Analytical Meditation and Basic Sanity

“Whatever problems there are in the world

are created by the affliction in our minds

A mistaken attitude is a cause for klesas

Yet the pattern of our own thoughts can be refined.”

This is a verse from Mipham Rinpoche’s “Wheel of Analytical Meditation.”
I don’t usually refer to Buddhist texts when I am lecturing about meditation during the sessions which are designed for instruction. However, I thought that this particular verse written by Mipham Rinpoche was appropriate for the subject matter we will deal with today. It is difficult for us, as people who live our day to day lives in the exterior realms of our existence to grasp the concept of our inner life. This verse seems to be saying that everything we face is created by our minds and isn’t real. I do not see it that way at all and my interpretation is a bit less literal.
When our minds are afflicted, we cannot think in a sane and sensible way. That is why you hear me speak a lot about basic sanity. Basic sanity is that basic aspect of the mind that is free of the conceptual constraints we place on it. Basic sanity as it has to do with meditation was first used as a term in the west by Chogyam Trungpa. Here is an example of what I am saying, Take a look at the present situation in the world. We know that there are sane and sensible ways with which to go about solving our problems on this planet. But, because of various concepts such as religion, politics, race, family attachment, etc. our minds become clouded over with concepts that keep us from complete understanding of what we should do. Someone, for example, thinks that the way to handle all conflict is with violence. Perhaps they were raised being exposed to violence over and over and had violence done to them. Or if someone hates someone who does not follow their particular religious teaching. Both of these have had the principles of violence or extremist religion pounded into their heads and they are conditioned by them. This is what I mean by insanity in the context of working with the mind in preparation for meditation. You could actually think of insanity and conditioning as synonyms.
Mipham Rinpoche wrote about a “mistaken attitude” which is actually an attitude that is conditioned by conceptual thinking that we mentioned earlier. He is telling us that it is because of the conditioning of our minds that we have many of the issues and problems we face in the world today. But, the last sentence in the passage cited says, Yet the pattern of our own thoughts can be refined.”
It is possible to train our minds to be less focused on the stressfulness of life. We have the ability to understand the working of our thoughts and how they influence us and lead us to actions or words that we regret. Those of you who have heard me give mediation instruction know that I am of the opinion that one cannot completely free oneself from these hindrances such as conceptual thinking or what Mipham Rinpoche called “kelsas” unless we embark on a path of meditation or at least on a contemplative path. The world is too crazy and the human mind is too vulnerable for us to not take time to work with our own run-away mind. I submit that in our world today it is not only a good idea but it is a necessity that we embark on such a path.

More in future posts…

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