from Rebel Buddha, Chapter 6, “Relating with Confusion” (pp. 63-65)
We are sometimes too polite with our suffering. We let it dominate our days. Instead, we can confront it and challenge its power to limit our happiness. When we do this, we are starting down a different road, headed in a new direction. Since our goal is to overcome confusion and fully wake up, we need to start by relating to the mind that is confused and working with that mind directly. So we need to go through some kind of training that will prepare us to work effectively with our minds. We need to develop certain skills, we need to learn how and when to apply these skills, and we need to understand the purpose of acquiring these skills in the first place.
Before we take on such training, however, it’s helpful to see that the whole notion of “training” is not something extraordinary. It is a natural part of our experience of life. Training is part of growing up; it’s how we develop as individuals and find our place in the world. It’s also essential to see just what we are training. Or we could ask, “Why is all this training necessary?” We need to see that our mind is not just a busy mind, but that there are areas of the mind that are in a state of darkness, or ignorance, similar to states of deep sleep. That darkness stops us from seeing clearly and doing things well. We need to shed light on these areas and make them more conscious—wake them up. Once they’re awake, they can be trained. Finally, we practice mindfulness: watching the mind and bringing it back to the present moment again and again. That is perhaps the most essential component of any training. You can’t be somewhere else mentally while your training is going on here.