Practice and our mind

Practice and our mind

Man sitting outside in grass, meditating.
The more I realize the effect of my actions on others, the more the ethics of a Buddhist come into play. (Photo by )

My story is positive proof of the doctrine of rebirth, karma, and past lives. I’ve been a real jerk, a very negative, selfish person in this round of rebirth. Nothing I’ve done in this life could have even come close to creating the causes for the great benefit I receive daily in this life. Without question, so many wonderful beings support me in this life. It is amazing how beneficial this round of rebirth has been not only for me but I hope for all those I come in contact with. At least this is my daily aspiration: to do no harm and to benefit all sentient beings.

My practice continues to broaden out from my cushion, rippling outward towards all others. The more I realize the effect of my actions on others, the more the ethics of a Buddhist come into play, reinforcing my vow to bring about the cessation of suffering for all beings. There is so much suffering and it’s all around us. So sad; it rips at my heart.

We are all so caught up and trapped by external stimulations. We need to let go and allow our mind to see our mind, stripped down to that place that only we can go, that place beyond all mental closets. Of course it takes courage and decisiveness to go there, to that innermost sanctum of our inner environment. But go there we must, and once there we must smash open these closed doors, seeing the contents for what they are—our own creation and our own habit energy—seeing ourselves for what we are and being at ease with our internal mind.

For me this is a constant daily struggle. I have to remind myself that we cannot control what we cannot control. Thinking that we can is like worrying about the rain beating on the roof.

The way in which we perceive our world, regardless of where we find ourselves—inside prison or outside it, in the rat race of the corporate world, homeless, at war, at peace, in a hospital, a monastery—none of it matters whatsoever. How we perceive our surroundings and our fellow suffering sentient beings in these surrounding is what matters. We are all the same, for better or worse. There is no difference in that each one of us is trapped in this samsaric ocean of suffering. We’re all trying to understand and deal with how we perceive our surroundings and how we interrelate with the suffering beings around us. We are all trapped by our own ignorance, our own perceived sense of self-importance. How sad.

Instead of seeing all that bothers and aggravates us in our inner and outer environments, we should see what happens when we shift our perceptions and see all these as obstacles that we have created on the path. We must honestly ask ourselves why these things bother us and more importantly, why we allow these external things to bother us and distract us from the path. These things can only bother and affect us if we allow them to do so. We allow it, sometimes even invite it, and then complain about what we ourselves have allowed to happen! Amazing!

Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.

More on this topic