Mind, Intrinsically Defiled?

I feel this is important and i hope it is useful and helpful to others:

While practicing Dhamma defilements must be seen as incoming (and adventitious) defilements otherwise there can be no development of mind (AN1.51). I feel this is very important. One must never look upon the mind, or ones own or others situation, as being intrinsically defiled. Or being without any wisdom. Such things cannot exist . No mind (or knowing) is always and any moment intrinsically distorted or defiled. Also not the mind of a worldling or even animal.

AN1.51 says, i believe: we must understand that distortion of mind or corruption of mind (always refering to distortion of how mind knows things) happens always in the very moment, here and now. While defilements arise and come in the mind, they tend at that very moment to distort the natural wisdom of the mind which is a bare non-engaging awareness.

Buddha says it like this: there are… imperfections of the mind that weaken wisdom…(MN27) Weaken. Wisdom is there, but while defilements arise they weaken that wisdom. What is that wisdom? That is the natural bare non-engaging awareness or knowing. Or, in other words, when defilements arise, the mind tends to become blinded. It starts to see things in a wrong way.
That does not mean that it always sees and knows things in a wrong way.

It is never like this that non-engaging bare awareness is absent. This is minds natural wisdom or knowing element. This is how mind or knowing originally is without defilements.

Conceit is certaintly also not something that is constant present. The burden of conceit is also something that always arises in the moment. The idea that mind is in some constant state of greed, hate, delusion until arahantship, that is not the right way to practice (AN1.51) i believe.

From this wrong idea that mind is in some constant state of greed, hate and delusion people develop ideas that all must be reached in the future. Like mind is always without any wisdom.This is not true.

The only difference between an arahant and wordling is that the mind of the arahant keeps remaining in a state of bare non-engaging awareness, and that of a worlding is very easily triggered to become engaged with the senses and become loaded. And the others fruits are somewhere in between.
But for all their mind is the same bare awareness.

SN22.89 describes that the most deep aspect of the conceit I am, the desire I am and the anusaya I am just naturally will disappear when:

…"After some time they meditate observing rise and fall in the five grasping aggregates. ‘Such is form, such is the origin of form, such is the ending of form. Such is feeling … Such is perception … Such are choices … Such is consciousness, such is the origin of consciousness, such is the ending of consciousness.’ As they do so, that lingering residue is eradicated.”

It seems to be always about anicca. Acutely aware, mindful, of seeing how things rise and fall, arise and cease. That gradually wears away the ideas, views, perceptions, tendencies to see and know things as: ‘this is me, this is mine, this is my self’ regarding those things seen arising and ceasing. That culminates naturally in Nibbana, i.e. in the end of even the most subtle ways that the mind (or knowing) engages with the khandha’s. Now mind is detached from the khandha’s (also of vinnana’s!) and in its natural state of a non-engaging bare awareness, that is its peace.

Is this state absent in a worldling? No. Cannot be absent. But because of the still strong anusaya, the natural wisdom of the mind, its non-engaging bare awareness/knowing, is for a worldling:

-not easy to see, not easy to recognise;
-and the awareness very easily engages and connects with the senses and becomes sense vinnana’s

For both reasons the subtlety of mind, its peaceful unburdened nature, remains unnoticed for a mind that becomes easily loaded. But Nibbana is never absent. A non-clinging, detached, peaceful, desireless, uninclined awareness can never be absent for whatever being. Also not for us. Impossible. The heavy load on our minds may blind us for the subtlety of mind (or knowing), its peace, its unburdeness, but cannot erase it. Impossible.

@Green You may like this quote from Luang Dta Maha Boowa - even though he is not popular in this forum.

Among these Four Noble Truths, two of them bind, and two of
them unbind. What do they unbind or bind? They bind this pure
citta by enshrouding it. To unbind means to reveal it, by removing
the veil of concealment, so that one can see the true and natural state
of purity. For the truth of it has always been so. But the two truths
of dukkha and samudaya cover up like the cover of a pot, covering the
pot so that it is not possible to see the things contained within it. The
magga, which is one’s mode of practice, reveals or exposes. Magga and
nirodha uncover it, so that one can see what is contained within the
pot, seeing clearly what they are. Even though the state of purity has
always existed, it is blotted out by dukkha and samudaya. But on the
other hand, magga and nirodha are on the correction side, and they
will expose it. That which they reveal is this state of purity. It is this state of purity that dukkha and samudaya conceal. Once it is exposed,
then that is the end of the problem.

