GOVERNING THE MIND
Source: BY VENERABLE MASTER
Date: 2003 / 03 / 17
It is said that it is easier to govern
a country than a family; easier to govern a family than people; and easier to
govern people than the mind. There are ministers and generals who can govern a
country very well, but they cannot get along with their spouses and children at
home. Some people can take good care of their family life, people outside the
home and matters but find it hard to manage their heart. They cannot control their
desires, anger, worries, and deviant views and are constantly troubled by their
emotions and cravings.
The mind is like tangled silk that needs sorting to
be in good order, an ancient mirror that requires polishing to shine, and a wild
horse that needs to be tamed. Our mind is our master leading the daily activities
of our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and body. Within our everyday activities, a single
thought may ruin our life and reputation or help us gain success and fame. Therefore,
it is absolutely crucial for us to govern our mind!
It is indeed important
for us to govern our mind because Buddhist sutras compare it to thieves, vicious
beasts, a monkey or king. So what kind of power do we use to subdue the mind?
The following are four suggestions for everyone's reference.
1. Knowing how
to cultivate our mind. We repair our furniture when it is broken, water pipes
when they leak, and clothes when they are torn. If our mind has become smeared
by greed, ignorance, and arrogance, how can we repair it? We need the weapons
of compassion, joy, generosity, meditation, morals, and practice to treat it.
2. Knowing how to calm our mind. Our mind is like a monkey or a horse. If
we are not careful, it will commit all kinds of unwholesome deeds. Ming Dynasty
scholar Wang Yangming said, "It is easy to capture the bandit in the mountain;
it is difficult to catch the thief in the mind." Calming the mind is like
soldiers apprehending bandits or the police arresting robbers. Where are our soldiers
and police? Right thinking is our soldier and right view is our police. We have
to make good use of them in order to calm our mind.
3. Knowing how to use
our mind. We are often used by our mind but do not know how to use it. It is said
that the mind labors for its physical form. Our mind is often influenced by our
desires and external circumstances. It is driven by sights, sounds, smells, touches,
and perceptions from outside. The greed, anger, and ignorance in our mind keep
pushing us and working against us. So we must let our mind be used by us instead.
With prajna wisdom and clear understanding of sentiments and reasoning, we will
know how to use our mind.
4. Knowing how to understand our mind. Chan Buddhism
speaks of "understanding the mind and seeing nature." It means we need
to have understanding of our mind and be clear every moment. We should constantly
watch our mind and not allow it to come and go as it pleases. We must not be enslaved
by it. With right views and right thoughts to counter our mind as we contemplate
and understand it, we can be assured of clear understanding and accomplish anything.