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“Whole Mind” from Meditations by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Geoffrey DeGraff)

In Thai, they have a word for practice–patibat–which also means looking after someone, to attend to someone’s needs.  In the practice of the Dhamma you’re looking after your own mind, attending to your own mind’s needs.  It’s not so much that you’re learning about Buddhism.  You’re learning about your one mind, looking after your own mind.  That’s when the meditation really starts showing its value.  it rearranges all the power balances  in the mind so that truth begins to take over, wisdom begins to take over, discernment begins to take charge.  These become the big powers in your mind, the ones in charge of any discussion.

When that’s the kind of mind you have, it’s a really good mind to live in. We live in physical places only for a certain amount of time but in our own minds all the time.  Try to make the mind a good place to live so that, no matter what else happens outside, at least the mind is on proper terms with itself, not fighting itself, not doing stupid things that aren’t in its own best interest.  Get so that it really does know how to deal with the aggregates as they arise, how to deal with pain so it doesn’t turn into suffering, how to deal with pleasure so it doesn’t turn it into suffering.  Get so that the mind develops a basic intelligence in sorting itself out, managing itself, so that all your mental powers suddenly become powers you can truly put to good use.

As we were saying today, there are times when, for your own good, you don’t want to be focused on the breath.  There are things you have to think about, things you’ve got to plan for, things you have to ponder, where you take all the powers of the mind you’ve trained in concentration and put them to other uses.  That way the benefits of the concentration permeate your whole life, everything you do.

So it’s an all-around training, not just learning to relate to the breath, but learning how to relate to everything else going on in the mind as well, so that skillful thoughts take over and unskillful thoughts get left behind.  That’s when you can say that the meditation is a whole-mind process. That’s when it gives results penetrating throughout your whole life.  The committee members learn how to live together.  The unskillful ones get out voted. The ones who should be in charge, the skillful qualities, take over and run the show in such a way that nobody suffers (pages 88-89).

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