The purpose of our training is to return our mind to its natural state – which is clear and pure like water.
But what happens is that mental impressions (things that flow into the mind from our senses) dye the clarity of our mind with different colors – so that we mistakenly think that dyed water is the natural state of water. In other words, we mistakenly think that our confused, everyday mind that flutters here and there with whatever mood that makes contact with it, is what our mind is – but our mind is not really like that.
However, even when the water is clouded with dye, the innate qualities of water itself remains unchanged. In other words, if you add dye to the water:
- The dye remains the dye
- The water remains the water
The molecule H2O remains as it is – unchanged (even though dye is mixed into it).
All you’ve got to do is separate the dye from the water – distill out the color – and the water goes back to it’s clear and pure natural state.
The same with our minds.
Good and bad mental impressions come into our mind and cloud it and dye our minds with different thoughts and feelings – such that we mistake our minds to be our moods and we mistake our mind to be our thoughts. The training then is to separate our mind from the thoughts and emotions and this will allow our mind to return to its natural state.
For example, you observe:
- A thought or a feeling come into your mind and you reflect – thoughts are just thoughts and are not self – it’s just a mental impression, a mental energy that arises and ceases – so you let it go and it will dissipate away by itself. The mind is not the thought. You are not the thought.
- Similarly, an emotion arises in your mind – no matter how much you want to attach to it – you let go and observe it instead. And you reflect, “Oh, this feeling is just a feeling and is not self” – this feeling is just an emotional energy that arises and ceases – you can observe it changing and dissipating and so you can see through it and you can let go of it, letting it dissolve away by itself.
So don’t mistake the thoughts and feelings and moods and emotions that you receive into the mind to be the mind itself. Don’t mistake these things to be you – they are not you. Just let them go and allow your mind to return to it’s naturally pure, clear state – just like pure, clear water.
Ajahn Chah explains:
The mind becomes ”cloudy” just like the colored water:
- When clear water contacts yellow – it turns yellow.
- When it contacts green – it turns green.
It will change color every time.
The mind reacts similarly:
- When a comfortable mental impression ”drops” into the mind – the mind is comfortable.
- When the mental impression is uncomfortable – the mind is uncomfortable.
Don’t get lost in your moods (the colors that enter your mind)
Those moods are not you. Your mind is not those emotions that enter it. Don’t keep just pursuing your emotions. Be mindful – and recognize when they start arising in your mind – observe them and let them go. Don’t let yourself get confused into your moods.
Actually, that water which is green or yellow is naturally clean and clear. This is also the natural state of the mind, clean and pure and unconfused.
It becomes confused only because it pursues mental impressions; it gets lost in its moods!
Let me explain more clearly. Right now we are sitting in a peaceful forest.
- Here, if there’s no wind, a leaf remains still.
- When a wind blows it flaps and flutters.
The mind is similar to that leaf. When it contacts a mental impression, it, too, ”flaps and flutters” according to the nature of that mental impression.
And the less we know of Dhamma, the more the mind will continually pursue mental impressions:
- Feeling happy, it succumbs to happiness.
- Feeling suffering, it succumbs to suffering. It’s constant confusion!
Source for the quoted text – Ajahn Chah: