“All experience is preceded by mind
led by mind, made by mind.
Speak or act with a peaceful mind,
and happiness will follow
Like a never departing shadow.” Buddha, Dhammapada
Let’s continue the discussion of tranquility and peaceful states of mind. Most people feel they need to have certain conditions present in order to have peace of mind: everything in its right place, no problems, or the presence of unperturbed happiness.
Ultimately, what Buddhist psychology offers is freedom from the conditioned. This means that our internal state of mind is not prefaced or dependent upon external conditions.
What hooks us into believing that our identity is state-dependent is our identification with ego-generated, moment-to-moment reactions to phenomena as they arise. The Buddha termed these reactions the five hindrances: unwholesome desire, fear/anger, laziness/inertia, restlessness, and doubt. It is no wonder that when we are mentally under the influence of the five hindrances, that being present with distressful external experience would be almost impossible.
Much of the time we resist life; fighting to defend ourselves against phenomena that only feel dangerous to us because we fear our own vulnerablility to internal reactivity. In his new book The Unfolding Now, A.H. Almaas, writes:
“When we are pushing against our experience, fighting it off, it doesn’t have the opportunity or space to be itself. And if it doesn’t have the chance to be itself, it doesn’t have the chance to unfold. And if it doesn’t have the chance to unfold, it doesn’t have the opportunity to reveal its nature.”
As stated in my entry on tranquility, only a calm mind can relax into its true nature, which is radiant, clear and pure. So if we return to the quote at the top, what the Buddha is saying is that all experience, internal or external is mind-generated. So if the mind’s true nature is radiant and pure, then it follows that all experience that arises in our awareness is also in its true nature, radiant and pure. Even difficult experience at its essence is no other than an expression of the radiant, clear pure mind.
So one way to allow the mind to contemplate this truth is to cultivate peacefulness by bringing relaxed attention to the arising of the five hindrances in each moment. Renouncing our reactivity to their influence, and instead allowing experience to unfold naturally, revealing its and our own true nature to us, in each moment.