Page 2 of 2
Sometimes people ask, “What do I do when I feel jealous?” or, “How do I get less angry?” With consistent daily practice, we calm the waves of our mind at a deep level. Then when a tsunami of emotion arises during the day, we can do what I call “situational contemplation”—looking at the arising emotion and slowly unraveling it, rather than throwing a tantrum or having another drink. Having learned to engage in mindfulness, we no longer struggle against the world so much. We can accomplish our activity fluidly, with ease.
Mindfulness teaches us to be aware of how we are manifesting and how we are relating to our mind. With space in the mind, we are able to appreciate simplicity and satisfaction. We also become aware that if we shift our attention by just a few degrees, it’s easy to fall into negativity. By the same token, it’s easy to go in a positive direction.
Mindfulness leads to gentleness. This frees us from the poison of individuality, which thinks that everything always has to be based on “me.” Our gentleness toward ourselves translates into consideration for others. I define gentleness as not being rude. Rudeness is a failure to see our own worth, which leads to personal discomfort and outer displays of aggression and social indecency. Gentleness brings concern for our behavior and its environmental effect. As we develop proper conduct, our inner light shines forth. This is an outcome of mindfulness, because whatever the mind decides, the body will follow. That is why mindfulness is such a key element in creating peace.
Peace is not based on meditation alone. However, meditation is the best way to build mindfulness. Mindfulness fosters emotional alertness and clarity, which bring clear communication to any sphere of daily life. Mindfulness leads to consideration for others, which is the building block of a good society. It leads to decency.
Through mindfulness, we also begin to understand the principles of interdependence. Since we are no longer self-obsessed, we can see the connection between humans and the environment, and therefore nature itself. We see clearly how we could choose or not choose to pollute our own thoughts, our own being.
By understanding interdependence, we chip away at the concept of individualism. No matter how gifted we are, ultimately we are all part of society. That is why a good society is based on the principles of selflessness, mindfulness, and gentleness. These qualities are the ingredients of peace.
We are all here on Earth to see what we can offer, as opposed to what we can take. A life based upon what we can take leads to a society where the only barometer of success is materialism. Mindfulness leads to an attitude of wanting to serve the world, rather than expecting to be served. Only through the development of mindfulness, which leads to virtues such as love and generosity, will we become truly successful and happy.
Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche: A Shambhala Sun Spotlight
The Shambhala Sun is honored to have had Sakyong Mipham as a regular contributor
to its pages. Here you'll find a collection of his always-popular
articles from the magazine.
Nhat Hanh is the leading proponent of a Buddhist approach to
politics and social action. He is a Zen teacher, poet, and the founder
of the Engaged Buddhist movement and author of more than forty books.
The Shambhala Sun offers the best selection of Thich Nhat Hanh's
teachings and commentaries available on the web.