There Is No Suffering 101

What do ‘obstructions’ and ‘mind’ mean in this passage? In the English translation we have already come across ‘mind’ a few times, but of the 260 characters inf the Chinese version, this is the first mention of ‘mind.’ This is the mind that the Diamond Sutra speaks of when it says, “The mind arises without abiding.” ‘Abiding’ means attachment, so the mind that the Diamond Sutra speaks of is different from the minds of ordinary people. For ordinary people, there is never a mind without abiding. Whether the mind is clear, scattered, tormented, clam, filled with hatred or loving-kindness, it is still a mind that abides. The Diamond Sutra says, however, that even in a state of non-abiding, the mind still arises. Here, ‘arising’ refers to the free flowing function of selfless wisdom. This is the non-abiding mind that the Heart Sutra refers to in the lines above; it is the mind of one who has left behind self-reference, a truly liberated mind.

If we can learn to leave behind self-concern and self-protection, and step out of our deceptive defense mechanisms, the world will open for us. We will feel completely at ease and natural. I am sure all of you have had glimpses of this natural freedom in your lives. At those moments, you have loosened our grip of your ‘I.’ While this letting go of afflictions is temporary and not true non-abiding, you are at least for those moments at peace with others and yourself. There are little or no obstructions.

A Chan poem describes the mind after enlightenment as clouds among tall mountains. It may seem that the clouds come from and return to the mountains, but in reality the clouds move around and are not obstructed by mountains. Undoubtedly, these clouds exist, yet they have no definite form and substance, and they are not obstructed by anything on earth or in the sky. Liberated beings, have no obstructions in their minds, are like clouds among mountains. Although their minds are unobstructed, they are still able to function, just as clouds may provide shade and precipitation.