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Buddhadharma : Spring 2008
spring 2008| 30 |buddhadharma Then reflect and investigate. Observe how these defiled emotions are almost always accompanied by excessive thinking. Wherever a mood leads, thinking straggles along behind. Thinking merely reacts to and follows our moods, and they carry on with no end in sight. But if wisdom is operat- ing, it will bring the mind to stillness. The mind stops and doesn’t go anywhere. There is simply knowing and acknowledging what is being expe- rienced: when this emotion comes up, this mind is like this; when that mood comes, it is like that. We sustain the “knowing.” Eventually, it occurs to us, “Hey, all this thinking, this aimless mental chat- ter, this worrying and judging, it’s all insubstantial nonsense. It’s all impermanent, unsatisfactory, and not me or mine.” Toss it into one of these three all-encompassing categories and quell the uprising. Cut it off at its source. Later, when we again sit in meditation, it will come up again. Keep a close watch on it. Spy on it. The Buddha said that those who keep a close watch over their minds will be liberated from Mara’s snare. And yet this knowing mind is also the mind, so who is the one observing the mind? Such ideas can make you extremely confused. The mind is one thing, the knowing another, and yet the knowing originates in this very same mind. What does it mean to know the mind? What’s it like to encounter moods and emotions? What’s it like to be without any defiled emotions whatso- ever? That which knows what these things are, is what is meant by the “knowing.” The knowing observantly follows the mind, and it’s from this knowing that wisdom is born. The mind is that which thinks and gets entangled in emotions, one after another. When the mind experiences an emotion and instantly grabs it, it’s the job of the knowing to teach. Examine the mood to see if it’s good or bad. Explain to the mind how cause and effect func- tions. And when it again grabs onto something that it thinks is adorable, the knowing has to again teach the mind, to explain cause and effect, until the mind is able to cast that thing aside. This leads to peace of mind. After finding out that whatever it grabs and grasps is inherently undesirable, the mind simply stops. It can’t be bothered with those things anymore, because it has come under a con- stant barrage of rebukes and reprimands. Thwart the craving of the mind with determination. Chal- lenge it to its core, until the teachings penetrate to the heart. The Courage to Change The Buddha taught that in the beginning stages of dhamma practice, you should work very hard, develop things thoroughly, and attach a lot. Attach to the Buddha. Attach to the dhamma. Attach to the sangha. Attach firmly and deeply—that’s what the Buddha taught. I sacrificed my life for the dhamma because I had faith in the reality of enlightenment and the path to get there. These things actually do exist, just like the Buddha said they did. But to realize them takes practice, right practice. It takes pushing yourself to the limit. It takes the courage to train, to reflect, and to fundamentally change. It takes the courage to actually do what it takes. How to you do it? You train the heart. Why is it necessary to train? Because the heart is totally encrusted and plastered over with defile- ments. That’s what a heart is like that has not yet been transformed through the training. It’s unreli- able, so don’t believe it. It’s not yet virtuous. How can we trust a heart that lacks purity and clarity? Initially, the heart is only a hired hand of defile- ment, but if they associate together for an extended period of time, the heart is perverted to become defilement itself. That is why the Buddha warned us not to put our trust in a defiled heart. If we take a good look at our monastic train- ing discipline, we’ll see that it’s all about training the heart. And whenever we train the heart, we feel hot and bothered. As soon as we’re hot and bothered, we start to complain: “Boy, this prac- tice is incredibly difficult! It’s impossible!” But the Buddha didn’t think like that. According to the Buddha, when the training is causing us heat and friction that means we are on the right track. But we think it’s a sign that something is wrong. This misunderstanding is what makes the practice seem so arduous. Everyone wants to feel good, but they’re less concerned about whether it’s right or not. When we go against the grain of the defilements and challenge our cravings, of course we feel suffering. We get hot, upset, and bothered, and then quit. We think we’re on the wrong path. The Buddha, however, would say we’re getting it right. We’re confronting our defilements, and they are what is getting hot and bothered. Penetrating the Heart Practice with unflinching dedication! If you want to practice dhamma, then please try not to think too much. If you’re meditating and you find your- self trying to force specific results, then it’s better to stop. When your mind settles down to become peaceful and you think, “That’s it! That’s it, isn’t it? Is this it?”—then stop. Take all your analytical and theoretical knowledge, wrap it up, and store it away in a chest. And don’t drag it out for discus- sion or to teach. That’s not the type of knowledge that penetrates inside. When the reality of something is seen, it’s not the same as the written descriptions. For example, If wisdom is operating, it will bring the mind to stillness. The mind stops and doesn’t go anywhere. There is simply knowing and acknowledging what is being experienced. dAvidgoldes