“The greater part of human pain is unnecessary. It is self-created as long as the unobserved mind runs your life”.
Gross, Subtle, Very Subtle – States of Minds
In my previous article, I discussed the nature of mind, and how whether we are awake, asleep or deceased matters to the mind that is present.
Also, the perspective or viewpoint is important to the ‘truth’ of what you perceive. We can both observe an object at the same time and see two different things. Yeah?
The gross mind is so called because it is easy to understand that the things we see, touch, feel, smell are gross perceptions. They are more real.
When we go to bed our waking awareness dissolves into the ‘subtle’ mind of sleep. The things that are in our waking world disappear and then dreams (like the elephant in my prior example) appear to exist. We can get very scared and very, well, excited in our dreams. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!
And we awaken the elephants and the objects of sleepy desires are gone. We don’t go looking for them!
Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, in his fantastic tome, “How To Transform Your Life: A Blissful Journey, explains that the difference between this and death is little. “…when we are dying our gross and subtle minds will dissolve into our very subtle mind of death, known as the ‘clear light of death’.”
Suffering and Pain
hurt, ache, be in pain, feel pain, be racked with pain, endure agony, agonize, be distressed, be in distress, experience hardship, be upset, be miserable, be wretched
“Criticism is something that you can easily avoid, by saying nothing, doing nothing, being nothing.” Aristotle
Geshe-la goes on to explain why suffering is so prevalent in our lives whereas pleasure is relatively rare.
“It is because the cause of happiness within our mind – inner peace – is very weak, and can give rise to its effect only when we apply great effort, whereas, the internal causes of problems and suffering – our delusions – are very strong, and can give rise to their effects with no effort on our part. This is the real reason why problems come naturally while happiness is so difficult to find”.
Therefore, the main cause of our pleasure and pain is in the mind. Good News!!
If the principal reason that we are unhappy is in my mind then I can fix it. If the government, my wife, parents or neighbours were to blame then I’m in deep shit.
But because the suffering is caused by my mind I can get relief. It takes training but it is very possible.
We see examples of great feats of mind control all the time.
With un-human strength that people find who are trying to save lives, to martial artists who can punch through concrete, amazing displays of mind control are witnessed.
Achievement of extraordinary heights has been achieved in memory, strength, endurance.
Purifying the mind is another example of the ability of the mind to adapt and improve our experience.
“Permanent liberation can only be found through purifying the mind”, says Gyatso. By this, I’m guessing, he means through creating positive karma by acts of kindness and compassion and avoiding harmful actions such as killing, stealing, sexual misconduct etc.
In the short term at least, we have the chance to remain free from pain by appreciating that what others say and do to us is no reason to be hurt. It’s up to us to maintain a happy demeanour.
“To be beautiful means to be yourself”, says Thich Nhat Hanh. “You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself”.
- Your mind is not part of your body
- You have three states of mind – gross, subtle and very subtle
- Others can’t hurt your mind
- You can purify your mind, ensuring against future suffering
- You are beautiful
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