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Thread: Accepting life as it is

  1. #1

    Accepting life as it is

    A quote from Ajahn Sumedho:


    The empty mind - the pure mind - is not a blank, zero-land, where you're not feeling or caring about anything. It's an effulgence of the mind. It's a brightness that is truly sensitive and accepting. It's an ability to accept life as it is. When we accept life as it is, we can respond appropriately to the way we're experiencing it, rather than just reacting out of fear and aversion.

    https://www.azquotes.com/quote/912764


    Any comments?


  2. #2
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    Kind of contradictory, saying that if the mind is empty it is still caring and feeling. The quote is talking about afterwards, not the instance when you have an 'empty mind'. It is rather looking at things in the light of what happened when you had one.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by philg

    Kind of contradictory, saying that if the mind is empty it is still caring and feeling. The quote is talking about afterwards, not the instance when you have an 'empty mind'. It is rather looking at things in the light of what happened when you had one.

    I disagree, I think Ajahn Sumedho is talking about what I would describe as the calm, non-conceptual, radiant mind, which potentially has the qualities of penetrating awareness, clarity and boundless metta. (and which automatically includes "an ability to accept life as it is".)





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    I am in agreement with Aloka. Ajahn would appear to be talking about the experience of being present, although it also could be seen as looking at things in the light of what happened back when you experienced empty mind. That would seem to be OK, as I have no way to know what his mind's state was when he wrote that, and the realty of the experience remains the same regardless of whether he was writing from memory or his current present state. It's very difficult to talk about this because words alone don't give us the reality of the experience. On the few times I have been able to maintain mindfulness for any length of time, I was much more compassionate. Reality was not being filtered through my ego mind with it's likes and dislikes, and it seems to me that the dislikes are, as he said, all about aversion and fear.

    Even as I type this I notice that my mind is creating imaginary views of how my day is going to go, the conflicts that I imagine will happen with people who have to be dealt with, all manner of film like images of ridiculous stuff. My body tenses up, and my heart beat increases. But when I pull my attention back to my breath and center for a bit, everything is actually just fine. None of that is probably going to happen. It's not real, just fantasy.

    When "I" am not there, I am not threatened. Mind truly does make everything. Living in our heads is a dream, and usually a bad one.
    Last edited by steve marino; 22 Sep 18 at 15:59.

  5. #5
    Forums Member KathyLauren's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by philg View Post
    Kind of contradictory, saying that if the mind is empty it is still caring and feeling. The quote is talking about afterwards, not the instance when you have an 'empty mind'. It is rather looking at things in the light of what happened when you had one.
    "Empty" does not mean there is nothing there. It means empty of attachments, desires and aversions. It can also mean that it is empty of inherent existence. Ajahn Sumedho is saying that, even in that state, there is still caring and feeling.

    I think the whole point of the statement is to refute the idea that the two (emptiness and caring) are contradictory.

    Om mani padme hum
    Kathy

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by KathyLauren View Post
    "Empty" does not mean there is nothing there. It means empty of attachments, desires and aversions. It can also mean that it is empty of inherent existence. Ajahn Sumedho is saying that, even in that state, there is still caring and feeling.

    I think the whole point of the statement is to refute the idea that the two (emptiness and caring) are contradictory.

    Om mani padme hum
    Kathy

    Well said. I agree, Kathy

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aloka View Post
    Well said. I agree, Kathy
    It depends on the definition of empty mind. My comment was about the moment of emptiness, where there is no thought and is indeed empty. The definition you are using, for me, is one of the after effects of such an experience, about living with a mind which has been empty and so can now be 'empty' of attachments which were holding it back at one time.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by philg View Post
    It depends on the definition of empty mind. My comment was about the moment of emptiness, where there is no thought and is indeed empty.
    But surely "emptiness" in a Buddhist sense isn't just a blank mental space of nothingness.

    Here's something from an article by the late Ven Ajahn Buddhadasa:


    If at any moment any person at all has a mind empty of grasping at and clinging to 'I' and 'mine', even if it is only for an instant, it means that the mind has realized emptiness. It is pure, radiant and at peace. It is one and the same thing as the heart of the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha. Thus at any moment that one has a mind empty in this way one has taken refuge, one has reached the Triple Gem.

    and ....

