10 Sep 2012

This week, Alan embarks on the 3rd application of mindfulness to the mind. As a prerequisite for this practice, you must be able to distinguish between stillness and motion and maintain single-pointed mindfulness as cultivated in the shamatha practice of settling the mind. As a vipasyana practice, we observe from luminosity and cognizance origination and dissolution of a whole range of emotions and states of consciousness. An emotion like anger exists at the conscious, unconscious, and seed state.
Meditation: mindfulness of the mind. Let you eyes be at least partially open, gaze vacant. Direct your attention to the domain not covered by the 5 senses. Ensure core sense of relaxation in both body and awareness. Distinguish stillness in awareness. Ask and observe closely 1) is there anything static or unchanging?, 2) how do mental events arise, how are they present, and how do they vanish? Apply introspection to the quality of mindfulness and apply remedies as needed.
Q1. In my practice, I’ve experienced sense of oneness of everything, greatest joy not dependent on stimuli, etc... This carries over into post-meditation. Is there a name for this space?

Q2. In settling the mind, I get stuck in a spiral of thoughts and wind up with a headache. I’m also confused about which is the mind. Is it the mental event, that which recognized the mental event, or that which recognized the recognition, etc...?

Q3. Does the mind always need an object, or can it be completely blank?

Q4. You mentioned that upon achieving shamatha, the pranas converge at the heart chakra. In Hindu yoga, the 3rd eye chakra is correlated with states of absorption. What does Buddhism have to say about the 3rd eye chakra? 

Q5. In settling the mind, is the awareness you’re using also part of the mind? If substrate consciousness dissolves into the substrate, does the substrate also have nature of consciousness?

Q6. In settling the mind, I’m observing events but not knowing them. The knowing comes eventually. Is it possible to be aware of implicit knowing?

Meditation starts at 24:30

Download (MP3 / 51 MB)


This week we turn to the close application of mindfulness to the mind. While the shamatha practice of settling the mind in its natural state is right on the cusp between shamatha and vipashyana, it has a different aim; and just to reiterate briefly – it’s rather important — and that is in settling the mind in its natural state we don’t actively inquire, we’re not posing questions, we’re just sustaining the flow of awareness that you’re very familiar with. And the idea, the criteria of success in this practice — in addition to relaxation, stability and vividness — is simply to observe the knottedness, the tightness, the grasping and so forth of the mind gradually dissolving, the contents of the mind dissolving, all the appearances of the mind gradually — and not in a linear fashion but rather choppy — but gradually all the appearances of the mind dissolving into the substrate and the active mental process of imagination, memory, conceptualization and so forth, as well as the five physical senses, gradually dissolving into substrate consciousness. And so that’s really what it’s about.

(2:42) Although a lot of insights are bound to come and it is quite fascinating to watch your mind heal, I mean actually be there and watch it happen as it unravels — the Tibetan term is “randerl” — as it releases itself, the mental afflictions, the tightness, the emotional blockages and so forth and so on. To find out: whoa! this mind really does have an extraordinary capacity to heal itself, and you’re watching it happening, I mean you are right there like in a boxing match, you’re just watching ringside, just watching the whole thing happen and that is what it’s for.

(3:15) Although insights will come, primarily this is to dissolve the appearances into the substrate, active mental process or “javana” into the substrate consciousness, achieve shamatha and now you have a new base camp, a new platform for doing everything else you want to do: achieve spontaneous bodhicitta for example, uncontrived bodhicitta! Become a bodhisattva; that could be really a good idea! And then seal it once you’ve achieved that type of bodhicitta, actually authentic, you’ve actually become a bodhisattva. Wouldn’t it be a shame to become a bodhisattva and then become an un-bodhisattva? And it’s possible! It’s possible! You can achieve that incredible state of actually being a bodhisattva, and then undo it and fall back. It’s actually possible. So you wouldn’t want that to happen!

(3:55) And for that you seal it with the “four applications of mindfulness”. Lo and behold! This is classic teachings! Hardly anybody is following it these days. Maybe we should. I think they’re pretty good teachings. Seal it with wisdom and the wisdom prevents your bodhicitta from ever deteriorating, from falling back. In other words you’re a bodhisattva forever until you become a Buddha. That sounds a really good plan to me. So that’s the point of shamatha: the settling the mind in its natural state.

(4:27) Now the close application of mindfulness, attending to the same domain. Once again, clearly, applying mindfulness to that domain. And you won’t really be able to launch your vipashyana practice of the close application of mindfulness to the mind unless you are able to distinguish between the stillness of your awareness and the movements of the mind. Otherwise you’re just going to be caught up in your mind; it’s going to be rumination and daydreaming all the way through. So that will never happen. So this shamatha, it’s really indispensable. Otherwise vipashyana isn’t vipashyana; it’s just mind-wandering.

(4:52) And so there, that first criteria, distinguishing between stillness and motion, good. And then of course to be able to sustain that and not just get it and then just go right back, tumbling into mental states and processes, but actually to achieve that first of the four types of mindfulness taught by Dudjom Lingpa – single-pointed mindfulness — where you are simultaneously aware of the stillness of your own awareness and the activities of the mind. There is your platform for vipashyana. If you don’t have that, you don’t really have a platform. Just caught up. And so you’ll be in that same syndrome that we’ve been in since the beginning of samsara of closely holding not only our bodies, but closely holding our minds. Remember that phrase from before. Through grasping, through identification — and that is the very root of suffering, that is what makes you vulnerable to the deepest dimension of suffering, ubiquitous suffering, the all-pervasive suffering of conditioned phenomena, but conditioned by grasping.

(5:40) So now in this vipashyana practice the idea is in fact not to quietly, passively observe your mind dissolving but rather be inquiring into it. You may run experiments, you are contemplating it, in other words you’re keeping it going just like in a lucid dream. Once you become lucid, you don’t want it to vanish!

(6:15) In fact, once again it’s an interesting parallel, if you are in the midst of a lucid dream and you start to see that the dream is beginning to vanish, just fade out, then — if you’d really like to explore the nature of a lucid dream you don’t want it to fade out unless you really simply want to go and explore the substrate consciousness — in which case you want to re-instantiate or reconstruct, revitalize the dream. And who remembers how to do that? I’m sure Miles does; anybody else? Yeah, Nikola, how do get the dream, if you’re in the midst of a lucid dream and you see that it’s starting to just fade out and you’re going to lose it, what do you do? Do you remember? You can just call it out. Oh yeah! You have the microphone! [laughter] I called the right guy! If and only if you can turn it on. Ok you got it! So what do you do? Nikola: So if you’re in the midst of a lucid dream, you just relax, don’t get too excited that you’ve realized it’s a lucid dream. No but I’m asking about, you’ve already realized but now it’s phasing out. Nikola: Oh you just sustain your awareness of it being a lucid dream. Oh! Keep yourself engaged with it. There you go!

