"Thoughts and memories are waves of intrinsic awareness."

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"Thoughts and memories are waves of intrinsic awareness."

Postby duckfiasco » Mon Dec 03, 2012 2:50 am

"Thoughts and memories are waves of intrinsic awareness."

While receiving instruction on Chenrezig visualization today at the local Kagyu center, this line of the chant really stopped my mind. I spent the drive home kind of dazzled by it. I'd love to read the insight of more experienced practitioners. Can anyone elaborate and perhaps explain how it can be applied to practice? For context, it's among other lines about emptiness. Please feel free to ignore my ramblings and share yours! :twothumbsup: And don't be afraid to correct any mistaken views here, either :heart:

The first idea that came to mind was my own habit of making distractions during meditation (like thoughts and memories) into annoyances to be gotten rid of. It hadn't occurred to me that since the mind can't have foreign objects stuck into it then removed, the distractions themselves are in substance no different than a state of concentration. It made me think of monkey mind like having a bouncing knee habit. You don't look for something to slap off your leg to make it stop. It's just something you're doing out of habit, then you notice, go "oh" and stop. Now, applying this to the mind is another matter :rolleye:

So then I wondered three things related to this line.

One, is basic ignorance really just a bad habit, like knee bouncing? If so, where the heck did it come from and how do we stop? Maybe this is what the various practices are for and my question is stupid :P

Two, if distractions and all manifestations of mind are this same intrinsic awareness, why do some appear desirable (calm) and others undesirable (agitation)? Is that just another effect of ignorance? It's stunning to me that something seemingly empty and unblemished can manifest in such varied ways, even painful ones.

And finally, a lot of thoughts and memories seem to chug along almost autonomously. Then mindfulness kicks in, and they dissipate like smoke. Was the distraction really the same thing as the mindfulness, but because I wasn't thinking "concentration," it felt different? The concentration is not the "real" mind, nor is the distraction. But is one much more conducive to practice because at least it doesn't reinforce the initial confusion? I'm talking myself into a headache here.

My thoughts started leaning into "ignorance and liberation are also mind so they're essentially same thing" territory but I had no clue what that meant and didn't want to confuse myself even more.

This thread is kind of a mess but I hope some other minds can be stopped, too :spy: The sentence cut deep to something, and I'm trying to make sense of just what it did.

In deep gratitude...
:heart: :buddha1:
Please take the above post with a grain of salt.
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Re: "Thoughts and memories are waves of intrinsic awareness."

Postby jeeprs » Mon Dec 03, 2012 3:47 am

"Thoughts and memories are waves of intrinsic awareness."


"Thoughts and memories are waves of intrinsic awareness."


"Thoughts and memories are waves of intrinsic awareness."


"Thoughts and memories are waves of intrinsic awareness."


...repeat 108 times.

Then make tea.
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Re: "Thoughts and memories are waves of intrinsic awareness."

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Mon Dec 03, 2012 3:56 am

No idea what it means, but i'll share my own similar experience!

I just did my first Sakya lineage Chenrezig practice the other day, it had a variety of lines about the potentiality of mind and thought if I recall.

Not sure what it is supposed to mean, but interestingly I have found that so far the Vajrayana stuff really resonates with me, in some ways the deity yoga practices for me have brought about a more effective contemplative state for things like emptiness/egolessness, and potentiality of stilled mind/whatever you want to call it than I would get with a similar period of just insight meditation etc.

I know for me, there is always a mind that simply does not stop, full of all kinds of "good" and "bad" things. I picture it like a wheel of faces, words, whatever else..it's always changing but the motion of it is pretty much the same. You could argue that while it is never the same wheel form second to second, it always rolls the same way. Personally, I can be as mindful of this as I want, but it is always there, the difference is whether or not I am living in that mind or not...if that makes sense. It is in constant motion though, it never disappears for me. and then theres a mind that is quieter, but harder to see, that feels like pure potential, if I can reside in that one, I can kind of ignore the other one if I choose.

