“The context of the general teachings is one of talking to a sentient being who is experiencing uninterrupted bewilderment – one thought or emotion after another like the surface of the ocean in turmoil, without any recognition of mind essence. This confusion is continuous, without almost any break, life after life.”
~ Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche (1920-1995),
Tibetan Buddhist Dzogchen Master,
in As It Is, Vol. II
Perhaps it was in a junior high science class that I first saw this half-minute video of ping pong balls exemplifying a nuclear fission reaction. It comes to mind today when I consider how we live mostly as automatons in reaction to the day’s sights, sounds, and events – mostly devoid of an inner life.
The ball drops into the chamber with the first thought that stirs you from a night’s sleep. Perhaps it’s a worry, or a news item on the radio which woke you, or remembering an early morning meeting for which you need to rush. With that first thought, the mind’s chaos begins, and continues throughout the day until the last thought is expended, and sleep stills the mind.
If we closely examine the mind’s activity, we find it functions mostly by stimulus-response and associative thinking. For example, I see on the TV an ad for ice cream (stimulus) which reminds me (association) that I have chocolate chip cookies on the kitchen counter. As I go to the kitchen (response), I see the day’s unopened mail (stimulus) which I shuffle through (response). I see an envelope from a bank (stimulus) which reminds me (association) that I haven’t paid an important bill which must be paid ASAP. I hurry over to the computer to make an online payment (response). Read more »