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Don’t Know Mind for vipassanā

by Malintha Perera (@Malintha)
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Don’t-Know Mind, sometimes called Beginner’s Mind, is also referred to as Before Thinking Mind in Zen teachings. Korean zen Master Seungsahn, in his book “Don’t’ Know” calls this before thinking.

Vipassanā is understanding the true nature of things. The basic instructions, given to a vipassanā practitioner by his or her master, is the labeling, noting and knowing process during meditation. In the book “In This Life Itself” by U. Dhammajiva, it is stated that this allows the meditator to remain choicelessly and silently aware of the objects. The labeling, noting and knowing process in vipassanā are tools to cut off mental proliferation and see things as they really are. Also this labeling and noting is a way to cut off the inner chatter that happens due to distortions, perceptions, mind and views. (vipallāsa sutta, AN 4.49).

For vipassanā practitioners, knowing about don’t know will help to understand this process of choiceless awareness. It is similar to what the Buddha advised to Bāhiya. In the Bāhiya sutta (Ud 1.10), Buddha said:

In what is seen, there is only the seen. In what is heard, there is only the heard. In what is sensed, there is only the sensed. In what is cognized, only the cognized.

In simple words, Bāhiya was told to cut off thinking so that he could see things clearly for what they are. Cutting off mental proliferations will help to cut off defilements and control craving (taṇhā) from rooting out into clinging (upādāna). When we examine the process of moment-to-moment dependent origination, it is after feeling (vedanā) that craving (taṇhā) takes place.

As portrayed by Mahākaccāna's formula, the latent illusion of the ego awakens at the stage of

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