February 7, 2016 § 1 Comment
When we think of integrating spiritual practice into our everyday life we usually think of being more compassionate and forgiving. Although these qualities are important they are not all there is to Buddhist practice. Practice also requires that thought, or the mind road, be cut off.
It is easy to misunderstand the meaning behind cutting off thought and believe it to mean that all thought must be stopped. The actual meaning is that we stop following thought, which also means we stop believing that our own version of reality is reality.
Not all thought is detrimental to spiritual life so it must be made clear that those not to be followed are the one’s that act as barriers to self-expression and self-knowledge. They are the ones we fall sway to and mindlessly accept as true representations of reality and the self. In daily life they are seen as dysfunctional thinking that leads to dysfunctional actions. In practice they arise as habitual thoughts, fears, aversions and attachments, or what we may call dream illusion.
In practice we may investigate dream illusion to see how the mind follows it and believes it to be real, with the aim of passing through these barriers to self-recognition. When formal sitting is completed little good will come if the rest of the day is then spent unquestioningly immersed in dream illusion. Effort is therefore made to maintain awareness throughout the day so as not follow thought into dreaminess, cling to it or accept it as real.
As practice becomes more a part of everyday life we may then start to realize that even the self is a construction of mind and a mere fantasy. Seeing this, the self starts to lose its center place in our lives leaving us to be more compassionate and forgiving to others. It also leads us to discover a world beyond thought.
We cannot, of course, conceive of a world beyond thought but at the same time that world is not other than this world, the one we live in right now. Perhaps we may get a taste of this by just observing how our present experience is clouded with thoughts and then imagining what it would be like if these thoughts dropped away. In doing so the words we use to describe the world fall away leaving flowers to be flowers and rain to be rain. Our immediate experience becomes just this.
If we take this process beyond imagination and drop the stories we have constructed about ourselves, we come to know ourselves as unborn awareness alive and complete in the immediate moment. This is your true self and it is your birthright.