Mind in Buddhism
by T.V.D Broek
I had asked a question about Dena's question to me, and
Jhampa's response carried forth into a lecture, of which someone had hot taped
the first part. Jhampa talked extensively on the Hinayana and Mahayana philosophy,
the benefits of vipassana and the disadvantages. Quick insight versus coming to
a block in progression beyond a certain point.
How mind functions and works,
watching how it creates itself, within that you have this awareness and when particular
things arise, you diffuse them. You recognize that they are selfless. That the
basis of the particular emotion arising is on the basis of me feeling a certain
amount of physical virility or a certain hunger. So therefore I think of food.
Therefore I think of extra-special food. So you start to recognize how you're
being is continuously creating itself.
That is the basis of nirvana. The recognition
that our motivations are based on desire for gratification, whether it is food
gratification, sensation gratification, emotional gratification, whatever. So
the conscious awareness of that individual develops, it continuously strips away
the fuel of suffering. In doing that, you try to create great positive karma,
because as I say, the fuel, if you get into it, start to think about what is the
headspace of a negative mind. If you take the standard ten non-virtues, killing,
stealing, and so on. When you look at the mind behind them, you will find, if
I am going to lie to someone, I am lying because I want to protect myself. So
the mind set of that person is negative. Because essentially it is focused on
self and it says I want to win. If I lie right now, I can win, I get a little
more money, I get some prestige, I will get what I want. That is the mind set
for that one.
You can start to realize that with everything. Take killing something.
Somehow you think you are going to avenge yourself or get something you want.
You are going to get rid of the pest that is bothering you. That is why you want
to kill. It is the same with stealing, Adultery, and then all of the negativity
of speech. There is always a fundamental point of saying, me, I am suffering and
if I do this activity I am going to win.
With vipassana awareness, you can
start to recognize that is a negative head space because it is normally motivated
to come back to I am the winner. So it is very much focused on self. And when
you develop a really good concentration, you will start to recognize that very
well. It puts you in an interesting headspace, as to what is negativity, which
creates suffering. Because all those headspaces put a lot of emphasis on me being
the winner, I being happy. Now, when you start to think of positive karma, what
is positive karma? Positive karma is the six perfections. Generosity, morality,
patience, enthusiasm, meditation and wisdom. Generosity has many different levels.
But generosity is giving. So the mind set, well, you could have a stupid mind
that says if I give this away, I will get more back. But, if you just have a good
sense of generosity, it is like I have too much of this, do you want something?
The Buddha said negative karma creates suffering positive karma creates happiness.
This is saying the headspace of a positive person, or a person creating good karma,
is really an outward flowing energy.
Generosity. Giving money, giving food,
giving clothing, giving love and kindness to someone. All those are levels of
generosity. The mind set of that person is based on awareness. The mind says,
let's give! And when you are in that mode, your heart opens up automatically,
you feel good! And if you get that down so you are that way all the time, you
are a nice person to be around, everyone feels confident and trusts you because
you are a nice guy all the time. And you feel really good. As an individual, you
feel good about yourself.
That is the headspace for a positive karma and it
goes with morality, which is not causing harm to another being. So there is morality
of body as in not killing, not stealing, not committing adultery. You have the
morality of speech, which is not being abusive, not lying, and not slandering.
All right, again, to avoid those things means that you always put yourself in
a positive headspace, say nice things, do positive activities with your body.
So there is morality. Again, it is always going out and has sensitivity for others
and consideration for others and the pain, which might be created in others, that
is what morality is. It is that sort of sensitivity.
if they are quite astute, they would start to recognize that. And then they would
end up trying to cultivate a very positive headspace. And that is where in the
Mahayana tradition; you could say it is guaranteed. Whereas in the Theravada tradition,
it is not. The Theravadin practitioner can go straight into non self existence
when a particular situation arises, it is empty of having any real foundation,
therefore I am not going to pursue it because it creates suffering for me. A Mahayana
practitioner says, my existence is an interdependent phenomena. If I create positive
energy it would be creating happiness. If I can learn how to not cling to it,
then I am creating the causes for nirvana. So therefore in that more intelligent
mind, then you can understand the creation of good karma. Then you could go further
and understand the interdependence aspect of the Mahayana tradition, which is
really, you as an individual have an unbelievable power of influence.
not cling to it because you are purely interdependent you are not self-existent.