I realize sadhanas are not supposed to be replacement for the foundational stuff, but man at least for me they do the same stuff, but fast!

Anyway, whether it's distracting thoughts or intentional ones, they are all without a self.

Since you've mentioned you have issues with being distracted, i'm interested to know how the experience was for you in general, though I realize I've rambled on pointlessly without giving you any answer to your question lol, sorry!

wo, if distractions and all manifestations of mind are this same intrinsic awareness, why do some appear desirable (calm) and others undesirable (agitation)? Is that just another effect of ignorance? It's stunning to me that something seemingly empty and unblemished can manifest in such varied ways, even painful ones.


Yes.. Clinging, I think. What I try to do is take two emotions, say joy and anger, and follow them as they arise throughout my day, watch them appear and disappear, then try view the "thing" that is perceiving them and trying to create 'views' on them. With anger, I have lots of opportunities for this because I have two kids! Anyway, when I do this I can indeed see that whether joy or anger they function the same way, the times when they continue to exist, and become something else is when my "ego mask" (sorry I don't have a standard vocab for this stuff) propels them on by clinging to them, and forming opinions on them. Their nature seems to be the same.

What a bunch of nonsense I just wrote, oh well...heh.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: "Thoughts and memories are waves of intrinsic awareness."

Postby duckfiasco » Mon Dec 03, 2012 6:45 am

jeeprs wrote:"Thoughts and memories are waves of intrinsic awareness."


"Thoughts and memories are waves of intrinsic awareness."


"Thoughts and memories are waves of intrinsic awareness."


"Thoughts and memories are waves of intrinsic awareness."


...repeat 108 times.

Then make tea.

I like tea :stirthepot:

Johnny Dangerous wrote:I just did my first Sakya lineage Chenrezig practice the other day, it had a variety of lines about the potentiality of mind and thought if I recall.

Not sure what it is supposed to mean, but interestingly I have found that so far the Vajrayana stuff really resonates with me, in some ways the deity yoga practices for me have brought about a more effective contemplative state for things like emptiness/egolessness, and potentiality of stilled mind/whatever you want to call it than I would get with a similar period of just insight meditation etc.

It was my first formal Chenrezig practice too :) I think I need way more instruction. :cheers:

There was too much to do to get distracted. Unusual images full of colors and beings while chanting at the same time... I wonder if the visualizations are this complex so you never get it down and always have to make effort.

I was also surprised by how fast people chanted om mani peme hung.

Personally, I can be as mindful of this as I want, but it is always there, the difference is whether or not I am living in that mind or not...if that makes sense. It is in constant motion though, it never disappears for me. and then theres a mind that is quieter, but harder to see, that feels like pure potential, if I can reside in that one, I can kind of ignore the other one if I choose.

This is the crux of my confusion. I'd been dividing "inattentive mind" from "pure mind," the latter being preferable of course :rolleye: The visualization chant made me wonder if that's just a convenience.

My limited meditation experience can go both ways... Sometimes, there's a chattering mind I can watch and not get lost in. It's still going almost the whole time. Two wheels, like you said. When it's like that though, it can be like waiting for distractions to keep an eye on, so more of them come right on in. Frustrating.
Other times, it seems like recognized awareness only exists in relation to an object. So distraction and mindfulness can't really be simultaneous, like two independent modes of mind. I wonder if distractions are only distractions because they're a more familiar mode of operation, so we hop on board like any habit.

Maybe this is where emptiness plays in, like you said. It's easier to understand how a table is empty. Then it starts creeping in that the table is a mental formation so maybe your perceiving mind is actually what's empty. Then my brain goes poof :toilet:

I'm caught between the experience of being able to step back and view emotions rise and fall, but then somehow that awareness is not really separate from them at all.
Ugh, brain poofed again :toilet: :toilet:

I don't know how much of this is bupkis. I try to mitigate inexperience by not thinking too hard when I'm not on Dharma Wheel :tongue:

I think I just wrote a bunch of nonsense, too :)
Please take the above post with a grain of salt.
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Re: "Thoughts and memories are waves of intrinsic awareness."

