The central teaching of Buddhism is that all things that arise do so according to conditions outside of themselves and cease when these conditions cease. There is therefore no permanent or independent existence but instead an interconnected, interdependent system. This is the nature of the world. To be an independent individual or to perceive oneself as such is thus a deluded perception of the situation. We realise, however, that within the mind there is another interdependence of mind creating truth and truth creating mind. In this sense the mind has a life of its own.
There is also truth or information contained within this world, the laws of nature, that persists. Information exists at many different levels within the system from DNA to neuronal structure and chemistry. If we see all this information as similarly interconnected then we can see a universal mind or source of mind also within the same conditions. The existence of such truth is what can carry the mind beyond individual existence into a wider sphere, this is the medium of rebirth.
When we perceive ourselves as some kind of being or entity then it is hard to see anything permanent or independent about ourselves or the ripples we make in the world. It is hard to see what could be reborn. When we start to see ourselves as truth or meaning we can see how we may be reborn in many different ways.
One example we may give is of DNA. If we have children and pass on our genes then we are passing on something of ourselves, the information contained in the DNA, to the next generation and we are to some extent reborn in our children or grandchildren. This one maybe we all recognise – but is it the best we can do?
On another level we are reborn when people remember us or what we have done or said. It is actually only at higher levels of abstraction that we survive in such a way, not as specifics but as currents of underlying truth. If what we know is just the body and its associated sense faculties then all is lost. Others’ experiences in the sense world will be different from ours. And what is true will last in their memories more than that which was false because it will be reaffirmed.
The way in which we survive the most is in our truth becoming part of something much larger than ourselves. And this need not be our limited personal truth either. To follow and be part of a well established culture is what widens our existence the most. The extent to which the truth that is what we really are is part of the world is the extent to which we are the same as others on a deep level, and not different. This is real self-preservation.
What is this self we are trying to preserve through the great novel or the grand empire, the song or the sword? The humble servant of truth is far greater. I am proud to be the member of the longest surviving Monastic Order in the world. Our survival is a testimony to the deep universal truth the Order embodies. To keep to the same code of conduct over centuries is to keep that truth alive in the world. Our lives speak for themselves.
Mankind fights over ideas trying to sustain a false religion or creed. A true religion has no reason to fight to prove or assert itself, it has its own objective truth. Long live the humble shaveling! This is the way not to eternal being but to the eternal knowing of universal, everlasting, natural truth. There is no eternal being. There never was.
Some natural truth or meaning is buried deep in the structure of things for us to search for. Some of it is right in front of our eyes. Some of it we create ourselves. But all of our experience consists of one kind of meaning or another and all meaning is potentially within our grasp. We can make it all apparent. The meaning we have the most power over is that which we create ourselves. The meaning that has the most power over our lives is that which is most in line with truth.
Then there is a higher order of truth, universal truth, present in everything everywhere. The truth of impermanence is an example. This truth can raise the mind to a universal state, the mind may become time itself and go beyond the grip of impermanence, beyond materiality.
The fact that the body and mind are interdependent, bound up with each other, does not make them the same thing. They exist in parallel, following each other. The structure of DNA, the double helix, is a manifestation of the same thing. The two spirals follow each other. We can do a simple exercise between two people where one person’s hand follows the movement of another. First one person leads and then the other follows. Then we swap over and the leader follows. If we keep swapping over then we start to lose track of who is leading and who is following, we enter the flow and start to follow each other. Suddenly we can feel at One. Internally we can observe the same as the mind leads the body or the body leads the mind except that here the flow is natural, what we are used to. Internally we can need to notice how sometimes it is the body that leads and sometimes the mind. We can be doing the same exercise we have done between us in reverse to discover that the body and mind are not the same. By bringing them together we notice that they are different within our experience.
Objectively speaking we can still accept that the mind is in the brain, we don’t need another view and yet we realise that it is our subjective experience that really matters. Our subjective experience is what we are and it has this kind of semi-autonomy from the physical world, running along in parallel. The more we can follow and go with this flow of nature, paradoxically perhaps, we realise this real semi-autonomy rather than looking for some kind of false independence. From here we go on to discover the empty mind, the transcendent element.
When the highest truth or Dhamma creates the empty mind this is transcendence, detachment. The mind is in the world but not of the world. This is a new relationship we can find with the world that we discover runs very deep into the very nature of our existence and that of the world around us.
I offer this for your reflection,