What Is Clear Mind?

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"Clear mind is like the full moon in the sky. Sometimes clouds come and cover it, but the moon is always behind them. Clouds go away, then the moon shines brightly. So don't worry about clear mind: it is always there. When thinking comes, behind it is clear mind. When thinking goes, there is only clear mind. Thinking comes and goes, comes and goes, You must not be attached to the coming or the going."

From Dropping Ashes On The Buddha

What Is Clear Mind?

"Clear mind is like the full moon in the sky. Sometimes clouds come and cover it, but the moon is always behind them. Clouds go away, then the moon shines brightly. So don't worry about clear mind: it is always there. When thinking comes, behind it is clear mind. When thinking goes, there is only clear mind. Thinking comes and goes, comes and goes, You must not be attached to the coming or the going."

From Dropping Ashes On The Buddha

Self Doubt vs Great Doubt

Self Doubt is quite different than Great Doubt. Self Doubt is more like, "I am no good, what am I doing?  "I should be able to do this better." It’s centered on “I”.  This "I" is a construct. The fundamental concept of suffering is that attachment to "I". With this self image, this concept and idea of what I think I should be, we get disappointed and lose our way.

Great Doubt is “What is it?” So when we feel disappointment, we can hold it with a question, “What is it?” Then we look and pay attention to our experience. Pay attention to what is happening in the moment. Then we can see clearly, hear clearly, taste clearly, and think clearly. We are not lost in that commentary. 

By Zen Master Bon Soeng

Responding To Fear

Any stink of "I" perverts our view, because we make something and we shape it to fit our own personal idea. We respond to fear by trying to circle the wagons. We circle the wagons with our thoughts and our rejection of things. All of that is a response to fear of uncertainty. The fear of the unknown. 

When something happens that we don't like, we freak out. And often in that freakout, we make matters worse. We try to apply this skewed view, this perverted view to fix the situation. But in the process, very often we make it worse.

The first rule of falling into a hole is to stop digging. Our impulse is to keep digging, and we think if we just keep doing what we're used to doing, that will take care of it. But if we can stop digging, perceive the fear, rather than immediately relying on everything we've done before... Breathe....... Stop...... Actually Look. Actually let go of that view and just look. 

It's possible to actually see what's happening in this very moment. If we can see it clearly, it's possible to respond to it clearly. But if we cannot see it clearly, we'll never be able to respond to it clearly. So that's why in the Buddhist teaching, Right View is the doorway into everything else. Because as long as we stay stuck in that perverted view, we'll keep recreating the vision of our own experience rather than entering into what's real.

By Zen Master Bon Soeng

Don’t Know Mind

This basic teaching we have is Don’t-Know Mind. We want to know, we think we know, we think we’re supposed to know. There’s all of this bias toward knowing. But we don’t really know. We have this radical teaching – how about admitting the truth that we don’t know and go from there. If we really live that, it changes everything. 

Don’t-Know doesn't mean stupid. It means What Is It? Suddenly our eyes are open, we’re vibrating with energy because we wonder, “What?”… rather than, “Oh yeah, I know that!”

Suzuki Roshi’s quote was, “A beginner’s mind is wide open and questioning. An expert’s mind is closed.” So this Not-Knowing actually gives us life. It gives vibrancy and energy to the world we live in. This kind of I-Know shuts everything down and we get stuck. Yet all the signals from everything around us say we’re supposed to know. The competition is who knows the most, but look at the result.

We fill our minds up with all this stuff, and it gets stale and dead. Not knowing is what opens us up and comes alive. In Buddhism and in Zen, there are a lot of different ways to talk about this very same thing. Sometimes we call it Don’t-Know Mind, sometimes we call it Beginner’s Mind, sometimes we call it Before Thinking Mind.

It all comes down to this, (Zen Master hits the floor). Clear it away. Return to zero. What do we see, what do we smell, what do we taste, what do we touch? Everything is truth. What we know blocks the truth. Returning to not knowing opens us up.

By Zen Master Bon Soeng

Trusting Your Experience

Student: We like to say “Don’t Know”, as was mentioned in the meditation instruction today. Is there anything that we do know? Is there anything that we’re allowed to know? (laughter) 

Zen Master Bon Soeng: Do you see this robe?

Student: Yes

ZMBS: What color is it?

Student: Grey

ZMBS: So already you know that. I already said (hits floor) your mind is clear. Trust your experience, you already can see, you already can smell, taste, touch and think. Trust that. Wait, because in the next moment (hits floor) again clear your mind. Don’t hold on to anything, but moment to moment to moment this whole world is yours. Your eyes work, your nose works, your lucky, some people’s eyes and nose don’t work, but yours do. So use them and trust your experience. Don’t get lost in the dream. Then you already understand. 

The Moon Of Clear Mind

"Clear mind is like the full moon in the sky. Sometimes clouds come and cover it, but the moon is always behind them. Clouds go away, then the moon shines brightly. So don't worry about clear mind: it is always there. When thinking comes, behind it is clear mind. When thinking goes, there is only clear mind. Thinking comes and goes, comes and goes, You must not be attached to the coming or the going."

 

From Dropping Ashes On The Buddha