The average person has 12,000 thoughts per day – most of them a recurring handful of unwelcome distractions (source “Still the Mind” – Bodhipaksa)
I’ve been listening to a download by SAKYONG MIPHAM RINPOCHE, the author of “Turning The Mind Into An Ally” and I am enjoying listening to his teaching as it slowly sinks in to my being (it’s been a lighter look at his elementary teachings).
The basic gist is about how we do not have to be at odds with unpleasant or unconscious thoughts as they arise – rather it’s about how to have a better relationship with the distracting or unpleasant mind – the same way we have to work through our relationships with others we love, when they are being unpleasant. Now this is not about dealing with the Shadow, it’s more about the constant way our mind can go on and on and on – the Monkey Chatter. I felt his “basic” ideas were worth posting and that some of my blog readers would enjoy his teaching. I find it has been valuable for me; it’s a simple wisdom that has changed my relationship with myself. Here are some of my paraphrased words from Sakyong’s introductory interview:
Peaceful Abiding is a basic meditation, for harmony within ourselves – with our mind. Not at odds with our mind, rather with mind as an ally. For instance, we never know how we are going to wake up (angry, happy, frustrated etc.) and this is the person we are going to have to deal with the rest of the day. This is who we are in relationship with for that day. What kind of relationship will we have with this mind/emotion? If we are not in relationship with our mind – life becomes very difficult.
As a people we generally like to be in control, this is our human condition. We like thinking we are in control of our thoughts. As if it were natural to think certain thoughts only when we want to.
However, as we sit down to eat we can all of a sudden begin to think about a bill, needing to fix our car, problems at work, how our friend acted like such a bitch, etc. If we were in control, we would say (and be), “So I am sitting down to eat, I will be present with eating and think about the bills, the car, work, my friend, when I want/choose to think about the bills or the car or work or my bitch friend”.
Let’s face it – it doesn’t work that way. We don’t have that kind of control. So we have to be in relationship with our mind. Is it our enemy or is it our ally?
In Sakyong’s teaching, it is about making the mind pliable, making it flexible. A hardened and inflexible mind has no room for compassion; it is jealous, angry, holding . . . What we are in need of, is a softening.
In allowing distracting thoughts to arise and pass (and there are various ways to do this), in allowing these to be impermanent, we see that the nature of mind at its core – is peaceful abiding, clear, knowing and powerful. It is our ally. It is part of our true nature. And this is one of the values in meditating – peaceful abiding. It’s not some mystical state, it’s our natural state.
It takes courage to be compassionate (even with the self) when you’re consumed with a thought/emotion. To make peace with one’s mind takes strength and courage and understanding. It is much easier to give in, than to be brave enough to remain open to change or possibility (especially if we are angry or anxious). Yet this is the possibility that exists in all of us.