Likened To A Clump of Clay

Shown a clump of clay, you would have ignored it, nor even take a second look, not to mention keeping it. But when mold into different shapes, you would have loved it, valued it, or even kept it. Such is the deception of delusion. Unrealized, craving brings specialness to the world. Delusion is not you.

The valuable paintings found in this world are just blobs of colors, the ancient precious priceless pots are just clay, stories are just fanciful ideas. The music you hear are sounds made up by odd-shaped objects. Everything being experience thru all the six-sense doors are well-deceived by delusion making it feels there is a “you” that love and hate for a little while, born and die and have to struggle, suffer or happy.

Such is the nature of the world where delusion breeds, where shapes and forms are valued. But they are not stand alone realities except dependent on its material. Not seeing this truth, craving held it on tightly for what was originally valueless.

In this way investigate all the experiences one can ever have, all the mental activities or processes one can ever lay hands on, with unbiased or prejudices – love, hate, anger, joy, loneliness, superiority, anything for that matter – and one will be joyfully shocked to come to realize they are only minds, all mind made they are. And what is mind? Empty in essence by nature, impersonal, impermanent and nothing satisfactory, likened to the valueless clay.

What are you going for?

Cause & Effect Misperceived

Many, if not all, experts in the field of brain and mind conclude that there is no such a thing as mind or consciousness. To them, it is the brain activity. Thinking is a brain activity. Feeling is a brain activity. Even knowing, to them is an effect of a brain activity. Why are they concluding it this way? It is because of the limited view of what they can notice or measure via instruments. The mind cannot be measured except thru what can be seen occurring in the brain, hence the conclusion that the brain is the powerhouse of everything.

This view is seriously flawed in the sense that they are giving priority or specialness to the body parts, missing what is extremely important, which is the mind. It is likened to emphasizing or glorifying a company instead of those behind the scene that makes the company possible. It is like saying the company is real. And the people in the company is the product or result of the company. Does it make sense?

In this way, the cause and the effect are being confused. The cause has been taken as effect and the effect as the cause. And this wrongness is not uncommon in our daily lives happening. It is like saying my spouse or children stressed me out. They are the cause and my effect is suffering. We always see situations, people, or even places as the cause of our unhappiness or happiness.

That’s why we look for people, for places, for holidays to fulfill our need for happiness because of the idea those are the causes to affect our wellbeing (effect). We want our spouse in a certain way. Our boss to be nice. Our children to be clever. Our employees to do well. Forgetting the very crucial and important point that the cause is not “out there”.

If we think the cause is outside to affect our wellbeing, we will chase after and need to do a lot to make that possible. But if we know the cause is within us, we just need to take care what is within, the rest will take care of its own. We will still do what is necessary in this world but it is from within to without, not the other way round. We speak not to impose, we speak because we are clear in our minds. We do things not because of the world. We do because we know it is beneficial for our mind. We advise not for other’s sake but because we knew clearly it is for the mind where the very source is. In the same way, we do not do because we know it is not beneficial for our mind. Our mind comes first. The world is an effect. This understanding can only take effect after a cyclic process of right information (sutamayapañña) leading to right investigation (cintamayapañña) and finally right realization (bhavanamayapañña) to how delusion works.

To see the outside as the cause is the result of projection, an error of a misperception, a false view. The see the world as an effect of our perceiving mind, is an extension. A view that enables us to have an understanding what is taking place around us. Thus, what A Course In Miracles points about projection and extension is according to the truth, a fact, not presupposed by assumptions.

All mental sufferings are the result of projections whereas where there is extension only peace can be its effect due to Right Understanding as its cause.

Only in this way true peace can be possible. Only in this way true freedom can be a reality. Freedom or peace from outside causes is more like a gratification, an addiction, for pleasures, rather than peace or freedom. Gratification is not freedom but bondage but somehow being tricked to believe as freedom upon being gratified.

Body or Bodhi?

Do you wish for a body or a bodhi? One is physical, the other, err… mental. Not really mental though, but since it is from the mind doorway bodhi arises, lets assume it is mental first. So which do you wish to have? You can’t have both except one. More accurately, you can’t really “have” both, except inclining towards either one of it.

But what is bodhi? Bodhi is just another word for awakening. Not the kind of awakening from your sleep or slumber. More than that. It is awakening from the dream state of who you think you are now; yes, while you are awake just as you are reading the text now. Uh? Yes. You think you are awake now. Well, as in any dream, you may think you are awake until you woke up from that dream. Until then the dream is not known as a dream but “real”.

Well, if you get what I mean, then back to the early question – body or bodhi? First, a body is what you already have – growing, and later aging, is its intrinsic nature, no matter how you may want it to be otherwise. Illness, disease, deterioration, weakening, hormonal imbalance is what you have to get used to in time to come. Heat and cold are what it has to adjust and address. It has its own nature of hunger too and also you have to relieve it when nature calls. You have to clean it, no doubt, otherwise, the smell coming thru can be pretty unbearable. Consider not brushing your teeth or bathing for a while! It is also. host to uncountable bacterias, worms, viruses and funguses.

Time and again you have mistaken the body for you. Hence, your body shape is extremely sensitive and important to you. As you look into the mirror, what you see you think is you. Sometimes you like the body, sometimes you don’t. Obviously, it is to show you that the body is a different entity since you can choose to like or dislike it unless you think the body is you and that you like or don’t like about yourself. So the question you need to get it clear is – the body is yours or you? The body is yours or the body is you are both two different sets of view. What about considering another new view – it is neither you or yours?

This new view can only occur when both the two earlier views are being challenged, investigated and observed over a period of time thru awareness, without bias conclusion.

Once both views are being debunked and demystified, you begin to notice clearly the body is just a body, neither you or yours. Yet, you may say that is just another view, no different from views promoting the other two experiences. So what makes one think the latest view is right and the other two wrong?

This question can only arise if we didn’t realize the difference between believing and understanding. Belief can be questioned, investigated and challenged. Belief can be overturned if it comes face to face with honest inquiry. Whereas understanding is not a belief. Understanding arises due to a long investigation without biases. It is opened to inquiry and test. Understanding or realization is a result of noticing realities, hence it is an indisputable fact.

These realizations or right understanding of the body or mind, unraveling its reality instead of the delusional concept of me, I, or mine leads to bodhi, overcoming the false idea that the body is you or yours.

So body or bodhi? Both have different consequences. Different realities except one is false, the other true.

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?