How to Overcome the Mind

What is the mind? The mind means the many desires that you carry within you. Nature knows very well the number of desires you drag and carry as a burden within you. Nature sees how tightly and feverishly you hold on to your desires, so sometimes it grants those desires and sometimes it does not. But when we remain happy and centered whether our desires get fulfilled or not, then you can say that you have killed or overcome the mind.

Suppose you are going to a cinema theatre to watch a movie and you stand in line to buy the tickets, and you get to know that the theatre is house-full. Do you feel angry or frustrated about it, or do you feel “Oh, it’s alright. Never mind”. and simply move on ahead.

You may also think that since you did not get a ticket for the cinema hall, so you might as well go to a temple for some time ; or sit in a satsang for some time. When you are able to do this (skilfully), then know that you have killed and overcome your mind.

Have this unshakable faith that whatever is the best for you, that alone will happen in life. Nature will only give you that which will uplift you higher in life. Keep this deep faith.

When does this knowledge dawn in you? It happens when you give your 100% effort in whatever you do. If you simply sit idle and think that God will anyway take care of everything, then that will not do.

Usually, you do not think twice when you are about to do something wrong. But when you have to do something good or beneficial, you think “If God wants, then it will happen”. Many people tell me, “Gurudev, only when you wish or call us will we be able to come to the Ashram”.

Why do you need an invitation? Does God ever send you an invitation asking you to come meet Him? When we have to do something good, we leave it to destiny (instead of making an effort to do it). But if you want to fulfil some desire or aspiration of your own, you put in every bit of your strength to achieve that. You put your heart and soul into it. This thought process needs to be reversed.

You should know that whatever situations you are currently undergoing in life is because of your Prarabdha Karma (Karma that bears fruit in the present). And whatever you deserve, you will surely get that in life.

You must think, “What do I have to do in life?” And then you should just go ahead and do that with all sincerity, without thinking about what results you will get out of it. You should not worry about that at all. Just do whatever you have to do. Then a deep sense of contentment

Om Namah Shivay

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The Zen Mind-3

The way to abide in equanimity of the mind begins by being mindful of our thoughts. (Perhaps, Gisan too could have been more mindful with his words. Personally, I wouldn’t yell at or chastise anyone like that, no matter what the reason.) When you find yourself in a tug of war with your restless mind, simply pause for a few moments. Take a few deep breaths. Ask yourself, “What am I thinking right now?” Look around and become aware of everything around you. The room, color of the walls, paintings, doors, windows etc. Let your mind win. Let it take the rope. Battle no more. Instead, be mindful of its play. Just sit and watch how it generates thoughts. Become a spectator. It’ll slow down and then still itself. Like every drop of water counts even in a gushing waterfall, every thought matters in our ever-moving mind. Thinking is mind’s only occupation and it is a tiring one. Awareness of our thought patterns is the first step in calming the mind. And, awareness, I may add is not possible without attention.

An attentive mind, without exerting, in a natural state, free of mental, religious and intellectual constructs, is the basis of Zen. Effortless attention is the only way to be in the present moment. Zen is when mind is aware of its own presence. It’s an incredibly empowering and calming feeling — to be aware of your mind and understand it.

As D.T. Suzuki said, “The idea of Zen is to catch life as it flows.” This sums it up neatly. Our life is flowing, it’s bubbling inside us, while we worry about how things could have been or should have been. We have all these ideas, notions and preferences on what kind of people we want and circumstances we want to be in. Perhaps, there’s nothing wrong with that. How about though, if we learned to flow with the river of life? What if we learned to enter into the temple of silence where the fragrance of awareness and light of wisdom add glory to every pinch of existence? That would be a Zen mind if you see what I mean. Just everything as it is. No interpretations, no judgments. When you get past the jokes of life, you understand its humor.

Let it be. Let us see. Simply, let it Zen.

Om Namah Shivay

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The Zen Mind-2

In the famous Zen monastery of Sogenji, the abbot, Gisan Zenrai Zenji, once asked his disciple for a bucket of water so he could take a bath. Gisan had led an austere life. He knew the importance of every drop of water, for he had grown up by saving rainwater and using it for survival on non-rainy days. The plants, trees and herbs in the monastery had been reared by Gisan like his own children in frugal conditions, surviving solely on careful harvesting of rainwater.

The new attendant brought a bucket of water which turned out too hot. Not wanting to be late for meditation by waiting for the water to cool down, Gisan asked for a bucket of cold water instead. From the well by the back gate of Sogenji his disciple brought more water. It took some more trips to get the water temperature right. Gisan told his attendant that no more water was needed.

Finishing the story in the words of Harada Roshi taken from Morning Dewdrops of the Mind, I quote:

Having been told this, the monk took the little bit of water left in the bottom of the bucket, threw it away nearby and placed the bucket upside down. Seeing him do this, Gisan Zenrai Zenji yelled, “You idiot! You just threw away that little bit of water on the ground and turned over that bucket!”

