This article presents the whole content of the public talk Cico gave on September 27 2021.
If the mind is quite busy, it might be good to stay silent for a while to empty the mind first. (Silent audio guides)
No matter where you are, which country you are in, which culture you're in, which society you're in, this moment, let's meet in this time and space, to inquire into the mind, into the self together.
To understand the deep meaning of life. This understanding is not on the consciousness level, which can easily become a concept, an idea, philosophy.
True understanding is living. Living in truth is understanding the truth, or else the mere verbal discussion, the intellectual discussion is meaningless. It is only an idea the mind can derive pleasure from, but the truth is not an idea. Truth is something beyond the language.
One has to perceive, perceive in action, in the very living, the mind understands what is an authentic living, so this inquiry together means all of us to give full attention to this moment to what is being said without being caught up in words.
Words are not the truth. And the truth can only be perceived when there's full attention, total attention to this moment, and the very way of giving full attention is meditating.
In our life, we rarely give attention. The mind is so easily attracted by all kinds of things, details, ideas, images, The very attraction which is also a distraction implies that the mind loses its full attention.
Without full attention, the mind is trapped in all kinds of fragments, ideas, thoughts, theories, no longer able to see the total picture, the totality of life. So we inquire together means that we gather the energy together. The energy is no longer wasted in all kinds of fragments, thoughts, ideas, all kinds of ego things. Then this energy can be used to give full attention.
To really give full attention to this moment is to notice any thoughts, any symbols, words, be choicelessly aware of the reaction to them -- to the image, to the thought, to the symbol so the mind is not trapped. This is giving full attention.
Most people rarely pay attention to this moment. The mind is carried away by all kinds of things and details. The mind is all over the place. This mind is occupied by all kinds of details, small things, unnecessary things, so the mind is always functioning in fragments.
The mind is trapped in a small corner of such a vast space. Being trapped, the mind cannot feel the vastness. Instead, the mind feels trapped and confined and craves expansion. So they're all kinds of self-expansion and self-expression, wanting to know more, being curious about the more.
The mind is always in such an inquisitive state to expand the limit of the known, but no matter how expansive it is, the field of known and knowledge is always very small, compared to the vast space of the mind.
Without giving attention to our life, the total living of life, the mind clings to the known, craving to be certain, wanting to be confirmed, with the incessant fear, anxiety, uncertainty and worry. The mind is more and more trapped in the fragments.
In that trapping, it is becoming more and more difficult to give attention to our living, which is now at this moment.
The mind is trapped in the known. Any small disturbance creates fear, which makes the mind cling to the known more. To give full attention to our life is to learn and observe this loop the mind is trapped in -- not the details of the things, but the loop, the total movement of thoughts that leads the mind into such a small corner, fragment.
This awareness of the total movement of thoughts without being carried away by the content of thoughts is to give full attention. If the mind is so interested in the content of the thoughts, the mind cannot really give attention. Because this curiosity or wanting to know -- this kind of inquisitiveness about the content of thoughts brings about concentration.
When the mind is in concentration, the mind actually is excluding other things. So the very concentration implies that the mind is trapped in a fragment. Giving full attention means that the mind must observe this concentration is a disorder of the mind.
The concentration creates all kinds of fragments. And all the fragments are disconnected from each other. So there's a division, therefore conflict between the fragments, which is the source of all kinds of mental sufferings, challenges of human beings, from the individual ones, personal ones, to the societal ones.
The mind is very easy to get into concentration mode because the content of the thoughts brings about pleasure. Pleasure is a drug, isn't it? Eating sugar also brings pleasure in thoughts; thoughts drive the mind to eat more sugar.
Similarly to concentration, or actually the same with concentration. The pleasure of the thoughts drives the mind into thoughts deeper and deeper, more and more. So that's why without carefully examining the mind which is giving full attention, the mind is inevitably trapped in all kinds of fragments due to this very easy concentration.