That’s right, yes. So your first response was the right answer for another question [laughs], and that is: once you become lucid, hey! relax, don’t get so excited you just wake yourself up. But when you see it fading out, engage with the dream. So a couple ways of doing this – this is straight from the modern discipline of lucid dreaming – one is keep your eyes open and spin, just turn around and just flood your awareness with a whole bunch of sensory input, and that will actually get the dream to come back, to re-form. Or you can give yourself a brisk rub-down, strong massage. Quite weird! Just go like that, and then your body will go [Alan makes goofy uploading sound], and you get your body back. One way or another.

So in a similar fashion, in the vipashyana practice, closely applying mindfulness to the mind, well you don’t rub down the mind, but what you do is [audience laughter] – if you can find it let me know! whether it’s fat or skinny, you know, all that kind of — but what you do is engage with it. Just like Nikola said, you engage with the dream to keep the dream going, engage with your mind. That doesn’t mean identification; it does mean posing questions to it, looking closely, intensely, probing into, and so forth.

And so this afternoon, I think I’ll front-load it a little bit, the meditation, so I’ll speak less during it. This afternoon, let’s just focus especially on two of the central themes that keep on coming up: factors of origination, factors of dissolution. But now, of what? When we say “the mind”, what are we referring to? Well, we’re referring — for these first three days of this week, let’s really focus primarily on “javana” (you can spell it phonetically, ja-va-na, j, a, v, a, n, a, javana), the activities of the mind, the kinetic energy of the mind. So we’ve already looked at feelings but that was just pleasant, unpleasant and neutral. Now we look at the whole range of activities of the mind. That means all emotions: surprise, disgust, contempt, sense of humor coming up, all kinds of stuff coming up! So the whole range of emotions, they’re all grist for our mill. Attend to them. Whatever type of thoughts, images that come up: all of them. Memories, fantasies: all of them. Desires: all of them. But then also states of consciousness, so for example, the mental experience of feeling restless, feeling bored, feeling dull, feeling excited, feeling edgy, feeling tense, feeling ill at ease, feeling cranky, or irritable: all of these.

So the idea here is that we’re less closely holding the mind. We tend to, I mean habitually have a, I would almost say fierce identification with mental states. How are you? And then we describe our mental states: “Oh I’m feeling kind of…” and then “I’m feeling kind of…” Whatever it is, but it’s just the total fusion with “I am”. What have you being thinking? I’ve been thinking this, I’ve been thinking that. Especially among intellectuals. I mean very well educated, people in philosophy, psychology and other fields as well. We absolutely get identified with thinking, thinking, thinking. “I think, therefore I am”, we’ve got a history there. And I find this especially among philosophers. I mean, they tend to be very good at thinking, and therefore they tend to identify with it. And I remember one neuroscientist that attended one conference that I helped organize actually defined “meta-cognition” as “thinking about thinking”! That’s not wrong, it’s not silly; I find it kind of useless. But it skips the whole possibility, it doesn’t even dawn on, it seems, on such people that you can actually observe thinking. Ok? Now I don’t need to beat that dead horse more, I think it’s pretty – it’s moldering, it’s smoldering in its grave. But there it is.

(11:25) So we engage with it, we engage with this whole array of objective appearances arising in the space of the mind, the whole array of subjective impulses arising including the states of consciousness. States of consciousness: observing them as well. And to the best of your ability observing them from this very simple and still place of simple luminosity and cognizance. Luminosity in the sense that it is your awareness illuminating all the appearances and other events taking place in the mind and cognizance is simple, non-conceptual — or at least non-verbal — a simple, quiet, direct, just knowing it, ok? This is the same quality of knowing we cultivated earlier in shamatha. You remember three fingers and all that business, without having to say three fingers. So as much as you can, maintain that, that stillness of awareness clearly illuminating the mind, knowing whatever is arising in the mind but without getting caught up in the mind or closely holding it.

(12:15) Final point, and that is among the thoughts that arise and for that matter images and so forth, but thoughts especially, some of the thoughts that arise you really may have a sense that “you thought them,” so the internal commentary which in coaching can be useful. So you may really have a sense, “Yep, I thought that one” and so note that. What is it about the thought that gives you the impression that you thought it? So it’s a grasped thought, right? On the other hand you, maybe in your experience you may have already had the experience through settling the mind in its natural state of simply witnessing a thought coming up all by itself, just as if you overheard it. So that is a thought you are aware of but it’s not grasped in the sense of: you are grasping onto it as you are the agent and that is something you did but rather you are simply the observer and that is something you witnessed. So as much as you can then note the different ways these phenomena appear, some of them you may feel you have created intentionally and other ones you are more simply witnessing like hearing a sound or experiencing a tactile sensation in the body.

(13:43) Alright. So your base here, your base here is settling the mind in its natural state so as much as you can, especially if you’re rather new to the practice, try to get comfortable there – you know you’re already quasi-practicing vipashyana just by doing that practice, again it’s on the cusp — but see if you can maintain that, get some continuity of just resting there very loose, very soft, observing whatever comes up. And then as you get a little bit of stability there, a bit of continuity, then probe a bit more deeply into: How is it, how is it these different mental events arise?

So I will add this point: Buddhist psychology – again, quite interesting — we looked at causality, we looked at substantial causes, that is, in which cause actually transforms into its effect; and then we looked at cooperative conditions, where the cooperative condition doesn’t transform into the effects but it does catalyze it, trigger it, enable it. Ok? So we have many, many examples. In Buddhist psychology thoughts, a thought doesn’t trigger an emotion; a thought, as such – excuse me! I misspoke! A thought doesn’t transform into emotion; it acts as a cooperative condition for emotion. An emotion may act as a cooperative condition for a memory, and the memory may be a cooperating [transcriber’s note: sic] condition for something else. And so even within the domain of the mind there are substantial causes. Feelings turn into feelings, and thoughts turn into later sequence of thoughts, and desires and so forth, so there are these different strands, they’re called chetasikkha in Sanskrit, or mental factors, and that’s where you get these individual continua, almost like currents within a river: you know, one current here, one current there. So a stream here will turn into a like stream later down, you know, downhill so to speak.

(15:21) Whereas some types of mental events will simply be cooperative conditions for other types of coop – other types of mental events; let alone the mental events serving as a cooperative condition for my hand moving about and likewise my hand moving around acting as a cooperative condition for mental events. Ok? So it’s quite an interesting mix there.

