It’s Simple, But Not Easy
The natural essence of mind is uncreated and uncultivated, and therefore plain and simple. We don’t have to be scholars to realise this.
On the other hand, the contents of mind are a created and cultivated interpretation, and therefore complex and difficult to eliminate. Pure, empty essence has surrounded itself with a sticky mental image, calling it ‘myself’.
The nature of mind is simply pure consciousness: the pure awareness that is reading these words now. However, when we start to interpret, we begin to acquire more and more terminology, and pure experience can become complex and confused.
We have to use words, but at the same time, words – and the way in which we interpret them (or have them interpreted for us) – can hinder our direct understanding and experience.
The essence of mind – our actual being – is that which is perceiving. It is not something to be cultivated, as it is always naturally present.
We use the word ‘pure’, which is merely another term for ’empty’, but ‘pure’ can create a subtle barrier: it has connotations of something holy, and implies that we’re not good enough, right now (one could blame religion for this!).
‘Pure’ is not something in robes: rather, it is our true nature, right now! The key to understanding the word ‘pure’ is to see the essence of mind as uncultivated, plain, undecorated – and therefore raw, in the sense of ‘undisguised’.
So we could say, ‘raw consciousness’, ‘raw awareness’. We all feel a bit raw, don’t we? Using the word ‘raw’ instead of ‘pure’ could bring home the feeling of an experience, here and now, in its raw state. Rawness can be uncomfortable if we haven’t trained in recognising it.
To understand this, we need to practise in order to break down imaginary barriers such as, “I can’t understand this!” or “I don’t know what to experience!” These very observations are the raw experience itself – and cutting through these imaginary barriers is not easy, precisely because we constantly rebuild them.
We don’t have to be scholars to realise this. On the contrary, being a scavenger practitioner, we inspect everything to see if it tastes right. If, on the other hand, we are spoon-fed, this limits our diet and what we digest – and thus, we may never find satisfaction as we never realise this simple truth.