The Simple Path

(This is an excerpt from the transcript of the 3/5/11 class lecture at Dharma Center. Special thanks to A.C. for recording & typing the transcripts!)

The path itself is so, so simple. But you guys like to make it very complicated, it’s funny.  (laughs)  But really the entire path is: you control the focus of your mind in all of your activities, and then every day – or twice a day is better – you sit in silence and let the light do whatever it will. That’s the whole path!  (laughs) That’s it, okay, goodbye!  (laughs)

But we’re so conditioned to be always doing, always thinking, always having this inner monologue running along, it makes it very difficult just to sit and listen. 

So, the first part of the practice, learning how to control the focus of your mind – now in how the world is at this stage of our development, how our society is, you hear the word ‘control’ and you think of power. And you think of putting up a border because you know there’s only a certain amount of area that you can control. So in essence you start to withdraw. You suck in and say “Okay I can only control my room or my house or my car” and really you can’t control any of those things. So you say “Okay well I’m going to just work on controlling my body.” And guess what, you can’t control that either!  (laughs)  You can influence it. You can take care of it to the best of your ability, which I highly recommend because it’s more energy efficient. If you take care of your body and your world you can have a lot more fun in it! 

But when it comes down to control, all you can control is where you focus your mind, what you pay attention to. And that’s really not all that much, but it’s everything at the same time. Because by controlling where you place your attention the result of that is the ability to influence your perception of your environment. You alter your mind state through that control of perception, through that control of focus. 

We use beauty and gratitude as tools to help us learn how to live in the higher and brighter mind states. Through practicing you start to figure out that “Oh if I start looking at things through the eyes of beauty or the eyes of gratitude, things look a little differently than they do if I’m looking through the eyes of self-pity or anger or sorrow.” And that’s an experience that you have, and really that’s the only way that you can fully learn and appreciate that teaching, is you have to experience it. Which means you have to pay attention. Which is another level of controlling the focus of your mind. 

If you’re not controlling what you’re focusing on, you kind of just space out and you’re not really aware of what you’re looking at. But if you start to pay attention – we’ve talked about this a thousand times – paying attention is that first crucial step, of just looking at: Where is your mind? What thoughts are going through it? What are you being drawn to focus on over and over again? And then at that point you can seize control and decide “Is this where I want to place my attention? Is this what I want to create in my life? Is this what I want to grow?” 

It’s very similar to planting a garden. If you want the flowers to grow, you pay attention to those. You give them fertilizer, you give them water, you make sure they have the right amount of sun. But rather if you want the weeds to grow, you pay attention to the weeds and you give them water and you give them sun and fertilizer. And then the weeds will grow! The process is the same, but most people enjoy the flowers more than the weeds. So it’s a purely logical thing that you would focus on the bright and beautiful things in your life. One is not inherently better than the other. Just one will serve you, one will be more functional. Simply because when you live in brighter, happier, higher mind states they are higher, which means you have a better view. 

The other half of the path is giving yourself that time to simply sit and be still both physically and internally. We have lots of different techniques and tools we can use to achieve that. But the number one thing is giving yourself time to actually do that, every single day. Like I said, sitting in meditation twice a day is better. It works better if you do it twice a day…