Best friend or worst enemy

Our mind can be our best friend or our worst enemy.
That is one reason why we should put in effort to study ourselves, to teach our mind, to cultivate a positive relationship with it.

Your parents, your siblings, your spouse, your children, your peers, they will not be your lifelong companion.
They can’t.
But your mind is your constant companion in life, every moment and everywhere.
And it can be your best friend or your worst enemy.
What are you going to do about it?

Six steps of self-cultivation

This is my appreciation so far of what these six steps of Chinese words mean.

疑 (doubt)
参 (enter)
破 (burst)
空 (empty)
執著 (persist)
起用 (use)

Doubt what your self is.
Enter and penetrate the doubt.
Burst the core.
Attain the state of ’emptiness’.
Persist in the enlightenment to train the mind.
Use what has arisen after the enlightenment.

Why bother to be good?

For those of us who are not deeply religious, why do we bother to be a good person?

There is no promise of heaven.
There is no condemnation to hell.
There is no karmic reincarnation.
There is no good/evil judgement in the afterlife.

So why do we bother?
Most people would rather be clever and rich and popular than be good.

Do we try to be good because of social pressure?
Do we try to be good because of selfish pleasure?
What is a good person anyway?

Consciousness is like a mirror (3)

The instant of pure consciousness is like you, staring directly into the mirror at your ‘self’.
You can’t differentiate:
if you are the one doing the looking,
or the one being looked at.

And immediately afterwards, you realise there was no one in the mirror; yet you are there.
Who are you?
What are you?

And then, you are enlightened.

*

You are the mirror looking into another mirror.

Consciousness is like a mirror (2)

Consciousness is like a mirror that reflects the activity of the mental and physical worlds.

Yet some people think they can empty the mirror of its images and attain that instantaneous awakening by wiping its surface diligently.
No matter how they wipe, the images remain there. Because it’s the sensations of the body and perceptions of the mind that are giving trouble. Nothing to do with the mirror. The mirror can’t be emptied of the images through wiping effort.

Different sects of Buddhism propose different methods to train the mind to ‘clear the mirror’.
Zen’s style trains the mind first by not training the mind.
This style seeks enlightenment simply by witnessing and recognizing that firstly, you are the ‘mirror’, and secondly, the ‘mirror’ is always pure and clean (that’s why it can reflect images!).
This is awakening through direct experience of the true nature of consciousness and your ‘self’.

Only after this does the zen meditator begin his training of the mind: by staying constantly in this state of awakening – and the mind trains itself.

What is enlightenment?

Fire spirit finding fire.

*

Begin by sincerely finding your ‘self’.
Be utterly sincere about it.
Be absolutely single-minded about it.
Once you recognize that the one searching for the ‘self’ is the ‘self’ itself, you are enlightened.

Then, exorcise the ‘self’.
Until only that ‘thing’ remains – pure and empty.

Serving this body

All our life we are busy serving this body – feeding it with food, keeping it comfortable, giving it pleasure, taking medicine when it’s sick, lying on bed when it’s tired…
Yet despite all that we’ve done, it still dies in the end.
So, what’s the meaning of it all?

If we can’t answer this, we will always suffer extra when we are suffering.
Because we don’t know why we are suffering.

Finding his face

A handsome man wakes up one morning to look at himself.
He stares at the mirror in shock:
“What’s this? Where did my real face go?”

There is a face in the mirror, but the man has already decided: it’s not his.
It is only a mirror reflection. Not the real thing.

He then takes out his camera and snaps a selfie.
He looks at the photo but concludes that it’s not his face too.
It is only a digital image of pixels.

By this time he is in a state of panic.
For he realises that he’s been leading a deluded life, believing that reflections and images are actually his face when they are only illusions. He has never seen his own face for real.
So he keeps searching and he keeps asking himself:
“What is my real face? How does it really look like? How can I ever see it?”

*

Now, have you ever seen your real face?