The Metaphorical River
The Buddhist mantra "Gate gate, para gate, para sam gate,
bodhi swaha" is a well-known phrase found in the Heart Sutra, which is a
prominent Buddhist scripture included in the Mahayana Buddhist Canon's
Prajnaparamita section. You can find this mantra on YouTube in many styles.
This mantra translates to: "Gone, gone, gone
all the way over, everyone gone to the other shore, enlightenment, all
hail." Crossing this metaphorical river is powerful.
Rather than seeing this mantra as just an exotic concept from
the East, it can be understood to be scientific in that it allows careful
observation of the mind. This is in opposition to those who lean back
in an arm chair and give opinions as we find in philosophy or to believe in
rigid religious dogma. It is scientific because it is based on a
detached observation of ones mind.
This is not Buddhist doctrine. It is a Buddhist
technique, not a Buddhist belief. Western religions such as
Christianity, the Islamic Faith and Judaism are based on rigid
beliefs found in certain books.
So why do we have to meditate to understand our mind?
If we respond to the mind, we become part of our mind and no longer can
observe the mind. We take our mind for granted, not noticing how and
why it works. Fish are not aware that their is water always around
them until they are taken out of it. We never understand our mind until we
step away from it and watch it work.
The metaphor of stepping back is crossing the
river. Who crosses the river. This is your awareness, your
true self. The true self is different from the mind. The
true self can step away from mind. Stepping away means not being
engaged. Usually we are intertwined with the mind and all its
thoughts, that we cannot see the mind as many departments; each
department being concerned with a particular topic.
The true self experiences life itself and
make decisions. The true self is the part within
us that has the power to stand back and just be. The true self
generates emotions that unify us that we feel whole. Emotions
regulate subordinate systems so that they are not in conflict.
For example, we see something new and different parts of us have
different reactions. Our emotions help us have a single feeling about
things, thus unifying our take on things.
Our true self can observe without being emotional
especially while doing this mantra. By not engaging with the thoughts
generated by various departments in the mind, we become a better
scientist. We can see our mind simply working.
If our true self engages with the mind, then the
true self becomes entangled with the mind, and modifies the mind by
responding to the mind. By just listening to what the mind is saying,
we can note what the mind is like.
We can listen only to one person at a time.
When we chant, we block conversations with the mind. So the mind
is free just to be itself. Being itself, we can listen to the
pure mind and all its departments at work.
The true self has the power to select the best
action to follow.
Thus if two parts of the mind tells to go left and right at the same
time our true self selects which way to go. Thus the true self
is our manager of all the departments in the mind. It generates
emotions that brings unity and direction to the mind.
This is why meditation is so good for us.
It gives authority to the true self. The true self can therefore
regulate our thoughts and create the unity we all want.
But the true self needs to be educated. It needs
an education to figure out how to resolve the conflicts between
different parts of the mind. Our diet department wants us to
lose weight, and our sensational taste department wants a candy bar.
The true self has be detached from eating enough
to know what to do. It might allow us to eat just some of the
candy bar, and get some enjoyment in life, but not too much.
Most people have never heard of
enlightenment and suffer greatly and needlessness so. Lack of
education of the true self, reduces the power of the true self.
What happens is that other people gain power over you. The
process is like what happens to farm animals. We become domesticated.
We lose our feel will and do what others want. It is a form of
hypnosis only it is more subtle. Advertising is based on
teaching the true self information that might not be to our benefit.
Thus we become programmed by others and suffer the consequences.
The philosopher Immanuel Kant has
made these comments:
Enlightenment is man's emergence from his
self-imposed nonage. Nonage is the inability to use one's own
understanding without another's guidance. This nonage is self-imposed
if its cause lies not in lack of understanding but in indecision and
lack of courage to use one's own mind without another's guidance. Dare
to know! (Sapere aude.) "Have the courage to use your own
understanding," is therefore the motto of the enlightenment.
Laziness and cowardice are the reasons why such a large part of
mankind gladly remain minors all their lives, long after nature has
freed them from external guidance. They are the reasons why it is so
easy for others to set themselves up as guardians. It is so
comfortable to be a minor. If I have a book that thinks for me, a
pastor who acts as my conscience, a physician who prescribes my diet,
and so on--then I have no need to exert myself. I have no need to
think, if only I can pay; others will take care of that disagreeable
business for me. Those guardians who have kindly taken supervision
upon themselves see to it that the overwhelming majority of
mankind--among them the entire fair sex--should consider the step to
maturity, not only as hard, but as extremely dangerous. First, these
guardians make their domestic cattle stupid and carefully prevent the
docile creatures from taking a single step without the leading-strings
to which they have fastened them.
If we don't think for ourselves we are not living. Nonage
makes other people rich and happy. When we are domesticated we are
living a dull life, and are not enjoying life. Education is essential
to live a full life. Religion may soothe the soul, but the soul can be
much more tranquil and enriched by inventing your own religion.
An enlightened person can see holiness in
everything. Why dip you hands in holy water when you can jump in
a beautiful lake. s
Being free from nonage, allows us to truly love
ourselves. By realizing that we have a true self and a mind with
many departments we can love ourselves and fix one department instead
of castigating the whole self. For example, if we keep losing
our keys, we can have a heart to heart with just one department that
is not doing their job.
So many problems are solved by believing in
enlightenment. For example, a drug addict takes drugs to get
away from how they feel. Often they hate themselves and do not
love who they are.
Enlightenment does not
mean our lives will go magically and we will not ever have any
problems. But problems will often be viewed as challenges and
opportunities for growth. We can take one thing at a time. Being
rich does not automatically make people happy. Constantly
spending and traveling can be exhausting.
Though enlightenment we
control our own life and therefore we make it work better.