The last week I have spent in Upper Hamlet, Plum Village. There is a tangible collective energy here. There is a peace, joy and harmony. Life manifest beautifully in this environment, nature as well as between people. This is a manifestation of collective consciousness. In the beginning of the week, on the way here the brothers drove me to the airport in LA. We stopped for lunch at a fast food restaurant, there was rushing, excitement and agitation. The places we spend time in and the people who surrounds us becomes part of us. The individual and collective elements are always in communication with each other. Yesterday I talked Swedish to a group of people in person which is not an everyday experience for me anymore. I could feel so connected with them, thanks to language and a deep indescribable feeling of shared experience (collective consciousness).
In Buddhist Psychology we talk about different aspects of consciousness. One is Store Consciousness, the soil of our mind, in which all seeds/tendencies/experiences/qualities are planted. In every moment seeds are being watered and planted. They come from our society, our ancestors, our time in the womb and our daily experiences, nothing is lost. Something cannot become nothing. Everything is in a process of change and we can transform seeds and qualities in our mind with the help of a second aspect. This aspect is Mind Consciousness, the gardener of our soil and seeds. When we become mindful and concentrated we are aware what feelings and states of mind is manifesting in our life. If these are life giving, contributes to happiness, love and understanding we nurture them. By nurturing them with our awareness we can help them stay longer. When these seeds/qualities stays with us longer they become stronger deep in our store consciousness and can more easily be touched in the future. In our daily life me might feel bored or neutral. This is a time to come in contact with some conditions of happiness. Even to recognize that in this moment we are not overcome with anger or greed is a source of happiness and peace. We can also bring our attention to our bodies – what a miracle it is that we can read these lines! This is gardening our mind soil. We learn to touch the life giving seeds and qualities and invite them to stay active longer. This is a concrete way to transform our individual consciousness. Another way to cultivate our mind is through recognizing and accepting when sadness, fear and frustration is manifesting. These seeds are also part of us, but we recognize that they take us away from life, from being in the flow or reality, so we aspire to learn how to calm them down. This is not to suppress or to ignore them, but to hold them in our awareness and not to feed them through our way of thinking or acting. In this way they have a chance to settle back down into the soil. When we are able to hold them like this in kind awareness, their strength lessen. If we struggle or fight them we actually feed them. Non-violence is the way. When we start to see the conditions that bring up the feelings and mental states, which isolate us and takes us away from the present moment, we can also start to look into which conditions have brought them about. Many times we push our selves too hard, our bodies and mind are tired and tense, which makes it difficult to be fully alive. With mindful breathing and deep relaxation we can help release the tension in our body and the strain in our mind. When we are calm and at ease, we can look deeply into our fear and sadness, hold it in our kind awareness and see what conditions have brought them about. We can touch that those past experiences in us are not currently taking place and we can let go of the bonds that the painful experiences of the past has on us. By cultivating our minds garden in these four concrete ways (Four Right Efforts) we can transform our consciousness. Our consciousness is a source of nourishment in this moment and concretely we can know the level of our happiness and freedom by the quality of the seeds in our consciousness.
We will continue to look into consciousness as nourishment in coming blogs, especially collective consciousness.
Enjoy your gardening and the wonders of being alive. This will empower us to be open to the real situation of our world and find ways to contribute to respect and revere of all life. Walking through the fields of flowering plum trees, breathing in their fragrance and gentleness, taking steps firmly on the ground, the wonders of life were clearly revealed. I felt safe, well and connected. A great foundation to continue to serve.