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Thread: blue sky, unconditioned mind, nature of mind, deathless

  1. #1

    blue sky, unconditioned mind, nature of mind, deathless

    the internet is very dangerous, especially concerning buddhism. several times i've come across all these buddhist concepts that i haven't heard of in zen and i wonder if i'm missing something. i think i'm learning to give that up thanks to the kind folks here and jundo. however, i do have more of an intellectual question for y'all.

    i've come across this idea of the unconditioned mind or the deathless. is this what jundo means when he discussed the blue sky and all the clouds are thoughts feelings etc.? i've also heard that we humans like to get really involved with our thoughts. in my case, i've been trying to think myself through buddhist practice which is actually causing more suffering. so is nature of mind that which is not caught up in thoughts/feelinlgs, or anything?
    just some thoughts.

    peace
    craig

  2. #2

    Re: blue sky, unconditioned mind, nature of mind, deathless

    Hi Craig

    my understanding that thinking is fine, & probably essential in most cases, but what our practice teaches is not to add anything to those thoughts - not to ruminate, catastrophise or fantasise - just let them go like clouds in the blue sky of life.

    Anyway - just my two cents - off to sit

    Shindo

  3. #3

    Re: blue sky, unconditioned mind, nature of mind, deathless

    Craig,

    If I could, I might recommend this book to you. It might be a starting path for addressing some of your questions.

    http://www.spiritualityandpractice.c...ks.php?id=1576


  4. #4

    Re: blue sky, unconditioned mind, nature of mind, deathless

    Quote Originally Posted by Shindo
    Hi Craig

    my understanding that thinking is fine, & probably essential in most cases, but what our practice teaches is not to add anything to those thoughts - not to ruminate, catastrophise or fantasise - just let them go like clouds in the blue sky of life.

    Anyway - just my two cents - off to sit

    Shindo

    thanks for the reminder. i do like to ruminate and catastrophize seeing it as clouds is quite helpful.
    craig

  5. #5

    Re: blue sky, unconditioned mind, nature of mind, deathless

    Brock
    thanks for the recommendation. i've been wanting to read one of his books forever, but didn't know where to begin. thanks again.
    craig

  6. #6

    Re: blue sky, unconditioned mind, nature of mind, deathless

    Hello, Craig.

    I make that recommendation because to me it seems that you are sort of out there on the internet looking things up and it mixes with your ruminations and whatnot, and you may not have a lot of structure to your thoughts on a lot of this stuff, not that that is good or bad. (And I'm probably wrong in that assumption)

    If nothing else, that book does provide a perspective on some things that can allow a person to sort of begin a skeletal structure to some big picture Buddhist ideas. On the other hand, I'm just your average schmo, so definitely take it for what it's worth (little to nothing).

    Personally, when I read the term "unconditioned mind," I think of a more Theravada-based concept of Nirvana. (Again, I'm a schmo, so I may be confusing the term entirely)

    But my possible personal confusion aside, there is an unfathomable depth and scope in "Buddhism." There are many teachings and terms that use the same words and mean different things.

  7. #7

    Re: blue sky, unconditioned mind, nature of mind, deathless

    I don't know in what context you have seen the term "blue sky," but don't forget that ku, the Chinese character for emptiness, originally (or literally) means "sky." So when the Heart Sutra says "form is emptiness, emptiness is form," in Chinese/Japanese (at least--I don't know the etymology of "Sunyata") it also says "form is sky, sky is form."

  8. #8

    Re: blue sky, unconditioned mind, nature of mind, deathless

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig
    the internet is very dangerous, especially concerning buddhism. several times i've come across all these buddhist concepts that i haven't heard of in zen and i wonder if i'm missing something. i think i'm learning to give that up thanks to the kind folks here and jundo. however, i do have more of an intellectual question for y'all.

    i've come across this idea of the unconditioned mind or the deathless. is this what jundo means when he discussed the blue sky and all the clouds are thoughts feelings etc.? i've also heard that we humans like to get really involved with our thoughts. in my case, i've been trying to think myself through buddhist practice which is actually causing more suffering. so is nature of mind that which is not caught up in thoughts/feelinlgs, or anything?
    just some thoughts.

    peace
    craig
    Hi Craig,

    I need to tell you a bit of Buddhist history that people don't talk about very often, and it can be confusing as heck for many Zen & Buddhism students. Here it is in a nutshell.

