The Original Mind and the Ordinary Rational Mind

During 1st to 4th September, 2022, a workshop was held at the Songtsen library, Dehradun on the Original Mind and the Ordinary Rational Mind. The workshop attended by some 40 participants and organized by SIDH was chaired by the Venerable Samdhong Rinpoche. The following are the main points made by Rinpocheji in his opening address.

– The parampara of dharm and darshan appears to have started in Bharat 9000-10000 years ago. In our post-modern civilization today people have practically stopped paying attention to these darshans.
– 100 years ago Gandhiji made his views about modern ‘civilization’ very clear in ‘Hind Swaraj’. People say that it is a very simple book but if we read it a 100 times, we will get some new insight every time.
– Modern civilization has spread all across the world and because it is based on competition and not cooperation its results are also destructive.
– The world is increasingly becoming toxic for all creatures. 50 years ago the scientists agreed that there was a problem but claimed that science would soon discover solutions. Since the last 10-15 years they are saying that they have no solutions.

– This is the context in which we have to examine the difference between the Original Mind (maulik manas) and the Ordinary Rational Mind (saadharan taarkik manas). All the ills of the world have probably been brought about because of the Ordinary Rational Mind and the progressive weakening of the Original Mind.

– The basic teaching of the Buddha says: as the mind is, so will the consequences be. In ancient Indian languages mind has been variously called Buddhi, Chitta, Mati, Man, Manas, Vigyan, Gyan etc.
– Two broad divisions pratyaksh (perceiving mind that connects directly with its object) and parikalpit (conceiving mind that connects with the image of its object) are used for mind.

– A modern, educated, conditioned mind thinks that it knows things through a logical process but is actually only blindly believing what it is being told by authority figures (such and such famous scientist has said it so it must be true). This belief stops all further examination of what is being told. This is what we are calling the Ordinary Rational Mind. Another way of saying this is that the Ordinary Rational Mind is not aware of the numerous external interference that stop it from knowing things properly. A trait of this kind of mind is that it looks for quick answers to questions and is ready to believe the answers without examination.

– The Original Mind is one that is either:
a. Not affected by the numerous external interference (which is nearly impossible).
b. Is one that is aware of the interference and the effect that these interference has on it.
– J Krishnamurti used to ask people to stay with the question. This, not looking for quick answers, is a trait of the Original Mind.

– The science of the mind is a vast topic in the Parampara and it is difficult to speak about it in a few days. In the Tibetan Buddhist literature there are 108 huge books in original Tibetan and 220 huge books of translations of Indian texts, i.e. some 328 huge books with some 5800 sutras. For three years a group of scholars has been going through them and trying to extract the knowledge related to the science of mind.

The full video is linked below:

Why is Dharampal Ignored?

Question from Pawanji:
It seems like the Indian academic world has not opposed Dharampal but has ignored him. What do you think?

Rinpocheji’s answer:
In this regard, it appears like people have treated Gandhiji and Dharampalji the same way. To be in opposition you need logical arguments. The academic world doesn’t have any. Whatever opposition can arise will be superficial. On a rational ground neither Gandhiji nor Dharampalji can be opposed. They (people who ignore Gandhiji and Dharampalji) only say – but how do we stop development? Development is such a big thing, whether good or bad, and it needs to be allowed in. With such hollow talk they put their ideas forward and ensure their livelihood inside the developmental paradigm. Not having the capacity or the logic to oppose Gandhiji and Dharampalji, they ignore them.

And they do not agree to what Gandhiji and Dharampalji are saying because that is uncomfortable and not acceptable. Nehruji must have surely understood the ideas of Gandhiji. In the beginning he did some minor opposition to Gandhiji but quickly realized that he could not oppose Gandhiji logically. The solution Nehru found was to continue to do the things he wanted to do after putting Gandhiji on a pedestal and making him a Mahatma. It is true that if Nehru had opposed Gandhiji a process of dispute and dialogue would have started and Gandhiji’s ideas would have reached a wider audience.

Gandhiji, Vinobhaji, Dharampalji – people have not opposed them, in fact they have only praised them. They were made Mahapurush. But their ideas were not accepted and were wholly ignored. But how long can they be ignored? A time will surely come, a limit will be reached, beyond which we will not be able to live in the current paradigm. Then, possibly, the ideas of Gandhiji and Dharampalji will be paid attention to. Right now people are all intoxicated, like someone asleep after taking opium, or in an alcoholic stupor. People are dazed, unconscious, in the intoxication of modern civilisation. What opposition can one do then? They will not accept the ideas but will also not be able to oppose them.

Samdhong Rinpoche on Paramparagat Shiksha

The main points made in the 3-part video are as follows:

Part 1: Adhunik Vs Paramparagat

Modern education makes us slaves in all respects. It snatches away our swaraj. In particular, today’s education makes us a slave to greed. It makes us lead our lives in the pursuit of the pleasure and convenience of our physical bodies. Even on our deathbed, we die enslaved.

