June 23, 2013 § Leave a comment
Enlightenment, as I use the word, is where the inner light of your own being shines unobscured in and through you out into the world. Technically, that light is always shining just as the sun is always shining. But as clouds of water vapor can obscure sunlight so, too, can clouds of ignorance and misunderstanding obscure the inner light. In “August Meditations” I have been exploring clouds that appear in the sky of mind with the hope that through such exploration they will dissolve and fade away.
An obscuring cloud that seems to affect everyone is the belief that what we think about the world is, in fact, the world. At best, though, our thoughts only represent the world somewhat accurately. At worst, they can be complete delusion and fallacy. To explore this I have touched on both Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the Buddhist concepts of form and emptiness. PTSD, to show the brain reacts to past trauma as if it exists in the present. Form and emptiness, to show the emptiness of psychological form, i.e., thought.
There are two aspects of “form is emptiness”. One is the more common meaning that nothing has any inherent nature. That is, that objects whether of thought or that perceived through the senses, do not exist by themselves but are dependent for their existence on everything else. The second is emptiness in the context of Buddha Nature. This latter aspect sees emptiness as endowed with qualities of awakened mind like wisdom, compassion and clarity.
For the most part I have been writing on emptiness with the meaning of this second aspect. Specifically, that such emptiness is realized when the obscuring clouds of mind are cleared away or, at least, a break in the cloud appears. To me, a major obstacle to enlightenment is the false belief that our thoughts are self-existent things that have power to influence and harm us. We see in PTSD how viewing the world as a dangerous place leaves an individual always on the defensive. But even experienced meditators can fall prey to delusory thought.
The various meditations that aim to enlighten, especially in Tibetan Buddhism, are designed to awaken an individual from delusory thought. They seek to have the meditator realize that thoughts are produced by mind and have no existence other than what the meditator has lent them. “Gods, demons, the whole universe, are but a mirage which exist in the mind, springs from it, and sinks into it.” Writes Alexandra David-Neel in “Magic and Mystery in Tibet.” p. 287.
In meditation we are therefore told not to attach to whatever arises. As our practice deepens we are to take this attitude out into the world, letting things arise and fall without being attracted or repelled by them.
If you believe some particular thought represents some real threat it will be difficult to do this. But if you develop the attitude through daily practice that thoughts that create fear, depression, anger, lust, etc., have no substance, then those thoughts will gradually weaken. The clouds will begin to thin and disperse. Then, you are open to the emptiness of an awakened mind that shines with wisdom, compassion and clarity. You will awaken to your true nature. Buddha Nature.