Posted by: Soh

Excerpt from 'The Sun My Heart' by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh

Sunshine and Green Leaves

Beginning meditators usually think they must suppress all thoughts and feelings (often called "false mind") in order to create conditions favorable to concentration and understanding (called "true mind"). They use methods such as focusing their attention on an object or counting their breathes to try to block out thoughts and feelings. Concentrating on an object and counting the breath are excellent methods, but they should not be used for suppression or repression. We know that as soon as there is repression, there is rebellion -- repression entails rebellion. True mind and false mind are one. Denying one is denying the other. Suppressing one is suppressing the other. Our mind is our self. We cannot suppress it. We must treat it with respect, with gentleness, and absolutely without violence. Since we do not even know what our "self" is, how can we know if it is true or false, and whether or not what to suppress? The only thing we can do is to let the sunlight of awareness shine on our "self" and en-lighten it, so we can look at it directly.

Just as flowers and leaves are only part of a plant, and just as waves are only part of the ocean, perceptions, feelings, and thoughts are only part of the self. Blossoms and leaves are a natural manifestation of plants, and waves are a natural expression of oceans. It is useless to try to repress or stifle them. It is impossible. We can only observe them. Because they exist, we can find their source, which is exactly the same as our own.

The sun of awareness originates in the heart of the self. It enables the self to illuminate the self. It lights not only all thoughts and feelings present. It lights itself as well.

Let us return to the apple juice, quietly "resting." The river of our perceptions continue to flow, but now, in the sunlight of awareness, it flows peacefully, and we are serene. The relation between the river of perceptions and the sun of awareness is not the same as that of an actual river and the actual sun. Whether it is midnight or noon, whether the sun is absent or its penetrating rays are beaming down, the waters of the Mississippi River continue to flow, more or less the same. But when the sun of awareness shines on the river of our perceptions, the mind is transformed. Both river and sun are of the same nature.

Let us consider the relationship between the color of leaves and sunlight, which also have the same nature. At midnight, the starlight and moonlight reveal only the form of the trees and leaves. But if the sun were suddenly to shine, the green color of the leaves would immediately appear. The tender green of the leaves in April exists because the sunlight exists. One day, while sitting in a forest, mimicking the Prajna Paramita Heart Sutra, I wrote:

Sunshine is green leaves
Green leaves are sunshine
Sunshine is not different from green leaves
Green leaves are not different from sunshine
The same is true of all forms and colors.

As soon as the sun of awareness shines, at that very moment a great change takes place. Meditators lets the sun of awareness rise easily, so we can see more clearly. When we meditate, we seem to have two selves. One is the flowing river of thoughts and feelings, and the other is the sun of awareness that shines on them. Which is our own self? Which is true? Which false? Which is good? Which bad? Please calm down, my friend. Lay down your sharp sword of conceptual thinking. Don't be in such a hurry to cut your "self" in two. Both are self. Neither is true. Neither is false. They are both true and both false.

We know that light and color are not separate phenomena. In the same way, the sun of self and the river of self are not different. Sit with me, let a smile form on your lips, let your sun shine, close your eyes, if need be, to see your self more clearly. Your sun of awareness is only part of your river of self, isn't it? It follows the same laws as all psychological phenomena: it arises and vanishes away. To examine something with a microscope, a scientist must shine light on the object being observed. To observe the self, you must shine light on it too, the light of awareness.

I just told you to put down your sword of conceptualization and not cut your self into sections. Actually, you couldn't, even if you wanted to. Do you think you can separate the sunshine from the green color of the leaves? You can no more separate the observing self from the self observed. When the sun of awareness shines, the nature of thoughts and feelings is transformed. It is one with the observing mind, but they remain different, like the green of the leaves and the sunshine. Don't rush from the concept of "two" to the concept of "one." This ever-present sun of awareness is at the same time its own object. When a lamp is turned on, the lamp itself is also brought to light. "I know that I know." "I am conscious of being conscious." When you think, "The sun of awareness has gone out in me," at that moment it re-lights itself, faster than the speed of light.


some other quotations which Thusness/PasserBy liked from the book --

"When we say I know the wind is blowing, we don't think that there is something blowing something else. "Wind' goes with 'blowing'. If there is no blowing, there is no wind. It is the same with knowing. Mind is the knower; the knower is mind. We are talking about knowing in relation to the wind. 'To know' is to know something. Knowing is inseparable from the wind. Wind and knowing are one. We can say, 'Wind,' and that is enough. The presence of wind indicates the presence of knowing, and the presence of the action of blowing'."

"..The most universal verb is the verb 'to be'': I am, you are, the mountain is, a river is. The verb 'to be' does not express the dynamic living state of the universe. To express that we must say 'become.' These two verbs can also be used as nouns: 'being", "becoming". But being what? Becoming what? 'Becoming' means 'evolving ceaselessly', and is as universal as the verb "to be." It is not possible to express the "being" of a phenomenon and its "becoming" as if the two were independent. In the case of wind, blowing is the being and the becoming...."

"In any phenomena, whether psychological, physiological, or physical, there is dynamic movement, life. We can say that this movement, this life, is the universal manifestation, the most commonly recognized action of knowing. We must not regard 'knowing' as something from the outside which comes to breathe life into the universe. It is the life of the universe itself. The dance and the dancer are one."

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Comments by Thusness/PasserBy:

"...as a verb, as action, there can be no concept, only experience. Non-dual anatta (no-self) is the experience of subject/Object as verb, as action. There is no mind, only mental activities... ...Source as the passing phenomena... and how non-dual appearance is understood from Dependent Origination perspective."
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