4 Getting to know to your mind

In this next video, Sogyal Rinpoche explains what Buddha taught... in just six words.

 

Why is it so important to work with and understand our own mind?

Because the real source of happiness and well-being lies within our mind, and not in the unpredictable and ever-changing conditions of the outside world.

Our restless and impatient minds are quick to make endless judgments and concepts about everything in terms of what we like, what we don’t like, and what we don’t really care about at all.

We think, “I like this,” and feel attachment or desire for it, or we think, “I don’t like that,” and we experience aversion, pain or fear towards it.

We crave things we don’t have, fear losing what we do have, and get depressed at having lost other things. As our minds get tighter and tighter, we feel increasing excitement or pain, and find ourselves caught in an endless cycle of dissatisfaction.

In the end, we spend half of our life chasing after what we like and want, and the other half of our life running away from what we don’t want to encounter. This is what the Buddha called dukkha—suffering.

Simple logic

The teachings of the Buddha are based on straightforward logic and reasoning. If we want to end suffering, we need to eliminate the causes of suffering. Likewise, if we want happiness, we need to cultivate its causes.

These teachings were not given for the sake of being profound, but as a way to help us understand what actually happens to us, and how we can change it.

The Buddha explained that anxiety, fears and suffering come from minds that are overpowered by delusion and distraction.

But if we can tame the mind, then nothing can frighten us, because all fear comes from a mind that is untamed.

To put it simply, in order to tame our mind we need to understand what the mind is and investigate how it works.

Mind is the most important factor

Investigating the mind doesn’t mean we need to make drastic changes to the way we live. It means recognizing how our mind is the most important factor in all the activities of our everyday life, and how it is ultimately responsible for everything we experience.

In order to have mastery over our own lives and be able to help others effectively, we need to understand the reality of our mind and the nature of all our thoughts, emotions and mental attitudes.

Most people think of the mind as being thoughts and emotions, but these are actually just the appearance of the mind, not the true nature of the mind itself.

So, we have these two main aspects of the mind:

—the appearance of mind,

—and the nature of mind.

We spend most of our lives lost in the appearance of mind, without any understanding of the nature of mind itself. We are always looking for our true selves outside of ourselves, in our thoughts and emotions.

So, we are constantly looking in the wrong direction—as if we were facing the west and looking for the sunrise. Or, as the famous saying goes, leaving our elephant at home and looking for its footprints in the forest.

We give so much importance to these appearances, the projections of mind. Whatever thoughts or emotions rise, we let them sweep us away and off into a spiral of stories and illusions, which we take so seriously, we end up not only believing, but becoming as well.

Our potential for transformation

It is not the appearances themselves that are the problem—it is how the mind perceives them, grasps at them, and tries to solidify them as if they were real.

Therefore, in the Buddhist teachings, the main advice for this life is to purify our projections of the mind and realize the nature of mind.

The good news is that this is possible. As the Dalai Lama has pointed out: “A great Tibetan teacher of mind training once remarked that one of the mind’s most marvellous qualities is that it can be transformed.”

Through the practice of meditation, we can tame our mind by becoming more and more familiar with the essence of mind.

When we conquer our own minds, we become master of our perceptions. When we transform our perceptions, then even appearances will begin to change.

Ultimately, through taming our mind, we can arrive at the profound purity of the nature of mind, that great peace which the Buddha spoke of at the moment of his enlightenment over 2,500 years ago in India, beneath the Bodhi tree in what is now known as Bodhgaya.

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Now move on tostep 5: meditation posture