Sunday, December 19, 2010

Guarding the Mind

A few unkind words from loved one, that's all it had taken for me to go down the unhappy path, again.

In my head, I knew better than to blame, and complain. The last round had me convinced, the real problem was inside.

Why then the mind's reluctance to actually forgive, and forego? Thoughts about the offense, and lingering pain in the heart, kept on spoiling new moments.

Old habits die hard, it is said. Once deluded mind had been programmed to hang on to the suffering of bruised ego. 

But wait, this did not make any sense. Why be so unkind, to myself? Loved one had long forgotten about our exchange. I, on the other hand, continued to stir the wound. 

Reading Ayya Khema, I found the words I had been looking for:

"We let the mind get burned, scratched, and abraded by its ego assertions and reactions, and afflicted with worldly considerations of like and dislike, anger and rejection. These ideas scratch at the pure texture of the mind. If we wound the mind often enough - and nobody's immune from that - scratches become deep scars, difficult to heal. These scars are our limitations. The mind is a jewel, beautiful in its purity. Scarring and scratching brings unhappiness. Only we can protect the mind. Only we can prevent the negative thoughts that scratch the jewel of the mind. When we truly work for our inner purification, we need no longer blame outside conditions for our reactions. We are the guardians and cultivators of the mind." ~ from, Be an Island ~

With even greater clarity, I could see: to restore pure mind, or to continue the scratching, the choice was up to me. I loved myself too much to suffer any longer.


  1. This analogy of burning and scratching the mind makes the point so wonderfully clear. A good reminder when we are caught in the middle of this destructive behaviour which is so deeply ingrained. Thanks for this!

  2. Yes, Ayya Khema is such a wonderful teacher. Many times her words have helped me shift my views, in a very profound, enduring way.

  3. Compassion for someone who did us wrong--difficult, but it benefits one's self as much as or more than the opposite party! I can easily tumble into a depressive funk after such an incident, but compassion has a certain power to soak up all the negativity in the mind.

  4. It's not the brick that hits us on the head that is our karma, it's how we feel about it. The brick exists; it's just a brick.
    Non-complaining all-acceptance is the answer and, as far as I can tell, a lifetime of hard work; and even then, some stuff just won't go away no matter how hard we try. So, then, we're back to all-acceptance. If this practice were easy, everybody would be doing it.
    I find it helpful to remember that consciousness is just one of the senses and that what appears in it is the same as something we see, hear, taste, feel or smell. Very little of what our senses take in, is self produced.
    Anyway, I enjoy your blog and hope I wasn't too opinionated. Just some thoughts that came up. Best wishes to you.

  5. Great comment Helmut! I very much value your sharing.

  6. Good reminder. I had a difficult exchange this past Friday with a loved one. There were a couple of directions it could have gone. I felt the scratching of my ego...the defensiveness and hurt..the desire to protect and defend my sense of self and retaliate. I saw this in the moment and became curious. I could feel the tightness in my throat and the energy flowing through my body ready to attack back. I chose a different path...a path of forgiveness and not retaliating. In acting that way, the dynamics completely changed. What could have been a horrible evening turned out to be a very pleasant one. After the fact I couldn't help but think how things would have been much different if I had continued on the 'protect my ego', 'defend myself' approach.

  7. Beautiful, Nate! Thank you so much for gift of your inspiration.