Postby lowlydog » Mon Dec 03, 2012 12:32 pm

jeeprs wrote:"Thoughts and memories are waves of intrinsic awareness."


"Thoughts and memories are waves of intrinsic awareness."


"Thoughts and memories are waves of intrinsic awareness."


"Thoughts and memories are waves of intrinsic awareness."


...repeat 108 times.

Then make tea.


Can you explain exactly how this practice would be beneficial?
Sounds to me as though through chanting you simply suppress these "thoughts and memories" and then enjoy a cup of tea when you have calmed down.
Very dangerous practice in my opinion.
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Re: "Thoughts and memories are waves of intrinsic awareness."

Postby Jikan » Mon Dec 03, 2012 1:20 pm

It's likely that duckfiasco & Johnny Dangerous are describing the self-same Chenresig practice.

If you want to understand the context of the teaching quoted, research Mahamudra a bit. Or ask the lama, if he's available.

it is a great teaching, isn't it!
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Re: "Thoughts and memories are waves of intrinsic awareness."

Postby kirtu » Mon Dec 03, 2012 10:08 pm

duckfiasco wrote:I think I just wrote a bunch of nonsense, too :)


Well, you are beginning to see how the mind works.

Chenrezig practice is wonderful.

Kirt
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“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
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Re: "Thoughts and memories are waves of intrinsic awareness."

Postby kirtu » Mon Dec 03, 2012 10:15 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:I just did my first Sakya lineage Chenrezig practice the other day, it had a variety of lines about the potentiality of mind and thought if I recall.


The sadhana from Ngorchen Konchog Lhundrub? This sadhana has two basic forms, a less extensive one from Lama Pema and the more extensive one. In both versions there is direct teaching on Mahamudra.

Kirt
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“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
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Re: "Thoughts and memories are waves of intrinsic awareness."

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Mon Dec 03, 2012 10:58 pm

kirtu wrote:
Johnny Dangerous wrote:I just did my first Sakya lineage Chenrezig practice the other day, it had a variety of lines about the potentiality of mind and thought if I recall.


The sadhana from Ngorchen Konchog Lhundrub? This sadhana has two basic forms, a less extensive one from Lama Pema and the more extensive one. In both versions there is direct teaching on Mahamudra.

Kirt



Yes, I recall the Mahamudra bit being there, though truthfully I don't recall the specifics at all, being so new to it.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: "Thoughts and memories are waves of intrinsic awareness."

Postby jeeprs » Mon Dec 03, 2012 11:02 pm

lowlydog wrote:
jeeprs wrote:"Thoughts and memories are waves of intrinsic awareness."

...repeat 108 times.

Then make tea.


Can you explain exactly how this practice would be beneficial?
Sounds to me as though through chanting you simply suppress these "thoughts and memories" and then enjoy a cup of tea when you have calmed down.
Very dangerous practice in my opinion.


It was kind of tongue-in-cheek, really. But it makes a point. If you start 'thinking about thinking' or 'trying to understand how the mind works', it is what the teachings call 'conceptual proliferation' (prapanca).

In Western psychology, there was an early school which was dedicated to introspection and trying to rigorously describe internal mental phenomena. But the whole approach was abandoned eventually because it was so difficult to develop a uniform set of criteria to classify and analyse mental phenomena and see any kind of structure. As it happens, Western psychology has never gotten anywhere with that approach, to this day.

This is where the Buddhist approach is very different (and it doesn't matter which school, particularly.) Mindfulness-awareness training uses 'bare attention' - which is simply noticing what is happening in the mind and body. It is not a process of judging and classifying conscious thought. It is simple awareness of the activities in the mind and body. After some time, that very action provides a very different perspective from discursive thinking. That is the only perspective from which you start to understand the statement 'Thoughts and memories are waves of intrinsic awareness". If you try and figure it out by thinking about it, you're chasing your tail.

