A quote from Master Tang Hoi, the first Dhyana (Zen) master in Vietnam who compared the mind to an ocean. “Everything we see, hear, smell, taste, touch, feel or think flows into the ocean of our mind like thousands of rivers”. Our mind is like a vast ocean. We receive streams of consciousness continuously throughout our waking hours through our senses, thoughts and interactions. In this week’s blog I thought I would expand upon this truth.

Our minds are indeed like a vast ocean of consciousness, deep and far-reaching. The abyss of our consciousness holds many secrets which some choose to journey over their life time. Some of the crevices of our mind are so deep and dark we choose not to look into them. We fear these black places because they seem unfamiliar and foreign to us. Yet, they are interwoven into our being whether we acknowledge them or not. Diving into ourselves we gain greater clarity and understanding of who we truly are. There is a fluidity to our mind-consciousness. An ebb and flow; the tides come in and go out just like our breath. The ocean touches the shore of solidity (belief systems) and then recedes ever so slowly changing the landscape. There is no need to do anything as the ocean. With time, all things change and yet the ocean remains ever-present to observe the coming and going. In the same way, our conscious is the witness to the coming and going of thoughts, feelings and experiences.

Water from our oceans evaporate into clouds which later fall as rain over the mountains. From this rain, rivers of consciousness flow back into the vast oceans of awareness. This continuous cycle of rain, rivers, oceans and evaporation are not unlike our mind. Out of our consciousness, thoughts surface like the evaporating oceans only to be reabsorbed into one’s vast consciousness. We often reprocess our thoughts cycling them through our consciousness. Throughout our life we revisit and re-journey our issues and thoughts. An analogy which is often used is peeling back the layers of an onion. There are many layers we go through in order to get to the core of our issues. As the ocean mind, do we remain the witness to this process or do become fixated upon the evaporation and reabsorption of thoughts?

Oceans can be very stormy. There are times when the seas are rough and dangerous. Hurricanes and typhoons form out of the oceans as warm and cold fronts collide. Many have been lost at sea. So too have many been lost in the obsession of their mind. Yet below the surface, the ocean remains calm. When we focus upon the storms in life we lose sight of our vast consciousness below the surface. Rather, we need to remain the witness to the storms that come and go, while seeing the expansiveness of our awareness. There are also times when the oceans are calm, tranquil and still. In our day-to-day experience, we have periods of tranquility and upheaval. Remaining the witness to whatever is unfolding allows us to remain detached and in observation of what is. We are able to be mindful of life moment-to-moment.

The world’s oceans have become polluted with the casual discarding of our garbage, waste and toxins. Similarly, our minds have become polluted with the indulgence of our unconscious thinking and actions. We need to clean our consciousness just as we would remove garbage from the world’s oceans. Carefully choosing our thoughts. Being mindful of what we ingest through the things we read or watch. Taking in nutrients that support our bodies rather than digesting junk are ways in which we can begin to support ourselves in living consciously. Cleaning up the world begins with ourselves.

During your week, notice what you are devoting your time and energy upon. Are you focused more upon the storms in life or are you able to remain the calm, vast ocean of consciousness? What thoughts are you continually reprocessing as if rain was falling from the sky? Can you experience yourself moment-to-moment as the vast open ocean expanse of consciousness? Play with your reality this week. Challenge yourself to see things in a different way. Stop yourself when you are repeating old habits even just for a few minutes and you will find your world has changed.

May you see yourself as the divine consciousness that you are.