“In the end, it’s not going to matter how many breaths you took, but how many moments took your breath away” – Shing Xiong

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Enjoy your mind

I realized today that most people must not associate meditation with pleasure, yet I just had the experience of greeting my own mind like a friend of another species, a horse or some other large animal, with a definite sense of pleasure. At different times I might see it as something else. You might see your own mind as anything you like or dislike, but I think you will definitely acknowledge it has a life of its own.

Rajju Jim sent a link to an article stating that most of us are on autopilot nearly 50% of the time and that this does not lead to happiness, according to the study findings. Autopilot is the mind run amok. It has no business flying this plane, it is not qualified and has only limited understanding of what to do with this business it has taken over.

Thus have I heard: "Not one thing do I see, oh devoted wanderers, not one thing that leads to such sublime unconditional happiness, as a tamed, trained, guarded and restrained mind." From the Anguttara Nikaya book of ones in the Pali canon, Buddhist scripture.

My landlord has often greeted me returning from a walk with my dog by saying "Boy, that's like a full time job!" Well it is a part time job, one I enjoy immensely. Dogs have historically been known in our culture as Noble animals, selfless and loyal, able to give unconditional love. A Noble Friend is the common antidote to the five hindrances, one who helps us stay the path, protects us and leads by example.

We who have taken this route have the responsibility to continue, and when we hit a wall as happens when inhabiting a realm of strife and discord, we can rely on our Noble Friends to keep us going until it is past. The practice that enables us to trust and rely on such beings begins on the cushion in meditation. There we confront the wild animal that is the mind and tame it, teach it to trust, forge an alliance with it, one governed by affection and reward.

There are times when we must retreat behind the mind and leave it to guard against intruders, but for the most part we should take the lead and have the mind be subservient, a sixth sense, not the boss. This is the training that is pleasurable and rewarding and is what meditation is all about.

So many of us are unaware that the mind is not who we are, it is just a facet, an ally. This awareness is born on the cushion, it is not made clear naturally during development for most people because so often is is dominant from the start.  It is dominant when needed for survival, for when things don't make sense, for when fear rules, but then it has to be relieved of duty or becomes truly domineering and sometimes it stays in charge, permanently. The struggle to be happy reveals its failure as a leader and its separate role or identity within us.

The best guide to training the mind available today for most  of us is Sensei's teaching of the Dhamma, elaborated on in her book, "The Missing Peace." From the home page of Great Determination Buddhist Sangha website click on her picture and go the links under recommended reading or at the end of her short bio.

The training of the mind is a gradual process, happening in stages over time, but it is never too late to start. Once started the path unfolds naturally and accretions fall away when appropriate.
This really is an enjoyable part of life.

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