Shambhala Publications recently released Venerable Thubten Chodron’s newest book, Awaken Every Day: 365 Buddhist Reflections to Invite Mindfulness and Joy. It’s a pithy compendium of Buddhist wisdom, encouraging us to understand the true causes of our suffering and the paths to freedom. Below are excerpts for a preview.
Cleaning Out Our Garbage
If we review our life—or even just the past year—with honesty, we’ll notice the times when the garbage in our minds has led us to make bad decisions.
Alarmed, we may scream, “Woe is me! This is too much to handle!” and then go to the bar, shopping mall, casino, refrigerator, or movies.
This attitude and the actions it inspires get us nowhere.
Our old habits of low self-esteem, self-criticism, and defeatism are some of the garbage to abandon. Instead of wallowing in such unrealistic thoughts, we must leave the rubbish behind.
Whenever you find garbage thoughts and feelings in your mind, use that to strengthen your refuge in the Three Jewels—the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha—and renew your determination to change. Remember, to clean a room, we must first see the dirt. Similarly, to clean your mind, you must first recognize the trash there.
So rejoice when you see it because now you can clean it up.
Having a positive vision of what we can become is important for everyone. Unfortunately, in communities where children see poverty, gun violence, and so on, this is the vision they have of their future. Not seeing a possible alternative, they replicate the behavior of their older siblings and parents, bringing the same tragic results.
The need for a positive image of what we can become spiritually is essential. The Buddha—Chenrezig, the manifestation of compassion, and Tara, the female manifestation of awakening—become our role models.
Perhaps we can’t relate to having a body made of light and having equal compassion for all sentient beings right now, but we can see that each of us has the seeds of compassion and wisdom within us. The small beginnings of the buddhas we will eventually become exist in us now.
Let’s generate the intention to nourish these seeds and act so that these seeds will sprout, grow, and flourish.