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Mirror-like Awareness

From Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia
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mirror-like awareness

Everyone has a basis level of mirror-like awareness. This is because everyone's sensory or mental consciousness takes in all the details of the object at which it aims. The word "mirror" in this technical term does not imply that this type of awareness is limited to the visual sphere. Mirror-like awareness also functions with our senses of hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling physical sensations, as well as with our "mental sense" of feeling emotions.

The term "mirror" also does not imply that our sensory or mental consciousness reflects information. It merely takes in information, like a video camera or a microphone. Thus, whenever we focus on a particular item in a sensory or mental field, we not only perceive that item, we also take in all its details. When we look at people's faces, for example, we also see their eyes and nose. Moreover, this mental activity does not require verbalization. We see all these features without needing to say, either aloud or silently, "eyes" or "nose."

Although we take in all the information of our sensory and mental fields, our mirror-like awareness does not currently produce the fullest results that it can. This is because the supportive mental factors accompanying it, such as attention and concern, also do not currently work at their optimal level. This, in turn, is due to little interest or weak concentration. Our attention, for example, may be divided because of self-absorbed thoughts or emotion. Further, our interest and concern may be merely curious or academic. The frequent result of these deficiencies is that we are insensitive to what we see, hear, or feel. We neither respond to it nor even remember what we have perceived.

To benefit others and ourselves more fully, we need to notice, with loving interest and caring concern, all the information that our senses and mind naturally take in with mirror-like awareness. Noticing means to understand the presence of a particular feature or detail of something. It is a mental factor – or mental activity - that may accompany seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, or physically or emotionally feeling that feature.

Seeing people and noticing the presence of various aspects is an important component of balanced sensitivity and leads to further understanding. For example, we can tell a lot about people when we notice their facial expression, the lines on their face, how they hold their body, how calm or fidgety they are, and whether or not they look at us during a conversation. We can also learn a lot about them by noticing how healthy or unhealthy they look, how fresh or tired they seem, how clean or dirty they are, how they dress, how they keep their hair, and how much makeup and jewelry they wear. Whenever we look at people, we see all these details. We need merely to pay attention and notice them.

Similarly, when we listen to people speaking, we can tell much about them not only by hearing the words that they say, but also by noticing the emotional tone in their voice and the volume, speed, and clarity of expression. The person's grammar, style, and accent also reveal information. Moreover, we can learn much about ourselves by trying to notice the complex emotions and feelings that comprise our moods.

On a pathway level, we can work with our mirror-like awareness to derive the most benefit from it. We do this through extending the scope of this awareness and through enhancing our interest and concentration. Consequently, we notice increasingly more information about whatever we see, hear, or feel. On the resultant level, a Buddha notices, with all-loving concern, every detail of information that his or her mirror-like awareness naturally takes in. We aim for this ideal.

Source

www.berzinarchives.com