Courage to face our own Mind

Courage to face our own Mind

By Desmond YSC


Most of us will look at the Wise Ones and be envious of the natural state of peacefulness that they are always in. We wonder why we cannot achieve that same state of mind and search for the answer in spiritual and self-improvement books. We think that we can only achieve it when we achieve enlightenment but we do not really know enlightenment really means. Therefore, achieving inner-peace is viewed as a future state that is almost impossible to attain. So, in the meantime, we dream about escaping to retreats where we can get a little peace of mind; but this depends on whether or not our mind allows us to have it.

Why are the Wise Ones always resting in the state of peaceful bliss? This is because everything that they do is conducive to peacefulness. They sought after peace of mind as their daily goal. We, normal beings, on the other hand, chase after mental stimulation and sensual gratification. We are afraid to sit still even for a short moment lest our mind takes us to our worries, regrets, past hurts, angry thoughts or other adverse mental formations. So, the moment we can ‘relax’, we turn on the television or, nowadays, play with our smartphones. We could get into a lively debate about whether smartphones are more beneficial or harmful to society.

By continuously stimulating ourselves, our mental and emotional states are in constant flux. We become irritable and external events are perceived as bigger issues than they really are. We become more easily stressed by little things. The resulting stress hormones blocks are ability to think and we end up making bad decisions. This, in turn, creates even more problems and stress.

We do not need to run off to a retreat in the forest to attain peace of mind. Such peacefulness is short-lived and is not sustainable. A better option is to create frequent retreats at home. Create entertainment-free evenings without television, music, novels or other forms of mental stimulations. Spend these evenings on spiritual practices instead. Time will move slower and instead of complaining that we have no time for practice, we will find that we actually have more than enough time. If we observe our mental and emotional states the next day, we will probably find that we are more calm and joyful. Things are likely to be easier; not because we have less problems but because we see less incidents as ‘problems’.

We usually feel more energised after meeting a spiritual master. It is as if the master had injected energy into us. Spiritual masters are overflowing with life-force and when we meet them, we benefit from the energy that they radiate. But, it is better that we build up our own energy levels by spending more time on activities that are conducive to inner-peace. When we spend less time on entertainment, we will retain more energy or life-force within our body. Then, we will not only benefit ourselves, we will also radiate positive energy to the loved ones around us.

Why is it that most of us chase after mental and sensual simulation instead of inner-peace? This is because we tend to identify with the immediate effects of an event and overlook the later effects. A smoker can easily identify with the ‘high’ he gets from a cigarette but he will not be conscious of the subsequent negative effects of smoking on his emotional and physical well-being. When we watch a violent movie, we can easily identify with the excitement that the movie generates but fail to see the negative after-effects of feeling mentally exhausted and irritable. The violent movie may also cause us to develop violent tendencies. The negative effects may last for hours and even carry over to the next day. It is funny to consider why we bother to think about past life ‘karmas’ when we cannot see the cause and effects of events that are just a few hours away.

 So, if we are having trouble cutting down on the entertainment that we indulge in, then the answer may simply be to try to observe the longer term effects of those activities. Previously, I wrote about observing the after-effects of our spiritual practice. It also makes a lot of sense to observe the after-effects of the entertainment we frequently enjoy.

In summary, humanity deals with mental suffering by using two broad strategies. The vast majority of us turn to distractions; we look for all available means to distract ourselves from our own thoughts. The wise ones knows that this strategy, at best, grants only temporary relief and is not conducive to personal growth. They understand that distracting activities only leaves the person tired, irritable and unstable. Therefore, they have the courage to face their own Mind. They listen to or watch all their thoughts and mental formations in order to understand themselves. Through understanding, they take away the power from the negative thoughts to disrupt their inner peace. Fewer external events can move them and eventually, they become like poles planted deeply into the earth, unmovable by even the strongest wind.


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