Sharing by Eileen Dolan
When my children were young, I loved to do science experiments with them. One such experiment was making a compass. It involved floating a magnetized needled in a dish of water to see if it would point north. We took an ordinary needle, and repeatedly rubbed the needle in the same direction with a magnet. Then put the needle through a small piece of cork so it could float on the water. Sure enough, the needle pointed north. The magnetic energy in the magnet was transferred to the needle, and the needle aligned itself with earths’ magnetic energy allowing it to always point north. The experiment did not work if the needle was rust covered, the needle needed to be clean steel to be able to accept the magnetic charge.
We are like this little compass, when rightly aligned, our hearts and minds are in tune with the wisdom and compassion of our inner light, our Buddha Nature. Our thoughts, words, and actions clearly point out to all that there is a way out of suffering. Nevertheless, it is difficult to become aligned. Like the rusty needle our ignorance makes it harder to be re-charged. The cleansing sandpaper the Buddha offered was the tool of mindfulness to clean off the rust so we could be back in touch with our inner self.
Mindfulness does not come easily though. There is so much noise, so many things pulling our mind in so many directions. The Buddha taught there are 108 ways our mind can be defiled. It all boils down to not living peacefully in the present moment, missing the opportunities for compassion and wisdom that exists right here right now.
It is difficult to see our defilements because life has so desensitized us to recognizing them as problems at all. Like the movies and television in our society, over time the television and movie producers have added more violence, sex, fear, corruption, etc. and all of this is called “entertainment”. Negativity in entertainment has just become normal. People can sit through 2 hours of a movies which depicted more violence, hate, fear, and corruption than one would experience in a lifetime, then walk out of the movie saying how good it was, the music or cinematography or special effects made it a “great” movie. Not to say all movies are bad, just noting that we do not get offended anymore at things which should offend us.
The same thing is true about our minds. Cleaning up our minds is re-sensitizing the mind to be able to know true peacefulness, goodness and purity again, to see the offensive as offensive and good as good. It takes conscious, deliberate effort to be able to open one’s mind and heart to the truth.
The Buddha is sometimes called a doctor who has diagnosed the disease and come up with the treatment of mindfulness to cure the illness of suffering. Master Bao Thanh talks about using a mental microscope or a telescope of mindfulness to be able to really see the impurities in our minds. Seeing these impurities should come with a warning sign though like some of the commercials for medication. “Using this technique may cause discomfort, feelings of remorse, sorrow, etc in order to gain the healing benefit”. Seeing our own impurities is hard. There is such a strong urge to run away, to deny, or excuse, or avoid because seeing our flaws hurts. Mindfulness does not cause the pain, it allows us to realize the consequences of our thoughts words and actions. Mindfulness is like watching a violent movie as if it were real life. We would be conscious of the ramifications of the actions in the film, “Those people who were killed had families, who now have to grieve their loss, the homes destroyed, created homelessness, those violated physically and sexually will need a lifetime of therapy and healing.” Watching a movie from that point of view takes all the fun out of it, even if there is beautiful cinematography.
Our lives are not likely to have the level of horror as a modern film, but even the small ways we are negligent, angry, selfish, have consequences. The mind is very clever in redirecting our attention to anything but itself. But unless we see our erroneous views, thoughts, words and actions, nothing will change. Just like when our bodies are injured, feeling the pain shows us where to focus the healing. Then, we need to stay in the wisdom and compassion long enough to allow the healing to happen. If we accept the diagnosis of our doctor, and we trust the medicine will cure us, then we are able to go through the discomfort of the treatment to be healed and not have to carry the weight of the negativity any longer.
Through the years of practicing mindfulness, I have noticed that I am becoming more sensitive to this purification process. I think that is because it is working. Like getting chemotherapy treatments, there may be a spell when I am feeling very bad or discouraged, but then more of the dis-ease is healed, and there is a period of feeling so well and elated, but then it is time for another round of treatment with another shot of pure energy. I don’t think any of us could survive the cleansing process all at once. If we follow the regimen of mindful meditation, we will gradually change, we will heal, we will be purified. If we give up or decide the doctor doesn’t know what he is doing and stop following the treatment, we will not make progress. The disease is not gone, it has just been shoved back down under denial.
As we begin to finally be free of the defilements, we can begin to be aligned. This is where the mindfulness breathing technique with the mantra Mu A Mu Sa as shared by Master Bao Thanh, can have a powerful impact on us. The mantra is like a super strong magnet which transfers the magnetic energy, the compassion energy, of all the Buddhas, directly to us, aligning our own inner Buddha with the compassion energy of the Buddhas. How do we know if it is working? Many people can feel the energy. But another good indicator is that our sensitivity to the truth returns. We can “taste” the good and the bad. We see our negative energy, and act to stop it. Our actions become right actions with good consequences. We have fewer regrets. We accept forgiveness, and offer forgiveness. We are open to wisdom as it arises in our minds. We are moved by compassion as it touches our hearts. Our relationships improve, and the people we interact with benefit. We heal physically, mentally and spiritually. We become a light, and an arrow pointing the way. We find peace. We become peace.