(15:41) Now in terms of substantial causes, that is where there is actually one transforming into another, let’s take an afflictive emotion: anger. Afflictive anger. So right now I would say, I don’t think I am angry at all; so I’ve just checked out, I don’t think I’m angry at all; zero anger right now, in which case it is not manifesting. As far as I can tell – and I think I’m pretty clear here – I’m not subliminally angry, that is, it’s not kind of, you know, just waiting to burst forth; because there can be emotions and mental states that we’re unaware of, but they are there and they’re already activated, ok? Sub-conscious impulses, but they’re activated. So we can be unconsciously uneasy or anxious, and not even aware that we are uneasy, anxious, angry and so forth and so on. It’s there, other people may be able to see it in our facial expression, tone of voice and so forth. So it is there but beneath the threshold of our consciousness. So there is that. So there is conscious anger and then there is, it’s very possible to be unconsciously edgy, irritable right there but not even be aware of it.

(16:50) And then I would say for me right now, and again I could be wrong, but right now there is no explicit anger, I do not see any implicit anger. Are there seeds of anger, seeds of anger – that’s the term, bijhya in Sanskrit – seeds of anger in my mind stream right now, such that if they were catalyzed, just like a wheat seed, if they were fertilized and got some water and so forth, could anger erupt and become manifest, you know, within a matter of seconds? The answer is yes, sure! The seed is there. That is not subliminal anger; that’s now anger brewing, brewing, brewing. It’s just sitting there dormant, ready to be catalyzed.

(17:43) So we have explicit; we have implicit or sub-conscious; and then we have beneath that, the seeds. The seeds will actually, just like a seed of wheat will transform into the sprout, the seeds of anger will actually transform into the flow of anger and when the anger subsides it doesn’t just vanish into nothing. It goes right back into a seed state. Ok? And that’s true for emotions and many, many other, many other phenomena. Memories! You have the seeds of memories: right now I am not remembering my address where I lived when I was thirteen, but I could draw that out and then – oh yeah, that’s it! – and so there it is. I had to catalyze it, kind of look, look, look, look and then [knocking sound] catalyze it, and then out comes the memory of something I have no reason to bear in mind normally. I have very little use for that information. But it’s there, and so the seed is there as [snaps fingers], the memory is there as the seed.

(18:36) Now, is there an interface with the brain here? Of course there is. Of course there is. And this is one interesting point, and that is they found not only that they can apply a microelectrode, very, very low voltage electrode to a ganglia of neurons — that’s a whole cluster of neurons — and catalyze or trigger some emotions, thoughts, memories and so forth, but I heard recently in some cases they can apply a microelectrode to a single neuron and even that will catalyze or trigger some memory for example. Quite interesting.

One was Pamela Anderson! Some guy had a Pamela Anderson neuron! Go figure! You know who she is? Miles, who’s Pamela Anderson? [laughter] An actress, yes. She’s known for being very sexy. Some guys regard her as rather sexy. But she’s kind of like an icon, you know like sexy, big boobs and all of that. California, sexy Malibu, beach girl, right? Yeah. So there she is. So she’s, I mean, what was that, I never watched it but there was – Baywatch, that was it! [laughter] That had international impact! Because you could not speak a word of English, you could be in the heartland of China and [laughter] you see all these floppy boobs, you know, going up and down, and men can relate to that regardless of the language! [laughs] But it actually was true, there was one guy who had [trans. addition: a Baywatch neuron].

And so does this mean that Pamela Anderson – or her figure or her face and so forth, her hair – were inside that neuron? That’s really magical thinking, of course; it’s crazy. And so was Pamela Anderson inside his head, or inside a neuron? It’s really crazy thinking. But is it crazy thinking to think that a single neuron could act as a cooperative condition for triggering – almost like, frankly I think this is the closest one – like this: [holds up iPhone and manipulates touchscreen]. It’s a keyboard! So what’s happening now is that a lot of neuroscientists are mistaking the keyboard for the hard-drive, and the thinking that everything in the hard drive is actually in the keys themselves. As if Pamela Anderson is inside that neuron. It’s really quite silly. It’s just as silly as to think there are photos inside this little, you know, the keyboard on a cellphone, or in a computer. It’s really quite silly.

(21:20) But so there it is. The activities in the brain, these can act as cooperative conditions to trigger or to enable mental events taking place. Now you may damage the keyboard of a computer and thereby no longer have any access — at least for the time being — to information stored in your hard drive. Oh my keyboard is broken! What’ll I do? And you might think, oh it’s gone, it’s gone! I damaged my keyboard, oh all my information is gone! Well that means you don’t know anything about computers, because there’s actually no information in the keyboard itself at all, right? It’s all back there, but damage the keyboard and you can’t get access to your information.

(21:55) So likewise, get Alzheimer’s, get a stroke, have senile dementia, have brain damage from an accident or drugs and so forth, or alcohol for that matter, and you damage the keyboard, in which case you may not be able to experience certain emotions, experience them any longer, access memories, intelligence may be impaired and so forth and so on. But it’s the cooperative conditions that have been damaged. But damage them enough and then the sprout does not come up, it is disabled. The primary causes are still there, but they are not stored in the brain; they are stored in the continuum of consciousness, but you do not have access to them as long as you are accessing, you don’t have access to them as long as you’re accessing your mind by way of coarse mind. Because the coarse mind is – there’s no question about it, and neuroscientists provide us with enormous amount of valuable information. Coarse mind arises in dependence upon the brain; damage the brain and you’re going to damage your coarse mind, which does arise in dependence upon that. And give it good vitamins, and a rich environment and so forth, all of the good things for children the brain will develop better in which case the children as they grow older and as they grow up will have better access to their full potential. So there are major moral issues here and the neuroscientists are very well aware of that, and I say that with great respect. They say exercise, and good diet, an enriched environment, and interesting things to do and develop your mind and so forth, because that develops the brain and that will be good for the rest of your life. So the neuroscientists are really helping up out there; they have a lot of knowledge; very, very useful for education.

(23:20) So how do you really optimize your keyboard? Which is really important! And then keep it optimal? If we keep this brain working well into late years by way of meditation, crossword puzzles, whatever works, then that’s also to our great advantage.

(23:36) But it is interesting though, and here is a big experiment, and that is: all right, let’s imagine the keyboard is somehow damaged, the brain is damaged – may be just getting old — but then you access your hard drive, that is, you access all the information in your continuum of consciousness not by way of coarse mind, which arises in dependence upon the brain, but by way of substrate. Now wouldn’t that be interesting?

(24:06) Then the limitations of your brain are now irrelevant because you are accessing the hard drive not by way of the keyboard but by some other access, more immediate. So this, from scientific perspective, this raises very interesting experiments that could be done if you have a large enough people really doing the hard work of achieving shamatha; let alone accessing memories that were not acquired in this lifetime that are stored in the continuum of consciousness but stored from previous life times.

