“The purpose of training the mind to be still is to simplify things. When things are simplified, the mind can settle down and rest.”
When this mind is clear and bright
And is not covered over,
Then you are not very different
From the sages.
If you allow no wavering
From this clarity, and do not
Let it change,
And do not cling to it,
And do not neglect it:
This is learning.
Just protect it all the time
And do not damage its clarity.
– Luo Hongxian (1504-1564)
Quote courtesy dailyzen.com
“You can’t ever get everything you want. It is impossible. Luckily, there is another option. You can learn to control your mind, to step outside of the endless cycle of desire and aversion. You can learn not to want what you want, to recognize desires but not be controlled by them. This does not mean that you lie down on the road and invite everybody to walk all over you. It means that you continue to live a very normal-looking life, but live from a whole new viewpoint. You do the things that a person must do, but you are free from that obsessive, compulsive drivenness of your own desires. You want something, but you don’t need to chase after it. You fear something, but you don’t need to stand there quaking in your boots. This sort of mental cultivation is very difficult. It takes years. But trying to control everything is impossible; the difficult is preferable to the impossible.”
“So remember, we’re here to go beyond ourselves, to go beyond just being beings that are consuming all the time. We try to redefine ourselves, not by what we eat or what we own or what we consume, but by what we produce, what we can give. Making this switch in the mind changes everything. Difficult patches come up in the meditation and you ask yourself not, “Why is this so bad? Does this mean I’m a miserable meditator?” You say, “No, what can I give to this situation so that it doesn’t snowball? What resources do I still have? What can I draw on to give to the situation to turn it into a different kind of situation?” When things are going well, again, what do you give to make sure that they continue to go well?”
~ Thanissaro Bhikkhu
“Better to Give than to Consume” (Meditations6)
“Develop your concentration: for he who has concentration understands thing according to their reality.”
from Verse 87 of The Dhammapada
“DON’T EXPECT TRANSFORMATION or success to happen quickly. Some of us may find meditation to be easy at first, especially in its simplest form of observing the breath or repeating phrases, but while such practices can provide some immediate payoffs, such as serenity, the real insights take many years, if not decades, to experience. As we Dharma punx are wont to say: if you want to see how well your practice is going, take an overview every ten years; any sooner is impatience. It’s better to prepare yourself for the long haul by thinking of this change as a lifelong practice. If you try to make progress on a short timeline, it’s easy to get discouraged when we don’t see the results that we want — as quickly as we want to see them. The truth is that your commitment is not about measurable progress and timetables. You’re not finishing a project; you are pursuing a calling.”
from “Unsubscribe: Opt out of Delusion, Tune Into Truth” (Wisdom)
“Just be mindful of your bodily activities, every moment, every posture and every action that you do. Just watch. Don’t send your mind to think about something else. When you’re walking, standing, eating, taking a shower, driving or whatever activity you do, stay with that activity. This is being mindful.”
“When you come to sit in concentration, then even if your mind isn’t yet quiet, simply sitting in the meditation posture is something good. It’s better than people who don’t even do that much.
“It’s like being hungry, but today there’s only rice, with nothing to go with it. We feel disgruntled, but I’d say that it’s better than having no rice at all. Eating plain rice is better than not eating anything, right? If all you have is plain rice, eat that for the time being.
“It’s better than not eating anything at all. The same with this: Even if we know only a little about how to practice, it’s still good.”
Translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Only when the mind
Is settled can it become quiet.
Only when the mind
Is quiet can it become still.
Only when the mind
Is still can it see.
And only when the mind can see,
Can it reach the mystery of mysteries.
This is the process
That anyone who
Practices has to go through.
How long it takes
Is up to the individual.
(Quote courtesy of DailyZen.com)
Image from this website talk on papanca
The important thing is to sustain moment to moment awareness of the mind. If you are really caught in mental proliferation, then gather it all together, and contemplate it in terms of being one whole, cut it off right from the start, saying, “All these thoughts, ideas, and imaginings of mine are simply simply thought proliferation and nothing more. It’s all anicca, dukkha, and anatta. None of it is certain at all.”
Discard it right there.
“Whatever you’re experiencing in your mind, other people are experiencing the same sorts of things. And what they’re experiencing, you’ve experienced before. This can help with compassion and empathetic joy. There’s that passage where the Buddha talks about seeing people who are extremely wealthy and realizing you’ve been there before. When you see people who are extremely poor or ill, you’ve been there before as well. This helps to equalize things to counteract resentment or pride.
But this reflection can equalize things in another way. You can think about people who are faced with the same mental problems that you have: the mind when it’s depressed, the mind when it’s scattered. All the great meditators of the past and the present have had just exactly the same kind of problem. Yet they were able to get past it.
In the same way, when you’re sitting with pain, realize that other people have sat with pain, too, and yet they were able to keep sitting with it. What did they have that you don’t have? They had persistence. Where did they get that from? It wasn’t that they were born with it. They developed it. You can develop it too.”
~ Thanissaro Bhikkhu
READ MORE: “Bodies & Minds Outside”
Photo by Dingzenyu Li.
“Here a bhikkhu dwells pervading one quarter with a mind imbued with lovingkindness, likewise the second quarter, the third quarter, and the fourth quarter. Thus above, below, across, and everywhere, and to all as to himself, he dwells pervading the entire world with mind imbued with lovingkindness, vast, exalted, measureless, without hostility, without ill will. He dwells pervading one quarter with a mind imbued with compassion… with a mind imbued with altruistic joy… with a mind imbued with equanimity, likewise the second quarter, the third quarter, and the fourth quarter. Thus above, below, across, and everywhere, and to all as to himself, he dwells pervading the entire world with a mind imbued with equanimity, vast, exalted, measureless, without hostility, without ill will. This is called measureless liberation of mind.”
7 Godatta. Cittasamyutta.
Part IV: The Book of the Six Sense Bases. http://www.wisdompubs.org/book/connected-discourses-buddha
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(Quote courtesy of www.facebook.com/BhavanaSocietyWV)
If we’re not reflecting on the impermanent nature of life, then there are a lot of unimportant things that seem important. Our jobs seem important. Money seems important. But if we’re really reflecting on impermanence then we can see that the important things are compassion and loving others—giving to others and taking care of others.
—Allison Choying Zangmo,
“Living and Dying with Confidence“
“SO, IN THE BEGINNING you have to take it on faith — that we’re not living in a totally deterministic world or totally random world, and that it really is worth the effort to try to develop a skill, particularly in the area of the mind. There’s enough orderliness in this world that the skills you learn today are going to help tomorrow. At the same time, things are not so deterministic in an iron-clad way that you can’t make any difference. You can make a difference by the choices you make, in the lessons you learn. And making good choices today will help you make better choices tomorrow. That’s something you take on conviction. That can help further your persistence in the practice as well.”
READ FULL DHAMMA TALK: “Effective Self-discipline”