Throughout the ages, men and women have sought to cultivate their spiritual side. According to Buddhist belief, the mind is like a mirror that we must constantly polish in order to ensure it is always clean and clear. If we do not, we remain unable to see our true selves clearly and therefore fail to understand the conditions of our existence.
The mind is the major instrument in the world. It is the mind that has created this whole universe. The body is just a vehicle for it, a conveyance. Unless you can control your mind, you can not do anything about this world. And the first step in controlling the mind is to know how it functions, how thoughts arise and how they are destroyed. In the beginning, you have to be very alert about it because there is a constant battle going on between you and your mind — and if you don’t watch out, you will be defeated.
The mind consists of two parts: one part remains in the present moment; the other part goes back into memory and imagination. Thoughts are nothing more than wordless images or sensations that have been photographed in the past; these photographs are stored in your brain’s memory center, and when they flash on the screen of your mind again, they produce the exact same feeling that they produced before. That is why thought always gives rise to emotion.
It is one of the best-kept secrets that we have in mind. It is a visitor who thinks itself to be ours, but yet it is not ours. As a matter of fact, the mind is like the inner artist within us that creates the entire story based on assumptions and traces of memory, past experiences, and traumas.
The first thing to learn is that you are not your thoughts, nor are you your emotions—you are awareness itself. And there will be some distance between yourself and your thoughts and emotions as long as there is awareness; otherwise, there may be no awareness at all.
Mindfulness is the art of creating space in mind and stopping it from functioning in a habitual manner, so we are actually aware of what we are thinking and how we see the world. It’s all about being present, being aware and letting go. This is why it can be so hard to master. But when you do feel like you have mastered mindfulness, it can bring a profound change to your life.
Beware of the mind; it is not the real you. It is just a series of thoughts, images, and desires. It is like having a stranger dwell in your own home. Be spying on it, watching it, following it. Every moment becomes alert and watchful, alert and watchful. Don’t fight the mind—this too is a desire. And be aware of yourself: don’t go on cherishing yourself—this too is desire, a subtle form of self-cherishing—because there is no self to cherish at all.
The mind is simply a bundle of thoughts, feelings, and sensual perceptions. It is like an acquaintance that has taken up residence in your home. Instead of being intimidated, befriend the mind and gain mastery over it.
The mind is a friend, a helpful guide on the path, but it must be kept under careful control. Be friendly and avoid attachments such as rationalizing or clinging to them. It will help you to see things clearly rather than just from one side.
Don’t let the mind deceive you; it cannot be perfect. It is working against you and manipulating others to achieve its own ends.
Do not identify with your thoughts. They can not define you. You are infinite awareness, pure consciousness.
Stay alert. Thoughts are just thoughts. Don’t get attached to them. Watch it come and go; watch yourself react to it. Remember, you are not your thoughts; they are not you.
Do not follow this thought or that thought, but watch the space between the thoughts. And don’t go on fighting with thoughts: they are not real, and they cannot be destroyed.
This is the process of watching. That is aloneness. That is meditation. Once you are able to watch any phenomenon as if it were a movie, you can be free of it. Then it does not matter whether it is anger, or greed, or lust, or hatred—it does not matter because it is a phenomenon; learn to watch. Just by watching, the energy will be transformed. You will be free of it. And this watching doesn’t demand any effort at all; it is not like doing something — just don’t do anything to it. And slowly, slowly, there comes a moment when you are so full of light and joy that your whole being becomes a prayer—without words, without effort.
A person who can watch without being drawn into anything that is passing is called an emperor/empress. If you can watch without being involved in any way whatsoever—that’s what awareness means—then you are the emperor on the throne in your own house.