hears this Sutra, who receives and retains it with faith and understanding, then that person will be a rare one, a person of most remarkable achievement. Such a person will be able to awaken pure faith because they have ceased to cherish any arbitrary notions of their own selfhood, other selves, living beings, or a universal self.
Why? Because if they continue to hold onto arbitrary conceptions as to their own selfhood, they will be holding onto something that is non-existent. It is the same with all arbitrary conceptions of other selves, living beings, or a universal self. These are all expressions of non-existent things.
(from Chapter 14)
What is a Buddha?
“Buddhas are Buddhas because they have been able to discard all arbitrary conceptions of form and phenomena, they have transcended all perceptions, and have penetrated the illusion of all forms.”
(from Chapter 14)
Persons and form
“…Just as the Buddha declares that form is not form, so he also declares that all living beings are, in fact, not living beings.”
(from Chapter 14)
Understanding the teachings
“Subhuti, if a person is satisfied with lesser teachings than those I present here, if he or she is still caught up in the idea of a self, a person, a living being, or a universal self, then that person would not be able to listen to, receive, recite, or explain this Sutra to others.”
(from Chapter 15)
“Subhuti, you should know that the meaning of this Sutra is beyond conception and discussion. Likewise, the fruit resulting from receiving and practicing this Sutra is beyond conception and discussion.”
(from Chapter 16)
Helping others attain enlightenment
“Subhuti, a good son or daughter who wants to give rise to the highest, most fulfilled, and awakened mind must create this resolved attitude of mind: ‘I must help to lead all beings to the shore of awakening, but, after these beings have become liberated, in truth I know that not even a single being has been liberated.’ Why is this so? If a disciple cherishes the idea of a self, a person, a living being or a universal self, then that person is not an authentic disciple. Why? Because in fact there is no independently existing object of mind called the highest, most fulfilled, and awakened mind.”
(from Chapter 17)
“Subhuti, do not say that the Buddha has the idea, ‘I will lead all sentient beings to Nirvana.’ Do not think that way, Subhuti. Why? In truth there is not one single being for the Buddha to lead to Enlightenment. If the Buddha were to think there was, he would be caught in the idea of a self, a person, a living being, or a universal self. Subhuti, what the Buddha calls a self essentially has no self in the way that ordinary persons think there is a self. Subhuti, the Buddha does not regard anyone as an ordinary person. That is why he can speak of them as ordinary persons.”
(from Chapter 25)
Who becomes enlightened?
“Subhuti, my teachings reveal that even such a thing as is called a ‘disciple’ is non-existent. Furthermore, there is really nothing for a disciple to liberate.”
(from Chapter 17)
Who is a true disciple?
“A true disciple knows that there is no such thing as a self, a person, a living being, or a universal self. A true disciple knows that all things are devoid of selfhood, devoid of any separate individuality.”
(from Chapter 17)
What does it feel like to be enlightened?
Subhuti again asked, “Blessed One, when you attained complete Enlightenment, did you feel in your mind that nothing had been acquired?”
The Buddha replied: “That is it exactly, Subhuti. When I attained total Enlightenment, I did not feel, as the mind feels, any arbitrary conception of spiritual truth, not even the slightest. Even the words ‘total Enlightenment’ are merely words, they are used merely as a figure of speech.”
(from Chapter 22)
“Furthermore Subhuti, what I have attained in total Enlightenment is the same as what all others have attained. It is undifferentiated, regarded neither as a high state, nor a low state. It is wholly independent of any definite or arbitrary conceptions of an individual self, other selves, living beings, or a universal self.”
(from Chapter 22)
The importance of ethical behaviour
“Subhuti, when someone is selflessly charitable, they should also practice being ethical by remembering that there is no distinction between one’s self and the selfhood of others. Thus one practices charity by giving not only gifts, but through kindness and sympathy. Practice kindness and charity without attachment and you can become fully enlightened.”
