No Mind and Consciousness

These days, there is lot of talk about mindfulness. Simply stated, mindfulness is the result of paying attention within a field of awareness.

Actually, awareness and attention are deeply inter-related. While awareness is about being present in a diffused field composed of different stimuli without attaching to any stimulus in particular; attention is about focusing on certain ‘stimuli’ taken from the diffused field of awareness, for varying lengths of time.

Consciousness, which encompasses attention, awareness and action; goes onto form a no-mind that goes beyond all the senses.

Though the essence of no-mind cannot be fully captured by words, an attempt can be made to describe it roughly. It is a mind that is not conditioned by the past or by the future and dwells in present, moment by moment. Therefore, it does not carry any baggage of previously stored responses, born out of our senses or lean upon the imaginative creation of the future for our senses to enjoy.

Technically speaking, no-mind is a mind that captures insights from present reality, essentially based on the principles of non permanence of anything; inter-relationship between all things and no identified self of anything (no-self). It is also about generating and choosing responses (action) based on insights gained from a given situation.

However, it seems that no-mind can be better understood through examples. And what better examples can there be other than those taken from the life of Buddha, who was one of the great practitioners of no-mind.

The story goes that one day a man came to the Buddha and asked, ”God is there, no?” Buddha replied, ”Yes.”

Then another day, another man came and asked, ”Is God really there?” To which, Buddha replied, ”No.”

Next day, a third man turned up and asked, ”Tell me whether God is there?” This time, Buddha remained silent.

On seeing three different responses of his master, his discipline and constant companion, Ananda, asked, ”How is that you gave three different replies to the same question? It is very confusing to me.”

Buddha explained, ”No, I did not give three different replies. I only responded differently to three different situations. The first person was sure that God is there. He was just asking for a confirmation. Therefore, I confirmed; since any amount of reasoning or exploration would not have helped him. He would not have accepted anything other than what he was convinced about. He had already formed his mind.”

Buddha continued, ”Similarly, the second person also had a fixed idea in his mind that God wasn’t there and was only seeking a confirmation. Hence I confirmed his strongly held belief.”

”But the third man came to me with an open mind with the sincere intention of finding out whether God existed or not. Hence I remained silent, indicating that he must explore the issue through deep and prolonged inquiry facilitated by a silent mind.” Buddha concluded.

The other story goes like this:

One day, Buddha happened to pass a man on the road who was taken in by his overwhelmingly peaceful presence.

The man stopped and asked, ”Who are you? Are you an angel or God?”

Buddha replied, ”No, I am neither an angel nor a God.”

Still curious, the man asked, ”Are you then a magician?”

This time again, Buddha answered, “No.”

”Then are you a man?” Asked the young man.

”No,” Buddha affirmed.

”Then what are you?” By this time the man was quite exasperated.

To which, Buddha replied, ”I am awake.”

Possibly, these two stories illustrate how a no-mind responds and what is the nature of no-mind.

In Buddha’s own words, no-mind is about: ”Be a lamp unto yourselves to light up thousand minds.”

Nice to Watch/Read:

a) How Meditation Can Re-shape our Brains by Sara Lazar

b) Mindfulness & Psychotherapy, 2nd Edition, Ed. Christopher Germer, Ronald D. Siegal and Paul R. Fulton

Perception, Sense-making, Enlightened Action

Right Perception and RIght Sense making are the fundamental outcomes of our cognitive ability that enable effective leaders take enlightened action. 

Possibly, most problems that we create through our actions are a result of wrong perception and wrong sense-making.

To me, Perceiving, Sense-making and Enlightened Action in life is something like this:

“Any real life System about which we care to perceive, make sense and take enlightened action, comprises of a meaningful set of ever changing and self transforming objects, diverse in form, complexity, state and function, interacting in periodic and aperiodic manner with each other and inter-related through multiple network of interdependencies through mutual feedbacks and signals thereby generating variable amplitudes of energy exchanged/transferred within variable/flexible space(s), mostly operating far from its equilibrium conditions; not only exchanging energy and matter with its environment but also generating internal entropy to undergo discrete transformation triggered by the Arrow of Time forcing it to behave in a dissipative but self organizing manner to either self destruct itself in a wide variety of ways moving towards void or create new possibilities in performance and/or behaviour from the void of creative potential owing to presence of ‘attractors’ and ‘appearance of bi-furcations’; thereby making it impossible to predict the future behavior of the system in the long term or trace the previous states of the system with any high degree of accuracy other than express it in terms of probabilities or possibilities since only the present state of the system might be observable to a certain extent and only a probabilistic understanding may be formulated as to how a system has arrived at its present state and what would keep it going, change or destroyed thus triggering creative human responses through right insights (not grossly based on emotions or thinking or memory) to manage, maintain and enhance system conditions, functions and purposes with minimal intervention to create superior systems of the future through enhancement of self organized interactions within and without the system interfaced with other connected, unconnected and overlapping systems operating within larger envelopes of human activity.”

Such a representation of an Perception, Sense-making and Enlightened Action looks quite involved.

Perhaps it might be stated in a much simpler ways but I would not attempt to do so since it would make it more complex that it should be.

Perhaps more can be said about resilience, agility, etc but I would not do so since those are really superfluous.

Perhaps more can be said about Black Swans and not so ‘black swans’ and predictions but I would care less to say so since saying more would be ‘redundant’.

The whole gamut of Perception, Sense-making and Enlightened Action takes place within five envelopes of human cognition, which are as follows:

1. Physical envelope

2. Energy envelope

3. Mental envelope

4. Wisdom envelope

5. Enlightened Action envelope

 

However, the crux of the matter is

1) how we ‘see’ reality (Darshan/Notice)?

2) how do we understand what the system is telling us (Sadhana/Engage)?

3) how do we create and choose our responses (Bhavana/Mull)?

4) how do we develop the necessary intention to implement our choices to life and living (Shankalpa/Exchange)?

 

notes:

1. Darshan, Sadhana, Bhavana and Shankalpa are Sanskrit words

2. The above post is an excerpt from or notes of a forth coming book “Leadership – The Nemetics Way!”