    If the mind is released then it is empty. If it is not released then it is not empty.
    https://www.budsas.org/ebud/ebdha196.htm


    Finally, even though this is our Theravada forum, I'll pop in a few words from a Vajrayana point of view from Ven. Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche:


    There are different ways in which something can be empty. It could simply be absent, in the sense that there is no mind. However, we have not totally disappeared; we still perceive and there is still some experience taking place, so you cannot say that mind is simply empty. Though this mind is empty it is still able to experience.

    https://www.lionsroar.com/directly-e...ature-of-mind/


  9. #9
    Forums Member Olderon's Avatar
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    I understand the confusion regarding the concept of and empty mind. Perhaps the better term would be :

    Luminous Mind:

    source: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipi....049.than.html

    AN 1.49-52 PTS: A i 10 (I,v,9-10; I,vi,1-2)
    Pabhassara Sutta: Luminous

    translated from the Pali by
    Thanissaro Bhikkhu
    © 1995

    X
    The updated version is freely available at
    This version of the text might be out of date. Please click here for more information
    "Luminous, monks, is the mind.[1] And it is defiled by incoming defilements." {I,v,9}
    "Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is freed from incoming defilements." {I,v,10}
    "Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is defiled by incoming defilements. The uninstructed run-of-the-mill person doesn't discern that as it actually is present, which is why I tell you that — for the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person — there is no development of the mind." {I,vi,1}
    "Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is freed from incoming defilements. The well-instructed disciple of the noble ones discerns that as it actually is present, which is why I tell you that — for the well-instructed disciple of the noble ones — there is development of the mind." {I,vi,2}
    Note
    1.
    This statement has engendered a great deal of controversy over the centuries. The commentary maintains that "mind" here refers to the bhavanga-citta, the momentary mental state between periods when the mental stream adverts to objects, but this statement raises more questions than it answers. There is no reference to the bhavanga-citta or the mental stream in any of the suttas (they appear first in an Abhidhamma treatise, the Patthana); and because the commentaries compare the bhavanga-citta to deep sleep, why is it called luminous? And why would the perception of its luminosity be a prerequisite for developing the mind? And further, if "mind" in this discourse means bhavanga-citta, what would it mean to develop the bhavanga-citta?
    Another interpretation equates the luminosity of the mind with the "consciousness without feature," described as "luminous" in MN 49 and DN 11, but this interpretation also has problems. According to MN 49, that consciousness partakes of nothing in the describable world, not even the "Allness of the All," so how could it possibly be defiled? And, because it is not realized until the goal of the practice is reached, why would the perception of its luminosity be a prerequisite for developing the mind? And again, if "mind" here means consciousness without feature, how could the sutta talk of its development?
    A more reasonable approach to understanding the statement can be derived from taking it in context: the luminous mind is the mind that the meditator is trying to develop. To perceive its luminosity means understanding that defilements such as greed, aversion, or delusion are not intrinsic to its nature, are not a necessary part of awareness. Without this understanding, it would be impossible to practice. With this understanding, however, one can make an effort to cut away existing defilements, leaving the mind in the stage that MN 24 calls "purity in terms of mind." This would correspond to the luminous level of concentration described in the standard simile for the fourth jhana: "And furthermore, with the abandoning of pleasure & pain — as with the earlier disappearance of elation & distress — he enters & remains in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither-pleasure-nor-pain. He sits, permeating the body with a pure, bright awareness. Just as if a man were sitting covered from head to foot with a white cloth so that there would be no part of his body to which the white cloth did not extend; even so, the monk sits, permeating the body with a pure, bright awareness. There is nothing of his entire body unpervaded by pure, bright awareness." From this state it is possible to develop the discernment that not only cuts away existing defilements but also uproots any potential for them to ever arise again. Only in the stages of Awakening that follow on those acts of discernment would "consciousness without feature" be realized.
    Or......Maybe not!

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Olderon View Post
    I understand the confusion regarding the concept of and empty mind. Perhaps the better term would be :

    Luminous Mind:

    source: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipi....049.than.html

    Or......Maybe not!

    There's a similar sutta mentioned in chapter 12 "Knowing, Emptiness and the Radiant Mind" of the book "The Island" by Ajahn Pasanno and Ajahn Amaro:


    “Bhikkhus, this mind is radiant, but it doesn’t show its radiance because passing defilements come and obscure it.

    (Pabhassaramidaµ bhikkhave cittaµ, tañca kho ægantukehi upakkilesehi upakkili¥¥haµ).

    The unwise, ordinary person does not understand this as it is, therefore there is no mind development
    in the unwise, ordinary person.

    “Bhikkhus, this mind is radiant, it shows its radiance when it is unobscured by passing defilements. The wise, noble disciple understands this as it is, therefore there is mind development in the wise, noble disciple.”

    ~ A N 1.61 & .62

    https://cdn.amaravati.org/wp-content...pdate_2015.pdf



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