What Mind is

So the mind - does it need to be something which we can see? If we think that what has pain, suffering, problems and so forth, that this is what is called the mind, in this way we have to perceive the mind as something like a round ball. When we investigate into the mind itself there is not anyone who can really perceive a mind.

At the same time, this mind does not really die. From beginningless lifetimes until now, the mind of samsara has just been getting rebirth over and over. The mind which has been conceptualized by having that thought of subject and object is that which binds oneself here. It is that which projects the external world and then one's body and so forth. But no matter how much we investigate, there is no way anyone can perceive this mind.

All the past Buddhas have explained that there is no way one can perceive the mind in the past, present and future. If it is self-existing, then we could see it, like a round pill or something! So why do we think that it has to be perceived as some "thing?" All these "things" are created by the mind. All the experiences of happiness and suffering of samsara and nirvana - everything is just created by the mind itself.

So we will find if we think over the absolute nature of the mind, it is definitely emptiness. Some people might say, "Oh, my mind is very active and multicolored! Maybe it is possible somebody might have it!" Or maybe somebody might say, "My mind is something like a white light!" But it does not really exist in that way.

When we don't control the mind and just let it be free, then it starts to create all these negative actions and thoughts. That is why in these practices which we call meditation, although there are many levels of meditations, whatever the dharma teachings that have been taught by all the enlightened Buddhas, it is mainly to subdue this mind and to tame this mind. It is to recognize the fault of the mind is conceptual thought, which is a very dualistic thing where there is always subject and object, and this binds us into samsara or cyclic existence. At the same time we try to realize its absolute nature, to realize or recognize this, and that is the most important part of our practice.

When lama gives all these teachings, the practitioner receives them and tries to put them into practice and then they say, "Oh! I recognize the nature of the mind!" But by just recognizing the conceptual mind, it is very difficult that one could attain enlightenment. That which creates all these emotions and conceptual thoughts - that is called the mind. But the actual practice is of something which is beyond that kind of conceptual mind, which is known as wisdom. It is that which we need to realize. So we cannot achieve the ultimate happiness just by recognizing the conceptual mind.

There are many kinds of practices  which aim to pacify all these kinds of negative thoughts and to control the afflicted mind, to purify and abandon them. When we do these practices and achieve some tranquility through which we can concentrate our mind and make it very stable, then we can perhaps concentrate our minds on the emptiness through which we may achieve some realization. So when we practice meditation and manage to get kind of settled and stable, even having just a little bit of experience of emptiness is really beneficial and can accumulate lots of merit.

His Holiness Penor Rinpoche

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