Chogyam Trungpa: EXAMINE THE NATURE OF UNBORN AWARENESS
The practice that is described by the commentators, of examining mind itself, seems to me to be the same as I heard Drikung Kagyu lay teacher Ari-Ma say this past weekend: "Look at the mind with the mind."
Jamgon Kongtrul: EXAMINE THE NATURE OF UNBORN AWARENESS
What is this teaching pointing at?
Well, just like the previous slogan it emphasises the ultimate aspect of mind. Previously we were enjoined to examine the nature of appearances. What is the nature of what we experience, of all the phenomena which appear to our ’minds eye’? We found that they were empty, and lacking in any solidity or characteristic.
Now we are asked to look again, but this time at that which is looking. What is the nature of the mind, of the awareness within which all these phenomena or dharmas were appearing?
Step back or look deeper. It’s not just what we thought was ’out there’. It’s ’us’ too!
Looking at our awareness itself, how is it? How does it appear?
It’s harder to see, for me at least, than the ’things’ that seem to arise within it. Turning attention away from those arisings, and looking at where they arise, we don’t really find anything at all. I look for this awareness, and I don’t really find anything. I look for that which looks, and I don’t find anything. I look for ’me’ and I don’t really find anything.
Ultimately, not only does nothing truly arise, but there is nothing which is truly there experiencing this!
Hmm. That can be a little disquieting, at least to our small sense of self, our ego or ’me’.
It’s a bit like we’ve been invited to do the work, to look at all that arises in our minds, and to see through it all, and therefore to be invited to let go at grasping all of that. And now, just when we thought it was safe to go back into the water, just when we’ve given the ego something safe to hang onto (that all that ’out there’ is empty, but at least I’m here, and ’I’ can see that!) ... well, no buddy, you’re not there either! Take that!
Hmm. Examine. I take this to mean - bring to awareness ’mind’ or ’awareness’, and not think about it. We turn our gaze as it were to that which is gazing. It’s a funny, subtle step .... one which most of us are not much attuned to. We look at the looker, we are aware of awareness itself. At first it’s rather like trying to balance something on a needle tip, or razor blade ... we just keeping falling off, into thinking, or ’making sense of it’. But, gradually, we build up some sort of capacity to rest in that awareness, and hold awareness itself in awareness. We rest in minds own nature. For a while (in my case :-)
And we don’t really then find anything, though there seems to be something there. Empty, yet seemingly there as we say. That’s how it is, that’s its Nature.
What of Unborn? Well, my awareness seems to arise and fall as I get lost in distraction or lack of awareness, and then jump back into wakefullness. So how is that not unborn?
Looking at that experience of seeming discontinuity of awareness, I don’t find a start or end to awareness, I cannot ’put my finger’ on it. There is no edge, no definite moment that I can truly identify when it is or isn’t there. That’s not to say that it does’t seem to arise, or cease, but ’finding’ that start or end is impossible. That is unborn.
but actually I think it means more than this, and that’s something I don’t experience yet.
I think it points to a deeper level of awareness, to a deeper level of mind, Original Mind, which I don’t experience yet. That is awareness which doesn’t rise or fall as my conscious awareness seems to. Which doesn’t switch off when I get lost in distraction, and which doesn’t diminish when I lose awareness in sleep. *That* is unborn, unborn in another sense.
But that is for another time, for discovery, not conjecture :-)