From: Investigating Avijja


Once the citta has become so well-cleansed that it is always bright
and clear, then even though the citta has not ‘converged’ in samādhi,
the focal point of its awareness is so exceedingly delicate and refined
as to be indescribable. This subtle awareness manifests as a radiance
that extends forth in all directions around us. We are unconscious of
sights, sounds, odors, tastes, and tactile sensations, despite the fact
that the citta has not entered samādhi. Instead, it is actually experiencing its own firm foundation, the very basis of the citta that has been
well-cleansed to the point where a mesmerizing, majestic quality of
knowing is its most prominent feature.

From: Forest Desanas, Ajahn Suchat’s recollection of Luang Dta

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I think the key is to accept that fact that a person can possess tremendous wisdom when wandering on, but without the proper insight that wisdom remains incapable of liberating the mind. Yet, that wisdom is not fortified. It may come naturally to a degree, but the result must be earned through wise lifestyle choices - made purely for the fact that they are understood to be more peaceful. Think about Araka form AN 7.74 - he made the choice to live that way because he was wise enough to see the benefits. Then he put in the work in every way (ironically, as wise as he was, he did not gain a distinction worthy of stream entry because there was no Buddha, and ultimately did not gain any safety from lower rebirths). Same would have been the case for Bāhiya (Ud 1.10) - he chose to live that way and make that effort through and through. Again, he too was tremendously wise in his own right, but could not make that last push without the words of the Buddha. The point I’m making is that while each had a modicum of wisdom at the outset, they still needed to put in effort to reap the benefits of that austerity. If they would have opted for sensuality in the face of that wisdom, they would each have diminished - wisdom would have been weakened.

At Savatthi. “Bhikkhus, this saṁsara is without discoverable beginning. A first point is not discerned of beings roaming and wandering on hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving.

Therefore, bhikkhus, one should often reflect upon one’s own mind thus: ‘For a long time this mind has been defiled by lust, hatred, and delusion.’ Through the defilements of the mind beings are defiled; with the cleansing of the mind beings are purified. -SN 22.100

Whatever wisdom a person has naturally is incomparable to that sort that is present when the mind is liberated. It is totally inaccessible without the proper lifestyle and the utterance of a Buddha. Is it “available”? Of course, but on account of the eightfold path. Without it a person can’t make that shift.

In other words, “wisdom” as other terms is an ambiguous notion. While on lower level we can distinguish difference between fool and wise man, as far as definition of the Four Noble Truths goes, whether puthujjana is wise, or unwise, he not only is ignorant, but also doesn’t know that he doesn’t know, what makes him kind of slave who doesn’t know that he is a slave, and this is precisely what makes liberation very hard to attain.

In fact, comparison to slavery is very relevant, since puthujjana is imprisoned by the brahmajala, and his ignorance can be defined as not knowledge that he is imprisoned by it. What makes kind of paradox, that ignorance (at least on reflective level) disappears as soon as it is recognised.

Q: How can ignorance be known? To know ignorance presupposes knowledge.
M: Quite right. The very admission: ‘I am ignorant’ is the dawn of knowledge. An ignorant man is ignorant of his ignorance. You can say that ignorance does not exist, for the moment it is seen it is no more. Therefore, you may call it unconsciousness or blindness.

In medical terms it could be expressed:

This ‘sacrifice of the intellect’, which Saint Ignatius Loyola says is ‘so pleasing unto God’, is required also, incidentally, of the quantum physicist: he has to subscribe to the proposition that there are numbers that are not quantities. It is not, however, required of the follower of the Buddha, whose saddhā—trust or confidence—is something like that of the patient in his doctor. The patient accepts on trust that the doctor knows more about his complaint than he himself does, and he submits himself to the doctor’s treatment. So far, indeed, from saying to his disciples ‘You must accept on trust from me that black is white’, the Buddha actually says, in effect, ‘What you must accept on trust from me is that you yourselves are unwittingly assuming that black is white, and that this is the reason for your suffering’.

Nanavira Thera

Bhikkhus, for the fool, hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving, this body has originated. For the fool that ignorance has not been abandoned and that craving has not been utterly destroyed. (…)

“Bhikkhus, for the wise man, hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving, this body has originated. For the wise man that ignorance has been abandoned and that craving has been utterly destroyed. For what reason? Because the wise man has lived the holy life [25] for the complete destruction of suffering. Therefore, with the breakup of the body, the wise man does not fare on to [another] body.

SN 12: 19

Regarding the “Mind, Intrinsically Defiled?” as far as phenomenological descriptions go, indeed, mind is Intrinsically defiled by ignorance and craving, but metaphysically speaking we can express the same puthujjana’s problem by statement that mind is intrinsically pure, and merely defiled by these impermanent states.

But difference is only on verbal level since it is only ariya, who knows that "mind is “intrinsically pure”.

Dictionary gives definition: intrinsically - in an essential or natural way. Again we have ambiguous notion: “natural”. It may mean habitual, normal for puthujjana; but “natural” may mean also healthy…

M: What is normal? Is your life - obsessed by desires and fears, full of strife and struggle, meaningless and joyless - normal? To be acutely conscious of your body is it normal? To be torn by feelings, tortured by thoughts: is it normal?

