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Posts Tagged ‘Mindfulness an Eight-week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World’

When no discriminating thoughts arise,
the old mind ceases to exist.

When thought objects vanish,
the thinking subject vanishes,
and when the mind vanishes, objects vanish.
Things are objects because of the subject;
the mind is such because of things.
Understand the relativity of these two
the basic and the reality: the unity of emptiness.
In this emptiness the two are indistinguishable
and each contains in itself the whole world.
If you do not discriminate between coarse and fine
you will not be tempted to prejudice and opinion.[1]

Until we are dead we will all have discriminating thoughts, it is part of being human. However, when we practice the principles of Zen Buddhism we can learn to do what Williams and Penman suggest in their wonderful book Mindfulness an Eight-week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World (2011):

You can watch as they appear and disappear, like a soap bubble bursting. You come to the profound understanding that thoughts and feelings (including negative ones) are transient. They come and they go, and ultimately, you have a choice about whether to act on them or not (page5).[2]

And when you do this as it says in the Faith in Mind sutra above “the old mind ceases to exist.” I don’t know about you but my old mind is filled with memories of good times and bad times, happy times and sad times and they can bubble up at the most annoying time. A happy thought may appear in my mind about the person and I can see him or her in my mind’s eye in the middle of the funeral and the joy is so overwhelming I burst out in laughter. Others, of course, are looking at me with disdain, and yet I am unable to control myself.

Or I might see someone at a high school reunion that bullied me or caused others to make fun of me and my mind and body will be filled with anger and rage. If I am able to live the truth of the Faith in Mind sutra I do not have to identify with either the subject or the object. I can remember that emptiness is all there is and that the two—joy and anger—are indistinguishable and each contains in itself the whole world.

Yet if we hold on to things and thoughts, especially the fear and anger things, and the things that are harmful to us like drugs, alcohol, and binging, they take control of our lives and can cause physical, mental, and emotional harm. Williams and Penman suggest a way to deal with this.

Mindfulness is about observation without criticism; being compassionate with yourself. When unhappiness or stress hovers overhead, rather than taking it all personally, you learn to treat them as if they were black clouds in the sky, and to observe them with friendly curiosity as they drift past. In essence, mindfulness allows you to catch negative thought patterns before they tip you into a downward spiral. It begins the process of putting you back in control of your life (page 5).

The basic idea is to follow this process: thought ——-> awareness ——–> response. Instead of what we usually do which is thought ——> response! Learning how to do this will help you decide whether you want to act on the thoughts or not. The choice is up to you only if the “awareness” divides the thought from the response. If the process is thwarted the black cloud will soon be more than an image it will be your life filled with darkness and pain.

Faith in Mind asks us not to “discriminate between coarse and fine” and that will help us to avoid the prejudice and opinion and the darkness and the pain and simply live in the now dealing with what “is” right at this moment—happiness, sadness—Just This. A life of balance. To realize this life take time to meditate each day and to quiet the mind and you will discover “the unity of emptiness.”  And watch what happens in your life.

In gassho,

ingassho
Shokai

[1] Attributed to: Seng’tsan, 3rd Chinese (Sosan, Zen) Patriarch

[2] Williams, M Penman, D (2011) Mindfulness an Eight-week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World. Rodale: NY, NY.

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