the old mind ceases to exist.
When thought objects vanish,
the thinking-subject vanishes:
As when the mind vanishes, objects vanish.
Things are objects because of the subject (mind):
the mind (subject) is such because of things (object).
Understand the relativity of these two
and the basic reality: the unity of emptiness.
In this Emptiness the two are indistinguishable
and each contains in itself the whole world.
If you do not discriminate between coarse and fine
you will not be tempted to prejudice and opinion.
What we think of as our mind is a specific group of processes that we think of as going on in our heads but not out there in the rest of the world. We have verbal thought, emotional thought and a realm of imaginative thought for each of the five senses. There is also consciousness which involves a type of internal reflection in each of the realms of the five senses and then an awareness of the reflection through thought and memory. And then there is the awareness of our awareness. And all of this is mixed up with desire. and instincts. And of course much more that is unconscious. It is all very complex. It seems to be ungraspably complex and in it's ungraspableness we have come up with all sorts of simplified notions of how our minds work like Free Will. Some believe our minds are the workings of our divine soul. Some believe that our minds are functioning in a completely different realm then what we think of as the physical realm.
The first step in the practice of meditation is to cultivate our inner eye to watch the functioning of our minds. This is "mindfulness" which has become very important in current psychological therapy. Through this practice there is no expectation of a complete understanding of the workings of our mind but there are some important broad insights that are possible. Shakayamuni Buddha's expression of these insights forms the foundation of Buddhism. His insight into how our mind creates suffering through desire and attachment became the first two of the Four Noble Truths. As we develop in the practice of meditation and learn to quiet the mind we can experience the happiness that comes from turning off desires and attachments. I would say this is the third and fourth Noble Truths accept they express something a bit deeper then just a temporary turning off of desire and attachments. The third and fourth Noble Truths are about transformation, a transformation that come about through both understanding and experience. Shakyamuni expressed this understanding with four ideas. Everything is in constant change, The outcome of this change results from causes and conditions (cause and effect), There is nothing like a Soul which resides in our minds. This is just another way of saying our minds function in the same way as the rest of the World, constant change resulting from causes and effect. The last idea that forms the foundation of Buddhism is the Twelve Fold Chain of Interdependent Origination in which Shakyamuni traces out the causal steps which he believed lead to the delusional idea of an individual self. Put together these ideas create a picture of the World in constant change, but not individual things in interaction but rather an almost infinitely complex web of cause and effect that is more like a fluid.
This picture of the world seems to fall short of the vision of non-duality that I constantly write about but it really doesn't. Not experimentally, as Seng Tsan points out. The duality that we seem to experience is a result of the idea of an individual self which creates a notion of "subject" which separates itself from the "object" which are the things of this world. But if we can stop the type of thinking which divides the world up into individual things then the subject object duality breaks down and the resulting experience Seng Tsan describes as: "the unity of emptiness.
In this Emptiness the two are indistinguishable
and each contains in itself the whole world. "
I think that many of us are confused when we encounter the word "emptiness" as it is used in Mahayana Buddhism. Of course this is a translation of a Sanskrit word sunyata, which cannot be easily translated but we have settled on using emptiness in English. This is sort of a puzzling word which might be a good thing, but it's connotations often throw us off. As I have tried to point out in my blogs and essays, emptiness is an expression of some particular experiences and cannot be properly pieced together Just intellectually from our normal experience. Here Seng Tsan is emphasizing the non-dual and Oneness aspect of emptiness
The "discriminating mind" is another phrase that has become important in the English Buddhist lexicon. This refers to the aspects of our individual minds that divides the world up into likes and dislikes, rights and wrong, this and that. it is not just one aspect of our intelligence but most of the cluster of processes that we think of as individual thought. When I talk or write about stopping thought in meditation I am talking about stopping discriminating thought. For many meditation practitioners their first deep experience is not from the complete stopping of all mental processes, consciousness included which is sometimes called Absolute Samadi but a lesser stopping of discriminating thought which breaks down the subject object duality for a moment and we find ourselves experiencing Oneness with a particular sensation, the call of a bird, the sound of a river, the sight of a mountain and in that moment we become the bird or the river or the mountain and in this experience recognize the Oneness of all things.
We can become one with a sensation of something out there when we temporarily forget our own separateness and drop any idea of our own individuality. If we recognize the greater truth of this experience then the implications are profound and far reaching. We and all things are not just parts of the greater One but in this experience of identity are the greater One. This makes no sense from a position of dualistic logic. How can a part be the whole? I think it makes some sense if we think of the infinite complexity of cause and effect. Every thing, every individual is not just the result of limited chains of causes and effects but rather everything without exception is involved in the cause of everything else. The whole Universe comes together in each seemingly individual thing. The implications are even more far reaching. Even our notions of time and space breaks down in logic of non-duality. All of time and space are present in each moment and each place. This is beyond our complete understanding yet it is the nature of our pure experience in each moment, if there is no added discriminating thought.