    In India, long before the Buddha's time, folks would meditate, clear the mind and ... encounter something which felt like "pure consciousness" or "pure being". Sometimes they would put an idea or name on that, like 'Brahma' or 'The One' or whatever. They would often try to "merge" with that, or the like. Buddha cautioned against "reifying" that 'whatever'.

    definition: tr.v. re·i·fy (German: Verdinglichung, literally: "thing-ification") -- To regard or treat (an abstraction) as if it had concrete or material existence ... when an abstraction (abstract belief or hypothetical construct) is treated as if it represented a concrete, real event or physical entity. ....
    Buddha, in the early teachings, emphasized Anatman as one of his central teachings of Buddhism. To wit: "According to this doctrine, there is no "self" in the sense of a permanent, integral, autonomous being with an individual existence. What we think of as our self, our personality and ego, are temporary creations of the skandhas (the perceptions and how the brain treats those)." Buddha was also about "shunyata" (emptiness), which is also the absence of selfness in things.

    Buddha's basic point: No "self" (with its desires, emotions, fears, attachments, etc. etc.) no problems! Drop the self (and all the thinking stuff that a self creates for her-self), and all the self-centered problems go bye-bye with it.

    HOWEVER (and this is the main point): Buddha was not so big on defining what remained when the self was dropped. Unecessary data, and even counter productive, to his wondeful discovery. It is not that something is "there" or "not there", it is that the Buddha did not think it good or necessary to talk about that much.

    NEXT, Buddhism comes to China, with its existing culture of Taoism, Confucianism and the like. Next thing you know is that "Buddha" becomes a "Cosmic Buddha", and things get reified. Now, "Buddha Nature" (or related concepts such as "True Self" "Mind" etc. ... even "Emptyness") are turned into something not unlike the "Force" in Star Wars. The Cosmic Oneness.

    With me so far?

    I am not being critical of one way or the other, by the way. In many ways, Buddhism's mixing with Chinese culture and values may even have improved the original formulation of the Buddha. Further, so long as the original ideas of "no self" and "emptiness" are there, it is still good "Buddhism", and it does not really matter if you call "whatever" as 'Bob' or 'Stanley' or 'the One' or 'Buddha' or whatever you want.

    BOTTOM LINE: The point I want to emphasize is that, if you pick up a Zen Book, or any Buddhist book, some teachers will be more into the "True Self" "Cosmic Buddha" "the Unborn" "Consciousness" "Being" or whatever you want to call that. Other teachers are more into talking about "no self" and "emptyness" as sufficient medicine for what ills human kind, without going much further. It can just be confusing to Zen students who cannot quite figure out why some books seem to be talking about Great Buddha etc. one way, while other books seem to have a different flavor.

    ME? I take no stand, nor do I feel I need to take a stand.

    If there is a "Cosmic Buddha" "the One" or "the Force" ... I fetch wood and carry water. Dropping my "small self" into "emptyness" is prize enough. Liberation.

    And if there is no "Cosmic Buddha" "the One" or "the Force" ... I fetch wood and carry water. Dropping my "small self" into "emptyness" is prize enough. Liberation


    Let me close with just a couple more comments: Choosing not to name or impose an anthropomorphic idea on the "Blue Sky" does not mean that the Blue Sky is just a nihilistic void. Emptyness is not empty. In other words, we yield to life, trust life, are at one with life (or the "universe" or "reality" or whatever you want to call it) without too much worry about what that life/universe/reality actually is or what to call that. It is a little like jumping into a river and letting the water carry one, without too much worry about where its headwaters are found or where it spills out. We just know there is a river, and we trust that ... embrace the river ... profoundly. I sometimes compare this to a newborn baby who trusts its mother even without knowing her whole life story, or even calling her "mama" (it gives us life, miracle of miracles, and sticks food in our mouths ... and that is enough for me!).

