Happiness and the mind

Last week we looked at the Buddhist presentation of what the mind is. In many ways, this is one of the most challenging Buddhist claims/concepts/truths [you choose]. When we look at the world we can see that there are many debates about what the mind is. Many philosophers argue from different positions – Monism, dualism, Panpsychism [yup it is a concept that people advocate, actually interesting]. And as Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche advises us in his book Clear Light of Bliss – we should consider the matter carefully and make our own decision.

Because we know when our mind is happy, sad, clear, or confused, we think we know our mind. But what if we were asked to give a clear answer, a precise answer, to the following questions- What is your mind? Where is it? What is its nature? What are its functions? Can we answer clearly? Precisely? If we can’t then it is an indication that we do not know what our mind is, nor do we really understand our own mind.

Because we do not know the mind, and we do not understand it, we have developed a wrong idea – we think that our mind is our brain. No wonder we do not have a controlled mind. We might have a sedate brain – but we do not have a controlled mind.

Why is it important to have a controlled mind [not suppressed, or oppressed, but controlled] because, as Buddha said,

‘If you know your own mind you will become a Buddha.’

Buddha also said,

‘Why do I teach to control the mind?
Because controlled mind is excellent.’

So, inevitably, the Buddhist path to happiness is about learning to control your mind. And you cannot control your mind if you do not know what it is. This is why, in error, we try to control our brain. Whilst we spend billions of pounds on discovering what the brain is, and how it functions, hoping that this will make us happy – we are still as miserable as ever, if not more miserable.

This is why we need to control the mind.

When our mind is controlled we can do marvellous things with it. We can learn to be loving and compassionate in a way that is universal. But without a clear and precise understanding of the mind, it is impossible to develop the universal love and compassion we are capable of. And without universal love and compassion in our hearts, we shall never know genuine happiness, and the world we live in will never know peace.

Last week’s teachings acted as an introduction to what the mind is. We developed an initial understanding, which will grow in time. From next week, we start studying the book, ‘8 Steps to Happiness,’ by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche. With the help of this book, we will learn how to develop the universal love and compassion we are all capable of; and how, in this way, we can bring real happiness to our self and our world.

So brace yourself for the coming few months as we explore the meaning of ‘8 Steps to Happiness.’

More is on the way…

Bonus material

  • This Meditations for a Clear Mind CD from Tharpa Publication is a great practical resource to get you blissfully going with mediation on the mind.