OK, if you’ve ever studied it, you know that the words “Buddhist psychology” and “easy” don’t really go together in the same sentence. At least that’s what I used to think.
Last week, I happened upon an advertisement for Thich Nhat Hanh’s new book, “Buddha Mind, Buddha Body: Walking Toward Enlightenment.” Something about the description appealed to me, so I bought the book in anticipation of taking it with me to Toronto. Before I could start the book on the plane, I read the cover story from this quarter’s edition of Buddhadharma titled, “Are You Ready for Death?” (Definitely not light reading for an airplane ride!)
But for the first time, after reading Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche’s article about death, the Buddhist concept of emptiness or non-existence actually made sense. And when I started reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s book, which explores the difficult concepts of Buddhist psychology, that made sense, too. I recommend both the article and the book for those seeking a (mostly) plain-language explanation of these two topics.
Nhat Hanh mentioned something in the “Finding Your Mind” chapter of his book that, in my estimation, explains why these things are finally making sense (note that I’m not saying I understand them, but for the first time, I do feel as if I can understand them).
If you listen to a talk or read a book about the Dharma, it’s not for the purpose of getting notions and ideas. In fact it’s for releasing notions and ideas. You don’t replace your old notions and ideas with new ones. The talk or the writings should be like the rain that can touch the seed of wisdom and freedom within you.
On a subconscious level, I read these things this weekend for the express purpose of releasing notions and ideas, only I didn’t realize it at the time. And once I opened myself to that kind of experience, the material I read came into clear focus for the first time.