The mind is very hard to perceive, extremely subtle, flits wherever it wishes. Let the wise person guard it; a guarded mind is conducive to happiness. Understand this nature of mind is helpful to develop wisdom by overcoming cankers. Then, what is the method of developing wisdom and overcome cankers in the mind? In fact, it is not that much simple as we think. It has a rational process and we have to be aware of our own behaviors and actions to cultivate mindfulness.
For a long long time beings have been making happy their five sense doors by contacting external objects such as forms, sounds, smells, taste etc… normally, where mind goes we let it to go as it wish, we try to fulfill what mind asks for. In other words we have autopilot mind because we have let mind to go as it wish. Since this nature of the mind it is very hard to perceive. Therefore one has to make effort to guard it. The way of controlling autopilot mind is; practicing mindfulness.
1. Understand that the mind is full of shortcomings but inflated with confidence.
The ordinary mind is full of defilements which defile the mind. First of all one has to accept that one’s mind is consisted with defilements. There is no anything to hide since nothing is certain. One has to see what is in the mind as it is and if that thought is evil, it is to be eliminated. When the mind is consisted with good thoughts, it is to be cultivated. Sanditthika sutta of AN provides great guidance to realize one’s weakness as weakness and right as right.
"The fact that when a delusive quality is present within you, you discern that a delusive quality is present within you; and when a delusive quality is not present within you, you discern that a delusive quality is not present within you: that is one way in which the Dhamma is visible in the here-&-now, timeless, inviting verification, pertinent, to be realized by the wise for themselves"
As a matter of fact, this understanding is a necessary factor of a mind which is to be developed since one has to realize the real nature of the mind before putting it into practice.
2. Transfer the mind’s control from autopilot to manual control.
Once, a charioteer sat on his chariot and held the bridle and ordered to the horse to draw the chariot. On the way the charioteer slept and loses the bridle. Then horse drew the chariot as it wish and charioteer could not go to the place where he expected since he was not aware of where the chariot goes. Another time a certain merchants’ crew was passing a desert and on the way the leading head charioteer slept and the bull of the cart turned back and went back to the middle of the desert and merchants lost the way and suffer a lot for unconsciousness of the leading merchant.
Above two stories mention the way of running of uncontrolled bulls and horses. As long as horse or the bull that draws the chariot is not controlled, and charioteer is not aware of where the chariot goes, horse or the bull goes to where it wishes. And this way of going is called autopilot manner. In the same manner our mind takes its own autopilot way and goes here and there mindlessly until we control it.
Buddhist teaching provides many ways and means to restrain the unrestrained mind.
3. One has to put the appropriate item on the mind’s agenda
One has to put the right item to the mind agenda and remove the wrong agenda from the mind. To put the appropriate item on the mind’s agenda on the one’s mind he must be aware of the nature of his own mind.
According to Mahācattarisaka sutta of MN, mindfulness has been analysed thus into five parts and these statements also very helpful to apply proper mind agenda on the mind.
"One should be mindful to abandon wrong view, to enter and remain in : This is person's right mindfulness...
"One should be mindful to abandon wrong resolve, to enter and remain in : This is person's right mindfulness...
"One should be mindful to abandon wrong speech, to enter and remain in : This is person's right mindfulness...
"One should be mindful to abandon wrong action, to enter and remain in : This is person's right mindfulness...
"One should be mindful to abandon wrong livelihood, to enter and remain in : This is person's right mindfulness..."
It is clear that Buddhism introduces mindfulness as a technique which abandons evil or removes inappropriate agenda and cultivates wholesome or puts appropriate agenda on the mind. This is the way of developing wisdom to see phenomena as they are. Always mindfulness teaching by the Buddha refers as right mindfulness. In other words, Buddhist way of practice mindfulness leads to put the right item to the mind agenda and remove the wrong agenda from the mind and transfer the mind’s control from autopilot to manual control.
Indeed mind is just like an untamed wild elephant that has wild ways, wild thoughts, displeasures, worries, and would not get used to the end of the village and the ways of humans. Our mind is always full of greed, aversion, delusion, and other defilements which defile our mind and it is always searching for pleasure to feel, cling, and crave. In fact it is suffering from thirsty of greed, stress, and unsatisfaction. In a way mind is just like a monkey that jumps from branch to branch. In a way it is just like a jumping fish put out of the water. Therefore it is beneficial to tame this untamed, wild mind to achieve absolute happiness. The process of training the mind is practicing mindfulness. Developing mindfulness has a systematic order.
First, come out of the forest of sensual desire – (Realize, and be mindful about the meaninglessness and unsatisfactoriness of sensual pleasure)
This is the first step of the person who turns his mind to right mindfulness. He reflects that the mind is full of defilements, going forth is like open space.
