by Rev. Koshin Schomberg

Chapter 18
The True Mind

Think of neither good nor evil, consider neither right nor wrong. Control mind-function, will, consciousness, memory, perception, and understanding. You must not strive thus to become Buddha. Just sitting with no deliberate [i.e. willful] thought is the important aspect of Serene Reflection Meditation.

--from Rules for Meditation by Great Master Dogen, translated by Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett

Meditation and the True Mind

The true natural state of our mind can be likened to a balloon filled with helium that floats effortlessly above the ground simply by virtue of the fact that the gas with which it is filled is lighter than the surrounding air.

I will call the "true natural state of our mind" the "True Mind." Just as the helium-filled balloon floats above the ground without anyone having to repeatedly strike it or pull on it from above by means of a string, the True Mind exists effortlessly in benevolent stillness simply by virtue of the fact that It is what It is. No one needs to exert effort to make the True Mind more peaceful or more kind: it is Its Nature to be perfectly peaceful and perfectly kind.

Therefore while the practice of meditation involves effort, it is not an effort that creates peace of mind. Rather, it is effort to refrain from chasing after, or pushing away, ephemeral thoughts and feelings, thus allowing the inherent serenity of our True Mind to manifest naturally. Thus it can be said that the True Mind is forever in meditation, and that our effort to meditate is really an allowing of worries and fears to subside so that the Meditation that is always happening has a chance to reveal Itself.

Precepts and the True Mind

Worry and fear can blind us to our True Mind. But where did the worries and fears come from in the first place?--From "greed, hate and delusion, born of willful actions of body, speech and thought."

If we do not wish to go through life blinded to our True Mind, we need to refrain from continuing on down that road of greed, hate and delusion. That is why we have the Ten Precepts.

The Four Wisdoms and the True Mind

The Ten Precepts help us understand what not to do. The Four Wisdoms--charity (generosity), tenderness, benevolence and sympathy--help us identify what is good to do. In actual fact, these Four Wisdoms are inherent within our True Mind. So when our actions manifest these Wisdoms naturally and unselfconsciously, our True Mind shows Itself in our daily life.

Self and Other and the True Mind

There are not a whole bunch of separate True Minds: there is only one True Mind. Nor is It unique to humans: all beings share in the True Mind.

Therefore, when I do that which is truly good for me, I do that which is truly good for others; and when I do that which is truly good for others, I do that which is truly good for me. This truth does not stand against the fact that it can often be very difficult to discern what really constitutes one's own good, or the good of another person. The best way to solve such puzzles is to take them to the Eternal in meditation and allow the Eternal (which is our True Mind) to help us see what course of action will do the best for everyone concerned. In the short-run, this course of action may have its painful aspects; in the long-run it will indeed be proved to have been the best course of action.

The True Mind and our Suffering Humanity

Because It is our True Mind, the True Mind is never far removed from even the most clouded, confused, pained, desperate states of mind. Of course, this teaching may provide cold comfort to the person who feels overwhelmed by confusion and pain. But if at any point any being can grasp the will and look up spiritually, allowing thought and feeling to flow back to the Eternal, the stillness and brightness of the True Mind can have the opportunity to manifest in that person's consciousness.

Our humanity is not the enemy of the True Mind. Out of our human need, we cry out for help. This cry for help makes an opening through which the Light of the True Mind can shine upon confusion and pain. Whatever is illuminated by that Light of Compassion is helped. Thus our human suffering opens the way to re-harmonization with the True Mind.



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