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Consciousness as Mind
Billy: Page 21 of The Essence of Enlightenment says, “The mind is an object that is not separate from us” and “but the mind is formless consciousness.” This is a hard one for me because the second statement makes it sound like the mind is awareness and not an object in awareness. It seems like a contradiction. Or does it mean that the mind is like a gateway to the comprehension of awareness? Is this splitting hairs?
James: Yes, splitting hairs is what it is all about. You’re getting close, Billy. Hang in there.
Let’s start from the top: everything is consciousness. There is only consciousness. When you experience something – anything – you only experience it in your consciousness, so there are no objects “out there” that you are actually experiencing. An experience is just consciousness plus the thought that appears in consciousness at the moment. When the thought changes, the experience changes. Consciousness is like an ocean and the thoughts are like waves – there is no actually difference, just names and forms of H2O. The ocean is H2O and the waves are H2O, so when a thought rises up and creates an experience it is just a consciousness appearing as a thought, i.e. a mind. Mind is just thoughts. However, when consciousness takes the form of a thought it does not “become” the thought like milk becomes cheese. Milk has to disappear to transform itself into cheese. Consciousness “appears” as a thought. It does not cease to be formless, nameless consciousness when it takes the form of a thought. It is always free of the mind, i.e. the thoughts, but it presents itself to itself in the form of thoughts. When consciousness – you – are ignorant that you are only consciousness, you identify with the mind and you think you are what you are experiencing, i.e. thinking and feeling. Thoughts and feelings are objects – consciousness “waving.”