Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Watch Your Mind, by Mara Horowitz

“Watch your mind” – a classic go-to phrase referred to by Buddhist masters and sanghas around the world.  The brilliance of studying with Shang Longrik Gyatso Rinpoche is that he meets each student at his or her level.  Never teaching that which is too difficult so as to overwhelm or too easy so as to bore.  For someone like me that means that Rinpoche first has to start right at the beginning and help me to better consider the importance of watching my mind before I can even start to learn how to actually do it.

Class Shang Rinpoche Taiwan Students
Reflections by Mara Horowitz
Studying with Rinpoche is like having a panoramic mirror held up to the vast expanses of the emotional landscape to which mind can so endlessly stretch.  Rinpoche so very skillfully unveils my mind to me and through careful exposure to all sorts of situations has helped me to realise that happy is happy, angry is angry, sad is sad.  Sometimes what makes me happy today will make me angry tomorrow.  Sometimes what made me sad last week surprises me with happiness this week.  The experience of the emotion is the same; only the stimulus varies.  Surely then it makes more sense to rather pay attention to my own mind and its reactions instead of being concerned with the external.

Feeling at a loss of how to deal with the deep impact the external has on my mood and motivation I recently turned to Rinpoche for advice. I asked how to better remain stable and not be whipped around by what is going on externally, like what needs to be done or aspects of life that I have no choice but to accept. 

Although Rinpoche has been asked this same question countless times by numerous students his patient and caring response reminded me of Rinpoche’s persistence to teach and help each one of his students to become clearer and better no matter what may arise.  He simply said, “You need to use your mind to watch your mind.  Don’t use your eyes to watch your mind”.  This still needs some thinking time to properly understand its essence but the reminder to watch my mind rests easy.  I can now say that thanks to Rinpoche’s wisdom and careful guidance I understand why it is more beneficial to watch the mind and less important to worry about what is going on outside. 

The freedom and feeling of independence that comes from imagining a life where my mind is my mind – stable and unmoving – regardless of what I encounter makes me want to employ that same persistence that Rinpoche offers to each student in my Buddhist practice. 

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