Empty mind need not be devilís workshop

by GIRISH DESHPANDE, Time of India, 25 January 2010

New Delhi, India -- It is strange how we have been made to believe since growing years, of an idle mind being the devil’s workshop. The Buddhist view is to Classroom

<< An empty mind need not be the devil’s workshop

Sit in a comfortable position – as lotus or just cross-legged – in a quiet place, with the spine erect, hands folded across your lap, with the bottom of your right palm resting on the left palm and the two thumbs touching each other. Eyes angled at the slant of the nose, shoulders thrown back, chin slightly tucked in and the tongue tip touching the palate of the slightly open mouth -- the seven-point Vairacona posture.

Steady the mind with slow and regular breaths. Focus on the breath till you sense reasonable steadiness of mind. Observe the mind carefully. What is happening within it? Quite likely there will be thoughts because such is its nature. All forms, sounds, thoughts and perceptions – there is nothing that does not arise in the mind. Now observe mindfully what is happening to these thoughts. Some come and go on their own; few others linger and retreat while yet others are persistent. This is a normal experience.

Here begins the interesting part. While in this state of observance, where you are aware of what is going on around you but not engaging in them on in any way, you will ‘see’ that unless there is an engagement of any arisen thought or feeling by the intervention of any one of the six senses, five sensory and the conceptualised mind, no response will be forthcoming in the form of body or speech actions.

This means that only when we engage, consciously or sub-consciously, with our arising thoughts and feelings, do they have the capacity to manifest further. It means, if we do not engage with arising thoughts or feelings, they will die or fade out on their own. This is the nature of our mind. Awareness, undivided from Emptiness. This is known as the view.

Slowly come out of this state and return to the ordinary state. As soon as an external negative stimulus of any kind is given to the mind, be it an angry word, an unpleasant smell, a loud sound, a painful feeling, a sorrowful sight, a negative thought with a capacity to bring suffering upon us or others, observe for a moment how this stimulus is being treated by the mind before reacting to it. If we can effectively change this ‘immediately reactive’ treatment into a ‘delayed response’ kind of treatment from within the state of emptiness, the resultant offering will be pleasant and virtuous.

Train yourself in mindfulness. At all times be vigilant of the manner in which the mind is processing every external stimulus. To an ordinary mind, stimuli can be sensational, arousing, disturbing and seductive. The mind is gullible and thoughts can deceive easily. But if we are observant at every moment, we will be able to grasp the ‘slipping’ mind and instead respond from the View state of awareness-emptiness.

This can be made a continuous living experience. And to relentlessly practice the accumulations of the view and meditation at all times, is our action. Perfecting this state is Dzogchen practice, central to the Nyingma tradition of Buddhism.

Remember to humbly dedicate all pleasant sights for the liberation of all beings. Actions themselves have no capacity to bring benefit unless dedicated. Such dedication, detached from pride, ambition and conceptualisation will bring us happiness through liberation from sufferance.

The writer is a practicing Nyingma Buddhist.