Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The Scary Mother Image

Someone said,
Apparently I'm still scared of my own mother and I'm past 35 years old. This is important so I thought I would post it although I'm not sure if it is appropriate. Just that the last few weeks I have not felt able to meditate and it centres around her it seems. I had some idea that my feelings about Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva are affected by my mother.

When we are conceived, we face the world without any discriminations. Our self-consciousness develops as we are able to form discriminations. The primary discrimination is the one that coalesseces into the "mother" (in most cases) as the "caregiver" and provider of sustanance, warmth, security, love, etc. Who could not have some trepidation in confronting what this image means residing at the very foundation of our map of reality that we have been constructing since day one of conception.

When we meditate, we are beginning the journey of confronting our map of reality with our awareness of reality. We can't deal with the mental model we have constructed of reality wihtout confronting in some manner the image of "mother" that is at the core of our mental map of reality. It is the internal image of mother in our own nature that we are dealing with as adults, not the external mother, in terms of coming to terms with mother. So an important part of the journey is to see that the image of mother embedded in the structure of our self-conscious identity is not actually our biological mother, but the mother we have constructed based on the years of interaction, both within the womb and after being born, with our biological mother.

This mother is the primal protectoress and provider of basic security for our childhood fears. When this image begins to bubble up and we start to be conscious of it as a feeling-toned image rather than a literal externalised individual being, it carries along with it as it rises into consciousness all the fear-feelings that the image was created to protect us against. In Buddhist imagery, this challenge is conceived as the attack of Mara and the delusions of Maya. There are real dangers in the world, but in order to be present we have to distinguish the dangers that are actually present from the incorporated dangers of our inner system of insecurity that we have embodied into the image of mother.

This is no easy journey, and in Zen it is said that ignorance is father and greed is mother, and so we must kill our mother and father. This of course is not talking about killing literally, but killing that fixation upon which these internalized images are built, that is, dismantaling the rafters and beams of the house of reality modeling that sustains these images as the father and mother of self-conscousness fixated on a "self" as a separate entity. The mother image seeking to maintain the separate ego fixation will assail the mind with fearful and scary images in order to maintain the status quo of the map of reality.

No one can tell another how to do this work in particular, only that it is the normal process on the path, and as you discover that the images that scare you are in fact "only" residual images upon which one's self-consciousness itself is built, than with determined perseverance you will say along with Buddha, "I see you, oh Housebuilder!"


What is called the clear and clean Dharmakaya Buddha?

Here's a section from Chapter 6 Repentance of the Platform Sutra of Huineng that I just translated.

"What is called the clear and clean Dharmakaya Buddha? The nature of worldly people is at root clear and clean. The 10,000 things are secondary to one’s own nature. By consideration of every evil matter, then you give birth to evil practices. By consideration of every good matter, then you give birth to good practices. Thus, are all things located within one’s own nature, like the sky being always clear. Though the sun and moon are always bright, when they become covered by floating clouds, then above is bright and below is dark. If suddenly they encounter a puff of wind, the clouds disperse, above and below are bright together, and the 10,000 images all appear. The nature of worldly people is always floating and drifting like those clouds of the sky.

"Learned and virtuous ones, innate-intelligence (jnana) is like the sun, and intuitive-wisdom (prajna) is like the moon. This intelligence-wisdom (jnana-prajna) is always bright. By externally attaching to conditions, false thoughts are a cover of drifting clouds, and one’s own nature is not able to show one’s brightness. If one encounters a learned and virtuous one to hear the true and right Dharma and by oneself eliminates delusion and falsehood, then the internal and external are bright and unobstructed, and the 10,000 things all appear from within one’s own nature. A person’s seeing-nature (J. kensho) likewise is indeed returning to thusness. This is called the clear and clean Dharmakaya Buddha."