Nature of mind

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Nature of mind (Skt. cittatā; Tib. སེམས་ཉིད་, semnyi; Wyl. sems nyid) — defined in the tantras as the inseparable unity of awareness and emptiness, or clarity and emptiness, which is the basis for all the ordinary perceptions, thoughts and emotions of the ordinary mind (སེམས་, sem).

Sogyal Rinpoche says: "In the modern world, we do not have a real understanding of the mind. Most people think of the mind as being merely thoughts and emotions, but these are simply the appearance of the mind, not the true nature of the mind itself."

Qualities of the Nature of Mind

In the Dzogchen teachings, the nature of mind is often described in terms of essence, nature and compassion (or energy, or responsiveness). Sogyal Rinpoche writes:

"Imagine a sky, empty, spacious, and pure from the beginning; its essence is like this. Imagine a sun, luminous, clear, unobstructed, and spontaneously present; its nature is like this. Imagine that sun shining out impartially on us and all things, penetrating all directions; its energy, which is the manifestation of compassion, is like this: Nothing can obstruct it and it pervades everywhere."[1]


  1. The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, Chapter 10, page 157.

Further Reading

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