So, a lot of interesting things! But right now, having had a long preamble, then I can speak much less during the session itself of close application of mindfulness to the mind. And let’s focus, because it is a little bit easier, highlight or emphasize with this session more the appearances arising to you, because we’ve not really looked at those yet. So the thoughts, images and so forth, observe them, observe their process of origination and process of dissolution.

So, please find a comfortable position.


(26:06) Settle your body, speech and mind in their natural states, and calm your mind for a little while with mindfulness of breathing.

(29:33) And let your eyes be at least partially open, your gaze vacant and direct your attention to that domain of experience that is not sensory, that is, not the five physical senses and approach this with a core sense of ease, lucidness and relaxation in your body and in your awareness.

(30:10) First of all distinguish between the stillness of your own awareness when it is unmoved by grasping, and the comings and goings in the domain of your mind.

(33:45) And you may begin posing questions, at least one, to this domain of experience. Is there anything here that is static, unchanging, or is everything arising freshly moment-by-moment? Don’t be satisfied with an intellectual conclusion or mere belief. Observe closely.

(37:00) So in short, as you closely apply mindfulness to the space of the mind and especially to those activities arising within it, observe how they arise, the factors of origination; how they are present, including the impact on them by the act of observing them; and then the factors of dissolution, which is to say, how do they vanish? Monitor the flow of mindfulness with introspection as usual, applying the remedies for excitation and laxity as needed. And let’s continue practicing now in silence.

O laso! I’m going to try to finally get through the mail today, then we can open up. This one’s long! Complex, too! Maybe I should read it off. Ok, awareness through pure tactile sensations, one dissolves into space and experiences oneness with everything. That sounds like the hot dog joke. I won’t go there. So, endless, vast movement, no gravity, no borders, no limitations, just a sense of knowing. This is how it is. All sense of “I” and “mine” are felt as not present, just oneness; very clear and just speaks through different tactile intense-ness or intensity, a place and higher knowledge that comes as realizations later manifested as mental images and insights. Same place creativity arise from. Hmm, well the space of awareness is the space from which creativity arises. Here, uh, I also experience the greatest joy, not from any stimuli or reason, it just pours out, seems like an endless source. It’s also not dependent on any physical or mental imbalance, not mental haha happy or spaced-out. Maybe also same place one can pick up other people, sentient beings, and other; nature’s feelings, emotions, suffering, etc. Free from superimposed, even through existential sadness that is not connected with one’s own, uh, “something.” One’s own, uh, one owns, exists there. Not connected to personal experience at all, it includes everything. Just tune in. Could there be a name for this space? It’s called space of awareness. I don’t feel lost. This takes place also in non-meditative state. I spent a lot of time there during [transciber’s note: I believe the note read “dwelling,” and Alan missed it] there, but have not until now put this into words. I’ve been experimenting on space and place, don’t wish to cultivate stupidity, or become Miss Delusion 2012, so please help clarify, if possible, where mental perceptions emerge and dissolve. Very clearly perceptual, as a substrate.

Ok this is more like a montage. Um, if you’d like a really clear answer from me or response, it would be helpful to be a bit more discrete; this is more like a montage. It’s very interesting, more like an impressionistic painting. So nothing really crystallized comes here in terms of response. I think it’s a good description. I think I’m going to leave this one anonymous, and I know who it’s from. Nothing wrong! Except for, in order to elicit, really, a clear and distinct response from me, I think if it were more itemized and succinct, probably it would be helpful. It all sounds good.

And that said, for the time being we’re not really seeking a one-ness with everything. I will tell the joke, since I said it. What’s the? The Zen master asking, coming to a, asking for a hot dog? And he says, make me one with everything. That’s the whole joke! Not that funny, but whenever I see Mick [Alan is referring to one of the students in the audience] we want… Actually His Holiness, I think it was in Australia; I think it was in Australia, wasn’t it? He was asked, How do you become one with everything? And His Holiness just absolutely could not connect with the question. He said, Why? You want to become, something like, Why would you want to become one with everything? Why? What does that mean? With garbage, and cockroaches, and earwax, and dandruff? Why do you want to become one with everything? It’s a phrase that actually doesn’t come up at all! I’m not ridiculing at all the question. We know that it means something in English, but it doesn’t actually translate into Buddhism at all. There’s just no – it’s not anywhere there.

And so, the practices we’re following here do entail a certain directionality of attention, whether it’s in the shamatha – you know, each one has its own distinct object of mindfulness – and then we’re closely applying mindfulness to the body, to feelings, to mental states. And so it’s good to maintain a very clear sense of what you are attending to, ok? That’s good. This is really foundational. I think I’ll leave it there. Just that. So it wasn’t a terribly helpful answer, but there is the point: if the question or observation could be more kind of a bullet item, or more succinctly stated, either as “this is simply my experience,” so it’s perfectly good, and then I can respond are you on track or not. Or a very distinct question. Ok?

So this one’s from Steph. In mindfulness of the mind, I seem to get stuck in spiral of thoughts mixed with introspection, leaving me with a headache at the end. I’m sure you’re not the only one! And this, of course, comes from grasping. Otherwise the headache just wouldn’t happen. Nothing arising in the mind for a while, introspection, coaching to stay present. A thought arises, introspection knows There it is! A Thought. Then mind, or introspection – or something – thinks “that was a thought too! So that’s the mind? But this is a thought as well, so is this the mind? And then I’m just not confused, think I have about seventeen minds.” So, meditation as the method for multiple personality disorder!

Actually, I’ve wondered about this – this won’t be a long tangent – but this multiple personality disorder is a clinically diagnosed disease. I suspect that, as a person with no psychological training whatsoever in the Western tradition, I suspect here that there arises kind of a cluster of attitudes, desires and so forth. A cluster, and then grasping comes in and congeals them and then identifies with them. So there’s Joe, and now I’m Mary, and now I’m Henry, and then I’m Myrtle, and whoever. But it’s all coming out of a grasping, right? And so I suspect that’s the case. Multiple personality, so one comes down, another one comes up, a cluster comes up, and then one thinks, “I’m that. I’m that.” Alright?

I think much more ubiquitously we’re suffering from multiple personality disorder when we ever, whenever we experience, for example, low self-esteem. You know, self-contempt, self-hatred, self-loathing, all of that business of the witness “in here” thinking, “Alan, you’re really a schmuck.” And now there’s two of us in here! Right? The schmucked, and the schmucker. And neither one schmeck wood! [transciber’s note: This last bit is a joke; it is an allusion to an alliterative, English-language rhyme about an animal known as a woodchuck. jmf] But it does look like there’s two people in there.

