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)