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Lions Roar : November 2006
SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2006 21 WHETHER WE ARE ON THE BUSY STREETS of New York or in the solitude of a mountain cave in Nepal, our happiness and contentment are completely in our own hands. Sitting medita- tion enables us to rest our mind in a present and cheerful way. At the base of that experience is a quality of happiness, which is not a sense of giddiness, but of relaxation. Wherever we are, life is going to be coming at us. But if we use our lives as an opportu- nity to develop and enhance our mind, we will always be able to acknowledge that we are in a precious situation. When we sit, we make a direct relationship to the source of happiness, this wish-fulfilling jewel, the mind itself. Meditation gives us the ability to unpack the box in which the jewel is hid- den. In effect, we’re taking time out from our busyness to say, “I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to be right here.” That is a profound step, because it means we’re beginning to look at the truth and to trust it. Our mind goes through a lot in the course of a day. Gener- ally, our thoughts cycle between positive and negative. Either we’re thinking about what upsets us or makes us anxious, or we’re riding the wave of what inspires us and reminds of us of good things. If we don’t work with the mind, the pattern tends to shift toward more disturbing thoughts and emotions. We get consumed by the negativity of the mind—fear and regret, anger and desire. When these thoughts and emotions come up, they completely obscure us and we’re trapped by them. By working with the mind in meditation, we learn to sit and watch all the ups and downs come and go like clouds in the sky. In the process, we gain more strength in terms of our clarity, insight, and wisdom. These are noble qualities that we all possess. In medi- tation we begin to recognize them. They are the lessons we learn from watching our discursiveness. But to develop those qualities takes more effort than just sitting on the cushion; we have to be proactive. If we don’t apply ourselves, nothing is going to happen. Yes, it’s important to show up, to have the discipline to sit, but there is also the internal aspect of dealing with every thought, every emotion. That is how we learn that they are temporary. They are always arising, always falling away. We can look at our mind and try to figure out where the thoughts come from, but we’ll never actually find that moment. The point is to learn to relax, to learn not to be absorbed in our discursiveness, because once we’re lost in it, we can be lost in it for twenty minutes, half an hour, or twenty years. The mind is where we live. It is how we experience things. Whether we have a good day or a bad day really depends on our experience of the mind. Sitting meditation gives us the confidence to acknowledge our thoughts without being hooked by them. We have the teachings and techniques to form the mind into something that is useful and pleasant. In terms of a spiritual tradition, we can say that we are developing our mind’s potential to become buddha, to become awake. But in a a very practical way, this level of prac- tice is helpful to anybody. If we’re going to live in this world we should at least have the ability to work with our mind. When we do yoga, for example, the more flexible and fluid our body be- comes, the less of a nuisance it is. In meditation, we are putting the mind into a situation where it can become flexible, joyous, and less of a problem. It’s that simple. To practice successfully requires that we hold a view of what our mind really is. The idea I like to use is basic goodness. What are the aspects of basic goodness? There’s compassion, virtue, wisdom, and other noble qualities. We meditate in order to be- It’s All in Your Mind The mind is where we live, says SAKYONG MIPHAM RINPOCHE, it is how we experience things. Through the practice of meditation, we see past the superficial waves of discursiveness and discover the noble qualities that are the true nature of mind. PAINTINGBYYAHNELETOUMELIN,WWW.RIREDUCIEL.COM