Buddhist mind control

I have seen in my lifetime how many people, myself included, turn to religion to find peace and relief from suffering. Dissatisfaction in our lives, and lacking solutions to difficulties, we often look for answers in religion.
I see Buddhism as being no different in the way it attracts people to the teachings. Plus I think the images of people meditating and appearing calm and peaceful, give hope to someone who is searching for some peace in their life.

I think that initially, many people see meditation as a way to control their minds. And meditation as a vehicle to begin this process. I think perhaps this was the concept I had when I began my journey in studying the dhamma. Control the mind, and I can control my thoughts and emotions.
But I have come to see that this may be quite the opposite of what the Buddha taught.
I cannot control my mind anymore than I can control my body. The body is changing, aging and decaying every moment. I cannot stop this or control it anymore than I can control thoughts and emotions from rising and falling away.

But this practice is all about observation, acceptance, removing ignorance (avijja), and gaining wisdom (bodhi). Not struggling to change or control anything.
In fact, by this process, the struggles are greatly reduced if not completely eliminated. By learning to see and accept the simplest things, like seeing that your back hurts means you have a back. That’s it, no more to the story than that simple reality. Now doesn’t that sound easy?
Well, I can tell you it takes a great deal of practice, and I still have far to go.
Not a day goes by that I am not caught in some disturbing thought or emotion. I attach to them, create stories, and get side-tracked from my practice. But then perhaps, the fact that I am aware of this is completely what my practice is about. Not stopping or controlling anything, but becoming more and more mindful and aware so that I can observe and then release these as they arise. And I see how beneficial my meditation practice is in teaching me to return to the breath. This being the same reaction that I am becoming increasingly trained to do while off of the cushion.

The longer that I practice, the more I become aware that there are many levels to mindfulness.
Each of our words and actions create far-reaching ripples and can affect so many others. And I am often dumbfounded at how little mindfulness I had in many situations.
But I am increasingly grateful for the observance of this, and able to see so many opportunities to live more compassionately in the future.

I think this practice is a wonderful thing, and I hope my experiences may serve as some food for thought. May we all become more mindful and loving, may we live in peace and equanimity.
May you be well, happy and peaceful.

6 comments for “Buddhist mind control

  1. jms_kail
    Monday, January 16, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    I particularly liked this article because it can not be repeated enough that we should not try to sidestep our emotions. Should not strive to get rid of emotions like anger, lust, fear, jealousy, etc., because these are parts of us like our arms and legs. The way it works with meditation, though, is that when these emotions are observed with COAL or curiosity, calmness, openness, and lovingkindness, they tend to lessen considerably to manageable, levels.

    • WHPDave
      Monday, January 16, 2012 at 4:35 pm

      @jms_kail I agree with you in part Jim. But I do also believe that mental formations can be eliminated with practice, unlike our arms and legs. Lessening of these disturbing emotions is validation that it can be achieved through what you are calling COAL.

      Thanks for the great comment!

  2. jms_kail
    Monday, January 16, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    Oops! I forgot probably the most important part of my acronym “COAL” (which really isn’t mine but Daniel Siegel’s from his “The Mindful Brain” ) and that is “A” for Acceptance. I’m always surprised to hear that so many people, so many Buddhists, want to eliminate some or all of our emotions, drives, time traveling, simulated stories, etc. Lovingkindness towards oneself is so much easier when we accept ourselves entirely the way we are (the way our brains are), rather than being dissatisfied and desiring change.

    • WHPDave
      Monday, January 16, 2012 at 6:28 pm

      @jms_kail I really like that COAL acronym “the state of simultaneous Curiosity, Openness, Acceptance and Love”. I often refer to Bhante Sujatha’s ABC’s, which is very similar “Accept, Be mindful and Cultivate”.

      I see the key difference is those acronyms is the cultivation. And while I agree that we should be gentle and accepting to the self, we can also cultivate more wisdom which can lead to the elimination of suffering.

      I never see myself as struggling to eliminate suffering Jim, I am learning to allow suffering to disappear.

  3. Ayla85
    Tuesday, January 17, 2012 at 3:43 am

    Everyone of us has there own perception with these sense, Rather I’m impressed to the idea’s regardless to “Buddhist-mind-control”

    • WHPDave
      Tuesday, January 17, 2012 at 7:28 am

      @Ayla85 Thank you for your comment Ayla.

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