The Teachings of all the Buddhas…
A reflection on practice by Annie Nugent
“Avoid the unwholesome, cultivate the good and purify the mind – this is the teaching of all the Buddhas.”
This pithy quote from the Dhammapada encapsulates our task when we practice the Buddha’s teachings. It might be a short quote, but it seems like a lot that we have to keep track of when we undertake the practice.
There is a story told during the time of the Buddha of a monk who, like us, wanted to be free from suffering. He was given all the necessary instructions but became disillusioned because there were so many aspects of experience to remember to be mindful of, that he contemplated disrobing.
Fortunately, the Buddha got to hear of the monk’s change of heart, went to him and after listening to how discouraged he was said: “Don’t worry, I will give you only one instruction to follow. If you can keep it, there is nothing more for you to do.” Then the Buddha taught him mindfulness of mind – the third foundation of mindfulness.
“The mind is very hard to perceive, extremely subtle, it flies wherever it likes. Let the wise person guard it, a guarded mind is conducive to happiness.”
Using these instructions, we can bring mindfulness to the moment by repeatedly asking ourselves the question: “What’s happening in the mind now?” Are we meeting experience with the defilements of greed, hatred and delusion – or their opposites: renunciation, kindness or compassion, and wisdom?
By checking the mind in this way, we are on the path to ending suffering by not feeding the defilements. Instead, we are bringing about true happiness as we incline the mind towards goodness and wisdom. In this way we are doing the practice of all the Buddhas.
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