Saturday, May 7, 2011

No-Duality, the Mind and Potato Salad

This morning, I made Potato Salad. The mind was very helpful in this endeavor. It measured potatoes, onions, dill pickles and all the rest of the things that went to make the salad. It did not fight me at all. I watched as it boiled and stirred ingredients using this body, that I also watched. A great team; the mind the body and I.

In non-duality, there is a tendency to label the mind as an enemy, a "usurper ". Many non-dualists would rather spend time in a state of imagined "silence " than live with this "enemy of the one ".

I say "imagined " silence because in the actual "state " of silence nothing is experienced, nothing is remembered. If we remember being in silence, we were in imagined silence. If we remember an experience, we remember a thought we have of an experience. We do not "know " silence, we can only have an understanding of it.

The difference between "knowing " and "understanding " is in the realm of what I call Nebulous Clarity. Knowing is always knowledge based; something in the mind. If we can explain it; describe it in detail, to ourselves or others, it lives in the world of knowledge, which is in the mind, the "mistrusted enemy" of the non-dualist.

Understanding is intuitive. It requires no explanation or experience. It just is. It is the "unknowing " talked about in the "Cloud of Unknowing ". In unknowing, we act, we love, we live, without knowledge, without memory. For unknowing "happens" only in the present moment. It is not only intuitive, but freshly born. Brand new like a Baby. It is outside the mind. Outside of memory.

This is really the point. The mind is simply another concept that is built totally out of what we call memories. These memories are impressions, thoughts, and conditioning. This can happen in an instant, as time itself lives only in the mind. This is why intuition is the real deal, as it does not depend on knowledge "suspended in time " for it's reality. It just is. It is outside of time; outside of memory.

As in the making of the potato salad, the mind is not an enemy. It lives in consciousness, as does the body, also not an enemy, even though it can be a burden sometimes. The mind is like a monkey. Wonderful to watch it move and behave in fascinating, even hilarious ways. But a monkey in the house, or anywhere it does not belong, can be a disaster. The mind in spirituality is very useful for getting to the door, but it does not have the key.

The key, easily enough, is in the "sacrifice " of the mind. This is why I have written elsewhere that the understanding that the substance of the Holy Eucharist, actually becomes the body and blood is based on intuition. The mind rebels, but must be "sacrificed ". The "oneness " of Christ, participant, and elements of the Eucharist are realized by this sacrifice of the mind. Just as in the Holy Eucharist, which is of course a ritual practice devoted to the celebration of "oneness ", life itself becomes one when we live in the intuitive unknowing that is always with us, fresh every moment.

When driving a car, mending a sock or fuse, or making potato salad, the mind is very useful. The mind is not unspiritual either, as it arises in consciousness like everything else. But as "non-dualists ", we want to live in advaita in it's truest meaning. There is not two. What we write, what we say is necessarily dual, for words are mind stuff, thoughts are mind stuff. Even silence as we know it, is mind stuff. If I would "teach " you, I must do it by being only. If you sense my love, my "meaning ", it must be by unknowing and entering the acceptance of nebulous clarity. This is a sacrifice of the mind, our useful friend; part of the team that makes us "human ", so it is a "real " sacrifice.

This is what acceptance and sacrifice are all about. It is not about making efforts, or not making efforts. It is not about rejecting the useful mind, but realizing it's limits. Living with thoughts and the mind involves acceptance that we can not kill an active mind, and must watch it's antics like those of the monkey. Sacrificing the mind means seeing it's limitations, and willingly going beyond them into nebulous clarity; that place of understanding without knowledge or explanation. That place where compassion becomes more important than our "selves". That place where the "other" vanishes along with us.


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