    Last, the Buddha always taught, from the beginning, that we are "deathless" and "birthless" (even as we are born and die). Yes, "birth" and "death" are just (from one perspective) states of mind ... and we are the river ... even if we do not wish to say too much about what that river is. We are that river and the river is us, birth and death just ripples on its surface. Of that I am (reasonably) sure. (I will talk about "life" and "death" in a posting later this week)

    Did that make things a little clearer, or just muddy the waters more?

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS- I forget which flavor Ven. Thich Nhat Hahn prefers ... I think it is the "True Self, Great Buddha" flavor. That is true for maybe the majority of Mahayana Buddhists.

    PPS - in my case, i've been trying to think myself through buddhist practice which is actually causing more suffering. so is nature of mind that which is not caught up in thoughts/feelinlgs, or anything?

    Just Sit, dropping all thought of this and that, judgments, fears and memories, philosophy, comedy and drama. Just Sit!.

  9. #9

    Re: blue sky, unconditioned mind, nature of mind, deathless

    Thanks to all who have posted - illuminating discussion. Jundo, very useful history; it is helpful to understand the context of these concepts.

    My two cents - it has been most helpful for me to "just rest." by that, i mean to leave everything alone, whatever arises: ideas of self, ideas of no-self, worry, rumination, fantasies about winning the lottery, deep philosophical introspection, great insights, whatever! just rest.

    i sometimes use the analogy of a snow globe. imagine that what we all want to see or 'get' or 'understand' is in the snow globe. most of us have been taught to shake the globe very hard to try and see it. we investigate each flake. we describe each flake. we have endless discussion about the pattern of the flurries in the globe and imagine that these patterns have some meaning and in understanding or knowing these patterns we will be able to 'see' what we are searching for.

    then, someone comes along and says, "hey, just put the globe down. leave it alone. let it rest on the table." we think that's crazy. it can't possibly be the way. we might try it for a moment, but our habit of shaking is very strong so we pick it up again and again.

    finally, we get tired. we have shaken and shaken the globe, we know all of the patterns, we can name and describe most of the flakes and their history. we leave the globe on the table. we rest. and finally we see through the globe and...

    Sitting, for me, is putting the globe on the table and leaving it alone, letting it rest.

  10. #10

    Re: blue sky, unconditioned mind, nature of mind, deathless

    well, what brought up this thread for me was i was reading an interview with toni packer and she was saying that these moments of clarity IS when everything is dropped and the only the unconditioned mind is there. i know she takes it one step further than Jundo. i'm actually all for that.

    as an aside, it's amazing how i continually think i can think all this stuff through and the answers will arise. ironically, i don't have to do anything. just sit.

    another question-if everything is impermanent, how can there be this unchanging unconditioned mind. i just prefer the term emptiness. when all is dropped, there's nothing there. no big deal. nothing to strive for or cry over. just...

    craig

  11. #11

    Re: blue sky, unconditioned mind, nature of mind, deathless

    another question-if everything is impermanent, how can there be this unchanging unconditioned mind. i just prefer the term emptiness. when all is dropped, there's nothing there. no big deal. nothing to strive for or cry over. just...
    From Dazhu Huihai: "Sentient beings possess forms and whatsoever has form is subject to formation and destruction whereas the Buddha-nature is formless, is immaterial, for which reason it is the very nature of the void itself and cannot be destroyed."

    Also: "Allowing the concept of progress to enter our minds is not progress but error; whereas, if we keep our minds free from error, progress is unlimited."

    And one more : from the Tsung Ching Record, when Master Huihai was chastised by Ma Tsu for not recognizing his own 'treasure house' -
    Huihai: "Please tell me to what you alluded when you spoke of a treasure house of my very own."
    Ma Tsu: "That which asked the question was your treasure house. It contains absolutely everything you need and lacks nothing at all. It is there for you to use freely, so why this vain searching for something outside yourself?"


    OK, here's what I was thinking: the first quote I felt addressed craig's last post about impermanence, I can't really add anything except to say I'm still working on understanding it!

