What is your Wildmind?

Flower meadowAccording to Buddhist teachings, our minds are inherently pure and luminous.

Sometimes, when we’re struggling with the stress of uncooperative children, or feeling frazzled trying to keep up with the unrealistic expectations of our employers, this can be hard to believe.

But the same teachings go on to say that our inherently pure and luminous minds are contaminated with “defilements” – those very states of stress, anger, and self-doubt that plague our lives. This, perhaps, is more familiar territory.

The aim of Buddhist meditation is to clear away the “adventitious defilements” so that we can experience ourselves — more deeply and more truly – in our primordial purity, clarity, and freedom of mind. Meditation helps us to cut through the agonizing clutter of superficial mental turmoil to allow us to experience more spacious and joyful states of mind.

It is this pure and luminous state that I call your “Wildmind.” This Wildmind, as I have said elsewhere, is not the wild mind that is disturbed by the winds of ill will, compulsive craving, or anxious restlessness, but lies beneath your wild mind like the still depths of the ocean lie beneath even the most tempestuous ocean.

When you think of true wilderness — The Wild — everything exists in a balance. No one has to organize the wild. Trees grow beautifully, shaped by the wind and the limitations of the resources available. Where a rock lies is the perfect place for that rock. No one has to tell the water where to flow and where to sit still. Everything unfolds in its own nature, and does so perfectly.

When the mind is imbued with mindfulness, the same thing happens. Things fall into place. balance is achieved. There’s no conflict. And this all happens without any micromanagement of this thought and that emotion. Everything unfolds in its own nature, and does so perfectly. That’s the goal at least. On the way to that goal there is work to be done, and this site is a manual for that work.

You have almost certainly had experiences that are close to the stillness, joy, and expansiveness that are the nature of your Wildmind. You may have experienced your Wildmind while in nature, for example. Your Wildmind is the mind that resonates with nature. It is the part of you that experiences awe and reverence. It is the childlike part of you that feels a profound wonder at the mystery that anything is, and – even more mysteriously – that you can be aware of it.

The mind as nature

A friend of mine – one of the most thoughtful people I know – once said that the reason he loved being in nature was that he would look at the vastness and power of the natural world, and know that there was no way you could — in any meaningful way – own or possess it.

Nature is far vaster than we are, and will outlast every one of us. It can’t be owned. But it can be emulated. It is possible to look at the vastness and power of the natural world and seek to pattern ourselves after it. While nature cannot be our possession, it can be our mentor.

The ironic thing of course is that our minds already are part of nature. We’re just out of touch with that nature. So we need tools and imagery to help us reconnect with the mind’s inherent Wildness — it’s self-organizing, balanced, spontaneous nature. We’d like to teach you some tools we’ve found helpful.

Your Wildmind is the mind that resonates with the elements and nature, but it is also your “natural mind” in the sense that it is your own truer nature. It is the state of pure awareness that is inherent in all of us, which lies in the depths, waiting to be revealed through patient purification of the mind.

You can strive to have a mind that is as spacious and pure as the vast dome of the heavens. You can strive to have a mind that is as clear and still as a lake at dawn, and that reflects the world undistorted. You can cultivate a heart that radiates love and compassion like the sun shines its life giving warmth and light on all, without discrimination.

In the Tibetan tradition, they call the Wildmind “Rigpa” – the state of primordial radiant awareness. Rigpa, or Wildmind, is contrasted with “sems,” which is the superficial, turbulent aspect of our mind that too many of us are caught up in. This sems, which I call the “wild mind” (using two separate words) is like the crashing waves on the surface of a vast lake during a storm. The Wildmind, or rigpa, is more like the still depths.

When the lake is disturbed in this way, it is impossible to see into its depths; the surface is chopped into ever-changing facets that prevent clear vision. But when the surface waters are stilled, then the depths – which have always been still — are accessible. The goal of Buddhist practice is to let go of the disturbed mental states on the surface, so that we may live from the spontaneous, profoundly intuitive, lucid depths.

15 Comments. Leave new

  • Pru Bankes Price
    July 29, 2008 1:37 pm

    I visited the site looking for help to find a retreat. The pages I have read are so beautiful, I feel so calm, I know plan to visit learn Buddhist Meditation to find out more, so that I can approach a retreat in a postive and receptive way. thank you so much

  • Hi Pru,

    Thanks for your kind comments, and I hope you find a suitable retreat. You might want to consider Dhanakosa, where I used to teach, or Taraloka, which is a women’s retreat centre, or Amaravati, which is a Theravadin center.

