There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. Hamlet
I wonder if Shakespeare knew this statement’s depth when he wrote it? I haven’t been blogging much in the last few years as I have been going through the most difficult situations in my life. Two and a half years ago my ex and I split up and the battle began over where our daughter was to live. As I am sure many of you have been through something like this you know things can get really bad really quickly. Even for two Buddhists who have promised their lama and all beings to work for their benefit until enlightenment. With such a shared altruistic goal how could things go so wrong?
For over one year I focused on all the bad things that she did and was doing and I spiraled down a very dark rabbit hole. I have never been so negative in my life. Slowly even my best friends started to wisely but compassionately warn me that they could not hear my constant telling of all the things that she was doing wrong. I was becoming bitter and hard not to mention very angry. I had been giving all my energy to and focusing on the bad things that were happening. And not to my surprise but bad things kept happening, it was as if I was willing these things into existence with my attention and awareness and then amplifying them to absurd proportions.
Just like Hamlet, I was a prisoner of my own mind as he was contemplating the murder of his father and his killer King Claudius.
Then the change came, at the behest of my lawyer and a few good friends I began to keep a log of all the things that “she was doing” so that if needed I could use this protocol in court. The first time I started doing this I was emotionally triggered. Fast heart rate, shaking hands, you name it. However, her bad actions had now become my ammunition and my mental health began to improve. I wrote the things down and began to let them go. I was actually happy when she did something stupid so I could write it down. As more and more bad became good I started to see more and more good all around me. Paradox?
My fortunes had begun to change, and I began to heal from deep within. Anger turned to joy and love. The more she did that was meant to hurt me the more healing I found. I found that my own thinking was the key I could decide what I wanted. Heaven or hell was my choice and my choice alone. By choosing to place my attention on negative things or thoughts I was feeding my anger and hastening my own demise. I managed to bring my meditation practice into my daily life and by resting in my heart and consciously directing my thoughts in the direction of love and joy I turned my mind around 180 degrees. I can even say today that I am thankful for her bad actions as I was able to transform them into love and now my relationships have completely changed. Old childhood wounds that had been festering for decades began to heal and the sun started shining brighter than ever before in even the darkest corners of my mind. I am less and less triggered by her actions all the time. It’s clear to me that if I had focused on revenge and anger I would not have only lost my relationship with my daughter but like Hamlet, I would have lost much more.
In my Buddhist practice, I have been taught to build up good impressions in mind. How do we do this? Through mandala practice or volunteering benefiting others, or even just in simple meditation. This is really an interesting thing to do. The more good memories or thoughts you have the easier it is to have something good to focus on. It is much better to wake up from a good dream than a bad one any day of the week. It is as if our minds are hungry and our very attention to one thought or another is the food or energy we expend. We choose to feed our minds with good or bad things at every moment. Of course, sometimes bad things come up in mind, we need only to think, about how interesting, and then let it go back to from whence they came. It is dangerous to deny the energy of stifled or repressed emotions. We simply need to use this energy or fuel in a new way. Give it a new direction and watch our lives change.
Choose today in this very moment what thoughts you want to feed and watch them grow in the garden of your mind. We are the sower and reaper of all things in mind, this is Karma. Remember that being angry is natural but if you feed it, it’s like drinking poison yourself and expecting the other person to die. This is never going to work.
We are in control of our mind in fact we possess mind. Mind does not possess us. This is what we learn in meditation. And to have this come forth in daily life is one expected result of any meditative practice.