    The second quote hit me like Gibbs on NCIS (any other fans out there?) It is so simple, and sounds very true, as well as extremely difficult to actualize. BUT, I think it speaks directly to the theme of this thread, especially concerning researching Buddhism to begin with.

    The last quote meshed nicely with what Jundo said, at least after I ruminated a while... I guess in the sense that if you just sit, what is required to achieve what you are not trying to achieve will come from within.

    Hope I'm not overstepping my place here, I know I'm new. If there's anything here that's off the mark, Jundo please comment and correct me!

    All these quotes came from this document: http://www.empty-universe.com/zen/hui_hai.htm

  12. #12

    Re: blue sky, unconditioned mind, nature of mind, deathless

    Thank you for posting that, Tobiah. I too definitely didn't mean to overstep anything or act like anything other than the novice that I am. I just sort of reacted to the first post and typed without really thinking properly.

    I nearly deleted my posts and/or emailed Jundo to apologize, but decided against it.

  13. #13

    Re: blue sky, unconditioned mind, nature of mind, deathless

    I believe the best lessons come from making mistakes- there are things I think about that are only going to come out as opinions, and if those things are wrong-headed, I need to be corrected. I have no problem with that, as long as Jundo doesn't hit me with a stick :wink: Besides, novices are supposed to blunder, trip and generally make fools of themselves, right? (Not talking about anybody specific!)

  14. #14

    Re: blue sky, unconditioned mind, nature of mind, deathless

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig

    another question-if everything is impermanent, how can there be this unchanging unconditioned mind. i just prefer the term emptiness. when all is dropped, there's nothing there. no big deal. nothing to strive for or cry over. just...

    craig
    Hi Craig,

    One of the wonderful "discoveries of Zen" (although not really a "discovery", and more a "putting into practice", because these viewpoints are found throughout Buddhist philosophy ... but I digress) ... is that seemingly contradictory ideas can be fully true at once. And fully dependent upon each other.

    (for a moment, please just take my word on the following if you don't see it right away)

    So, as a quick example, from one perspective, Craig is something of a fiction, a dream, created by a mind based on organizing and labeling incoming sense data which convinces itself, for example, "I am Craig and I exist" and also "I am Craig and that table across the room is not Craig". Both the "self" of the table and "Craig" are fictions, even though Craig's fiction can walk into the fictional table and get a fictional black and blue mark! :roll:

    On the other hand, from another perspective, Craig is 100% perfectly just Craig, as real as real can be, not one hair to add to his head, not one cell to take away.

    So, both perspectives are true at once ... Craig absolutely exists, and he absolutely does not. We might say that Craig is an absolutely real fiction, perhaps. (there are lots of other perspectives too ... like that Craig is perfectly the table, and the table is perfectly Craig, but let's not complicate stuff). 8) (but I digress again)

    Okay, now on to your question (I almost lost track, and really went off the point) ...

    another question-if everything is impermanent, how can there be this unchanging unconditioned mind

    Okay, the human brain thinks in opposites like "permanent" and "impermanent". Everything in the conditioned world (the world of stuff which is made and eventually falls apart) is impermanent. That includes Craig, me, tables. But Eastern philosophy (and Western philosophy too) have always posited that there was an underlying whatever that is "unconditioned" or "uncaused". In meditation, it can be tasted by dropping ideas from mind ... dropping ideas (especially seemingly opposing ideas) such as "this" "that" "birth" "death" ... even "permanent" and "impermanent"

    The meditator then tastes 'whatever' which is the absence of "this" "that" "birth" "death" etc. It is not so much that what remains, when you drop thought of "impermanent" is thus "permanent" ... but that there is something without even idea of "permanent or imperanent", without even "birth or death" etc.

    As I said yesterday, some folks then reify that into 'THE GREAT UNCONDITIONED ONENESS" or the like. Other folks just say that it is the absence (emptiness) of all friction, because all is "dropped away" ... as there are no Craigs and no tables to bump into each other. The quote cited from Dazhu Huihai has that flavor of a reified something there ...