When the mind is in concentration, the mind is naturally excluding others, which is aggression and a form of violence -- very fundamental violence of all kinds of violence on this planet, which are all due to this fundamental one because concentration means that the mind is trapped in one fragment and any other distraction will inevitably create conflict. And the mind is repelled by the conflict, which is exclusion.
Looking around this planet, most people are living in concentration. That's why their life is full of all kinds of exclusion and conflict, building more and more walls around them, creating such an individual world. All of this shows that human beings are lacking attention. They don't give attention to life, so life becomes so miserable, creating all kinds of ego things, all kinds of nonsense, politically, commercially.
When the mind is in concentration, the mind is isolated by itself. Look around this world, almost everybody is living in their own world. Things are becoming more and more superficial. Everyone is disconnected. They are not aware of the deep connection at all, because there's no attention to life.
Everyone is seeking their own pleasure, to escape from the fear for a moment, no matter how short the moment is. This seeking pleasure is crazy, isn't it? Without attention, life is full of seeking. That kind of life has to be driven by thoughts and ideas, by an image, or else (that kind of) life cannot continue.
People are living for a reward. No matter what they do, they always ask for a reward. Without a reward, they do nothing. Because (that kind of) action must be driven by a reward, that's most people's lifestyle -- seeking a reward, seeking a return.
To inquire into the self, into the mind, into the nature of living, one has to see the danger of seeking. Seeking implies a direction. Where there is direction, there's only concentration.
And only when the mind has no direction, the mind is able to give attention fully, and only a mind without direction can observe all directions, all the movement of thoughts, just like when one is reading a map.
If one has a place to go to, one won't see the whole map. Unless one has no place to go to, no directions, one can see the whole map. It is similar to self-inquiry if the mind is seeking, the mind cannot observe because the reward, the pleasure itself already dominates the mind. All kinds of ambition and motivation are all in that direction. The mind is concentrating on something, to achieve something, to get something, when the mind is lost until the mind really drops any direction. So (then) the mind can really observe freely.
If the mind is seeking a reward, pleasure, the mind is enslaved to the reward or pleasure, therefore the mind can't really observe freely. Without this freedom, we can't really inquire into the self. And without inquiring into self, the mind cannot be free, (the mind is) always enslaved to all kinds of reward and pleasure.
So what is meditation? Meditation is not some technique we use to deceive ourselves by calming down for a moment. Look around, there are all kinds of meditation techniques, secular mindfulness or whatever. They are dealing with the symptoms, but the root is very deep, very, very deep.
To meditate is not to learn some technique, but to really give attention, really live a life with full attention so the mind is always alert, with full awareness. That's meditation in the authentic sense. Just like here, we are inquiring together with full attention. We all go beyond words. We are observing ourselves. The mind is humble. The mind is open. The mind has no direction. And only such a mind can really listen and really see.
A mind which is in full attention has no seeking -- never seeks anything which is called pleasure or reward.
A life in full attention is also a life in action by sheerly acting to break up the continuation of thoughts, such a life is a reward itself.
Living a life with full attention is a reward by itself. And to understand this, one has to live it. Living is understanding, understanding is living, and such attention brings about clarity.
But look around this world again, we have to see the practical challenge to live a life with full attention. This world is designed in a way to attract your attention to drag you into all kinds of concentration. Everybody around you is trying their best to get you into their loop.
Living with full attention also means solitude. The mind is alone, so the mind is free from all kinds of influences. And only a mind that is able to shield all kinds of influences can stand alone. And only a mind that stands alone can really live with full attention.
In that full attention, the mind is super clear. The mind perceives and acts --- perceiving is acting. Behind this full attention lies the deep meaning of meditation -- thoroughly understand ourselves. In this whole process, the mind becomes alone.
No matter how many people are around you physically, the mind is alone, the mind is independent. And only such a mind is capable of loving, giving care, living with care. Living with full attention is living with care. Such a life is marvellous. And such a living is a reward by itself.