I like to think of the mind as the big boss, and the senses as his five secretaries. In any bureaucracy it’s difficult to go directly to the boss. If he is a busy man, and the mind is surely that. With lots of appointments and lots of high level negotiations on his hands, you are wise to start by winning the goodwill of his secretaries.
For a long time the situation resembles those movies from 1930s, where Spencer Tracy breezes into the office, flings himself onto a corner of receptionist’s desk and turns on the charm= Hey honey, how is the bossman today. She gives him the icy look. But gradually the ice melts and the secretary becomes a strong ally.
To win over the senses, when they are clamouring for the second piece of pie, or a cigaraette and a stiff drink, you will need more than Hollyword charm. You will need systematic practice of meditation and the other spiritual disciplines. If you want to be admitted to the boss’s office, you will have to persevere over a long period of time. And if you want to be boss’s boss, that will require lots of hard, hard work on the spiritual path.
I once had a physicist friend who would gladly discuss electric power, but harnessing the
power of a passion or a craving-well, that was not dynamics, that was poetry. Power, he told me sternly, is the capacity to do work. Work is the energy required to move a definite mass a definite distance. No movement, no work. No work, no power.
Day or night, I had never seen my friend far from the desk. Then late one evening I came out of a movie theatre and saw him striding along like an athlete, several miles from his office. What got you up from your desk-I asked, you are breaking the habits of a lifetime.
Coffee, he muttered, I ran out of coffee.
Here, I said, a very definite mass has been propelled at least three miles, simply by one little desire for a cup of coffee. He got my point.
Mind and elephant trunk by Eknath E. Purity of heart is to will one thing. –Soren K. There is a Hindu story comparing the mind to the trunk of an elephant-restless, inquisitive, always straying. In our villages in India, elephants are sometimes taken in religious processions through the streets to the temple. The streets are crooked and narrow, lined on either side with fruit and vegetable stalls. Along comes the elephant with his restless trunk, and in one sinuous motion, it grabs a whole bunch of bananas. He opens his cavernous mouth, and tosses the bananas in – stalk and all. From the next stall he picks up a coconut and tosses it in after the bananas. No threats or promises can make this restless trunk settle down. But the wise mahaout will give that trunk a short bamboo stick to hold. Then the elephant will walk along proudly, holding the bamboo stick in front like a drum major with a baton. He does not steal bananas and coconuts now, because his trunk has something to hold on to. The mind is the same way. We can keep it from straying into all kinds of situations if we just give it a mantram.
Whenever we worry about something in the past or the future, we are setting up our own little haunted house and peopling it with our own special ghosts.
Many years ago I stayed at the home of a hospitable woman who happened to believe in ghosts. Her home had a beautiful view which took in a cemetery nearby, and though she was very fond of me, nothing I could say could convince her that ghosts from that cemetery did not pay her visits. So one day I announced casually that I was going for a walk in the cemetery.
When I returned she was wringing her hands-Did you see any ghosts? She asked anxiously.
Oh, yes-I said- Three. I told them you were too nice a woman to be living in fear all the time, and they should go away and leave you alone.
And what did they say-she giggled.
They said-We can’t. As long as she believes in us, we have to stay.
She stared at me for a second, then laughed out loud. Those ghosts never bothered her again.
“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one.” –GB Shaw
All of us have tasted the freedom and happiness that self-forgetfulness brings. In watching a good game of tennis or becoming engrossed in a novel, the satisfaction comes not so much from what we are watching or reading as from the act of absorption itself. For that brief span, our burden od personal thoughts is forgotten, then we find relief, for what lies beneath that burden is the still, clear state of awareness we call joy.
The scientist or the artist absorbed in creative work is happy because she has forgotten herself in what she is doing. But nowhere will you find personalities so joyous, so unabashedly light-hearted, as those who have lost themselves in love for all.
“As irrigators lead water where they want, as archers make their arrows straight, as carpenters carve wood, the wise shape their minds.” –Buddha.
The compassionate Buddha sums up spiritual life in one simple phrase, going against the current, the current of all our conditioning, in how we act, how we speak, and even how we think.