Common Ghost in the Shell

Do you not notice that your mind and body is all you can ever experience, and not further than that? Even the “body” cannot be directly experienced except for the sensations which can be felt. The shape, form, and color of your “body” can only be seen by your eyes, hence perceived by your mind. Seeing and tasting are different senses altogether. The same goes for hearing, smelling or touching. From these bodily senses, mind or consciousness takes effect – which is what you are experiencing.

Anything further than these mindbody experiences is a mere construct, a fabrication of the mind/consciousness. Unbelievable? Surprised or shocked? Do you not notice this ordinary, yet simple truth that has always been such?

Take for instance, food. The food you eat can only be experienced as sour, sweet, bitter, salty or savoury – all through the tongue, which is a part of your body. But the tongue on its own cannot taste; taste is experienced by the mind. Thus, you can only experience what the body is able to sense, not the food itself. Whereas the kind of food that can be seen by your eyes arises through another bodily sense altogether, not through the tongue which is only for tasting. But the eye itself cannot see. It takes consciousness to see, hence it is called “seeing consciousness”. In other words, your experience of what you see ‘out there’ is actually nothing more than the mind’s perception or interpretation of experiences. You can’t really experience the world except through your mindbody’s experience of the world. Even quantum physicists are now debating whether there is even anything outside of consciousness, or mind – but that is not where I wish to delve into right now.

It is as if you are always one moment late in every sense – the mind experience first, only then you come next into experiencing what the mind experienced, never before the mind. More than that, you can never experience the world directly, except what the mind tells.

So what’s the big deal? Big indeed, if you come to realise deeply this simple fundamental truth. You just can’t take your life for granted anymore. Not in the sense of what or who you are but what can be experienced moment to moment is all happening within you realtime in your own shell of your mind – you are experiencing the mind, not the world. Think about this – when you judged someone, you are experiencing the entire thinking mind, not what is on the person. When you don’t like someone, come to realise that “that someone” is actually your own mind thinking, with “anger” as another mind experience, all within the consciousness of the mind. That’s what you are, every moment, when any experience comes up.

So who or what are “you” really? Do you not notice the mind can know “you” since “knowing” is one special function of the mind. Notice that when you have in mind “I know who am I”, it is actually a thinking mind? Either thinking about your past or the body. In short, the mind is like a big dream, where “you” is another fabrication within it. Be baffled!

And if you are not interested in investigating this, or have totally forgotten about this simple reality, your interaction with the world becomes real, as in any dream state, until you finally awaken from it.

A Gift of Miracle of Understanding

I was back in Penang last weekend for Qingming and an unusual event unfolds in my mind that I wish to share here. While waiting at the premise for the event to end, I noticed a guy on a bike came calling out for help. In most usual cases, I will just either ignore the plea of that person or maybe moved away from it. Due to the many unpleasant stories of the past which my mind buys into, I will always be in doubt whether those cases are genuine or not.

But this time round I noticed the doubt in my mind and instead of ignoring him, I gave the guy a sum of money as his plea to support his family. He requested for more and I am certain the amount that I gave is what I can offer. As I moved away from him, I noticed from afar a sweeper of the temple waving at me not to give. That instant moment I noticed a tiny guilt arising in my space of what I have done. This is the usual scenario that most of us would have encountered each time when a good deed is done and someone intercepted us with another idea and changes our mind of what we have done.

Somehow in that moment instead of regretting, surprisingly, understanding arises in the mind, showing me very clearly that this very mind that I experience has two potentials – generosity and stinginess. They are impersonal potentials – not me or mine. I can’t even give credit as “me” at that moment when understanding arises. They arise out of different conditions – there is just no right or wrong attached to it – except that one feels loving and the other unloved. In the past, the attention will be on both the persons – one seemingly ‘cheated’ me and the other ‘good samaritan’ advising me. In this way of viewing, they became my target of attack or defense. In such situation, it would have felt ‘so right” to make another right or wrong and make myself either in bitterness or self-blame. Often than not, pride arises thereon – doesn’t matter whether it is superiority, inferiority or equality – all are just defilements in pursuit. Whereas when understanding arises, it is no longer about anyone outside of this mind. Not even about “me”. It is about what is potentially in the mind that can ripen according to the situation.ovingnl

