What is the mind?

It is an immaterial continuum whose function is to perceive and understand objects. Because the mind is not a physical phenomenon and has no form, it cannot be obstructed by material objects.

It is important that we learn to distinguish mental states that are peaceful from those that are not. Those states that disturb our inner peace, such as hatred, jealousy and attachment, are called delusions or delusions and are the main cause of all our suffering.

The most important thing we learn from the study of the mind is that freedom from suffering does not lie outside of it. Permanent liberation can only be found by purifying the mind. Therefore, if we want to free ourselves from problems and achieve true peace and happiness, we have to improve our knowledge and understanding of the mind.

past and future lives

As already mentioned, our body and our mind are separate entities, and therefore, even though the body disintegrates after death, the mental continuum remains intact. The mind does not cease, but separates from the body and travels to the next life.

When we fall asleep, our gross inner winds gather and dissolve within us and our mind becomes more and more subtle, until the very subtle mind of the clear light of sleep manifests. When this happens, we experience deep sleep and, externally, it seems as if we are dead. Then our mind becomes coarser again and we pass through the different levels of the dream state. Finally, having regained memory and mental control, we woke up. At that moment, our dream world disappears and we perceive the world of the waking state again.

When we die, a similar process occurs. At death, the inner winds dissolve within us and our mind becomes more and more subtle, until the very subtle mind of the clear light of death manifests. The experience of the clear light of death is similar to that of deep sleep.

When the clear light of death ceases, we experience the stages of the intermediate state or bardo in Tibetan, which is like a dream state that occurs between death and rebirth. After a few days or a few weeks, the intermediate state ceases and then we are reborn. Upon awakening from a dream, the dream world disappears and we perceive the world of the waking state. Similarly, when we are reborn, the appearances of the intermediate state cease and we perceive the world of our new life.

The main difference between the process of sleeping, dreaming and waking, and that of death, the intermediate state and rebirth, is that when the clear light of sleep ceases, the connection between mind and body is maintained, while when the clear light of death ceases, the connection is broken.

Reflecting on this point will help us recognize the existence of past and future lives.

The Karma

The law of karma is a special example of the law of cause and effect which states that our physical, verbal, and mental actions are causes, and our experiences are their effects.

The word karma means 'action' and refers primarily to our physical, verbal and mental actions. The actions we carry out leave traces or impressions in our very subtle mind that, over time, produce their corresponding results.

Our mind is comparable to a sowing field, and the actions we commit, to the seeds that are planted in it. Virtuous actions are the seeds of our future happiness, and harmful actions are the seeds of our suffering.

These seeds remain hidden in our minds until they produce their effect, when the necessary conditions for their germination are met. Furthermore, from the time the original action is performed until its consequences mature, several lifetimes may pass.

As a result of our actions or karma, we are reborn in this impure and polluted world and have endless problems and difficulties. Our actions are impure because our minds are polluted by the internal poison of self-grasping. This is the main reason we experience suffering.