Practicing Dharma

From Being Dharma (by Ajahn Chah)

As the mind becomes, more refined, mindfulness becomes more focused. The practice actually becomes easier as the mind turns more and more inward to focus on itself. You no longer make big mistakes or deviate wildly. When doubts occur in different situations, such as whether acting or speaking in certain ways are right or wrong, you simply halt the proliferation of mental activity and through intensifying your effort turn your attention deeper inside. Samadhi becomes progressively firmer, and wisdom is enhanced so you can see things more clearly and with increasing ease.

The end result is that you can clearly see the mind and its objects without having to make any distinction between mind, body and speech. You see that the body depends on the mind in order to function. However, the mind itself is constantly subject to different objects contacting and conditioning it. As you continue to turn inward and wisdom matures, eventually you are left contemplating the mind and its objects --- which means you start to experience the body as something immaterial. The body’s physicality is as formless objects that come into contact with the mind.

Now, examining the nature of the mind, you can observe that in its natural state it has no preoccupations. It’s like a flag on the end of a pole or like a like a leaf on a tree. By itself, it remains still; if it flutters, that is because of the wind, an external force. In its natural state, the mind is the same, without attraction or aversion, without ascribing characteristics to things or finding fault with people. It is independent, existing in a state a purify that is clear, radiant, and stainless. In its natural state the mind is peaceful, without happiness or suffering. This is the true state of the mind.

So the purpose of practice is to seek inwardly, investigating until you reach the original mind. Original mind is also known as pure mind. It is the mind without attachment. It isn’t affected by mental object and doesn’t chase after pleasant and unpleasant phenomena. Rather, it is in a state of continuous wakefulness, thoroughly aware of all it experiences.

When the mind is like this, it does not become anything and nothing can shake it. Why? Because there is awareness. The mind knows itself as pure. It has reached its original state of independence. This has come about through the faculty of mindfulness together with wise reflection, seeing that all things are merely conditions arising out the confluence of the elements, without any individual controlling them.

In the past, because the roots of desire, aversion, and delusion already existed in the mind, whenever you caught sight of the slightest pleasant or unpleasant thing, the mind would react immediately. You would take hold of it and have to experience either happiness or suffering, and you would be constantly involved in these mental states. Through wise reflection, you can see that you are subject to old habits and conditioning. The mind itself is actually free, but you have to suffer because of your attachment. That’s how it is as long as the mind doesn’t know itself, as long as it is not illumined. It is not free; it is influenced by whatever phenomena it experiences. In other words, it is without a refuge, unable to truly depend on itself.

In contrast to this, the original mind is beyond good and bad. But when you separate from the original mind, everything becomes uncertain, and there is unending birth and death, insecurity, anxiety, and hardship, without any way of bringing it to cessation.

Samadhi means a mind that is firmly concentrated, and the more you practice the firmer it becomes. The more you contemplate, the more confident you become. It becomes easier to know the arising and passing away of consciousness from moment to moment. The mind becomes truly stable to the point where it can’t be swayed by anything at all, and you are absolutely confident that no phenomena whatsoever have the power to shake it. The mind experience good and bad mental states, happiness and suffering, because it is deluded by its objects. The objects of mind are the objects of mind, and the mind is the mind. If the mind is not deluded by them, there is no suffering. The undeluded mind can’t be shaken. This is a state of awareness in which all phenomena are viewed entirely as elements arising and passing away.


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