Spirit Grooves Blogs

Published on February 8, 2014

This particular series of blogs is a bit of a fool's errand on my part because what is non-dual cannot be properly described or pointed out by language, which is by definition dualistic, you know, standard grammar with its subject and an object. It is very difficult to talk about something that is non-dual without falling into some form of duality. Yet, I am (perhaps against my better judgment) attempting to do just that, point out the relation of appearances to the mind.

Appearances are just that, appearances, but you can't judge a book by its cover. If we look at the nature of appearances, such as at any given thought as it appears, no matter what that thought means or points to, its essential nature is empty, clear, and luminous. As mentioned, appearances and the nature of those appearances are one and the same, clear, empty, and luminous. In other words, clarity and luminosity, along with emptiness, are also apparent in appearances. In fact, they are identical. As I wrote in a poem a few days ago:

"Appearances are …
Not only empty.
Appearances are …
The emptiness itself,

Our thoughts and words always to point to what they mean, and the meaning they point to can be convoluted and lengthy, like a whole train of thought. But if we look instead at the nature of any thought (rather than the content or meaning that it points to), we will see that behind its appearance is clear empty luminosity, but that is a dualistic way of describing this. In fact, there is no "behind" to appearances. Appearances themselves are empty, clear, and luminous from the onset. Appearances are the appearance of emptiness itself, just how emptiness appears, as in: the appearances we view are the emptiness itself arising -- non-dual, one thing and not two. As mentioned, it is practically impossible to use dualistic language to describe what is non-dual. I apologize for trying, but I can't help it because I find it so fascinating.

And this non-duality is the essence of Insight meditation.

The "trick" or knack to Insight meditation depends on our learning not to focus on (and be misdirected by) the content or meaning of our thoughts, but rather to look at the nature of each thought, "nature" being what thoughts consist of beyond just their meaning or what they point to. Most of us have never done this, but we can learn to.

In the beginning, this is not easy, because we are used to always following the meaning of thoughts. If, instead, we consider thoughts as windows which we can look through, then we can begin to directly see the true nature of thoughts, which is always clear and luminous emptiness. Looking directly through a thought (or word) at its clear empty luminosity is a new experience for most of us. What do we see? The answer is that we see clearly. The clarity itself is the object of our looking. Aside from clarity, there is nothing to be seen. It is a non-dual experience.

If we can look through all appearances in the same way, appearances become like a hologram, something clear and luminous, but at the same time empty of true existence, just like a dream (or movie) is clear, luminous, and empty of true existence.

Dualistically speaking, all appearances are a direct reflection of the mind, like in a mirror, and they are no more real than a mirror's reflection, but we don't realize this. Non-dualistically speaking, appearances and the mind are the same thing – identical. Appearances are the mind itself in motion, like waves are water in the ocean. We may understand this, perhaps even experience it sometimes, but most of us have no realization of this. Nevertheless, appearances remain vivid, luminous, clear, and empty of true existence. How amazing!

What is amazing is that we (like the deer in the headlights) are fascinated and focused on these appearances, which are a perfect reflection of the mind. But we have yet to recognize that these same appearances are in fact the mind itself. Right now most of us are unable to look at that mind with the same intent we look at the mind's reflection, the appearances all around us. Appearances distract us from recognizing that they are the mind itself.

Instead, when we look into the mirror of the mind, we always see the reflected appearances (including our own reflection) rather than what does the reflecting, the mind-mirror that reflects all this, and we don't see the mind itself, although appearances themselves are nothing but that same mind in motion. This non-dual stuff is complicated to express, as you can see? Even in western psychology, looking through the back of the mirror has always been considered enlightening or at least initiatory.

When we start to practice meditation we begin to get to know the mind itself as it is, that which reflects all appearances. Dualistically speaking, we learn to look beyond (or behind) the mirrored image of appearances and into the mind itself. And, of course, non-dualistically speaking, they are the same thing.

This concept itself is worth a little reflection, pun intended.

[Photo of me by me, perhaps an example of emptiness appearing. LOL.]