Change Your Mind, Change Your World

March 12, 2024

“We may think that our suffering is caused by other people, by poor material conditions or by society, but in reality it all comes from our own deluded states of mind. The essence of spiritual practice is to reduce and eventually completely eradicate our delusions, and replace them with permanent inner peace. This is the real meaning of our human life.”
– Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, How to Transform Your Life

The Buddhist path is all about understanding what causes suffering and how to eradicate it completely. It turns out, our biggest problem of all is in how we ordinarily perceive things to exist. Normally we think things exist independently of the mind. We think our mind is tucked away inside our body, looking out at and experiencing a world that exists separately from it. We perceive everything – including ourself – as existing in this way. And due to the delusion of ignorance, we believe it.

This might sound like a technicality, but it’s far more than that – it is the source of all our suffering. Thinking in this way, we relate to our problems as existing intrinsically the way they appear, whereas in reality, things are much more flexible than they appear to be – that includes us! Buddha called this insight, emptiness. All things, including our problems and painful experiences, lack the fixed, permanent essence that they appear to have. From this truth arises real freedom.

This is one of Buddha’s most profound teachings and it can take awhile to understand. For now just imagine if this is true: what if all your problems, all your pain, your body, your life, your friends, even yourself are not fixed? What if the “truth” of whatever meaning you ascribe to everything is up for grabs – meaning you can look at things differently? How would you look at your problems? How would you look at yourself? What sort of life would you create?

You would realize that you can change. You would see that none of the so-called problems and so-called identities that you wrap yourself up in are fixed. You would see that you have extraordinary freedom to change your views, your attitudes, your entire world.

That is the message to take away for today: the world is merely a reflection of the mind. Absolutely nothing is fixed. There are as many perspectives on everything as there are minds. By changing our mind we can change our world.

Kadam Morten explores more about emptiness based on Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso’s teachings in this video, enjoy!

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