Gisan continued: “At the moment you did that you were only thinking of that as just a little bit of water and were therefore carelessly throwing it away, weren’t you? Why didn’t you go just one step further, especially knowing that this is the time of the year when there’s never enough rain? Why didn’t you put it on the garden’s trees or flowers? If you had put it on the tree it would have become the very life of that tree! If you had put it on the flowers it would have become the very life of the flowers and lived on. Why do you begrudge such a small effort as that?”

With these scathing words he severely reprimanded his disciple. Continuing, he said, “In even one drop of water, no matter how tiny a drop, the water’s great value doesn’t change at all! If you can’t understand this value of one single drop of water, no matter how hard you train you’ll never become someone who can give life to that training.”

Gisan had always lived on the few drops of water provided by the rain. The disciple changed his name to Tekisui meaning one drop of water.

Om Namah Shivay

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The Zen Mind-1

Right now as this post goes live on my blog, I’m sitting in zazen with 100 eager seekers of truth, in a meditation retreat, discoursing on Zen, the path of no path, the way of no way. By a quiet lake, as twilight emerges on the horizon and a blanket of serenity and silence covers our outer and inner world, I felt it would be most apt to share my thoughts on Zen.

Let me begin with a beautiful aphorism, Hana wa hiraku bankoku no haru, from Moon by the Window by Shodo Harada Roshi:

“A single flower blooms and throughout the world it’s spring. In Zen, the word flower often refers to the Buddha, who is said to have been born under flowers, to have become enlightened under flowers, to have transmitted the Dharma with a flower, and to have passed away under flowers.

“When the Buddha was enlightened under the bodhi tree, he saw the morning star and exclaimed, “How wondrous! How wondrous! All beings from the origin are endowed with this same bright clear Mind to which I have just awakened!” For forty-nine years the Buddha taught that each and every person has the possibility of awakening and that this opportunity to awaken is the deepest value of being alive…

“We too can be born and can die under flowers, can finish this life as the Buddha did.”

Hana wa hiraku bankoku no haru

When a single flower blooms, it is spring throughout the world.

This is Zen in a nutshell. Our whole world lights up when our mind is at peace, when we are happy within. And, it’s all doom-and-gloom if our mind is indisposed. When the flower of mind blooms, it is spring all around. The question is how to ensure that this flower blossoms and remains in bloom? How to care for this flower?

Om Namah Shivay

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Smile for No Good Reason

Simple Things You Can Do to Get Happy NOW

In years past, I would accomplish a goal, have a moment of satisfaction, go on to the next goal, and achieve that one, only to repeat the pattern. I became a busy achiever but I wasn’t very happy. I had the trappings of success, but the grass was often greener on the other side. Consistent peace of mind eluded me.

Despite being unhappy, I used to think I was successful because I could reach many of the goals that I set. Now it seems crazy to consider myself successful if I am not happy. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the key ingredient to success is happiness.

Some goals can be very important, like making enough money for your kid’s education, or eating a healthier diet and exercising more. There are many books and seminars on clarifying, setting, and achieving these types of goals. Yet many of these approaches miss an important point:

There is only one goal that ultimately matters, one that is an essential part of all others, one that is available to you at all times–peace of mind.

Having peace of mind in the present moment as your single goal allows you to pursue any future-oriented objectives with a sense of calm.

When you have peace of mind as your single goal you are saying to yourself: “No matter what is happening in my life–no matter what my physical condition, rich or poor, no matter if people don’t behave and react to me how I want them to–peace of mind is most important, and is always possible.”

Imagine that your thoughts are like a swinging pendulum. Peace of mind is where the pendulum will naturally come to rest when given a chance. Calmness enters your life when you turn your mind toward peace, because there is nothing more powerful than responding to your call home.

A key ingredient to happiness is to realize that now is the only time there is and each instant is for giving.

Om Namah Shivay

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Patanjali Yoga Sutras – 8

The moment is free, fresh and full. Being here this moment totally is abhyasa.

The mind might try to go to the past, to smruti, or may try to go off to sleep and it can try to bring some logic and justification or some knowledge or some fantasies. Just knowing that again it is getting into the five vruttis, without aversion or craving, come back to the center, to the seer. This is abhyasa.

Sa tu dirgha kala nairantarya satkara sevito drudha bhumihi

“This becomes firmly grounded or firmly established in you when you attend to it for a long time, without interruption and with devotion.”
– Patanjali Yoga Sutra #14

This effort to be still, to be steady is practice. Practice is the stability factor, which retains you in that moment and that is the purpose of the practice. And how can this be achieved? Sa tu dīrgha kāla – it takes a long time. Nairantarya – without a care. Satkāra sevita – with honor and respect. Receiving it and practicing it with honor and respect. Dhrudabhūmi – then it becomes firmly established.

