In the Third Foundation of the Satipatthana Sutta the Buddha asks us not to weigh in and attempt to change or alter the mind no matter what its current disposition. “Notice,” the Buddha says, “When the mind is delusional or not, confused or not, etc.” He does not encourage us to change the mind, just to notice how it is regardless of its configuration. What is the Buddha trying to show us in this instruction? We are examining the divided mind this week, the mind that rejects itself by setting up what it likes against what it does not. Simply put, the “I” we think is outside of the mind looking in as me, is one of the mental process within the mind. When we think two different events are occurring (me and all that is happening to me), division within the mind occurs. The “I” arises within the mind when there is an argument with reality as depicted by the mind. So the Buddha is likely trying to quell this division by suggesting we do not dispute any mental arising.
The continuum of the divided mind to the unified mind is a good touch point for all the other continua. It holds all the others and shows very clearly that the way we work with the mind is central to crossing the divide. In that sense it is both a continuum and a practice. The counter-influence is central to this continuum since the position the sense-of-self takes to whatever arises assures that we are under the sway of a divided mind. Any time “I” act as a separate entity upon the mind, it is divided, and when the sense-of-self is included within the phenomena, it is unified. We have to first learn how to work with states of mind in the least divided way (nonjudgmental acceptance, letting be) and then finally pull the sense-of-self away from the doing altogether.
A homework question for the reader is, when is changing what is occurring within your mind a wise response, and when is leaving the mind alone the wise thing to do?
Struggle / Divided Mind / Self-centeredness
End of struggle / Unified Mind / Nonseparation
Find time to use this exercise everyday: Stop your physical movement and allow your mind to rest. Be at ease, and let your senses be fully awake. Look around but do not interpret what you observe. See the lights, shapes, colors, and textures, and hear the sounds around you. Be aware of the silent presence of each thing. Be aware of the space that allows everything to be just as it is. Each thing comes out of isolation returning to wholeness within silent presence. This is the unified mind and in that moment the mind is no longer divided against itself.