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Self-Experiment In Breaking Through The Perceived Limitations Of The Mind

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This summer is meaningful for me, for it gives me the free time to attempt an experiment that is as far as i’m aware, unattempted. It’s going to be an all-around transformation of my mind, in almost every capacity that i can think to further develop. I have known a few cases of people attempting one or two of these practices at once, but i’m hoping that this will be a case where all practices are mutually contributory to the goal of transforming my mind. This is obviously going to be statistically invalid to make any broad conclusions, but i’m hoping for it to provide the conceptual framework from which to go about expanding the study to more individuals who are willing to attempt it.

The actual study will be a systematic expansion/development of 9 general (and certainly interrelated) categories of aspects or capacities of the mind. Most of the results will be qualitative rather than quantitative, but i do intend to see if i can increase my IQ over the given period to have some quantitative measure of improvement (I’m starting this experiment with IQ scores from two seemingly accurate facebook applications — 138 and 148 — the second said to be more accurate for those with IQs over 110.).
First, what are the aspects of mind i intend to develop?

1.) Visuospatial abilities; capacity for visualization; visual memory and reasoning
2.) Regulation of emotions; (discursive) thought-suppression; concentration; absorption in single-pointedness of mind; mindfulness; clarity of mind
3.) Willpower
4.) Processing speed; ability to handle multiple things at once; problem-solving ability
5.) Speed and comprehension in reading
6.) Capacities for learning, acquiring new knowledge, grasping new concepts, and memorization
7.) Ethos; morality; compassion; loving-kindness
8.) Mind-Body connection
9.) Knowledge of/mastery over the mind in general

Now certainly interdependence of these aspects of mind is clear: Knowledge & mastery over the mind is related to visuospatial abilities, willpower, meditative abilities, ethics, and essentially everything on this list; reading speed and problem-solving speed seem to be related; and there are many others. But i find this somewhat arbitrary division of the qualities and functions of the mind to be helpful to me in categorizing practices to develop the mind as a whole, though some clarification on a few of these points might be helpful to you the reader. First, willpower is a topic i address in an earlier post of mine, where i explain it in a bit more depth: https://ignoranceandwisdom.wordpress.com/2011/04/09/strengthening-the-will/. Number 7 refers essentially to the nature of interacting with others in general. And number 8 refers to the mind’s ability to accurately interpret physical stimuli, and control the sensation and movement of the body.

So now for the practices and sub-experiments that i’ll be doing…

Tibetan Buddhist Practices:
– Mahamudra meditation (which i explain in my post: https://ignoranceandwisdom.wordpress.com/2011/04/02/the-mind-and-consciousness/) to develop mental aspects 2 and 9
-Diety Yoga visualization practice to develop 1 and 9
-Dream Yoga (maintaining awareness and mental control even when sleeping) to develop 1, 3, 8, and 9
-Meditations on compassion, loving-kindness, and each of the six perfections — generosity, ethics, patience, perseverance/diligence, meditative concentration, and wisdom awareness (realization and perception of the nature of reality) — to develop 2, 7, and 9

Other practices:
– Fasting to develop 3 and 9
– Learning speed reading to develop 3, 4, and primarily 5
– Playing the real-time strategy computer game Starcraft II to develop number 4
– Physical practices (such as yoga, tai chi, and 100,000 prostrations) to develop 2, 3, and especially 8
– Internal regulatory practices like pranayama, chi meditation, and body-scanning in conjunction with anatomical data to develop 2 and 8
– Learning endeavors to develop number 6

This last practice, which i call “learning endeavors,” is extremely important in and of itself. Perhaps as important as the rest of all the practices combined. This was my original intent for practice, but it seemed lacking in developing other aspects of mind, so i looked at other ways i could benefit my mind. This practice will entail the immersion in certain topics to attempt to master them in very short periods of time–testing the limits of mind perhaps more than anything else. For instance, i will attempt to master calculus in a very short period of time. More significantly though, will be my experiments in the acquisition of language. I will be attempting to finish mastering French, Spanish, and Arabic, but i will seek to become conversational in about 33 other languages, studying one language each day. This process of learning i will be recording step-by-step to keep people updated, and to give a solid picture of how one can go about learning new languages, or any subject in general.

