The Night of Awakening

       In the lovely grove of the forest where the River Neranjara flowed clear, Siddhartha practised meditation. Meditating at night, he came face to face with the terrifying noises of the forest. There was the coming and going of nocturnal creatures, the rustling of fallen leaves and the chilling cries of the wind, of owls and of night prowlers. Maintaining his inner calm, Siddhartha dispelled any fear that arose in him. If fear came to him when he was walking, he would continue walking unaffected. If fear came to him when he was sitting, he would maintain his sitting undisturbed. If fear appeared in his thoughts, he would look at them gently and let them go on their way.

      On the full moon of the fourth lunar month, the sun was about to set, Siddhartha sat under the great pippala tree. He vowed, “I will find an end to the misery and suffering of all living beings; until I do, I shall not rise from this seat.” His body was calm. He turned his attention inward and concentrated. Gradually, his mind was freed of all attachments. Thoughts of attractions and aversions no longer held him. He rested in a state of perfect calm and equanimity.

      Siddhartha’s mind was so clear. He saw that before his present life born as a prince, he had many past lives. He recollected each birth, living, and death passing by in an endless cycle. The entire process of his reincarnations was revealed in his mind. He understood how in this way his mind had experienced innumerous lives.

      Siddhartha looked deeper and deeper. His mind grew brighter and clearer. He realized the true nature of mind. He realized that everything is from mind. In that moment, meditator and meditation became one. There was no longer a separation between the watcher and the watched. All dualistic experiences and concepts dissolved.

      Siddhartha was at one with mind. He came face to face with mind. He saw how mind is naturally joyful. There is no tension. There is no struggle. There is no hope, or fear. There is no wanting. There is no grasping. The joy of mind is naturally there. It does not depend on exterior conditions. It does not change when things change. This wondrous joy is the nature of mind. And every single living being has mind. With this joy there is no suffering. When the sun is shining, there is no darkness.

      Siddhartha saw how the mind is so clear that it reveals everything like a perfectly clear mirror. Yet nothing can stain or take away its clarity. And so mind is timelessly pure and unchanging. Thoughts and appearances come and go in our minds like images in a mirror but they can never become the mirror, nor could they change it in any way. But mind is aware. Mind is aware of itself. It is aware of everything.

      Siddhartha also saw that this clear and joyful mind is at the same time empty of existence. We cannot say that mind exists and yet we cannot say that it does not exist. We cannot point to it and say this is mind. Words, definitions, or labels cannot describe it. Mind is empty of form. It is colourless, odourless, and shapeless. It is timeless and without dimensions. Mind is empty of a single, definable identity. This is what Siddhartha saw as the emptiness of mind.

      But it is because mind is essentially empty of anything that anything and everything can take place in the mind. If today were something real, unchanging, and solid, then tomorrow would never come because today would block its coming.

      Siddhartha saw how for a long time now, his mind had been confused into thinking that the appearances in its own clarity were real. This was much like taking the reflections in a mirror to be the real thing. As a result, mind grasps at appearances and becomes attached to them. It is this mistaken attachment that is the root of suffering. The “self” is all important and satisfying the desires and needs of this self becomes a goal in life. The original mind is covered up as if it had gone to sleep. The self helplessly goes through countless rebirths. But because the self, the world, and its inhabitants are all impermanent and ever changing, lasting happiness cannot be found.

      Siddhartha realized that by clearing the confusion in the mind, people would wake up by themselves from the illusion. The rebirths of the self with all their sufferings will be broken forever. Siddhartha had found the answer to end suffering. He thought to himself, “This is my last life. I have uncovered the original nature of mind. How wondrous!”

      The sun was just about to rise. It was morning.

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