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2016-11-27

MINDFULNESS OF THE MIND


 Years ago, when visiting a friend's house, I liked her beautiful garden, except some bushes that gave a bad smell. One day, praising its gorgeous flowers, this friend took me to see her secret: the compost!


Behind the bushes, I thought the origin of a bad smell, where the compost was prepared. I realized that the compost was what allowed her to get the flowers’ perfume. One was the continuation of the other. A good gardener knows how to obtain from organic waste compost to use it properly, not being bothered by the smell, recognizing its usefulness. We can all be excellent gardeners of our minds.
 
In the previous blog we saw how to be aware of our body and its actions: eating, walking, driving our vehicle, etc., all external aspects of the mind. This text will focus mindfulness in the inner aspects of the mind. To apply the transformational use of mindfulness, I have taken “anger” as example. An angry person is represented out of control, with bitter face, red of blood, altered, aggressive, off-center of his own being. Let’s see what happens mentally with anger: how it arises, manifests, affects, dissipates and becomes calm and peaceful.

Thich Nhat Hanh says that when anger is observed, we should follow it breathing very closely. Generally when people are angry or upset, are they not breathing more agitatedly and raise their palpitations? Conscious observation of anger prevents it from monopolizing the mind completely. Awareness permits us recognize "the mind is angry, and I am angry"; we see what happens; we are alerted to our mental state. When we do this we put into action "mindfulness".



Being aware of anger, by no means we are trying to suppress anger, or expel it; peacefully we just look at it, watch it. This attitude illuminates what is happening, doesn’t judge, but follows it with a compassionate look, looking after it like a younger brother. We have to remind ourselves, we are not our mind, as a program is not a computer. 

The effect of identification, when the mind is angry, upset, irate, it seems to be as our own being is upset or angry. If we want to eliminate or expel those states, we would pretend to expel our own being. It's that old concept of Alexander Solzhenitsyn over evil: love and hate are in the same human heart and, if we want to expel hate, we should cut off part of our own heart. Who can do that? The parable of the wheat and the weeds to grow both together, suggests the same procedure to let them grow till the time of harvest.
When we are joyful and happy we are pure joy; when we hate, we are hateful; when we love, we are love; and when we are angry and furious, we are all angry, all furious. When we recognize anger or fury, we can be aware that it is energy in us, which we can transmute. But to transform anger into another energy, we need to recognize and accept it. 
This is the beginning of the transformation process. Thich Nhat Hanh gives a beautiful example, in his aforementioned text (Transformation and Healing, Random House, 1993). A container full of organic material, with strong smell of garbage can be turned into compost, and used as fertilizer for beautiful roses. In this process we first see and smell the garbage, then the compost, then the roses, as separate elements. But if we can discern deeply we can recognize that flowers were already in the trash. We know that a flower takes a few weeks to decay. In turn this garbage already contains potentially herbs or flowers. 

I always remember the strange and beautiful story told me by a director of prisons. For his first appointment he was sent to a distant province, where he didn’t know the customs of the land. In order to give the inmates some activity, he asked if anyone knew how to produce strawberries. A young man said he could produce the best known strawberries, if he gave what he needed. The director said he could count on his support, and asked what the need was. The answer left him dumbfounded: the droppings of other inmates! For rural people, the use of cows’ excrement has been the best fertilizer during history. Approved the request, indeed, this convict produced the best strawberries you can imagine. Not only the director, but other detainees also benefited from this transformation of organic matter into beautiful and delicious fruit. 





Duality prevents us from seeing the continuity of processes. 


Duality leads to discrimination between the beautiful and the ugly, the good and the bad, between sweet and bitter. Due to duality we reject the whole reality, and accept only a part. We should not fear the compost, or reject it. The same with anger, no need to despair, it is an energy that can be transformed. Anger is a kind of garbage, which is in our power to transform and use. This knowledge makes us accept anger, or wrath or rage. And contemplate it; doing so with mercy, gives us some calm, some peace. Gradually we can transform anger, hostility, and irritation, into a harmonious, joyous, happy situation.

This procedure is better than growing anger or ire, and giving it an argument, encouraging and accelerating the process; causing much damage to the mental and physical wellbeing. However if we look at anger (or whatever), with our breathing we calm down the situation, anger can continue, but will be less dangerous, lose strength, and it will be transformed into other energy. Mindfulness as a light, resembling the effect produced by solar photons on plants: let them grow, flourish and bear fruit.  The practice of mindfulness of the mind, will place the spotlight of our awareness on an aspect of our own mind, and as sunlight on plants, transform negative mental states into better ones.


