Our states of mind can be capricious and alarming. States of mind are prone to both periods of upheaval and relative calm. Adversity doesn’t necessarily induce upheaval or pleasurable stimulus contentment. What determines the quality of the state that we find ourselves in? Between one conscious moment and the other, there is a difference in imputational inference. Or in other words, one mind moment determines the next although, each moment is a new arising bringing with it residue of the previous and the flavor of the new. Their ground according to some, a veritable absence or emptiness. Our mindstreams might very well lack a beginning or an ending and like emptiness, it is both there and not there! One characteristic of imputation is longitudinal contingency which means that for imputation to be valid, we need temporally related events to call upon. Thus, the chain of mind moments are linked to each other literally by inference and are temporally in sequence albeit not causally so. That brings into question our mindstreams’ causal roots.
Take for instance an air filled balloon. This balloon’s substance is graded by density, with the more rarefied medium giving it its shape and structure. Without any instrumentation, we perceive the balloon’s skin but not that which confers shape and structure. Similarly, in the case of our mindstreams, we are not in touch with that which is its cause, perhaps because absence or emptiness as described by some doesn’t have any attributes, it is not some thing. It is no thing! As with the air filled balloon’s analogy, it is immensely rarefied. It is not characterized by any attribute that we can measure, apprehend or conceive. Time might be one such attribute that is absent in this medium.
How is this relevant to the question of our mind states? It is feasible that the quality of existence our mind body complex finds itself in has its base in this indescribable medium and in our evolution towards attaining its ‘density’ or its state, we traverse a multitude of felt states that is constituted by our minds and our circumstances. With distressful states, may lie the potential for accelerated growth towards this ultimate reality and how or why we suffer might not be borne of time. Does this mean that we have no choices? Suffering is universal, can we do nothing about it? Perhaps not. Except the fact that we can learn. We can learn to be nobler, we can learn to be more compassionate and we can look at our own suffering and feel the suffering of others. That is perhaps the only choice we have, none other.
And since time is not part of the equation in our journey towards the ultimate state, the quality that our mindstream inhabits could literally result from causes from any moment in time. There might just be a causal link however, between suffering, learning and being. The more we learn from suffering the more we move towards being and our mind state could very well reflect this progression, with more and more freedom from suffering as we learn, to be kinder and nobler. What does all this mean? That we have only one choice when it comes to our mind states. We revel in contentment when we are lucky enough and we learn when we are in pain. That might just be the only way.
Not only our responses, but also how equipped we are to learn effectively derives from this ‘medium’. So, we could very well be at its mercy! Caught between worlds, it is imperative that we evolve towards kindness and compassion so that we may find final rest.