Articles, Blog

06-29-14 Cultivating Peace of Mind – BBCorner

October 8, 2019


Good morning. Good afternoon, wherever you are. I was requested to give this BBC. I’m a visitor
here at the Abbey. And I’m very happy to do this with the hope that it might benefit one
person. This morning Venerable Jigme shared something
that she read online on Alex Berzin’s website that triggered some thinking and reflection
on my part. She shared with us, “When my peace of mind is disturbed I know a mental affliction
has arisen.” Yes, peace of mind. How do we cultivate this
peace of mind. This kind of mind, this stable mind, would serve us well to be able to notice,
to know when a mental affliction arises so we didn’t open our mouths or act in ways that
harm other people. I have a lot of practice with mental afflictions
— destructive emotions, as the scientists call them. Someone says or does something
and irritation arises and I open my mouth and put my foot in. And then later, when I’m
reflecting on my day, or even a moment after, I have this sense of regret, knowing that
I opened my mouth and put my foot in. But there was no space. It just came out out of
my habitual pattern I’ve practiced so many times, that was a feeling of being on autopilot. Righteous indignation. That’s my specialty.
Again, something occurs, usually with somebody else, and then later that night I rehearse.
I rehearse it to get my argument better, stronger, over and over again I practice. And I don’t
get any sleep. And the scientists have told us also that this isn’t good for our health,
these destructive emotions. So, peace of mind would benefit us — would
serve us — to discontinue following into reactionary behaviors and habits. And that brings me to a book by Chade-Meng
Tan that Guy Newland shared locally with the local community at their cultural center,
and which I had previously read and also inspired me, because Meng was an engineer at Google
who had the idea — he had a big vision. He wanted to create peace in the world. And so,
being a researcher, a scientist, he did his research and he did his market analysis, looking
at people with these kind of peace of mind, happy minds– Because we now— The scientists
tell us that those minds, under MRIs, look different. They light up differently. So he
did all of this research and concluded that he — because he was given that opportunity
at Google to put 20% of his work time into following his dreams or his visions — decided
that yes, this is a realizable goal. We can create peace. But it starts with peace in
each individual. And the root of problems is the human mind, the reactionary mind. So, he concluded that we need to teach skills
to train the mind in ways that will serve us better. And one of those ways is to have
a focused mind, a stable mind, that doesn’t react, that doesn’t go into those mental grooves,
the neural pathways, in those comfortable, autopilot ways that we have. So, basically, Meng brought meditation to
Google, but he never used the word meditation. He’s coming from a scientific, and felt that
those that he would be addressing, training would also be more open to that way of developing
those skills. And so that fascinated me, because, like His
Holiness the Dalai Lama is saying, many of these trainings that we receive in our Buddhist
trainings can benefit everybody. Many people of all religions or no religions. So I was
particularly inspired by Meng, what he did at Google. His skillful way of bringing meditation
to people. So yes, the meditation focused on developing
attention skills, being able to have one’s mind stay on one object and increase that
But, like any skill, it takes practice. You don’t sit down to a piano for the first time
and play a Mozart sonata. We all know that. Nor do we become an Olympic challenger, whatever
they call them, Olympic athlete, again with practicing the week before and having no other
practice time. You know? You practice over years. And so it is with this mind training,
or this mental attention, where as he said, you put that microscope — sharply focused
microscope — on an object and practice holding it there. But the reason you to do that is so that you
get insight into yourself. So hat you have the attention that when a thought arises you
know that it’s arising. So you get some self-discovery, some insight into yourself, and into these
emotions. And then he also had a third component which
is mental skills. But my main excitement is his bringing meditation practices of focusing
attention skill and emotional intelligence skill to Google. And then to us, too, because
we get inspired. This resonates with us something that might be helpful. And in Buddhist practices meditation is part
of it. But sometimes an individual trying to do develop these new skills by themselves
— Well, what I really want to say is it’s helpful
to have a teacher. Because, like in my case, I lost some practice minutes going off on
some wrong paths. I mistook initially meditation as kind of like zoning out or spacing out,
maybe like on a boat or laying in the sun. It definitely felt like peace of mind. So
having a teacher, just like with the philosophical studies, is so helpful. And again the same qualities when you’re looking
for a teacher. You can learn these skills by yourself, but you can save yourself a lot
of time and wrong detours by having somebody that’s experienced in this kind of attentional skill development and emotional intelligence skill development. Somebody who is knowledgeable in meditation,
in focusing the mind. Somebody whose outward behavior is subdued.
You don’t want somebody necessarily teaching you peace of mind who flies off the handle
in anger. They should have subdued their mind. Sincere concern for students. Because now
mindfulness and meditation are becoming very popular, you don’t want somebody that’s doing
it just as a profession, as a career, to earn money. Ability to communicate effectively. That’s
always helpful. Thank you so much.

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