But every bit of positive karma you create for the benefit of sentient beings
or the benefit of the world, and that is the mind set you should have, I would
like to benefit the world. All of that has terrific influence in the world. And
initially it is just a headspace. That is where I am coming from. But, as I say,
you can see it is going to definitely going to create happiness for me, it is
definitely going to be an improvement in the world around me, it is a positive
expression of energy and perspective, and to that, then you have the real basis
of the Mahayana path which is striving for enlightenment. Because, enlightenment,
i.e. becoming a fully enlightened Buddha, rather than an arhat who has merely
quenched the desires. The word arhat translated into English is foe destroyer.
So an arhat, the goal of the vipassana practitioner is to destroy the foe of ignorance
in the mind, which means unawareness, and the principle foe is the grasping at
ego as being merely existent. So a vipassana practitioner would understand that
this foe must be destroyed and they destroy it.
But, there is not statement
in there of I have a positive relationship with the world, I create good karma.
So you can get someone who attains nirvana very quickly. But they are not a very
nice person to be around. They are very quiet.
The Mahayana practitioner recognizes
they have a positive influence on the world and they start to pursue that without
clinging. The one point why that path works to take you to enlightenment is because
you start acquiring good karma. And as you acquire it without clinging to it,
and as you create qualities of being, being a more generous person, being a very
moral person, having wonderful patience, these qualities start to change your
being and in the scheme of Buddhism, they say over lifetimes, with a very clear
dedication towards that type of philosophy you evolve and each rebirth becomes
a better and better expression of positive qualities. Finally in one of your rebirths,
you will be at the pinnacle of perfection. You will be a wonderfully patient kind
and considerate person with a very clear mind, very good perception and everything
you have developed all aspects of yourself, and then you become enlightened which
is that you finally realize the ultimate nature of mind, the clear light and void-ness,
and in that then you have conquered death with that consciousness experience.
And with that awareness, then, you have omniscient mind and spontaneously without
any problem, continuously work for the benefit of sentient beings, because it
has been your whole practice all the time.
That is what Mahayana Buddhism is.
And so, it is not easy to respond to a vipassana practitioner quickly because
they will be a lot more together than you in the short run. In the long run, you
could say, for a vipassana practitioner who had high-level intelligence, most
automatically will swing over towards bodhicitta if they had any roots of positive
energy within themselves. If they don't, then they will go for nirvana. They will
quench themselves, they will destroy the foe, and that is it, they are finished.
They are rather uncreative after that. They are in nirvana.
Personally, I think
bodhicitta is the most wonderful thing to think about and reflect about because
bodhicitta is that all of which I talked about for a Mahayana practitioner is
what is termed as bodhicitta. It is a positive headspace. It is based on interdependence.
That I am fully interdependent with the world. If I pursue that headspace, it
is going to take me to enlightenment; I don't have to worry about it. It is guaranteed
to take me to enlightenment. That is the philosophy. And then come back to the
actuality of sitting here right now. In that, my biggest problem is my attitude.
My attitude will continuously fall away from its positive side. It will get lazy,
I will loose a little awareness, and I will start acting in negative ways and
Really, attitude is the most important thing. Awareness is important,
but if you think about what is more important, it is the attitude we have behind
the awareness. Because that establishes the flavor or quality or feeling to me
of the being of the person. So you want to work with your attitude. If my attitude
becomes very firm, it is guaranteed my actions will follow suit. It is impossible
that it would not work. If I really sincerely take this attitude to heart. So
you can then reflect on I am sitting here, and I am conscious awareness, I feel
energy in the body, I recognize that as being interdependent with the world around
me. So you immediately start to establish an understanding of void-ness, of non-independent
self-existence. That I am interdependent with the world around me. Now my attitude
is recognizing that aspect of it. The only thing I have to add to it is that I
want to be positive creative in the world. It is a little additive to that interdependence.
With that, you can say, if I can hold that head space all the time, I have the
most wonderful guaranteed happiness head space that every existed. One is, I am
guaranteed not to suffer because if I understand in any sense of depth interdependence,
I won't cling to desires passions and such. I will not want to follow through
because, let's say I cling to chocolate cake.
