58 The Expedition into the Mind


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The meditation is an investigation into the nature of the mind which Alan introduces as the prime strategy for fathoming the depths of our mind. To be effective this precise investigation should be preceded by settling the mind in its natural state and the realisation that by resting in non-conceptuality there emerges a certainty that nothing can harm the mind. However, the main side effects of this shamatha practice are the upheavals that occur as part of the process. These upheavals need to be dealt with by insight into the emptiness of self and phenomena. This is an important step to prevent reification being “countersunk” by further identifying closely with self and phenomena. That is, by not identifying with subjective impulses this leaves us less vulnerable. After the meditation, Alan expands on his previous teaching on the Madhyamaka approach to arriving at the Middle Way. He draws on the common ground between Western philosophy’s pragmatic realism and the Middle Way by providing interesting quotes by Ludwig Wittgenstein who had a major influence on the philosophy of Hilary Putnam. Alan leads an exercise based on Wittgenstein’s quote “So in the end when one is doing philosophy one gets to the point where one would like just to emit an inarticulate sound”. Alan then turns to the text (p.92-95) and provides commentary on the pith instructions of Kacho Wangpo and Orgyen Rinpoche in particular. He makes the point that the approach of the chapter is to focus deeply and non-conceptually on the existence of the mind, which is not a peaceful thing to do! Therefore we are on an expedition, not a retreat. The meditation starts at 24:21

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