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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Wandering thoughts: Master Sheng Yen


In dealing with wandering thoughts the first step is to recognize when the mind is wandering. Often it comes over us so subtly that we do not even notice it. Then suddenly we notice our minds have wandered. So we have to be mindful of what we are doing in our practice. When we do detect that our minds have gone wandering it is important not to feel irritated with oneself. It simply tires you out if you take up a belligerent attitude towards your own mind! The paradoxical thing is this - that very often as soon as you can recognize the fact of wandering, the mind clears. The recognition itself can do the trick. The art of it is to repeatedly recognize the state of mind and bring it back into focus. By doing this the body energy is renewed and you have fewer periods of wandering thought. There is a daily cycle of energy with some periods when you have less than at other times. This is natural. So there is no need for a fight. Simply be attentively aware at all times.

We can make use of an analogy here. Meditation is like using a fan - the old fashioned hand-held type. You have the task of catching a feather on the fan. Every time you move the fan, the feather is likely to be blown away. Its a delicate business. You have to hold out the fan, quite still, just under the space through which the feather is sinking of its own motion. The feather then comes to rest on the top of the fan. You can imagine for yourself how difficult or easy this may be! Any use of force and the feather is lost. Yet, once you grasp the principle, it is very easy. Stilling the mind is like catching a feather with a fan. It needs patience and persistence. When practicing do not be afraid of a distracting thought. If your body has a problem do not get concerned with it If your mind is worrying - put the worry down. Keep the mind on the method - waiting for the feather to sink onto the fan.

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