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Lions Roar : May 2010
SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2010 21 AS THE GREAT ZEN teacher Suzuki Roshi said, “We are completely perfect, but we need a minor adjustment.” We have everything we need, but we have to hone it. Meditation is that honing process. What we are honing is our intention. Meditation is not a recess or a time- out. It’s a deepening and strengthening of the mind, which affects our whole life. In our body we have muscles and bones we can train and strengthen, even when we’re out of shape. In the same way, there is inherent strength, clarity, and stability in the mind, and meditation is a way to bring that out. We think our conventional mind is the same as it was yesterday, but like ev- erything else, it is changing all the time. It is porous, like tofu. It absorbs the quality of its environment—the energy, concepts, and thoughts—so we need to surround it with the kind of environ- ment and intention we want to develop. There are many things happening all around us—traffic and weather, for example—that we can’t control. But to a certain de- gree, we can control our own intention and involvement. The meditation period is the time of the day when we train ourselves in that. We take our mind and develop it the way we want, setting our intention and deepening it. We first discover that we can train the mind to be very still and focused, which is obviously helpful in terms of daily activities. Going deeper, we see that no matter what we are doing, our mind is always engaged in meditation. We’ve been training it well—it’s completely accustomed to particular habits. We also have karmic predispositions—anger, desire, or procrastination—and left to its own devices, the mind won’t shift from these patterns. But within any particular pattern, there’s a lot of room to improve. Meditation gives us the tools to direct the mind toward themes that we wish to develop. When we have a picture of what we want to do, that’s inten- tion. That picture allows us to make progress as we meditate. For example, if we want to have more compassion, generosity, or flexibility, if we want to be a better listener, or to be less reactive at work, we can train those aspects of our mind. So we have to ask ourselves, What is it I want to do with my mind? Meditation is like walking up a mountain: you have to know where you’re going, stay on the trail, and put one foot after the other. If you hop on one leg, you’ll go in a circle. It’s the same with the mind: if you don’t have a way to work with it, it’s going to go in a circle. To train the mind, first we have to get a handle on it. We are PAINTINGBYELIMMAK,WWW.ELIMMAK.COM SAKYONG MIPHAM RINPOCHE is the spiritual leader of Shambhala, an international network of Buddhist meditation and retreat centers. He is the author of Turning the Mind Into an Ally and Ruling Your World. Time to Be Pragmatic Intention is what sets our direction in life, and meditation is the way to hone it. But as SAKYONG MIPHAM RINPOCHE says, we need to be realistic about how high to set the bar for ourselves.