Relaxation is integration of body and mind…

As it leads to the integration of body and mind in all our activities,
this relaxation has a vital and lasting quality
greater than the feeling of well-being experienced in physical exercise,
or even in disciplines such as yoga.

Tarthang Tulku, Kum Nye Relaxation

Examining the self

Similarly we can examine the self.

If the self is not the same as or different from the mind or body, not dependent or independent of them, not the possessor or the overarching whole, then where is it and what is it?

When we see that this self we have taken for granted is difficult to pin down, our questioning depends. We might see “where our head is at” in a surprising way.


Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche
Milking the Painted Cow

New kinds of knowledge

The great masters set forth various conceptual analyses that can lead toward new kinds of knowledge.

Nagarjuna and Candrakirti present a Seven-fold Reasoning that questions persons and things that make up our everyday conventional truth.

Applied to the body, one would analyze in the following manner:

  • Is the body inherently the same as its parts, such as arms, legs, head, torso, feet?
  • If not, is the body inherently different from its parts?
  • Does the body inherently depend upon its parts?
  • Do the parts inherently depend on the body?
  • Does the body possess its parts?
  • Is the body the collection of its parts?
  • Is the body the shape of its parts?

We speak as if there is a foundation that holds the parts together, but if the body were the same as the parts, how could we take away an arm and still have a body?

Similarly, we can examine the self in relation to the body. Is the self the same as the body? Is it different from the body? Is the self the same as the mind?

Performing such an analysis in careful detail changes the raw naïveté that would never think to question the existence of the self.

Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche
Milking the Painted Cow

A completely different way of investigating

The real difficulty may not be that we have no access to mind, but that mind is something so different from what we imagine that it requires a completely different way of investigating.

The available evidence in light of our current understanding of the laws of nature, strongly suggests that 95% of the substance in the universe is ‘dark matter’ or ‘dark energy’ invisible to all our observations and measurements.

Perhaps we will one day find that the universe is composed of radically different particles or forces than we now imagine. Those elements may only be discovered through a whole new set of approaches, theories, and methods of inquiry.

Could the same be true of mind?


Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche
Milking the Painted Cow

The clothes have no emperor

If we cannot contact mind apart from the ideas and interpretations it puts forward, could we speculate that mind does not exist at all – that the clothes have no emperor?

What if mind is like the anchor on a television news program, coordinating and introducing the stories reported on that day’s broadcast? The anchor, like the reporters who narrate each story, is simply part of the broadcast: there within the show begins, and gone when it comes to a close.

Likewise, when the mind’s presentation cease, the evidence for mind disappears.


Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche
Milking the Painted Cow

The power of mind

Our well-being depends on mind, for the power of mind is undeniable.

Illusion mind can lead us into spirals of depression, circles of confusion, or stagnant pools of indifference.

Meditation mind can lead to the joy and equanimity of the samadhis.

Awareness mind can forestall mistakes and lead us toward virtue, joy, compassion, and effortless effort. 

Mind can be our best friend, supporting us in every difficulty, or our fierce enemy, turning even simple acts of perception into occasions for devastating suffering.

Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche
Milking the Painted Cow