Zen: The Mind Ground

The Mind Ground pin

This short paragraph that is attributed to zen master Lin Chi intrigued me on the first reading about five days ago. I put some of his teachings that I downloaded from some websites onto my reader and have been enjoying them with my morning coffee or tea sitting in the driftwood here.  Let me mention here that the yogi from Chennai (then Madras) who introduced me into Yoga (Sri S. Rajagopalan) and with whom I studied for over 20 years, had one main thrust of his combined teaching (asanas/pranayama/philosophy) and that was to give us an experience over and over again of Silence. Everything else was orchestrated, I might say, to achieving this purpose, although each element had its own benefits as well.

I recognize in Lin Chi’s words above that he is pointing us to that same Silence.

Taking the first part: “The mind ground can go into the ordinary, into the holy, into the pure, into the defiled, into the real, into the conventional;…” and substituting Silence, it becomes something like this: “The ground of the ordinary is Silence, the ground of the holy is Silence, the ground of the pure is Silence, the ground of the defiled is Silence, the ground of the real is Silence, the ground of the conventional is Silence;…”.

From this point of view one could say that all these various levels of our existence, of our experience, are actually contours of Silence and Silence can be seen as the stuff of which all manifestation and all form is made. It is of course obvious from the above that the word Silence is not used in the sense of “no sound”. Rather sounds, noises, movements of objects all happen within this quality of Silence (that is why I use a capital “S” to signify this changed meaning).

In the second part: “…but it is not your ‘real’ or ‘conventional’, ‘ordinary’ or ‘holy.’”, I see the meaning that this basic immutable stuff of which all manifestation is made is, of course, not limited to any of these individual qualities that he lists.

The third part: “It can put labels on all the real and conventional, the ordinary and the holy,…” tells me that this mind ground is active and engaged in the world of form, interacting on all levels mentioned. Then he brings in this: “…but the real and conventional, the ordinary and the holy, cannot put labels on someone in the mind ground.” – in order to clarify once again that while engaging in the world the one whose actions are of the quality of the mind ground (free of ego etc.) actually IS Intelligent Infinity in its ever spontaneous expression. Therefore to put labels on that expression is a thing of the measuring thought, and it is per definition limited as it lives by creating limitations. Intelligent Infinity, or the finite-infinite, as my friend YB Roth calls it, cannot be contained in any concept.

The final part: “If you can get it, use it, without putting any more labels on it.” – for me means if I have been able to access this quality of the all-pervading and immutable Silence/mind ground by divesting myself of all concepts and limiting views and am in that state of being merged with TATHAGATA (That which is beyond all transitory phenomena), then for God’s sake DON”T THINK ABOUT IT, DON”T LABEL IT, just live it and go on my way free of the need to know or reflect on anything.

Ramana puts it this way: “Since the Self shines with nothing else to know or to make known, It alone is Knowledge.”

This paragraph of Lin Chi is still very active in me and what is most active are simply the two words “mind ground” – which are like a code of some sort that brings about a great sense of freedom from all chaff and dust and a falling away of all that suggests itself as being important and calling for my attention. So I am free to put my attention on my happiness, my life force, my sense of being.

– end –


Disappear and Discover Something Wonderful – You!

This is an article from Emily’s wonderfully inspiring blog

The heART of Living

I am re-posting it on Heartflow because I find what Emily suggests here so beautifully simple and appealing:

Posted by emilyparkinsonperry June 26, 2013

“I’m feeling it—the kind of freedom that only comes from taking a month out of life to disappear for a while. The space I feel now as I near the end of a much-anticipated and much-appreciated month away from daily routine is so deeply peaceful that I want to share some easy ways that you can access it too. (An entire month isn’t necessary—but take one if you can!)

