Exploring The Nature of Mind
By Jeffrey Tipp, LMFT (WA)
The subject for today’s talk is “Exploring the Nature of Mind" which is endlessly arising as this very moment of experience. Let's examine this experience itself with an open curiosity, a certain innocence.
Our usual understanding of the teachings can become fixed and rigid very much like drawing a line in stone. But what of drawing a line in sand….. or drawing a line in water….. Or drawing a line in space? Let's be willing to release our fixed views and come more directly tonight to trust our direct experience, fresh and uncontrived just as it is, momentarily releasing our personal point of view.
Just as a drawing on water disappears the moment it is made, your thoughts are liberated the moment they arise. To experience mind this way is to encounter the very source of Buddhahood.
Within the experience of our meditation practice, there is a key distinction that is the fundamental difference between Attention and Awareness itself.
What is it that remains constant in our experience of the unceasing change of the mind, body, and the world? It is this vivid clarity arising as the Present Moment… Awareness itself… This is the ongoing immediacy of all experience. Awareness through the senses, and all perception, is itself: innocent, effortless and unceasing.
Even so……. Awareness itself is
So close you can't see it
So subtle your mind can't understand it
So simple you can't believe it
So regarding the realm of direct present moment experience…..Awareness itself…consider this….What is the flavor of your tongue?This which knows "taste" is completely flavorless and fresh. Yet we experience many nuances of flavor effortlessly….an Awareness of flavor is our Nature.
( ringing a bell)
And recognize the difference between “listening” attentively and passively “hearing” … See that the experience of “hearing” arises without effort. Hearing is effortless but listening requires focused Attention.
And there is “seeing” which is the effortless receiving of whatever is visible, its form and color, as opposed to “looking” which selects an object and thereby establishes an Observer.
In fact all of our direct sensory experience, our perceptions arise ONLY in the present moment and do so without our making effort. This Awareness is also like an empty clear mirror…..forever freshly reflecting what is before us moment to moment.Yet Awareness is, in itself, completely empty and ongoingly fresh…..nothing sticks to the mirror of Mind.
“This” which tastes is completely without flavor.
“This” which hears is silence itself.
“This” which sees has never been touched by form or color.
“This” which feels is beyond all sensation
“This” which smells is the transparent and odorless root of all fragrance.
“This” which knows the movement of thoughts and emotions has never conceptualized, remains clear and motionless amidst the endless chorus of ideas.
Our thinking can get in the way of a more direct intuitive understanding, however: “If you allow your thoughts and feelings to arise and dissolve by themselves, they will pass through your mind like a bird flying through the sky, without leaving any trace.”
Let's explore together this core distinction at the heart of all these teachings. That would be the distinction between Attention and Awareness. Both are arising in this very moment of our experience, continuously and inescapably. They are right here ……and they are different
Attention is focused and fixated on objects of perception.
Awareness is pervasive open lucidity, and it’s inherently spacious.
Attention is a thinking function, thus establishing an observer.
Awareness is impersonal…..an intelligence prior to thought.
Attention is effortful so as to sustain focus and concentration.
Awareness is effortless, unwavering, and spontaneously present, always already here.
Attention is unstable, scattered and sporadic
Awareness is Presence itself….. effortless, continuous and stable…. the Space in which all experience arises.
Attention is Cultivated as a meditative state of mindfulness or “calm abiding”.
Awareness is simply Recognized as being spontaneously present ……it’s always already here.
Although all these distinctions are subtle and overlooked, they are common to all of us and even have been called simply “Everyday Mind”.
In the midst of our tumultuous lives, there is an ongoing mix of these two fundamental experiences…..Attention and Awareness or Movement and Stillness This is the fabric of our lives.