December 19, 2014

Finding lasting Joy within a Silent Mind.

Portrait of Lama Yeshe, 1975

The joy of the silent experience comes from your own mind. Therefore, joy is always with you. Whenever you need it, it’s always there.

When your sense perception contacts sense objects and you experience physical pleasure, enjoy that feeling as much as you can. But if the experience of your sense perception’s contact with the sense world ties you, if the more you look at the sense world the more difficult it becomes, instead of getting anxious—“I can’t control this”—it’s better to close your senses off and silently observe the sense perception itself.

Similarly, if you’re bound by the problems that ideas create, instead of trying to stop those problems by grasping at some other idea, which is impossible, silently investigate how ideas cause you trouble.

At certain times, a silent mind is very important, but “silent” does not mean closed. The silent mind is an alert, awakened mind; a mind seeking the nature of reality. When problems in the sense world bother you, the difficulty comes from your sense perception, not from the external objects you perceive. And when concepts bother you, that also does not come from outside, but from your mind’s grasping at concepts. Therefore, instead of trying to stop problems emotionally by grasping at new material objects or ideas, check up silently to see what’s happening in your mind.

Rinpoche and Lama at Lawudo, 1969

No matter what sort of mental problem you experience, instead of getting nervous and fearful, sit back, relax, and be as silent as possible. In this way you will automatically be able to see reality and understand the root of the problem.

When we experience problems, either internal or external, our narrow, unskillful mind only makes them worse. When someone with an itchy skin condition scratches it, he feels some temporary relief and thinks his scratching has made it better. In fact, his scratching has made it worse. We’re like that: we do the same thing, every day of our lives. Instead of trying to stop problems like this, we should relax and rely on our skillful, silent mind. Don’t think that what I’m saying is a Buddhist idea, some Tibetan lama’s idea. It can become the actual experience of all living beings throughout the universe.

I could give you many words, many ideas in my lecture tonight, but I think it’s more important to share with you the silent experience. That’s more realistic than any number of words.

When you investigate your mind thoroughly, you can see clearly that both miserable and ecstatic thoughts come and go. Moreover, when you investigate penetratingly, they disappear altogether. When you are preoccupied with an experience, you think, “I’ll never forget this experience,” but when you check up skillfully, it automatically disappears. That is the silent wisdom experience. It’s very simple, but don’t just believe me—experience it for yourself.

In my experience, a silent lecture is worth more than one with many words and no experience. In the silent mind, you find peace, joy and satisfaction.

Silent inner joy is much more lasting than the enjoyment of eating chocolate and cake. That enjoyment is also just a conception.

Lama meditating at Borobodur, Java, 1979

When you close off your superficial sense perception and investigate your inner nature, you begin to awaken. Why? Because superficial sense perception prevents you from seeing the reality of how discursive thought comes and goes. When you shut down your senses, your mind becomes more conscious and functions better.

When your superficial senses are busy, your mind is kind of dark; it’s totally preoccupied by the way your senses are interpreting things. Thus, you can’t see reality. Therefore, when you are tied by ideas and the sense world, instead of stressing out, stop your sense perception and silently watch your mind. Try to be totally awake instead of obsessed with just one atom. Feel totality instead of particulars.

You can’t determine for yourself the way things should be. Things change by their very nature. How can you tie down any idea? You can see that you can’t.

When you investigate the way you think—“Why do I say this is good? Why do I say this is bad?”—you start to get real answers as to how your mind really works. You can see how most of your ideas are silly but how your mind makes them important. If you check up properly you can see that these ideas are really nothing. By checking like this, you end up with nothingness in your mind. Let your mind dwell in that state of nothingness. It is so peaceful, so joyful. If you can sit every morning with a silent mind for just 10 or 20 minutes, you will enjoy it very much. You’ll be able to observe the moment-to-moment movement of your emotions without getting sad.

You will also see the outside world and other people differently; you will never see them as hindrances to your life and they will never make you feel insecure.

Therefore, beauty comes from the mind.

So, that was the experience of silence. But if you have some questions, let’s have a question-answer session. You can discuss what I’ve been saying through your own experience. Observing and investigating your mind is so simple, very simple. Constantly, wherever you go, at any time, you can experience this energy. It’s always with you. But chocolate isn’t always with you—when you want it, it’s not there and when you don’t feel like it, there it is in front of you.

Read more from Lama Yeshe’s The Peaceful Stillness of the Silent Mind, a series of lectures given in Australia in 1975. Edited by Nicholas Ribush. Freely available from the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive.


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Author: Lama Thubten Yeshe

Editor: Travis May

Photo: Courtesy of the Author

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