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Jun 13
Sunday
Dharma Teachings, Sakyong and Family
Be Pragmatic in Practice
Photo courtesy of Aarthi Tejuja

Photo courtesy of Aarthi Tejuja

By Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

As the great Zen teacher Suzuki Roshi said, “We are completely perfect, but we need a minor adjustment.” We have everything we need, but we have to hone it. Meditation is that honing process. What we are honing is our intention.

Meditation is not a recess or a timeout. It’s a deepening and strengthening of the mind, which affects our whole life. In our body we have muscles and bones we can train and strengthen, even when we’re out of shape. In the same way, there is inherent strength, clarity, and stability in the mind, and meditation is a way to bring that out.

We think our conventional mind is the same as it was yesterday, but like everything else, it is changing all the time. It is porous, like tofu. It absorbs the quality of its environment—the energy, concepts, and thoughts—so we need to surround it with the kind of environment and intention we want to develop.

There are many things happening all around us—traffic and weather, for example—that we can’t control. But to a certain degree, we can control our own intention and involvement. The meditation period is the time of the day when we train ourselves in that. We take our mind and develop it the way we want, setting our intention and deepening it.

Photo courtesy of Marybeth McBride

Photo courtesy of Marybeth McBride

We first discover that we can train the mind to be very still and focused, which is obviously helpful in terms of daily activities. Going deeper, we see that no matter what we are doing, our mind is always engaged in meditation. We’ve been training it well—it’s completely accustomed to particular habits. We also have karmic predispositions—anger, desire, or procrastination—and left to its own devices, the mind won’t shift from these patterns. But within any particular pattern, there’s a lot of room to improve. Meditation gives us the tools to direct the mind toward themes that we wish to develop.

When we have a picture of what we want to do, that’s intention. That picture allows us to make progress as we meditate. For example, if we want to have more compassion, generosity, or flexibility, if we want to be a better listener, or to be less reactive at work, we can train those aspects of our mind. So we have to ask ourselves, What is it I want to do with my mind?

Read the rest of June’s monthly dharma teaching on www.Sakyong.com.

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