Early on in sadhana, it may seem as if we need to drop the mind whenever there is any identification of Consciousness with mind. In so doing, we presume that the mind exists, only to insist: “I am not the mind.”
Later on, we may approach the matter more skillfully from the point of view of the Direct Path. We can do so by asking: “Does the mind exist in the first place?”
Following Atmananda, we use only (i) direct experience together with (ii) higher reason to investigate this question.
Thus, we can ask, “Do I have any direct evidence for mind? That is, do I find mind in direct experience?”
There can only be two logical possibilities here: either mind exists in thought, or mind exists between thoughts.
1. Now, if mind exists in thought, then mind is nothing other than thought. And if mind is nothing other than thought, then it is subject to the same fate that every thought is subject to: to wit, perishability.
But if mind is identical with thought, then in what robust sense does it make sense to speak of mind (as something allegedly perduring) at all? Why not simply apply the principle of parsimony and just speak of thinking-arising so as not to entertain any longer the belief in mind as a hypostasis or reification?
2. Yet perhaps mind exists between thoughts. What, in direct experience, do we find between thoughts? We find only silence: no container of thoughts, no theater in which thoughts appear, no mirroring of some so-called external reality, etc. In fact, all we find is Awareness.
Both lines of higher reasoning point to the conclusion that, concerning mind, there is no “there there.”
3. Understand that we have no other logical options, provided we stick to direct experience. For positing some theory or other about the mind amounts to proposing just another thought. But then the same analysis in 1 applies to 3. And trying even harder to find something that answers to mind, a la 2 above, only yields the same open space of Awareness. We don’t discover mind; we just discover, by virtue of being, the same Openness that we are.
There is simply no room left for mind, as some existing entity, in our account of Reality. The essential point for sadhana, then, is that these lines of higher reasoning expeditiously put to the rest any possibility that “I am the mind” for there is simply no way in which I, Awareness, could be that which does not exist. Just as no one seriously believes that she is a unicorn, so no one taking the above in reasonably and confirming in through meditation can take seriously the belief that she is identical with the mind.