Taming Your Mind

photo by Hans Peter, flickr cc

photo by Hans Peter, flickr cc

Part of what we’re trying to do on the Buddhist path is to tame our minds. I suppose one doesn’t have to be Buddhist to want to train their mind. When we pay attention we learn that much of what our minds are doing is a damn dumpster fire.

We want to tame our minds so we can manage our discursive thinking, our internal gossip, and our constant scheming about the future.

With meditation we can learn to make our minds one-pointed. Whatever we do should be done with mindfulness and awareness.

This is where discipline comes in.

We are at our best when we restrain ourselves from negative actions. This is based on our true nature. Our true nature is pure, awake, and free. Discipline develops, not because we are stopping ourselves from indulging, but because we are engaging our true nature instead of being caught up in delusion. Our current state is full of unnecessary complications and delusions. We can overcome these by dwelling in our true nature.

And we get there by taming our minds.

It’s not easy, of course. There’s a list of things called the 4 Mental Obstacles. It’s a list of things that making taming our minds difficult.

They are: Stupidity, Mindlessness, Emotional Upheavals, and Lack of Faith.

Stupidity: this is the state of mind that isn’t open or well-informed about things. And not really curious about growing or improving.

Mindlessness: This is an absence of awareness. Things come and go and we ignore them. We avoid paying attention to the world around us.

Emotional Upheavals: These are the three pois0ns; greed, hatred, and delusion. These include things like jealousy and envy, wanting to be more IMPORTANT.

Lack of Faith: This is a lack of faith in yourself, that thought in the back of our minds that we aren’t capable of taming our minds.

In meditation we want to witness our stupidity, mindlessness, emotional upheavals, faithlessness. We are trying to tame our minds. When we try, we discover that it’s possible. We realize we aren’t as hopeless as we think we are. Our faith and determination grow. Meditation brings these obstacles into focus and helps us overcome them.

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About Daniel Scharpenburg

Daniel Scharpenburg lives in Kansas City with two kids and two cats. He runs the Monday Night Zen Group at the Rime Buddhist Center. Daniel has a BA in English from KU and he works for the federal government. He was once a Novice Monk in the Rinzai tradition. He wrote a book called Notes From a Buddhist Mystic . He is inspired mainly by Zen renegades and madmen like Ikkyu and Han Shan. Daniel has taken Bodhisattva Vows in both the Nagarjuna and Asanga lineages. He is a frequent guest teacher on Daily Dharma Gathering.

Find out more about Daniel on his blog and connect with him on Facebook.