What do I hope to get out of all this? Clearly this will be an absurd amount of work for me, so what is the point of doing it? First, i will learn a great deal, especially about myself; I will ultimately find myself ending up a better person than i am now as i’m beginning. But secondly, and perhaps more importantly, i hope to pave the way for new experiments like this which demonstrate the mind’s ability to grow substantially, enough that it can effectively transform itself. In essence, i’ll be seeking to add to the research supporting the thesis i pose in my essay on the psychology of the enlightened mind: https://ignoranceandwisdom.wordpress.com/2011/05/25/the-psychology-of-the-enlightened-mind/. Why do i care so much to push myself like this, to grow? Why do i care to do such demanding research? The answer is simply that it’s how i find meaning in my life (see: https://ignoranceandwisdom.wordpress.com/2011/05/23/seed-of-spiritual-revolution/). I sincerely hope that my endeavors prove fruitfully beneficial to you and all other sentient beings.

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Omnism and Panentheism

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Recently i considered the question: Does Omnism follow from Panentheism (the belief or doctrine that God is greater than the universe and includes and interpenetrates it) or does Panentheism follow from Omnism? After much thought, this is what i realized:

If God is alleged to be transcendent of the summation of the limits of epistemology, then Omnism must follow from Panentheism (this is because Omnism is the view that the objectivity that is transcendent of the subjective, does not exist apart from the very fact that all subjective views are valid but that no objective view is valid, for objective views do not exist [it’s in fact, oxymoronic to say “objective view” as an object does not have a view]). On the other hand, if one holds the belief that all subjective views lie underneath the umbrella of the objective conviction that there is no objective truth, then again one is of the opinion that all that can be cognized or conceptualized is within or a part of the ultimate, highest, non-dual subject-object*. Thus, Omnism and Panentheism are wholly interdependent and each implied inherently in the other.

While these two ideological and/or philosophical systems completely encompass one-another, a friend pointed out to me that they do not technically overlap as they deal with different matters — Panentheism deals with the nature of God (theology) and existence (ontology), while Omnism deals with differing perspectives about systems of thought. Nonetheless, while they differ in focus, they are still inherent in one another philosophically, and so in my claim of being an Omnist (and in speaking about it in general), from now forward, understand that I also claim to be a Panentheist, by virtue of the fact that it is inherently implied by the tenets of Omnism.

I also am an ardent student of Buddhism, in particular Tibetan Buddhism, and in even more particular, Madhyamika philosophy. Without going in depth (for now) into the tenets of Tibetan Buddhism or Madhyamika, i will just note that i see no incongruency between such philosophies and Omnism-Panentheism; in fact, the two appear to complement each other very nicely. More will be discussed of this in the future.

*The non-dual subject-object is referring to the unity of the objective lack of objectivity, and subsequent subjective universal validity.

The Psychology of the Enlightened Mind

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The Psychology of the Enlightened Mind
Jacob Abuhamada

Central to all Eastern psychology is the notion of enlightenment: but what is enlightenment? Can it be measured or discussed empirically within the context of western psychology? Very little research has been done to give us a scientific understanding of the capacities of the human mind to achieve states of consciousness which transcend ordinary cognition. Such research would prove to be ground-breaking in the process of expanding the Eastern and Western scholarly traditions, as it would end up calling for major reform of typically held beliefs about no less than humankind itself on either the Eastern or Western sides; enlightenment could be reduced to mere religious superstition, or it could be validated and thus warrant a whole new dimension of education and scientific study in the West. This paper will explore this topic by looking at scientific studies that have been done to in some way measure or validate the possibility of attaining an “enlightened” mind, it will present a hypothetical study which could be carried out to give more scientific validity to this rather prevalent Eastern concept, and will lastly explore the possible implications of validating such a remarkable concept.

