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The Unobserved Mind

August 31st, 2006 Leave a comment Go to comments

Western psychology makes much of the conscious and unconscious. The nature of the entities that make them up and the balance twixt the two is forever debated, not least because the solidification of concepts inherent in having the debate creates ficticious walls in the subject.

Buddhist psychology, with its fundamental doctrine of “Anatman” – a sanskrit word that literally means no-soul but would better be read as ‘in reality no solid self-existing ego’ – denies the validity of the discussion.

Buddhist Psychology says neither the unconscious or conscious mind are self-existing or inherently “real”. They are both mind. There is observed mind and unobserved mind. Unobserved mind is troublesome in that it presents to observed mind its desires as overwhelming and fully formed desires. It is inherently troublesome as a category of ignorance. It leads to suffering.

In her excellent book “Working With Anger” Thubten Chodron writes “The greater part of human pain is unnecessary. It is self-created as long as the unobserved mind runs your life”.

The unconscious mind is screaming for your attention. You are so busy being your conscious mind, most of which is habitual, you just don’t notice. That is the point of “Shamatha”, Tibetain for basic sitting-calming mediitation, which teaches you to allow identification with thoughts to drop slowly away revealing the sea of impulses which bubble up as “Me”.

This calms eventually achieving peace and then the mind becomes more flexible and stronger and can be applied to conscious thinking meditation to comprehend or see truth. Then the meditator is achieving a dual fruition of peace and understanding. With discipline and effort, patience and generosity comes the natural development of wisdom mind which can then be compassionately applied to all one encounters.

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