The Essential Discipline for Daily Use – May 8 2018

When I first entered the monastery, the monks gave me a small book called “The Essential Discipline for Daily Use,” written by the Buddhist monk Doc The from Bao Son pagoda, and they told me to memorize it. It was a thin book. It couldn’t have been more than 40 pages, but it contained all the thoughts Doc The used to awaken his mind while doing any task. When he woke up in the morning, his first thought was, “Just awakened, I hope that every person will attain great awareness and see in complete clarity.” When he washed his hands, he used this thought to place himself in mindfulness: “Washing my hands, I hope that every person will have pure hands to receive reality.” The book is comprised entirely of such sentences. Their goal was to help the beginning practitioner take hold of his own consciousness.
Thich Nhat Hanh, The Miracle of Mindfulness
 
People want to be loving and kind. It is inherent in our nature. When we find ourselves in a place of being unloving and unkind, it is because we have become stuck in a habit of thought. We have somewhere taken on the idea that we need to protect ourselves, whether from an individual, a group or sometimes the entire world. We build a case and rationalize our behavior, and then end up repeating these rationalizations to ourselves in the form of a litany of what’s wrong with the people and the world around us.

“Blah-blah-blah, separation. Blah-blah-blah get out of my way. Blah-blah-blah leave me alone!”

And how does this make us feel? Unhappy. Alone. Sad. Angry. And then, not only are we telling ourselves stories about the world, but we, too, are of the world, so we end up telling ourselves stories about ourselves, because at some level we always know that we alone are responsible for our own happiness, regardless of who we may be blaming for our lack of it.

It would be good to have a book to show us a new way of thinking, a set of specific thoughts for specific times that are time-tested to change and expand our experience of the world. It would be good to have the words to speak to ourselves that would give us permission to be the loving and kind person we would like to be.

Perhaps we don’t have a book, but we definitely have books.

There are so many fantastic things written from and for every level of development, any of which can show us in detail how to shift the way in which we see the world and the way in which we speak to ourselves about the world. When we begin to change the words within our own minds, these “verbal thoughts” that so often are negative, we can see immediate results.

When he woke up in the morning, his first thought was, “Just awakened, I hope that every person will attain great awareness and see in complete clarity.”

Simply to begin to think about others and their well-being, rather than our own self-centered fears, is for us to join in the flow of life and thereby open ourselves to the healing power of nature.

This universe is Consciousness Itself. Outside of meditation, my most direct connection to Consciousness is my thinking. Why would I leave the quality of that connection to chance?
 
Today I will notice when negative thoughts arise and I will conscientiously replace them with thoughts of love and compassion for myself and for my fellows. I will find the way to give of myself, rather than to cut myself off from the Wholeness. I will insist on Life.
Redwoods (ambrotype), Muir Woods, Marin County, CA

All original material copyright © 2018 Jeff Kober