Grasping the Known
After a sense of “I am” is arising in the mind, a perspective of “being” an individual self entity arises, felt as “me”.
Existence then becomes an interactive game of grasping, rejecting or resisting everything “other” than the “I am”, as the conceptualized “me”.
However when the mind sees the “empty nature” of all things or events, grasped at, rejected or resisted; there is no longer a viable target of that grasping, rejecting or resisting. It was seen to be like trying to grasp at clouds in the sky, empty, always moving and evolving appearances, with no central core or solidity. When this is clearly seen, the grasping ceases, and with nothing to grasp, the “grasper”, also ceases. The grasper was also seen to be as empty as a cloud in the sky.
The empty, cloud-like nature of the “I am” was nothing more than a cloudy swirl of “me” and “mine” thoughts. When all thoughts cease their movements, the self illusion vanishes.
All that was ever grasped at were never more than cloud-like movements of energy, all in transition, without ever becoming any fixed thing or person.
*Selective perception suggests a portion of a wave which extends without limits in all directions, both in space and time, can somehow be grasped, for at least some period of time.*
What’s attempted to be grasped, rejected or resisted, can’t possibly be domesticated or controlled, just like the impossibility of doing so with a cloud in the sky.
The only way to have some illusion of success, is to create a label which implies a fixed quality of solid existence for that selected perception. Through naming and labeling, the mind creates an endless plethora of people, things and objects; which only exist as conceptualized beliefs in the mind. It is actually only through the names and labels which imply that any perception is “real” as a fixed entity, and is able to be grasped or controlled.
Such a life, is rife with disappointment, frustration and grief, as it’s found that no one and no thing can actually be permanently grasped or brought under total control. Somehow, everyone and everything eventually slips away into the darkness of non-existence; with no person, no domicile , no possession, no relationship, no planet, sun or galaxy remaining intact. There is only transience, momentarily appearing.
Without labels and thoughts that attempt to reify (solidify) that which can’t be reified, both the imaginary cloud of a self, its suffering and the imagined clouds as “everything else”, which the mind attempts to grasp and control, never appear as anything defined at all.
Samsara is only the mind’s swirl of thoughts, which generate the illusion that someone and some things actually exist where none otherwise, can be found in a mind where the flow of thoughts have come to rest.
Tulku Urgyen wrote in Rainbow Painting: "When there are no thoughts whatsoever, then you are a Buddha".
Chokyi Nyima wrote:
“Being free of thought is liberation.”
A student asked Ramana when is one finally enlightened?
Ramana replied “When there are no more thoughts.”
The Buddha: MN 140 Dhātuvibhaṅga Sutta:
" ‘He has been stilled where the currents of conceiving (thinking) do not flow. And when the currents of conceiving do not flow, he is said to be a sage at peace.’ Thus was it said. With reference to what was it said?
Monk, “I am” is a conceiving. “I am this” is a conceiving. “I shall be” is a conceiving. “I shall not be” ... “I shall be possessed of form” ... “I shall be formless” ... “I shall be perceiving ” ... “I shall be non-perceiving” ... “I shall be neither-perceiving-nor-non-perceiving” is a conceiving.”
“Conceiving is a disease, conceiving is a cancer, conceiving is an arrow. By going beyond all conceiving, monk, he is said to be a sage at peace.
“Furthermore, a sage at peace is not born, does not age, does not die. He is unagitated, and is free from longing. He has nothing whereby he would be born. Not being born, how could he age? Not aging, how could he die? Not dying, how could he be agitated? Not being agitated, for what will he long?”
“So it was in reference to this that it was said, ‘He has been stilled where the currents of conceiving do not flow. And when the currents of conceiving do not flow, he is said to be a sage at peace.’"
Nagarjuna: "What language describes is non-existent. What thought describes is non-existent. Things neither arise nor dissolve, just as in Nirvana."
Questioner: How can I tell if I am making progress with my enquiry?
‘The degree of the absence of thoughts is the measure of your progress towards Self-Realization. But Self-Realization itself does not admit of progress, it is ever the same.’ Ramana Maharishi
Here is what many other great masters have shared with us regarding the obscuring nature of our thought constructs:
Dzogchen teacher, Chokyi Nyima:
“The most subtle type of obscuration is to simply conceive of something – like simply thinking, “It is.” Any notion we may hold is still a way of conceptualizing the three spheres: subject, object and action. Whenever there is a thought which conceives the three spheres, karma is created. People ask, ‘What is karma? I don’t get it! Where is karma?” In fact, karma is our mind conceiving something. Karma is the doings of conceptual mind. This subtle forming of a notion of anything is like a web, a haze that obscures our innate suchness just as mist obscures the sun from being vividly seen.
The great master Nagarjuna said, “There is no samsara apart from your own thoughts.” Samsara is based on thought; samsara is made by thought.”
