Cultivate The Mind


Translated By Tara Lau

What is the true meaning of life? Why are people born into the world? And why does one have to go through the suffering of sorrow, joy, separation and reunion as well as of birth, sickness, ageing and death? Buddha tells us that once you attain your so-called permanent true mind, that is, your absolute svabhava, all the confusion and suffering in life will be completely annihilated.

Because of their mind and consciousness being wrongly applied to the inception and dissolution of dharmas, human beings confuse truth and illusion, commit karma and receive retribution. And they find themselves then in transmigration between life and death among the six paths of existence. Surangama Sutra says, “All sentient beings are in successive life and death, all because they do not know their permanent true mind. Their nature is pure, and their essence clear, and yet, when applied to illusion, their thinking becomes false. Hence, the transmigration.”

What is an illusory mind? Well, it is your on-going non-stop, never-ending mental activity. Since before the beginning, this mental consciousness has existed in the universe inseparably from you. You have been confused by it to do evil that induces karma and renders you plenty of suffering. It has also taught you to do good that produces reward and brings you a good deal of consequent happiness. All your past, present, and future encounters, whether adversity or fortune, are driven by it.

For those who practise Buddhism, therefore, their first priority would be to understand their own mind.

Human beings continue to seek knowledge in science and technology and advance material civilization by leaps and bounds, whereas their understanding of their own inner spiritual world is becoming increasingly inadequate. Psychologists are supposed to take the study the mind as their calling, but in general, their objective is analyzing the minds of other people, not their own, and thus they tend to fixate on the consciousness of an illusory mind, neglecting the supra-consciousness, independent-of-phenomena human mind. Ignoring the unconscious, how could they explore the amazing significance of the true mind?

The value of the modern man’s life lies in material enjoyment and the rule for that is safeguarding one’s own interests. For this reason, most people focus on the appearance at the expense of the merit of their inner spirituality. As a matter of fact, however, the essence of the human mind is the Buddhahood inherent in all sentient beings and is the root of genesis and rise of all dharmas in the universe.

Straight Talk of the True Mind says, “What the Buddhas in one’s three lives all attain is this mind. What the one teaching of the Tripitaka expounds and reveals is this mind. What all sentient beings are confused about is this mind. And what all practitioners gain enlightenment on is this mind. Reach this mind, and all is proper and transparent. Get confused over this mind, and everything is upside down and all thought gets crazed.” Indeed, what the Buddhist scriptures all attempt to do is persuade us to understand our own mind and not let it slip into illusion. Remember that an illusory mind leads to evil karma resulting from greed, anger and delusion, as well as killing, theft and lust, which causes endless suffering. Therefore, practitioners must rid themselves of illusory thought and bring their mental activity back within the parameters of the true mind.

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