  1. Stage a power outage. Plan one evening per month to turn off the power to your house. Turn off all electronics, I-devices, TV’s, and video games. Plan in advance to have something for dinner on hand, and simply hang out with your family and engage in uninterrupted conversation or play hide-and-seek in the dark. If you’re solo; light some candles, soak in the tub, or simply sit and enjoy the absence of noise and light.
  2. Get Outside. Even if the best you can do is step into your backyard—do it. Place your bare feet in the dirt or on the grass and listen to the natural sound of nature. If you have the time and the opportunity, go for a walk in your neighborhood or Local Park. Try to be someplace that is far enough away from traffic that it sounds less like noisy vehicles and more like a distant shore.  If you have a whole day or live a short distance from the mountains, go to a place where you’re more likely to see wildlife than human life. The natural energy of the earth will re-charge and rejuvenate you.
  3. Listen. Put on your favorite music, sit in your favorite chair, and just listen. Feel how your body responds to the music. Select something that relaxes your muscles and softens your skin. Close your eyes and visualize the music as energy that permeates and moves through your body. Observe any emotions that rise up and also observe their passing. If you become distracted by thoughts, gently guide your attention back to the sound and the energy of the music. Listen to one song or a whole album of favorites. Allow yourself to be healed by the energetic vibration of sound.
  4. Select something visually stimulating and rest your eyes upon it. Choose something that moves naturally, such as the leaves of the treetops as they sway in the wind, the natural movement of water, a bird’s graceful flight, or the contrast between light and dark as shadows dance across a room. Notice how your body feels as you take a few moments to soften the eyes and enjoy the gift of visual stimulation.
  5. Meditate. Take a comfortable seat, lengthen your spine, and simply observe the movement of your breath, the feeling of your pulse, the temperature of your skin, and the distant passing of your thoughts. Let go of any expectations and simply allow yourself to be present with whatever comes up. Watch it come and watch it go. Enjoy being in your body.

It is not a luxury to care for yourself in this way. It is an essential component to your health, the health of your relationships, and your offering to the rest of the world. Disappear and discover something wonderful—you!”

Emily-s calming picture

Thought going where it doesn’t belong

Thought going where it doesn’t belong… Thinking about things that thinking  was not made for… I think Krishnamurti first made me aware of the fact that thinking is a tool that has its place but in the course of human development thought became perverted. Who was it that said “language is a virus from outer space”? I don’t agree, and it was probably said to make a point, which is that we have lost our sense of the true value of thoughts/language.

This amazing skill is,  for the most part, allowed to run on auto-pilot unconsciously. Sometimes I see thoughts arising in myself and others and I have the impression of swamp gas bubbles surfacing out of the depths, bursting at the surface and releasing their stench.

Sages have said that silence is the perennial language which is interrupted by words. I wouldn’t stop speaking/thinking yet, but I get what they are pointing at. Words/thoughts  that are sourced from that Silence or the Tao are an expression of the essence of life and otherwise are not more than swamp gas bubbles bursting in our faces.

Zen points me to the spontaneity of human expression when one’s mind is not doing a double-take on what is happening. Then there is natural purity of expression, just as it is. The mind does reflect happenings around me and then it moves with those happenings. When human fears enter the equation we want to look at what is being reflected and acted upon – so there is reflection on the reflection, and this ties things up in to a knot.

Life rolls out smoothly and even when turbulent it keeps on rolling out. Then the mind wants to stop the rolling out dynamic of the universe and double-back on itself: life as mind doubling back on life that was a moment ago. But what it then sees is only the shell, the ash of the movement that happened a moment ago. In the bargain this movement twists the whole strip of life that was rolling out so smoothly and tries to get it to stay put so it can look at it and be sure all is ok so that the mind can approve of how things are going.

No wonder that self-confidence is lost in the process. Looking at my nose in the mirror and trying to imagine if that girl will like how it looks has to make me insecure. After all, human bodies are pretty unusual, don’t you agree?


God, Free Will and the Absolute

God was bored and feeling quite alone and so he decided to create the Universe.

Isn’t it a rather anthropo-centered point of view to attribute to the Ultimate Principle (another term for “God”) psychological attributes such as boredom and loneliness and that this boredom and/or loneliness would be the cause of “God” creating the Universe and you and I? Is this all perhaps, as some venerable old ones suggest, a sort of spontaneous combustion that per default continually results in a ‘total functioning’ simply because nothing CAN go outside of the reciprocal movement of all of the elements of itself, since “there is no ‘out there’ out there” (Dr. Fred Wolf in “What the Beep”)?
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Some Thoughts on Teaching Yoga

This is a message to anyone who might feel called upon to step forward as a teacher of yoga. Looking back at my various wonderful teachers over the years, whether Sri S. Rajagopalan in yoga, or Chungliang Al Huang in tai ji and also teachers from my school and college days there is one thing that stays with me till today: who they are. In other words, those who brought themselves into the learning situation with their whole perfect/imperfect living being are the ones who imparted something of value to me for my life. Others merely imparted some more or less good ideas or techniques that served to entertain me for a while during which I continued my never-ending search for the Essential Point.
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