Sunday, January 30, 2005

"The Peaceful Mind"

Today I found myself browsing on the Beliefnet website and came across an article entitled "The Peaceful Mind" which reported on an interview with the Dalai Lama. Here is an excerpt:

In one of your books you talk about a secular spirituality. How much of a health component does that have?

Everybody wants a happy, successful life. Of course, external conditions are important, but I think that for a happy life, a happy family, and a happy community, much depends on our mental attitude. The key factor, I feel, is human compassion, a sense of caring for one another. Sometimes, when we talk about the value of compassion and forgiveness and love, people get the impression these are religious matters: When people have religious faith, these things are important; otherwise, they aren’t relevant. That kind of attitude, I think, is due to ignorance or lack of awareness, and I feel it’s dangerous.

Generally speaking, in advanced societies, the education facility is excellent. But there is a lack of something here in the heart. Sometimes, the brilliant brain can create more suffering, more trouble. So the smart brain must be balanced with a warm heart, a good heart--a sense of responsibility, of concern for the well-being of others. An individual who has this good quality automatically becomes calmer and more peaceful. So these values might promote deeper human values, not necessarily religious faith.

They also promote health. The American Medical Association Journal is doing a series of reports saying that American doctors should use meditation and relaxation therapies in combination with regular medication and surgery for most common ailments. A lot of this research was inspired by your work.

What I believe, according to my own experience, is that a calm, peaceful mind is a very important element for sustaining the body in a balanced way. When you lose your temper, immediately you feel uncomfortable. Eventually, you lose your digestion and sleep. You have to rely more and more on tranquilizers. So, whether you are a believer or a non-believer, the peaceful mind in daily life is very, very important.

I also consider human activities. Whether these activities are constructive or destructive, depends on mental attitude. If the motivation is negative, even religion becomes dirty religion. If your mental attitude is right, then human actions become useful and constructive. So the mind is very important. I think that in the medical field, more and more people may now realize this. Maybe.
I think the expression "dirty religion" is very evocative! Yes, let us guard against letting our religion drift into the "dirty" category. I also appreciate his mention of the negative consequences of losing one's temper. Yes, it's important to acknowledge anger in ourselves when it's there and to accept it without judgment. But it is not skillful to indulge it and feed it more energy. The meditative principle teaches us to notice the anger, accept it without judgment, let it go and then bring our mind back to the present moment - to whatever we are doing. This way, anger will simply run out of energy and dissolve. This is the way to real freedom - not spinning out of control and losing our temper.

No comments:

Post a Comment

New policy: Anonymous posts must be signed or they will be deleted. Pick a name, any name (it could be Paperclip or Doorknob), but identify yourself in some way. Thank you.