Phenomena Are Mind

This is a very short meditation instruction I once wrote while considering the subtleties of Tibetan Buddhist and Vedantic epistemology. In the contemplation of it, there arose a direct, intuitive experience of traditional yogic teachings on the nature of both consciousness and sense experience as well as the insubstantial nature of relative, material phenomena. This was written in a frame of mind not wishing to become trapped in exclusive straight jackets of either subjective or objective frames of reference, but hoping to allow the two to flow together as a seamless and natural whole.

One day I simply decided that I would write this short description of my own experience in meditation, and as I wrote, it turned into this precise meditation instruction. The instruction itself is distilled and to the point, but if you find any of the terminology confusing, know that it is worded this way for important reasons, which you will discover for yourself as you make progress in your own meditation practice. To help you, there are hyper-links embedded throughout this article that lead to succinct essays in traditional Vedanta, Tibetan Buddhist Mahamudra, and even a bit of Western philosophy, that will help you to have better understanding of the meditation over time. But you don’t need to have perfect understanding to begin the meditation practice. In the beginning, it’s best to simply relax the mind’s desire to take everything in a literal way, and surrender to the experience that most closely matches what you think this meditation is about. Over time, a combination of meditational experience and study/contemplation of the concepts the hyper-links refer to, will deepen your understanding.

For those who are interested, this is a Tantric meditation that begins with the objects of the senses, but culminates in direct, non-dual experience. It is appropriate for a beginner, and also for the advanced practitioner. Hidden in plain sight within the phrase “Phenomena Are Mind” is the simple yet profound key to this meditation.

Therefore, in addition to the method of meditation described here, commit to quiet periods of contemplation, during which you reflect on the meaning of the phrase “Phenomena Are Mind.” This phrase is one of the essential “mind training slogans” that begin the traditional practice of Tibetan Lojong meditation.

Once you come to understand this idea – Phenomena Are Mind – you will understand everything. Your meditation will no longer be confined to the meditation cushion, but will become the lens through which all your life experiences are distilled and understood.

One important piece of advice is that while the intellect is very important in helping you to begin to strive for understanding, it can only take you so far. There is a precipice beyond which the usual modes of thought cannot go. Beyond this barrier, the perceiver and the objects perceived through the senses, are no longer two separate things. In the meditation instruction, this is referred to as a mode of Being-Knowledge, the meaning of which will also become clearer to you as you make progress in the method.

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Strange or confusing as the following meditation instruction may initially seem to those not of a mystical or philosophical disposition, it is appropriate for cultivation of deep spiritual awareness, not only in formal sitting meditation practice, but also in the midst of everyday life and activity.

If you come to understand it fully, it’s the only one you’ll ever need.

Work with it over time, without attachment to particular experiences or expectation of higher states of consciousness. Simply be present and pay attention to what is; awareness will spontaneously unfold.


The method

“Transform the senses, their activities, and their objects into the Knowledge of direct, unmediated cognition of Reality. Pay attention: “How is this phenomenal display – both inside and out – the One, Supreme Self?” Don’t merely conceptualize this… enter into it. Know yourself as That. Continually enter this process of ontological discrimination – as a mode of Being-Knowledge – via the avenues of the senses. Course through these channels naturally and attentively, then obliterate their separative existence through the truth of Being-Knowledge. Pervading both inside and outside, constantly cross this boundary, until you realize it doesn’t exist. Reality alone remains…”

Phenomena are Mind.


Again, if you are puzzling over the meaning of the statement “Phenomena Are Mind” there is no need to wait for perfect understanding in order to undertake the meditation, but further explanation and clarification will be given in essays soon to be published here.

However, if you wish to read precise, traditional instructions from an acclaimed meditation master of the ancient Nyingma lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, the following may be of great interest to you:

Self-Liberation Through Seeing with Naked Awareness

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Know What You’re Supporting

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