And so, ah, there aren’t two! And so there’s multiple disorder, that happens when we bifurcate ourselves into judging ourselves, but of course I’m not judging myself, I’m judging “you, you schmuck.” And I’m observing it from a somewhat elevated platform. That means there must be at least two people in there. But even having single personality disorder: that would also be a disorder in the Buddhist view. Of just taking one cluster and thinking, “that’s the real me!”

And so, in contrast to that, there’s a term that was coined by a Western – what is he, psychologist I think, or sociologist – Marvin Minsky. Sociologist, perhaps? Psychologist. But certainly in the human sciences. But the term is “society of mind.” Society of mind. Kind of useful term; it’s very – even though I think he has no connection with Buddhism that I know of – ah, in Buddhist psychology we have this whole array of mental factors, and they do come in clusters. They do come in clusters. None of them are people – none of them are a person. And clusters will come in, and then a cluster will vanish, go dormant, go into the seed state; and another cluster will come up, and so forth. So this is just common, a way of viewing the mind.

But none of them are a person, and none of them are the mind. So it’s not that you have seventeen minds, but rather that you’ll have many clusters of mental events taking place; let alone many thoughts taking place, emotions and so forth. And so all of these are these – they’re called semjoong. So you’ve – remember the term term “element,” earth, water, fire, air, and that the term is joongwa. Joongwa: something that emerges. Emerges. Well these are called semjoong; same term, joong. But sem is mind, so these are emergences from the mind. These are eruptions – “emergences” is the best term. Emergence of anger; emergence of compassion; emergence of mindfulness; emergence of sleepiness; and so forth. They emerge and then they un-emerge; they dissolve back into the continuum. So none of those is the mind, but all of those are emerging out of the continuum of mind. So once again, we would say that all of these subjective processes, subjective mental events or processes, are all emerging from the substrate consciousness. Or if you like the New Translation School terminology, they’re emerging from the continuum of mental consciousness. Which is primary; primary mind. “Primary mind” is that continuum of mental consciousness. Out of primary mind, then, emerge all these derivative mental factors — or mental processes – and multiple ones do arise at the same time.

So I may happily look, let’s say, at dessert when I go to the canteen; I may look happily, “oh my favorite dessert!” And I look at it, and I’m attending to it with discernment, I’m recognizing that. One of my favorites is – and don’t buy me any! – mangosteen. It’s a very nice fruit. We’ve had it, I think, well we had it in the CEBTT. So it’s a fruit. So I look and that, and say, “Oh yeah.” If they’re perfectly ripe, they’re really yummy. So I look at it, there’s discernment taking place, and then recollections of mangosteen that I have known, and then anticipation that I can have some. And so there’ll be multiple mental factors, all converging in upon, or taking, having the same object. Ok? And they’re rising, the term is “concomitantly.” That is, together, focusing on the same object. And then I look over to the vegetables or the salad and so forth, and say, “yep, that’s pretty familiar, the salad bar. Been there, done that!” And so then, but another set will come in there. And so, multiple ones will arise, and then they will pass again.

So that’s it. So no one of them is the mind, but when we speak of closely applying mindfulness to the mind – classic Buddhist terminology – chittasatipatthana, ok? Or semlamikpaysheeneh: sheeneh, shamatha focused on the mind. What are we talking about? And we’re using the mind here, the term “mind” as an umbrella term for referring to this whole array of mental processes. So, in attending to a thought, an emotion, and so forth, we say, “well, that’s a good as it gets.” That’s what we call “attending to the mind”: observing thoughts arise, feelings, emotions, memories, and so forth and so on. And at all moments, we’ll say, generically speaking, that’s what we call “focusing on the mind.” Even though no one of those is the mind. But in the same way though – so I’m going to look at Miles’ face, ok? So right now, I mean Miles can probably tell, I’m looking at his face, but no I’m not! I’m looking at his forehead! And his forehead is not a face. His forehead has no mouth; and his face does have a mouth. I’m going to look at his right eye: that’s not his face! Nose? No, that’s not his face. His mouth, and his grungy little beard [laughter]. That’s not a face either! That’s fungus! [laughter] That’s young man fungus!

But, you know, but as I’m looking at, you know, as I’m looking at parts – but, at all those times I was looking at his face. I wasn’t looking at something else! It doesn’t get any better. Or I’m saying I’m looking at his head; but I’m not seeing the back side of his head. So who’s ever seen a head? If looking at a head means looking at the whole, the entirety of the head, who’s ever seen it? And the answer is: nobody’s ever seen the entirety. Who’s ever seen the entirety of a head? Ever single glial cell? Every neuron? Or even on the skin? Who’s looked at all of it simultaneously? That’d be pretty difficult! To see the front, the back, and the sides, all at the same time: difficult!

So the back is not the head, the front is not the head. At the same time, we say, “yes, I’m looking at his face!” This is as good as it gets! You know? Even though, if I look at here where you are actually focusing – you know: that’s not the face, and that’s not the face. But, in dependence upon that — and now we slip a little bit into the second month here – in dependence upon looking at his, his two eyes I’m looking now eye-to-eye. You see, yes, I’m looking right at your face, I’m looking eye-to-eye; yes, I’m looking at his face, sure. It doesn’t get much better than that. And so, in dependence upon looking at his eyes, I say I’m looking at his face. Ok? Even though neither eye is his face. And so forth and so on. And so likewise, observing clusters of thoughts and so forth, from moment to moment, yes, I’m looking at the mind; at the same time, none of those thoughts are the mind; the mind is something we conceptually designate upon any of those individual components, none of which are the mind.

And moreover, it’s also not true that the entire composite is the mind! This gets a bit more subtle, and it’s interesting too. It’s also not true that the entire composite is the mind; otherwise we would never be able to observe the mind at all! Because when do you ever observe the entire composite, right? And that means nobody could ever look at Miles’ head. [“nope” is repeated 19 times, in stage whisper] I’m always getting only part, and so I can never look at the whole composite of his head, which means I couldn’t look at his head; if his head is the entire composite of all the parts, it’s invisible! Nobody ever gets to see it. So that’s quite interesting. It’s not the – the head is not any one of its components, but neither is it the sum total of all the components. Moreover, if it were, if his head were the sum components of all the stuff above his neck, then if you just gave him a shave – which, you know, he’s intensely in need of – then he’d no longer have a head! Right? I mean, if head equals the sum of all of the parts and you’ve taken some of the parts out, the sum of all the parts is no longer there! It’s “sum-of-the-parts-minus-something,” which means it’s not the whole deal. It’s like buying a radio, you know? It’s not a radio unless it has all the working parts of a radio, but if you chip it, it’s still a radio.

