Who is Mindful of the Buddha?

It is human nature to be attached. Freedom from attachments is the Way.

Now is the time for questions and answers. Whoever has questions can bring them up, and we can all investigate them together. Someone raised the question of “Who is mindful of the Buddha?” The Vajra Sutra says, “One should produce the mind which dwells nowhere.” If there is a place, there is still dwelling. Dwelling nowhere means thinking of neither good nor evil. This is where we should focus our effort. If we pay attention to the place, thinking of it as good or bad, these are all attachments. We practice in order to be free from attachments. We want to get rid of all attachments and forget even our bodies. Without a body, how could we still have attachments?

When we sit in meditation, we shouldn’t think of anything but the question: “Who is mindful of the Buddha?” Who is the one being mindful of the Buddha? Look for the “who.” When you find out “who” it is, you will be enlightened. If you can’t find it, you must keep searching for one day, ten days, a hundred, a thousand days, ten thousand days! You continue searching for one year, ten, a hundred, a thousand, or ten thousand years, not stopping until you find it.

You cannot speed up the process. It’s not like taking drugs and getting an immediate high. It’s not that easy. Any “easy” practice is just a gimmick. A real method of practice requires hard work. Don’t be like the farmer who tried to help his crops grow faster by pulling the shoots upwards. That’s a mistake.

Contemplating “Who is mindful of Buddha?” can cut through all random thoughts and desires. This one thought destroys ten great demon armies. The word “who” is like a jeweled vajra sword that slashes through everything until there are no further attachments. “All appearances are false and illusory. If one sees all appearances as nonappearances, one sees the Thus Come One.” It is human nature to be attached. Freedom from attachments is the Way. If we don’t look into the question of “who” as we sit in meditation, random thoughts will arise and hinder our enlightenment. Investigating the question is a way of fighting fire with fire, focusing on one thought to subdue other random thoughts. When we reach a point in our investigation where we can neither go forward nor turn back, right then we’ll become enlightened.

A talk given on September 9, 1980