Hence my semi-humorous suggestion was to treat it more like a mantra, so as to engage the mindfulness aspect of intelligence, rather than discursive thought.
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Re: "Thoughts and memories are waves of intrinsic awareness."

Postby kirtu » Tue Dec 04, 2012 12:12 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
kirtu wrote:
Johnny Dangerous wrote:I just did my first Sakya lineage Chenrezig practice the other day, it had a variety of lines about the potentiality of mind and thought if I recall.


The sadhana from Ngorchen Konchog Lhundrub? This sadhana has two basic forms, a less extensive one from Lama Pema and the more extensive one. In both versions there is direct teaching on Mahamudra.

Kirt



Yes, I recall the Mahamudra bit being there, though truthfully I don't recall the specifics at all, being so new to it.


In the extensive sadhana there are actually two teachings on Mahamudra. But the section in the sadhana labeled Mahamudra just before the mantra recitation reads:

Of all phenomena of happiness and sorrow, of existence and liberation, the substratum of all is one's own mind*. Mind itself, if it be examined, lacks color and shape and so, also of single or plural nature, is empty. Empty, it is therefore of birth, existence and cessation void - void and yet with luminosity unstilled. Stilled of all elaboration, still mind itself is the great limitlessness.



Kirt

*This is from Palden Sakaya's version. The meaning and most of the words are the same in the more extensive version but specifically "the substratum of all is one's own mind" verse reads "All phenomena of samsara and nirvana have as their root one's own mind." in the other version. I'm not sure exactly why Palden Sakya used "substratum" instead of "root" except that the few verses follows the Sakya presentation from Mind Only -> Madhyamika and perhaps they wanted to emphasize that aspect.
Last edited by kirtu on Tue Dec 04, 2012 12:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "Thoughts and memories are waves of intrinsic awareness."

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Tue Dec 04, 2012 12:15 am

Kirt, thank you, this gives me something to ponder before I go again, as there is no way I would have remembered it!
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: "Thoughts and memories are waves of intrinsic awareness."

Postby duckfiasco » Tue Dec 04, 2012 12:36 am

Jeeprs, I really do appreciate the reminder. I know I get tempted by the deliciousness of Buddhist philosophy. Mmm mental hedonism :spy:

Sometimes though I find it helpful to digest the teachings a little to help with right view. Otherwise, practice may become misguided. That's why I try to save most such ramblings for Dharma Wheel, where more skilled practitioners can call me out on any basic mistakes :) I hope it doesn't give the impression that I care more about ideas than practice... it's why I'm trying to relate this quote which stuck out like a sore thumb to some element of practice.

Right now, I'm treating it as a way not to beat myself up over distractions.

Thank you again :twothumbsup:
Please take the above post with a grain of salt.
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Re: "Thoughts and memories are waves of intrinsic awareness."

Postby lowlydog » Tue Dec 04, 2012 12:49 am

jeeprs wrote:It was kind of tongue-in-cheek, really. But it makes a point. If you start 'thinking about thinking' or 'trying to understand how the mind works', it is what the teachings call 'conceptual proliferation' (prapanca).

In Western psychology, there was an early school which was dedicated to introspection and trying to rigorously describe internal mental phenomena. But the whole approach was abandoned eventually because it was so difficult to develop a uniform set of criteria to classify and analyse mental phenomena and see any kind of structure. As it happens, Western psychology has never gotten anywhere with that approach, to this day.

This is where the Buddhist approach is very different (and it doesn't matter which school, particularly.) Mindfulness-awareness training uses 'bare attention' - which is simply noticing what is happening in the mind and body. It is not a process of judging and classifying conscious thought. It is simple awareness of the activities in the mind and body. After some time, that very action provides a very different perspective from discursive thinking. That is the only perspective from which you start to understand the statement 'Thoughts and memories are waves of intrinsic awareness". If you try and figure it out by thinking about it, you're chasing your tail.