“Subhuti, what I just said about kindness does not mean that when someone is being charitable they should hold onto arbitrary conceptions about kindness, for kindness is, after all, only a word and charity needs to be spontaneous and selfless, done without regard for appearances.”
(from Chapter 22)
Knowing and worshipping the Buddha
“Should anyone, looking at an image or likeness of the Buddha, claim to know the Buddha and worship him, that person would be mistaken, not knowing the true Buddha.”
(from Chapter 26)
Is everything illusory and unreal?
“Do not think that when one gives rise to the highest, most fulfilled, and awakened mind, one needs to see all objects of mind as nonexistent, cut off from life. Please do not think in that way. One who gives rise to the highest, most fulfilled, and awakened mind does not contend that all objects of mind are nonexistent and cut off from life. That is not what I say.”
(from Chapter 27)
The verbal teachings
“If any person were to say that the Buddha, in his teachings, has constantly referred to himself, to other selves, to living beings, or to a universal self, what do you think, would that person have understood my meaning?”
Subhuti replied, “No, blessed One. That person would not have understood the meaning of your teachings. For when you refer to those things, you are not referring to their actual existence; you only use the words as figures of speech, as symbols. Only in that sense can words be used, for (1) conceptions, (2) ideas, (3) limited truths, and (4) spiritual truths have no more reality than have matter or phenomena.”
Then the Buddha made his meaning even more emphatic by saying:
“Subhuti, when people begin their practice of seeking to attaining total Enlightenment, they ought to see, to perceive, to know, to understand, and to realize that all things and all spiritual truths are no-things; and, therefore, they ought not to conceive within their minds any arbitrary conceptions whatsoever.”
(from Chapter 31)
How to understand these teachings and explain them to others
“Subhuti, how can one explain this Sutra to others without holding in mind any arbitrary conception of forms or phenomena or spiritual truths? It can only be done, Subhuti, by keeping the mind in perfect tranquillity and free from any attachment to appearances.”
(from Chapter 32)
“So I say to you—This is how to contemplate our conditioned existence in this fleeting world:
Like a tiny drop of dew,
or a bubble floating in a stream;
Like a flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
Or a flickering lamp,
or a dream.
So is all conditioned existence to be seen.”
THUS SPOKE BUDDHA
There are many ways that can lead an apparent individual person to freedom, a freedom that is already totally here and present and yet not always recognised or acknowledged. There is the method of direct pointing, the path or understanding or knowledge, the path of devotion or surrender or love, the path of mindfulness, or through meditation. These are just some of the many ways, and eventually they all converge and are seen to be the same One Path (if taught correctly).
There are paths that require no belief and no faith, and others that are faith based. Some paths delve into the esoteric whereas others do not venture away from normal, direct, everyday experience. Some ways rely heavily on words, concepts and thought, (which are hopefully later dismantled) and others transmit the teachings non-verbally. Some (most) paths initially seem to reinforce the sense of a separate ‘I’ whereas others vehemently deny this appearance of separation from the outset.
There are countless other adjuncts that can also be useful, such as prayer, chanting, physical exercises and other ritualistic and more formal practices.
Or perhaps none of the above are required.
My view is that all these teachings and paths (including those that deny any teaching, path or way) can often play a valuable role in the journey of a seeker, and the exact shape of a seekers path varies considerably and is ultimately unique. However there are some general trends that generally apply, and understanding these tends to quicken the path as well as make it considerably easier. I summarise these trends in this article here.
In today’s spiritual market place, many teachings are available and the seeker can often find themselves somewhat confused and disillusioned with the teaching, teacher or path that was meant to lead them home, but for some reason didn’t live up to expectation. Many teachers only teach in the way that worked for them, and sometimes they denigrate other ways that are, superficially at least, contrary to what worked for them.