I can never imagine such profound potential for understanding that can arise in the mind. It is pretty amazing how such gift can take place without me needing to think it out by myself – even if I can, it is just a dishonest coverup of what I am hurt about. In the past, it would have been either right or wrong. It was such an unusual occurrence as compared to all such similar past experiences and I am just thankful that wisdom has done a good job out of it, instead of delusion taking precedent in that brief event. From this learning, if we take the initiative to be interested in our own mind, instead of targeting bodies, often then not, an unexpected gift of miracle is given. Each time wisdom never fails to show again only when there is a willingness to learn about our own mind.

The World but A Thought Creation

Thinking that you know and
Knowing that you think
Is not just a reversal play of words
But a matter of two different worlds

Of black and white
Of true and false
Of correct and error
Of mistakes and forgiveness

“Why he acts like an idiot”
Is true to you as you judge him
Not realizing thinking about him
Is what makes you think you know

Even asking who am I?
Needs a thinking to know you
Making you a product of thought
But not a knowing

You have confused knowing and thinking
Thinking knowing is not knowing
Knowing thinking is not thinking
Both are different worlds

Only then can you come out
Of this maze of deception
That makes you think you exist
But is just another thinking process

Who then are you
Of thoughts streaming thru endlessly
A make believe that “you” exist
And as such “others” too there are

Whimsical fragments of delusional perceptions
A world somehow comes to be born
And “you” an image, an imagination
Of streams of consciousness devoid of self

What then is thinking?
But tiny mad ideas occupying the now
Every now, every moment
Making a make belief “I-am” conceit

“Now” was never once a now
Of ideas of thoughts coming going
Occupying the central stage
Of a pristine backdrop of Unchanged

You and me were never born
Not to mention we all dies
For we never existed even once
No one here, no person to live

Beginning or end are mere ideas
Of meaningless time perception play
The truth is what It is
Beyond thoughts, beyond change

So trust not judgments
Or opinions, or comments,
Giving you a false hope “knowing”
“Thinking” that “you” “knows”

KNOW then what is taking place
As to aware how the mind tricks play
Of formations born endlessly
Of meaningless impersonal ideas

So long as “you” is felt
Any moment any time
With “other” opposite of “you”
Certainly, a tiny mad idea is running wild

Donald Trump, Adolf Hitler
Mother Theresa or Steve Job
What do you Think?
Made up by thoughts the very you

Wakeup, wakeup, please
So that this world would come to end
Without “you” needing to die or born again
With a Now Knowing taking a central stage

What Ends or Continues the Mind?

It all boils down to whether one understands how the mind works or not. Be it your mind or my mind, the “mind” has a universal nature that can be universally understood, if given time and effort. If the mind is not properly known or given awareness, many a time that mind becomes the pursuit of “a personality”. A sense of “self” arises from it instead of knowing that it is just a mind-made experience.

The mind is not personal, but it can be personalised according to what it is being conditioned to take on. And once it is being conditioned, it has a natural effect of its own; and this effect is universal in any mind. For example, judgmental comparison – its effect will be universal – either jealousy or looking down on another, or even putting one equal to another – depending on which end of the spectrum one is standing. It is just a game of deception that can be universally recognised, if only you were to take the time to be aware of its nature – the nature of the mind.

Hence, it is a matter of playing with the mind, or understanding the mind. Many a time we are not on the latter journey, which requires mindfulness or awareness to observe the mind. Worse, when the mind is being played, many of us are not even aware that we are “playing” with the mind. It is so deeply identified, that “me”, “I” or “mine” can only be its experience.

