Words from an American Lama
Tibetan Buddhism & Consciousness
Buddhism is one of the great world religions. Buddhism is non-theistic. It is not about God. It is about the Tibetan word which points at the ground of all being. We translate that Tibetan word into English as “mind,” but the Tibetan word does not mean what that English word mind means – not even close.
Our English word “mind” frequently means something as small as an epi-phenomenon of brain – not even close. Not even in the ball park.
We often use the word consciousness in place of the Tibetan word for what Buddhism is about. “Consciousness” comes closer, but the real issue is fundamental to the summit Buddhists wish to attain – words don’t go there.
The “ground of all being” can be looked at directly – but words, with their extraordinary limitedness, can not be used to label it; especially in the West where we have no experiential cultural habits. We value the intellectual. We value the material. We imagine ourselves to be separate. We believe our shadow belongs to what it’s projected on: everything is out there. This whole package is a long, long, non linear way from looking directly at the ground of all being.
But still, we can use the word consciousness to talk about what Tibetan Buddhism… all Buddhism… is about.