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Patterns of an Empty Mind

This image conveys so clearly the meditator’s condition when swamped with thoughts. It might be the first condition that you bring to the cushion and sit right down with. All of these exteriorised projections “out” onto the world — the random buzz and crackle of the still-unsettled mind — are merely electrical ripples shocked across our cortex. Thinking, feeling, memories, fears, worries, projections, ideas, beliefs, traumas — endlessly, crazily flickering which we take to be a true “reality”. If it is rageful thinking flickering across, my world is enraging; if it is fearful crackling on the neutron-wires, my world is scary; if it is benevolent, then the whole world is at peace. “Everything is created by mind alone,” as the Avatamsakka Sutra teaches.

But notice the “eye”. The gaze is not-moving, and does not get pulled into ephemeral apparitions projected “out” onto a non-existent screen, an empty figment of a yesterday’s fart of reality. Nothing. The eye is clear, unwavering, taking in the clear view of truth-as-it-is. (And the ears and nose would be doing the same thing.)

And yet, since the unexamined life is mostly what folks live, those projections to which we are so habituated make layer upon layer of delusive worlds, a reality, a trap.

Meditation is the key to freedom from an illusory show of the mind. Mere prayer can often be just a tepid knock-knock on the door of it. But time spent in soft, natural awareness of the rolling of breath, turning the gaze inward toward the “source” of awareness, the crackly patterns melt into nothing.

The straight road to freedom.

Matt Semke, “Patterns” (2022)

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