Mind is One

What does this mean? “Mind is One”?

We have our individual consciousnesses as beings. But on the spiritual path we are also aware that there is this ‘oneness’ aspect to all manifest things. We hesitate to say that there is ‘mind’ in inanimate objects; stones, bricks, cars. Yet we are aware that everything is energy, and everything is connected.

Some mystics say that even stones are conscious that they are stones.

I’m sure that one day our scientists will “crack the problem” of how self-awareness arises out of billions of neurons talking to each other. But even when they have, they will have missed a fundamental aspect of Mind, because the ground of everything manifest is also conscious.

We could stop there and say we have our separate minds, and the source is a consciousness. But that’s only part of the picture. The universe experiencing itself as me has both a me mind, and its own mind at the same time. My thoughts are my own, but they are also thoughts the universe is having as me.

Spiritually, I don’t think the human race has changed that much since Buddha sat under the Bo tree over 2,000 years ago. And some of our wisdom traditions haven’t changed that much either. Not that they need to. They are spiritual technology geared at enlightenment. They’re good at what they do, and have stood the test of time.

But I look forward to the day (perhaps it’s coming very soon) when our nascent human abilities become everyday normal. And it appears to me that key to this happening is that we understand that Mind is One.

All of the nascent abilities that Patanjali talks about in his Siddhis, or all of the nascent abilities Dōgen mentions off-the-cuff in Shōbōgenzō, or all the tricks Derren Brown performs perhaps – these are all just one trick.

The one trick is Mind is One. My thoughts and sensations are local to me. But they are also non-local. I am having them, but Mind is having them. Telepathy, knowing the mind of others is really just sharing Mind. But it gets stranger. Mind is One outside of space-time-movement. Seeing the immediate future is really just being a being in a moment whilst at the same time being any being in any moment. Energy healing in the dualistic reality is one being appearing to miraculously healing another being. But it’s really just the universe birthing stars. Understanding bird song.

I could go on. Telekinesis. Levitation. But I have never moved objects remotely to my knowledge. And I have never walked on water. So I stopped at understanding bird song.

The first time I experienced what we call telepathy I told a Zen Nun about it. She just said matter-of-factly something like, ‘yes. But you can’t own these things when they happen.’ For one thing ego is a dualistic sense impression getting in the way of that bigger reality. For another thing, it’s literally true. Super normal abilities are not located just in one individual. They are Mind is One.

It’s a good job these abilities are nascent for now. We have so many computer passwords and bank cards. One day we will have to come up with computers and banks that don’t need us to use letters and numbers to access them. But when that day comes all of our institutions will change. Science academy ashram mash-ups. Mental health energy healing centres. Sangha hospitals.

Sci fi films have explored the dangers of artificial intelligence reaching the ‘singularity’ point and then taking over the Internet. We already live in an inter web of Mind. We always have. It’s beautiful.


Good Buddhist. Bad Buddhist.

In Soto Zen, which is on the mahayana “branch” of the Buddhist “tree”, the only object of zazen is zazen. Doing Zazen, one is not trying to get anywhere or get any thing. In the same way, regulars at Soto school of Zazen do not have as their objective good emulation of ideas about how a Buddhist should or should not behave.

Buddhism expressed in this form is not ‘social’ in the sense of an exchange of ideas about good and bad behaviour towards one another. People are not trying to be good Buddhists with each other in Soto Zen. Well, sometimes they are, but they’ll soon get slapped down!

It’s the ego that wants to fit in. It’s the ego that wants to be esteemed above others. It’s the ego that wants to control and manipulate others. It takes time to see clearly when one is acting for personal gain and when one is simply being one’s self. It takes spiritual practice and discipline.

There are other schools of Buddhism who disagree with this approach, even though the objective (freedom from suffering and delusion for the sake of all) is the same. In other schools, the object is to emulate the behaviours of Buddhist elders, and in that way cultivate a mindful approach to the world.

Soto Zen concurs with the objectives shared by all Buddhist schools, but pooh pooh’s the emulating part. It is a form of practice designed to wake one up. That’s it. Once you have suddenly awoken and seen that it is possible as a human being to experience things non-dualistically, from a place beyond the small idea of the inner self, then it’s your job (and no-one else’s) to realize that understanding of reality into every sphere of life and to its fullest miraculous extent.

Forget what you know about Buddhists. You can’t learn the Buddha’s message for yourself by making discriminatory conclusions about the behaviour of Buddhists. Of course this goes for all religions. But in the West, Buddhism is still quite new. It’s also the smallest of the major world faiths. And it has a reputation. Those Buddhists. They’re always nice. They never started any wars.

True. But then in World War 2, Buddhism was contorted to train soldiers how to fight. What do you think about the Buddha’s dharma now?

I have been horrendously upset by Zen Nuns before. Went home. Cried. Then realised my response was entirely connected with not being able to manipulate the other person in the habitual ways we all have. Laughing about it. Seeing more clearly.

Growing to love that Nun.

The dharma has to be written on the heart. Once written there, it’s all change. Authentic change happens inside-out, and is only delayed by anxiety over what others might think, or trying to fit in with what others might want. So in the style of thirteenth-century Zen popstar Dogen, forget them and keep practising like your hair is on fire. Keep going. Awaken to the Oneness.

There’s no time to waste pretending.

Boo. No boo.

One day the source is close. Meditation practice is potent with sense perceptions and insights. The next day (or minute) meditation practice feels like it is getting nowhere. Often this will be mental blocks coming from within myself. But sometimes it is simply because the source of all life has a life of its own.

In Dogen’s words it is the untamed dragon returning to the sea, or the tiger returning to the mountains. It cannot be caught in a net, or tamed. Here, there, everywhere, sometimes, always. Boo. No boo.