Beyond One Mind Two comes from one, Yet do not even keep the one. When one mind does not a
Beyond One Mind
Two comes from one,
Yet do not even keep the one.
When one mind does not arise,
Myriad dharmas are without defect.
In yesterday's talk I cautioned against abiding in duality. Although we
should not abide in duality, we still must hold on to the method.
Method is that which helps us to unify our minds, to replace the
constant stream of scattered thoughts. After the mind is concentrated
by the method, we eventually reach a point where the method itself
disappears and the mind is one. Today someone said during the
interview, "I have been practicing for quite a few years but I have
never had the experience of forgetting my body, or my method
disappearing." I said, "You should not be too anxious about it. Just
proceed naturally." The state of one mind has to come about naturally.
Naturally, the method will leave you behind; it is not for you to think
of leaving the method behind. The state of one mind is not easy to
attain. But today I will go one step further and say that even the one
mind has to be transcended and left behind.
In the Avatamsaka Sutra there are the following two lines: "With no
exception everything comes from the Dharma Realm. With no exception
everything will return to the Dharma Realm." Everything is generated by
the one and will eventually return to the one. This concept can be
found in both oriental and western philosophy. But in Buddha Dharma
even that state is not good enough.
A disciple of Chao-Chou once asked his master, "If the myriad dharmas 
return to one, to what does the one return?" Chao-Chou answered, "In
Ch'ing-chou I had a robe made, weighing seven pounds."
To be attached to the one can either take the form of pure materialism
or monotheism. But in the course of practice it is necessary to first
get to the one. It is only then that you realize that even this one is
not ultimate. It is still on a worldly level. Only when you can
transcend this unified state will you reach genuine Buddha Dharma.
You begin by concentrating the scattered mind. To say that the mind is
concentrated does not mean that it is in a unified state, because there
is still a distinction between subject and object, between you and the
method. But when the method drops away, your mind will be very clear,
without any thoughts, and you are left only with a sense of your own
existence. This is the state of one mind, also called samadhi. However,
this is only an elementary level of samadhi, and if you continue on the
same course you can get into ever-deepening samadhi states. However,
Ch'an practitioners do not dwell in samadhi, but attempt to drop even
that state of one mind.
Today a student mentioned that when he sits he very often enters a very
comfortable, enjoyable state. This type of sensation is really an
expression of desire. As long as a person is attached to a desire for
bodily or mental pleasure of any kind, there is no hope of entering
into one mind. This is because your mind is divided into two, or even
three: a sense of your self, of your body, and of the pleasure. If a
pleasurable sensation arises while sitting, you should remain aloof
from it. Yet this experience is not completely useless, because it at
least motivates you to continue practicing and to attend retreats.
Indeed, an enjoyable meditation experience can exceed the pleasure that
derives from food or sex. But as soon as you reach this stage, leave it
Another term for one mind is "great self," because although the mind is
enormously expanded, there is still a sense of self-centeredness, or
"I." So long as you are attached to "I," there can be no liberation. If
you feel that you are abiding in a state of "perfection," or think of
yourself as a perfect master, this is at best the great self.
Thus there are two meanings of "one" referred to in this line: "Yet do
not even keep the one." The first is samadhi and the second is the
great self. These are the highest states that can be attained from the
practice of worldly dharma. From the point of view of Ch'an, even
though a person may reach samadhi or the great self, he will still be
in samsara, the cycle of birth and death. The liberation that he feels
is only transitory; it is not ultimate liberation. But "When one mind
does not arise, myriad dharmas are without defect." That is to say, a
person in the state of one mind is still subject to problems, but when
he loses even that one mind nothing can cause him any trouble.
One thing should be clarified here. In the state of one mind, there are
no vexations. Trouble can only develop in a state of discrimination. As
long as you stay in a state of one mind, nothing can bother, tempt, or
excite you. The problem with one mind is that it cannot last forever;
inevitably, a thought will arise, and it will evolve into two, three,
and many. The state of one can only be considered in relation to two. A
true totality would not even be considered "one"; it can only be called
"nothing." It is only when a distinction is made that the one can exist
at all, and in that case it will lead to two. You can only feel lonely
when you are aware of the possible existence of another person. In
complete totality, there is no sense of loneliness.
Without defect, without dharmas,
No arising, no mind.
No mind, or Ch'an, is a state of non-arising and non-perishing. Not a
single thought will arise, and even that unmoving mind fundamentally
does not exist. There is nothing that can give you trouble, and nothing
that you can give trouble to.
Both our body and mind need food to survive. There are two types of
food for the body: nutrition and contact. "Contact food" includes the
sensation of touching another person, and the feeling of changing into
clean clothes after a shower. There is another kind of food for the
mind, called "consciousness food," which satisfies the ordinary minds'
hunger for experience and phenomena. If you can leave the first two
kinds of food, you will be outside of the desire realm. But beyond the
desire realm, there are the form realm and the formless realm. To go
beyond them, you have to free yourself from the food of consciousness.
In the state of one mind, where only consciousness exists, you may have
transcended the desire realm but are still in samsara. Only when you
are free from all three types of food will you enter no mind, and be
outside samsaric realms.
* * *
 dharma: a "thing" or "object," a physical or mental phenomenon.
Capitalized, Dharma refers to the Buddhist "Law" or "teaching."
* * * * * * * *
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank