What is essential is invisible to the eye.Antoine de Saint Exupery
Life is an experience is created by the interaction of the tangible energy and the intangible energy.
The tangible external world that provides the experience is different from the intangible internal consciousness within a life form that experiences.
Even the intangible, is differentiated into pure consciousness that is filled with sat-chit-ananda and other semi-tangible processes such as the mind, thoughts, memory and so on.
Every experience a life form has, rests on its own consciousness. Without one’s own consciousness, all the complexity of constructs of the universe and mind have no meaning. Thus, when examines one’s own life, consciousness is treated as real and the world outside as unreal.
The tangible world outside and the semi-tangible mind are constantly changing. But the consciousness inside is regarded as an unchanging observer. No matter what a human acquires or loses in the tangible world, the ability of the consciousness to experience is not altered. But when the conscious soul leaves the body, life is said to have ended and the body can be disposed of.
Because life experience is a two part process, which needs both consciousness and matter, the question of which is more important has had different answers.
People such as scientists and atheists, who take the side of tangible matter argue that the semi-tangibles and intangible somehow arises from the tangible. However, no such proofs exists of consciousness arising from matter. Stones, for example do not come alive.
People such as theists and spiritualists, take the side of intangible and argue that the changing nature of semi-tangibles and tangible universe makes them unsuited for building the foundation of life upon it. Therefore, the eternal unchanging consciousness is the only suitable foundation of life.
So the question “Mind over matter or Matter over mind?” has an unexpected answer because both the mind and matter are some what tangible and constantly changing. The answer really should be “It is consciousness over mind and matter”.
जन्मेदं वन्ध्यतां नीतं भवभोगोपलिप्सया ।
काचमूल्येन विक्रीतः हन्त चिन्तामणिर्मया ॥
janmedaṃ vandhyatāṃ nītaṃ bhavabhogopalipsayā ।
kācamūlyena vikrītaḥ hanta cintāmaṇirmayā ॥
This birth went futile in worldly indulgences.
Alas! A cintāmaṇi has been traded at the price of glass.
I came from brilliancy.
And return to brilliancy.
What is this?
The poem was one line short of the customary four, so the disciple said: “Master, we are one line short.”
Hoshin, with the roar of a conquering lion, shouted “Kaa!” and was gone.
Before I was born, there was nothing that distinguished me from the galaxy and after I die there will be nothing to distinguish me from it. But now there is something that separates us, but I don’t really know what it is.
Stephen Damon, a Soto Zen priest who leads a small Zen group in San Francisco writes:
“After settling into a daily home practice and attending monthly one-day sittings for a while I began to sense that the great question of life and death was my question. The question became my “center of gravity” around which the rest of my life—in the Zendo and out in the streets—revolved. Most important, I felt an urgency, not to find an answer but to become more intimate with question, until I became the question. In a very deep sense, I was no longer “Stephen” or “Korin” or a Buddhist, I was the question of what is life and death. Over the years this question has deepened and broadened to include everything. And every time I take my seat at home or in a zendo and every time I pick up a sutra or any book on Zen I am that question.
If a book does not offer a response to the question I file it away, but if it does offer something, or if it does open me up to a place in myself that can respond to the question I keep it close by to come back to often. I will keep Hoshin’s poem in my mind and heart always. While the three lines are powerful, what is even more powerful is the emptiness of the fourth line. Every Buddhist teaching is incomplete and must be completed in oneself. Hoshin’s poem, while eloquent in its succinctness was incomplete until he yelled “KAA!” Perhaps, a death poem should be only three lines to be completed by an expression of a person’s last moment. Some may yell out something, and some may gently and peacefully breathe out one last breath and watch it blend with the air around him or her—into the Great Silence behind everything.”
If your efforts in life have not made you a little happier than you were yesterday, your efforts in any direction whatsoever are a waste.Swami Krishnananda