Thus, when we are depressed, sad, happy or anything for that matter, we do not realise that they are all effects – a natural effect of what we have planted in the mind beforehand. “Effect” in the sense that, as I have mentioned, the mind has its own natural path that can be pretty predictable when it comes to what you have planted beforehand. It is similar to the workings of the world. We don’t expect to have apples if we were to plant an orange seed. Neither can we expect to have a fantastic fruit-growing tree if we don’t nurture it well. Another mind-made example would be investing “trust” in another, only to be rewarded with “betrayal” at the end, if it turns out otherwise. The world is only a repetition of the past, over and over again, except the stories are different. The conditioning being played out is pretty much the same, all the time, though the storylines may have changed. We are not skilled in noticing those repetitive clues, or that we are not taught to notice them since we keep on playing and trying to perfect the game, hoping that one day it will be different. Every moment is perfect. There is no perfection in the future. That is the deception of Delusion, like a mouse on a treadmill, not knowing when and how to stop and jump out of it. A beautiful saying from Rumi, a well-known Sufi, illustrates this: Why do you stay in prison when the door is so wide open?

Thus, happiness or sadness, that we are experiencing moment to moment, is due to how we play with our minds. A good reminder from a well-known meditation teacher, Shwe Oo Min Sayadaw, is this – “if this mind is suffering, it is the fault of this mind”. But the question to oneself is not about how much happiness to arrive at or unhappiness to escape from since there is NO permanent happy or unhappy ever after. It is a fallacy. It keeps changing over time due to the arising conditions. In other words, it is not a bargain or a fixated experience. It comes as it comes and goes as it goes – impersonal to anyone for that matter.

The purpose of mindfulness or awareness, ultimately, is to realise that no matter how we play with the mind, it never ends. It just keeps producing fruits of personalised mind, a sense of egocentrism, the so-called “I am”. Yet, behind it all, it is empty of a self. Yet, the irony is that the experience of self is very real for many of us, simply because we are playing with it, totally immersed and identified with it! In reality, it is just nature of the mind arising all along, changing and changing over time. Hence, a good “person” may change to be bad over time and vice versa. A kind “person” too may be wicked anytime, depending on whatever potential in the mind awaiting to arise. In reality, it is not a “person”, but a conditioned mind of the past playing up. Hence, to judge someone by their acts can be pretty trivial or erroneous, not to mention, ignorant.

The purpose of awareness or mindfulness is NOT to generate more happiness though that may be its unavoidable effect. Otherwise, that intention “to have more happiness” will create new minds to perpetuate. To know that the mind changes every second is to understand one of its nature. Hence, to say “I am very XYZ” is a misleading statement, if not, ignorant. And not to see that nature is to await a time bomb, of whatever opposites that the mind can produce later. Our suffering comes from that – a personalised game of deception that we are not aware.

To know the mind more and more, and to understand it deeper and deeper, is a Grace indeed. Ultimately it helps us to stop the cycle of being trapped in the quagmire mind game which keeps on producing endlessly, until a way of ending it is in sight. Sad to say, that game, if not noticed, does not end after death, as the mind cannot die but continues on, subjected to whatever conditions one has given to it to make it survive and continue. Death and birth moments are insidious programmes to make one forget one’s past lives, thus making the reality of existence before birth or afterlife a fallacy. Birth, or even death, doesn’t tell much about the mind except the form – the body. Rebirth is NOT a belief. It can be clearly known when one notices one’s own mind over and over again; seeing how it never ends whether one wishes it to end or not. To believe or not to believe in rebirth is just another mind game, until realized through direct observation.

In summary, to be aware or mindful of our own mind, of all its incessant dependencies, tricks, habits, patterns, and the sufferings it entails, never mind the little happiness that comes along, is a major shift of how we finally escape the rounds of birth and death, aka the mind game of deception. The concept of heaven, hell, or earth, will all come to an end when the wheel of conditioning of the mind is being finally seen for the last time. If you have not realized there is such a thing as heaven or hell, forget about it then, otherwise, it will just be another dogmatic belief, another mind game. Just notice your mind more, be mindful or aware of it, as consistent as you can. Then you will know why those realms do exist. All made up by the mind, specifically by delusion, for its own continuity of deception. The mind is our only case study. An important mystery to be solved, once and for all. Is there “life”, or just mind-made?

