Even after we become aware that our true self is not our ego-mind, and that our ego-mind causes us much suffering, and even after turning our will and our lives over to the care of our Buddha mind, very much of our habit-energy is still taken up with listening to the chatter of our ego-mind.
If it enters into an area which is a red flag for us, we hopefully catch it, stop, and go deep within ourselves and return to our unborn Buddha mind. But for all the countless instances where the subject matter or our reaction does not raise a red flag, I at least have blindly continued to listen my ego-mind.
This divide in my awareness of the activity of my ego-mind was brought home to me recently when a friend was relating that after the universe told him to let go of his ego, he decided to seek guidance solely from the universe and not from his ego-mind because he knows that the ego-mind’s judgement is not to be trusted, his ego-mind causes suffering, and so he cannot put his well-being in the hands of his ego-mind.
When I heard that, a light bulb went on in my head. Although I had surrendered my ego to my true Buddha nature years ago and turned my will and my life over to the care of my true Buddha nature, since the implementation of this is all dependent on awareness, I was so focused on the red flag areas of my thought, the things that clearly caused suffering, that all the others areas of my ego-mind’s activity continued unaffected, which I have often noted in posts with some chagrin.
But what my friend related to me reminded me that ANY activity of my ego-mind was to be dismissed … bad judgment is just as harmful as mental suffering. (It’s not that I didn’t know this before, I just didn’t act on it; it wasn’t a priority.) Now when I am aware of its chatter, I stop and say, “Thank you very much, but I’m seeking guidance now from my unborn Buddha mind.” As the poem “Affirming Faith in Mind” says, “when all is seen with equal mind … true faith pervades our life. All’s self-revealing, void and clear without exerting power of mind.”
I recently applied this new teaching. My mind was chattering on about what I should do when the time comes to leave where I’m living now. It all seemed harmless and was not causing me anxiety, although obviously I wasn’t present. But when I stopped and went deep inside and asked my unborn Buddha mind what to do, it said immediately that the question was irrelevant. I’m here now and I should make the most of where I am, be open to all the present moment offers and find happiness here. When the time comes to move on, my unborn Buddha mind will know and will provide an answer. Not my ego-mind. A very practical exercise.
In a similar vein, the other night, my friend shared a spiritual reading with me that said that if you felt fear, or any other mind-emotion, that was an indication that you were doing something that you shouldn’t be doing, at least not at that moment. The reading didn’t say, “accept the fear,” or “know that the fear is not you and let it go,” it said discontinue the activity.
This is another way of receiving guidance. When we have a question to ask, ask it of your unborn Buddha mind, not your ego-mind. But when you are engaged in activity and you are feeling a mind-emotion, whether it’s love or anger or whatever, stop because you know that the fact that you are feeling this emotion means that the activity is coming from your ego-mind not your unborn Buddha mind. If it were the latter you would not feel a mind-emotion.
Now this can happen for one of two reasons. The one is that the activity is unskillful, inherently harmful. Period. The other is that while the activity is in and of itself skillful, that is it’s in keeping with the Five Precepts, it’s application in this instance is unskillful because it is coming from a place which lacks equanimity. For example, you help someone but you do it not because you want to offer joy, but you want to be seen helping others or thought of as someone who helps others. And so the activity is not arising from our unborn Buddha mind. it is tainted. The reader may ask, “If you’re helping someone, why should you stop just because of the impure intention?” The reason is that because the intention is impure, there’s a strong possibility that you are not really helping the person.
In either case, this recent teaching says that if fear or some other mind-emotion arises, stop the activity. Do not proceed with it because you realize that fear or other emotion is just a product of the mind and is not you and you let it go. The fact that you feel a mind-emotion tells you that the activity is coming from your ego-mind and you must stop. If it is an otherwise skillful activity, as in the previous example, stop until you experience equanimity so that it arises from your unborn Buddha mind, not your ego-mind. Then you can proceed.
Please note, this post is about how we approach things that we choose to do. When things are done to us, when we experience things, we have no option but to experience what happens. We can’t stop them typically. We do, however, have a choice how we react to those experiences. That is the situation in which we apply the teaching that fear, for example, is just a product of the mind, it is not ourself, and so we choose to let it go, not engage it, and instead return home to our unborn Buddha mind and experience things directly, with dispassion, knowing that things are the way they are because it’s just the way it is. And so we are able to experience the world around us free from anger and agitation.