A fictive conversation between a student and a master.
S: Can you please explain true nature?
M: How did you come to have this idea of true nature and what do you know about it?
S: I have heard about it from some religious and spiritual people and also read in books that there is something called true nature.
M: Does it mean you don’t have firsthand experience or knowledge of this concept?
S: Yes, I don’t have. But I have also read and heard that it is beyond the grasp of the mind.
M: Okay, for the moment forget this concept. Please tell me what instruments do we have to know, understand, realize, experience or comprehend anything whatsoever?
S: Obviously only two instruments, the body and the mind.
M: Does the body have any idea what action it is engaged in; assuming the body is independent of the so-called mind?
S: I don’t think so.
M: The body’s vital functioning parts necessary for its survival are simply engaged in their by nature assigned activities or duties in perfect coordination with each other, totally unconcerned with any of ideas or concepts, so-called worldly or spiritual, including even the alphabet, a basic concept useful in human to human verbal and written communications. And none of the vital functions are in so-called our control, meaning that they are all happening on their own effortlessly. Is not it? Do you mean that the body needs thought for any of its vital functions?
S: I don’t think so, because if that would have been case, something wrong would have happened to these vital functions during sleep especially deep sleep when the stream of thoughts come to a complete halt.
M: Exactly! You are on the right track. By the way, what is thought? Any idea about its production or birth? Does a thought really exist, as such?
S: A thought is a thought and everybody knows it. It does exist.
M: Okay. Let me ask you something more, and then you reply. Okay?
M: There is nothing made up of energy in this world which originates but does not die or dissolve one day and similar is the case with thought. A newly born baby perhaps has no thought as we understand thought, meaning in words. Only electrical impulses go on running through the nervous system of the baby which is perhaps the only way of communication among various parts of its body. Even in adults this is also the only way of communication among various parts of body. Written words are scribbling on paper or something other and spoken words are sound coming through the mouth having variable pitch and tone. But meaningful writing and speaking, and making meaning out of written or spoken words entirely depend upon the training of the nervous system. When somebody reads or hears written or spoken words, an electrical impulse gets created by light reflected from the written words or by sound reaching the eardrum and then the impulse travels through optic nerve or cochlear, auditory and acoustic nerves to the brain, the main coordinator of the nervous system, and there these electrical impulses gets interpreted into what we call thought; meaning given to impulses is thought. For interpretation of impulses to happen, a training of the nervous system is a must, otherwise the so-called thought would never originate, take birth, even though electrical impulses may be reaching the brain. It simply means the electrical impulses which are measurable, do exist as such, but not the thought. By as such I mean something that can be measured, experienced directly or indirectly by sense organs, whether that is named and labelled or not. There is no way to measure or experience the so-called thought directly or indirectly by our sense organs. What we experience is light and sound with the help of eyes and ears and that too in the form of measurable electrical impulses. Hence, thought has no existence as such. Exactly the same happens when the software in a computer translates voice into words or vice versa. Hope you are clear on this so far. Even the so-called thoughts being used in this conversation are simply interpretation of electrical impulses only.
S: Yes, very clear. You mean that thoughts don’t exist as such, but simply as interpretation of electrical impulses and that interpretation is done by the nervous system as per training imparted to it.
M: Exactly, my dear. Now let us go further. What do you mean by mind as we have discussed that we have only two instruments for any purpose whatsoever and mind is one of them?
S: As I understand the mind is sum total of the thoughts.
M: Right, but in the light of the above discussion where we found that thoughts don’t exist as such, do you still think that mind exists as such?
S: It appears that mind too does not exist as such.
M: They seem to be like mirages in desert. But the thought or mind does have utility value like the currency notes do have utility value without having any intrinsic value.
S: Yes, I understand now.
M: But before we discuss true nature, first tell me what do you mean by nature itself?
S: Only through example I can tell you. For example the nature of space is to give room to things, the nature of fire is to radiate heat and burn things, the nature of the tree is to give flowers, fruits, shadow, attract the clouds, taking carbon dioxide from environment and converting it into oxygen, etc.
M: How come you know this?
S: By reading and observing.
M: It means the nature of anything is decided mainly by observation or experiencing directly or indirectly through sense organs. Is not it?