Who You Really Are


Consider yourself, a passerby, passing an inn. Upon hearing much noise and merrymaking coming through, you peeped in and found with a little disgust, rowdy rantings with drunkards singing, arguing, fighting and gossiping, with some in torpor or drowned in oblivion gazes.

Affected by what you saw, without much reason to stay on, you moved along your journey – only to find more inns, in almost the same states! After more of this, you no longer have the interest to even peep in. Never once did you find one unoccupied. You became weary. Yet, you still had to move on as you could find no place to rest.

You are just an observer, a mere vagabond, a wanderer with no permanent refuge, looking at the occupants of the inns, finding no peace nor space, where you could finally come to settle. In some ways, you too, are slowly becoming to be like those occupants – restless, irritated, disturbed, tired and at times resentful of what is going on. Nevertheless, you prod on and on, hoping to seek but never to find.

But, what if, you were never a passerby in the first place? Never a weary wanderer, or a vagabond, but once upon a forgotten time, a House-keeper of all the many inns. The rightful Ruler of impeccable order, unperturbed by what is taking place and present to whatever happenings there are, uninvolved and unaffected by the activities. But somehow, one day, there came along one presence, Forgotten was his name, which, upon the first encounter, you fell under his spell. And in a temporary state of forgetfulness trance, it cost you to imagine yourself wandering aimlessly – like a dream, where happenings take place, yet you are tucked comfortably in the bed, never once moved away from it. And seemingly soon, without your care, the inns came to a state of ruin, where strange intruders of many kinds came to inhabit. Being rowdy, chaotic, unbecoming, they took over instead, having the inns as their party places.

Who are you? Who are “you”, really? What have you forgotten that makes you so deeply identified and associated with your mind? The happenings in the inns, like those comedians, drunkards, gossipers, dullards or skeptics are like happenings in your mind. Are you really the mind, the “happenings” that is taking place, where activities come and go like those comedians, drunkards, gossipers, dullards or skeptics? Or are you the ”Awareness”, the weary passerby, who occasionally took a good peep into the mind, only to find as always, desires and aversions, with restless thoughts and worries, at times sloth and torpor, and even doubt, plaguing, never at all any peace within. Sometimes you are totally lost in them; at times forgot to even notice them, and many a times you were seemingly like them.

Or, are you truly the Housekeeper of the mind? Whereby, perfect presence is given to anything that is coming through – seen as mere objects taking place – unmoved, untouched by their appearances. And “Forgotten” is just here to remind you of what has happened in that one ancient moment – of not forgetting to be present to him. That, you were NEVER the imagined traveler, NEVER the dreamer, with the need to travel through imagined time and having the weariness to peep in and out, finding unhappiness. Rather, you are truly in perfect presence and wakefulness to every moment of activity taking place.

Welcome, my friends, of days and years, and probably lifetimes forgotten, that the position of a Housekeeper is always You. The days of a passerby is over. Let not the rowdies, or the slayers, or even the gossipers trouble you. When you take on the Position, the house (mind) will surely be in order. The inns of your mind will be back into shape, glittering clean and bright, with heartfelt delight and loving warmth.

Take charge my friend, take charge, without needing to overturn or to intrude or even to control the mind, except reclaiming back your Reality. It has always been yours, briefly forgotten by a tiny spell, albeit a long forgotten one. A little mistake that only requires your Awakening. And the peek-a-boo game is no longer required. Welcome Home, my dear friend.

What’s the Problem?

Our moment, sad to say, is a problem-solving moment. It is always about something that has to be resolved. Nevermind whether it can be a happy problem, like hunger and thinking what nice food to eat – it is still a problem solving. The moment we wake up in the morning, open our eyes, the thought of “what to do” and “which to do first” comes into mind. Even if it is a holiday and you are supposed to be light and easy, it is still about something to do, isn’t it? Have you not noticed? “What to do now” is a hallmark of a problem in mind though you may not notice it as a problem yet.

