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Liberation Upon Seeing

March 4, 2012

By Stephen Damon

The Chinese character for “attention” is a compound of the symbols for “now” and “mind.” So, attention is now mind.  It is a  phenomenological awareness of exactly what is arising in us from moment to moment.  

Thinking Mind is never directed on knowing myself as I am in this moment.  It is difficult for thought to remain on what is, because it is based on memory and is constantly visualizing the possibility of becoming. We need to detach from the desire to become in favor of simply to see what is.  It is difficult for my thought to stay in front of the unknown.  This means abandoning belief in everything it knows, even the trace of the preceding moment. 

My relation with my thinking mind must change.  I have to see its conditioning and lose all illusion of its capacity to perceive directly what is beyond its functioning.  Truth simply cannot be thought.  I need to see that my thought is always held back by the stubbornness of an idea or the attachment to a form. Thought is always at least one step behind what is happening in the present moment.  In the very moment I see this, the mind is freed from the idea or form; it is freed from the past, and a new perception can take place. A friend of mine recently quoted a Tibetan mantra that expresses just this point: “Liberation upon Seeing.”  To have a direct perception, to see with the now mind is to discover something entirely new, something unknown that my thinking mind can never bring. 

We need to be free enough to discard everything and to question without expecting an answer.  Our practice is not about finding answers— it is not about knowing—it is about seeing what is in front of us. To see exactly what is in front of me is an attention, an act of the now mind, that is unknown to me.  This unknown attention appears as seeing, listening, and questioning—never in knowing, with my thinking mind.



From → Zen Buddhism

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