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Lions Roar : March 2015
2. Inviting Positive Seeds We each have many kinds of “seeds” lying deep in our con- sciousness. Those we water are the ones that sprout, come up into our awareness, and manifest outwardly. So in our own consciousness there is hell, and there is also paradise. We are capable of being compassionate, under- standing, and joyful. If we pay attention only to the negative things in us, especially the suffering of past hurts, we are wallowing in our sorrows and not getting any positive nour- ishment. We can practice appropriate attention, watering the wholesome qualities in us by touching the positive things that are always available inside and around us. That is good food for our mind. One way of taking care of our suffering is to invite a seed of the opposite nature to come up. As nothing exists without its opposite, if you have a seed of arrogance, you have also a seed of compassion. Every one of us has a seed of compassion. If you practice mindfulness of compassion every day, the seed of com- passion in you will become strong. You need only concentrate on it and it will come up as a powerful zone of energy. Naturally, when compassion comes up, arrogance goes down. You don’t have to fight it or push it down. We can selectively water the good seeds and refrain from watering the negative seeds. This doesn’t mean we ignore our suffering; it just means that we allow the positive seeds that are naturally there to get attention and nourishment. 3. Mindfulness-Based Joy Mindfulness helps us not only to get in touch with suffering, so that we can embrace and transform it, but also to touch the wonders of life, including our own body. Then breathing in becomes a delight, and breathing out can also be a delight. You truly come to enjoy your breathing. A few years ago, I had a virus in my lungs that made them bleed. I was spitting up blood. With lungs like that, it was dif- ficult to breathe, and it was difficult to be happy while breath- ing. After treatment, my lungs healed and my breathing became much better. Now when I breathe, all I need to do is to remem- ber the time when my lungs were infected with this virus. Then every breath I take becomes really delicious, really good. When we practice mindful breathing or mindful walking, we bring our mind home to our body and we are established in the here and the now. We feel so lucky; we have so many conditions of happiness that are already available. Joy and happiness come right away. So mindfulness is a source of joy. Mindfulness is a source of happiness. Mindfulness is an energy you can generate all day long through your practice. You can wash your dishes in mindfulness. You can cook your dinner in mindfulness. You can mop the floor in mind- fulness. And with mindfulness you can touch the many conditions of happiness and joy that are already available. You are a real artist. You know how to create joy and happiness any time you want. This is the joy and the happiness born from mindfulness. 4. Concentration Concentration is born from mindfulness. Concentration has the power to break through, to burn away the afflictions that make you suffer and to allow joy and happiness to come in. To stay in the present moment takes concentration. Worries and anxiety about the future are always there, ready to take us away. We can see them, acknowledge them, and use our concen- tration to return to the present moment. When we have concentration, we have a lot of energy. We don’t get carried away by visions of past suffering or fears about the future. We dwell stably in the present moment so we can get in touch with the wonders of life, and generate joy and happiness. Concentration is always concentration on something. If you focus on your breathing in a relaxed way, you are already cultivat- ing an inner strength. When you come back to feel your breath, concentrate on your breathing with all your heart and mind. Concentration is not hard labor. You don’t have to strain yourself or make a huge effort. Happiness arises lightly and easily. 5. Insight With mindfulness, we recognize the tension in our body, and we want very much to release it, but sometimes we can’t. What we need is some insight. Insight is seeing what is there. It is the clarity that can liber- ate us from afflictions such as jealousy or anger, and allow true happiness to come. Every one of us has insight, though we don’t always make use of it to increase our happiness. We may know, for example, that something (a craving, or a grudge) is an obstacle for our happiness, that it brings us anxiety and fear. We know this thing is not worth the sleep we’re losing over it. But still we go on spending our time and energy obsessing about it. We’re like a fish who has been caught once before and knows there’s a hook inside the bait; if the fish makes use of that insight, he won’t bite, because he knows he’ll get caught by the hook. Often, we just bite onto our craving or grudge, and let the hook take us. We get caught and attached to these situations that are not worthy of our concern. If mindfulness and concen- tration are there, then insight will be there and we can make use of it to swim away, free. In springtime when there is a lot of pollen in the air, some of us have a hard time breathing due to allergies. Even when we aren’t trying to run five miles and we just want to sit or lie down, we can’t breathe very well. So in wintertime, when there’s no pol- len, instead of complaining about the cold, we can remember how in April or May we couldn’t go out at all. Now our lungs are SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2015 44