Thought-free Stillness vs. Buddha Nature - A crucial difference

There is a quality in our conscious experience that just “is”. That is not striving anywhere, not coming from anywhere. In no hurry, but also not waiting for anything. Just as the empty space before our eyes is untouched by all possible air flows, this quality of “being” is untouched by all movements of our mind, all thoughts, feelings and sensory impressions. Recognizing this quality of stillness or being in our mind is the first step to realizing the original freedom of our Buddha nature.

Now one may wonder why this is only the first step? Do not so many spiritual teachers speak of the fact that in the realization of stillness or “pure being” there is the highest realization? Yes, indeed, most spiritual teachings stop at this realization. However, the fact that this realization is incomplete can be clearly shown by how these teachings deal with thoughts or the “mind.” Either these teachings propagate a state of complete silence of thoughts or a distance from all thoughts brought about by concentration on silence as the ultimate spiritual goal. So in these teachings there is a fundamental duality of thinking and being, which can only be “overcome” by an elimination of all thoughts or a complete dissociation from them.

This inevitably raises the question of how we come to this idea that thoughts or “the mind” are not part of our Buddha nature? The answer: because there is no awareness of the common essence of movement and stillness, or thoughts and mind. Indeed, if I think that the thought-free state of stillness is enlightenment, I quickly realize that “enlightenment” disappears whenever thoughts appear in my mind. Thus, the obvious conclusion is that the spiritual path can only consist of ensuring that no more thoughts arise, so that we can always be in “enlightenment”.

Hence, what is completely overlooked here is a fundamental mental fixation on one particular state of mind (stillness) as opposed to another (thought). That is to say: the belief in solid existence and duality remains completely untouched and persistent in the recognition of stillness or being.

That’s why seeing through this belief is the real core of all spiritual paths that lead to complete liberation. Only when we see through even the subtlest conceptual dualistic fixations on “being” of any kind, and look beyond all notions of existence or non-existence, do we realize our true, liberated nature. As long as we do not penetrate these subtle dualistic fixations with clear awareness (skt. Vipashyana), we remain in the belief in selfhood and our mind will continue to remain in a state of delusion.

This crucial second insight is what Buddhism calls emptiness, or the nature of mind and all phenomena. However, this insight into the nature of mind in no way makes the recognition of stillness or being redundant. Because without having recognised the presence of our conscious mind, it is impossible to know the nature of mind.

May all beings be free.

~ Acharya Ugi

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I found this story on facebook about Saraha and his wife, making good distinguishing of Shamata/samadhi and emptiness realization, meaning concentration doesnt “free” you.
I have not found another source than facebook, but I know Rana Rinpoche gives the same or a very similar story in his talks on Vipashyana and Shamata in part 1 and 2 that is on youtube (Vajrayana Samatha and Vipashyana Practice (Part 1) - YouTube)


Wisdom of a Dakini.

One day Saraha asked his wife for some radish curry. She prepared the dish, but in the meantime Saraha entered a deep meditation from which he did not emerge for twelve years. He then immediately asked for his radish curry. His wife was astonished, “You have been in meditation for twelve years; now it is summer and there are no radishes.”

Saraha then decided to go to the mountains for more meditation.

“Physical isolation is not a real solitude,” replied his wife.

“The best kind of solitude is complete escape from the preconceptions and prejudices of an inflexible and narrow mind, and, moreover, from all labels and concepts. If you awaken from a twelve year samadhi and are still clinging to your twelve year old curry, what is the point of going to the mountains?”

Saraha listened to his wife and after some time attained the supreme realization of the Mahamudra.