Sunday, July 12, 2015

Taming the Elephant in one's Mind

I cannot imagine how many times each day I say to myself to tame the elephant in my mind. It is a bursting feeling in the mind with no possible end in sight, and with no outlet for relief. It is anger, unrest and frustration combined in disproportionate and unthinkable ways that makes one feel as though the World around is fading away. It gives a jittery and uneasy feeling of being lost and totally confused with no way to take control of oneself.

Like an elephant in rage, which can trample anything and everything in sight, you feel like jumping out screaming and destroying everything around. It is a sense of being out of control, a sense of madness, and a feeling of utter chaos. How can one possibly calm down? What is the prescription to remain calm and collected?  Is there a way to find comfort and relief?

There is a temptation to ask someone, a close relative or friend perhaps, it does not matter who, to show the way. "Show me the way" is exactly what the Mind is telling itself constantly. It is a never-ending persistent ringing inside the mind that does not seem to go away. Is there an answer? Is there a Way? What is the Way? I am reminded of a Koan from the Zen classic Mumonkan or The Gateless Gate Case 19, which says "Ordinary Mind is the Way". 

As easy as it sounds, controlling one's own mind appears to be the the commonsensical and easiest way. No one else can give that power. It is a self-generated power to resist negative change. The feeling is between giving-up, or fighting to win. It also gives meaning to controlling aggression and building a sense of self-control. There is a sense of stability which offers solace and peace of mind.

A calm mind creates an environment for rational, constructive, pristine and innovative thoughts. Creative ideas help one to rationalize, organize and give meaning to why, what and how to challenge nagging issues or problems that plague the mind. Then, when one is composed and free of ill-conceived and destructive thoughts, one can direct the Mind to the knowledge of destroying the unhealthy and cankerous mind. It is a self-directed mind game in which the good and evil mind are severely at odds, disagreeing with each other, and with the good part eventually overwhelming and subduing the evil mind. It is a fight with the evil Mara in one's mind that has to be subdued and destroyed.

No one can do a person greater good than what one's own well-directed mind can do. A willing person will find the way.

I came across a video segment on Reuters News that meditation is a necessity for a calm Mind

Walking up a steep hill on a hot and humid morning in April of 2012 to visit the famous Buddha Pagoda in Chiang Mai, Thailand,  I felt totally exhausted about half-way up. Climbing the steep path of stone steps with each step about knee-height , made me sweat profusely and feel out of breadth. I could go no further. I had to stop and rest. I was being tortured in my Mind. "Should I stop, sit down for a while and then walk down?", I thought.  

A sign in the woods awakened me. "A willful man will have his way..." it said, both in English and in Thai. Of course, had it not been in English, I would have never know what it said.

My first thought was "WOW"! Yes, these were the words of wisdom I needed. No one I knew could have said that to me at that moment and have received the same attention as this simple message from the woods surrounding the Pagoda. There was no one else next to me. I would be lying if I said I did not think that way. These were the words anyone wishes to hear or see that reinforces one's Mind to be willful, mindful to achieving one's goals in life. There was a sense of enlightenment and I needed that badly. "You can't give up", I said to myself over and over again. One part of the Mind says "Go" and the other "No-Go". I was reminded of a Manthra from the Heart Sutra.

In Sanskrit: "Gathe-Gathe-Paragathe-Parasimgathe-Bodhi Swaha".
Translated In English: "Going-Going-Gone-Gone forever- Enter the divine Bodhi State".

What is Going and Gone forever mean? What is the object that has gone?

It is said that Bodhisathwa Avalokhiteshwara gave the Manthra as a means to perceive emptiness wherein all five sensory systems are gone, and even the Mind itself cannot be perceived. Lost is the Mind and hence the Mind is a void. Impossible for any one to perceive. In the conventional way of thinking, going out of one's Mind is called madness. However, if it is not madness that we perceive, then what is that feeling when there is no Mind to perceive the existence of the Mind! Difficult to perceive, let alone to understand and have the experience.

Perhaps only those few Masters in our generation, His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Venerable Thich Ngat Hanh and one special person in my life, Venerable Thich Le Thien whom I refer to as Thay Thien, in Vietnam, can describe in their words that feeling towards greater awakening in our Mind.

I suppose the Manthra could be read and understood as "Get-up, Walk-up, Walk-up faster and enter the Pagoda". This is exactly how I could have built the will and exert power in the Mind to act and pull myself up the hill. Our perceptions of inducing a push-pull feeling can be visualized as a "flux feild" that will induce currents in the human body and generate sufficient potential to energize the human Mind to getup and go. Imagine an iPhone with a RF chirp transmitter that can do that! A chirp that arou the stimulatory neurons to burst and stimulate the urge to do what must be done.

Having gained back the strength in my Mind, I pushed myself uphill, a feeling of Mind over Matter, or Mind over Body, however one can describe a feeling of Self-control, and finally reached the Pagoda. Whether it was a pulling force or a pushing force that gave the strength I cannot describe.

When I reached the top, I was simply awestruck! Everything flashed through my Mind. I thought "Where am I?" All I could see were Gold colored statues of The Buddha, Emerald Green Buddha, wall paintings from the past and a feeling of time-travelling into the past. WOW! What an enlightening feeling it was! It was as though a door had opened in my Mind.

A wall-painting captivated my Mind. A human with a protective shield like none that we know now or will ever know, against an enemy that is as formidable as one can possibly imagine. Who is Mara? It must be Mara the Evil Mind. There can be no greater enemy than Mara. He is in our own Mind. "How?", one can wonder anyone has that power in one's Mind to fight such an Evil Mind. It is said that when Gautama Buddha meditated, the elephants in the forest bowed as they passed by. The moral from this is that taming the elephant in one's Mind, will tame the elephants in the minds of others.