Saturday, February 11, 2006

Mirror Mind, Sky Mind, Light Mind, Awakened Mind.

This is a pic of the teachers' room at one of my schools and some other stuff. and Here are some thoughts i came up with after meditation today.

The mind can be said to have four characteristics (look at your own mind right now to see this). One, it is a Mirror; it reflects whatever is placed in front of it. Second, it is the Sky; it is a spacious opening or clearing through which thoughts and feelings and experiences come and go like clouds. Third, the mind is Light; it illuminates whatever it touched the same way sunlight illuminates whatever it touches. Fourth, the mind is awake; it is awake to whatever is present.

This fourth quality of mind also refers to what is called bodhicitta in Buddhism, or the awakened heart/mind. This awakened mind is awake to the suffering of the world and within itself and thus wishes to alleviate the suffering. It is the mind of compassion, the mind of unobstructed care and concern. This mind is also referred to as the “inner Christ” in Christianity.
These four qualites of mind also roughly refer to the four bodies of the Buddha: The Nirmanakaya, Sambhogakaya, Dharmakaya, and Svabhavikakaya.

Schopenhauer’s “Clear mirror to the object”
Emerson’s “Transparent Eyeball.”
Namkhai Norbu’s “Mirror condition beneath.”

“Although philosophies come and go, and intellectual answers rise and fall, they are transient, distracting, and do not lead to any kind of satisfactory or worthwhile understanding. Rather, genuine knowledge and its resulting liberation arise from simply observing the mind and body and the energy of which they are composed to identify the mirror condition beneath.” Namkhai Norbu

Meister Eckhart describes three distinct stages on the Christian path. In his own words,

"First, “Be asleep to all things”: that means ignore time, creatures, and images. And then you can perceive what God works in you…
Second: “Concern yourself with all things.” This has three meanings. That means, first, seize God in all things, for God is in all things.
The second meaning is: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you love one human being more than another, that is wrong. If you love your father and mother more than another human being, that is wrong. And if you love your own happiness more than another’s, that is also wrong.
The third meaning is this: Love God in all things equally. For God is equally near to all creatures. And among all these creatures God does not love any one more than any other. God is all and is one. All things become nothing but God."

When I first read that I was immediately shocked at the similarities between Eckhart's three stages, namely, Be asleep to all things, be concerned with all things, then see god as all things, and the three stages of buddhism, the Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana. The similarities are unbelievable. IN Buddhism, the stages are first the path to formless nirvana or the formless awareness within, then the path of compassion, and then it is the path of Tantra or a nondual embrace of the world of emptiness and the entire world of form, recognizing all forms as identical to the emptiness or the timeless, radiant Spirit.

This last stage is also known as uniting wisdom and compassion. In Buddhism, wisdom is the knowledge that behind the “many” is the “One.” Behind the world of shifting, changing impermanant forms is the vast, empty formless Void or Suchness. Wisdom sees that beyond the seemingly separate phenomena and the mental objects lies the one Light, the “Self-luminosity of Being” as Namkai Norbu puts it. Wisdom sees the form is Emptiness, or, if you will, that the “solid” and “substantial” world of things is really “impermanent” “insubstantial” “fleeting” (“like a bubble, a dream, a shadow.” as the Diamond Sutra puts it.)
Wisdom really knows this truth, that the Many is the One, and Compassion knows that the One is the Many, that the One Being or Emptiness or Spirit is expressed equally and fully in each and every being, so that each is treated as the One, as the Spirit, as the divine. "Love your neighbor as you Self." This is true compassion, for it does not care about others in a kind of condescending way (like pity), but rather in a fully embracing and honoring and loving way because it sees each being, EXACLTY AS IT IS, as a perfect expression of Spirit, of Emptiness, of Being. Wisdom sees that Form is Emptiness.
Compassion sees that Emptiness is Form.

“Form is none other than Emptiness, Emptiness is none other than Form.” The Heart Sutra (which I chanted this morning at the Zen temple)

I love the 19th century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer’s definition of compassion:
“The sort of act that I am here discussing is…compassion, which is to say: immediate participation, released from all other considerations, first, to the pain of another, and then, in the alleviation or termination of that pain, which alone is the true ground of all autonomous righteousness and of all true human love. An act can be said to have genuine worth only in so far as it stems from the Source (the common Self); and conversely, an act from any other source has none. The weal and woe of another comes to lie directly in my heart in exactly the same way—though not always to the same degree—as otherwise only my own would lie, as soon as this sentiment of compassion is aroused, and therewith, the difference between him and me is no longer absolute. And this really is amazing—even mysterious.”

So, it seems to me, that first you celebrate and sing songs of praise and worship to the One, the Spirit, the Single Being of beings, the Transcendental Love and Light of all. Then, upon direct experience, you see that the One manifests in and as all things, so that now a love for the many bursts into bloom. SO first, as Jesus puts it, you Love the Lord (the one beyond the many. Then, you love everyone as an expression of the One. In fact, the way you actually love the One Lord is to love the many. An interesting paradox. We could say that as you ascend into direct union with the One reality, you embrace more and more things. The One is the only presence able to embrace everything equally. Abide as the One, embrace the Many. Abide as Heaven, embrace the Earth. Abide as Emptiness and embrace all Forms. So, as your loving embrace descends more and more to forgive and care for more and more of yourself and your environment and your fellow sentient beings, your identity or sense of self ascends higher and wider to embrace more space and more light and more freedom and more room. With spiritual practice you descent and ascend simultaneously.

Stay with yourself. Be with all your insecurities, rehearsed personalities, shame infested loneliness, lust, anger, hatred, jealousy, greed…be with all your thoughts and feelings fully. Befriend them, invite them in, “and line them up for a family photograph.” as Ram Dass would say. Only then can you transcend them or go beyond them. And only then can you be with others fully, giving them an opportunity to do the same.

This is the practice of developing metta or Loving Kindness, and Pema Chodron, Ram Dass, and my friend Josh Magareal know a lot about it and I suggest you look into what they have to say.

Ramana Maharshi: “The Self is known to everyone but not so clearly. The Being is the Self. “I am" is the name of God. Of all the definitions of God, none is indeed so well put as the Biblical statement I AM THAT I AM. The Absolute Being is what is—It is the Self. It is God. Knowing the Self, God is known. In fact, God is none other than the Self.“

But it is important to note that this Self or God is never anything that you can know or experience or see. You can only BE the Self, the Ultimate truth, Pure Being.
Maharshi: “People want to see the Self as something. They desire to see it as a blazing light, etc. But how could that be? The Self is not a light, not a darkness, not any observed thing. The Self is ever the Witness. It is eternal and remains the same all along.”
So then, the mystics ask, can you feel into that part of you that remains the same all along? The only constant in your changing experience. Can you feel into that which is aware of change? Into that presence which is doing the feeling?

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May all beings be Free and in Love.

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