What the Buddha Taught – Purify Your Mind
Summary: Sathi describes some of the Buddha’s teachings on purifying your mind. He uses the metaphor of purified water to describe how we can filter outside influences to purify our minds. We can gain the ability of purifying your mind and noticing the nature of the purified mind. Being mindful gives you a strong filter to achieve a purified mind.
Who is the most powerful person that is shaping your mind?
What is the most powerful thing that shapes your mind?
Who or what makes you happy most of the time? Who or what makes you unhappy most of the time?
And what is the meaning of purifying the mind? What makes your mind unsettled or unpure?
What is happening to you when you are angry? Who’s mind do you have while you are angry? Do you want to be angry, or not? If you don’t want to be angry why do you become angry?
How are you seeking your happiness? What makes you to be unhappy? Do you want to become unhappy? If not, why do you become unhappy? Who is responsible?
We take a lot of time to take care of our body and our mind. But, think how much time or how many things you do that take up your mind.
Probably, one or none. But, think, how much time you spend taking care of our body. We are seeking happiness through our physical body. Now what is the nature of this physical body? Is it yours? Is your body yours? Even though you claim that it is yours… it doesn’t behave as you want it to behave.
It has its own way of changing. Only one way, not the opposite way. Baby becomes young, young person becomes older. Aging But, no one can go backward. We don’t see the old person become young, or the young person become a baby. We don’t see it that way. But, what is happening to us? We do not realize that reality. A way to train the mind begins with that wisdom, that realization.
Now, with that wisdom, ask yourself, Who are you? Are you your body or your mind? What is happiness? Is happiness subject to your body or your mind? How are you looking for your happiness?
The Buddha said, “People are treating their hands for the wound on their legs.” What that means is we don’t realize the place of the wound. Just think, when you happen to be unhappy, what will you do? We go to a party or do something outside or maybe go to a movie, trying to take care of our mind through our body because we don’t know who we are or what our mind is. Buddha’s awakening is about how to become a happy person than how to maintain that happiness. How to live without losing the happiness? How to live without losing the happiness?
In order to become that person we have to overcome, we have to treat the reasons for unhappiness.
The activities for an awakened mind or awakened person is similar to purifying water. Let me describe it. What is the nature of the water? Just think, what is the nature of the water? What is the color of the water? Is it that there is no color? That is the color, no color is the color of the water. What is the taste of the water. There is no taste. No taste is the taste of the water. What is the smell of the water? No smell of the water. But, if you happen to smell, that is strange. You don’t think that water is good. If there is a color in the water, you think, that is not right! If it is a different taste you think, that is not water, that is something else. But, if you happen to find some dirty water, what do you do? You know that you can still get pure water out of it.
You will find a way to purify the water.
What is the mechanism of purifying the water? Or, what is the meaning of dirty water? How did it become dirty or unpure? Something, not belonging to the water has somehow got into the water. That is how that water has become unpure. If somebody wants to purify it, you have to find a way to separate the foreign things from the water. Simply, we have to find a good filter to remove it.
According to Buddha or the Awakened One, he said craving has unpurified our mind. In Pali it’s called pabasolum pikaway chitung. Which means that naturally you have a purified, bright mind. It has become unsure by the foreign or the craving which has come from the outside.
When you think about something you like, something you crave, you crave it from outside. This craving, you are feeling from outside. Music comes from outside. Touch is something outside. We have cravings to experience these things. Can you guaranteed that this outside experience always going to be good, or giving good? When you come here, always find a way to feed some good tasting soup, or wonderful snack? But, can you really guarantee it will be as good today [laughing] as it was last time. Of course, she went to pick it up can you guarantee the future? Can you say that I not disappoint with yesterday? What is happening to us in every moment we are opening ourselves to going through experiences. These are physical and mental experiences. I will tell you to experience that. You do not know what will happen in the next moment. Either you are either going to be happy or disappointed. You don’t know which.
But, our craving. You have a craving to be happy, to experience something how you want to experience it. But, as long as you have the craving, what is happening? You are not open to see what is there. Just like the stain in the water. Just like the something that is foreign in the water. But, the beautiful, good thing is, if you have a good filter you know whatever kind of dirty water you filter you can extract the good water from it by sending it through the good filter. A good water purification system. Then, you can extract pure water.
But, if you look at the filter. What does the filter do? It manages to hold what doesn’t belong in the water. You have to find out what not belonging to you is always subject to bring unhappiness.
There’s a metaphor introduced by Buddha, the Awakened One. If you find something that you cannot claim as you, not me, not mine, subject to change subject to decay, subject to impermanence, that’s not you.
Think about anything that you are seeing in everyday life. Can you claim your body as you or yours? Nobody will say it, but what is it? It is only the vehicle that you are living in. It has its own path. When you happen to have your first gray hair. Can you enjoy it as how you have had your first tooth? Not you, but your parents, must have enjoyed when you got your first tooth. Your parents must have called your grandparents and all their siblings, “Hey, my baby now has a tooth!” But, those same parents would think they would enjoy seeing your first gray hair? No, they would not. I know that those who have experienced seeing their first gray hair you just pull it without thinking twice because even you do not want to see it. You hide it. What’s behind this? This is against against you and your expectations. Because this is not you. Your hair is not you.
When you happen to have some physical changes wrinkling your face. Well, most of you are not at that place not, but you will experience that one day. I am sure you will be angry with your mirror for showing that to you. Because this not me. Once when you realize this, what will happen is that you will stop fighting. Most of the people, they don’t fight, because they know they cannot win. They give up the fight. But, the ones who realize they don’t fight because they know that there is nothing to fight. When you give up, you give up because you don’t have a choice.
But, when you realize there is nothing to fight, for that person, there is a choice. Choice to not be involved. That’s wisdom. That’s the awakening of the mind. So, when you expand that ability, you can see in every day, with every experience how you happen to become engaged with cravings and how this craving leads to pain and disappointment. When you manage to not to maintain this craving, you can enjoy every moment in your life, every experience. You will know how to laugh at yourself, how to laugh at your mistakes. You will stop to defending yourself. Instead, you will laugh at your mistakes. Yes, I was a fool!
Think about all that is genuine, all that comes from within. It helps you to be free. That freedom is a result of an awakened mind. You don’t struggle or suffer. There is no pain. Always joy and fulness is there. So, Buddha’s teachings are about realizing the ability of purifying your mind. And noticing the nature of the purified mind. Then, the practice is supporting you to build up that filter. That strong filter to achieve that purified mind.
Recorded on May 19, 2019 at the Great Hall in Carlton College, Northfield, Minnesota during the Vesak, or Visakha celebration commemorating Buddha’s birth, awakening, death, and his passing. This important day takes place on the day of the May full moon.