So it’s quite interesting, isn’t it, then? That is, his head is not any individual component within the head, but it’s also not the sum of all the parts. And it’s obviously true. He still has a head when you take away some hair. He could get more! He could get more or less, and it’s still his head. So there it is! Quite interesting, isn’t it? No one of the thoughts is a mind; but then the composite all of them is also not the mind. The mind is simply something designated upon things that are not the mind. And as for the mind, so for everything else. That was a sneak preview for month two! Ok? So very good.

Does the mind always need an object, or can it exist completely blank? Maybe I’m referring to coarse mind here. Not sure. Very good. Um, so, this goes over here [note: Alan slides the question-paper into a folder. jmf] Generally speaking, Buddhist psychology, if you’re going to identify something as a mental state or a mode of cognition – shepa is the term, shepa as consciousness – then shepa always has a referent. It always has an object, ok? Just like, if we take a corollary; uh, if there’s some information, is the information always about something? Or could you have information that is about nothing whatsoever? Well then it wouldn’t be information, because it’s not informing. It has no content. It’s – and the philosophical term is “intentional” – not as intentional “I intend,” but referential; it has a referent. So if semantic information doesn’t have any referent, if it’s not about anything, then it’s not information, right? So likewise, a state of consciousness is not a state of consciousness unless it’s conscious of something. It can’t be conscious of nothing whatsoever.

Having said that, it does get very subtle. So if you go into the formless realm, into the formless realm, you have the first among the samapatis or absorptions in the formless realm. The first one is consciousness of infinite space. That’s something! Second one, consciousness of infinite consciousness, just boundless consciousness; it doesn’t mean omniscience, it just means the sense of just unimpeded, open, open, open consciousness, and that’s what you’re aware of. But the third one is consciousness of nothingness, jianamepa, nothing whatever. But that’s what you’re attending to! You actually are attending to a sheer absence, and that’s what you’re attending to! So even that can be an object. What are you attending to? I’m attending to a sheer absence of anything and that’s what I’m attending to, to that sheer absence; it’s a simple negation! A sheer absence of anything. That’s what I’m attending to, right? And then beyond that is just beyond words, neither perception nor non-perception; so now you say ok, don’t even, does not compute, does not compute. And it’s still within samsara!

So this came up earlier, it came up I think from, I think from you, Mike. And that is substrate consciousness. Is it aware of anything? The answer is yeah, substrate! Now having said that, what about when you go deep asleep – or maybe you’ve even taken general anesthesia, like His Holiness had when he had the gall bladder removed. He was quite curious as a very experienced meditator, he was very curious when they gave him anesthesia — because he had general anesthesia, pretty major surgery – he was quite curious to see whether he could go lucidly into the state of, you know, comatose. And his answer was, “Nope!” He said when you get it chemically, it’s so – he didn’t use the word “violent” – but it’s so abrupt, it’s so forceful, that it just bludgeons your lucidity right into nothing. So [Alan makes a bludgeoning sound] then you’re just out. And then after some time you come back in again, but he said he could not track, he could not track what it was like to gradually become unconscious – or conscious, less conscious, less conscious, and then unconscious. He said, just Wow! It just knocks you! Ok? So, not so useful for meditation.

And so, many people, when falling asleep, they just become not aware of anything; or taking anesthesia; or many people when they die. They just lose awareness of anything. And you might recall this – I think I’ve said it in this retreat – that when that takes place, when you go into stage 4, non-REM sleep, which is simply deep, dreamless sleep, what happens here – in the Dzogchen view – is that your substrate consciousness, which by nature is luminous, bright and luminous, it actually – of course it has to be somewhat metaphor – but it dissolves into, or it gets inserted into substrate. So it’s no longer manifest, it’s no longer explicit. The substrate consciousness itself dissolves into substrate, and the substrate’s just a sheer vacuity; and the nature of the substrate – and this is straight from Tibetain – the nature of the substrate is unknowing. What’s the nature of the alaya? Ma-rigpa: not knowing. Not knowing. Which means when you’re in ordinary, deep, dreamless sleep, you don’t know anything at all explicitly. You don’t even know you’re asleep, and that’s the thing that should be most obvious, because that’s all that’s happening. And you’re not even aware of that! In other words, you don’t know anything! If you don’t even know you’re asleep, you don’t know anything at all!

But is that state of unawareness the same state of unawareness of this piece of paper? And I would say this – until shown otherwise! – I will say this paper has zero consciousness. If consciousness were a temperature, this would be zero degrees Kelvin. Nothing whatsoever. Zero. Nothing there! Which means also that, no matter what you do to it – you know, pour neurons into it, add a microelectrode to it, shout at it, burn it – there’s nothing you can do to a piece of paper to make it go, “What? You called?” There’s just, there are no cooperative conditions. Not dakinis, angels, Buddha-fields, or anything that, you know, you can bring to bear to a piece of paper to make it wake up. And so let’s say my last incarnation was as a piece of paper; there are no such cooperative conditions! Because there’s nothing here that can turn into consciousness. And to be aroused to a state of consciousness, there has to be something that transforms into it. You can’t get a bunch of cooperative conditions to make nothing become something!

And that’s equally true for mass-energy. If you had, if it were possible to have a volume of space that was absolutely empty, in other words – and this is not possible! – but that means empty even of the zero-point energy of empty space, which is right there in the very nature of space; if it were possible to get a straw and suck that out, and so you have an absolute vacuum - which Aristotle said nature abhors - if that were possible, there is absolutely nothing in that volume, there is nothing you could do to it to make something arise from that nothing. Not matter, not energy, space or time or anything else. If there’s nothing there – it just makes, it’s kind of just, after you’ve said it, it’s kind of like “why did you say that; that’s so obvious it doesn’t need to be said!” And that is, there’s nothing you can do to nothing to make it become something.

But if that’s true, there’s probably a symmetry there: and if you have something, what could you possibly do to it to make it become nothing whatsoever? That kind of makes sense too, doesn’t it? The first one is more obvious; this is a little bit less obvious. But how could you make it actually turn into nothing whatsoever, if it was something? So, interesting.

So, unlike a piece of paper, if a person is, has general anesthesia, sooner or later hopefully it wears off, and then lo and behold you come out. And there you are. And so consciousness once again re-emerges, it becomes explicit. Even if you die, if you die in surgery while having general anesthesia, there’s nothing you can do to that consciousness to make it become nothing. And of course, to make it become matter would violate the principles of conservation of mass-energy. If consciousness could actually – consciousness that’s something non-physical – could actually transform into something physical? That would be bizarre! And that’s just not allowed in modern physics.

So either – so there it is: it either becomes nothing, which seems kind of strange; become matter-energy, for which there’s evidence whatsoever; or a state of consciousness just transforms into another state of consciousness, which is the Buddhist view, in which case you’re in the bardo and there you are! You’re on your way to your next, your next trip.

