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Pacifying the Mind
by Shih-Fu

To pacify the mind means to stabilize the mind that constantly arises and perishes. There are many reasons why our minds are not at ease. Sometimes it is our health, sometimes the environment, but usually it is the mind's instability. This instability is caused by vexations. Vexations are created by what we want and don't want; what we like and dislike, what we seek and what we reject.

There are things the body needs and does not need; and it is the body that comes in contact with the environment. As a result, we find ourselves either in favorable or adverse situations. We crave favorable situations and avoid adverse situations, and such situations generate desire and aversion within us. Our minds are constantly influenced by our bodies and the environment, giving rise to a ceaseless cycle of thoughts and feelings. We are a continuous flux.

The first step in pacifying the mind is to retrieve the mind from the body and environment and place it on the method of practice. The more time you are able to keep your mind on the method, the more your mind will be stable and peaceful. If you cannot retrieve your mind, then your mind cannot be pacified. However, retrieving the mind from the body and environment dose not resolve the situations or problems we find ourselves in. Therefore, after achieving a stable, objective and peaceful mind -- called "ordinary mind" -- the second step is to apply this mind to our immediate situation. Then we are in a better position to deal with our daily affairs.

Ordinary mind does not involve feelings, sentiments or vexations. If you can reach this level, your mind will maintain stability even when you find yourself in unfavorable situations. To cultivate ordinary mind you must first rely on sitting meditation. Reaching equipoise and stability while sitting, you then expand this state of mind to encompass daily life. Eventually, at any time and place you can pull your mind back to the method and not be subjected to unnecessary vexations caused by adverse situations.

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