Q: I find all this seeking and brooding most unnatural.

M: Yours is the naturalness of a born cripple. You may be unaware but it does not make you normal. What it means to be natural or normal you do not know, nor do you know that you do not know.

M - Nisargadatta Maharaj

But what is this dukkha that is bound up with impermanence? It is the implicit taking as pleasantly-permanent (perhaps ‘eternal’ would be better) of what actually is impermanent. And things are implicitly taken as pleasantly-permanent (or eternal) when they are taken (in one way or another) as ‘I’ or ‘mine’ (since, as you rightly imply, ideas of subjectivity are associated with ideas of immortality). And the puthujjana takes all things in this way. So, for the puthujjana, all things are (sankhāra-)dukkha. How then—and this seems to be the crux of your argument—how then does the puthujjana see or know (or adjudge) that ‘all things are dukkha’ unless there is some background (or criterion or norm) of non-dukkha (i.e. of sukha) against which all things stand out as dukkha? The answer is quite simple: he does not see or know (or adjudge) that ‘all things are dukkha’. The puthujjana has no criterion or norm for making any such judgement, and so he does not make it.

The puthujjana’s experience is (sankhāra-)dukkha from top to bottom, and the consequence is that he has no way of knowing dukkha for himself; for however much he ‘steps back’ from himself in a reflexive effort he still takes dukkha with him. (I have discussed this question in terms of avijjā (‘nescience’) in A NOTE ON PATICCASAMUPPĀDA §§23 & 25, where I show that avijjā, which is dukkhe aññānam (‘non-knowledge of dukkha’), has a hierarchical structure and breeds only itself.) The whole point is that the puthujjana’s non-knowledge of dukkha is the dukkha that he has non-knowledge of;[a] and this dukkha that is at the same time non-knowledge of dukkha is the puthujjana’s (mistaken) acceptance of what seems to be a ‘self’ or ‘subject’ or ‘ego’ at its face value (as nicca/sukha/attā, ‘permanent/pleasant/self’).

And how, then, does knowledge of dukkha come about? How it is with a Buddha I can’t say (though it seems from the Suttas to be a matter of prodigiously intelligent trial-by-error over a long period); but in others it comes about by their hearing (as puthujjanas) the Buddha’s Teaching, which goes against their whole way of thinking. They accept out of trust (saddhā) this teaching of anicca/dukkha/anattā; and it is this that, being accepted, becomes the criterion or norm with reference to which they eventually come to see for themselves that all things are dukkha—for the puthujjana. But in seeing this they cease to be puthujjanas and, to the extent that they cease to be puthujjanas,[b] to that extent (sankhāra-)dukkha ceases, and to that extent also they have in all their experience a ‘built-in’ criterion or norm by reference to which they make further progress. (The sekha—no longer a puthujjana but not yet an arahat—has a kind of ‘double vision’, one part unregenerate, the other regenerate.) As soon as one becomes a sotāpanna one is possessed of aparapaccayā ñānam, or ‘knowledge that does not depend upon anyone else’: this knowledge is also said to be ‘not shared by puthujjanas’, and the man who has it has (except for accelerating his progress) no further need to hear the Teaching—in a sense he is (in part) that Teaching.

Yes, that very much appeals to me. Thank you.

Thanks, I agree. There is the wisdom one must develop to cure the darkness or wrong views that we have acculumlated and constant arise and distort and corrupt . One must really walk the Path. And while walking the Path one will naturally leave the raft behind. One has now arrived at full open-heartedness. There is nothing that corrupts the heart. That wisdom is never born. That is for free.
But one must develop the kind of wisdom that drives away the accumulated darkness.

I believe, it really does not work like this. Reality is…a worldling can act sometimes as a real noble!

Most do not understand, i feel, that the goal of Dhamma is to really arrive at a stage that there is no sense of ego but also not of I possessing wisdom, love, compassion. That last is merely conceit and being yet hevavily defiled. Because people of all kinds of religion or spiritual practices do not understand this, they all tend to become more and more conceit. They start to feel like they become more and more possessors of this and that. That means, no lesson is learned. A wrong development has taken place. Dhamma is to uproot that idea of being a possessor.

Ofcourse not.

Mendicants, craving for sights is impermanent, decaying, and perishing. Craving for sounds, craving for smells, craving for tastes, craving for touches, and craving for ideas are impermanent, decaying, and perishing. (SN25.8)

A sotapanna knows that all defilements always arise.

In fact, seeing PS, seeing Dhamma, means one has left all ideas behind about an intrinsically defiled mind behind. That is what i now realise.