Tiny, Slippery Spot of Mind
The four foundations of mindfulness in the Mahayana tradition
By The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche
In the path of the four mindfulnesses, there are four objects of meditation. The first is the body, the second is feeling, and the third is mind. The fourth object is called phenomena, or dharmas in Sanskrit.
We have different samsaric relationships with each of these four objects. Through clinging to these four objects and relating to them in a most neurotic way, the whole universe, the whole world of samsara, is created. But by using these four objects as the objects of our meditation, we can develop a sane relationship with them. We can transcend our usual relationship with these four objects and develop more direct and profound ways of dealing with them.
What is mindfulness? The essence of mindfulness is the prajna of seeing — the wisdom that understands and experiences the true nature of form, the true nature of feeling, the true nature of mind, and the true nature of phenomena. To practice this means to focus, place or relate your mind closely with these four situations or objects. Relating with these four objects directly with our prajna means experiencing them without any labels. This is what we call the practice of mindfulness.
The essence of these practices is experiencing these four objects without any barrier between you as the knower and the experienced object. The absence of any barrier is prajna. Prajna is also without coloring; therefore, we see the objects' basic state and relate with that. The fundamental simplicity of the object is the essence or nature of mindfulness.
When we look at it, the present state of our mind is a very tiny spot. It's a very tiny and slippery spot, so tiny and slippery that we always miss it. It's so tiny that it's an infinite spot.
The whole purpose of mindfulness of mind is to bring us back to this tiny spot of the present, the momentary nature of our mind, and to experience the infinite space and freedom within that speck of existence. In order to do that, we must experience the lively nature of our mind, which is so present, so momentary and so fresh. Every individual moment, every individual fragment of that mind, is completely pure and fresh in its own state.
The whole point is to experience this freshness and genuineness — the honest face of that tiny spot — without coloring it with our memories, concepts, philosophies or expectations. Experiencing it without all these is what we call simply being there. That can't happen if we don't let go of our memories of our understanding, our memories of our expectations. We have to see the nature of our thoughts directly and genuinely be there, rather than living in our memories of understanding, our memories of meditation, or our memories of our expectations of our meditation. If we are living in the memory of thoughts, then we are still not being there. We are still not experiencing that fundamental, tiny, infinite spot.
From "Tiny, Slippery Spot of Mind" by The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche. Buddhadharma: The Practitioner's Quarterly, Spring 2005.