why does language keep us in samsara?
We are linguistic beings. Before we awaken we have two minds, not one. This dualistic mind thinks in terms of black and white, right and wrong, yes and no. This mind also crosses itself with questions and answers, and so we are trapped in the wheel of samsara. Who is ‘I?’ Once language arrives so does the habitual tendency of mind, the mental construct of ‘I’: ‘I’ do, ‘I’ think, ‘I’ hope, and so on. Where does ‘I’come from and then we answer ‘I’know, “I’ believe, ‘I’ agree or disagree, ‘I’ believe and so our mind streams continue in delusion or ignorance.
We are always changing our minds, being dissatisfied and always seeking to change what is. We must know and understand samsara or the six realms and know that in these realms we are suffering. Language always affects people. For example, we label states of being as heaven and hell, and linguistic beings suffer in delusion because of these beliefs. We become attached to language and it is very difficult to change this mind and achieve liberation. Our bodies always need something to continue, for example sleep and food. Our minds require even more and this is desire.
We must introspect to understand the nature of mind and for this we need insight. Once we know we live in this software system which is ‘us’ we also see how it controls us. It is made from external data. This system software is already there in our mind and therefore we are linguistic beings.
This world is very different than it was one hundred years ago. Rapid communication through the internet means data or information input into our minds is much greater. Our minds activate very quickly and run from point to point and answer to answer. We are also very quick to forget or to disagree with these answers. Our minds are very speedy and restless. It is difficult to investigate Zen because it is very easy to find answers or information to our questions. We can access information easily now from books and the internet. Our minds are therefore easily activated and agitated, becoming increasingly rigid and fixed as they move between external data. Therefore our minds’ focus is on the external and our beliefs are developed through external sources of information.
What is wisdom?
Clever people are everywhere, but their sources of information are external. This phenomenon is found in the East as well as the West. There seems to be no balance and the world has gone wild. People are unhappy, even rich people, because this unhappiness arises from the mind rather than our circumstances. The happiness we believe arises from external sources will soon turn to unhappiness because it is superficial and everything is subject to change. The happiness that comes from our beliefs or old or new data comes from a rapidly changing mind.
This world is beautiful. Every spring we see blossoms everywhere; earthquakes can’t prevent springtime. Where is the source of our continuing happiness? Is it the internet, nature, or data? Who is ‘I’ for whom happiness is permanent? People may go to the beach or to the mountains but their minds are unhappy and changing continually. We cannot avoid society or escape it altogether even if we retreat to the mountains. Who owns this world? Who is this world’s boss? Scientists can’t stop super bugs. Where do they come from? We don’t know…
How do we stop our changeable minds? How do we stop thinking? Only the dead have stopped thinking. Some believe that enlightenment is the cessation of thought, and than to be free of the senses, consciousness and the body is to be awakened. This, however, is only the middle stage of dharma practice. In the end we must return to our normal selves even though our minds have woken up.
When we find our Buddha nature we discover that we are linguistic beings. Reality, we discover after awakening, is our software, our system. Human beings need activity and consciousness. All data is us and data is like a fishing net cast everywhere; from the sun and moon to the earth this net is spread. Our systems are much greater than we have previously realized.
This earth is becoming sick. Global warming is changing this earth and we must do something to balance this earth and ourselves. We can’t control what is happening, nor can we control the future. All we can do is meditate and awaken to the knowledge that we are a very different kind of animal. We need to introspect.
How will this benefit others and the world?
In the past powerful Chinese dynasties had leaders who meditated before their meetings and making decisions. These decisions affected many people, and had a serious impact on the welfare of its citizens. Meditation is not only for ourselves. If our minds are balanced we reduce the harmful effects of our behavior which arises from our thinking. If we drink before we drive we may have serious accidents.
If we meditate with the right intention, which is that it may benefit others, it is not selfish. If we take five or ten minutes for meditation it will also benefit our health and our minds. We may be of more benefit to society. If we are awakened to our own Buddha nature others may not be aware of this, but awakened people may benefit the world by being more peaceful.