I still remember the moment I entered the dorm I was assigned to in my Vipassana course.
There were four beds, each separated with high wooden boards. Because the room was small, the amount of space allotted to every person was insufficient. The mattress was hard and dusty, and spiders made their home in the windows in front of my modest bed. I had nothing to stare at except the ceiling and the wooden cupboards which made me feel trapped.
Frankly, I didn’t get any sleep the first couple of nights. I obsessed over the little spiders weaving their webs on top of my head. My back hurt from sleeping on that mattress.
What was most memorable to me was the day I left that dorm. I can recall exactly how I perceived it: a palace.
As the days of living in that dorm during my course elapsed, I accepted the condition in which I was and adapted to the environment.
Instead of freaking out over the spiders, I observed them—and at times, I took them outside. I didn’t stare into nothingness, rather, I virtually painted the patterns on the wood beside me and in front of me. The mattress was still terrible, but I made the best of it by using my jackets as padding.
The dorm remained the same on the first and last day of my stay. What changed is how my mind perceived it.
Lama Yeshe’s teachings resonate deeply with me. He eloquently speaks of the reality of our minds and the world outside. He believes that because we are constantly occupied by the outside we don’t have the time to look at the inside.
Lama Yeshe explains that we have been lulled into thinking that material objects can satisfy us. But, since material objects are transient, our emotions change when the objects change.
He says that genuine, long-lasting satisfaction comes from the mind. So, instead of working on transforming the outside to fit into our own image of happiness, we should work on our inside. This is how we transform the outside into a happy and satisfying place.
What Lama Yeshe suggests speaks to my experience in the Vipassana course. I was dissatisfied with the overall appearance of my space and what it comprised. Nonetheless, my space became satisfying when my mind perceived it differently.
Through Lama Yeshe’s teachings, I understood that rarely can we change the material and physical realm.
We can’t change actions that occur without, but we can certainly change the reactions that spring from within.
Lama Yeshe implies that we must understand our own psyche before trying to understand anything happening in the world…because our psyche is the mirror of the world.
Below are 10 quotes from Lama Yeshe that can help us gain a better understanding of our world within:
“The greatest problems of humanity are psychological, not material. From birth to death, people are continuously under the control of their mental sufferings.”
“Any emotional problem you experience arises because of the way your mind functions; your basic problem lies in the way you misidentify yourself.”
“You think you are an independent person, free to travel the world, enjoying everything. Despite what you think, you are not free. I’m not saying that you are under the control of someone else. It’s your own uncontrolled mind, your own attachment, that oppresses you.”
“If you don’t know your own psychology, you might ignore what’s going on in your mind until it breaks down and you go completely crazy. People go mad through lack of inner wisdom, through their inability to examine their own minds. They are ignorant of their internal world, and their minds are totally unified with ignorance instead of being awake and engaged in self-analysis. Examine your own mental attitudes. Become your own therapist.”
“One day the world looks so beautiful; the next day it looks terrible. How can you say that? Scientifically, it’s impossible that the world can change so radically. It’s your mind that causes these appearances.”
“Everything comes from the mind. But perhaps you have a question: what about mountains, trees, and oceans? How can they come from the mind? I’m going to ask you: What is the nature of a mountain? What is the nature of an ocean? Do things necessarily exist as you see them? When you look at mountains and oceans, they appear to your superficial view of mountains and oceans. But their nature is actually something else. If a hundred people look at a mountain at the same time, they all see different aspects, different colors, different features. Then whose view of the mountain is correct? If you can answer that, you can reply to your own question.”
“How do you check your mind? Just watch how it perceives or interprets any object that it encounters. Observe what feelings—comfortable or uncomfortable—arise. Then check, ‘When I perceive this kind of view, this feeling arises, that emotion comes; I discriminate in such a way. Why?’ This is how to check your mind.”
“A mind that has such strong faith in the material world is narrow, limited; it has no space. Its nature is sick, unhealthy, or, in Buddhist terminology, dualistic.”
“When you check your mind, do not rationalize or push. Relax. Do not be upset when problems arise. Just be aware of them and where they come from; know their root. Introduce the problem to yourself: ‘Here is this kind of problem. How has it become a problem? What kind of mind has made it a problem?’ When you check thoroughly, the problem will automatically disappear.”
“If you know the psychological nature of your own mind, depression is spontaneously dispelled; instead of being enemies and strangers, all living beings become friends. The narrow mind rejects; wisdom accepts.”
Source: Becoming Your Own Therapist & Make Your Mind An Ocean, Lama Yeshe.
Author: Elyane Youssef
Editor: Caitlin Oriel