What Is the Mind?

Where is this self-clinging? That which clings to “I” is the mind; that which clings to “other” is also the mind. So the next question is: Where is the mind? It must be somehow in the body because when the mind is not present, we have only a corpse. So ask yourself, is it in the top part of the body or the lower part? How big is it? What color is it? If you pull a hair out of your head, it hurts, doesn’t it? If you prick your foot on a thorn, it hurts, doesn’t it? The mind and body must be somehow coextensive, mustn’t they? It’s as though the mind and body were stuck to each other. On the other hand, when someone is killed in an accident, where does the mind go? How did it leave the body and from where? It’s only when we examine the mind correctly that we discover how many false assumptions we have—false assumptions that, for the moment, are completely unnoticed. We cling to things as though they were permanent and will last forever. This is the measure of our delusion, tightly fettered as we are by this so-called “I” of ours—this “I,” in the interests of which, our mind enslaves our body and our speech, and creates all sorts of difficulties and hardships. When we arrive at a correct understanding of the mind, we can see that our present thoughts are just like waves on the water. At one moment they arise; at another, they dissolve. And that’s all there is to it: the mind is nothing but thoughts. The mind, which is empty, arises as thought, and this is also empty. The stream of consciousness, which is empty, is carried away by thoughts that are likewise empty. This is how the mind falls and remains in the six realms of samsara. It is the mind itself that fabricates samsara, and it does so because it fails to recognize its own nature. Now that we have some idea of the mind’s nature and how it works, we must bring it under control and master it. In order to do this, it is said that we must keep our body perfectly still. Moreover, if the body is straight, the subtle channels will be straight. If the subtle channels are straight, the wind-energy will be unobstructed. And if the wind-energy is unobstructed, the mind will rest in its natural, unaltered flow. Therefore, keep your body still and reduce your speech to a minimum. Don’t think about what you have just been doing. Don’t think about what you are going to do later. Without concern for the past or the future, let your mind rest in its natural state. This state, in which the mind is left as it is, untampered with and natural, is called “rest” or “stillness.” This “stillness” is actually just the mind itself. You could call it the “mind of the present moment,” or the “awareness of the present moment.” But whatever you call it, it is what—in this very moment—is actually knowing and joyfully aware.

Dudjom Rinpoche
Counsels from My Heart
Padmakara Translation Group
photo:  unknown photographer