I want to share a recent correspondence with a very dedicated, capable, and perceptive meditator. My responses are interspersed with her questions, and shown in italics.
I would like your guidance on some questions:
I have learned from the practice that I am not my body, and I am not my mind. If I can successfully reprogram my mind, it seems to be just one more piece of evidence showing I am not my mind. But what is Mind? When we think, that’s mind, and when don’t think, that’s mind too. Tranquility and stillness are just states of mind.
How about Consciousness and the Unconscious? Are they also Mind?
Yes. Part of your mind is conscious, but only a very small part. That is the only part of your mind that you can experience directly. The rest of your mind, which is most of it, is hidden from your experience, and is not what we call “consciousness.” We can sense that it is there, and by observing carefully, we can see that our thoughts and emotions come into the conscious mind from the unconscious. Since the part of the mind that isn’t conscious is responsible for our perceptions and reactions to what happens, most of our behavior comes from the unconscious as well. When we train our minds properly, the conscious part of the mind investigates things in a way that allows the unconscious mind to understand everything better. Also, when the conscious mind forms intentions that lead to actions, and when those conscious intentions and actions get repeated often enough, the unconscious mind becomes trained to see and react to things in a different way. Understanding deepens, and a greater truth is realized. Behavior changes as well, becoming more wholesome, useful and effective.
Or am I my Consciousness?
Yes and no. The conscious mind is just that part of the mind that can experience its own consciousness directly. But consciousness is everywhere, and consciousness is the same everywhere. It’s just that our conscious mind can’t directly experience the consciousness that’s everywhere else, so it thinks it’s different. Consciousness just is. And all we “really” are is our consciousness (and the sensations and mental objects that appear as objects in consciousness), but there is no “I,” no separate self, in that consciousness. The separate self is just an illusion projected into consciousness by an unconscious mind that hasn’t yet understood some deeper truths about reality.
If I can increase my level of Consciousness, am I still my Consciousness?
Consciousness will always be consciousness, and there’s no “I,” either within it or outside of it, that can change it. What can expand is the part of your mind that experiences its own consciousness. If that expands enough, it will recognize that it’s not separate, and will know that same consciousness is everywhere.
So far I have learned I am part of this Universal Energy (like all the plants, animals, sentient beings and material things). I am a conscious energy, and through this body and mind I function in the world. What is your understanding about these things?
You are a unique manifestation of the same consciousness that is everywhere, but you are in no way separate from it. You are unique, but not separate. There are no “things” anywhere, only process, so you are a process, not a thing. You are a process within a much larger process. There are many ways of thinking about this, and many labels we can give to it, including Universal Energy and Universal Consciousness. But these are only words and ideas, and although they can be understood in ways that are helpful, they can also be misunderstood in ways that are not.
Thank you for your response to my e-mail. I really appreciate it.
The experience I had of seeing myself from the energy of mountain, tree, etc. allowed me to realize what you meant by “there is no separate self in that consciousness [energy].” We are all from this same energy, including all plants in this Universe as well. Just like you mentioned on one retreat “It looks like I am talking to all of you. In fact, I am talking to all of me.” I think I get that now.
I continue to have more insights:
I see abundance, prosperity, richness, or even call it perfection, in this Consciousness Energy. I recall that in a Dharma Talk you mentioned the “perfection.” I heard the words, but didn’t understand it. Now, I can’t think of any words better than perfection to describe this Consciousness Energy.
Eckhart also says that he is a stranger come to point out that we have full box of gold in front of us but we don’t see it. By realizing I am this Consciousness Energy, suddenly I seem to inherit huge wealth from this infinite source of abundance and prosperity.
In the past year or two, I have been so frustrated and have resisted with my Ego Mind. Then one morning, all of sudden, I could see other Ego Minds’ defense and attack and my own reaction in such a calm, clear and detached way, with no resistance. It was a profound “wow!”
You said: Since the part of the mind that isn’t conscious is responsible for our perceptions and reactions to what happens, most of our behavior comes from the unconscious as well.So I have designed a mind project that I practice intensely every day to implant the Dharma into my unconscious mind and change my perceptions, emotions, and behaviors in fundamental way. I hope to be Enlightened this way.
You are on your way!
With Love & Joy,