Clean slate

When we come to learn meditation we carry the assumption that we already know the mind. Right from the start we speak of, ‘my mind’ and ‘all these thoughts’ as if we know what we are talking about. Nobody has ever come to me saying that they do not know the mind.

Through the meditation instructions, the study of mind*, one should reach a point where one feels, “What the hell do we mean by ‘mind’. What is going on?” If the instructions go well, our pre-conceived ideas about the mind will be cleared away and all we will be left with are question marks. Only then might we be able to look at what is what, and possibly see things as they are.

There is a story of Drukpa Kunley visiting a group of meditators at one particular hermitage. He was later asked how it went, he replied, “I pulled the pants of their meditation down,” which is another way of saying that by time he left they understood meditation.

*The study of mind (Tib. sems sbyong) is the process by which the lama instructs the student in the practice of mahamudra and dzogchen. It is where the lama meets with the student daily to ask them questions about their understanding of mind and thoughts. This is in order to show the student what they do not yet understand and need to go away and look into further. The student presents their findings in the next day’s meeting, which the lama will then probe with further questions.

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