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.