Have you ever been sitting in meditation and the sound of the bell at the end of the period made you jump? It brought you back to the room from a drowsy state or a fully constructed mental fabrication and — WHAM — your reality was jolted from one state into another in an instant?
Have you ever been sitting with pain, trying to stay open to the experience, but desiring the bell’s ring and the sound of the bell is heard, but immediately drown out by the thought, “Oh my God, Thank God it’s over!” [NB: I don’t mean to intentionally bring a ‘God’ into the discussion, but that phrase is what comes to mind for me.]
Have you ever been sitting in meditation, highly concentrated on the body and the sound of the bell passed through your body as a physical sensation? Has the sound of the zendo bell ever passed through you as a wave of light?
Have you ever been abiding in meditation, free from clinging to form and quite equanimous and the sound of the bell passed right through your awareness without any ripple at all?
The original nature of the mind, what is called ‘innate wisdom’ or ‘self-arising rigpa’ (as the Tibetans refer to it), has the qualities whereby it is ’empty of essence’, ‘cognizant in nature’ and ‘unconfined in capacity’. Knowing is the nature of the mind, even though it is also characterized by emptiness. This thought is both beautiful and astounding. When sense data enters the mind what does it impact? Where does it go? What does it land upon? And how does emptiness have the capacity to know, anyway?
These are fascinating questions. They fall at the heart of inquiry itself. More fascinating still is that there is such a state of being– a case whereby all clinging is released and all mental fabrications are ceased and with nothing arising in the mind — consciousness does not find a place to land.
“What is intended (ceteti), what is acted upon (pakappeti) and what lies latent (anuseti):this is a support for the establishment of consciousness. There being a support, there is a landing of consciousness.
But when nothing is intended, acted upon or lies latent, there is no support for the establishment of consciousness. There being no support, there is no landing of consciousness. When that consciousness does not land and grow, there is no production of renewed becoming in the future. When there is no production of renewed becoming in the future, there is no future birth, aging and death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of dukka.” -Buddha
Via –The Island by Ajahn Pasanno & Ajahn Amaro
Sometimes the zazen bell runs smack into the busily working mind and causes us to jolt. Sometimes the bell comes into our story and causes us to utter praise and thanks. Sometimes the bell is perceived as sensation or light. And sometimes the bell finds nothing at all and passes right on through.