Continued from Part 1
Here is what the great Tibetan teacher Machig Labdrön [see my article Machig Labdrön: Mystic Woman, Teacher Unsurpassed on my blog http://innertraditions.blogspot.com] has to say about the mind in her final teaching.
Mind itself [natural and co-emergent]
Has no support, has no object:
Let it rest in its natural expanse without any fabrication.
When the bonds [of negative thoughts] are released,
You will be free, there is no doubt.
As when gazing into space,
All other visual objects disappear,
So it is for mind itself.
When mind is looking at mind,
All discursive thoughts cease
And enlightenment is attained.
As in the sky all clouds
Disappear into sky itself:
Wherever they go, they go nowhere,
Wherever they are, they are nowhere.
This is the same for thoughts in the mind:
When mind looks at mind,
The waves of conceptual thought disappear...
The defining characteristic of mind
Is to be primordially empty like space;
The realization of the nature of the mind
Includes all phenomena without exception.
Right now you have the opportunity
Look for the essence of mind-- that is meaningful.
When you look at mind, there's nothing to be seen.
In this very not seeing, you see the definitive meaning.
This old woman has no instructions more profound than this to give you.
Machig Labdrön, the Tibetan Yogini who has known what the mind is and what lies beyond the mind, knows with absolute clarity just as Ramana Maharshi does: “When you look at mind, there’s nothing to be seen.”
When thoughts cease, we realize there is no mind, there has never been anything called the mind.
The mind is only an illusion. Like the moon reflected in the water in an old pail as in the story of the Zen bhikshuni Chiyono. The pail breaks, water flows out and when there is no water, there is no moon.
When the nirodha of chittavrittis take place, in the language of Patanjali, you achieve yoga. And yoga is seeing that the mind does not exist. It is the mind that separates us from our true nature, from pure Existence, and when we realize no-mind-ness, we realize our true nature.
What is the straight path that Ramana Maharshi is speaking about?
In Sky Dancer, her autobiography, the greatest of Tibetan Yoginis Yeshe Tsogyal speaks of the path leading to the realization of no-mind: imperturbable relaxation. When you reach imperturbable relaxation, and reach it consciously, you realize no-mind. Everything you do as spiritual sadhana is for achieving this imperturbable relaxation consciously. Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga, all are for that. The question that Ramana Maharshi asks us to ask ourselves repeatedly – ‘Who am I?” – the purpose of that questioning is not to arrive at a cerebral answer to the question, but to achieve this imperturbable relaxation. Patanjali calls this state of conscious imperturbable relaxation Samadhi – and the other seven steps of yoga are for reaching there. This is the purpose of yama and niyama, of asana and pranayama, of pratyahara, dharana and dhyana.
When you achieve stillness, mind disappears and then there is only one thing left: prajna, boundless intelligence, consciousness, wisdom.
Which is our true nature.
Prajna has no purpose, except to play the game of life.
One of the names for the Mother Goddess who is our true nature – ahamityeva vibhavaye bhavaneem, we say in our prayer invocation to her – is Lalita.
Lalita means the sportive one, the playful one.
Life is her game.
To be continued...3