I DON’T KNOW BUT I THINK THAT….
This is a follow up on a recent Dharma Talk by Arnaud on building confidence during insecurity and incertitude.
Zen perspective is based upon trying to understand the mechanics of how the mind operates so that we end up controlling the mind, rather than the mind controlling our thoughts and actions.
There is an inherent weakness in human mind and intellect. One might call it “a manufacturing defect”. When the intellect cannot understand a thing in its right perception, the mind projects. In the Sanskrit it is called Maya. Ma means Not, and Ya means “that”. Thus Maya translates as “that which it is not”. When one cannot understand a certain thing, you may say that “I don’t know”, but your mind steps in and says “But I think”. For example, if a new neighbour moves in your neighbourhood, and someone asks you what you think of the new neighbour, your reaction might be ”I don’t know, but I think he is a dangerous man because I have seen all kinds of strange people going in and out of his house”. Another example often quoted is that of a rope and a snake. In dim light, without knowing it to be a rope, your mind projects it to be a snake because of its shape. This causes fear in one’s mind. Once it is exposed to light, we see it as a rope. This knowledge brings the mind back to reality and the fear dissipates. Thus this non apprehension of the reality at the intellectual level which creates misapprehension in the mind together is called Maya Power.
Another trick that the mind plays is in how we misunderstand another person’s point of view in relation to the experiences of our own mind in the past. When someone is speaking to us, we may be hearing him, but our mind interprets the words of the speaker in terms of our own mind. For example, when someone talks about a trip he has taken, we are hearing this in relation to the trips we have taken. Misunderstanding can cause arguments between people. Psychologists will tell you that what you experience in your adulthood is a carryover of the unpleasant experiences you had as a child. Your mind sees every new experience in the light of your past experiences.
So how do we deal with this Maya Power? Over the centuries learned people have been saying that the best way is to develop a quiet mind which enables you to see the reality and not be swayed by the projections of the mind. The only true reality is your inner self. The body, mind, and intellect are but projections of the inner self. It is our involvements with the outer coverings or projections that create all our suffering. That essentially was Buddha’s message.
Constant meditation enables you to develop the equanimity and quietness of the mind so essential to our inner happiness.