1HOW TO MANAGE THE MINDNanthayani BhikkhuniNirodharam Bhikkhuni Arama, Chiang Mai, ThailandIn learning how to manage the m...
Dhamma Talk given on 30 March, 2013 at Karamunsing Room, Kompleks Karamunsing, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah,Malaysia.2brainwashing...
Dhamma Talk given on 30 March, 2013 at Karamunsing Room, Kompleks Karamunsing, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah,Malaysia.3of daily lif...
Dhamma Talk given on 30 March, 2013 at Karamunsing Room, Kompleks Karamunsing, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah,Malaysia.4THE NOBLE EI...
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How to manage the mind

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In learning how to manage the mind, it is important to understand the nature of the mind, otherwise known as consciousness, and how it arises.
The Buddha taught that consciousness is not something permanent that always exists. Consciousness is something that arises at each of the internal sense bases (ayatana) dependent on causes and conditions, and passes away when the causes and conditions cease.(The six internal sense bases are the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind.)
For example, eye consciousness arises dependent on the eyeand visual form. We can use a simple metaphor to illustrate this mechanism. Think of the eye as the head of a matchstick, form as the side of a matchbox. Eye-consciousness is like the flame that results when the head of the matchstick strikes the side of the matchbox, or when the eye and visual form strike each other. The meeting of the three – eye, form, and eye-consciousness – is what is known as “contact” (phassa). With contact as condition, feeling (vedana) arises. With feeling as condition, craving (tanha) arises. This is how suffering originates.
The key point to understand is that consciousness (vinnana or citta) and the mental factors or mental concomitants (cetasika) which arise with it, are the result of the meeting of internal sense bases and sensory stimuli or input(also known as external sense bases). Thus, it is possible to influence or “manage” the mind by managing the sensory input it receives.
Another essential principle to remember is that a wholesome mind, ie. a mind with wholesome mental factors, cannot arise at the same time as an unwholesome mind, that is, a mind with unwholesome metal factors. At any one time, the mind can either be wholesome or unwholesome.
It is thus important to create the causes for the wholesome mind to arise as often as possible because otherwise the unwholesome mind will arise.

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How to manage the mind

  1. 1. 1HOW TO MANAGE THE MINDNanthayani BhikkhuniNirodharam Bhikkhuni Arama, Chiang Mai, ThailandIn learning how to manage the mind, it is important to understand the nature of the mind,otherwise known as consciousness, and how it arises.The Buddha taught that consciousness is not something permananent that always exists.Consciousness is something that arises at each of the internal sense bases (ayatana) dependenton causes and conditions, and passes away when the causes and conditions cease.(The sixinternal sense bases are the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind.)For example, eye consciousness arises dependent on the eyeand visual form. We can use asimple metaphor to illustrate this mechanism. Think of the eye as the head of a matchstick, formas the side of a matchbox. Eye-consciousness is like the flame that results when the head of thematchstick strikes the side of the matchbox, or when the eye and visual form strike each other.The meeting of the three – eye, form, and eye-consciousness – is what is known as “contact”(phassa). With contact as condition, feeling (vedana) arises. With feeling as condition, craving(tanha) arises. This is how suffering originates.The same process occurs with:- Ear, sound, and ear-consciousness- Nose, odor, and nose-consciousness- Tongue, taste, and tongue-consciousness- Body, tactile object, and body-consciousness- Mind, mental object and mind-consciousness.The key point to understand is that consciousness (vinnana or citta) and the mental factors ormental concomitants (cetasika) which arise with it, are the result of the meeting of internal sensebases and sensory stimuli or input(also known as external sense bases). Thus, it is possible toinfluence or “manage” the mind by managing the sensory input it receives.Another essential principle to remember is that a wholesome mind, ie. a mind with wholesomemental factors, cannot arise at the same time as an unwholesome mind, that is, a mind withunwholesome metal factors. At any one time, the mind can either be wholesome orunwholesome.It is thus important to create the causes for the wholesome mind to arise as often as possiblebecause otherwise the unwholesome mind will arise. One of the main proximal causes for thewholesome mind to arise is having the right sensory input.For example, it is good practice to associate with the wise, not with fools. This is a point oftenstressed by the Buddha. For when one associates with the wise, the ear will hear words ofwisdom, and the ear consciousness that arises can easily be accompanied by wholesome mentalconcomitants like mindfulness and wisdom. The same is true for living in a good environment.For instance, when we live in a monastery, we will have many opportunities to hear the Buddha’steachings, that is to say, to hear the truth, and therefore we will receive the right messages andthe right information. In contrast, when we are living out in the regular world, we rarely hear theBuddha’s teachings but often hear the teachings of advertisements, and we receive the