    From Dazhu Huihai: "Sentient beings possess forms and whatsoever has form is subject to formation and destruction whereas the Buddha-nature is formless, is immaterial, for which reason it is the very nature of the void itself and cannot be destroyed."

    (again, I am not saying that that flavor is "wrong", just that it is a way of expressing the 'whatever')

    BOTTOM LINE: In either case there is liberation, because the suffering of a "self" vanishes as the "self" is dropped away.

    And when Craig can "put into practice" the tasting of no-Craig hand in hand with being Craig (we might call this "non-Craig") ... well, he still might bump into tables, but will also be tasting a realm without tables to bump into.

    Does that kinda make sense? :shock: :shock:

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS - About thinking this:

    I too definitely didn't mean to overstep anything or act like anything other than the novice that I am. I just sort of reacted to the first post and typed without really thinking properly. I nearly deleted my posts and/or emailed Jundo to apologize, but decided against it.

    No, things don't work like that around here. I am just the fat old third base pitching coach, chewing tobacco and watching the game from the bench, and we are all playing the game and get a turn at bat (apologies to our UK friends, as I could not think of a cricket reference). Everybody teaches everybody. Of course, if I think somebody's pitching is off, or needs a comment, I jump in and run up to the pitcher's mount. I'm just the coach, watching your fastball from the sidelines, and spittin' chew.

    as long as Jundo doesn't hit me with a stick

    Or the bat. Actually, Soto folks are usually not to much into that whole slapping and stick hitting stuff. Those Rinzai folks have always been more into the "no pain no gain" thingy.

    PPS - Sorry to bring up all this "Buddhist philosophy" sometimes, especially for folks who mistakenly think that Zen is about "dropping all philosophy". However, it never was ever apart from Buddhist philosophy, and is more about "putting the dry ideas in books into practice".

  15. #15

    Re: blue sky, unconditioned mind, nature of mind, deathless

    Thanks Jundo for the clarification...

    still a question though: my weak and underdeveloped understanding of Buddha nature placed it squarely within me, not outside me as something spiritual or deified... I thought it was something "in" every sentient being as a part of that being's true nature... not a soul, but a basic element. Am I making any sense?

  16. #16

    Re: blue sky, unconditioned mind, nature of mind, deathless

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobiah
    Thanks Jundo for the clarification...

    still a question though: my weak and underdeveloped understanding of Buddha nature placed it squarely within me, not outside me as something spiritual or deified... I thought it was something "in" every sentient being as a part of that being's true nature... not a soul, but a basic element. Am I making any sense?
    Hello Tobiah,

    Well, ya first have to ask, "what is Buddha Nature"?

    Before I give you my way to say this, let me describe what it has meant to different folks over time:

    Some would say that it is just the "potential to become a Buddha, i.e., the potential in all sentient beings to awaken".

    Or, some might say that we already are Buddha, our nature is already 'Buddha' ... and maybe we just don't recognize that".

    So, in those ways, Buddha Nature is not really a "thing". It is our potential to be a Buddha (like "we all have the potential to learn to play the piano) or a hidden quality (like "we all have a hidden beauty within us even if we can't see it")

    As I have mentioned a couple of times. some other folks would reify concepts like Buddha Nature into a kind of spirit, or cosmic consciousness or "Force".

    Wikipedia (which is actually pretty good sometimes) has a long description of all the many ways people have thought about "Buddha Nature" and the related concept of tathagatagarbha

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddha-nature

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tathagatagarbha

    Surprisingly, it does not (in my view) make much difference whether you think of it as a "force/spirit" or not. So, I don't bother to think of it that way. Let me explain:

    One of Dogen's famous statements was that we are Buddha nature, are Buddhas, and it is not merely that we have(possess) 'Buddha' Nature. This is pretty much saying that we are already Buddha, are already all of reality, are already perfectly just-who-we-are ... and just must realize (make real) that fact through our practice and life.

