The Power of the Mind
A reflection on practice by Marcia Rose
In Buddhist understanding, the mind is not considered to just be the brain. Experiential understanding through our practice of Concentration/Samatha, Vipassana & the Brahma Viharas can show us that mind consciousness emanates from the energy center of the heart. The term ‘heart-mind consciousness’ that is often used stems from this experiential understanding. And each of us knows from our own experience, this heart-mind can make a heaven of hell or a hell of heaven.
And so we cultivate the mind. This is our path. Mind is the forerunner of all things. Reflect for a moment on the most powerful mind state you’ve ever had in your life… maybe rageful anger, depression, terror or jealousy. Maybe ecstasy or love or maybe a particular meditative experience. Whatever it’s been, recall how it really defined your world in that moment; how it transformed all your perceptions. With this reflection, you can understand how very powerful this mind is. You can see how cultivating existence in the realms of a pure, wholesome & beautiful heart-mind might be possible with this power of the mind.
Through our practice, we’re inclining the power of our heart-mind towards what in Pali & Sanskrit is called Bodhi Citta: Bodhi: Enlighted/Awakened/Liberated, and Citta: Mind. We’re inclining the heart-mind towards liberation – towards the pure, wholesome & beautiful heart-mind.
THE MIND – From the Dhammapada by the Buddha
Just as an arrow-maker straightens an arrow shaft,
a discerning person straightens her/his mind – so fickle
and unsteady, so difficult to guard and control.
Like fish out of water cast on dry ground throbs & quivers,
this mind flops around. Hence one should escape the realm of Mara.
The mind is mercurial, ever swift, hard to restrain, alighting where it wishes.
How wonderful to master this mind; a tamed mind brings happiness.
Let the discerning person watch over her/his mind,
so difficult to perceive, so subtle, alighting where it wishes;
a watchfully protected mind brings happiness.
The mind travels far, is formless,
and dwells in the cave of the heart. Those who still subdue it
are liberated from the bonds of Mara.
Wisdom is not perfected in one whose mind is not steadfast,
in one who doesn’t know the Good Teaching,
and in one whose faith wavers.
There is no fear for the Wakeful One,
whose mind is not sodden by lust,
whose thoughts are undisturbed by hatred,
who has gone beyond both virtue and harmful actions.
Knowing the body to be as fragile as a clay pot,
make the mind like a well-fortified city,
drive out Mara with the sword of insight.
Then guard what you have won,
This body, alas, will soon lie on the ground,
lifeless, abandoned like a useless piece of rotten wood.
Whatever an enemy may do to an enemy, or a hater to a hater,
an ill-directed mind inflicts on oneself even greater harm.
Neither mother, father nor any other relative can do one
greater good than one’s own well directed mind.
Everything has mind in the lead, has mind in the forefront, is made by mind.
If one speaks or acts with a pure mind- a pure heart, happiness will follow
like shadow that never leaves.
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