- The Washington Times - Monday, July 5, 2004

The following teaching was recently given by the Rev. Kelsang Varahi at the Vajrayogini Buddhist Center in the District.

Meditation is not about just clearing the mind. This only pacifies disturbances for a short period of time. We want to learn to cultivate states of mind that induce inner peace. We want to take some control.

Right now we are the servants of our mind. When talking to someone and they don’t pay attention to us, we become angry, and we have little negative thought bubbles that become even bigger. Eventually, that person becomes a pain in the neck as we elaborate about their tendency never to listen. Then that bubble explodes in our mind.

If we are checking our mind, we can see that negative train of thought has destroyed any sense of inner peace. We can cultivate the minds that lead to lasting inner peace, not just five minutes of peace because we avoided a person we didn’t like. When we go to work, there are always people we find annoying. In our families there are always relatives we find annoying. We want to be able to take some control and be masters of our mind.

What we are trying to do is control our minds in everyday life and eventually understand the ultimate nature of things. First, we have to start with the conventional nature of our mind. The mind is not heavy, it has no form and it is invisible. One analogy is of the mind being like the sky. Western science teaches that the mind is the brain.

From a Buddhist perspective, they are associated, but not the same. Therefore, the mind has a different set of principles. One is that the mind is formless. The others deal with its function and its location. When we meditate on this, we come up with an image in our mind. For example, if you haven’t been to Beijing, I would describe Beijing: the streets, the people. From this you would start to get a rough mental image. In meditation you will do the same thing in terms of the mind.

Again, the mind is formless. We can also think about its location. Usually, we think it is in the brain or all over the body. Thinking about the mind from an energetic standpoint, we have chakras and the energy channels running in front of the spine. Branch channels come in from all the parts of the body to the crown chakra, throat chakra, heart chakra and other chakras. In the center of the heart chakra resides our very subtle mind. Mentally, we can go wherever we wish.

Thinking about a foreign country our mind goes there. If we bring our awareness to our foot, our mind goes there. What makes sense in meditation is to think of the mind at the heart center. Doing these meditations we are instantaneously aware of feeling more peaceful.

We want to meditate on the image of the mind as long as we can. Now, we are little birds flapping our wings, but the yogis who used these techniques were like great eagles soaring the sky. Meditation takes patience and time. Out of our own ego we want to be at an advanced level when we are not.

We need to gain familiarity with the basics first. It is just a matter of degree; from one minute to five, from five to 10 and 15. It is just a matter of progressing slowly. The important thing is that we remember the object of meditation. Each time you lose it, re-contemplate the basic nature, function and location of the mind. The image will come back. Try to hold it in your heart.

As we gain understanding of the mind, we’ll see that the gap between ourselves and others and all objects is created by us. This gap is not really there. We want to move toward this level of understanding.

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