In the absence of discriminating thought, the mind as we know it ceases to exist. Our suffering-our feeling of discomfort, alienations, loneliness-arises because we create a dualistic way of perceiving everything that separates us from the external.
Once that inner transformation has taken place, all attachments drops away. Clinging and aversion both disappear. Aversion is really just another form of clinging. If I don’t like what you are, it is because I am attached to a different picture of how I want you to be. My aversion to you is just the opposite side of my attachment to the ideal picture of you that I am holding in my mind. This is the cause of most of our relationship problems, holding on to our pictures of how we want our wife, husband, children, parents to be. Because of the pictures that we cherish, these people can never live up to our expectations. If they did, then they would not be true to themselves. They would be living a lie by trying to fit themselves into our pictures.
What then can we do? Must we continue trying to change everyone? Or could we do what is simplest and most direct: drop our preconceived notions, our pictures and concepts of how others should be? Then we could allow others the space to be just what they are. And when we really accept others exactly as they are, tremendous faith and trust arise. Meeting someone who has that much faith in us allows us to believe in ourselves, to accept at the deepest level that we are OK. And if we are not OK, that is all right, too. I have all kinds of hang-ups. I have attachments and aversions, quirks and idiosyncrasies. So what! We all do. The more we accept and trust ourselves, the more we see that it—Buddha-nature, true self, source, God, master, enlightenment, call it what you will—is me!
The other side of the coin is that I am not it. What we normally define as who we are, this particular body and mind, is not it. The light, the divine, Buddha-nature, no matter what we call it, only comes through me, as it comes through you. When we drop attachment to body and mind there is no distinction between it and self. As the Third Patriarch says, any distinction we make sets heaven and earth infinitely apart. If we attach to the notion that “I am it,” then our egos swell up and we become very arrogant. We must avoid clinging to the experience of enlightenment, the realization of being it. It flows through me; I am just a conduit.
What is all this stuff we call self? Just our own opinions, ideas, beliefs, concepts, likes, and dislikes: I like her, I hate him; I want this, I don’t want that. All these distinctions show concern only for my own good. When we cease to cherish such opinions, this is called emptying the cup. And it is not enough just to empty the cup; we have to break out the very bottom! Why? So that the Dharma can flow through. It is not enough to just receive the teaching, to fill ourselves with more distinctions labeled Dharma. We must be totally open, bottomless. How? By constantly sitting and continuously ceasing to cherish opinions for and against anything. When we stop holding on to our preferences, our lives go very smoothly and harmoniously, for then we are in accord with the Dharma.
When thought objects vanish,
The thinking-subject vanishes,
As when the mind vanishes, objects vanish.
When we look into the mind with the mind, we are focusing the light inward that is normally being diffused externally. We see a beautiful woman or man and right away we are distracted from simply experiencing that. Coveting and craving enter: we dream of possessing him or her, holding on to the object of our desire. Our minds react that way when we are titillated by any of the six senses: seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling, and thinking.
If we have a wonderful thought, we cherish it and cling to it: but if we have a terrible thought, such as hating or killing, we detest ourselves for that. If we see something ugly, smell something stinky, right away we reject it. Why can’t we just hear, just see, just have thoughts, just feel; just work, just sit, just listen, without adding our judgements – wouldn’t that be a lot easier?
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