So when I say that I surrender my ego to my true Buddha nature and turn my will and my life over to my true Buddha mind, what exactly does that mean since I know that my ego and thinking mind can neither be eliminated from my being nor can they be suppressed? What it means is that I am aware of the fundamental difference between what my ego-mind is telling me, based as it is on the conditioning of illusory learned experience, and what my true Buddha nature tells me, and that I am committed to following the guidance of my true Buddha nature, not my ego.
In an earlier post, I discussed the coexistence of the ego and our Buddha nature. This post focuses more on what the nature of our Buddha mind is and how we relate to ourselves as we walk the path and face the challenges our ego-mind presents, and to which we often succumb.
All I can do is practice being present free of the intervention of thought by focusing on my breathing as often as possible during the day, thus experiencing the fullness of the moment, at peace and happy, free of the pull of my ego-mind. And by being present be aware when my ego-mind arises so I am able to acknowledge it with compassion but firmly say that its thought is from the past and that I am now looking to my true Buddha nature for guidance and have faith that if I live each moment well the future will take care of itself, all will be well.
And just what is that true Buddha nature or unborn Buddha mind? It is a mind that experiences all things directly without the intervention of thought. It is a mind that knows that the present is the only reality, that all else is thought. It is a mind which being free of thought is one with the way and rests undisturbed. And it is thus a mind that nothing in the world offends. Being free of thought, it is a mind free of the past, free of the known and thus free of all ego-centered strivings. It is a mind that is free of the tyranny of the past and the tyranny of the future. It is a mind at peace.
We know from the Pali canon’s story of the Buddha’s life that even he continued to have feelings, and that even he was regularly tempted by Mara, who I view as his ego-mind. But being fully enlightened, the Buddha was always present and mindful and thus was always aware when his ego arose and was able to just watch his feelings rise and allow them to subside. And he was able to tell Mara that he was free of the ego-centered thoughts she tried to entice him with and just watch her subside.
Not being fully enlightened, we have to be careful not to expect too much of ourselves when we practice, even with great diligence. The force of our ego-mind is very strong. All we can do is eke out an ever larger period of time as our practice deepens in which we are present free of the intervention of thought, in touch with our true Buddha nature.
To have our thinking mind pull us away from the path, to have our ego arise in knee-jerk fashion is not to fail in one’s practice. It is to be human. And when we become aware of what has transpired we feel compassion for ourselves and focus again on our breathing and are present in the moment free of thought. That is all we can do.