Monday, March 26, 2018

Where’s your mind?

A few days ago I started this series of posts with a challenge: to find your mind and since then I have led you through a new way of seeing. Tomorrow I’ll conclude this series by sharing the Buddhist perspective of what the mind produces. But today we’ll consider the unique way the mind is understood. But when this unique way is understood, it explains why we are so oriented toward hostility, violence, and alienation. The ordinary view is that mind is an isolated and individual matter somehow associated with what resides between our ears. 

My thoughts are unique to me and your thoughts are unique to you. From that perspective, difference is the norm. Consequently, opposition is to be expected and one ideology stands counter to another. One of us must be right and that means the “other” must be wrong. But which one is right? Both of us believe we are right and neither of us believes we are wrong, and this model of mind-in-the-head opposition is the commonly accepted view.

The Buddhist view is laid out in the Śūraṅgama Sūtra by the telling of a story, which concerns Ananda and The Buddha. Ananda fell under a spell of a prostitute and subsequently is taught by The Buddha about why he fell. The teaching unfolds with The Buddha challenging Ananda to locate his mind. First Ananda says, like the vast majority of the human race, that his mind is in his head. The Buddha shoots that notion down with an argument that can’t be overturned. Ananda then tries one answer after another and each time The Buddha shoots these down as well. In the end, Ananda never answers correctly and the teaching of the Sutra is that the mind can neither be located nor found since everything perceptible is actually the not-to-be-divided mind.

This view, in conjunction with the principle that no individual, uniquely special self exists, means that all of us exist within the commonly shared space of the true mind. This is no different from a quote I shared in a previous post (The road to an imaginary nowhere) spoken by Jesus. In the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, Jesus is quoted as having said: “If those who lead you say unto you: behold, the Kingdom is in heaven, then the birds of the heaven will be before you. If they say unto you: it is in the sea, then the fish will be before you. But the Kingdom is within you, and it is outside of you. When you know yourselves, then shall you be known, and you shall know that you are the sons of the living Father. But if you do not know yourselves, then you are in poverty, and you are poverty.” 

You might say that we are all virtual beings living in a virtual world and consequently it is not possible to truly be in opposition to one another since we are all one. The opposition we cling to as being right is based on a false perception that we are separated and apart from one another. What we see is a reflection of our mirror mind. It looks real but what we fail to realize is that we are in the mirror—all reflections instead of the reality being reflected. We are like fish swimming through the sea of mind without knowing that there is such a thing as water. We are already in the kingdom. There is nowhere to go except the sea.
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