When I was seeking, my journey lead me to explore quite a lot of spiritual teachings, both traditional and non-traditional, and I began to see how they all potentially fitted together. I especially explored Yoga, Vedanta and Buddhist teachings, and have been studying each of these teachings for over 20 years now. My sense is this understanding of how this realisation can be shared in a number of different ways is particularly valuable in a world of plurality where seekers come from many different backgrounds with many different experiences and there are many seemingly contradictory teachings on offer. The result is the seeker is often left in confusion and perhaps even disillusionment about how to go forwards, and there is often a sense of isolation as how best to proceed.
I humbly offer you what I have learnt in order to facilitate your Jouney Back To Your-Self, to the Here/Now, in order to recognise this Freedom that already is here. My plea is that you approach what I have to offer with kindness and an open heart, be willing to look beyond the words I use and be open to what they may be pointing to, and also to be open to the non-verbal aspects of the teaching and transmission. This plea is not for my sake, but I think you will find that this open kindheartedness is a major key in unlocking the door which is always open, but apparently hides what is already fully present.
In ages gone by, as well as today, this perennial teaching has been expressed in a multiplicity of ways, and paradoxically, the most accurate verbal expression is not always the most conducive for a genuine and full transmission to occur. In fact I have found that in many cases that when a genuine realisation have been achieved, it often leads to a unique way of talking about and expressing this, a way that is not simply a parroting of myself or any other teacher, but a unique expression due to the unique body-mind it is being expressed through.
I express this Freedom in different ways at different times, and if you decide to spend time with this expression that occurs through me, I hope you will see how there is no real difference in these expressions. Seeing unity amidst this apparent diversity will surely go a long way to improving mutual respect and understanding between individuals and traditions, as well as allow the teachings to reach those whom it may not ordinarily reach. We can also be aware of how not all teachings are equal, how some teachings are limited and even sometimes dangerous, and when certain teachings will be more effective in given circumstances.
If you feel I can be of any benefit to you, please contact me or attend one of my meetings
With best wishes
Q. Dear Tom, I hope you are well. How can one control the mind? Simple English please!
Tom: There are basically two ways of doing this. First of all by various practices to calm the mind and generate peace, of which there are different types (see the link below). Secondly by insight, which means seeing that there is no mind, or no thinker/doer entity, only a spontaneous succession of thoughts.
These two methods usually work together in tandem, like a virtuous circle, one helping the other which in turn helps the other, and so on.
Insight alone is usually not stable and leads to an ‘enlightenment’ that comes and goes, and calm/peace alone is not ultimately liberating, as peace also comes and goes. Both of these alone are not ultimately satisfactory. However the two together usually work wonderfully well.
I’ve written some blog posts here that goes into a bit more detail about some of this, so please take your time to read through these if you want to:
The following is a translation of a poem attributed to Seng-ts’an, the Third Ch’an (zen) Patriarch. I could write more about it, but all I will say is that it is truly sublime and one of my favourites.
This version of the text has been translated by Richard B. Clarke
Hsin Hsin Ming or Trust in Mind Sutra
The Great Way is not difficult
for those who have no preferences.
When love and hate are both absent
everything becomes clear and undisguised.
Make the smallest distinction, however,
and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.
If you wish to see the truth
then hold no opinions for or against anything.
To set up what you like against what you dislike
is the disease of the mind.
When the deep meaning of things is not understood
the mind’s essential peace is disturbed to no avail.
The Way is perfect like vast space
where nothing is lacking and nothing is in excess.
Indeed, it is due to our choosing to accept or reject
that we do not see the true nature of things.
Be serene in the oneness of things
and such erroneous views will disappear by themselves.
When you try to stop activity to achieve passivity
your very effort fills you with activity.
As long as you remain in one extreme or the other,
you will never know Oneness.
Those who do not live in the single Way
fail in both activity and passivity, assertion and denial.
To deny the reality of things is to miss their reality;
to assert the emptiness of things is to miss their reality.
The more you talk and think about it,
the further astray you wander from the truth.
Stop talking and thinking
and there is nothing you will not be able to know.
