A glass of water.
What are the qualities of a glass of pure water?
Transparent, clear, refreshing, healthy, reflective surface.
The pure water represents the nature of our own mind, with its qualities of being pure, transparent, calm and clear. A state of natural peace and health. A pristine state of self-reflexive awareness. The Buddha referred to this as the tathagatagarbha, or innate potential or true nature. The pure water represents our natural condition.
What happens if we put a handful of dirt in the water? Now what qualities do we notice? The glass is mucky, cloudy, obscured, disgusting, impure.
The dirt represents all of our thoughts, emotions, beliefs, habitual patterns and conditioning. We really identify with the dirt. Do we even notice the originally pure water?
How many of us are busy and have to stay on top of many responsibilities? Me too. Start stirring the glass.
Normally we spend most of our days stirring that glass up, cycling through various mental states and emotional responses. Our habits and actions keep churning up that dirt in the glass, the dirt swirling and obscuring the qualities of the water.
But what happens if we let the water rest. Just set it down and let it rest. At first it continues to swirl for a little bit, right? As we let it sit for five or ten minutes, naturally the dirt starts to settle. The natural qualities of the water reveal themselves without any effort.
The dirt doesn't go away. Actually the handful of dirt occupies very little of the glass once it settles out. In the beginning, the dirt occupies almost all of our identity, but once we learn to recognize our natural condition then we become less preoccupied with our own thoughts and feelings. They no longer overwhelm us, since we know how to work with them.
What this metaphor reveals to us is that we simply need to learn how to bring the mind to rest. As we learn to rest naturally, thoughts, sights and sounds settle into their own place.
Rest naturally and emotions and fears disappear revealing insight and clarity.
Rest naturally and our habits and karmic conditioning lose their impetus.
Rest naturally and the qualities of the nature of mind reveal themselves.
Rest naturally and our intrinsic buddhanature becomes evident.
Rest naturally, and there is nothing more to do.
A glass of water.