And also, notice that the problem is always to be “solved” in the future, be it a next moment, or a near future. It can never be a situation where the problem and the solution are taking place simultaneously. Obviously not, as that will deem there was never a problem to begin with. To have a problem is to have it solved. Period.

Unless you don’t see the issue as a problem. Yet, that does not resolve the issue, as to find a way to “settle” the issue is already a sure indicative it IS a problem, but not seen as a problem.

Now you would have solved the mystery why you cannot escape but to have a “future”, even when nearing the moment of death, whether you like it or not, believe or not. Rebirth is here to stay so long as your moment is laced with a problem, a “something to solved” – be it a happy, unhappy or a serious problem. When death comes near the door, you are solving the problem of “I-don’t-want-to-die-yet problem” or “I-am-ready to-die-and-wonder-what-is-in-store-for-me-next problem.” It is near to impossible that you do not think at all, at any one moment of time, even now, not to mention near-death.

But the whole real contention is that BEHIND the problem IS ALREADY the Solution, not yet seen. There is no need for a problem-solved-future solution. Problem-solved-future-solution traps you always to yearn for a “better future”. There was none in the first place. Not now, not future, not to even mention in the past. There never was. Simply because each moment IS NEVER devoid of no-problem-to-solve. Each moment is a maintenance issue. To maintain is to solve an outstanding problem. Otherwise, where is there a need to maintain? The moment you don’t maintain, any problem will begin. Not that there is no problem if you maintain it. “Maintain” IS a problem to avoid another impending problem.

Maintain your health, maintain your relationship, maintain your position, maintain your status, maintain your age or life (as if you can), maintain your savings – life is about solving how to maintain. Isn’t life A PROBLEM? Not that life is filled with problems. Rather another word to replace “life” is “a problem-solving-process”. In the dictionary of Realities, “life” will probably be defined or equated with “a problem-solving-process” or “maintenance”. Not the usual definition of “ability to live” or a “sentient being”.

And back to Reality – that in reality, behind the problem is found THE Solution, not a somewhere “future” solution. The “problem” is actually a mental error, a mistaken thought that was not being questioned. The present Solution occurring simultaneously with the error, if noticed, is actually a rectification of that error, showing you the problem was never in existential, likened to one upon waking up from a dream realizes it never was. The present Solution is ALWAYS present, except veiled by the so-called erroneous “problem”, thus creating a strange pursuant of a “future-solved-problem” to arrived at.

Thus, your moment to moment “problem” actually HAS BEEN SOLVED, but not known to you yet. To even try solving any of your so-called problems is NOT to take notice of the ever-present Solution that requires NO time to arrive at. It is already here awaiting your realization. Thus, your “time” is being used or wasted to solve problems ONLY. Time is no longer required once it is being understood that the Solution is already GIVEN, awaiting you. It is a question of finding it in the midst of the present existential problem, not further than the problem, hence “time” is not inferred. If time is not required at all to solved the never-ending erroneous problems, will then rebirth serve its purpose? Will there even be a rebirth to take place?

Time is wrongly used by you used JUST for the sake of solving problems, maintaining problems. The Awakened One, without time, or timelessness, instead uses time only to correctly point to you the pristine Solution that is already here, just for your sake. Other than that, time was never their purpose to pursue. Wherein time, without a problem-solving thought? Where there is timelessness, where then is death, except deathlessness?

In summary, if ever there is a problem to resolve in your mind, you are not seeing correctly what you are supposed to see NOW.

Herein confirms what was scribed in A Course In Miracles, lesson 90:

Lesson 90

(79) Let me recognize the problem so it can be solved.

