There are teachers and dhamma practitioners who encourage us to find the “original mind” or the “source”. This can be a bit misleading to those who follow the path the Buddha showed us. The advice is well intended, to see that stimulus at the six sense doors leads to a feeling tone, recognition or perception of the phenomenon that is present and mental formations (thoughts, emotions and the like). This process causes what Ajan Chah called “moods”. If we are not mindful, we become lost in these moods, identify with them as things happening to us, creating a self or alternatively, “investing” a self where there is no intrinsic self to be found, and this causes dukkha (suffering). This arising along with conscious awareness are known as the five aggregates. The misleading part is that we can easily understand the idea of original mind as a thing to be found. We go looking for original mind, when in reality, the mind is just as we experience it.
When we bring mindfulness into the fore, make mindfulness predominant, we begin to see the nature of the mind and, indeed, the nature of all things that we deem to be reality. It is the nature of the mind to do and be everything it is and does. The five aggregates arise, this is the nature (the dhamma) of the mind. Clinging arises, craving arises; this is also nature. To find peace, we simply allow nature to arise without clinging. So, the training of the mind is the important thing!
We are encouraged to train the mind to see and directly experience in every moment what is arising. We incline the mind to not react, just to relax and observe, and then to investigate: “What is being known, what are the characteristics of what is known, what leads to this arising, to its passing.”. This is how the mind can experience the dhamma directly, discovering what the Buddha taught through direct experience.
Everything we experience is “seen” through the lens of this mind, even the concepts that we go searching for. So if we can train the mind to “rest in mindfulness” we can directly experience the peace in that process. The process of mindfulness and brief investigation will eventually lead to the wisdom that allows for peace and contentment to arise as a natural outcome. There is nothing else to do or look for, no original mind to find, no source, just process, just dhamma. Everything is here for you, right here, right now.
By Mark Wiesman