  2. 2. Dhamma Talk given on 30 March, 2013 at Karamunsing Room, Kompleks Karamunsing, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah,Malaysia.2brainwashing messages of consumerism and the cult of youth and beauty. These messages oftencause unwholesome mental concomitants such as greed and delusion to arise.However, by changing the environment we live in and the people we associate with, we canchange the sensory input we receive, and thereby put in the right causes and conditions for thewholesome mind to arise more frequently and more continuously.These two examples of how to influence the mind are found in one of the most popular of theBuddha’s discourses, called the MangalaSutta. This sutta offers a broad range of teachings onhow to manage one’s mind, providing recommendations on many specific aspects of daily life.The 38 mangalas - or conditions that bring the highest blessings - are:1. Not associating with fools2. Associating with the wise3. Honouring those who are worthy of honourThis is the highest blessing.4. Living in a suitable place5. Having done meritorious actions in the past6. Setting oneself in the right courseThis is the highest blessing.7. Having extensive learning8. Being skilled in crafts9. Being well-trained in discipline10. Having good speechThis is the highest blessing.11. Looking after one’s mother and father12. Supporting one’s children13. Supporting one’s wife14. Having an appropriate livelihood free fromcomplicationsThis is the highest blessing.15. Practicing generosity16. Having righteous conduct17. Supporting one’s relatives18. Engaging in blameless and beneficialactivitiesThis is the highest blessing.19. Abstaining from evil deeds, speech andthoughts20. Abstaining from intoxicants21. Diligence in wholesome actsThis is the highest blessing.22. Being respectful23. Being humble24. Being contented25. Being grateful26. Listening to the Dhamma at a suitable timeThis is the highest blessing.27. Being patient28. Being easy to correct29. Seeing monks and nuns30. Discussing the Dhamma on suitableoccasionsThis is the highest blessing.31. Putting forth ardent effort32. Leading the holy life [practicing the NobleEightfold Path]33. Seeing the Four Noble Truths34. Realizing NibbanaThis is the highest blessing.35. Having a mind that is not shaken by theeight worldly winds36. Having a mind free from sorrow37. Having a mind free from defilement38. Having a mind which is secureThis is the highest blessing.A more succinct framework that can also be used to guide one in managing the mind is the NobleEightfold Path. It is excellent because it is the most complete set of teachings on how to live one’slife, encompassing all areas of the human experience. In modern times, in many Buddhistpractice circles, great emphasis is placed on developing mindfulness,as if this were the be-all andend-all of the Buddhist path. However, right mindfulness is in fact only one factor of the NobleEightfold Path. The Path the Buddha taught is a holistic one, and must be practiced in all spheres
  3. 3. Dhamma Talk given on 30 March, 2013 at Karamunsing Room, Kompleks Karamunsing, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah,Malaysia.3of daily life, not just on the meditation cushion. How is one to view life and the world? How is oneto think? How is one to speak? How is one to act in relation with others? How is one to earnone’s living? How is one to train one’s mind? The Noble Eightfold Path provides guidance in allthese areas, showing the way to lead one’s life that brings happiness and benefit. For the highestbenefit to be attained – the ending of all suffering - all eight factors of the Path must be cultivatedto their full development, in conjunction with each other:1. Right View 2. Right Thought3. Right Speech 4. Right Action5. Right Livelihood 6. Right Effort7. Right Mindfulness 8. Right ConcentrationThe Noble Eightfold Path can be streamlined further into the Threefold Training:1. Virtue (Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood)2. Cultivation of Mind (Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, Right Concentration)3. Wisdom (Right View, Right Thought)Or to condense the Path into its most concise summation, it can be expressed as the cultivation ofjust two qualities:1. Virtue 2. WisdomAs the Buddha taught, “Wisdom is purified by virtue and virtue is purified by wisdom. Where oneis, so is the other. The virtuous person has wisdom and the wise person has virtue. Thecombination of virtue and wisdom is the highest thing in the world. Just as one might wash handwith hand, or foot with foot, even so, is wisdom purified by virtue, and virtue purified by wisdom.”(Sonadanda Sutta, D.I,84).While holding the whole Noble Eightfold Path (in whatever mode of expression one favors) as theoverarching framework, in developing the factors of the Path related to mental discipline (RightEffort, Right Mindfulness, Right Concentration), one can find more specific guidance in theBuddha’s teachings on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness:1. Mindfulness of Body2. Mindfulness of Feeling3. Mindfulness of Mind4. Mindfulness of DhammaUsing these various Buddhist frameworks as guidelines for how to live one’s life, the wisemanager will be able to manage the mind such that it grows in wholesome qualities andhappiness.