The paramparagat shiksha used to make man swatantra (‘swa ke tantra ke saath chalne waala’ and not ‘independent’ as it is translated today in English). It taught man to minimize his needs. It taught how within limited means one could live a large, rich life.

Part 2: Five Mahavidyas

When the Buddhist parampara started in 600 BCE the categorization of the vidyas (sometimes counted as 64 etc.) was reworked into the five mahavidyas.

  1. Shabd-vidya – This encompasses language and literature.
  2. Nyaya-Vidya – Relates to logic.
  3. Chikitsa-vidya – All medical sciences.
  4. Shilp-vidya – Art, architecture etc.
  5. Adhyatma-vidya – Relating to Dharma and Darshan

Part 3: Details of Paramparagat Shiksha

Going by the 5 mahavidyas, paramparagat shiksha starts with language, the medium to learn all the other mahavidyas. The second step is nyaya – proofs, logic etc. This is to ensure that a student does not get caught in blind assumptions but rather uses rationality/ logic to move towards knowledge. Bhasha and nyaya are considered to be the foundation stones of shiksha. Once this is in place, the student is given some basic grounding in chikitsa, kala, adyatma etc to broaden his perspective. That is the end of the basic education. The student, according to his interests, may then specialize in one of the mahavidyas and go into the depths of a particular subject.

There was no clear demarcation between primary and specialized shiksha. You could spend 10 years doing primary shiksha or you could finish it in one year. When you developed the competency to start on a specialization you would be out of the primary shiksha phase. Moving up one class every year or making one age-group sit together was not a practice that existed in the paramparagat shiksha.

Education in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition

In the first post in a series on current and past masters who speak from within the Indian tradition, I thought of starting with Samdhong Rinpocheji. The small reason is that I was listening to a YouTube lecture by him today and the more substantial reason is that Pawanji (who I consider one of my Gurus) considers him one of his Gurus. I thought that the format for these posts could be:

  1. A link to a video or text by the master.
  2. A summary or interesting extract from the video or text to start a conversation.
  3. A few words about the master.
  4. Links for further viewing or reading.

So here goes…

A (longish) summary of the main ideas in the talk is given below:

  • Objective of shiksha is to dispel ignorance and awaken wisdom
  • Learning, teaching, arguments, debates, reading etc are all tools towards above
  • The guru word is not used and Kalyanmitra is used in the Buddhist tradition. It assumes a peer relationship and approachability

Three types of purush:
adam, madhyam and uttam purush – need different levels of shiksha

Kalyanmitra’s requirements/ tasks:

  1. Dispel fear from the student. Remove ‘i cannot do this’ from the student.
  2. Imparting teaching.
  3. Remove difficulties of student.

Students qualifications/ requirements:

  1. Non-biased mind
  2. Intelligence
  3. Willingness to learn, Inquisitiveness

Kalyanmitra-vidyarthi relationship is very important and very sacred. Based on a common agreement/ determination to work towards the awakening of wisdom in the student.

Kalyanmitra wisdom cannot be transferred directly to the student. No shaktipath possible. The metaphor used is a lit candle lighting an unlit one (no transfer of material from lit). So the awakened Kalyanmitra through dialogue, teaching etc. inspires manifestation of awakening in student.

Shiksha process. Threefold:

  1. Sheel
  2. Samadhi
  3. Pragya
    The above required to various degrees from learning the simplest tasks to achieving Buddhahood. At lowest level we need discipline, concentration and knowledge to even learn to write the letter ‘ka’.

How to do the process. Three ways:

  1. Shrutpragya – hearing and reading (knowledge)
  2. Chintan-pragya – thinking, analysis, examination (verification)
  3. Bhavanamayi pragya – 2 types contemplative/ concentration (experience)

Four skillful methods adopted by the Kalyanmitra:

  1. Take care of all needs of student (food, cloth, book, teaching etc.).
  2. Skillful conversation.
  3. Observe his or her own behavior. Live the teaching. Be an example.
  4. Wisdom to understand likes/ dislikes of student and to tailor the teaching accordingly.

About Rinpocheji (written by Pawanji):

Professor Samdhong Rinpoche, who makes a sharp distinction between shiksha and education, is a very senior buddhist monk, extremely erudite, a scholar, but more than that a person with deep wisdom, insights and endowed with an original mind. He has a very deep understanding of tradition and modernity and is able to live in the modern world with all its contradictions and strife without letting it affect him. He single handedly built the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies in Sarnath. He was its founding Director and later retired from there as the Vice Chancellor. He was chairman of Association of Indian Universities, perhaps the only person ever to head this body who did not come from a formal educational background. He later became the speaker of the parliament of the Tibetan Government in Exile and later its first elected Prime minister.

Links for further study:
Rinpocheji’s website:

Pawanji talking about Rinpocheji on YouTube