Let me realize today that the problem is always some form of grievance that I would cherish. Let me also understand that the solution is always a miracle with which I let the grievance be replaced. Today I would remember the simplicity of salvation by reinforcing the lesson that there is one problem and one solution. The problem is a grievance; the solution is a miracle. And I invite the solution to come to me through my forgiveness of the grievance, and my welcome of the miracle that takes its place.

Specific applications of this idea might be in these forms:

This presents a problem to me which I would have resolved.
The miracle behind this grievance will resolve it for me.
The answer to this problem is the miracle that it conceals.

(80) Let me recognize my problems have been solved.

I seem to have problems only because I am misusing time. I believe that the problem comes first, and time must elapse before it can be worked out. I do not see the problem and the answer as simultaneous in their occurrence. That is because I do not yet realize that God has placed the answer together with the problem, so that they cannot be separated by time. The Holy Spirit will teach me this, if I will let Him. And I will understand it is impossible that I could have a problem which has not been solved already.

These forms of the idea will be useful for specific applications:

I need not wait for this to be resolved.
The answer to this problem is already given me, if I will accept it.
Time cannot separate this problem from its solution.

Maintenance is who you are:

The Little Stories in Your Head

He looks better than me. She is bitchy. Oh! She is so cute. He is darn unfair.
How can he say that to me? Why is the world so hard on me?

Are these all familiar to you? Do you notice they are the little stories which run in your head? You probably have not noticed them as stories; maybe only as thoughts. Even then, highly possible you may not have noticed them as stories or thoughts, but something that may be very true to you. Say, you are looking at someone or something and a meaning arises in your head about that person or thing. Although, I am using the word “about” — which is actually purely a meaningour mind gives to what is being observed, many a time we do not notice that it is just a meaning defining a reality outside. The word “meaning” itself is a definition of a reality that is not entirely true or not exactly what it is. Another word for it is “interpretation”. Our meaning is our own interpreted perception, very different from what is really out there.

But when we experience those meanings, we rarely notice it as just a meaning, a thought, a “story” our mind tells — instead, we take it as real, as the truth to us. Now, if you can notice this clearly in your head, which is actually the mind, then that meaning, as a perceived reality, will be clearly recognized as a “perceived reality” — something that is interpreted or fabricated by your mind. But in actual experience, we seldom or rarely come to that realisation. Most of the time, it is not as simple. We believe entirely that our perceived reality is actually the ultimate reality — expecting others to also see as we do.

That brings us to a differentiation between evaluation and observation. Take for instance, to praise someone’s hairdo as “beautiful”. It is only an evaluation — as it can be a case of one man’s meat is another man’s poison, a proverb to illustrate how each of our perceptions is colouring what we are experiencing in the world. That hairdo can be something disgusting to another. Both experience realness in what they are perceiving and thinking. But is it really real, or just their own mind’s perceived reality?


Actually, we are merely experiencing those passing stories in our minds. It is coming through us, so to speak, and we are not even a doer of it. It has no relevance to what is really happening. They arise out of conditioning when our attention meets with those objects of seeing. In fact, every one of our senses is constantly bringing in a certain mental experience that we cannot stop, except to be experienced, since our senses are constantly contacting objects. If we are able to notice or become aware of them, then those mind-states or thoughts become our objects of awareness instead. Otherwise, they seemingly become real to us in each moment.

To say it again, we are merely experiencing those passing stories in our mind. Somehow, those stories, just because they are not being noticed for what they are, are projected onto the object which we are seeing, making us think they are actually the object. Like a coloured glass, each story colours those objects with amazing meaning, and thus produce an illusionary effect, an optical illusion, so to speak, of what we think it is. That is what the mind is all about, until being seen correctly.

Awareness, or mindfulness, is crucial to the process of direct realisation of what is actually taking place in each of our moments. And the purpose of awareness is simple — knowing the mind is doing the job of projecting and coming into your own direct realisation of it. It is up to you to unravel this baffling mystery. Only then can one say he is self-awakened to the mind, which includes the self itself. It is the case of, to each his/her own. The great seers can only point, each has to walk the Path themself.

(This article was earlier posted in Clove&Clive)