Definition of Terms

What is enlightenment? In the East there are many divergent psycho-spiritual systems of thought, but there is a common understanding about certain psychological qualities of an enlightened mind. Every tradition sees the enlightened mind as having, at the very least, freedom from afflictive emotions, profound joy and equanimity, a great propensity for deep and complex philosophical concepts, and possessing total or near-total self-control. This control keeps the mind from being swayed by base biological urges, and gives such an individual the capacity to concentrate at a level of absorption beyond the capacity of the average human.

In addition, such a mind lacks almost all notion of self: Self-definitions are only conventionally{1} present, there appears to be effectively no differentiation between personal and social identity, and self-esteem is not a concern in any way. This removal of the self-concept creates a profound sense of unity with all things, and immense non-dual compassion (Greek: agape) is said to thus manifest. In a symbiotic relationship with the compassion is the understanding of some ultimate truth about individuals being pure and having an ultimately transcendent nature which prevents negative judgments and assumptions. It should also be noted that this state is achieved through very systematic and comprehensive mind-training exercises{2}, of which meditation is paramount.

Psychologically speaking the enlightened mind is free from the sway of schemas or heuristics, and – being in a state of incredible equanimity – is virtually free from the effects of affect on cognition. Because the self-concept has effectively been done away with, the enlightened mind is beyond concern over impression formation. Attitudes play a large part, as they can provide a tool for mind-training in regards to understanding the world and for maintaining equanimity. The self-created and self-preserved positive attitude greatly affects behavior in a positive fashion. Having this unconditionally compassionate attitude which permeates the root nature of an enlightened mind should remove prejudice, lead to positive relationships, give one stronger ethos to facilitate social influence (in conjunction with the self-mastery), and eliminate aggression (while boosting prosocial tendencies). Lastly, the enlightened individual will feel a strong sense of belonging in the world and almost paradoxically feel wholly self-sufficient by their lacking the self-concept.

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{1} — That is to say, only present for the purpose of getting along and communicating in the conventional, every-day world.
{2} — These practices of mind-training which are said to be the path and building blocks of the enlightened mind are where most research has been done, and will be the bulk of the existent research this paper will refer to for evidence.

Overview/Analysis of Existing Research

In 2008 a study was carried out to measure the gray matter of experienced meditators against a control of individuals matched for age, gender, and education, with no subjects having any psychological or biological abnormalities (Luders). The meditators demonstrate more gray matter in the right orbito-frontal cortex and right hippocampus, which deal with emotional control and mindfulness. The study notably demonstrated that the first few years of meditation practice are what led to the increased gray matter and that further experience in meditation does not contribute to the accumulation of it, but is more likely conducive just to maintaining the presence of the extra gray matter{3}.

It is possible, however, that the meditation itself does not cause the increased gray matter in the various regions of the brain; it could simply be that people prone to practice meditation have such predispositions naturally because the aforementioned parts of the brain naturally happen to contain more gray matter than average individuals. Longitudinal studies would be necessary to determine more valid conclusions.

Other related studies have been done in recent years to determine other facets of information about the neurological effects of meditation. One such study (Brefczynski-Lewis) determined experienced meditators to have less activation of regions of the brain dealing with discursive thoughts and emotions, and more activation of regions dealing with attention and response inhibition. Another determined that long-term meditators are generally able to self-induce spikes in gamma-wave oscillations when doing compassion meditations, as opposed to novice practitioners (Lutz). Yet another study surveyed 351 adults, all of varying ages and levels of experience with meditation, and determined a clear, positive correlation between meditation experience and emotional intelligence, low stress, and the rarity of afflictive emotions (Chu). And a 2009 study of advanced Tibetan Buddhist meditation practitioners (Kozhevnikov) determined that a Tibetan Deity-Yoga meditation practice leads to enhanced visuo-spatial processing efficiency (notably even more so than other experienced Tibetan Buddhist meditators who happened to specialize in other forms of meditation).

