To show how important it is to start off your meditative cultivation correctly, the Buddha repeats this very same idea of using the correct type of Mind in your meditation from the outset – otherwise, the fruits of your meditation will be extremely different – it would be like chalk and cheese:
The World Honored One then took pity on the Sound-Hearers and the Condition-Enlightened Ones in the assembly – all those who were not yet at ease with the Bodhi mind – and on all living beings to come after the Buddha’s extinction during the Dharma-ending Age. He revealed the wonderful path of cultivation of the unsurpassed vehicle. 4:142
He proclaimed to Ananda and to the Great Assembly, “If you want to have decisive resolve for Bodhi and not grow weary of the Wonderful Samadhi of the Buddha, the Thus Come One, you must first understand the two resolutions regarding initial resolve for enlightenment. What are the two resolutions regarding initial resolve for enlightenment? 4:144
”Ananda, the first resolution is this:
If you wish to renounce the position of Sound-Hearer and cultivate the Bodhisattva Vehicle, and to enter the knowledge and vision of the Buddha, you must carefully consider whether the resolve on the cause ground and the enlightenment on the ground of fruition are the same or different. 4:145
”Ananda, it is impossible while on the cause-ground to use the mind subject to production and extinction as the basis for cultivating in quest of the Buddha vehicle, which is neither produced nor extinguished. 4:146
For this reason, you should realize that all existing dharmas in the material world will decay and disappear. Ananda, contemplate the world: what thing is there that will not waste away? 4:146
”But, has anyone ever heard of the disintegration of the void? Why not? It is because the void does not exist, and so it can never be destroyed. 4:147
Here, the Buddha is teaching about how to open the Buddha’s enlightenment, which is “unsurpassed” – NOT the enlightenment of Arhats or Pratyekabuddhas (Sound-Hearers and Conditioned Enlightened Ones).
So the Buddha is saying to Ananda – be careful which mind you use in your meditation – because they will yield VASTLY different results. Look at the causal ground and results of trying to use of each of the 2 different types of minds – the ordinary thinking mind vs the True Mind:
– The small, thinking mind (which we confuse to be our real Mind) is subject to birth and death, arising and ceasing, production and extinction. It is part of the conditioned, compounded world. Anything in the conditioned realm will decay, waste away, disintegrate – and eventually, it will die. All your thoughts arise and cease – and they all eventually die. If you base your meditation on your ordinary thinking mind, the thoughts that you create there, no matter how vast and impressive they may be – will begin, grow larger but they will also have an end. So they too will end and disappear – and so they are not ultimate because even great thoughts are subject to birth and subsequent death – they are impermanent and therefore, they are unsatisfactory – they are not ultimate.
– The True Mind (in contrast) is not produced or extinguished, not born and doesn’t die, not created nor destroyed, does not arise nor cease. Like empty space (i.e., the void), which is does not arise nor cease – this True Mind does not disintegrate and so, can never even be destroyed and will never die. Because this True Mind is NOT subject to the decay of impermanence – therefore this is what we’re after.
Why seek impermanent things when they’re going to decay and die anyway? You’ll only get temporary satisfaction from them anyway – hence they are unsatisfactory – dukkha. Why not seek something that is NOT subject to impermanence, something that does not decay, does not disintegrate and nor does it die – it is deathless, eternal. Therefore, this is NOT unsatisfactory (NOT dukkha) – it is worthy of our investigation.
In summary, the Buddha is saying that it is IMPOSSIBLE to use the ordinary thinking mind that arises and ceases – to become something that does NOT arise nor cease (the True Mind). This is why it is absolutely ESSENTIAL to start off correctly and use the right mind in your meditative cultivation – otherwise, you’ll be just wasting your time – your efforts will be fruitless. You may get a little peace and quiet using the ordinary mind in your meditation, but you will never open the Buddha’s type of enlightenment using it. For to awaken to the Buddha’s enlightenment, you need to start off using the Real Mind that does not arise nor cease, is not born and does not die. This is what the Buddha is saying here.