The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

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The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

THE NATURE OF MIND 47Dudjom Rinpoche who had watered it and made it blossom.And when I began to teach, it was his example thatinspired me.THE MIND AND THE NATURE OF MINDThe still revolutionary insight of Buddhism is that life anddeath are in the mind, and nowhere else. Mind is revealed as theuniversal basis of experience—the creator of happiness and thecreator of suffering, the creator of what we call life and whatwe call death.There are many aspects to the mind, but two stand out.The first is the ordinary mind, called by the Tibetans sem. Onemaster defines it: "That which possesses discriminating awareness,that which possesses a sense of duality—which grasps orrejects something external—that is mind. Fundamentally it isthat which can associate with an 'other'—with any 'something/that is perceived as different from the perceiver." 2 Semis the discursive, dualistic, thinking mind, which can onlyfunction in relation to a projected and falsely perceived externalreference point.So sem is the mind that thinks, plots, desires, manipulates,that flares up in anger, that creates and indulges in waves ofnegative emotions and thoughts, that has to go on and onasserting, validating, and confirming its "existence" by fragmenting,conceptualizing, and solidifying experience. The ordinarymind is the ceaselessly shifting and shiftless prey ofexternal influences, habitual tendencies, and conditioning: Themasters liken sem to a candle flame in an open doorway, vulnerableto all the winds of circumstance.Seen from one angle, sem is flickering, unstable, grasping,and endlessly minding others' business; its energy consumedby projecting outwards. I think of it sometimes as a Mexicanjumping bean, or as a monkey hopping restlessly from branchto branch on a tree. Yet seen in another way, the ordinarymind has a false, dull stability, a smug and self-protective inertia,a stone-like calm of ingrained habits. Sem is as cunning asa crooked politician, skeptical, distrustful, expert at trickeryand guile, "ingenious," Jamyang Khyentse wrote, "in the gamesof deception." It is within the experience of this chaotic, confused,undisciplined, and repetitive sem, this ordinary mind,that, again and again, we undergo change and death.Then there is the very nature of mind, its innermostessence, which is absolutely and always untouched by change

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