What most of these studies seem to have in common is that they lack sufficient numbers of test subjects to make the results more externally valid, statistically speaking. Nonetheless, they strongly support the gray matter study in demonstrating a strong likelihood for very real and measurable correlative and causative effects of a positive nature through the process of mastering and regularly practicing meditation or similar contemplative and cognitive practices.

This evidence for meditation directly supports the notion of enlightenment, because it demonstrates at the very least that the brain has the capacity to be strengthened and shaped the way the muscles of the body can be exercised to become strong. If nothing else, the state of enlightenment described earlier in this paper can be realized and maintained with very fervent daily practice over many years.

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{3} — I have recently considered that enlightenment is a state one must maintain, such as physical fitness. One doesn’t achieve “physical fitness” and then have the freedom to eat as much and move as little as they so please, and be able to maintain their fitness. Likewise, it is possible (probable, even) that the enlightened mind be a mental state requiring frequent maintenance through the prolonged and regular utilization of profound mind-training practices such as meditation – and the Luders study appears to be consistent with this theory.

Hypothetical Study on Enlightened Sages

No studies (or at least no prominent studies) have been recently done (if ever) on people recognized by different societies (particularly the practitioners and scholars of such societies) to be enlightened individuals. I am proposing such a study to be carried out which would utilize a wide array of different methods of analyzing the mental characteristics and capacities of individuals: EEG scans (to measure for gamma-oscillations), MRI scans to look at the physical structure of the gray matter in the subjects’ brains, surveys, attentional blink tests, tests of visuo-spatial capacities, IQ tests, and virtually any other possible means of coming to understand the nature of the minds of these individuals. Such a study would take as many subjects as possible from societies and religions from around the world who are considered to be enlightened by the “experts” of their respective societies (virtually every Eastern religion and the mystic sects of the Western religions have some kind of concept of enlightenment).

I would expect this study to demonstrate which traditions are the most effective at leading one to the enlightened state. Those sects which prove to be the least conducive will likely end up having grounds for some level of revision, reformation, and improvement. Those unable to change (assuming the appropriate dispersion of results to members) will likely shrink or die out because of their inability to grow and change fast enough. Perhaps more importantly than this would be that the study would, ideally, yield a more concrete explanation of the physical signs and qualities of enlightenment, which should help solidify the broader empirical acceptance of such a state of human consciousness.

Conclusion

The existent studies mentioned (as well as quite a few others) do seem to give much validity to the mind’s capacity for growth beyond the typical mental limitations studied by psychologists like heuristics, aggression, and self-image, and it’s only a small logical corollary to assume the validity of achieving a general state of being that is free from suffering, and characterized by great self-control, self-awareness, equanimity, and compassion. When such a state of consciousness as enlightenment (most conservative conceptual form) becomes accepted in the greater world culture, it will redefine our notions of the extent of the capacity of the human mind. Ultimately it may warrant a complete rethinking of western psychology as much as it warrants religio-spiritual change, to make it more in line with or focused on how to go about reaching the higher states of consciousness. It will cause us to rethink rehabilitative psychology, as mental disorders and learning disabilities will not be seen as so permanent and unchangeable that temporary drugs are necessary to counter their negative effects. Education too will need reform at some level to help foster this capacity. William James didn’t seem to have much familiarity with the systems for developing the enlightened capacities that existed in the East, but he independently recognized the importance of such an education and summed up the implications nicely:

“The faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention, over and over again, is the very root of judgment, character and will. No one is compos sui if he have it not. An education which should improve this faculty would be the education par excellence. But it is easier to define this ideal than to give practical instructions for bringing it about”. (James)

