All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become. ~ Buddha
The new year brings to many the opportunity to reflect, and see the path we wish to take in our lives. For those who have been practicing Buddhism, or who are just starting, a good place to start working on is your mind.
Start With Your Bullish Mind
The Buddha saw things as they truly are, but he didn’t always start there. Despite trying the many teachings and practices of his time, it was not until he focused and cultivated his mind that he discovered the true nature of things.
We can start with our own mind just as the Buddha did, because your mind is very similar to a wild bull you have to tame, which is uncontrolled and always leading you towards suffering (ever heard the saying ‘like a bull in a china shop’?).
By working on taming and cultivating our mind, we can more easily understand the truth about dukkha in our lives (suffering, dissatisfaction, etc.) and how to overcome it.
Right Thinking, Right Away
The Buddha’s Eightfold Path tells us that “Right Thought” (also known as ‘Right Thinking’ or ‘Mindfulness’) is part of what we need to cultivate. But what is that? By having right thoughts, we are not allowing perceptions and events to cloud or color our view of how things truly are. We don’t allow that bull to thrash around in our mind and cause chaos. Instead we want to achieve a steady, focused, and calm mind.
Have you ever thought that going to work one day would be horrible, and it turned out that way? Or have you ever thought that cleaning the dishes is the most boring thing in the world, and it was? Those are examples of wrong thinking where we allowed our perceptions and wild thoughts to create the wrong attitude within ourselves which lead to dukkha.
Thinking Your Way To A Buddha Mind
So how can we achieve a Buddha Mind? Here are some ideas:
- Practice the Eightfold Path. Each step in the Eightfold Path is interconnected and will help you by reinforcing each step.
- If you feel your mind going wild, don’t worry. Just recognize and accept it, then let the thought float away.
- Question yourself on any anxiety and thoughts that arise. Make sure it truly is something you need to concern yourself about.
- Do something fully by giving it your undivided attention. Whether its washing dishes, doing taxes, or even eating, when you fully focus on something you are present in the moment.
- Practice meditation. By using meditation, we are able to calm, build, and strengthen our mind so it can focus and see clearly. This can take years, decades, or a lifetime, however the benefits are there even if you don’t realize it right away. If you don’t have a meditation center or teacher nearby, check out my article here, and also Wildmind (they even have online courses) or the video series by Mindah-Lee Kumar.
- Practice Loving-Kindness. Nothing speaks of the Buddha more than his compassion and love. Plant some seeds of kindness in your mind and grow something beautiful.
Achieving a Buddha-mind is within all of us and achievable with steady and continuous effort. Just like the lotus flower, which sits just below the waterline unseen yet ready to spring up and bloom, you too can have your mind bloom into something beautiful!