The blessing of spontaneous presence
Space of empty now
Where anything is possible,
No thing, everything
Contemplating the profound teachings in Precious Treasury of Pith Instructions by the 14th century Dzogchen master Longchen Rabjam inspired the haiku above. The deeper you dive into the reality of your true nature the freer and more joyous you become. In meditation I get concerned about the distraction of arising thoughts.
Longchen Rabjam has a different take on those thoughts : “The transformation of thoughts into timeless awareness should be your primary meditative experience and realization.” (p.92) … “When any thoughts whatsoever arise, see them as serving only to clarify your experiences of timeless awareness (p.98-99) … “Whatever stirs the mind, maintain awareness of how, like a bird in flight, it leaves no trace” (p.112) … “whatever arises in the mind … see it as the display of awareness, and so experience the way things actually are … consider the very essence of thought” (p.148). Precious Treasury of Pith Instructions by Longchen Rabjam
Like adversity is transformed into practice and positive qualities in mind training, the arising of seemingly pesky thoughts while meditating can be transformed into insight into the true nature of all phenomena.
It was in this space that I came upon an article in The New Yorker (4/2/18, pgs. 62-73) entitled “Mind Expander”. The article profiles a philosopher and cognitive scientist named Andy Clark. Dr. Clark studies how the mind “extends into the world and is regularly entangled with a whole range of devices”(p.62). He focuses on how we are truly not separate and independent, but thoroughly interdependent with all beings. His review of perception research has led him to “Perception, then, was not passive and subjective but active and subjective. It was in a way, a brain-generated hallucination : one influenced by reality, but a hallucination nonetheless” (p.69). That sounds a lot to me like the Buddhist teaching on the dreamlike nature of phenomena. The article continues : “He wrote a book on the subject titled ‘Surfing Uncertainty’, and surfing was his metaphor for life : yes the waves that the ocean threw up at you could be wild and cold and dangerous, but if you surfed over and over again, and went with the waves instead of resisting them, and trusted that you would be O.K., you could leave your self-conscious mind behind and feel a joyful sense of oneness with the world” (p.70). Transcending a limiting sense of separate self is a key to higher realization for Buddhists. It’s encouraging when cognitive scientists come to a similar understanding. The article ends with “the structure of the brain itself … was not one indivisible thing but millions of quasi-independent things, which work seamlessly together while each had a kind of existence of its own. ‘There is something very interesting about life’, Clark says, ‘which is that we do seem to be built of system upon system upon system … I’ve become more and more open to the idea that some of the fundamental features of life really are important to understanding how are mind is possible.’ ” (p.73)
A sense of oneness with the world. It’s what has kept we strong in times of doubt and fear, has pulled towards the light when darkness beckoned. It’s where you are journeying to on the path. The path with nothing to do and nowhere to go. The path to remembering you are the oneness, that your very essence is timeless awareness. The rest is the spontaneous arising of the dharmakaya. Liberation lies in remembering that form is emptiness and emptiness is form. That you are a wave on the ocean, while simultaneously being ultimately one with the ocean. Why then would the waves of arising thoughts have the power to deter your meditation? Look deeply into the essence of those thoughts – they arise from the ocean of dharmkaya, dissolve back into that ocean, the ocean you are.
May all beings be continuously joyful. dt