Not “Keeping the Mind Still, “But Mindlessness
Though you may not fully know whether the teachers of the various localities are wrong or right, if your own basis is solid and genuine, the poisons of wrong doctrines will not be able to harm you, “keeping the mind still” and “forgetting concerns” included. If you always “forget concerns” and “keep the mind still,” without smashing the mind of birth and death, then the delusive influences of form, sensation, perception, volition, and consciousness will get their way, and you’ll inevitably be dividing emptiness into two.
Let go and make yourself vast and expansive. When old habits suddenly arise, don’t use mind to repress them. At just such a time, it’s like a snowflake on a red-hot stove. For those with a discerning eye and a familiar hand, one leap and they leap clear.
Only then do they know lazy Jung’s saying: Right when using mind, there’s no mental activity. Crooked talk defiled with names and forms, straight talk without complications. Without mind but functioning, always functioning but non-existent – the mindlessness I speak of now is not separate from having mind. These aren’t words to deceive people.
There has been a long misunderstanding about these two things: keeping the mind still and mindlessness. There have been many people who have thought that they are synonymous. They appear to be synonymous, but in reality they are as far apart as two things can be, and there is no way to bridge them.
So first let us try to find the exact meanings of these two words, because the whole of Ta Hui’s sutra this evening is concerned with the understanding of the difference.
The difference is very delicate. A man who is keeping his mind still and a man who has no mind will look exactly alike from the outside, because the man who is keeping his mind still is also silent. Underneath his silence there is great turmoil, but he is not allowing it to surface. He is in great control.
The man with no mind, or mindlessness, has nothing to control. He is just pure silence with nothing repressed, with nothing disciplined – just a pure empty sky.
Surfaces can be very deceptive. One has to be very alert about appearances, because they both look the same from the outside – both are silent. The problem would not have arisen if the still mind was not easy to achieve. It is easy to achieve. Mindlessness is not so easy to achieve; it is not cheap, it is the greatest treasure in the world.