Annual India Tours
These lectures were transcribed by T Vd Broek. Heartfelt
gratitude is offered for all the hours of work spent on this Dharma activity.
These talks are offered free of charge. They have been slightly edited.
Nanaimo Jan 21 1992
As the objective or goal we strive for within meditation or spiritual practice, maybe even the aspiration that we become more stable is an internal goal, it is important that we take control of our minds in the sense of recognizing our motive. If we don't, then it is difficult to expect results to be congruent. If our motive is not consciously appreciated, sometimes the results are not very clear. They for example, if the root of the tree is medicinal, then it can be assumed that the trunk, the branches and leaves, flowers and fruits are all of a medicinal nature. If the root is poisonous, then we can assume the rest of the tree will be of a similar sort. So with our mind. If the initial source of thought is not fairly clear in a positive direction, then it is difficult to be able to expect that somehow miraculously down the road we will have a better motive or that something good or positive can happen.
Although we should not be too determined on what goal we would like, certainly we should motivate from a sense that for the benefit of myself and my mind stream, and also to the best of my capacity, to be able to benefit those around me, I will undertake meditation and things involved along that line. And if we just have that feeling, that we just go inside and say, that I would like to be of benefit for myself and the world around me, then automatically you put yourself in a good tone. And as time passes, whatever skills or realizations you do have, will certainly have that quality because you mind is conscious and could be expected to have results like that.
From now until the spring time, there is a particular teachings we will be pursuing dealing with the great symbol. By that it means, that there are many practices which have their own small goal. In the particular meditations you have, sometimes you will want to generate a positive feeling, or sometimes you would like to generate a sense of serenity, or maybe a sense about mindedness, or more affection. There are different tones that we can add to our meditation. In doing so we attain different results. But what would be best, is if we could develop a state of consciousness where we have the potential of all those types of mind. And that is termed the great symbol, the Mahamudra.
It is the main source from where our mind will move from. And also, mind, speech and body. It is a point of integration and why it is termed Mahamudra, it is the great unification or great integration in the sense that it is to bring all the different mind states we have, everything, into a single frame of reference. We will be moving into that as the weeks and months go by.
To have an interesting preliminary, is that, as we sit here, we have this sensation of ourself in a hole way. We agitate and do what we are doing as we sit there. You have a sense of focus behind that. But, we should try to become more conscious of the parts of ourself in sitting here. And in that way, when we move into some investigation of the nature of our being, we will have some good points to deal with. In this sense, we can say that we can start to break into ourselves as an entity, as an experiencing being.
I have one student from Thetis Island whom I asked what are you doing right now? What is happening to you? And I said, try to be really simple. He sat there and said, I don't know, he couldn't answer. And I said, to talk about what is going inside of yourself is invisible tome. I cannot see what is going on inside of you. But in looking at you, I can say you are sitting and you are breathing. Is that alright? And he had a lot of trouble in going over to that position! I said, if you lay on the floor, what could we say about you? And he was very caught up with his mind. And I said, come on, you are breathing! If you are lying there, you are lying there and you are breathing! Is that sufficient? There is life energy there, of course, but that can be demonstrated by the fact that you are breathing, because if you were not there would be a whole other thing! So he finally sort of came around to that point, but it was difficult for him!
The main point is, without a few tools, it is difficult to understand and appreciate ourselves as we sit here because we do not understand how we could do that, or what would be appropriate to doing that! Certainly we have body, one of the aggregates or parts of ourself. So if we take like a pie, and take various slices of the pie, one of the slices would be the body. And actually, this could apply to your skin. Your body has many different parts inside, but we will take the skin. It is actually your skin is a big organ all over your body! Interesting!
So you have the organ of skin. And the principle way to be conscious of it is of course, sensation. That if you are holding or touching your hands or something, you get a sensation. That is the indicator of that particular piece of the pie. We have another place where we have experience which is the eyes, so we have the eye organs, and the particular way they transfer information which is through light energy. Light rays, or whatever. So as an entity, one other area is visual, and picking up the various visual data. Then again, we have another which is sound. If there is a big rumble we might feel a sensation of sound, but actually sound is a whole other entity in contrast to physical sensation. Then again smell. And taste in the mouth. They say there are a few primal tastes, salt, bitter and sweet and such. Another area where where are particular sensations which are had in contrast to other parts of the body.
I could put my hand in salt, and not know if it were salt or not. It could be sugar! Both are white and powdery. Put it on your tongue and you sure know the difference. There is one area which is unique.