References

– Brefczynski-Lewis, J. A., Lutz, A., Schaefer, H. S., Levinson, D. B., & Davidson, R. J. (2007). Neural correlates of attentional expertise in long-term meditation practitioners. PNAS, 104(27), 11483-11488. Retrieved May 12, 2011, from the PNAS database.
– Chu, L. (2009). The benefits of meditation vis-à-vis emotional intelligence, perceived stress and negative mental health. Stress and Health, 26, 169-180.
– James, W. (19501918). Attention. The principles of psychology (Authorized ed., p. 424). New York: Dover Publications.
– Kozhevnikov, M., Louchakova, O., Josipovic, Z., & Motes, M. A. (2009). The Enhancement of Visuospatial Processing Efficiency Through Buddhist Deity Meditation. Psychological Science, 20, 645-653.
– Luders, E., Toga, A. W., Lepore, N., & Gaser, C. (2009). The underlying anatomical correlates of long-term meditation: Larger hippocampal and frontal volumes of gray matter. NeuroImage, 1. Retrieved May 11, 2011, from the Elsevier database.
– Lutz, A., Greischar, L. L., Rawlings, N. B., Ricard, M., & Davidson, R. J. (2004). Long-term meditators self-induce high-amplitude gamma synchrony during mental practice. PNAS, 101(46), 16369-16373.

The Seed of Spiritual Revolution

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Spiritual Revolutions take place at the individual level more frequently than they do at the aggregate, societal level. They are very important. They begin as philosophical revolutions and then expand to being spiritual when they take on a fuller, more comprehensive dimension — whether of the individual or the society. A change in thinking sparks a change in everything else. For the individual this means a change in lifestyle; for the society: a paradigm shift.

All is objectively without meaning. Objectively, the Grand Truth is that there is no Grand Truth; good and evil do not exist; nothing can be said of anything beyond that it simply is. In philosophic terms, essence is a creation of the mind of a sentient being: an observer. Existence is all there is objectively. This void of essence, this void of meaning is the “Ultimate Nature,” is “capital t” Truth. So why does anything matter?

It matters because subjectively speaking there is meaning (and if you think about it, how can one possibly isolate meaning from subjectivity? Only a “subject” can observe or acknowledge meaning at all. To speak of it in terms of object is like asking whether a rock thinks abortion to be morally good or evil.). Subjectively there is good and evil, all things appear to possess essence, and we speak of “truths” constantly. Even if we just imbue truth and meaning upon objectively neutral phenomena, that does not make life any less meaningful..

Recently i was considering this prospect: all as ultimately meaningless. So i had to ask myself what kept me from simply descending into hedonism? (or perhaps “ascending into hedonism” to a hedonist. Calling it descending is mere convention, and i suppose it does give away some bias, or perhaps just foreshadows an opinion on my part. Despite having the subtle perspective of negativity that i do, i do not intend to be judgmental or condescending to those who feel differently than me. Please understand this.)
If all is meaningless then why shouldn’t I just party til the cows come home? I say: suffering.

I am accutely aware, much as the Buddha was (though certainly not to his degree of acuity), that seeking to fulfill desires will only be temporary and inherently will sow the seeds of suffering by the act of seeking or the very fulfillment of those desires. A momentary sensory pleasure today is tomorrow’s suffering, whether emotionally or physically. I hate suffering more than I enjoy pleasure of the senses. I think the same could be said for most dedicated spiritual and philosophical individuals in history. However, this is not the case for the general populace, and I see that now.

Much of my life has been seeking to understand why people are the way they are, and why i’m not like that. Part of it is most likely because of this observation, but i think it might more just have to do with the fact that my own subjective experience is the only experience i have ever, or will ever know. I admit to having some degree of jealousy. The road i’m taking is more challenging spiritually and philosophically, my only solace being the reward of the final destination. I wish i could enjoy the fruits of life the way most of you who are reading this can, but i cannot. I never really have, and i doubt i ever will. I see the enjoyment in peoples eyes at things so simple as delicious food, social gatherings, a game, a novel, the beauty of the world, the company of a dear one (or dear ones), and yes, even the enjoyment of substances. That joy i really seem to feel only when deepening my understanding of complex concepts, when i acquire snippets of insight from epiphanies, and sometimes during devoted creative activity.

