Weekly Insights from Meditation Classes You May Have Missed
By Joseph Giacona, Williamsburg Meditation Teacher
According to Buddha, peace is the very nature of our mind.
Whether we are engaging in formal meditation on a cushion or chair, or we are out of meditation engaging in daily activities, whenever we experience a little bit of peace, a little bit of happiness, a little moment of stillness, we strongly identify this experience of peace as a reflection of our actual nature. Normally, we identify with the cloudy agitation in the sky of our mind and pay very little attention to the light rays of peace and happiness. And rarely do we associate those peaceful light rays as emanating from a vast sun - the sun of endless possibility. The little bit of peace we experience reflects our potential for a much deeper experience of peace. Through beginning to connect to this peace, strongly identifying with it, we will begin to change the way we relate to ourself from someone who is disconnected from peace and happiness to someone very different, a person who is connected to a source of peace and happiness all the time.
Buddha's insight into the nature of reality shows us that everything is created by the mind. For example, right at this very moment you are creating your experience of this newsletter. Someone, somewhere else in Brooklyn is having a very different experience of this newsletter. So the only newsletter you know is the one created by your mind. Other than your experience of the newsletter, there is no newsletter, for you. So if you think it's a crappy newsletter, then it's not the newsletters fault!
Likewise, the only self you know is the one created by your mind. How you identify with yourself creates who you are. In other words, do you think you got it bad? Well, then you do. Identification is creation. Good and bad, unlimited and limited are labels created by the mind. If you identify yourself as a peaceful person, then that’s who you'll become. You have freedom to drop that limited self you normally relate to and make room for the unlimited person you long to be. Why create a painful identity and live a life completely out of touch with reality? Clearly a colossal waste of a precious commodity we lose moment by moment - time.
For example, when you go off to sleep at night, if you begin dreaming of yourself as a limited, depressed person, are you really a limited person? Or are you just a 'dream' limited person? Clearly it’s just a dream limited person. Is a dream-limited person actually limited? Does a dream limited person actually exist? Is a dream person actually depressed? No. But we think it to be true. In the dream we strongly identified with ourself as limited, hurt, becoming upset, depressed, feeling very stuck, but when we wake up we realize the dream person didn't exist. What a sense of great relief! Buddha said that all phenomenal are like this, dream-like in nature and only exist relative to the mind and are, in fact, created by the mind.
In The Oral Instructions of Mahamudra, Geshe Kelsang says, “All my appearances in dreams teach me that all my appearances when awake do not exist ... ’ In failing to realize we are simply dreaming, we respond to our dream creations incorrectly and as a result become angry, anxious and frustrated. If we knew we were dreaming we would never get upset. Why become upset with your own creations? Buddha said the same is true of our waking experiences; all our waking experiences are also 'just' dream-like appearances to the mind.
We should spend some time analyzing our dreams, reflecting deeply on how a whole world, that doesn't even exist, can appear clearly to our mind.
In Sanskrit, the word Buddha means ‘Awaken One.’ When we awake from this misunderstanding, this misapprehension of ourself as limited, the dream of our suffering ends. We realize that the limited self, the stuck self that we normally see was simply our own creation. It was nothing other than a mere dream-like fabrication of the mind, with no definite, solid truth. Amazing! We always abide in a state of limitless possibility. The limited, stuck, loser person is just an idea, and a very bad one at that. Be creative. Imagine who you want to be and create it. What's stopping you? One thing: the silly idea thinking that real change isn't possible.
In Training the Mind in Seven Points, Geshe Chekhawa says, “Think that all phenomena are like dreams.” Geshe Kelsang explains, "Some of the things we see in our dreams are beautiful and some are ugly, but they are all mere appearances to our dreaming mind. They do not exist from their own side, and are empty of inherent existence. It is the same with the objects we perceive when we are awake—they too are mere appearances to mind and lack inherent existence."
Meditation for this Week
We contemplate, "How am I relating to myself? As a capable person or an incapable person? As someone who has a source of peace and happiness right in their heart or as someone who is disconnected from peace and happiness?" More often than not, we will discover we are relating to ourself as limited. We need to see directly, in our own experience, that we are creating that limited person, moment by moment. There is no real, fixed person actually there. We have freedom to create the person we long to be. Then we ask, "Does that limited person exists inside my mind or outside my mind?" We then remember that just as our entire dream experience exists inside of our mind, so too this limited person we are relating to, also exists inside our mind. Through continuous contemplation, we will soon catch on and realize, 'I have freedom to let go of the limited self, let go of this limited, dream-like appearance and become an enlightened being.'
The Unmistaken Dharma of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso
Geshe la says. . .
“When a magician creates an illusory horse, a horse appears very clearly to his mind but he knows that it is just an illusion. Indeed, the very appearance of the horse reminds him that there is no horse in front of him. In the same way, when we are very familiar with emptiness, the very fact that things appear to be inherently existent will remind us that they are not inherently existent. We should therefore recognize that whatever appears to us in our daily life is like an illusion and lacks inherent existence. In this way our wisdom will increase day by day, and our self-grasping ignorance and other delusions will naturally diminish.” - From How to Transform Your Life (FREE E-BOOK)
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