Mind is the key to both our suffering and liberation.The one which traps us constantly into its world of projections and illusions is the gross level of mind.But the one which liberates us from suffering is the subtle level of mind,the pure one, which we call Rigpa or buddha nature.Unable to recognize our own pure nature of mind,we sentient beings,have been ceaselessly engrossed into our own delusions,thereby generating suffering for ourselves for infinite number of lives and forms.How we'd wish to be eternally happy and free, but unaware of the right path, we are led astray everytime.So,it becomes very important to understand the real nature of mind,if we really want to put an end to this endless cycle of birth and death, and hence free ourselves from this ocean of suffering.For that we would have to start exploring our own inner world, and through various meditative techniques we would have to train our mind to free itself from illusions and thereby lead us into our own essential, pure nature of mind.It is said that,if enlightenment is our destination then meditation is the path.Now,don't be afraid of this word "meditation" although it might sound a bit religious, but there are different levels,ways and subjects involved in it.So,if you don't like this term you could use some other words like analysis, contemplation,introspection,investigation etc.In my humble opinion, anything that needs to be given a thorough analysis through rationalizing and reasoning with the sole motive of finding the truth is the prime objective of this practice.I am myself a beginner in this field but I feel that you don't need to be a buddhist or even a believer for that matter, in order to gain its benefits.
So,once again,following are the excerpts from the book, about mind and its nature.
THE MIND AND THE NATURE OF MIND
The still revolutionary insight of Buddhism is that life and death are in the mind,and nowhere else.Mind is revealed as the universal basis of experience-the creator of happiness and the creator of suffering,the creator of what we call life and what we call death.
There are many aspects to the mind,but two stand out.The first is the ordianary mind,called by the Tibetans sem.One master defines it:"That which possesses discriminating awareness,that which possesses a sense of duality-which grasps or rejects something external-that is mind.Fundamentally it is that which can associate with an 'other'-with any 'something,' that is perceived as different from perceiver." Sem is the discursive,dualistic,thinking mind,which can only function in relation to a projected and falsely perceived external reference point.
So sem is the mind that thinks,plots,desires,manipulates,that flares up in anger,that creates and indulges in waves of negative emotions and thoughts,that has to go on asserting,validating,and confirming its "existence" by fragmenting,conceptualizing,and solidifying experience.The ordinary mind is the ceaselessly shifting and shiftless prey of external influences,habitual tendencies,and conditioning: The masters liken sem to a candle flame in an open doorway,vulnerable to all the winds of circumstance.
Seen from one angle,sem is flickering,unstable,grasping,and endlessly minding others' business;its energy consumed by projecting outwards.Yet seen in another way,the ordinary mind has a false,dull stability,a smug and self-protective inertia,a stone-like calm of ingrained habits.It is within the experience of this chaotic,confused,undisciplined,and repetitive sem,this ordinary mind,that,again and again,we undergo change and death.
Then there is the very nature of mind,its innermost essence,which is absolutely and always untouched by change or death.At present it is hidden within our own mind,our sem,enveloped and obscured by the mental scurry of our thoughts and emotions.Just as cloud can be shifted by a strong gust of wind to reveal the shining sun and wide-open sky,so,under certain special circumstances,some inspiration may uncover for us glimpses of this nature of mind.These glimpses have many depths and degrees,but each of them will bring some light of understanding,meaning,and freedom.This is because the nature of mind is the very root itself of understanding.In Tibetan we call it Rigpa,a primordial,pure,pristine awareness that is at once intelligent,cognizant,radiant,and always awake.It could be said to be the knowledge of knowledge itself.
Do not make the mistake of imagining that the nature of mind is exclusive to our mind only.It is infact the nature of everything.It can never be said too often that to realize the nature of mind is to realize the nature of all things.
Although we have the same inner nature as Buddha and hence the same potential of becoming enlightened like him,we have not recognized our inner nature of mind because it is so enclosed and wrapped up in our individual ordinary minds.Imagine an empty vase.The space inside it is exactly the same as the space outside.Only the fragile walls of the vase separate one from the other.Our buddha mind is enclosed within the walls of our ordinary mind.But when we become enlightened,it is as if that vase shatters into pieces.The space "inside" merges instantly into the space "outside."They become one:There and then we realize they were never separate or different;they were always the same.
Guru rinpoche said:
Even though that which is usually called "mind"is widely esteemed and much discussed,
Still it is not understood or it is wrongly understood or it is understood in a one-sided manner only.
Since it is not understood correctly,just as it is in itself,
There come into existence inconceivable numbers of philosophical ideas and assertions.
Furthermore,since ordinary individuals do not understand it,
They do not recognize their own nature,
And so they continue to wander among the six destinies of rebirth within the three worlds,and thus experience suffering.
Therefore,not understanding your own mind is a very grievous fault.