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Buddhadharma : Win 2012
WINTER 2 0 1 2 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 47 experience a sense of clarity as well as mental stability. In the Mahamudra teachings, this is described as the aspect of stability and the aspect of clarity. Both mental clarity and stability must be present. According to the Mahamudra teach ings, if you can pursue this practice and make the mind more stable and clear, then even when thoughts and emotions arise, the stability and clarity of your mind will not be disturbed. If you can maintain mental clarity equally whether your mind is calm or agitated, that is the best form of meditation. The ultimate goal of meditation is not to eradicate thoughts and emotions but to maintain that sense of awareness when mind is in movement as well as in a restful state. Awareness is present whether the mind is in a state of rest or a state of movement; it does not make any difference. The nature of the mind is realized when the mind does not make any dis tinction in meditation between mental agitation and rest. By not making this distinction, the mind is left in its natural state, and thoughts and emo tions become selfliberated. The Mahamudra teachings also say we should not think of thoughts and emotions (particularly negative ones) as having to be eradicated or removed. If we can realize the nature of these thoughts and emotions, we will understand the nature of mind itself. In the teachings, the rela tionship between the nature of mind and delu sions is compared to a lotus blossoming in mud or grain growing in a field of manure. Just as a lotus blossoms in mud and farmers use smelly manure to cultivate their fields, we attain wisdom by real izing the nature of the defilements and obscura tions, not by getting rid of them. In Tibetan it is said, “Having abandoned the delusions and conceptual confusions of the mind, one cannot speak of wisdom.” According to the Mahamudra understanding, wisdom is not attained through the eradication of defilements but from under standing the nature of the defilements. The Mahamudra teachings use the phrase “ordinary mind,” which means that to realize the nature of the mind, to realize buddhanature, does not involve getting rid of anything that exists within the mind. It comes from realizing the nature of this very mind we already have: the mind that thinks, wills, anticipates, and feels. The problem is not that we have thoughts and emotions; the problem is that we do not under stand the nature of these thoughts and emotions. Through the practice of meditation, the mind becomes more stabilized and develops a sense of mental clarity. Then, if awareness is maintained as thoughts and emotions arise and the mind is left to itself, those thoughts and emotions will reveal the nature of mind, just as a mind undis turbed by thoughts and emotions reveals the nature of mind. Letting the Mind Be in Its Natural State, Effortlessly The simple technique of letting the mind be is conducted by either tightening or loosening body and mind. However, even these two methods should not be done with extreme deliberation or effort, which is why another expression in Mahamudra is very helpful: “Letting the mind be in its natural state effortlessly.” This effort lessness comes from not judging, not thinking that the arising of thoughts and emotions has somehow disturbed the mind or upset your medi tation. As long as your mind is focused and there is a sense of awareness, no matter what arises in the mind—whether the mind is stable and at rest or in a state of movement—you can realize that everything that occurs in the mind has the same nature as the nature of mind. Through awareness, we realize that the nature of mind has the dual characteristic of being empty yet luminous. In terms of its emptiness aspect, the nature of the mind is not different from nonmental physical things, such as tables and chairs, because the nature of the table and the chair is emptiness and the nature of the mind is also emptiness. However, in terms of the clarity aspect of the nature of mind, it is different from nonmental physical things, because the nature of the mind is not just empty—it is luminous at the same time. This luminosity and clarity are what distinguish the nature of the mind from nonmental things. Ultimately, the nature of the mind is said to have three qualities: 1) the nature of the mind is emptiness; 2) even though the nature of the mind is emptiness, unlike the emptiness of physi cal things or entities, it is also luminous; and 3) when the mind is stabilized and awareness is maintained even when the mind is busy with thoughts and emotions, bliss will be experienced. In other words, even if the mind is active, bliss is revealed if the mind does not give rise to agita tion or to delusions and obscurations—which are the basic cause of suffering and dissatisfaction.