    May I suggest to you to look at it this way (pardon if I get a little "Zen corny" here):

    Since you are all reality realizing life through you, through you living (i.e., you are reality reality is you) ... since you are a drop of river water that is just the flowing river (i.e. you are the river the river is you) ... to ask if "it" is "in" you or "outside" you is not correct. In fact, drop all thought of "in" "out" "it" "Buddha" "Nature" and "you", and you may realize your Buddha Nature. Then, also know that "you" are already perfectly "you" with every breath you take, perfectly a breathing Buddha, and you may see it that way too.

    It is late at night. Am I just muddying the water more? :roll:

    Ah, to heck with it ... JUST SIT! Forget the words. It will become clear as a bell!

    Gassho, J

  17. #17

    Re: blue sky, unconditioned mind, nature of mind, deathless


  18. #18

    Re: blue sky, unconditioned mind, nature of mind, deathless

    Quote Originally Posted by Brock
    "OKIWANTYOUTOGOOUTTHEREANDSITSITSITSITANDTHEYAGONN ASITMOREANDGETTHISBUDDHAOFFONONOFFREMEMBER [SPIT][SCRATCHES].....OKTHENYOUVOWGASSHO."

    :mrgreen:

  19. #19

    Re: blue sky, unconditioned mind, nature of mind, deathless

    Jundo said:
    Since you are all reality realizing life through you, through you living (i.e., you are reality reality is you) ... since you are a drop of river water that is just the flowing river (i.e. you are the river the river is you) ... to ask if "it" is "in" you or "outside" you is not correct. In fact, drop all thought of "in" "out" "it" "Buddha" "Nature" and "you", and you may realize your Buddha Nature. Then, also know that "you" are already perfectly "you" with every breath you take, perfectly a breathing Buddha, and you may see it that way too.
    Ok, that helps. It's as jumbled as that many words can get I think, ( ) but it actually made sense. It backs up some of what I've read in "Mud and Water" (Bassui), and kinda... can't find a word. It helps.

    One big obstacle to my understanding at this point is the concept of things having no independent reality (that may not be phrased right)... I am waiting on a couple of books in the mail from the Treeleaf reading list, hopefully they will shed some light.

    Thanks!
    Tobiah

  20. #20

    Re: blue sky, unconditioned mind, nature of mind, deathless

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Since you are all reality realizing life through you, through you living (i.e., you are reality reality is you) ... since you are a drop of river water that is just the flowing river (i.e. you are the river the river is you) ... to ask if "it" is "in" you or "outside" you is not correct.
    Hi.

    Another way of putting it is "Don't separate hot and cold" as someone says (all the time)...

    May the force be with you
    Fugen

  21. #21

    Re: blue sky, unconditioned mind, nature of mind, deathless

    This was a great exchange! Really learned quite a bit from Craig and Tobiah’s questions/Jundo’s responses!

    I was recently listening to a podcast by Stephen Batchelor comparing “Buddha Nature” vs. “Mara Nature.” He sees these as what human life is capable of being. One explanation he gave was used an analogy of a valve….”Buddha Nature” is when the valve was open and “Mara Nature” is when the value was closed. In short, “Buddha Nature” represents a capacity for waking up, openness, and freedom where as “Mara Nature” represents everything in us that resists this process. One interesting point he made was the term tathagatagarbha should be translated as “Buddha womb” not “Buddha Nature”…womb having more of a connotation for potential that a thing. (Correct me if I am wrong but Indian Mahayana Sutras use the term tathagatagarbha.)

    ME? I take no stand, nor do I feel I need to take a stand.

    If there is a "Cosmic Buddha" "the One" or "the Force" ... I fetch wood and carry water. Dropping my "small self" into "emptyness" is prize enough. Liberation.

    And if there is no "Cosmic Buddha" "the One" or "the Force" ... I fetch wood and carry water. Dropping my "small self" into "emptyness" is prize enough. Liberation
    Great point, but it sure is fun to explore….hope I am not getting too caught up in the academic side of Buddhism.

    Gassho,
    BrianW

  22. #22

    Re: blue sky, unconditioned mind, nature of mind, deathless

    Quote Originally Posted by Brock
    Oh, thank you.

  23. #23

    Re: blue sky, unconditioned mind, nature of mind, deathless

    "...the concept of things having no independent reality..."

