The mindless-mindful state

Normally these blogs are based on a teisho, but when I was on my way to looking at the teishos on the website I noticed the blurb about Zen Gong – the magazine that was published in the earlier days of the Centre.   Sometimes Albert wrote an article for this magazine, and I looked through the titles. One caught my eye: “The mind is wonderfully pure and clear.”   I started to read it and immediately sentences caught my … I was going to say ‘attention’, but that does not cover those moments when something penetrates like an arrow. So this time the blog is based on an article from Zen Gong: he is commenting on Ta Hui’s teaching.


Two foreign elements: ‘I am’ and ‘something’, are joined as though it were a whole. Very simply, it is this impurity that is our suffering.

Our practice leads into the world, into the ambiguities and dilemmas of the world. It does not lead into a new world but into the old world made new. Instead of seeing ambiguities and dilemmas in a negative way, we see them as opportunities for creativity, a chance for dancing and songs to be the voice of the dharma. Ambiguity is only a barrier when we see the world in terms of either or, in terms of opposition, in terms of you or me, me or the world, me or God.

We are not trying to get rid of the discriminating, unreal, vain thoughts. Once we try to get rid of them, we make them real. Thoughts are not real but our interest in them and our identification with them, make them real. We must work from the purity of the mind.

When you are working from the purity of the mind these thoughts become more and more transparent. One always has these flitting thoughts going through the mind, they are products of the brain and quite outside our control – we don’t create them, but we do give them credence, attention, reality.

We must liberate ourselves from ourselves, from this knot we call the mind, this twisted tortured knot. And we do this by seeing into mindlessness, by seeing into the inherent purity of the mind.

To be mindful means one is totally present, but one can only be totally present when one is not constantly fidgeting with thoughts, feelings, and anxieties. This is the mindless-mindful state.

When Ta Hui talks about the inherent purity of the mind, he is not talking about an empty mind, a mind with nothing in it. …….. we are not trying to develop a particular state of mind in which to dwell; there is not a fixed state of mind called awakening. Awakening is the absence of all fixed states, of all preferred states of mind.

He says: ‘Get to the root, don’t worry about the branches’. Don’t worry about trying to resolve all the various problems of life – life is trouble, life is a problem. We can see life in the perspective of purity or we can see it in the perspective of duality. Getting to the root is cutting out the belief in something which by its very presence creates other somethings, and these are often in opposition with each other, and so we get conflict, suffering, pain, then anger and greed, and in general, human existence.

To purify the mind one must see into the mind as inherently pure. One must see into ‘from the beginning, not a thing is.’ The impure mind is the mind of things. It is the mind that has thoughts fixed with words so that things then take on an independent existence. One must see into the inherent purity of the mind, which is knowing without the sheath of knowledge.

When one sees that true self is no self, ‘I am’ freed from ‘something’, the sense of being obstructed, the sense of having barriers, drops away. No obstruction is liberation.

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4 Responses to The mindless-mindful state

  1. Marie Lloyd says:

    This is a very valuable piece of writing for me to digest after just coming out of the December sesshin. Thank you so much.

  2. Suzanne Plante says:

    Thank you so much Jean. Such an important essential reminder. So good to read and re- read.
    Suzanne Plante

  3. LB says:

    There is so much good stuff in this reprinted article: “I am…..and something”, “Thoughts are not real but our interest in them…make them real”, ‘from the beginning..not a thing is’, ‘true self is no self”, “awakening is the absence of all fixed states’, ‘knowing without the sheath of knowledge’.
    There are several of Mr. Low’s teishos that I must have listened to dozens and dozens of times and each time it is as if I am listening to it for the first time!!! There is an ‘isness’ and ‘nowness’ in the statements of this month’s entry that leaveme with goosebumps. I feel that I am in the cusp of an explosion but then I somehow sense that no explosion is necessary but simply a seeing-being. Nothing needs to be done. But being in about makes me want to tell it out but I keep my mouth shut. These teishos are gifts. Thank-you Jean!

  4. Jane Fawcett says:

    Thank you Jean, for continuing with these postings. I read and resd sgsin these words from Albert and find them so helpful. …a drink of clear water., a wonderful gift.

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