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Pure Seeds

During a coaching call yesterday I was discussing the different kinds of mental seeds. There are two lists of three: good, bad, and neutral or good, bad, and pure. We’re more interested in the second list.

What is a pure seed? Perhaps the earliest way to understand is to look at the rest of the list first. What is a bad seed? Any seed planted by harming others must only bring pain back to us. It can take time, but this is the only logical possibility. Conversely, any seed of helping others must bring us a pleasant result (or else things are random).

That said, what is the only good thing about a bad seed? Once they ripen, just like a physical seed, they’re gone. When a flower seed ripens into the flower, the seed is destroyed. So unless you do something to replant the seed (like get angry again), once you’ve experienced the negative result of a seed you don’t have to worry about it giving you a result again.

Conversely, what’s wrong with a good seed? Of course, it produces a good result. But then what happens?

The same thing. Is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all? Would you like to be rich and lose everything? The problem with a good seed is that they wear out the same as bad seeds, potentially leaving you worse off than before.

So what’s the solution? What if there was a good seed that didn’t wear out? What would that look like?

In Tibetan Buddhism they say that for a bird to fly it needs both wings. So that metaphor applies here; if we want to learn to plant a seed that doesn’t wear out, we’re going to need both metaphorical wings of the bird.

We can explore the first by looking at another concept they call the three spheres. What it means is that during any interaction, all the components of that interaction are empty of inherent existence. For example, if I give my friend some money, is that money empty? Of course, the value of money changes all the time; it has no intrinsic value. What about me? Am I empty? Of course, I think I’m a good person but there are some that don’t like me. Who’s right?

What about the act of giving itself? It’s a good thing, right? Or has it ever occurred that someone gave someone else something that didn’t work out so great? The US government, for example, gave American Indians on reservations blankets that gave them smallpox. Or you can look at how actions do or don’t always work as intended. Does writing a check pay your rent? Of course it can, but does it necessarily have the power to do so? Or might it get lost, stolen, or bounce?

All three aspects of any act of giving are empty. So what? Well, what if you thought about that every time you gave something away? What kind of seeds would that plant?

I would argue it plants two seeds, so you must get two results: one, money will come back to you (eventually) and two, you’ll think about the emptiness of money again. Then what would happen?

Well, if money is empty, where does it come from? Seeds. What kind of seeds? Giving it away. So if money comes to you, and you think about emptiness, what will you do? Give (at least some of) it away, of course. Thus creating an upward cycle of giving that will never wear out. You give, so you get, causing you to think of where it comes from, causing you to give again, so those seeds never wear out. (And in fact just continue to increase and increase.)

That’s one way of looking at what pure seeds are; in part two (the other wing of the bird) we will look at the other half of the equation.