Because of the Buddha-mind’s wonderful illuminative wisdom, such things as you have done and experienced in the past cannot fail to be reflected in it. If you fix onto those images as they reflect, you are unwittingly creating illusion. The thoughts do not already exist at the place where those images are reflecting; they are caused by your past experiences and occur when things you have seen and heard in the past are reflected on the Buddha-mind. But thoughts originally have no real substance. So if they are reflected, you should just let them be reflected, and let them arise when they arise. Don’t have any thought to stop them. If they stop, let them stop. Don’t pay any attention to them. leave them alone. Then illusions won’t appear. And since there are no illusions when you don’t take note of the reflecting images, while the images may be reflected in the mind, it’s just the same as if they weren’t.A thousand thoughts may arise, yet it’s just as though they hadn’t. They won’t give you a bit of trouble. You won’t have any thoughts to clear from your mind – not a single thought to cut off.
Clearing thoughts from the mind as they arise is like washing away blood in blood. You may succeed in washing away the original blood, but you are still polluted by the blood you washed in. No matter how long you keep washing, the blood stains never disappear. Since you don’t know that your mind is originally unborn and undying and free of illusion, you think that your thoughts really exist, so you transmigrate in the wheel of existence. You have to realize that your thoughts are ephemeral and unreal, and without either clutching at them or rejecting them, just let them come and go. They are like images reflected in a mirror. A mirror is clear and bright and reflects whatever is placed before it. But the image doesn’t remain in the mirror. The Buddha-mind is ten thousand times brighter than any mirror and is marvellously illuminative besides. All thoughts vanish tracelessly into its light.
– Zen Master Bankei
- You are the mirror. If you identify yourself as the mirror, then the thoughts will come and go from your mirror as reflections and you can ignore them. You will be in your true state and you will be full of peace and joy and bliss.
- You are the sky. Thoughts are just like birds crossing the sky. You identify yourself with the sky, the birds can come and go and you can ignore them.
- You are the water. Thoughts are just like the mud in the water. Just like muddy water left to itself will clear away in time as the mud settles down. But if we try to grasp the mud, the water becomes more muddy.
I find these teachings from Bankei very useful and these analogies will hopefully give you a sense of what is really true.