We speak of the three times - past, present and future - as an expression of the insight that nothing lasts but everything is characterized by impermanence. Our impression of time passing is brought about by the continual movement of our mind, with its incessantly changing world of experiences. Intellectually, this is easy for us to understand, but we find it difficult to apply this insight to our daily lives, in which we often have the tendency to want to stop time and prevent certain situations from developing.
It is precisely our wish to want to halt the continual change of things that causes us to suffer. When we deeply accept becoming and ceasing as something inevitable, then there is no longer any cause for suffering. If we live impermanence and deeply understand it, then it becomes a friend who helps us settle in the dimension of the present moment and experience the unity of mind and its projections.
If our mind did not project appearances, would there be past, present and future? Surely not. There would be no feeling of time passing, as the impression of time is solely caused by the changing projections of our mind. If we wish to achieve certainty about this, we must look directly into our mind in meditation again and again; words and intellectual understanding are not adequate for this. Only through repeated investigation of our own mind can we truly grasp that the world that surrounds us is nothing but a projection of our mind - its dynamic expression, its luminosity.
Our mind is a succession of moments of awareness - and these moments of present awareness cannot be extended. We cannot say: "Thoughts, please stop for a moment, so that I may look at you and understand you." Trying to stop the movements of our mind, in order to look at a thought or insight more carefully, blocs the natural, spontaneous dynamics of the mind. There is no point in trying to seize an insight so that we can look at it closely. In true insight, there is nothing that could be looked at or understood.
As long as we cherish the desire to understand something, to define and explain it, we miss the real point of our practice and continue in our ordinary mental fixation. If we wish to appropriate an insight, there needs to be someone who wants to understand something - and immediately we recreate the 'I', the thinker. In reality, there is nobody who understands and no object that is to be understood - there simply is only seeing. As soon as we cling to an 'I', there is no more seeing.
If we are dissatisfied with the prospect of not being able to understand, that is because we wish to have something for ourselves. We hope to be able to control and master things. But in truth we cannot control or understand anything. If we wish to arrive at a true understanding, we must let go of all personal desire. We should search for the thinker who wants to understand and control. Then we will see that we canot find them, since they do not exist as such. If there is no thinker, then it is only natural that there is no understanding of thought processes and the mind.
Thinker and thoughts are empty, without true existence. This fundamental emptiness is the truth body. The luminosity, or dynamics, of this empty mind, its capacity to create thoughts, is the enjoyment body. The manifold expression of the mind, its capacity to assume a myriad forms in a continual change, is the emanation body.When we allow our mind to engage in its
natural, spontaneous activity, we will recognize
its three fundamental qualities: emptiness,
luminosity and unobstructed manifestation.
We will not, as we may have feared, find ourselves in an empty, blank state. Rather, we will discover that our thoughts are the treasure of the three bodies of enlightenment, the inexhaustible source of wealth of qualities.
What can we do to gain insight into the nature of mind? We should meditate and allow our mind to rest in the awareness of the present moment. The true nature of mind is nothing other than this moment of open awareness. In this sense of presence, there is nothing that could be grasped by thought, described or seen. This does not mean, however, that there is nothing at al, but only that no awareness as such is seen. When we rest in this immediate awareness that is the nature of mind, we understand that all appearances are created through the habitual tendencies of our confused mind.
The goal of Mahamudra meditation is to see directly the nature of this confusion. This happens when the mind merges with the awareness of the present moment which is its basic nature. In that moment, it is freed of all the negativity and obscurations of all our lifetimes. To penetrate to this experience, we must meditate again and again, over a long period of time, and use all situations for the meditation on the true nature of mind. If we do this, one day we will attain realization and with it complete certainty. We will see directly what the mind is and how it works. From that day on, all our doubts will have been resolved completely.
In Mahamudra meditation, we simply allow body and mind to relax and rest in openness. To relax completely does not mean to slump in a lazy way. Rather, it entails maintaining a clear, vivid awareness that perceives all impulses of the mind to hold on to something and lets go of the immediately. Without getting annoyed about our attachment, we simply perceive it and allow it to free itself. Attachment is the sole thing we must abandon, and that is why the teachings speak so insistently of the need for complete relaxation of the mind.
In the view of Mahamudra, in which we make no distinction between good thoughts and bad thoughts but allow all appearances equally to dissolve in their true nature, there is one danger. We may regard ourselves as great yogis and think that with this view that is as expansive as the sky, we no longer need to pay attention to the small details of life and of our actions. This erroneous view is rooted in a pride that is as big as a mountain. To think that everything in its nature is emptiness and, therefore, it is no longer necessary to perform wholesome actions and to avoid unwholesome ones, leads to arrogant, inconsiderate behavior. A "great yogi" of that persuasion would entangle themselves more and more in the worldly thinking and acting. Their disturbing emotions would increase, and they would move further and further away from awakening.
In order not to fall into this error, we should cultivate the flawless behavior of a bodhisattva and constantly check whether our body, speech and mind conform to the teachings of the Buddha. Even with the very expansive view of Mahamudra, a view that is all-embracing as the universe, we have to be very sensitive and exact in our actions. As soon as we have developed the correct view and actually apply it in practice, we are able to recognize the ultimate reality in ourselves, without having to undertake any great effort to accomplish this. The recognition of the nature of mind is the only thing that we actually need - it has the power to liberate us from everything and to liberate all beings in the universe, too.
All phenomena of the external world are only the manifestations of the luminosity of our own mind and ultimately have no reality. When we allow our mind to rest in the recognition that everything that it experiences is its own projection, the separation between subject and object comes to an end. Then there is no longer anyone who grasps at something and nothing that is being grasped at - subject and object are recognized to be unreal.
In order to experience this, we allow our mind to remain in its ordinary consciousness, the awareness of the present moment, which is the deep, unchanging nature of mind itself and which is also called "timeless awareness." That is the natural insight that arises spontaneously when in every moment we look directly at the true nature of mind.In seeing the nature of mind, there is nothing to "see"
since it is not an object of perception. We see it without
seeing anything. We know it without knowing anything.
The mind recognizes itself spontaneously, in a way beyond all duality. The path that leads to this is the awareness of the present moment, free of all interference. It is an error to think that the ultimate truth) is difficult to recognize. The meditation on the nature of mind is actually very easy, as we do not have to go anywhere to find this nature. No work needs to be done to produce it; no effort is required to find it. It is sufficient for us to sit down, allow our mind to rest in itself and directly look at the one who thinks that it is difficult to find the nature of mind. In that moment, we discover it directly, as it is very close and always within easy reach.
It would be absurd to worry that we might not succeed in discovering the nature of mind, as it is already present in us. It is sufficient to look into ourselves. When our mind directs its gaze upon itself, it finds itself and understands that the seeker and the sought are not two different things. At the moment, we cannot see the nature of our mind because we do not know how
we must look. The problem is not that we do not possess the capacity for doing this but that we do not look in the right way.
To become capable of recognizing the nature of mind in the way described, we have to work at relaxing deeply and letting go of all wanting, so that the natural state of mind can reveal itself. This work is the exact opposite of worldly effort, in which we strive to obtain concrete things and put ourselves into a state of strain. In the practice of Dharma, we must "strain without effort." This does not mean that we do nothing at all and simply remain as we are, because then we would continue to reproduce the same behavior patterns that have existed in us since beginningless time. We must make an effort to purify our ego-centered tendencies and become aware of our intentions.
(Gendun Rinpoche in "Heart Advice from a Mahamudra Master", p. 144-149)