To return to the root is to find the meaning,
but to pursue appearances is to miss the source.
At the moment of inner enlightenment,
there is a going beyond appearance and emptiness.
The changes that appear to occur in the empty world
we call real only because of our ignorance.
Do not search for the truth; only cease to cherish opinions.
Do not remain in the dualistic state; avoid such pursuits carefully.
If there is even a trace of this and that, of right and wrong,
the Mind-essence will be lost in confusion.
Although all dualities come from the One,
do not be attached even to this One.
When the mind exists undisturbed in the Way,
nothing in the world can offend,
and when a thing can no longer offend,
it ceases to exist in the old way.
When no discriminating thoughts arise,
the old mind ceases to exist.
When thought objects vanish, the thinking-subject vanishes,
and when the mind vanishes, objects vanish.
Things are objects because there is a subject or mind;
and the mind is a subject because there are objects.
Understand the relativity of these two
and the basic reality: the unity of emptiness.
In this Emptiness the two are indistinguishable
and each contains in itself the whole world.
If you do not discriminate between coarse and fine
you will not be tempted to prejudice and opinion.
To live in the Great Way
is neither easy nor difficult.
But those with limited views
are fearful and irresolute;
the faster they hurry, the slower they go.
Clinging cannot be limited;
even to be attached to the idea of enlightenment is to go astray.
Just let things be in their own way
and there will be neither coming nor going.
Obey the nature of things
and you will walk freely and undisturbed.
When thought is in bondage the truth is hidden,
for everything is murky and unclear.
The burdensome practice of judging
brings annoyance and weariness.
What benefit can be derived
from distinctions and separations?
If you wish to move in the One Way
do not dislike even the world of senses and ideas.
Indeed, to accept them fully
is identical with true Enlightenment.
The wise man strives to no goals
but the foolish man fetters himself.
There is one Dharma, not many;
distinctions arise from the clinging needs of the ignorant.
To seek Mind with discriminating mind
is the greatest of all mistakes.
Rest and unrest derive from illusion;
with enlightenment there is no liking and disliking.
All dualities come from ignorant inference.
They are like dreams of flowers in air: foolish to try to grasp them.
Gain and loss, right and wrong;
such thoughts must finally be abolished at once.
If the eye never sleeps,
all dreams will naturally cease.
If the mind makes no discriminations,
the ten thousand things are as they are, of single essence.
To understand the mystery of this One-essence
is to be released from all entanglements.
When all things are seen equally
the timeless Self-essence is reached.
No comparisons or analogies are possible
in this causeless, relationless state.
Consider motion in stillness
and stillness in motion;
both movement and stillness disappear.
When such dualities cease to exist
Oneness itself cannot exist.
To this ultimate finality
no law or description applies.
For the unified mind in accord with the Way
all self-centered striving ceases.
Doubts and irresolutions vanish
and life in true faith is possible.
With a single stroke we are freed from bondage;
nothing clings to us and we hold to nothing.
All is empty, clear, self-illuminating,
with no exertion of the mind’s power.
Here thought, feeling, knowledge, and imagination are of no value.
In this world of Suchness
there is neither self nor other-than-self.
To come directly into harmony with this reality
just simply say when doubt arises, “Not two.”
In this “not two” nothing is separate,
nothing is excluded.
No matter when or where,
enlightenment means entering this truth.
And this truth is beyond extension or diminution in time or space;
in it a single thought is ten thousand years.
Emptiness here, Emptiness there,
but the infinite universe stands always before your eyes.
Infinitely large and infinitely small;
no difference, for definitions have vanished
and no boundaries are seen.
So too with Being and non-Being.
Waste no time in doubts and arguments
that have nothing to do with this.
One thing, all things;
move among and intermingle,
To live in this realization
is to be without anxiety about nonperfection.
To live in this faith is the road to nonduality,
because the nondual is one with the trusting mind.
The Way is beyond language,
for in it there is no yesterday, no tomorrow, no today.