O laso! One final one and then we can hopefully have time for questions from y’all. So this is from, this is from Danny – Danny Morris (I can tell the handwriting) – where’s Danny Morris? There you are! So you have mentioned that when you achieve shamatha the prana converges in the heart chakra, although I’ve also heard from the Yogic perspective that the third eye chakra is associated with absorption and concentration meditation. Maybe so. I’ve never heard that. Is that from the Theravada? From what tradition? [Danny now speaks, and microphone does not pick up all his words]. Ah ha! Yeah. [Danny again, inaudible] Then we just have to be aware that there are so many different types of samadhi and so forth. And this is a very powerful chakra; there’s no question about that. Yeah. This – so we’re in position right now to do any big comparative study with this. So when you speak of – and all we’re referring to here, because bear in mind, in Buddhism we have the four dhyanas, we have the four samapadhis and the formless realm, let alone realization of emptiness, and rigpa, and so forth and so on. Here we’re just talking about flat-out shamatha, where your coarse mind dissolves into substrate; just that simple. Boom, right to the heart. So, when your coarse mind is activated in the waking state, pranas converge in the head, in this chakra here, in the forehead. When you’re dreaming, they converge at the throat, and in deep sleep they converge at the heart, and that’s where they converge when coarse mind dissolves into subtle when you achieve shamatha.

So, when you speak of pressure building up in the head during mindfulness of breathing, which I agree is not good, if you are contracting and focusing too hard with the eyes – yeah, that’s not good – but if you are loose and relaxed with your eyes soft and there happens to be some stimulation of the third eye chakra, is this always a bad sign, or could there be a situation where it is at least neutral or maybe positive from Buddhist perspective? What role does the third eye play, if any?

Yeah, the third eye – or just this chakra here, I mean, this one right here – in Buddhism, they tend to put it more in the center of the forehead, although there is something here right between fore—

But this goes into, I mean too far outside of this eight weeks, because now we’re into very subtle physiology and Vajrayana. Still a good question, but I think for another occasion. But to answer the practical question, and that is, if you have not simply pressure building up, like feeling like “this could turn into a headache, or maybe it is already a headache.” Kind of a sinus headache. If you have something that feels like it’s going there, or just kind of a tightness in the head, then almost certainly, you’re just putting too much pressure, too much effort, too much grasping and all of that. That said – and this has come up already in a number of one-on-one meetings – if you’re doing mindfulness of breathing and you know that your eyes are soft and relaxed, your whole face is relaxed, your eyes unfocused, so that you’re really just focusing just with mental awareness, maybe at the apertures of the nostrils, maybe elsewhere – and you feel some strange tingling, or maybe it’s a, some really, some flow of prana coming up from, maybe coming here to the third eye, or up into the crown chakra. One person mentioned a lot of pranic activity in one hemisphere, one side of the head. Or others, many other people experiencing flows of prana – quite interesting, this came up not long ago – one person having some somatic experiences that were reminiscent of pains from much earlier in life: so one was in the abdomen, and another one was in another part of the body, but was long gone, and now just kind of just resurging a little bit, and then simply a nyam, then passing right on through.

So through the authentic practice of shamatha, there can be a wide variety of somatic nyam, and these will almost of certainty be involved with the pranas, and when the practice is authentic – it’s balanced, relaxation, all of that – then this would imply, or overall the diagnosis would be a breaking down of blockages of the prana, a flowing of the prana; and as if you had, let’s say, an irrigation canal that was blocked, and then you suddenly unblocked it, there would be just a big rush of water, right? So likewise, when there’s kind of a loosening, this deepening relaxation, like that, sometimes there can be a rush, a rush of prana. And you may feel it in the head; you may feel it in the heart; in the gut; it could be anywhere. And so overall, the practice here is just let it be; whatever comes up, just be present with it, and let the body sort itself out. In other words, don’t really fixate on it, don’t give it a lot of fierce attention, and as much as possible avoid hope and fear, and avoid grasping onto it. Just let it sort itself out. Ok? Good!

Alright, we have about ten minutes. Anything coming up? First, left hemisphere: observations, insights anything coming up? We’ll start with Mike. And microphone coming!

This is a follow-up kind of to Stephanie’s question about mind, about mind’s being the nature of the mind; and also a follow-up to your description of the way that, in deep sleep, the substrate consciousness kind of dissolves into the substrate, or becomes implicit. Is the substrate – in Stephanie’s question, is the awareness that you’re using when you’re settling the mind in its natural state, is part of the mind too.

It’s simply mental consciousness. But of course, it comes with certain mental factors. Attention is a mental factor; mindfulness is a mental factor; you’re monitoring with introspection, that’s a mental factor. Back to you!

Yeah I just wanted to make sure I was understanding correctly that that is part of the mental state, but it’s a part that you’re separating out.

It is certainly the case, and I’ll – as simply skillful means – I will suggest that it’s still useful to have the kind of conceptual categories of “now let your awareness rest in its own place,” it’s mental awareness of course, “and let it illuminate the space of the mind.” And that means, specifically what you’re seeking to illuminate is, number one, that objective space in which appearances arise, right? But also to be illuminating these active impulses that arise: anxiety, fear, dread, joy, and so forth and so on. And again, their term in javana, the javana arising. And you’re seeking to observe that from your best approximation – that’s all it is – your best approximation of viewing them from the perspective of bhavanga, or - and Theravadins wouldn’t go along with that, because they say bhavanga isn’t even there when the jhavana are – but as I said yesterday, Savasavadin said Yes it is! Or we’ll just stick with the Dzogchen. You’re seeking to approximate viewing this, the activities of the coarse mind from the perspective of substrate consciousness.

Substrate consciousness is that from which your mind emerges; it’s that into which your mind dissolves when you die. But overall, would we say it’s mental? Sure, it’s mental; it’s subtle mental. Now beyond that, we could say, What’s very subtle mind? What’s very subtle mind? In the new translation schools – from Geshe Zubten and all of that – very subtle mind is the innate mind of clear light, which His Holiness Dalai Lama and others say, Yep, that’s exactly the same as rigpa, pristine awareness, and so forth. Is that mind? Yeah! It’s very subtle mind. But it’s not absorbed into, or encapsulated in the substrate consciousness, let alone in coarse mind. Ok? Good!

And then, to continue with the statement you made about the substrate consciousness dissolving into the substrate: seems to imply that the substrate itself is of the nature of consciousness, if mind can arise from it.