We have in that way five organs, body and sensations, eye and forms, ear and sound, nose and scent, and taste and flavor. Five avenues or mediums, five ways of communication we have with the world around us. From the Buddhists side, we have the sixth which is mind. In Buddhism the mind is placed in the center of the chest. For some people, they would say it is in the head. But in Buddhism it is said mind is related to the center of the chest, as being the seat for the mind, in the sense that someone is caught up with just their mind, it is said they have no heart! So obviously head cannot be considered the focal point of mind in the sense that mind includes emotions and feelings. Those things are an aspect of body, or in the body, so we cannot say really that mind resides in the head or we would have only a cerebral relationship with the world. But we have good sensations, heart to heart! Some feeling there, some warmth. So from the Buddhist side, it is said that the seat of mind is in the heart center of the chest. And the data processing part is in the head. Because of course, eye, ears, nose tongue and body sensations are all process via the nervous system.
This may seem simplistic, but it is important. If you want to gain deeper internal experiences, realization in a way of like what is integration of myself, the world, my understandings, my philosophy, the beliefs I have and such, then this is important. We can talk about faith and religion and love and compassion for all sentient beings, and have very high ideals. But we have a body. And we have an immediate existence based on the body. So we should start off with fundamentals when we investigate ourselves and our mind. In that way, we do not loose track with reality, with what is here and what we are experiencing. And as meditation is aimed at conscious awareness, then certainly we want conscious awareness which is aware of the realms of consciousness. And so this is a nice way to look at it. Instead of just going into the mind which can get quite confused in the sense of floating through emotions and sensations, into where we loose clarity of being, rather we want to make a bit of space in there. That there is mind, but then there is mind with it's physical sensations, mind with it's visual experiences, nasal, sound, smell and taste experiences.
So we sort of separate each one to get to yes, when I am sitting here, we notice the world around us. So as a meditation for this evening, I want ourselves to allow ourselves just to sit. And all it is is to take the awareness which you have. You are listening to me right now, so you are aware. And allow the awareness appreciation of what we term the sense doors. And it is door in the sense that through that door particular information comes. And it is unique information. My hand cannot see what is behind my back, I have to look with my eye ball. So physical sensation does not mean that it has visual sensation. Or hearing. I have to listen to my own voice to hear things. It is not like it happens another way.
So each has it's own unique channel, and they are accessed by mind and mind's awareness. From the Buddhist side it is said, the five senses are of the experiential world, and are not intimately tied with mind, or else you would have only one essential experience. If mind, conscious mind, was ties with visual hearing and sound, then how could you shut one down? If your mind was totally tied, it would be incapable of not listening to me. Or you would be incapable of not seeing. And so on. And yet we are. You can sit there, and when you are listening sometimes, you sort of space off and your eyes may be staring but you are not seeing. Or. When you read a good book, you become very unaware of your surroundings because you are concentrated visually, and the internal processing of the information from the book.
There is what they call the consciousness threshold. A scent can be in the room but it has to be of a certain intensity before you register it. The point is you can have like, body, then visual, hearing, taste and smell and mind, and you can separate them. The examples I gave is that you might have mind being consciously engaged with visual and possibly with hearing, but it will forget sensation until it feels, yes, there is a flea biting! And then the threshold is broken. So what brings it into awareness? You can say that there is sensation there, but awareness does not register it until it hits a certain intensity. Or like in the room. There can be a sound you do not hear until you concentrate. Then you recognize, oh yes, the fridge is humming. You might not register it, most of the time not notice it. But as soon as you sit to be quiet, all of a sudden you begin to hear those sounds.
So when you sit to meditate, allow yourself to appreciate conscious awareness and the five sense doors. And we have minds consciousness awareness, and mind is really the point we want to work on because it is the; mind which makes us happy or unhappy, which sets up for experience. And so, let's work from a real basis which is sensation of different sorts. And so we will start off with those because they are basic for our existence. Allow our mind to appreciate the different sense doors and start to learn how to differentiate between them. For example when you sit to concentrate, you might notice the tension in your shoulders, and when you get them relaxed, the mind gets a little unconsciousness, and then you become conscious of a sound, and then after that relaxes, you notice your leg is starting to hurt too! So mind swings from hearing to a body sensation awareness, to smell and so on!
Mind will shift into different sense doors. It is merely capacity of learning how to identify that the mind is moving into different ones. And because it is quite adaptable, quite flexible, you can have a lot of awareness. Investigate how you can take on two or three sensations and give them full awareness! Or do the others fall away? It is up for you to decide. But the point is, I do not want you to think about your mind and mind states and emotions, because those are internal and difficult to articulate or differentiate until one has a certain level of concentration and stability and awareness.
So we are only trying to generate awareness, which is working at appreciating the five sense doors and that there are five distinct sense doors through which we experience reality. It is a simple experience, but which is fundamental to experiencing reality.
Copyright 1994 Daka's Buddhist Consulting
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