In the last couple of days, I’ve really come to understand what the masters mean when they talk about “training” the mind. It’s not so much about “restraining” the mind as it is about developing an entirely different (but not necessarily new) way of seeing the world and reacting to it/interacting with it.
My friend Melody posted this dharmamonkey.com comment earlier today:
I sometimes “catch myself” really harping on things that make no sense whatsoever… specifically the things about others that are different from me. I’m particularly intrigued by your look at why it is you think you sometimes focus on those differences. A well-examined gathering of the layers of your history.
The “catching” is the first step, I think. To quote that public service announcement from the 1990s, knowing really is half the battle. Once you’re aware, then you’re ready to take action.
This morning, I looked around the subway car and I really didn’t see any differences among people, but only because I was making the deliberate and conscious effort to think of everyone there as my mother or father or sibling from a past existence.
Another approach would be to constantly repeat a compassion-generating mantra under your breath — older Tibetans do it all the time, using Om mani padme hung, the mantra of Chenrezig, the Buddha of compassion, shown to the right in Tibetan script.
If the “idle track” in your mind (my Monkey Mind is like an 8-track tape, capable of hosting numerous independent thoughts at any one point) is really focused on a mantra like Om mani or something else related to compassion and metta (completely unconditional and unattached loving-kindness), not only can you not make those judgments or otherwise focus on differences, but you will eventually start to see the world differently, literally training the mind.
Talk about a serious mental workout regimen!