Anything in life that is of firm value takes some time to get cultured. You go to a gym, you need a coach there. Body building does not happen overnight. Muscles will not grow. It takes quite some time. The body has its requirement of time for its growth. Similarly, the mind needs even more time for its growth. If you want to memorize something, it takes some time to memorize it. In the same way, any practice takes time. It need not be too long a time, but sufficiently long. And how? Without a gap. What we usually do is that we learn something and leave it after sometime and we start again. If we are little lazy and we do not do it, then the connection is broken and it does not happen. Without a gap, constant practice is essential. If you go to a gym for a couple of days and then leave the practice and then you go again the next month for a couple of days, nothing will happen. Due to lack of consistency, you do not learn any art.

Abhyāsa is something done with gratitude, gratefulness, honor and respect

Some say, “Oh! I have to do it” and do the same thing unenthusiastically. That is not abhyāsa. Abhyāsa is something done with gratitude, gratefulness, honor and respect. This is something which we lack in our life. Even if you do something with honor and respect, it lasts only for a very short period. First day you sit for meditation, you feel wonderful because you are there and you do it with honor. Later you will say, “I have to meditate” and you sit and close your eyes and it does not have the same effect.

What is honor?
Have you ever thought about it? Honor is total attentiveness to the present moment, with a hint of gratefulness. If you honor the mountain it means that you are looking at the mountain with all your heart, all your mind. Without questioning or without debating in yourself, just honoring, being happy and grateful for what the mountain is.

Similarly, respect and honor every moment in your life. That is practice. You respect your own body and that is practice,;that is āsanas. Āsana is respecting your body every moment consciously. Respecting your breath and honoring your breath. That is prānāyāma and keeping it up over a period of time is important.

Any practice is a practice when it is done over a period of time without any gap, respectfully and honoring it every day. Then it becomes firmly established. Are you getting this point? It is a very vital thing.

Just notice if any day your meditation has become dull or is not to your satisfaction. See if you have kept up the continuity of practice. “Yes, I have been doing it every day. But it is still not good.” What is the problem? “I have not honored this mantra. I have not honored this time of sitting with myself. I am not honoring the life in me. So my meditation is going haywire.”

Honor this word (mantra) that the Master has given. This is so precious. Honoring the Master is honoring Master’s word. It has been told just in one sentence. If you do not have honor or respect for the master, the mediation will not work. Why? This is because the honor and respect brings up the consciousness and awareness in you that helps you focus in the moment. If you do not honor the Master, the Master will not lose anything. It is your own mind that is at a loss because it is unable to be in the moment totally, unable to dive deep into the source totally. Honoring the source of knowledge, honoring the Master, honoring the knowledge and honoring the receiver. This is practice.

Om Namah Shivay

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The Power of Intuitive Thinking-3

Love Lab

In an experiment to determine whether a couple will get divorced or not, John Gottman asked his staff to come to a conclusion about marriages by watching a random fifteen minute videotape of couples, while focusing only on the Four Horsemen: Defensiveness, Stonewalling, Contempt and Criticism. On the basis of those calculations, Gottman has proven something remarkable. If he analyzes an hour of a husband and wife talking, he can predict with 95 percent accuracy whether that couple will still be married fifteen years later.

The Perils of Intuition

It’s not the case that our internal computer always shines through, instantly “decoding” the truth of a situation. It can be thrown off, distracted or disabled. Our instinctive reactions often have to compete with all kinds of other interest and emotions and sentiments. So, when should we trust our instincts, and when should we be wary of them?

Let First Impressions bloom in a Healthy Environment

Our first impressions are generated by our experiences and our environment, which means that we can change our first impressions- we can alter the way we thin-slice- by changing the experiences that comprise those impressions. If you are a white person who would like to treat black people as equals in every way- who would like to have a set of associations with black that are as positive as those of you have with whites- it requires more than simple commitment to equality. It requires that you change your life so that you are exposed to minorities on a regular basis and become comfortable with them, so that when you want to meet, hire, date or talk with a member of minority, you aren’t betrayed by your hesitation and discomfort. Taking rapid cognition seriously- acknowledging the incredible power, for good and ill, that first impressions play in our lives- requires that we take active steps to manage and control those impressions.

Expert Speaks

Charnita Arora, founder of Perfect Life Spot (Institute of Language and Holistic Learning) says, “Intuition can be cultivated by developing mindfulness. One of the simplest yet profound ways of developing mindfulness is by being aware of one’s breath. The modern world is an over stimulated mind-world. In such a context, it is highly important to develop a tranquil refuge within by being aware of one’s existence in the here and now.

Om Namah Shivay

***Write ” Om Namah Shivay ” if you ask for God’s blessing on your life today. Please Like, Tag and Share to bless others!

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