Mind fields of desire: Part 2

By Sal Barba, PhD | Jul 03, 2012

"Among body, speech, and mind, the mind is all-creating” – Alan Wallace

What does this mean, "the mind is all-creating"? What is it that we actually observe when observing anything that arises in nature? We see phenomena through our five physical senses, or with the use of a scientific measuring instrument or observation.

However, what we actually see is appearances. These objective entities such as space, time, matter and energy, provide us with no access to them as they are. They are independent of any such measurements and/or observations.

Furthermore, we do not have knowledge of our mind independent of the conscious mental appearances that arise.

In fact, Buddhist philosophy teaches us to develop bifurcation of subject and object. We train our mind to observe and to be aware of what arises in the mind and what arises outside of our mind such as matter. However, all of this is created by our conceptual mind.

Therefore, no category of appearances can exist apart from or independent of the conceptual designations of our mind.

One of the difficulties we have in allowing our awareness to be present with everything that arises in our mind field is the reification of self.

We believe that we are a self, and a self that we think is unchanging. We insidiously become embroiled in our mind-games. However, in meditation practice, we must be careful to not enter the trap of nihilism.

As I stated in previous columns, we have a self, but it is conceptual and relative, subject to change whether we like it or not!

Therefore, it is a delicate balance between self and no-self. Shamatha practice with insight-oriented practices helps us to steward our way through this fragile balancing act.

However, to attain shamatha, we must overcome our obscurations, such as wishing others ill will, enmity, or malice. We cannot carry our baggage into shamatha practice, because these states of mind are antithetical to the practice of shamatha.

Therefore, we must deconstruct our obscurations to be able to enter the sublime state of shamatha, which by definition, opens us to exceptional psychological balance and health.

In shamatha practice, we cannot derive exceptional states of perception or siddhis, while simultaneously wishing others ill-will. And, shamatha practice is actually the basis to develop paranormal abilities (siddhis).

Shamatha can support us to develop the full range of our potential to become fully awake in one life time. Although, attaining such abilities can be extremely helpful to our self and to others; a practitioner can become arrogant or can develop pseudo-divine pride based on the belief that "I am number one."

This type of a practitioner is primarily interested in impressing others with their "paranormal" abilities. However, shamatha has a fail-safe system in that our destructive desires cannot exist in the same space as that profound calm, sublime state of mind that shamatha generates.

We can protect our shamatha practice through non-identification, mindfulness and fearless presence. When we meet our obscurations by recognition, acceptance, investigation and non-identification, enlightenment is truly possible in one lifetime!

It is important to continue to develop a daily practice of meditation. Training yourself to rest and relax in the breath, and in the mind without altering anything, is like training a puppy, by bringing your awareness back to your breath hundreds of times over weeks and months and years.

However, just stay with it! When you stay with it you will discover that awareness of your breath will help you to steady and quiet your body and mind.

This calm abiding by relaxing and letting go of whatever may be arising in your mind, will support you to meet all kinds of experiences that surface in your mind with balance and non-attachment.

Remember, we need to develop wholesome attachment to our life to benefit from the form of meditative non-attachment, which means that we must engage in the hard nuts and bolts of psychological work of body, mind and relationships!

The healthy engagement in psycho-spiritual work will support you to discover a greater sense of being centered in response to the ever-changing mandala of your life! Your ever-changing life.

I wish you well, I wish you love, I wish you to truly attain your potential and to truly be free.

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