April 17, 2021
In sangha this week we talked about the nature of the mind. Mind is fundamentally different from any other experience. Indeed, it is the container of all we experience.
It’s been said that mind is like the sky and our experiences are like clouds. On a clear day, the sky is empty. Well, it may appear to be blue, but the color is not the sky itself. The hue is refracted sunlight. The sky contains the air and blue color. But it extends beyond that atmosphere into the endless expanse.
Space contains everything — blue light, clouds, flying birds, the pencil in my hand, the page I write upon. Like empty space, the mind contains all these but is not any of them. It is shunyata — emptiness. Without the empty space of mind, we could know nothing. Without it, we can’t experience anything.
As the mind quiets in meditation, we can see how attention tends to stick to objects — perceptions, people, ideas, feelings, and more. It shrink-wraps around stuff. As the mind relaxes, it becomes less sticky. We begin to notice the empty spaces around our perceptions. Awareness may shift from what we perceive to the awareness itself.
The hand that holds this pencil will disintegrate someday. A hundred years from now there won’t be a trace of it. But the empty space that held it will still be here.
Is awareness like a pencil or hand that comes and goes? Or is it like the sky/mind that goes on forever? Do each of us have our own minds? Or is there one empty mind (shunyata) that we all tap into?
Figuring out answers to these questions is not important. But relaxing into them with clarity and gentle heartfulness may reveal peace and contentment that has been waiting there all along.
Copyright 2021 by Doug Kraft
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