Posted On 23 Sep 2009
Without peace of mind, what good is anything else you have?
It’s normal to be dissatisfied. Nearly everyone lacks peace of mind. Thoreau wrote that “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Freud wrote that “Life, as we find it, it too hard for us. . . we cannot dispense with palliative measures.” ‘Twas ever thus: the Buddha pointed out twenty-four hundred years ago that, since ordinary life is always changing and change cannot quench our desires, we are always frustrated and dissatisfied. We just don’t feel good.
It’s even worse in developed countries. Surviving has become so easy that boredom is epidemic.
H. G. Wells: “In the Country of the Blind the One-eyed Man is King.” A little peace of mind goes a long way.
Distract people from their discontent for a while and they’ll quickly make you a millionaire! Alternatively, why not show or teach them how to cure their own affliction? Here’s the good news: anyone can do it and doing a little training of the right kind every day is sufficient to increase your peace of mind far beyond those who never discipline their minds at all.
It never occurs to most people that it is their own minds that are creating their troubles. Though most people seem to spend most of their lives looking for one, there is never a cure “out there” for a troubled mind. Why? John Wheeler: “There is no out there out there.”
The cure is always to train the mind not to be troubled by practicing peace of mind.
Though not easy, peace of mind training is simple. It doesn’t require being healthy, intelligent, or even literate. All that is required for mastery is to practice properly and persistently.
There are even many different kinds of peace of mind trainings that work. Admittedly, some are so complicated that they require years even just to learn—and more years to master. Though it is not psychologically suited for everyone, I myself prefer the simplest peace of mind training, which is zazen. It was developed in the meditation [Ch’an or Son or Zen] school of buddhism. It requires only a cushion and a few minutes to learn how to do zazen.
As in learning, say, chess or go, just learning how to do it is far from mastering it. Mastery requires a lot of time spent practicing properly. Even so, just 20 or 30 minutes daily is sufficient to increase peace of mind noticeably.
If, like most people, your mind is not as quiet as you’d like, instead of continuing to live unhappily and not feel good, I encourage you to fix it. I believe that it is impossible to live peacefully and well without regularly training your mind.