by Lama Thubten Yeshe
When your sense perception contacts sense objects and you experience physical pleasure, enjoy that feeling as much as you can. But if the experience of your sense perception’s contact with the sense world ties you, if the more you look at the sense world the more difficult it becomes, instead of getting anxious—“I can’t control this”—it’s better to close your senses off and with a silent mind observe the sense perception itself.
Similarly, if you’re bound by the problems that ideas create, instead of trying to stop those problems by grasping at some other idea, which is impossible, diligently investigate how ideas cause you trouble. At certain times, a silent mind is very important, but “silent” does not mean closed. The silent mind is an alert, awakened mind; a mind seeking the nature of reality.
Facing Problems With A Silent Mind
When problems in the sense world bother you, the difficulty comes from your sense perception, not from the external objects you perceive. And when concepts bother you, that also does not come from outside but from your mind’s grasping at concepts. Therefore, instead of trying to stop problems emotionally by grasping at new material objects or ideas, check up silently to see what’s happening in your mind.
No matter what sort of mental problem you experience, instead of getting nervous and fearful, sit back, relax, and be as silent as possible. In this way you will automatically be able to see reality and understand the root of the problem. When we experience problems, either internal or external, our narrow, unskillful mind only makes them worse.
Don’t think that what I’m saying is a Buddhist idea, some Tibetan lama’s idea. It can become the actual experience of all living beings throughout the universe. I could give you many words, many ideas in my lecture tonight, but I think it’s more important to share with you the silent experience. That’s more realistic than any number of words. When you investigate your mind thoroughly, you can see clearly that both miserable and ecstatic thoughts come and go.
Moreover, when you investigate penetratingly, they disappear altogether. When you are preoccupied with an experience, you think, “I’ll never forget this experience,” but when you check up skilfully, it automatically disappears. That is the silent wisdom experience. It’s very simple, but don’t just believe me—experience it for yourself. In my experience, a silent lecture is worth more than one with many words and no experience. In the silent mind, you find peace, joy and satisfaction.
When someone with an itchy skin condition scratches it, he feels some temporary relief and thinks his scratching has made it better. In fact, his scratching has made it worse. We’re like that; we do the same thing, every day of our lives. Instead of trying to stop problems like this, we should relax and rely on our skilful, silent mind. But silent does not mean dark, non-functioning, sluggish or sleepy.
So now, just close your eyes for ﬁve or ten minutes and take a close look at whatever you consider your biggest problem to be. Shut down your sense perception as much as you possible can, remain completely silent and with introspective knowledge-wisdom, thoroughly investigate your mind. Where do you hold the idea of “my problem”? Is it in your brain? In your mouth? Your heart? Your stomach? Where is that idea? If you can’t find the thought of “problem,” don’t intellectualize; simply relax. If miserable thoughts or bad ideas arise in your mind, just watch how they come, how they go.
Don’t react emotionally. Practising in this way, you can see how the weak, unskilful mind cannot face problems. But your silent mind of skilful wisdom can face any problem bravely, conquer it and control all your emotional and agitated states of mind.
Silent inner joy is much more lasting than the enjoyment of eating chocolate and cake. That enjoyment is also just a conception. When you close off your superficial sense perception and investigate your inner nature, you begin to awaken. Why? Because superficial sense perception prevents you from seeing the reality of how discursive thought comes and goes. When you shut down your senses, your mind becomes more conscious and functions better. When your superficial senses are busy, your mind is kind of dark; it’s totally preoccupied by the way your senses are interpreting things. Thus, you can’t see reality. Therefore, when you are tied by ideas and the sense world, instead of stressing out, stop your sense perception and silently watch your mind.
Try to be totally awake instead of obsessed with just one atom. Feel totality instead of particulars. You can’t determine for yourself the way things should be. Things change by their very nature. How can you tie down any idea? You can see that you can’t. When you investigate the way you think—“Why do I say this is good? Why do I say this is bad?”—you start to get real answers as to how your mind really works.
You can see how most of your ideas are silly but how your mind makes them important. If you check up properly you can see that these ideas are really nothing. By checking like this, you end up with nothingness in your mind. Let your mind dwell in that state of nothingness. It is so peaceful; so joyful. If you can sit every morning with a silent mind for just ten or twenty minutes, you will enjoy it very much. You’ll be able to observe the moment-to-moment movement of your emotions without getting sad. You will also see the outside world and other people differently; you will never see them as hindrances to your life and they will never make you feel insecure. Therefore, beauty comes from the mind.
So, that was the experience of silence. You can discuss what I’ve been saying through your own experience. Observing and investigating your mind is so simple; very simple. Constantly, wherever you go, at any time, you can experience this energy. It’s always with you. But chocolate isn’t the peaceful stillness of the silent mind . . .always with you—when you want it, it’s not there and when you don’t feel like it, there it is in front of you. The joy of the silent experience comes from your own mind. Therefore, joy is always with you. Whenever you need it, it’s always there.