The mind of an enlightened human being is flexible and adaptable.

The mind of an ignorant person is conditioned and fixed.

—Ajhan Sumedho, "Don’t take your life seriously" (Buddhist Publishing Group)

A friend recently loaned me the above book. According to Wikipedia, Ajahn Sumedho (Ajahn is “teacher” in Pali) was born Robert Karr Jackman on July 27, 1934, in Seattle. He is the senior Western representative of the Thai forest tradition of Theravada Buddhism. A bhikkhu since 1967, Sumedho is considered a seminal figure in the transmission of the Buddha's teachings to the West. During the Korean War he served for four years from the age of 18 as a United States navy medic. He graduated in 1963 with an MA in South Asian studies from the University of California, Berkeley.

From what I have gleaned from his book of over 30 essays on wisdom practices, we now find ourselves with the opportunity to either be adaptable or fixed. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been fixated on politics, our nation and world conditions since the January changes in government. Chaos and change happens in our lives and that creates nervousness and anxiety, the opposing poles of inner peace. Ajahn says the world is: “just the way it is!” Accept! We are not at peace when we judge anyone, when we feel superior or inferior to others. We constantly compare what is “here and now” with “how it should be.” As babies we are not born with a self-view. That is developed over our lifetime. We therefore become a “created concept” and ignorant until we realize the pain we suffer and seek relief.

Whenever self-concepts turn to good, evil, smart, stupid etc., we are still in ignorance. You are not that! When we choose, we can acknowledge innate pure consciousness to receive wisdom. Wisdom operates through the marriage of awareness joining with consciousness. Suffering is the theme in The Four Noble truths. Judgment is suffering. As we become aware of pure consciousness, judgments shift and soften: “so it is” or “like this” to pure subjectivity. The ego personality says: “I like this or I don’t like that.” It is my choice then, should I get caught up in the annoyance, suppress it or try to change it? I know I want my way, but can I be assured that will bring me peace? Until I can accept the world is just "like it is" and that "what is just — is," I am the one choosing to suffer. Buddha called it Dukkha.

When you say: “I AM pure consciousness uncreated,” your mind is at rest. Say it slowly with eyes closed. Say it slowly with eyes open. Pure consciousness does not have a sex, nationality or a world view. It means, I AM — not a permanent body — rather I am eternal, consciousness. Consciousness is behind awareness and, when melded, spark an awakening experience, like the Buddha or Christ .

Contrast this with the impermanent, unsatisfactory “not self” that we think we are. The idea of “me and mine” created out of ignorance and separation from pure consciousness. The personality and life circumstances always change. You don’t stay the same person as the ego personality is reactive. Old age is another seeming failure, but pure consciousness does not age. Awareness transcends the conditioned ego state. If we continue to give our allegiance and beliefs to the ego rather than to our natural pure awareness, we will suffer — until we tire of it.

Sumedho’s solution is to seek refuge in awareness and pure consciousness. As we look at national and world conditions, be aware and say: "So it is." Awareness is constant and pure consciousness stands behind in a circle of light. Consciousness is stainless, it cannot be contaminated. I am reminded of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, working for peace yet staying in pure consciousness throughout the tumult of his life.

To quote Sumedho: “Wisdom, then, is the ability to discern the difference between consciousness without attachment and consciousness with attachment. If I am attached, then I get lost in my attachment without awareness and I become what I am attached to. When I recognize pure consciousness with non-attachment, however, there is just this simple reality of attentiveness here and now. This is the path of non-suffering. You actually recognize it is no longer a matter of holding to an idea of enlightenment. All of that drops away and there is just recognizing and operating from the natural, pure state of your very being here and now. A pure state that is always with you, that never lets you down, that is totally trustworthy.”

Perhaps we will become enlightened as insanity propels us to approach pure consciousness; non-attachment versus pure hell. As the months and years unfold, this practice avails us to the wisdom and peace available at the center of our one luminous being.

Sally McKirgan facilitates the Tidings Inner Peace Column and one of several "A Course In Miracles" study groups in the Rogue Valley. Contact her at innerpeaceforyou@outlookcom.