If we suffer anger and return violent thinking to the people who produced anger in us, for their abuse, malice, inconsiderate brutality, cruelty or dishonesty, which can be real or imaginarily exaggerated, will burn more anger in us. The problem is anger in us, not what others did. When there is a fire, we cannot start insulting heaven; we must extinguish the fire, so that it does not spread. With breathing and meditation you can inhale and say, I recognize my anger, as you exhale you can mentally repeat: I know the anger is still in me. As you inhale repeat: I recognize that anger is an unpleasant feeling. As you exhale repeat: I know this feeling as it appeared will also disappear. As you inhale say: I know I can    take care of this feeling. As you exhale repeat: I calm this feeling
We embrace the feeling of anger like a mother to a child crying: with care, tenderness and understanding. When a mother puts her heart and mind to embrace and cuddle her baby with love, the baby will calm down. In the same way we can calm our minds. Some people to calm anger, fury, ire and other negativities use walking meditation combining breath and movement, paying attention to every step, and the contact of the feet with the ground. Little by little we will see how the effect of meditation calms, strengthens and gives serenity.  

Observing the origin of our bad mental states, we discover their roots, which can be lack of information, clumsiness, resentment, or bad habits in us, or the people who originated our anger. But we can also see and discern the liberating elements of our own suffering, which usually accompany the annoyances or disturbances. A compassionate vision, understanding and love liberate us of suffering. Angry people believe that their anger will pass away releasing the negative energy of their hearts through aggression, insults, destroying things, or locking themselves in a room and shouting to subside. These forms of combating anger to physical exhaustion can be dangerous.

They don’t use their own energy nonviolently for something healthful and higher. 



Anger arises in us, because the roots of anger are hidden in us. The society and other circumstances are secondary causes. The main causes are our desires, our pride, our agitation, our doubts, our suspicion, our confusion, our ignorance. When yogis or  prophets went to the desert, caves of the Himalayas, or forests to meditate, went to practice mindfulness of the mind, the conscious observation of their thoughts of doubts, ambitions, fears, desires. Nelson Mandela learned to meditate and used the system to transform his mind, so he passed from armed violence to nonviolence. He understood how other people's minds worked to be merciful and compassionate. He used his energy to build a society without racial discrimination, hate or injustice.

Yes, with mindfulness of the mind we can change and transform the world, because it allows us to go to the depth of the mind to observe the thoughts, for (if necessary) to transform, and produce the healing of our thinking. The Bible tells us to transform us by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12: 2). This is the most important spiritual activity to refine our being, and rise in the scale of being. As Shannon Peck well wrote, "love heals". The opposite: hate, anger, rage, can make us ill. Knowing how to transform negative energies into love, we heal ourselves and the world. 

How to transform violence into peace, anger into harmony, discord in harmony,
and sadness into joy? First is to recognize the problem, then apply the appropriate treatment. We can transform mud into bricks, iron into pots, gold in jewelry and trash into roses. And spiritually, it is possible to transform sick and aggressive thoughts into compassionate and healthy ones. 
The Dalai Lama, (along with Desmond Tutu and Douglas Abrams)   in The Book of Joy, (Il Libro della Gioia, Garzanti Srl, Milano, 2016) argues that what ails the mind are negative toxic, harmful thoughts. If we do not eliminate them, we develop a kind of unhappiness, discontent that leads to frustration and anger. He proposes to eliminate the psychic pain developing “mental immunity." This immunity creates a healthy disposition of the psyche that makes it less susceptible to negative thoughts and feelings, because if we are weak, the smallest virus can be dangerous. Similarly with a vigorous mind any attack can affect us a little, but we will recover immediately. Instead with a troubled and unstable mind, any small problem can cause a crisis. 

When anger, rage or fury takes over mind, the individual is identified and transformed into a mad, angry or furious one. Then the individual and anger state are merged into one.

The prodigious thing is that being’s consciousness has the light of love not judging or condemning, but contemplating, enlightening and transforming. This let anger deflate, transforming its energy into something positive. Thus the cause of suffering is removed, restoring health, immunity and wellness.

The practice of mindfulness allows us, in the words of Kahlil Gibran (The Prophet):

                           You would touch with your fingers
                           The naked body of your dreams.
                           .......................................
                           And the treasure of your infinite depths
                           Would be revealed to your eyes.

Being in the present moment observing one’s mind consciously, we avoid being manipulated by the appearances of the world, ensure our freedom of conscience, and reveals de treasure of freedom and healing to the world.
© Pietro Grieco


3 comments:

  1. Wonderful to have a record of spiritual healings shared with the world's enlightened thinkers!
    Sally

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi lovely friend, I enjoyed reading this and visiting your site. You are speaking Light to the Universe.
    I've just completed my own new website - www.scottypeck.com with a few Hafix-like poems. And Shannon and I just revised www.TheLoveCenter.com to focus on our two course - "Become a Love Master" and "Become a Peace Master"
    Isn't it wonderful that the four of us can be in such love synchronicity!! Massive love from the Pecks!!! Warmly, Scotty

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  3. Hi, Pietro! Beautiful blog. Thank you! Unos momentos de la belleza clara del espíritu. The Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew Buddhist temple in Thailand is breathtaking to behold. It is divine beauty expressed in architecture. It also happens to be made of over one million used beer bottles!
    Rosemary

    ReplyDelete

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