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Lions Roar : May 2006
SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2006 17 WE LIVE IN A WORLD of conflict and aggression. As people who want peace, how can we respond? The first step is to examine our view. What is our motivation? If we want peace, how do we go about creating it? We may feel inspired by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Gandhi, and other world figures who exemplify peace and compassion, but how do we fol- low their example? It’s not going to happen through speed or aggression, but by recognizing and cultivat- ing the peace and compassion that we already have. The Buddha taught that compassion and loving- kindness are inherent in the mind. So the first step toward cultivating peace in the world is to recognize those qualities within ourselves. The second step is to bring them out through meditation. The third step is to engage in our activities with this view. This is the miss- ing spiritual evolutionary link: reaching into our heart and mind to determine our motivation, contemplating it, and then acting on it. If we want to be truly produc- tive in our day, we have to understand our potential. Working with our own mind and inspiration is essential to making any kind of change. Medita- tion is a process of getting used to what we want to happen, what we want the change to be. In Tibetan, one word for meditation is gom, which means “familiarity.” If we want to work for peace, we must first become familiar with peace ourselves. If we want the world to be a more compassionate place, we ourselves must first become familiar with compassion. In this culture, if we sit and do nothing, people think we’re strange. In places like Tibet, where there is a tradition of medita- tion, sitting still is considered to be courageous. People appreci- ate that when someone meditates, they are working with their own mind, which is challenging. All of the pain and pleasure that we experience stems fundamentally from the mind. So when we say we want peace on earth, what we’re really talking about is reducing conflict in people’s minds. War is an ancient activity, and so is the dilemma of dealing with our minds. Meditation is proactive. We develop a stability of mind with the intention of making that the basis of our activity. Sitting there in silence, we observe thoughts and emotions pouring through our mind like a waterfall. Aggression, jealousy, and desire come and go. Even though our mind is always like this, when we first begin to meditate, we might say, “Meditation is terrible. It’s made things worse for me.” Nothing got worse; we just stopped and no- ticed our mind. It’s like getting out of the car on the highway and realizing how fast the traffic is moving. Sitting still in meditation is not something we do just once in order to solve our problems. We need to do it consistently, like drinking water and eating food. Just as we spend a portion of each day making our bodies clean and strong, we need to take at least ten minutes daily to purify and strengthen our minds. We need to see how our motivation sways like a tree in the wind of thoughts passing through. Without a daily practice, we mind- lessly act on those thoughts, which can easily pollute any situa- tion. When someone acts aggressively, our own aggression rises, and then we’ve only increased the conflict in the world. As we learn to be still, keep our mind on the breath, and watch thoughts rise and fall, the peace in our mind grows. Our view ex- pands. We begin to see how easy it is to get hooked by aggression, irritation, and jealousy. We see how easy it is to fall into thinking that acting on these emotions is the most expedient way to solve our problems. In that space we have the opportunity to observe that, ultimately, aggression is never stable. It requires continual bolstering with the props of irritation and fixation. Stability lies under the aggression in the form of peace. Cultivating it daily is a cyclical process, like turning a wheel. Now we can get up off our meditation cushion and engage in the world. Possibly our peace is strong enough so we see that ev- eryone is in the same boat, and that we all deserve compassion. We all have the same hopes and dreams, as well as the same obstacles. Do Nothing for a Change It might look like we’re doing nothing when we meditate, says SAKYONG MIPHAM RINPOCHE, but we’re actually changing the world—one mind at a time. ILLUSTRATIONBYFRANKOLINSKY