Inherent vs apparent nature of mind

Reflections this morning on the difference between the “inherent nature” of mind and the “apparent nature” of mind: This point was brought out by Khandro Rinpoche in this last month’s investigations on the nature of mind and the teachings on Mahamudra practice in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. In my meditation this morning, it came clear to me how I assume my mind to be the content within my mind. Whether it is the rev of a car accelerating
or the morning whirr of humming birds in flight or the thoughts that come to me about my practice; all this activity I identify as mind. All perceptions and concepts occur on the screen of my mind, they are extensions of awareness, yet they are apparitions. As the backdrop to the play of thought-forms arising, as suggested in the Mahamudra training, is the “inherent nature” of mind. As I steered my attention to awareness itself, I reflected upon the constancy of this inherent nature of mind. It is unchanging, unalterable. As I gained a foothold and was able to then rest in the space of open attention it became clear to me that there is no way to then increase or decrease the level of this attention. All my attempts to try to improve upon this presence were futile. I noticed how readily the controller in me was wont to adjust or modify this awareness to try to make it bigger or stronger or better. But I came to see that once I rested in this open attention, there is nothing more to do. The doer in me lost all its traction to try and change my state and make it better, or different, or other. Khandro Rinpoche spoke of this as “neither adding to or subtracting, neither dividing or multiplying”. In the Prajnaparamita Sutra it is referred to as “neither increasing or decreasing”. It came to me that also this inherent nature of mind is not deep or surface. For me there has been an allure that this inherent mind is “deep”, way inside, something that must be penetrated. This gives it a special status, and pretends that it is mysterious and impenetratable, like a big fish lurking at the bottom of a river. The paradox and joy is that this “inherent mind” is always there. And it is concurrent with the “apparent mind”. It is typically the case that the “apparent mind” reigns and that is what we focus on. By training to abide in “inherent mind”, I feel contact with the vast source of mind that underlies all concept, all perception, all thought.

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