Further, the Buddha mentioned in the discourse of the serpent (Alagaddūpama sutta, MN) sensuality is comparable to a skeleton, a tendon of flesh, a burning grass torch, a pit full of burning charcoal, a dream, something borrowed, like a tree full of fruits, a slaughter house, the blade of a weapon, the head of a serpent. And further he says sensuality brings much unpleasantness, much trouble and many dangers.
Thus as long as one sees this danger of sensual pleasure is considered as a person who does not have the reflective knowledge of reality (yonisomanasikara). In other words he is full of greed, aversion, and delusion but dhamma. This person is similar to an untamed wild elephant that is in the forest.
4. Look inside one’s own mind, not just “outside”
Mostly people worry and think about the outside world. But the Buddha instructed in Sacittaka sutta of AN to Look inside one’s own mind, not just “outside”. In fact, reflecting on one’s own mind leads to see one’s own weaknesses.
“How is a monk skilled in reading his own mind? Imagine a young woman — or man — fond of adornment, examining the image of her own face in a bright, clean mirror or bowl of clear water: If she saw any dirt or blemish there, she would try to remove it. If she saw no dirt or blemish there, she would be pleased, her resolves fulfilled: 'How fortunate I am! How clean I am!' In the same way, a monk's self-examination is very productive in terms of skilful qualities: 'Do I usually remain covetous or not? With thoughts of ill will or not? Overcome by sloth & drowsiness or not? Restless or not? Uncertain or gone beyond uncertainty? Angry or not? With soiled thoughts or unsoiled thoughts? With my body aroused or unaroused? Lazy or with persistence aroused? Unconcentrated or concentrated?'
This statement directs the person’s knowledge to cognize skillful qualities and unskillful qualities in one’s own mind through self-examination. This self-examination contributes to understand and apply the most appropriate agenda to the mind by removing inappropriate agenda from the mind just as we uninstall unnecessary software from the computer and install useful software we need.
On the other hand, the person who does the most dangerous harm to one self is done by his own because clinging to aggregates brings us all the pains no one outside. Clinging to aggregates is a shortcoming of a person and on account of this clinging one has to experience endless consequences for clinging aggregates. As long as we assume these aggregates to be self or belonging to self, suffering follows us. So, the way to be concerned about five aggregates has been given in khemaka sutta of SN as follows;
“Concerning these five clinging-aggregates described by the Blessed One – form as a clinging-aggregate, feeling as a clinging-aggregate, perception as a clinging-aggregate, fabrications as a clinging-aggregate, consciousness as a clinging-aggregate; With regard to these five clinging-aggregates, there is nothing I assume to be self or belonging to self."
In fact, the attitude about clinging aggregates misleads the person to an illusion which ends with a huge endless suffering and this is the biggest mistake we have been doing for a long time in this cycle of birth. Look into this mistake and one has to detach from this clinging aggregates.
One can be mindful in any action at any time. If the point of mindfulness is right it is good to develop it and if the point of mindfulness is bad it is good to abandon it. Mindfulness is classified into two; Sammā sati (right mindfulness) and Micchā sati (Wrong Mindfulness) that to be discussed in the field on practicing mindfulness. Only right mindfulness is prescribed in Buddhist teaching since it is based on wholesome. Right mindfulness brings advantages to oneself and to the others while wrong mindfulness gaining wrong concentration, suffering, and disadvantages which are harmful to one and to others.
Phandanaŋ capalaŋ cittaŋ - durakkhaŋ dunnivārayaŋ
Ujuŋ karoti medhāvī - usukāro'va tejanaŋ.
Ujuŋ karoti medhāvī - usukāro'va tejanaŋ.
The flickering, fickle mind, difficult to guard, difficult to control - the wise person straightens it as a fletcher straightens an arrow.
Thus, practicing mindfulness brings happiness wellbeing to the person.
• Diga Nikaya, Vol.ii. Colombo, Sri Lanka: BJTS. 2500.
• Diga Nikaya, Vol.iii. Colombo, Sri Lanka: BJTS. 2500.
• Majima nikaya. Vol. ii, Colombo, Sri Lanka: BJTS. 2500.
• Majima nikaya. Vol. iii, Colombo, Sri Lanka: BJTS. 2500.
• Sacitta sutta, AN 10.51, translation. Bhikkhu Thannissaro (1997)
• Sanditthika sutta, AN 6.47, Thannissaro bhikkhu, (2004)
• Samatha sutta, AN 10.54, Thannissaro bhikkhu, (2011)
• Khemaka sutta,SN.22.89, Thannissaro bhikkhu (2001)
• Vibhangappakarana. Colombo, Sri Lanka: BJTS. 2500.
• Narada. Ven. The Dhammapada. Colombo: BCC. 1993
Ven. Sumiththa T.
Sri Lankan Buddhist Cultural Centre - Hong Kong
3F, 27 Sheung Heung Road, To Kwa Wan,
Kowloon, Hong Kong
3F, 27 Sheung Heung Road, To Kwa Wan,
Kowloon, Hong Kong