Hence my semi-humorous suggestion was to treat it more like a mantra, so as to engage the mindfulness aspect of intelligence, rather than discursive thought.


Thinking about thinking during your meditation is definately papanka, we are in agreement about this.
I was under the impression that this chant you perscribed was to remedy ones thoughts and memories, and I simply practice arising and passing away so this chanting would seem like supression to me and would go against my personal practice.
be well :smile:
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Re: "Thoughts and memories are waves of intrinsic awareness."

Postby kirtu » Tue Dec 04, 2012 12:54 am

duckfiasco wrote:"Thoughts and memories are waves of intrinsic awareness."


The quote itself is very familiar. I may have read it in exactly this form in HE Jamgon Kongtrul's III teaching in "Cloudless Sky". If not the exact quote, he elaborates on thoughts being inseparable from mind like a wave on the ocean. Waves are neither good not bad, arise and then return to the ocean. The same is true for thoughts and memories.

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“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
Hevajra Tantra
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Re: "Thoughts and memories are waves of intrinsic awareness."

Postby jeeprs » Tue Dec 04, 2012 12:56 am

duckfiasco wrote:Jeeprs, I really do appreciate the reminder. I know I get tempted by the deliciousness of Buddhist philosophy. Mmm mental hedonism :spy:

Sometimes though I find it helpful to digest the teachings a little to help with right view. Otherwise, practice may become misguided. That's why I try to save most such ramblings for Dharma Wheel, where more skilled practitioners can call me out on any basic mistakes :) I hope it doesn't give the impression that I care more about ideas than practice... it's why I'm trying to relate this quote which stuck out like a sore thumb to some element of practice.

Right now, I'm treating it as a way not to beat myself up over distractions.

Thank you again :twothumbsup:


No problems at all, I enjoy the spontaneous nature of your posts. Presenting and reading different perspectives is one of the good things about Internet forums.

Actually I am quite an analytical thinker also and spend a lot of time (probably too much) debating and discussing ideas, here and various other sites. There is nothing the matter with that. But that kind of meditative perspective on thinking also helps to keep a sense of proportion and balance.

Now, where were we?

Oh yes, I remember

'thoughts and memories..........
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Re: "Thoughts and memories are waves of intrinsic awareness."

Postby catmoon » Thu Dec 20, 2012 12:00 pm

duckfiasco wrote:"Thoughts and memories are waves of intrinsic awareness."



On the face of it, it looks like a false statement. After all, emptiness is about negating the intrinsic qualities of things. They are not supposed to exist.

The curious student must surely ask, "What is different here? If awareness is intrinsic, what is it intrinsic TO? If it is intrinsic to something, why is it not negated as just another mental imputation?"
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Re: "Thoughts and memories are waves of intrinsic awareness."

Postby Queequeg » Thu Dec 20, 2012 12:57 pm

Interesting line...

To be clear, my background is not based in Tibetan Buddhism, but rather East Asian. I am also going to write from a Mahayana perspective, using terms that might be considered pejorative, like Hinayana, but I mean these in their technical sense, not as a reference to any particular tradition, past or present. Instead I mean these terms in the sense they are used to designate certain types of teachings.

The first thoughts that came to my mind are the ideas, "Nirvana is Samsara" and "Klesa are Bodhi". I've wondered about those assertions for a long time.

It seems to me that there are various "level" of Buddhist attainment. In so-called Hinayana, the goal is individual liberation and the field of endeavor is generally limited to the individual psycho-physical organism, ie. one's personal spiritual/physical experience, as described in terms of concepts like the five aggregates and various formulations described in Hinayana Abhidharma. The goal is to "untie" the "knots" that lead to individual rebirth. In this theory, practice is therefore directed at the amelioration of the conditions that lead to rebirth - cooling the passions, alleviating craving, letting karma exhaust itself until all momentum is dissipated and the aggregates break up never to reconstitute.

