Friday, September 5, 2014

How to tame a horse.

Our minds are much like a wild horse.  It is unpredictable, hard to manage, often uncooperative and at times even dangerous.  It is also beautiful and needs to be respected.

Our minds are often left to wander and run wild, to do whatever they please.  Very few of us have really spent any significant time or energy to tame our minds, to render them serviceable and attentive.  In order to train the mind, there are a couple simple rules we can follow:

1. The initial approach.
You will find that when you first sit down to attempt to train and tame the mind it is quite agitated and restless.  This is normal.  Be patient and have compassion.  It has been habituated to running freely, is probably a little skittish and doesn't fully know how to rest with the confidence and ease of a well trained mind.  Your experience and confidence will grow as you become accustomed to this type of work.

2. Be a strong leader.
Your mind probably won't do what you want it to do right away, so you need to direct it again and again back to its focal point.  This is called mindfulness.  It is normal for the mind to act up, to stray and get excited, your job is to remain alert and maintain the discipline that the training requires, this is called vigilance.

3. Making the transition.
Initially the corrections that are required during training will require a lot of effort.  As the training progresses these corrections become much more subtle.  At some point wandering triggers an automatic reflex that auto-corrects itself such that there is no straying, this is when you enter the phase of effortless training.  While mindfulness may have entered into the effortless mode, it is still crucially important that you maintain vigilance, lest the entire training unravel and the horse makes a run for it.   There is nothing quite so embarrassing as thinking that you have a well trained horse, only to find them in the neighbors pasture the next morning.

4.  Setting out to work, with an attentive, trained horse.
A well trained mind never wavers from its discipline.  It is attentive, confident and relaxed.  It is patient and willing to bear considerable burden.  With such a vehicle, you can definitely accomplish your own aims, and you can passionately work to benefit others.

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