  4. 4. Dhamma Talk given on 30 March, 2013 at Karamunsing Room, Kompleks Karamunsing, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah,Malaysia.4THE NOBLE EIGHTFOLD PATH“Monks, I will teach you the Noble Eightfold Path, and I will analyze it for you. Listen and attend closely; Iwill speak.”“Yes, venerable sir,” the monks replied.The Blessed One said this:“And what, monks, is the Noble Eightfold Path? Right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood,right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.“And what, monks, is right view? Knowledge of suffering, knowledge of the origin of suffering, knowledge of thecessation of suffering, knowledge of the way leading to the cessation of suffering: this is called right view.“And what, monks, is right intention? Intention of renunciation, intention of non-ill will, intention of harmlessness:this is called right intention.“And what, monks, is right speech? Abstinence from false speech, abstinence from malicious speech, abstinence fromharsh speech, abstinence from idle chatter: this is called right speech.“And what, monks, is right action? Abstinence from the destruction of life, abstinence from taking what is not given,abstinence from sexual misconduct: this is called right action.“And what, monks, is right livelihood? Here a noble disciple, having abandoned a wrong mode of livelihood, earns hisliving by a right livelihood: this is called right livelihood.“And what, monks, is right effort? Here, monks, a monk generates desire for the nonarising of unarisen evilunwholesome states; he makes an effort, arouses energy, applies his mind, and strives. He generates desire for theabandoning of arisen evil unwholesome states…He generates desire for the arising of unarisen wholesome states…Hegenerates desire for the continuation of arisen wholesome states, for their nondecline, increase, expansion, andfulfillment by development; he makes an effort, arouses energy, applies his mind, and strives. This is called righteffort.“And what, monks, is right mindfulness? Here, monks, a monk dwells contemplating the body in the body, ardent,clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed longing and dejection in regard to the world. He dwellscontemplating feelings in feelings, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed longing and dejection inregard to the world. He dwells contemplating mind in mind, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removedlonging and dejection in regard to the world. He dwells contemplating phenomena in phenomena, ardent, clearlycomprehending, mindful, having removed longing and dejection in regard to the world. This is called rightmindfulness.“And what, monks, is right concentration? Here, monks, secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded fromunwholesome states, a monk enters and dwells in the first jhana, which is accompanied by thought and examination,with rapture and happiness born of seclusion. With the subsiding of thought and examination, he enters and dwellsin the second jhana, which has internal confidence and unificiation of mind, is without thought and examination, andhas rapture and happiness born of concentration. With the fading away as well of rapture, he dwells equanimousand, mindful and clearly comprehending, he experiences happiness with the body; he enters and dwells in the thirdjhana of which the noble ones declare: ‘He is equanimous, mindful, one who dwells happily.’ With the abandoning ofpleasure and pain, and with the previous passing away of joy and dejection, he enters and dwells in the fourth jhana,which is neither painful nor pleasant and includes the purification of mindfulness by equanimity. This is called rightconcentration.” (S. V.8-10)

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