Buddhadharma in Everyday Life. Lojong Slogan: Examine The Nature of Unborn Awareness. ~ Linda V. Lewis

Via on Feb 1, 2010

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Winter is a great time to practice meditation, especially if you live where the snow and ice cover the ground. For then there are fewer temptations to be out and about. Things slow down. There’s even less noise from the streets, just the daily snowplow.

Usually, our mind is focused outward. It might flit from “Where’s the soap?” while bathing to a memory of yesterday’s race to the bus and not wanting to be late for the bus today, especially with all the freezing rain and slushy, surprise puddles outside.

The mind is so often a fickle thing—fluctuating from wondering what sweater to wear to what to have for breakfast to concern for a friend in the hospital, and wondering when in the day there will be time to visit her. The mind notices a new geranium bloom, while overhearing on the news that 200,000 people most likely died in Haiti’s January earthquake and that the government is in a tent outside the collapsed capital building.

Our mind bounces from sensory object to memory to thought to wordless, compassionate shock and awareness.

But when we sit down to meditate, where is this mind? At first, yes, we can rest our attention on our breath, constantly bringing it back from thought flickers to our breath. But where is this so-called “mind” that is the origin of both these thought flickers and this focusing on the breath? What does this mind look like?

Just try “Examining the Nature of Unborn Awareness” Good luck! There is no way to examine or to analyze something that we cannot find. But we can look. When we look at the mind we use the mind to look, not the eyes. Stop reading for a moment and simply sit up straight and look inward. Do you find “mind”?

If you do, that’s a problem, since mind is unfindable, unfathomable, and that’s why it is so often called “unborn”. You cannot find the beginning of mind, you cannot find it’s very first arising. Yet, if you have a pain in your leg, the mind goes there; if you have a headache, the mind goes there. So the mind is not nothing.

When we look at the mind, although we do not find it, there is this awake looking. There is the cognitive ability to know, although in that moment there is no findable object to know.

But every time we look, every time we flash inwards, we cut thoughts and all fixation on outer objects—at least for that moment. This slogan is great to practice every time we sit down to meditate. And it only takes a moment of flashing inward.

And this slogan is a powerful practice in itself. “Examine the nature of unborn awareness” is dynamite to all clinging and concepts. In the instant you practice this slogan, whether in a meditation session or post-meditation, there is this momentary experience of wakefulness and a full stop in the flow of karma.

There will always be appearances, but like the mind that perceives them, they are vivid, fluid, changeable, and ultimately empty, and this slogan’s wakefulness helps us realize that there is no need to fixate or dwell on anything.

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4 Responses to “Buddhadharma in Everyday Life. Lojong Slogan: Examine The Nature of Unborn Awareness. ~ Linda V. Lewis”

  1. Greg says:

    Where IS that soap? :>)

    Nice article. Raises the issue of there being more than one type of mind or consciousness. One can find the mind of karmic imprints — one can view the imprints. And one can view other phenomenal aspects of relative mind.

    But the mind of which you speak — the unborn awareness — that is the sweet spot. It is not out there, nor in here. Rather it is the state of being of pure consciousness — being aware of being aware absent all objects.

    It is interesting to view all fabrications — dense mind stuff — from the point of view of unborn awareness. The Buddha taught the important concept of the twelve cycles of dependent origination, which mainly goes misunderstood. In that teaching, he starts with unborn awareness and introduces ignorance which gives rise to fabrication, which then winds on down through the more dense phenomena.

    Many claim the Buddha did not address creation — but he actually did in the concept of dependent origination. It provides the map to all born or created phenomena and points to that which was "prior" — unborn awareness.

    There's some amazing teachings laying around. Thanks for bringing to mind the unborn mind. ::>)

  2. [...] the previous slogan, “Examine the nature of unborn awareness”, we looked for the mind and couldn’t find it. We discovered that the mind is “unborn” yet [...]

  3. tamingauthor says:

    Echoes of T.S. Eliot. Returning to the same place and recognizing it for the first time. Re-reading my old comment, thinking, "Yeah, he gets it." Then realizing that was an old version of me… a prior self expostulating on Self.

    Watching the merry-go-round circle…looking forward to Ben's comments. And comments from yoga practitioners who have read the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali that describe the same phenomenon. And Roger perhaps opining on the mystical route to understanding the Word that stands above little mind.

    Linda Lewis' comments continue to be the veins of gold in the granite Elephant. The ancient gold sparkling amidst the gray walls of postmodernism.

    Ah, well, got to get off to yoga class to make sure I die with great looking abs and gluts.

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