It’s more like – it is stated, and I found it quite perplexing for a while, and I think I feel a bit more clear than I used to – I first encountered this in the text, The Vajra Essence, from Dudjom Lingpa, his largest mind terma on Dzogchen, in which he said the substrate consciousness emerges from the substrate. And I think I now have a sense – I believe! – that I know what he’s referring to there, and that is, when your substrate consciousness simply dissolves into the substrate you’ve simply slipped into a state of unknowing. But then, again, is it the same unknowing as a napkin? The answer is no. And again, we know this is true; this is not metaphysical speculation. And that is, even if you’re deep asleep – stage four, non-REM sleep – you can be aroused from the sleep. Somebody could shout in your ear! Or hold ammonia, or smelling salts under your nose. That’ll get you up! Or just jostle you, shake you, and so forth. But if you were as unconscious as a napkin, none of that would work. In other words, the metaphor that I like, the analogy that I like is the pilot light on a stove; and that is, you look at the stove, you just kind of casually glance at it from the outside, you say it’s off, it’s off. And it is! It’s off! But of course, you turn the knob and you see, Oh, it wasn’t entirely off. There was an implicit flame there. I mean, of course, there’s actually a flame: you can lift it up and you see the pilot light on. The substrate – there’s implicit consciousness, which means there’s implicit knowing.

And I think, once again, there’s compelling evidence to this effect. And that is, whether it’s mothers who will not wake up when a fire engine drives by with its, you know, siren sirening; but will wake up when she hears the much quieter sound of her baby crying. I think that’s just true. And she’s in deep sleep when that happens! She’ll wake up for the baby and not for a louder sound. Or her husband’s snoring; that could be much louder than the baby! But there’s implicit: snoring, no threat, needs no response; baby crying, needs response, there’s no way he’s going to get up! [laughter] Right, mothers? Rare occasion, but really rare! It always falls on the mother. And so there it is.

So she has – it’s not only an awareness; it’s a discerning awareness that can distinguish between a loud snore and a soft cry of the baby in the next room. That’s knowing! And yet, if you woke her right up and said, What’s the last thing you remember? She’d say, Well, when I was falling asleep, I guess. How long were you deep asleep? Don’t have a clue. How was it while you were deep asleep? Don’t have a clue! So implicit knowing, definitely there. It’s really fascinating. Ok?

Sure, go ahead!

I’m wondering, is any way we can be aware – I’m not really sure what word to use here, but – just aware of this implicit knowing?

Aware of - ?

Aware of this implicit knowing –

Aware of implicit knowing, ok, yeah.

Yeah, because when I do settling the mind in its natural state, sometimes I get images going through, and thoughts, and sometimes – I’m not really sure what I’m looking, at the moment – but eventually I am. I’m not sure – I would like to make the distinction between if I’m aware, or if I’m just getting dull. It’s possible to be aware of this not implicating knowing, or - ?

I think it is. I think it’s possible. But only you can find out. If I simply express an opinion, then what you know is: ok, that’s Alan’s opinion. Which didn’t really add much to your knowledge! So it’s a good question; it’s an empirical question. Which is to say, it lends itself to closer investigation and inspection, to see whether you can explicitly know only explicit knowing, or you can explicitly know implicit knowing. And what’s your sense? Do you think you can?

Um –

You’ll not be punished if you’re wrong! [laughter]

I think I’m aware of when I’m doing that. It’s just that I’m not aware in the moment. Or it’s different awareness that I don’t really know how to label.

You’ll notice something I’ve done repeatedly now when I’m sitting there. As people can probably tell I like to kind of spend as little time in there as possible, because I’m really eager to go elsewhere – back to my room to meditate! But when I’m there, I’m pretty much focused on the food, but I have, like everybody else, I have peripheral awareness, I mean awareness of movement in my field, field of vision. And quite often, when I’m just focusing there – and of course, as you probably know, when we focus our visual attention, that area that we very explicitly know is very small. That which is clearly in focus, sharply in focus and clearly known: within the broader visual field it’s actually very small, right? That focus of attention. And so if I’m focusing down on my plate, I’m clearly knowing that. But what I’m getting at is, while I’m attending there, I will sometimes just see a reflection in the glass of a person who’s approaching the door to come into the canteen. Or I’ll see people just out of the corner of my eye – and I won’t look, I’ll simply be aware, Yes I’m aware of some vague image there – and then I’ll ask myself, “who do you think it is?” And about 90% of the time I’m right. And I’m not making any exceptional claim here, like Oh I have some special ability. Nothing of that sort. But if I should ask, “why that person?” Because I’m getting hardly any data; it’s really, really peripheral. Really peripheral. I’m getting hardly any data at all. So, and yet – and it’s not infallible – but about 90% of the time, then when I do look, it’s Oh I got it right again! I got it right again, again, again! How interesting! Because the information coming in that I knew about was so little. And yet, when I came up with the thought, “it’s this person,” and then I look: it is that person. So there may be some implicit knowing there, and then an explicit confidence: I’m probably right. And then I look and say, Oh yeah, I was right again. It’s quite interesting!

So it’s not the same as, but it may not be radically different than, this issue called “blind sight,” where as far as the person with this – I think it’s a specific kind of brain damage – is concerned, if you say, “what can you see in the right field of vision?” “I can see nothing at all! I’m getting no data; my brain’s damaged; why are you asking me this? I’m getting only from the left; here I’m getting no information.” And yet, they’ll put things there, and they’ll ask questions about what’s there in this area where the person says I know nothing at all, and they’ll give right answers! Again and again and again. Not just lucky guesses, but actually they are knowing something; they’re not getting lucky guesses. So that’s quite interesting as well. So that’s implicit knowing, but then can they have explicit knowing of that implicit knowing? Well, we’ll leave some questions open here, ok? But very interesting.

And what it does indicate is multiple levels of knowing. I think that’s quite clear. Multiple levels of knowing. That is, not only explicit, it’s implicit. But then also one final point – now it’s 6:01 – and that is rigpa. When we speak of rigpa, deepest dimension of awareness, pristine awareness, Buddha-nature, dharmakaya. Rigpa cannot become ma-rigpa; that dimension of consciousness cannot become ma-rigpa, “not knowing.” It’s, by nature, knowing! If it’s not knowing, it’s not it! Which means it’s always there, and it’s non-local and a-temporal, which means it’s pervading all of space and all of time. In other words your implicit knowing is very large. Because it’s always there, but then it’s veiled; it’s veiled, and veiled, and veiled. And the whole of Buddhadharma is designed to remove those veils until it’s completely unveiled. Ok? And then, all becomes explicit! And all of your knowing is perceptual, and none of it is inferential, and none of it’s conceptual. That’s why we’re trying to get into this mode of perceptual knowing early on, and cultivate it. Ok? Very good! Enjoy your dinner!

Transcribed by Rafael Carlos Giusti

Revised by James French

Final edition by Rafael Carlos Giusti

Posted by Alma Ayon


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