“A thought includes attachment and aversion. A thought by its very nature involves an attitude of selecting and excluding. Every thought is hope and fear. Hope and fear is painful, in the sense of making you uneasy. Implicit in hope is the idea that “I have not yet achieved.” That is painful, isn’t it? Likewise, fear is accompanied by the thought, “It may happen and I don’t want it.” That is also painful; that is also suffering. Whenever there is involvement in thought, whenever a thought is formed, there is disturbing emotion. There is hope and fear, and therefore there is suffering.”
Dzogchen Master, Vairocana wrote as an instruction, in the 800’s a.d:
“So the state in which we don’t think at all is the supreme heart-essence of equanimity. We set ourselves down where we have no thoughts, and just stay there, without getting lost in the forces of depression or wildness.”
"Thinking only begins after marigpa (ignorance) sets in, at the loss of rigpa. During the nondistraction of rigpa, no thought can begin. I cannot emphasize this enough —there is no thought during the state of rigpa!"Tulku Urgyen
"Honestly, there is nothing more amazing than this recognition of rigpa in which no thought can remain."Tulku Urgyen
Bon Dzogchen Master, Lopon Tenzin Namdak wrote:
"Buddhas do not have any discursive thoughts (rnam-rtog); they have primal awareness or gnosis (ye-shes). Thoughts are always mixed up with negativities and obscurations. Thoughts represent obscuration. Thus we keep in a thoughtless state (mi rtog-pa). When we keep in the Natural State and everything dissolves, then we do not need to do or change anything. We just let things be, just let thoughts go. We let everything remain just as it is."
Dzogchen master, Chokyi Nyima:
“Thought is samsara. Being free of thought is liberation."
Bhante Gunaratana (contemporary Theravada master):
“Once your mind is free from thought, it becomes clearly wakeful and at rest in an utterly simple awareness. This awareness cannot be described adequately."
Dogen Zenji, 13th century Japanese Zen Buddhist founder of Soto Zen:
“Be without thoughts, this is the secret of meditation."
Huineng, the Sixth Patriarch of the “Sudden Enlightenment” school of Zen, states:
"Therefore ‘no-thought’ is established as the doctrine."
“Good Knowing Advisors, why is no-thought (wu nien) established as the doctrine? Because there are confused people who speak of seeing their own nature, and yet they produce thought with regard to states. Their thoughts cause deviant views to arise, and from that all defilement and false thinking are created. Originally, not one single dharma (thing attained) can be obtained in the self-nature. If there is something to attain....that is just defilement and deviant views (thoughts). Therefore, this Dharma-door establishes “no-thought” as its doctrine."
“To remain without thought in the waking state is the greatest worship."
Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche from his book “Present , Fresh Wakefulness”:
"Basically and fundamentally, our mind is utterly empty, sheer bliss, totally naked. We do not need to make it like this; we do not need to cultivate it by meditating, to create this state by meditating.”
“Give up thinking of anything at all, about the past, the future or the present. Remain thought-free, like an infant.”
“Innate suchness is unobscured the moment you are not caught up in present thinking.”
“That which prevents us from being face to face with the real Buddha, the natural state of mind, is our own thinking. It seems to block the natural state.”
“Rigpa, the Natural State, is not cultivated in meditation. The awakened state is not an object of the intellect. Rigpa is beyond intellect, and concepts.”
“This is the real Buddhadharma, not to do a thing. Not to think of anything, like Saraha said, "Having totally abandoned thinker and what is thought of, remain as a thought-free child."
“Thinking is delusion.”
“When caught up in thinking we are deluded. To be free of thinking is to be free.”
“That freedom consists in how to be free from our thinking.”
“As long as the web of thinking has not dissolved, there will repeatedly be rebirth in and the experiences of the six realms.”
“The method: But if you want to be totally free of conceptual thinking there is only one way: through training in thought-free wakefulness. (rigpa).”
“Strip awareness to its naked state.”
“If you want to attain liberation and omniscient enlightenment, you need to be free of conceptual thinking.”
“This is not some state that is far away from us: thought-free wakefulness actually exists together with every thought, inseparable from it... but the thinking obscures or hides this innate actuality. Thought free wakefulness (the natural state) is immediately present the very moment the thinking dissolves, the moment it vanishes, fades away, falls apart.”
“Simply suspend your thinking within the non-clinging state of wakefulness: that is the correct view."
From one of the earliest Dzogchen masters, Vairocana:
“The absence of ideas is a lucidity. This lucidity is also an absence of ideas. It is the basis for a true essence that is not a designation. We remain within a river of awareness, just as it is.
It is primordially pervaded by luminosity, just as it is.
It has no thought.
It has no memory.
It has no motion.
The dhyāna meditation of greatest virtue is to use your dhyāna to an absence of thought...”
Amazon.com: Secret Sky: The Ancient Tantras on Vajrasattva's Magnificent Sky (9781512373400): Christopher Wilkinson: Books
"Thought is bondage; the immeasurable openness of Empty Awareness (rigpa) is freedom."
Dzogchen Master Nyoshul Khenpo
*This is not to suggest that “you” are doing the “thinking”, that’s not possible, because there is no “you”. So “you” can’t stop thinking, because “you” are just a thought. *