What the Buddha Did with the Mind


The Buddha never argued that the physical world does not exist, even if he acknowledged that all material constructs that come together are changeable and impermanent. For the Buddha, matter is ever present, even if its structures are forever in flux. The Buddha’s position is that the way in which an untrained mind perceives the world is suffering-inducing and should instead be perceived as ’empty’ of any permanency, as a means to undo the suffering caused by unrealistic expectations. It is the mind and its processes that are in reality ’empty’ of any substantiality in the enlighteed state, but which are taken to be substantial and possessing an eternal (theistic) element in the deluded state. Buddhist meditation strives to exercise control over thought patterns and behaviour. Once this method is perfected, greed, hatred and delusion (as habits of thought), are permanently uprooted so that a pristine mind-essence is revealed that is ’empty’ of any contrived sense of self. The next step is integration of this newly calmed and expanded awareness with the experiences of everyday life.


    1. The Buddha states that observation leads to understanding. Klesa are psychological-emotional defilements that traverse the surface of the mind in reaction to specific material conditions. Panic and worry are products of attachment and aversion, and have a ‘root’ in the mind that is discernable through effective meditation. Once this ‘root’ is clearly observed, its habitual power is broken. This is the process of withdrawing the mind’s attention ‘away from’ the problem, and is not a matter of will or enforcement of tranquillity.

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