The Power of Mind

Last year I was enjoying the teachings on LoJong by Khentrul Lodrö T’hayé Rinpoche on audio and wrote a little about the preliminary practices.

I am very excited to learn his new book on the topic will be released on September 6th. He is doing a book tour and will visit the Bay Area at the end of September. If you like to listen to books you can already get the audio version.

We’ve all heard platitudes about cultivating love and compassion, but how can we actually develop these qualities in ourselves and—crucially—share them in our world? The Power of Mind provides the proven path of lojong, or mind training, for changing our experience from the inside out.
Regardless of what’s happening in our lives, Khentrul Rinpoche teaches that our route to freedom lies in our minds. A thousand years ago, the Indian saint Atisha risked his life to seek out lojong teachings in Indonesia, and then brought them to Tibet, where they flourished and spread to the rest of the world. This book introduces those teachings—the Seven Key Points of Mind Training—which have been passed down from teacher to student for centuries. Khentrul Rinpoche was inspired by his own teachers, who like alchemists, were able to follow these techniques during the Cultural Revolution and transform their immense suffering into something positive.
The Power of Mind guides the reader through these transformative practices one by one—from recognizing the value of our human life to overcoming the sources of suffering, together with meditation advice for incorporating these insights into our daily lives. This wisdom is accessible to everyone—whether Buddhist or not. As Khentrul Rinpoche states, “Peace and happiness can be attained, but not by searching for something in the outside world. They start within us then extend out to the entire globe.”

Review: “If you train the mind, you can live a happy and fulfilled life. The Power of Mind is a practical manual sharing seven key points that form a complete training. Anyone can apply them to their lives—you don’t need to have any particular belief system to embrace the benefits. Khentrul Rinpoche shares his deep understanding of these teachings so that the subject is most relevant for these times.”—Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness and Real Change

Khentrul Lodrö T’hayé Rinpoche is a United States-based Tibetan monk and the director of Katog Choling, a Tibetan Cultural Center. He oversees meditation groups across North America and in Australia and South Africa. He travels teaching seminars and leading retreats, and he now holds online retreats for his students around the globe. He is also the abbot of a monastery in Tibet. Khentrul Rinpoche is one of the only monks in the world with three khenpo degrees—equivalent to three PhDs in Buddhist philosophy. Many of his students have nicknamed him “the mind training Khenpo” for his passion for teaching mind training practices.

Text and photo copyright protected 2022 – All rights reserved

Cultivating Loving Kindness Group

I am pleased to announce that a group of us are going to be getting together and cultivating loving-kindness through seven point mind training. Our drop in class and peer support group will focus on applying time tested Buddhist techniques for transforming all circumstances, including pain, anxiety and stress into mental well-being for the benefit of ourselves and those around us.

This practice is designed for bring adversity onto the path of total transformation. Perfect for times when the world is crazy and people are reacting to external events with fear and hostility. We’ve explored the idea before (August 28 2022 post) about how external events cannot possibly be a source of happiness. The lojong training (literally “mind practice) allows us to be the calm in the midst of the storm. The peaceful centered way of being that results from practice will ripple out into the world to create real change.

Despite the craziness of focusing outward to create happiness, the habit of doing so is deeply entrenched. This is why I am forming a group to create a supportive environment for making the changes that can be quite alien to the “normal” world. When going against ingrained habits, it takes continual reminders to create change. The power that comes when working together is a great aid.

Even if you cannot join us in person, I encourage you to embrace the practice by following my blog posts and getting the new book by Khentrul Rinpoche. If you are ready for a beautiful and radical transformation, seven point mind training could be just the ticket.

How to Cultivate Genuine Happiness

How can we cultivate genuine happiness? Let’s explore this together. First we can consider two general approaches to having happiness that doesn’t end. One focuses on the external and the other, the internal.

External Focus
Looking for objects and situation outside of ourselves is a common approach. We can find a good way to make money, a comfortable place to live, good food, perhaps a nice car, and pleasing clothes. Will these bring us genuine happiness? Happiness that lasts? If these things bring happiness, it tends to be fleeting. That good paying job was fabulous, but now we think we need more money or we don’t like a co-worker. The car gets old and we have to take it to the shop often. Our clothes wear out or we don’t like the style anymore. The pursuit of genuine happiness based on outside objects just doesn’t work, because of impermanence. We just can’t get the good things to stay.

Perhaps we may argue that we’ve learned not to look for material things to make us happy. We know the car, job, home and food won’t bring us lasting happiness. Instead we are focused on meaningful relationships and contributing to the well-being of others. But here too we find when we focus outward on friendship and love relationships that they too change and the happiness does not last. Perhaps we fall out of love, find out are friend was not who we wanted them to be, or we are separated from our love partner by death. Our meaningful projects to help people are rejected by people or after a while they simply lose steam. Once a “joyful life’s purpose” becomes another thing to do. Here again we are confronted with the impermanence of not just objects, but situations as well.

Many of us, at this point, “realize” that genuine happiness is not possible. The best we can do is to keep our spirits up and “make lemonade out of the lemons that life gives us”. So we use many strategies to keep our spirits up. When we get down we try to cheer ourselves up with walks in nature, buying ourselves something special, or treating ourselves to comfort food. However, the hopelessness not finding lasting happiness can also lead us to trying to escape overusing food, drugs, alcohol, shopping, etc.

Internal Focus
Where does happiness and unhappiness come from? After exploring the role of external objects we can eliminate them as a source of happiness and unhappiness. In fact, despite our tendency to blame external things for our state of mind they are completely innocent.

Consider someone startling you while you are driving by pulling right in front of you. You have an unpleasant emotion arise and perhaps you think the person inconsiderate. Now, imagine that you recognize your pregnant friend in the car and realize she is in labor with her partner at the wheel hurriedly driving her to the hospital. Is the emotion that arises different? This is a clue to where we can find genuine happiness.

Happiness is created by the mind! This is very good news because the mind is easy to change with diligent effort. In fact, the example above gives us one method of taming the mind. We simply need to replace the story we tell ourselves that makes us unhappy or angry with a story that opens our hearts and gives us a pleasant feeling.

I do this with traffic all the time. When someone isn’t driving as I want them to, I consider that something serious is distracting them (death of friend, financial worries, illness, etc.) and I remember that I am sometimes distracted and I respond with kindness. Sometimes, I still have that initial reaction, but my mind is quickly pacified as a substitute what I prefer to think at such times.

It may seem that taming the mind completely is unrealistic, but people have done it, so I know it is possible. I also know that it is worth the effort, since the alternative is continuing to be fascinated and disappointed by the illusion that genuine happiness exists out there somewhere and if we keep searching…. Further, even the little bit of taming of my mind I have accomplished, has already shown me that the path to a completely tame mind is imbued with peace and happiness. This is why in Buddhism, taming the mind is also referred to as developing a good heart.

Text and photo copyright protected 2022 – All rights reserved