Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Investigate Your Mind

Lately I have been reading 30 minutes of Ajahn Chah teachings each day. It is just as good, if not better than, a 30 minute sitting meditation. It is no wonder that he had so many followers and opened so many monasteries. He was a true Buddha. He is the Buddha of the modern day.

For me, the reason why reading these teachings are so effective, is that I already have some experience of what he talks about. When I read, it is more of a reminder of what I have already learned from my own experience and from the investigation of my own mind. I am not saying I am anywhere near any sort of enlightenment, but I certainly have had a taste of freedom here and there. This taste has confirmed the teachings for me and increased my faith.

I call my practice “casual,” in that I don’t take a lot of formal sitting time. Time spent in a particular posture, using a particular technique, for a particular period of time. But I am constantly looking at my mind. Every day, throughout the day, I am always checking in: Look at this thought! Look at this emotion! What is that? Is it really me or mine? Where does it come from? Do I have control over it? Why does it make me suffer/feel pleasure? What is the most skillful action to take that will ease pain for myself and others?

I have been investigating my mind since I was old enough to understand what mind is. When I was about 7 or 8 years old, I had my first Confession with the Catholic Church. That is about when I began to understand the concept of “conscience.” I was very devout at that age. I examined my conscience well so that I could be sure to be good. And so that I would be able to confess every sin and be absolved. I wanted to go to heaven after all!

The same idea can be used in a Buddhist perspective. We can look at our minds and listen to our conscience. We can listen to the wise voice inside that tells us what actions are helpful or not. Which actions will lead us to happiness or not. Which actions will lead us to a personal hell or not. The Buddha told his son, Rahula:

"Even so, Rahula, one should act with body, speech or mind only after first looking at oneself. Before acting with body, speech or mind, one should think: 'What I am about to do, will it harm me or others?' If you can answer: 'Yes, it will,' then you should not act. But if you can answer: 'No, it will not,' then you should act. You should reflect in the same way while acting and after having acted. Therefore, Rahula, you should train yourself thinking: 'We will act only after repeatedly looking at ourselves, only after reflecting on ourselves.'"