Buddhism makes us understand our own character. Hence, if we can understand our own mind and recognize our own weaknesses then we can easily train it. This is the only way to gain peace and happiness. The Buddha taught us how to analyze our mind so that we can understand where our defilements lie and why disturbances arise to pollute the mind.
The Buddha was such a practical teacher that he just did not stop there. He went on to the next stage and showed us how to change that mental attitude. If our minds are conditioned to be hot-tempered, selfish, greedy, jealous, and cruel, the Buddha taught us different methods to train such minds. He said that ‘mind is the forerunner of all mental states.’
Whatever we do, it all begins in the mind. This reminds us of the well known principle embodied in the preamble to the UNESCO Charter on Human Rights which states: ‘Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace can be constructed.’ So if we stop evil thoughts from arising in the mind we will be capable of only doing good. This is the way to practice Buddhism. But many people have generally tended to ignore all the important aspects of the Buddha’s teaching and have instead concentrated more on the ritualistic aspects, thereby looking for an easy way out of suffering. In Buddhism, we cannot gain salvation by simply pleasing or praising the gods without training the mind.
Then there is the Supreme Wisdom. Wisdom here is not simple academic or scientific knowledge. We can gather vast book knowledge through learning but that in itself does not bring wisdom. Wisdom cannot appear in the mind as long as selfishness, hatred, and delusion predominate. It is only when these mental hindrances are completely erased from the mind and replaced with mental development that real wisdom will appear.
Wisdom is like brightness, when brightness appears darkness disappears; one displaces the other. Occasionally, the evil forces that are latent in our mind do flare up according to the intensity of our temptation and irritation at any given moment. When anger flares up, we show our ugly face (or true colors.) Hidden evil forces in the mind can thus emerge to change and cloud our mental attitude. Even a man who has lived a religious life for a long period can still get into that horrible state of mind, if the mind has not been trained properly and if the impure states have not been completely uprooted.
This is what the Buddha taught and this is what we have to do in order to lead a Buddhist way of life. First we have to cultivate our moral background, then try to understand the nature of our mind and there after train it so that we can try to discover a remedy to cleanse the mental impurities. After eradicating our mental defilements, we will be able to cultivate proper understanding. In the end we gain wisdom and liberation from our physical and mental suffering, the ultimate goal aspired by every good Buddhist.
This is based on “Buddhism For The Future,” by Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda.