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Buddhadharma : Winter 2010
55 winter 2 01 0 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly The instruction here is that external appearances, whatever they may be, do not really hurt us. It all comes down to the mind. Is the mind some hardened, solid lump to which we cannot do anything at all? It is not. The mind is naturally empty of essence, but it is also clear. This is the union of clar- ity and emptiness, and the union of wisdom and the expanse taught in the path of the sutras. This is present in the nature of the mind itself. But we have not really thought about what this means. We direct our attention outward, follow thoughts about all sorts of things, and get distracted. But all we really need to do is know what is present in the mind. In order to know that, Khenpo Gangshar says, “Don’t pur- sue the past.” Often we remember things that happened in the past and think about them. We think, “Last year I went to that place. I had such and such a conversation. When I did this, it turned out really well. When I did that, it was bad.” These and many other thoughts come up, but we should not pursue them when we are meditating. We should just be loose and relaxed and not follow the past. Khenpo Gangshar also says, “Don’t invite the future.” Often we think to ourselves, “Next year I ought to do this. What should I do next month? I have to do that tomorrow. What should I do this evening?” These are all thoughts of the future. Normally we need to think about them, but not when we are meditating, so we should not welcome the future. We should put all thoughts of past or future aside. In particular during this meditation, “Don’t pursue the past” means do not even think about things that happened just a moment ago. Do not try to remember, “What was I just thinking about? Was I just resting? Was I just stable? Was that clarity? What was it that I was just meditating on?” We should not try to think about or remember what we were just doing in our meditation in that way. Similarly, we normally understand “Don’t invite the future” to mean that we should not think about future plans in general, but in this context it means not even to think about what we will do in the next moment. We do not need to think to ourselves, “Now I need to start being mindful. I need to start being aware now. Now I’m going to start being clear in my meditation.” We do not need to think about anything at all. So we do not think about either the past or the future. We just simply look at the mind as it is right now and rest naturally in the naked, ordinary mind. When we say “ordinary mind,” that means resting in the immediate present without trying to alter the mind in any way. Ordinary mind is not something bad that we need to make into something good. Nor is it something that is not empty that we need to make empty. That is not how it is. We do not need to take something that is not clear and make it clear. We should not try to change anything in any way. If you alter it, it is not ordinary. If you follow lots of thoughts, that is not what we mean by ordinary mind. Just rest in the nature of the mind as it is, without any thoughts that are virtuous, unvirtuous, or neutral. The way it is now is ordinary mind. There are two differevnt ways in which we can understand the term “ordinary mind.” One way is to not take control over anything and end up following our afflictions. When a thought of anger arises, we follow it; when greed arises, we lose control of ourselves to it. Similarly, we lose control of ourselves to our pride and jealousy. Although we might think of this as our ordinary state of mind, it is not what we mean here. Here it does not mean losing control of ourselves to our negative emotions. Instead, it means that we do not need to do anything at all to the essence of the mind itself. We do not need to alter this essence in any way. We do not have to worry about what we are thinking, what is pleasant, or what is painful. We can leave this mind as it is. If we try to alter the mind in any way, thoughts will arise. But if we do not do anything to it and let it rest easily, then it is unaltered. The Kagyu masters of the past called this the ordinary mind, or the natural state. They called it this out of their experi- ence. This ordinary mind itself is the dharma expanse and the essence of the buddhas; it is our buddhanature. This is exactly what the term means; this is what we need to experience and recognize. Khenpo Gangshar calls this ordinary mind “naked.” If we just have mere understanding, there is a slight gap between our mind and our understanding. When we try to investigate or analyze, it is as if the mind were covered by a sort of mem- brane. But here there is nothing like that. Saying “naked” means there is no covering or anything in the way. We just rest directly in it as it is without trying to correct it or “re-place” it. We do not think, “Is this right? I need to make it right.” We do not worry, “My meditation is bad; I’ve got to make it good.” Without any hopes or worries, we do not try to correct it or make it right in any way. When Khenpo Gangshar says “re-place,” that means that we do not try one way to settle the mind and then another. We just let it be as it naturally is, resting easily in this naked, ordinary mind. michelemartin There is a clear, knowing aspect of the mind. It is also expansive, which means that the clarity is vast: we can see and know many things.