The attainment of Hinayana path is viewed in various ways from the Mahayana perspective - in some, Hinayana is viewed as selfish because realization in this path makes one immune to aspiring to Buddhahood - desires being quashed, one cannot arouse desire for Buddhahood. In this case, Arhats are viewed as "burnt seeds", never to sprout into Buddhas. In other Mahayana perspectives, the Hinayana parinirvana is a temporary expedient, and given time, samsara gets going again. The cessation is only a temporary suspension of karmic momentum - maybe its momentum is so slowed it appears to stop. Alternatively, karmic momentum never stops or even slows, but only appears so - the karmic momentum is still rolling, just not in the way that Hinayanists are on the lookout for.

Still, in some Mahayana paths, even as the Arhats Nirvana is false, there still is a similar Nirvana of the Buddha. In yet other Mahayana paths, the Buddha and Bodhisattva paths become differences of degree rather than quality. What I mean by that is, rather than Bodhisattvas being a precursor to Buddhahood, Buddhas become super bodhisattvas. In this model, Nirvana and Samsara become to ways to look at the same phenomena - sort of like wave/particle views of light. If you are looking for waves, you can't see the particles; if you look for particles, you can't see waves. A bodhisattva is one who can, with varying degrees of fluency, alternate between these two views, readily settling into Absolute for one's own practice, but then readily engaging in a conditioned mode in order to save others. Buddhas, in this view, may or may not be perpetual beings.

In yet other paths, and I think this is where this post addresses the quote cited at the start of the thread, Nirvana and Samsara are thoroughly integrated, such that even as the qualities they reference are discernible in the observation of reality, it is impossible to draw any distinction between them - the observation of one necessarily entails the observation of the other. I look at this cup on my desk, and as I examine all of its conditions, its emptiness emerges from these very conditions. At the same time, emptiness cannot be distinguished from the conditions of the cup. The problematic nature of emptiness makes this equation labored and difficult, but is integrated into the meaning here - this view is maybe best summed up in the fourth line of the Buddhist tetralemma - Neither existing nor not existing.

So, if I have explained this idea at all effectively - the question then arises - what does all this theory mean for actual experience/practice.

In this view, we are no longer trying to end the cycle of samsara - as we've already established that it is "identified" with Nirvana. Something else is going on here. We've also gone through all the emptiness analysis to find that all dichotomies are ultimately insubstantial - good and evil, self and other, etc. We are then, no longer just looking to purify karma, but rather eliminate the habituated behavior derived from false assumptions about reality. All karma, even as it is conditioned, neither exists nor does not exist - practices directed at neutralizing karma no longer make any sense. Neither does purification. It does not, however, imply that there is nothing to do.

That's where I think practices aimed at developing consciousness which intuits - "Thoughts and memories are waves of intrinsic awareness."

The goal of practice is to heal the rifts created by dualities by thoroughly integrating them into a complete and holistic view that neither seeks to eliminate anything, nor accepts that anything exists simpliciter. That's a simplification. In one translation of the Vimalakirti Sutra - maybe Thurman's which is based on LaMotte's, practice is described as building "toleration" - this is the idea that has guided me in approaching dualities in recent years - toleration of this tension inherent in the Neither X nor Not X logic.

Thoughts, no matter what they are, are viewed as conditioned phenomena that without altering them in the least, reflect the qualities of enlightenment - if understood correctly. Being awake, having myriad thoughts wash over you, is the play of nirvana. The spiritual/physical organism is both this sentient and inert as dirt - like foam on the water. The full implications on practice are difficult to summarize... its a logic you just have to settle into, can't really be discussed from outside. Practice is a process of becoming familiar with the implications of the insight.

Complicated idea. Probably an inferior description in answer to the original query. And very well could be wrong.
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Re: "Thoughts and memories are waves of intrinsic awareness."

Postby porpoise » Thu Dec 20, 2012 3:22 pm

duckfiasco wrote:"Thoughts and memories are waves of intrinsic awareness."


I think they're just waves. :tongue:
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