Part Three: Profound Mind 深心 jinshin

The Broad Meaning

Again, the profound mind can be understood in a broad and a narrower sense. In the broad sense, profound mind means not to be taken in by surface appearance, but to look more deeply. There is here a certain worldly wisdom. Many things in life are not quite what they seem. When we read the newspapers, we gradually become aware that things are often presented with an element of ‘spin’. If the newspaper approves of a certain policy and thirty things have happens as a result of this policy, twenty-nine of which are bad, the newspaper might only report the one good one. If one is not to be hoodwinked one needs to look a little deeper.

This, therefore, is also about avoiding prejudice. We all have a tendency to see what we want to see. If we have decided that a certain group are bad, we only see and report the bad things they do. Hearing that they did something good generates a kind of cognitive dissonance that we find uncomfortable. However, if we have profound mind then we are interested in seeing the whole truth, whether it fits our theory or prejudice or not.

So profound mind means avoiding bias. Bias generally springs from identification. We take sides and this then blinds us. This self-blinding is called avidya in Buddhism.

The Narrow Meaning

If we turn to the narrower sense of the term, it is to realise that it is we ourselves who blind ourselves. The narrow sense of profound mind is the realisation of one’s bombu nature. Bombu means that we are ordinary, fallible, vulnerable and prone to error.

We can acknowledge our bombu nature in general and this is important. We can also try to penetrate into it and see how, specifically, we are bombu. This is much more difficult. It is difficult because we are blind to what it is we are blind to. It is not just that there are something that we do not see and appreciate, it is that we also fail to see that such blindness exists. In ordinary life we put on a mask

in order to present ourselves to other people in a way that will be acceptable to them, will help us avoid getting into trouble, will make people like us and will facilitate all the little interactions of daily life. In order to put on a good performance we really get into this. We convince ourselves that our presented self is how we really are. We tell other people, “I am such and such a sort of person.” Others may or may not be convinced, but we ourselves become convinced. So our biggest prejudice is the one we have about ourselves and the most stringent filter that we operate upon our communication is the one that screens out anything that might disturb or counter-indicate the things that we believe about ourselves.

In Buddhism, we say that the nature of the person is that we are ‘dependently originated’. This means that we depend upon many things. This makes us vulnerable because the things we depend upon may change without permission from us. It makes us fallible because, as things are always changing, things may not go as we plan or foresee. On the other hand, it also means that we are supported by innumerable benefits, far more than we could ever repay. Our dependently originated nature makes us fragile, but also gives cause for limitless gratitude.

Profound mind, therefore is enhanced by reflecting upon this dependency. Thus, there is the auxiliary practice called nei quan or naikan in which one reflects upon what one has received, what troubles one has caused and what one has given in return. This reflection tells us something about our bombu nature.

Thus profound mind tells us about who and what we are while sincere mind orients us to the Buddhas and refuge. Thus the two minds relate to the two parts of the nembutsu. When we say “Namo Amida Bu,” “Namo” refers to the one who calls and “Amida Bu” to the Buddhas to whom we call.

Practice depends upon humility. If one has no humility one learns nothing. Profound mind enables us to see ourselves as we are and this, if genuine, destroys the fascination that we have with our self. When we really see ourselves we become bored with ourselves and our preoccupation falls away.

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