Untangled

“Tangled within, tangled without: 
these people are tangled in tangles. 
I ask you this, Gotama: 
Who can untangle this tangle?”

In the Samyutta Nikaya, Buddha is asked how we can untangle the mess we have created through our attachments. Tangle is a term for the network of craving, the desire we have for things, people, ideas, etc. This tangle is a kind of weaving we have created in the name of controlling life, believing it will help us experience happiness. When Buddha woke up and saw this tangle clearly, he also saw through the delusion that created it.

Buddhism is all about untangling the tangle by recognizing how we create our reality through the projection of mental habits. Just as we experience love for someone one day, and hate that same person later on, we have developed a rather fickle way of addressing life and happiness. When we are able to see clearly (vidya in Sanskrit) we cease projecting our thoughts in any given moment and allow the light of awareness to shine through. It is like maintaining focus on the light bulb in a projector rather than on what is projected.

Buddha goes on to say:

“And where name and form
cease with nothing left over; 
as well as impingement and perception of form: 
it is there that the tangle is cut.”

Impingement is a forceful coming together of two things. When we perceive the world to be something solid and substantial by projecting tightly held beliefs about reality, we tend to experience a crash! But when we rest the mind and notice how name (meaning) and corresponding form arise, we recognize the delusion of not seeing clearly (avidya in Sanskrit). It is possible to realize the light of pure awareness in the moment we see the delusion—and the tangle is cut.

Everyone has a Buddha nature, the innate ability to clearly see through delusion. But we get caught up in our perceived realities. All it takes is a willingness to settle the mind into its intrinsic nature. The naturally awakened mind (bodhicitta) looks into the world only through the eyes of loving kindness, where all the tangles of consciousness are spontaneously unwound.