No-mind and the cinema screen analogy. By Mourad Rashad
All Zen masters and Zen sutras insist that enlightenment is having “No-mind.” The late D T Suzuki composed a book with the title “The Zen Doctorine of No-mind”.
What does “No-mind” mean?
Does it mean that I am transformed to an idiot or a moron?
No, we can see clearly that all Zen Masters are neither idiots nor morons; then what does “No-mind” signify?
To answer this question; one has first to understand deeply what does it mean to have a mind – to have a mind to depend on- then we can glimpse no-mind. This mind that I depend on is ambitious and intelligent and has a library of accumulated and stored up knowledge. The ambition of the mind uses its intelligence and the stored up knowledge to derive out of this two things:
First, I derive the ability to hope for more, the desire for more and the greed for more. Secondly, the sense of being clever and intelligent, a sense from which I derive pride, I derive excellence, I derive uniqueness, I derive superiority, arrogance and conceit.
As a natural result of enjoying what I derive from my mind I get more and more glued and attached to it to the extent that I become absolutely identified with mind and think that I am the mind. This mind is me, it represents me. Without this mind I am lost. This mind is my identity; I become identified with the mind.
I encounter life with this inner structure of mind, with this identification with mind. Every new encounter with life, with its successful rewards affirms this mind of ambition/pride cocktail. It affirms “me”. This sweet affirmation of “me” creates the need for more excellence and more uniqueness. I become addicted to affirming “me”, my identity, myself. From now on, all the activities of man have one sole aim, which is affirming the ambition/pride cocktail of “me”. Now I am the mind, “me” is the mind. Vice versa, every failure, every pain, and every calamity that results from encountering life can not but be swallowed bitterly, I can not dodge, because of being identified with mind, glued to the mind.
If I can rid myself, just from the ambition/pride cocktail derived from this mind. The whole panorama will change, how? And to what?
Now a crucial question, if I rid myself from this ambition/pride cocktail; I will be at risk, I will be threatened, I might even starve and die. My answer to you will be: have you seen the birds of the sky, the fish in the see, they live and function beautifully and are never burdened by the fears of living. We humans carry this burden, while the whole existence does not.
Do we still think that man is intelligent? However, man does not want to live like a fish or a sparrow, man wants more.
Any way, if this mind rids itself from the ambition/pride cocktail, this mind will stop running in the channels that feed it, and you will stop depending on it for anything. Your identification and attachment to that mind will thus be severed and you will stand with “No-mind” of your own. Now this new mind which is no longer yours or any one’s will function as it should be, not as you wanted it to function. It will only reflect WHAT IS, not your ambition/pride cocktail. This new “mind”, this no-mind, is the cinema screen. To stand un-identified with mind is no-mind. This no-mind is the cinema screen of Sri Ramana Maharshi; the famous analogy in advita. This no-mind is what Lao Tzu calls the spirit of the valley. Verse no.6 of the Tao te Ching says:
The spirit of the valley never dies. It is called the subtle and profound female.
The gate of the subtle and profound female,Is the root of Heaven and Earth,
It is continuous and seems to be always existing.Use it and you will never wear it out.
Why is it called the spirit of the valley? It is non-material and non-physical. In the same time it is able to recieve, it never transmitts, just like the valley that receives the rain. This subtle and profound female, this no-mind, this unidentified, this cinema screen; it always receives, the cinema screen does not transmit anything. Just like the female, always receptive, always passive and never positive. This cinema screen, this no-mind only reflects what Is and It was never separated from the Divine or what Is at any moment of time. Nevertheless, this subtle and profound female, this cinema screen was obscured by the ambition/pride cocktail. To stand as the cinema screen, to remain as no-mind is to be in perpetual contact with the Divine and opens the doors to the infinite secrets of the universe. To be always a no-mind, a cinema screen, means that you have known the eternal, that never changes nor disappears.