Excerpt from “Budda Mind, Buddha Body” chapter “Finding Your Mind” by Thich Nhat Hanh
When observing the mind, you use the mind. And what kind of mind are you using to observe? If you mind is caught in anger, confusion, discrimination, then it’s not clear enough to do the work of observation, even if you have expensive scientific instruments.
The body is the bodhi tree.
The mind is a great bright mirror.
Every day you have to wipe it clean
so that dust will not cover the mirror.
There’s no such thing as the bodhi tree.
There’s no such thing as the great bright mirror.
From the beginning everything is empty.
Where can the dust cling?
The purpose of meditation practice is to help us have a clear mind to observe and help us untie the knots inside. Everyone has notions and ideas, and when we are stuck in them, we are not free, and we have no chance to touch the truth in life. The first obstacle is our concepts, our knowledge, our ideas about the truth. The second obstacle is klesha, our afflictions, like fear, anger, discrimination, despair, and arrogance. Walking sitting, breathing, and listening to a Dharma talk are all ways to help sharpen the instrument of our mind so it can observe itself more clearly.
When you listen to a talk or read a book about the Dharma, it is not for the purpose of getting notions and ideas. In fact it’s for releasing notions and ideas. You don’t replace your old notions and ideas with new ones. The talk or the writings should be like the rain that can touch the seed of wisdom and freedom within you. That’s why we have to learn how to listen. We listen or read not to receive more notions and concepts, but in or order to get free from all notions and concepts. It’s not important that you remember what what was said, but that you are free.
Only mindfulness allows us to live in such a way, deeply touching the wonders of life, so that every moment can be a moment of healing, transformation and nourishment.