Friday, January 27, 2012

A Simple Discipline

Commit not a single unwholesome action, 
Cultivate a wealth of good qualities, 
To tame this mind of ours,
This is my doctrine.
Buddha Shakyamuni

Discipline is meant to simplify our life.  It provides direction and rights our course if we go astray.  Discipline is not moral righteousness with its attendants of arrogance and guilt.  Shantideva wrote in his Way of the Bodhisattva that it is we who corrupt ourselves, it is in this sense that we apply the practice of discipline.

Commit not a single unwholesome action

The essence of this practice is simple- do no harm.  The application of this practice is not easy at all.  We should strive to do no harm with our body, speech and mind.  Make effort because it does not come easy.

There is a story of a monk who would use black and white stones to track his actions throughout the day.  For every good action he would put a white stone in his right pocket, for every harmful action he would put a black stone in his left pocket.  At first he found his pockets only full of black stones and everywhere he turned he encountered conflict in the world.  As he applied effort to the practice he began to have a balance of black and white stones, and while he still encountered conflict he was beginning to see how he could act in certain situations.  In the end, he only found white stones in his pockets, his mind was peaceful and there were no threats to be found.

Cultivate a wealth of good qualities

Our mind is an open plain of pure potential in which anything at all can arise.  Cultivate qualities that will bring benefit to you and others.

Develop the mind.  Habituate the mind.  Train the mind.  

The qualities that we can develop are endless, but the qualities that the Buddha taught bring  fulfillment are the four immeasurables and six perfections.  In the battlefield of afflicted emotions within our own mind, the six perfections- generosity, discipline, patience, joyous perseverance, meditative equipoise and wisdom- function like an impenetrable armor and the four immeasurables- love, compassion, joy and equanimity- are the equipment we carry.  It is these qualities that the Victor's before us have cultivated on the path and likewise it is in this way that we should train.

To tame this mind of ours

Cultivate an open, calm and clear mind that is free from afflictive emotions, negative habitual tendencies and cognitive obscurations.  All of the teachings are meant to reveal the naturally liberated state, our own authentic condition, but they need to be applied to our life and our mind.

Where would I possibly find enough leather
With which to cover the surface of the earth?
But just the leather on the soles of my shoes
Is equivalent to covering the earth with it.

Likewise it is not possible for me
To restrain the external course of things.
But should I restrain this mind of mine
What would be the need to restrain all else?

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