    I am expressly NOT recommending anything or whatever, but you might be able to Google the following terms and find some stuff that may help you: "shunyata" "empty of inherent existence." Maybe even "dependent arising" as well.

  24. #24

    Re: blue sky, unconditioned mind, nature of mind, deathless

    Hi Tobiah,

    I agree with Jon. It is so important to just drop the complexity most of the time, and just sit in simplicity.

    At other times, Buddhist philosophy is very useful.

    It is a little like sailing a boat, I think: Sometimes we just sail, no complexities, not a care in the world. Just Sailing along.

    Sometimes we should check the charts, the compass and the sailing manuals to make sure we are on a good course. Both are good to do sometimes.

    One big obstacle to my understanding at this point is the concept of things having no independent reality (that may not be phrased right)... I am waiting on a couple of books in the mail from the Treeleaf reading list, hopefully they will shed some light.
    It is actually not such a complex idea, although hard to realize about ourselves.

    First off, OF COURSE Tobiah is really there, and exists! Otherwise, who am I writing this email to? :P I would be wasting my time to write to someone who did not exist! :wink:

    But, from other perspectives, you do not exist as a "independent being". The two best examples that anyone ever gave me to help me understand are these:

    First example:

    Suppose you wake up from a nap, forget where you are, and suddenly see you are on a beach, and there are people in swim suits playing on the beach. "Oh," you think," I am on a beach." You think you can even feel the hot sun and the sand. But then you realize, coming awake, that you were only sitting in a movie theatre watching one of those 1950 beach movies! There is no beach, and just light patterns on a screen which your brain labels as "beach" "sand" "people" "Frankie & Annette" etc. Really, it is all photons reflected off a surface, bouncing into your eyes and fooling the brain.

    Well, from a Buddhist perspective, our whole lives (including thinking that we are one of the characters in the movie we call "our life") is (from one perspective) a virtual creation of the brain that labels everything, e.g., Tobiah, chair, table, Jundo, etc.

    Again, from ONE perspective. Tobiah is there from one perspective, but from another perspective, he is just a virtual creation of sense data, entering through the senses, and organized and labeled by the brain. When the brain stops that activity, the separation vanishes (the beach vanishes, Annette Funicello vanishes, Tobiah vanishes), the separate things all blend together.

    Here is a nice photo illusion I found just now: Is this a man touching a photo of a man & baby? Or is is a photo of a man touching a photo? In any case, it is your brain organizing light reflecting from your computer screen.



    Second example:

    We are each like fingers on your hand which (if they were each conscious) think they are each separate beings (which they are from one perspective). They cannot see that they are (from another perspective) just the hand.



    So, you are not an independent existence, for the whole world is just you and you the world.

    Think of that sail boat as a symbol for our lives: Takes away any part ... the sun, the water, the wheel, the wind, the ropes or the sailor ... and the sailing would be impossible. Each is a separate thing,, yes, but each is also one.

    And so it is with Jon and Tobiah and Jundo.

    Gassho, Jundo

  25. #25

    Re: blue sky, unconditioned mind, nature of mind, deathless

    Yes Jundo, thanks for the illustrations... gives me something to ruminate on.

    I know this concept is understandable, I just need to stumble upon the explanation that clicks with me!

  26. #26

    Re: blue sky, unconditioned mind, nature of mind, deathless

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobiah
    I just need to stumble upon the explanation that clicks with me!
    Now, that would be Zazen.

    (this is a good place to quote Master Sheng Yen's deathbed poem again)

    Busy with nothing, growing old.

    Within emptiness, weeping, laughing.

    Intrinsically, there is no "I."

    Life and death, thus cast aside.

  27. #27

    Re: blue sky, unconditioned mind, nature of mind, deathless

    that poem is amazing. lately i've been trying to be mindful of my feelings. when i drop the 'i', it's quite liberating to just be sad, mad, etc. with no 'i' attached.
    craig

  28. #28

    Re: blue sky, unconditioned mind, nature of mind, deathless

    To all of us who teach each other,

    Many thanks for this discussion & how it supports the deepening & ripening of our practice

    Gassho, Juko

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