Spirit Grooves Blogs

Published on August 3, 2014

I want to hammer on this purity thing again. Purification is as simple as wanting to be pure to the point of finally voluntarily shedding some of the trappings that we thought distinguished us from being just plain-vanilla, only to find that plain vanilla, what is called "ordinary mind," is the what we always thirsted for in the first place.

It was perhaps harder for those of us brought up in the 1950s as I was, those of us who came into our own in the 1960s. All those little extras, the long hair, the earring, the dressing down, the drugs, and so on, helped to separate us from the square, crew-cut mentality of the 1950s. These trappings were hard to give up. Same with attitude.

It is one thing to get to the point of wanting to jettison all of these little embellishments and quite another to actually do it, to let them go. As for me, I was one of the first, perhaps the first I know of, who cut his hair short back in the 1960s. I did it not to fit in, but because long hair was a pain and I no longer cared what I looked like. I knew who I was or was on the way to that. If you talked to me, there I was. You had to deal with me face-to-face. I gave up drugs early, stopped drinking not too long after that, and like a rocket jettisoning its boosters, one by one, I lost most of my bad habits – smoking, caffeine, and so on. I didn't need them anymore.

I did that on my own. Much harder were the changes in attitude, let's call it the fine-print. I gradually realized that I was not spiritually aerodynamically sound, and that I had tons of rough edges and crap hanging off of me that slowed me down. I was not free to fly in the clarity of the mind. And it was with this level of change that I needed help. I had, as mentioned, purposefully bent myself out of shape years before, perhaps just to be different, just to stand out from the ordinary. How to rectify that? I didn't know, and it was here that the dharma, with its methods and techniques of purification, came to my aid. Jim Dandy to the rescue.

It took me a while to realize that I was the way I was by choice, because I didn't want to be pure. Sure, inside my intention was always good; it was pure, but too often it was lost in the bric-à-brac of appearances that I assumed and wanted to be identified as. I couldn't bear to acknowledge the sheer emptiness that I felt inside, and tried to fill that void with (to quote from the apostle Paul) "sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal." I thought that I was the only one who felt empty. It was only much later, and with the help of the dharma, that I came to accept the emptiness I felt. As I like to say to myself, it is not that appearances are empty, but that it is the emptiness appearing that is a fact. What we cal appearances are the emptiness itself appearing.

That is enough to scare anyone not introduced to their own mind. And in my upbringing, society introduced me to everything on the outside, including how to use my mind, but never to the mind itself. We never looked there, never looked at the elephant in the room. Coming to some kind of terms with emptiness and appearances is for westerners something of an acquired taste. I have to thank the dharma teachings for that. And so what is my point here? It is very simple.

If we are not pure, it is because we don't want to be pure. To some degree we have chosen not to. Pureness in my generation was considered an adulteration, instead of vice-versa. We had it just backward, but how to flip it?

The nature of the mind is, of course, pure mind, and a pure mind at that. If we want to share in that clarity, we may have to lose some of those bells and whistles we are so attached to, at least our attachment to them. This is not so hard to do, but it can't be done until we are aware that we are, as they say, our own worst enemy. We have to first want to straighten out and fly right. Again, the dharma to the rescue.

The dharma teachings show us how to meditate. It is not difficult, but it can take time, depending on our situation. It took some time for my teachers to flag me down and explain to me that if I was not getting the results I looked for (and I was not), it could be because I had too many obscurations, too much crap I had picked up along the way. I might have to remove some. It took me a while to even hear this advice. I had my hands over my ears.

Then they explained that I might want to take a break from my head-on push for meditation results and take time to clear some of my mental obstacles out of the way, and then meditate. Well, I didn't much like to be told to go to the back of the line, so I kind of ignored that advice. It was embarrassing. But after banging my head against the meditation wall for another big while, I finally condescended to listen. I even asked for help.

And the Tibetans then showed me a series of mind-training techniques that were specially designed to clear the meditation-highway of mental brush and debris. This time I listened, and finally just did these exercises and sure enough, some mental rubbish was cleared out and I could see better. One of these techniques, perhaps the easiest one, is the Tong-Len technique I spoke of in the previous blog, and many other times.

For those of you who might be in a similar situation, there are more details and a discussion of Tong-Len in the Book "Tong-Len: The Alchemy of Reactions" here; just scroll down:


[Nights have been cold lately, and days warm, so that means dew. This taken this morning.]