A guided meditation by Ven. Sangye Khadro (Kathleen McDonald) on the natural goodness of our mind, or Buddha nature. In this meditation we let go of all our negative, disturbing states of mind like anger, anxiety, or fear; and cultivate our positive mental qualities of compassion, wisdom, and courage.
Relaxing the body
Let’s begin by settling into a good position for meditation. However you’re sitting, whether cross-legged on the floor or on a chair, try to keep your back straight. That enables the mind to be more clear and focused and alert. At the same time, let your shoulders relax. Don’t have them tight hunched. Let them drop and be relaxed.
And also see if there is any tension anywhere in your body: maybe in your back or your abdomen or your head. And if you do notice tension anywhere in your body, see if you can let it go. You might imagine that it melts and flows out of you sinking into the earth below. Or imagine it evaporating and vanishing in space. Just try to have your body as light, relaxed, and free of tension as possible.
Focusing on the breath
And let your breathing flow in and out in a natural way, without controlling the breath. Your body knows how to breathe. When you’re asleep, your body goes on breathing without you consciously controlling it. So let go of any sense of control over your breathing and just allow your body to breathe.
And pay attention to your breathing. So with your mind, with your awareness, just observe the breath as it’s flowing in and flowing out. Doing that can help your mind to relax, calm down, to be right here in the present moment and in the present place.
Let go of any thoughts about the past or future or other places or anything else, just let your mind be right here in the present moment, present place with your body, with your breathing flowing in and out.
Analytical meditation on the natural goodness of our mind (Buddha nature)
So let’s do a short analytical meditation or checking meditation on the idea of Buddha nature. This is an idea we find in Mahayana Buddhism that each being, each sentient being has the potential to become just like the Buddha. Your mind can transform into the mind of a Buddha. And the mind of a Buddha means a mind that is free of all that is disturbing, painful, confusing. There’s no confusing thoughts or emotions, no mistaken or diluted ideas or views; totally free of everything that is mistaken or harmful or disturbing.
And on the other hand, it’s a mind that’s totally perfected in that is positive. All the positive qualities or states of mind like compassion, love, kindness, generosity, patience, wisdom, joy, peace. All the good aspects of the mind have been fully developed to their highest degree, point of perfection. It’s like the most pure and perfect state of mind that exists.
So we have the ability, the possibility, the potential for our mind to become like that. This might sound like a fantasy, like a fairy tale. But let’s just think about it.
It’s possible to let go of our disturbing states of mind
We do have, from time to time, disturbing thoughts and emotions. Sometimes we feel angry or irritable. Sometimes we feel selfish, only caring about ourselves, not caring about others. Sometimes we’re greedy. We have a lot of greed, craving; desire can never seem to be satisfied. Sometimes we’re restless, bored or anxious, fearful. These are just some of the states of mind that we experience that are painful or disturbing or unpleasant, unpeaceful.
We don’t have any control over these states of mind. We don’t choose to experience them. They just pop up uninvited. Sometimes they can last a long time. We just get totally caught up in them. We might be in those states for hours.
But are they permanent parts of us? Are they always there every minute, every second? If we check, we probably recognize that they are not.
So just choose one painful or disturbing state of mind that sometimes visits you, that sometimes comes up in you. And ask yourself, is it always there? Do I always have that state of mind? Or are there times when it’s not there? When my mind is free of that kind of painful thought or feeling.
You probably can find times, moments when you don’t have that disturbing thought or feeling in your mind; your mind is free of it. So that shows it’s not permanent. It’s not something that’s always there like a permanent fixture in your mind, it’s something that comes and goes. If we can understand that, then we can see that there’s a possibility that I can work on my mind, gradually reduce those negative, disturbing thoughts, emotions. And even get to the point where they’re no longer there; they don’t arise anymore.
Buddhism says there are antidotes; there are methods we can use to free ourselves from all the disturbing thoughts and emotions such that they never arise again; where the mind is completely free of them, just like a sky free of clouds. Try to imagine such a state of mind.
So that’s one aspect of Buddha nature.
It’s possible to expand and perfect our positive qualities of wisdom, courage, and compassion
The other is it’s the fulfillment or perfection of all positive qualities. We already have many positive qualities such as compassion, loving kindness, generosity, courage, wisdom. These too sometimes arise in our minds and our lives. For example, when we notice somebody who’s suffering, who’s unhappy or hungry or in some kind of need, we often feel moved, touched by their suffering, and want to reach out and help them. And we do what we can to help them. So that’s compassion. That’s one of the qualities a Buddha has. But in the mind of a Buddha compassion is there all the time, every minute, every second for everyone not leaving out anybody.
We have the seed of compassion it’s already there and a mind, and there are methods that we can use to cultivate it further, to grow it further, to have it more and more and more of the time for more and more people and beings; until we get to the point where, just like the Buddham our compassion is there 100% of the time, for all people, all beings without exception. Just think about that and see if that makes sense to you. If you can accept that is a possibility.
The basic nature of the mind is clear and pure like water
The basic nature of our mind can be compared to water. The nature of water is clear and pure: like water that’s just been brought up from a deep spring. But sometimes water can get muddied or polluted with other things. And then it’s not so pure. But it’s possible to remove the mud and the pollution with a good filtration system, and restore the water to its original pure state.
It’s similar with the mind. The basic nature of the mind is clear and pure, but it’s just temporarily tainted, stained, contaminated with disturbing thoughts and emotions. But they are not the permanent nature of our mind; permit parts of our mind. Just like the dirt and contamination on the water, they can be cleared away, removed; the mind, restored to a pure and positive and healthy state, just like the Buddha’s mind.
It’s not something we can do quickly and easily like we can with purifying water. But if we’re willing to put in the time and energy, it’s definitely possible. There are methods you can learn. We can practice and gradually bring about this transformation of our mind from an unenlightened state, as it is right now, to an enlightened state, just as the Buddha did.
To conclude the meditation, dedicate whatever positive thoughts, positive energy you experienced during the meditation, that it will help yourself and all other beings to realize our real nature, our Buddha nature; cultivate it, make our lives truly meaningful and beneficial for ourselves, for others, for the world.
Hosted by Scott Snibbe
Produced by Stephen Butler
Theme music by Bradley Parsons of Train Sound Studio