I want chocolate cake. I eat
chocolate cake. After that, maybe if I eat too much, I get a stomachache. Maybe
chocolate cake is my projection and the chocolate cake I get doesn't quite match
so I do not like the chocolate cake I got. All that suffering from that heavy
grasping to chocolate cake consciousness. So you have to think, I don't want to
suffer. I don't like suffering. And so when chocolate cake potential situation
arises, it is there and that is fine. If I eat it, when it goes in my mouth and
I feel the sensation of chocolate cake in my mouth, I have wonderful sensations,
but that is interdependence. So I have liberated myself with the sensation of
chocolate cake! That is perfectly valid.
Lama Yeshe loved that. That was his
main thing. He talked about chocolate coca-cola. He said, if you have the right
mind, and like I say it is all attitude, all it is saying, I am fully interdependent,
so being interdependent I do not cling to anything. Because if I try to cling
to something, it will start creating suffering in my being. So you do not cling.
So that is the side of nirvana.
The other side is saying, positive influence.
I have to have positive energy and positive relationships. As to chocolate cake
and whether you eat it or not, it becomes a non issue then. It is that chocolate
cakes are around and I can share with others. There is positive energy and with
the understanding of interdependence chocolate cake, and if I know how wonderful
chocolate cake is, when I offer it to you, it is the most wonderful thing, and
hopefully you like chocolate cake. I collect wonderful karma, don't I ? Because
I understand the quality of that offering. I appreciate the joy of that offering.
So when I offer that, I collect very positive karma because I am offering something,
which is wonderful. Now into that throw a little depth, if I can first get her
hooked on chocolate cake, then I can lead her to the Buddhist path, bring her
to enlightenment, bring her to the Mahayana path of bodhicitta, then it has deeper
meaning behind the chocolate cake offering. If you are good at it, you do not
lay a trip on someone, you are guiding them into the path of interdependence and
positive headspace. So it becomes wonderful!
So if you recognize that, then
even just to sit here, if you have it right, you should be able to sit there and
just feel wonderful because you have bodhicitta and you have interdependence.
And just having that headspace established in you here and now. You got it. There
is nothing, whether I am sitting here talking or I am driving my car or making
dinner. All those activities are really the same. It is awareness in the; immediate
moment, it understand interdependence, but it has this wonderful feeling in an
non clinging manner of creating positive energy and trying to be positive.
if it won't work. You have to go back to think, if I am creating positive karma,
I am creating the causes of happiness. So I should be getting happier. I should
be becoming more even keeled as I pursue this path. And secondly, because I am
creating positive karma in the path of this practice of fully recognizing interdependence,
not getting hung up and clinging to any experience, then I am on the path of becoming
a Buddha. And if you think on that, and you can think of the Buddha, he has spontaneously
as the most wonderful headspace. If there was a Buddha, and say it was a lady.
It is like when you went to see them, one, you would feel good around them because
they have a wonderful feeling. They are just wonderful. Secondly, with them, you
can know their energy is patient; you can understand that their mind is also very
intelligent. Like if they get attacked, they do not get defensive or attack back.
They have the intelligence to understand, hey, something is going on, this person
has a need, what is their need, and maybe they say oh yes you are right, I am
wrong, maybe they say no, or maybe they just accept it all and look like a wimp,
but it is, their mind is deeper than just a superficial emotions. The Buddha has
quality. You could take it to the more esoteric realm and Buddha has omniscience
and understands what they are doing with us. And when they talk or don't talk
to us, or when they do something it is this. So you can say, the Buddha is a pretty
And then you can say, if I pursue this path outlined in the
last few minutes, I could end up like that. And wouldn't it be nice to spontaneously
without having to sit there and suffer over how I am going to help this person,
to spontaneously know how to help this person? Wouldn't that be great? Just to
be a beautiful person without any egotism or grasping about it, just being right
In this you turn your mind onto what enlightenment is all about. And
then bodhicitta becomes even better because you can see it is worthwhile working
for. So you have to come back to your bodhicitta, which is interdependence, and
that positive perspective headspace.
If you are good at it, you can work at
it any way you want and you will always come back to feeling really good and reaffirming
again and again, putting down a good foundation for being here and now. Being
a happy person. Being positive. And yet not grasping and clinging which fully
qualifies vipassana's whole thing, to be a very detached or passive person with
a high level of awareness. Well Mahayana wants all that too! But with a better