By Wes Annac, Culture of Awareness
It’s often said that opening and emptying the mind (not transcending it, leaving it or getting into a space beyond it) is one of the best ways to expand our consciousness and reconnect with our creator. We’re sure to fail if we seek enlightenment by trying to leave the mind, because along with the heart, it’s an essential part of us that connects us with our creator and our higher self.
The mind and heart are essential if we want to find any level of enlightenment, and through these portals, we transform into magnificent beings of light who are one with the rest of creation. The intuition is found in the mind and heart, and everything will change when we attune to this inner voice and pay attention to what it has to say.
The intuition is our link with our higher self, and when we empty the mind, we reconnect with this divine force (which has been trying to help us the whole time) and rediscover the greatest teacher we’ll ever have – for now at least. The best thing about it is that this teacher lives within, and instead of being guided by an outside force, we’re guided by an integral part of ourselves.
One of the best ways to reconnect with this inner teacher is to empty the mind, open the heart and let our love flow. While it’s difficult for a lot of people (especially those who are unaware of spirituality and the true meaning of love), it gets easier when we understand that the mind can trap or liberate us depending on how we use it.
We can get lost in a closed, rigid mind, or we can open up, connect with the intuition and bring through valuable intuitive guidance that helps others through their struggles.
A lot of spiritual teachers talk about emptying the mind, and I’d like to look at some of the things they’ve said. I think these teachings are valuable for those of us who want to understand what the mind truly is without trapping ourselves in it, and understanding it is the first step to using it progressively.
I think it’s meant to be used in conjunction with the heart, and miracles happen when the two work together. I’m just beginning to learn about merging the mind with the heart and letting them work side-by-side, and this alone has taught me that the mind is one of our most valuable assets when it comes to spiritual evolution (or anything else).
We can use it to creatively express ourselves all day long and empty it at the end of a long day (or the beginning of a new day), and taking time to empty it and simply be will give us more energy and encourage our creative expression. Forgetting to empty it could make us tense and frustrated while depleting our creative abilities, and we’ll know when we’ve fallen away from the spiritual practices we use to empty it.
We’ll feel the effects of our neglect, and if we’ve already gotten used to the bliss that comes with an empty mind, they won’t feel so great.
According to Bodhidharma, an empty mind allows us to see the ‘buddha’.
“To know that the mind is empty is to see the buddha. The buddhas of the ten directions have no mind. To see no mind is to see the buddha.” (1)
By ‘no mind’, Bodhidharma doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ve left the mind or rejected it. He refers to the influence of our scattered, randomized thoughts on our choices, and the ‘buddhas of ten directions’ no longer let these thoughts influence them. Instead, they see the mind for what it truly is.
Since it’s open and clear, they can connect with their creator and their higher selves in a free and unrestricted way, and you can bet that they make the most of their connection.
He also tells us that emptiness is the essence of the mind’s function.
“The essence of [the mind’s] function is emptiness. And emptiness is essentially motionless.” (2)
When we’re finished using the mind in a closed, rigid way, we’ll gradually learn to let go and let it rest. As it rests, a greater aspect of our being can use it as an instrument to connect with us and deliver wisdom, guidance and insight that we can share with others. Our connection with this part of ourselves will grow over time if we continuously depart our own limited, colorless perception and reconnect with it, and we eventually won’t have any trouble connecting or sharing its guidance.
It’ll always be here to help us, because we’ll have broken the chains that bound us to limitation and cleared up our previously foggy connection with it. The secret is to stop trying, let go and let our awareness come through naturally, and having some love in your heart doesn’t hurt either.
Hui Neng reminds us that averting or avoiding our thoughts is futile.
“When our mind works freely without any hindrance, and is at liberty to ‘come’ or to ‘go,’ we attain … liberation. Such a state is called the function of ‘thoughtlessness.’ But to refrain from thinking of anything, so that all thoughts are suppressed … is an erroneous view.” (3)
True ‘thoughtlessness’ has little to do with the amount of thoughts swirling around, and it has more to do with our attachment to them. If we’re attached to them but we want to get away from them and into a ‘higher’ space, we usually try to avoid them, suppress them or make sure they don’t influence us. We actually let them influence us by doing this, whereas releasing our attachment altogether and letting them flow in and out will liberate us.
According to Krishnamurti, we can’t refill our spiritual cup if the mind’s filled with thoughts, habits and desires. He also tells us that simply being is different from negating our thoughts.
“Without emptying the mind there can be no renewal.” (4)
“Being as nothing is not negation.” (5)
Purifying the mind of those constant racing thoughts will connect us with the heart’s tranquility, he tells us.
“The purgation of the mind is tranquillity of heart.” (6)
We’ll feel and witness incredible things when the mind and heart are open, and the best thing about it is that we no longer have to try. We don’t have to push ourselves to feel something that’s been here all along, and instead, we can let it flow with no effort or pressure.
I mentioned yesterday that we have to make an effort if we want to get anywhere – in the world or on the spiritual path – and it’s more of a non-effort when it comes to spirituality. We essentially make an effort to stop making an effort, and in that inaction, we reconnect with the higher self. We grow closer with our intuitive guidance, and suddenly, the insights we tried so hard to receive before come to us with no effort or strain.
This effortless state of mind can be ours, but it requires us to get to a space where we can observe and accept our flowing thoughts, just like we would anything else, without being attached to them.
As Krishnamurti tells us, slowing the mind helps us get to that space as long as the slowing is natural and we don’t force it.
“Self-knowledge comes with the slowing down of the mind, but that doesn’t mean forcing the mind to be slow. Compulsion only makes for resistance, and there must be no dissipation of energy in the slowing down of the mind.” (7)
We distance ourselves from things we try to force, which includes a slower mind. If we force the mind to be slow (or we force anything at all), we’ll distance ourselves from our inner wellspring of love, knowledge and guidance and it’ll quickly become clear that our method isn’t working. When this happens, the best thing we can do is let go and let our fate be decided from there, with full faith in the divine plan.
If we let the mind slow down naturally, which requires us to release our resistance and our attachment to it, we’ll allow the intuition to slowly make itself known and help us when we need it. The less attached we are to the mind, our thoughts or anything else, the more this higher force can express itself through us and offer solutions to our most difficult problems.
It requires openness, and this openness will help understand the ways of the mind by giving us a new perspective. We can use the mind progressively, as in the case of creative expression, but it helps to take time to empty it and let the good vibes pour through. People who create for a living would probably benefit from meditation or just emptying their mind at random points throughout the day, and if spiritual evolution is our goal, then opening and understanding the mind (as well as the heart) is the best way to go.
- Red Pine, trans., The Zen Teachings of Bodhidharma. Port Townsend, WA, Empty Bowl, 1987, 24.
- Ibid., 22.
- A.F. Price and Wong Mou-Lam, trans. The Diamond Sutra and the Sutra of Hui Neng. Berkeley: Shamballa, 1969, 32.
- J. Krishnamurti, Commentaries on Living. First Series. Bombay, etc.: B.I. Publications, 1972; c1974, 67.
- Loc. cit.
- J. Krishnamurti,Commentaries on Living. Second Series. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1967; c1958, 223.
- Ibid. 231.