S: Yes, agree.
M: Now let me tell you one more thing. There appears to be one common quality present in everything in nature, including the body of human beings minus the so-called mind which is nothing but social conditioning, and that is an absence of discriminating power or a non-discrimination on the basis of caste, country or religion, any inculcated or imposed concept which does not exist as such or does not have intrinsic value. However, the body does have power of discrimination and exercises it too, but for its survival purpose. In the waking state the body’s intelligence takes the help of sense organs while in the sleep state it works on its own. This observed quality, an absence of discriminating power, which is present everywhere in everything could be called the true nature of everything. Got the point?
M: Now to the newly born baby. What is the nature of the baby? To know its nature the only way is to observe the baby. The baby is an expression of life, like we are. The word life is the basic concept used to explain many other things. Does this small baby have any idea in the form of words or thoughts of separateness or who is who and what? Perhaps not. Does it know how to discriminate? Perhaps not. Are the sense organs of this baby not simply naturally responding or reacting to inner and outer stimulus? Perhaps yes. All these observations made by others, can taken in totality be said to be the nature of the baby which is naturally present in its system. This may be said to be original nature of the body of this baby. Is not it?
S: Yes, very true.
M: After the baby takes birth its nervous system starts getting trained by the environment and the seed of so-called mind is sown which goes on growing bigger and bigger and is labelled ego. This trained nervous system does affect the behavior of the whole body. And depending upon our own conditioning we call this instrument or person liar, truthful, black, white, fat, thin, idiot, wise, in duality, meaning the discriminating habit or power which was originally absent in baby stage, takes root and go on functioning most of the time in waking state. This is even active during dream state, but perhaps absent during deep sleep. In the deep sleep state the sleeper is not even aware of him- or herself, forget about exercising power of discrimination. Meaning in deep sleep mind goes into oblivion or becomes nonfunctional. Up to this point is it okay?
S: Yes. It is okay.
M: This acquired or imposed power of discrimination happened due to conditioning and training of the nervous system, may be termed as second or false nature while original or true nature is devoid of power of discrimination in the case of newly born baby or the state of deep sleep. The baby on its own cannot know its original nature. It is the others who by observation say something about that nature and that too with the help of the so-called thoughts or mind which don’t exist as such. Therefore whatever is said is all guesswork or ideas about a so-called nature, and the fact or tragedy is that we have no other way because we don’t have an instrument other than the so-called illusory mind. Is it okay?
S: Yes, perfectly okay.
M: Now let me mention one more popular slogan in spiritual circles: The true nature is beyond the mind’s comprehension. Do you notice the contradiction? On the one hand they say this true nature is beyond mind’s comprehension and on the other hand they go on discussing this so-called true nature with the help of the same instrument of mind, as if the mind knows everything. What a tragedy or unconscious behavior in the so-called spiritual circles! Are you getting me?
S: Yes, very much.
M: Many a times they say The true nature gets revealed. But again the question arises what instrument other than mind recognizes the revealed true nature? Not only do they say this true nature is like space devoid or empty of any quality or anything. Hence, the mind can never ever recognize any such thing as a true nature or emptiness, if at all there is any. If it is not graspable by mind, how can anyone even say anything about it, forget about recognizing it? It simply shows that people are either not capable of comprehending this contradiction or may be knowingly or unknowingly enjoying this spiritual gameshow or they have no option left but to remain in this so-called spiritual circle. Does it make sense?
S: Yes, very much.
M: At the most we can say that life is expressing itself in various forms and we too are life itself. Therefore there is no way to know who we are, why we are, where we are, what we are, how we are, all of which are existential questions. Because for knowing anything there has to be a knower and a thing to be known, meaning the existence of a separate subject and an object. But here, being life itself, we are not separate at all from ourselves. Hence, the question of knowing doesn’t arise. However, the so-called illusory mind has no limit for guessing and imagining. Finally, so far as the so-called true nature is concerned, the only honest or truthful statement which can be made is: I don’t know. Or even better would be to keep quiet not only from outside, but inside chattering too and this silence, the stopping of chattering, is bound to happen automatically when the so-called mind after trying hard reaches the stage when it feels completely hopeless and helpless in this regard.Photos by Jörg Peter, Schweiz.
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