  • I am a Buddhist Monk. This is the first I attend and read the website. It is very insteresting and helpfull to me. I wish to get more and more informations, experiences from this page.

    Thank you for sharing to readers as me with every experience that all you have.

    Buddha bless you all.

  • ok this is going to sound weird but when i meditate my eyes very slowly open why is this? and i cant feel relaxed i just can get thoughts out of my head is there any way i can fix this?

  • Hi Billy,

    That doesn’t sound weird at all. It’s quite normal for the body to respond slowly at the end of meditation. It’s what one would expect, in fact. Are you sure you’re not relaxed, because having your body move slowly is a sign of a good state of relaxation.

    You say that you “just can get thoughts out of [your] head.” Did you mean the opposite, that you can’t get thoughts out of your head? If so, that’s also quite normal. You can expect to have lots of thoughts bubbling up, but over time you’ll spend less time caught up in those thoughts, you’ll be able to let go of the thoughts more quickly, and you should find that your mind becomes at least a little quieter. Those changes are all enough to make a substantial difference to your life.

    If you mean that you can get thoughts out of your head but can’t relax, then again I’d wonder if you’re maybe a bit more relaxed than you’re giving yourself credit for.

    Do feel free to post a follow-up if you need more clarification.

  • Dear Bodhipaksa

    I lead a very stressful life, and would love some help on buddhist meditation. I have tried meditation before, image focusing, but after 3 or 4 days I would give up. My head gets constantly distracted with thoughts, racing brain. I would love to try buddhist meditation, but my negative side tells me it would not work. Can you tell me if constant practice would help me. As I said I have doubts, but can tell you that I am full of willingness if I do need to practice, HELP

    thank you in advance, thomas

  • Hi Thomas,

    So you get distracted as well, eh? This is something that affects just about everyone, so you’re in good company. It’s a big step forward to accept that this is just how things are.

    Probably what you could also benefit from is some external resource to fall back on, by which I mean a guided meditation recording that will remind you to come back to the object of the meditation.

    Generally I find that for most people visualization is the hardest kind of meditation to practice because it’s a more mental activity. You probably would find it beneficial to do mindfulness of breathing or body scanning, both of which are body-based. We have a store on this site, but of course there are plenty of other resources available on Amazon etc.

  • Hello Pru,

    When i do meditation i got some kind of symthoms like my body moving on anti clockwise and the place of chakras giving me diffrent kind of feelings,but i cant concentrate deeply because its make me afraid when it move fast,i know its just a feeling but why this kind of symthoms hapen …. Can u help me sir….?

  • Hi, Ashok.

    Sorry about the delay, but I’ve been traveling. The kind of symptoms you describe are fairly common. They tend to arise when concentration is beginning to develop and when the mind is starting to become quiet. I usually think of them as being a mild form of sensory deprivation, because we perhaps haven’t yet become used to the quietness that we’re developing, and so the mind invents sensations to keep itself busy.

    I’d suggest just noticing them, but not paying too much attention to them. Realize that they are nothing to fear, but just a “trick” of the mind. What you should then find is that your meditation becomes much more focused, concentrated and even blissful. Paying too much attention to these sensations basically prevents that from happening.

  • Thanks Bodhipaksa! I got the same question as Ashok, which nicely was answered.

    By the way, I’m doing TM since 2002 and most of the times i had the blissful feeling “TRANSITION” in my mind, specially when I’m stressed or weary of life’s ups and downs, TM gives me the CLEAR state of mind.

    The only thing is, i’m not doing TM frequently as i’m supposed to do(2 times daily). Mostly I do it when I really need it(few times in a week). Do you think this way I will face any sort of imbalances in mind or will not reach to the concentration you were mentioning in the previous post?

    God Speed,

  • Hi, Salman.

    I don’t know that much about TM, in that it’s not a form of meditation I’ve ever done, so I’m probably not the best person to ask. But generally, I’d say it’s better to do a little meditation irregularly, than not to do it at all. We shouldn’t let the ideal be the enemy of the good, and demoralize ourselves because we’re not doing the amount of meditation that we think we “should” be doing.

    Obviously, doing more meditation, and doing it regularly, is likely to be helpful. But don’t beat yourself up about it. It’s healthier to really contemplate the benefits of meditation and to let that inspire you to do your practice more often, than to consider what a slacker you are for not meditating every day.

  • I am interested in buying a few meditation CD’s. I have been trying to meditate regularily on my own but I think I need some guidance.

    Which 3 CD’s would you recommend?

    Thank you

  • is there any online course for meditation….i want to start meditation ..but i don’t have any knowledge about meditation.means how to do it….?


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