Dharma Mind Worldly Mind
Without doubt the main theme of the book is implied in the title. Our approach to the practice of the Dharma must be quite different from our approach to anything else. Dharma practice requires a truly revolutionary mind – a mind that embarks upon a spiritual journey not to gain or become something but rather to surrender and unbecome. Because we are such conditioned beings to do this by an act of will is quite literally impossible. Yet, if we are to become free from suffering and break the chain of eternal rebirth, we must begin to cultivate this revolutionary mind.
In ‘Dharma Mind Worldly Mind’ I show how we can, through our practice, cultivate a Dharma mind – a mind that leads to freedom – rather than a worldly mind which seeks to make the practice just another possession of the self.
In the book, the completeness of practice is split into two parts. The first part is understanding the framework that we need to create for change, whilst the second part is describing how we bring that framework once created into life and practice it. ‘Dharma Mind Worldly Mind’ can be read completely independently from my first book, but reading it in conjunction with ‘A Record of Awakening’ will enrich and inspire the readers experience. The first book concerns itself mainly with describing the release and wonder of the spiritual journey to our original nature. This new one describes how we make that journey possible.
Dharma Mind Worldly Mind
The Basics of Practice
The Threefold Way
The Three Jewels
The Framework of Practice
Practice in Everyday Life
Staying at Home
Practice in Lay Life
Containment in Everyday Life
Kindness to All Things
The Middle Way
No Value Judgments
Change – Dharmic and Worldly
Karma and Rebirth
Spirituality and Faith
Extract form the book:
Having looked at mindfulness we can now look at its best friend ‘that which mindfulness is born of ‘: awareness. We humans not only have awareness, as all sentient beings must to one degree or another, we also possess the greatest jewel of all, self-awareness, that ability to know ourselves and, as it were, stand back and reflect on that knowing, which then gives us the ability to control and manipulate our actions. It is the highest evolution of awareness that sets us apart from all other forms of life, and when used to its highest potential it takes us straight as an arrow to Buddhahood.
What a wonderful aspect of our being to contemplate! When we really discover this mystery of mysteries on all its levels, it is the greatest of insights, one that when its ultimate understanding is revealed, is discovered to be the Buddha himself.
The whole of our Dharma practice is geared towards cultivating the habit of staying for as long as possible in that bare, naked awareness, where we know ourselves in every moment of being. To stay there for as long as our ability allows is truly to go beyond the world of samsara, because in those moments we are ceasing to create karma for ourselves and abiding in the still coolness that soon will take us to eternal freedom. The Maha Satipatthana Sutta states ‘When you stand, know you are standing. When you sit, know you are sitting. When you walk, know you are walking. When you are lying down, know you are lying down’. But how do we manage to achieve this? We achieve this by cultivating the eightfold path.
The essence of the Path is to cultivate the ability to abide in the middle way, that state of being that develops over years of practice giving us the ability to engage in life to the full, but not to take hold of it and make it ‘mine’, nor to go the opposite way and turn away and reject life. Both are attachments, whichever way we want to react. These are the extremes of life. When we perfect letting go of these extremes we are no longer beingpulled around by them, but rest in the cool of the middle – in the middle way. It is whilst in the cool of the middle that our self-awareness is at its brightest. It shines forth without the usual disturbances, and its innate ability to shine through the world and know its own reality is then at its peak.
We arrive at this profound state by cultivating our ethical behaviour and giving the heart peace, because it is harmonizing with its own natural goodness. From this stillness we can then strengthen our ability to concentrate and stay centred within our awareness. From this still cool centredness, our natural unspoilt awareness, we can use the insight tools of the Dharma (for example, the characteristics of impermanence, suffering, and not-self) that we have been skilfully and consistently nurturing to cut deeply into the created world of samsara. Liberation then comes from that still, cool state of awareness, and nowhere else.
Sometimes our awareness seems present for quite some time, and at other times we lose it altogether as our thoughts and mental pictures take over. In reality, awareness doesn’t increase or decrease, it is consistent and ever present, but it is like the experience of the sun being covered by clouds, we may no longer see the sun but above the clouds it is still shining in perfection.
It is from awareness that the blinding world of thoughts and mental pictures is born but then obscures that very same awareness. The powerful forces that bring this world of opposites into being, that create the stage for those thoughts and impressions to play on, are also ultimately born of awareness. But that awareness, which is the receptacle of everything, is always cool and miraculously never touched by any of it. It doesn’t need air to breathe nor food and water to live. Even at death, awareness does not die. At enlightenment, when the whole universe from heaven to hell, every realm of samsara that there is, dies and disappears, awareness doesn’t; it is still there and not for a single moment is it ever touched or disturbed. Do you now begin to see how wonderful this awareness that we all have really is?
If through years of dedicated practice you manage to destroy the world of objects and still the unending flow of thoughts, you will be able to journey even deeper into the wonders of awareness – where does it go, where does it end, where is its source? You will be going deeper and deeper, going beyond the world, and beyond that pathetic self that wanted everything. Is this awareness then the real me? It must be. Are that sound over there and my awareness of it really two, or are they the same? If they are one then I am that sound, I am that bird, I am that mountain.
Awareness then isn’t passive at all; ultimately it is anything but passive. Awareness finally discovers itself, and returns to itself. Awareness is everything, totality, all is one. One is only awareness and the great emptiness (shunyata) of love and knowledge, emptiness bathed in a warmth that loves all that is, that is infinite, full of bliss and eternally free – and is the real me. Just stay with the awareness that reads the words on this page right now, just stay there and be still without falling back into mental chattering, and you will soon discover the truth behind these words you have just read. Truly, mindfulness and awareness could never be thought of as the same.