We all know that the self-cherishing mind will bring suffering. Do we know that or not? Are you sure? But we don’t act like it. I don’t know. I don’t act like it, at least. Many times, I’m self-cherishing and then the result is suffering, always, and I keep repeating it somehow. It’s strange, huh? It’s a pattern we have somehow since we are kids. I mean, already the first words we learn when we start speaking is, “Papa, mama, my papa, my mama.” Already we have this kind of concept of “mine,” which OK, maybe in a way it’s healthy because it’s good to have this kind of root connection. “Oh, these are my parents, this is my home, my neighborhood, my family, my country or my planet.”
Maybe not yet but hopefully soon it will be like, “Yeah, this is our planet. Long live earth!” Already from a very young age we have this self-cherishing kind of point of view, “us, me, we.” Not so much “them, he, she,” which is so important.
The first step to finding harmony, the first step to really feeling fulfilled is about sharing, it’s about thinking about the people that surround us. That’s the whole meaning of life, it’s about sharing—sharing the beauty, sharing life, sharing the joy, sharing our resources and everything we have. The more we share, the more joyful we’re going to be, and the more self-cherishing we are, the more we’re going to suffer. Theoretically we’ve got that, we have it. Do we put it in practice? Sometimes, sometimes.
The good thing is that when we do self-cherish, we’ll end up suffering, so through that suffering it really makes us click, “Oh, something happened.” What happened? We must investigate. Many times, we don’t investigate. We just move forward. We sweep it under the carpet. It’s there, but someday the carpet’s going to become a mountain, then what? Then you can’t walk over it. You must walk around it. Then you’ve got a problem. So, don’t sweep everything under the carpet. It can be maybe useful for a short period of time, but if you keep doing it, someday you’re going to have to confront that.
So, if we have self-cherishing, we cannot really enjoy life. We cannot. We really can’t. It’s so important … and that’s also, for example, addiction comes from that, because we think that by cherishing ourselves, we are going to find happiness. That’s at least what the education system teaches us, what society teaches us, individualism—so the more you work for me, the more I work for myself, then supposedly I’m going to be happy. If I buy this, I’m going to be happy. If I achieve this goal, if I get that job, I’m going to be happy. If I marry this woman, I’m going to be happy. All these things, this kind of vision of the future that does not actually help to live the moment. The self-cherishing mind, this is so important to really understand what that is.
Many times, for example, when we have an argument with someone, it’s all about, “Oh, I’m right. You’re wrong,” and we’ll fight so hard just to show that we are right, even though maybe deep down inside we know we’re wrong. How is that, for example, emotions, the destructive emotions, how does that work? It’s like, for example, let’s say you’re chilling in your house, relaxed, and suddenly a family member opens a door, suddenly, “Boom!” kicks in the door, comes inside. How would you react? Would you be like, “Hey, it’s OK. You’re welcome, but who invited you? Why couldn’t you knock at the door?” Right? Even a family member.
How about a stranger? When a stranger comes in, somebody you never saw before, you would freak out, right? You’d be like, “Woah, who are you. Oh my god, I have to call the police.” Right? That would be the first reaction. You’d get scared. But you wouldn’t welcome them in and say, “Oh, would you like a cookie? How are you? Are you doing good today? Please sit down.” You wouldn’t do that, right? Would you? Maybe someone would. I don’t know. So, why do we do that when the negative destructive emotions come in? Why do we do that? Why do we welcome them with open arms? Why do we do that, as if they are our best friends?
Because when we get angry, are we in control? Not really. When we get angry, do we say nice things that create harmony? No. Do we regret most of the times the things we do or say when we are angry? I mean, when we get angry, sometimes if it’s controlled anger maybe. It’s different, maybe it’s not anger, it’s wrathfulness. Maybe you, sometimes you must be strict, you must really put your foot down, maybe punch the table a bit. I don’t know. Sometimes it’s good to be [wrathful] but you’re in control of your emotions, you’re not being mean to the person, you’re not trying to harm them, trying to make them feel bad. In that case, it may be helpful, I don’t know, depending on the situation, circumstantially.
But most of the time, when we give control to the destructive emotions, most of the time the result is suffering and it’s not helpful in the long run. We really must be aware of that. We must be so aware of that all the time, to be in control of our mind, to be in control of our emotions, to be the captain of our boat. If we let the wind take us anywhere, eventually we’re going to hit some rocks or we’re going to go somewhere we don’t want to go. We’ll end up maybe in a bad place, maybe in a good place, but it’s kind of like the casino—we don’t know.
So, you really want to be in control. You really want to know what you’re doing, where you’re going, the method, right? And the wisdom. They’re very important. Yes, it is easy to get distracted and that’s because we have the monkey mind. Do you know Mingyur Tulku? Anybody familiar with Mingyur Tulku? Amazing lama. I met him this last Kalachakra in Bodhgaya briefly. I just went to say hello to him twice. He’s really, nice. There’s this video from Huffington Post where he talks about the monkey mind and I thought it was a great name, a great name, talking about the monkey mind, how we have no control over the monkey mind. Any distraction, we’re just following that all the time, everywhere. Are we present? We’re present, but the moment something happens we’re gone. The presence is gone. We’re not here anymore.
This monkey mind takes over and most of the time we give it free will, and even sometimes we identify with that monkey mind, “Oh, that’s me. I am my thoughts.” The thoughts are like clouds—they come, and they go—but if you go to grab them, they’re not there. You are not your thoughts. The thoughts are just parts of you, just like a tool, like the screwdriver, for an electrician. The screwdriver without the electrician. The electrician without the screwdriver, maybe if he’s intelligent he’ll use his nails, I don’t know.
We must use the monkey mind, put it to use, put it to work. How? By meditating, for example, on being aware, for example, with the breathing, being aware of the thoughts. Sometimes it’s good, maybe it’s good to calm them down, turn off the mind, but sometimes it’s also good to let the thoughts come and go and just observe them. Where are they coming from, where are they going? Just observe.