I know i’m not alone on this, and for people who are like me in this regard, we are unsatisfied by the futility of desires for pleasurable sensory experiences and physical things. For us, we cannot descend into hedonism effectively without probably becoming addicted to the extreme limits of those experiences: heavy drugs, extreme sexual tendencies, hoarding objects, etc. For us, we must follow in the footsteps of the Buddha, the Christ, and virtually every mystic, prophet, or philosopher who has lived. For us, soteriology is tied to suffering. For us, abstract things, non-physical things hold the key to peace, happiness, and more importantly, to satisfaction or contentment.

Whether you follow the path of desire or non-desire to achieve your happiness, you can find a degree of liberating freedom in the fact that you create your own meaning. Seek the Truth, for it lies within you. This is an eternal aspect of reality, for it is simply the corollary of the Truth of no-Truth. When you find you’re suffering, the answer to your transcending that state is simply in a change in thinking; a change in the abstract concepts which you structure your life around; and if you’re one of the individuals who doesn’t care to look beyond desires, try something new — new experiences will change your thinking and take you out of the present state of suffering that you’re in.

Thus, subjective experience is why life has meaning. You have an independent mind with unique thoughts and experiences unlike any living thing that has ever existed in this universe; this is as meaningful as you choose to make it. Whether you choose to transcend the duality of suffering (pleasure/desire and pain/aversion), or embrace desire, or even embrace suffering, life has meaning because you are giving it that meaning. Don’t waste such an opportunity. Do what you must to get the most out of this life as possible. For some of you it will mean embracing a religion or a savior, for some it will be in doing substances and partying, for some it will be in the arts, for others it will be in mysticism or philosophy — but the reality of the situation is that it does not ultimately matter. Do what you must to get the most out of this life as possible. (Yes, I just repeated that sentence, and I did so in order to underscore its importance)

On a final note, i’ll address the title and introductory ideas. What is the seed of Spiritual Revolution?:
A philosophical or conceptual shift in thinking towards some viewpoint that will lead towards an individual or society’s following of the subjective path that will allow them to get the most out of their unique, one of a kind, life or lives. That’s it. Now go embrace yours as i will try to embrace mine.

I deeply apologize for expressing these thoughts so poorly. I pray that i’ll be able to do so better as i continue to follow down this path of mine.
And do note that anything i can see which seems to be new, i can only see because i stand on the shoulders of giants.

Anger, Aggression, and the Patient Mind

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For my social psychology class I recently had to keep an anger journal for a 48 period. I was to note every occurrence of anger cropping up in my mind, state the time, location, source of anger, intensity from 0 to 10, and then my general thoughts on the mental factors which went into the anger’s manifestation. The second part of the assignment was a reflection on the whole experience, which I realized part-way through would be worth putting up here for people to possibly take something from it.

Now what did this experiential observation project reveal to me about my general habits of anger and patience? It was clear that my practices of mind-training to overcome anger have been very effective, but I still have work to do. Under certain circumstances, my patience was greatly reduced:
a) Tiredness, fuzziness of mind, non-clarity or non-lucidity resulting from lack of sleep was most often the primary, or the only contributor to my frustration, anger, or overall lack of patience.
b) Stress plays a big part. I don’t feel stress very often, but when I do, it’s much easier for anger to arise in my mind.
c) When my concentration is interrupted, especially given the presence of the former two factors, I will usually feel anger.
d) The only real noticeable thing that isn’t so dependent upon stress or tiredness which contributed to my frustratable mind was discussing subject matters which i generally am displeased about or are overall uncomfortable with (past relationships, politics, the education system, intolerant or closed-minded individuals, etc.), which actually could be considered a form of stress, since stress and general discomfort towards something that you are faced with go so hand-in-hand that they might as well be separate only semantically.

Outside of these four things i can’t really think of any things which ever cause me to become angry or frustrated. And nothing ever fills me with the desire to hurt someone physically or emotionally in any way; that impulse I have thankfully removed all traces of from my mind. So I’d say I’m doing well in regards to the paramita of patience.

Definition of Essential Terms

What is a paramita, you may ask? Well it means perfection, and there are 6 according to standard Buddhist philosophy. They are to be mastered in order from beginning to end, with a firm devotional compassion that is rooted in an unlimited soteriology called bodhichitta as the prerequisite. From there you master in order: generosity, moral ethics, patience, perseverance/zeal, meditation/concentration, and wisdom (regarding the ultimate nature of reality). The focus here is the 3rd paramita, patience, which is considered in relation to the three poisons (the sources of all human suffering), ignorance, desire, and aversion. The patience of aversion is what most Buddhist teachings and literature about patience look at, and it’s what the focus will be even more precisely aimed at here.

Bearing this understanding of patience in mind, appropriately we should consider what a patient mind is. One of the premier Tibetan Buddhist scholars and monastics today, Khenchen Konchog Gyaltsen Rinpoche describes the patient mind, in the Buddhist sense, as “a mind free from rage, resentment, and harmful thoughts, a mind that is not disturbed by other’s criticism and does not blame others in anger.” Now we’ve got something to work with.

Practical Considerations

What should one do when in a situation where anger may arise, or when it begins to arise? Be firmly aware of the fact that the aggregate components that make a personality, like one’s actions, are not really the essence of the person themselves. Anger towards actions is often justifiable, but anger or hatred towards an individual is not. Anger is never righteous. Whether we have sufficient reason to be angry or not we shouldn’t let the anger arise in our minds because it disturbs the peace and clarity of the mind which is otherwise innately present. Hatefulness abounds in beings everywhere that beings exist, and obstacles to peace are equally as ubiquitous. The parable often used is of the world being covered in thorns: either you can blanket the world with leather to protect your feet anywhere you go, or you can just put leather on your feet, and it will have the exact same effect. In this way, Khenchen Rinpoche explains, we must master our minds if we are to be free of the mental suffering which stems from anger and hatred.

Rather than blame the individual or thing causing your suffering or frustration, contemplate that the situation has been brought about by you in some way – not by them. Perhaps you wronged them in the past in a similar manner; perhaps the thing causing them anger is a very legitimate indicator of an area of yours that needs more awareness and practice; or perhaps the thing frustrating you is only doing so from your own ignorance or lack of awareness (e.g. you stub your toe because you weren’t mindful enough of your surroundings, you forget to fulfill a promise or obligation to someone and they get very angry at you for it). Thus, you should accept the disfavorable condition as it is, and try to grow from it by making the firm decision to better yourself in such ways that the disfavorable occurance does not arise in the future.

Next you should move your focus beyond yourself by trying to generate very firm compassion (preferably during or just after the experience of anger or frustration) towards all the people and other sentient beings out there who are experiencing equal or greater obstacles of this nature. This mantra or prayer can accompany your practice of patience to further solidify the mind-training: “By this practice of patience, may all sentient beings experience joy and happiness, and be free from suffering.”

Summary

So if we look at these things as a whole, the means to prevent anger from arising in your mind is quite simple. First, maintain your awareness of things as much as possible. Second, always try to maintain your reason, and use that reason to recall that the suffering stems from you, not the situation you’re in (The situation is not imbued ontologically with a certain amount of suffering that your mind is absorbing or sensing. Your mind creates the suffering in itself, and then projects that onto the phenomenological experience.) Lastly, bring to mind anger’s opposite, which is compassion; then from this compassion any leftover anger will naturally dissipate, and you will be left again with a tranquil mind. Implementing these three steps should ensure that one develops a mind free from the great spiritual and psychological obstacle of anger.
I really hope I can implement this better in my own life in the near future.