What is our mind and how to handle the intangible mind?
1. What is our mind? (අපේ සිත යනු කුමක්ද ?)
2. How to handle this intangible Mind? (ස්පර්ශ කල නොහැකි මේ සිත පරිහරණය කරන්නේ කෙසේද?)
1. What is our mind
The last couple of years have been a very challenging time for many of us. During this time, we all would have experienced physically, mentally and/or emotionally stressful time periods. It was harder for some, but others who had the opportunity of discussing their problems in the mind with a spiritual master or a Vedic Astrologer managed to understand the situation and become calm because they were taught how to handle the challenges through calming their mind.
A Vedic Astrologer can see in our horoscope our past lives karma created by our mind. By studying the horoscope one can see how intense our defilements were in the past life and how they come to the limelight in definite time periods of our life. There are three defilements (three poisons) that will harm our body, soul and spirit. These are:
1. Lustful thoughts — greed, sensuality, desire or attachment to a sensory objects (Raga / රාග)
2. Aversion — hatred and anger (Devesha /දෙවේශ)
3. Delusion — ignorance, bewilderment, confusion, stupidity, and dullness (Moha / මෝහ)
Some of us may think that the mind is the brain or some other part or a function of the body, but this is incorrect. The brain is a physical object that can be seen with the eyes and that can be photographed or operated on in surgery.
The mind, on the other hand, is not a physical object. It cannot be seen with the eye. The brain, therefore, is not the mind but simply part of the body. The brain is tangible but the mind is intangible.
There is nothing within the body that can be identified as being our mind because our body and mind are different entities. For example, sometimes when our body is relaxed and immobile, our mind can be very busy, darting from one thought to another. This indicates that our body and mind are not the same entity.
In the Buddhist scriptures, our body is compared to a guest house and our mind to a guest dwelling within it. When we die, our mind leaves our body and goes to the next life, just like a guest leaving a guest house and going somewhere else.
If the mind is not the brain, nor any other part of the body, what is it? It is a formless continuum that functions to perceive and understand objects. Because the mind is formless, or non-physical, by nature, it is not obstructed by physical objects.
It is very important to be able to distinguish disturbed states of mind from peaceful states.
When we get what we want, then we are happy at that particular moment. If we do not get what we want, then we become unhappy. Most of the time things will not happen in the way we want. Also we need to understand that the happiness that we get from external functions and objects will not last forever. Our own body, the objects that are in our possession and which we use and also our physical environment will rapidly change and decay. Impermanence is one of the essential teachings in Buddhist philosophy.
We may think that our suffering is caused by other people, by poor material conditions, or by society, but in reality our suffering comes from our own deluded states of mind. The essence of spiritual practice is to reduce and eventually to eliminate altogether our delusions, and to replace them with permanent inner peace. This is the real meaning of our human life.
The essential point of understanding the mind is that liberation from suffering cannot be found outside the mind. Permanent liberation can be found only by purifying the mind. Therefore, if we want to become free from problems and achieve lasting peace and happiness we need to increase our knowledge and understanding of the mind.
Our minds are also created within relationships — including the one that we have with ourselves. Each of us has a unique mind with unique thoughts, feelings, perceptions, memories, beliefs, and attitudes, and a unique set of regulatory patterns. These patterns shape the flow of energy and information inside us, and we share them with other minds. We create disharmony and unhappiness when these patterns are not in control and shared wrongly with others.
Major states of mind that disturb our inner peace are lustful thoughts and greed, aversion — hatred and anger, delusion — ignorance, bewilderment, confusion, stupidity, dullness. These are the principal causes of all our suffering.
Therefore, a deeper understanding of the nature and functions of the mind will help us to keep our intangible mind under control up to a certain extent so that we will attain to our day today duties calmly and happily.
2. How to handle the intangible mind?
The mind is a set of cognitive faculties including consciousness, perception, thinking, judgement, and memory. It is usually defined as the faculty of numerous thoughts and consciousness. It holds the power of imagination, recognition, and appreciation, and is responsible for processing feelings and emotions, resulting in attitudes and actions.
As a result, this extremely powerful mind can manifest much more unwholesome actions rather than wholesome acts (actions promoting health or well-being of mind or spirit). Unwholesome actions (Kleshas -ක්ලේශ) include states of mind such as anxiety, fear, anger, jealousy, desire, depression, etc. Unwholesome actions can also be defined as: afflictions, defilements, destructive emotions, disturbing emotions, negative emotions, mind poisons, etc.
At the beginning of this newsletter, I mentioned three defilements (three poisons) that will harm our body, soul and spirit. These will be manifested by our six senses knowingly or unknowingly resulting in more unhappiness.
We have six internal senses (six sensory faculties) reacting with six external objects.
1. Eye — Sight and colour/form (visual)
2. Ear — Hearing and sound (auditory)
3. Nose — Smell and odour (olfactory)
4. Tongue -Taste and flavours (gustatory)
5. Body — Touch and tangible objects (tactile, haptic)
6. The mind — Thought or ideas (reasoning and cognition)
Since our mind is often not trained to handle these six senses to generate wholesome acts (actions promoting health or well-being of mind or spirit) we continuously suffer from the three poisons.
I also mentioned importance and how nothing lasts forever and everything decays. That means no physical or mental object is permanent, therefore attachments to either will cause suffering, pain and unsatisfactoriness leading to unwholesome karma (Sanskrit word that relates to “action”).
Unless we put effort to understand this concept, it will be very hard to be happy and content.
We need to start to purify our mind which has to be a conscientious activity to cleanse the mind of defilements — those dark unwholesome mental forces. Purifying our mind has to be undertaken in the same place where the defilements arise, in the mind itself, and therefore the main method in the spiritual world for purifying the mind is meditation.
It will be a challenge to get prepared for this purification of mind as one has to understand one’s actions. To eliminate defilements we must first learn to know them, to detect them at our daily activities which dominate our everyday thoughts and lives. When we have spent our life acting on the spur of greed, hatred and delusion, the work of self-purification cannot be undertaken hastily in the hope of quick results. This task takes commitment, patience, care and persistence.
We must start slowly step by step to control our feelings of greed, sensuality, desire or attachment to sensory objects. Likewise we need to control our anger and hatred and understand the damage that can occur because of our ignorance, confusion, stupidity etc. This can be attained only by being aware of the danger of the three defilements and by maintaining a balanced mind through meditation and yoga. Gradually we should start to feel better and less stressed resulting in more happiness and less worries.
May you all have the courage and energy to control the three defilements to lead a happy and contented life in 2018.
May our thoughts be divine!
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