I tried an experiment this morning on my walk in the woods with my beloved four-legged friend, Jackson. See, it's the season where bugs are abundant, especially in New England...and there's these flies, just one fly at a time, really, that buzz buzz buzzes around my head. Maybe you know the one: it circles really close to the cranium non-stop, buzzing. Usually I swat at it just as ceaselessly as it circles. It's our usual dance, the entire walk. This morning, in my experiment, I resisted swatting and just let it circle. Guess what. It never landed, and before the walk was over it went away!
It was a great reminder about how mind-stuff works. We make trouble in our minds. Yes, it's true, we MAKE it. The potential for mind-stuff is always there in the form of memories, external stimuli, planning our lives, decision making, and straight-up day dreaming. The critical factor of how it affects us is up to us. It's like a bacterium. For an infection to take hold, the bacterium needs a host to land in and a hospitable environment to proliferate. The stuff in our mind needs to land, for us to feed it, expound on it, and make stuff up about it for it to really weigh on us. It's said, the amount trouble in one's mind is 100% up to the person and how they work with their mind. I believe that to be true, however when you consider how long habits have been unchecked, memories of trauma and pain, and the karma we arrived with it feels to me like I've got about 90% control. With meditation practice that has increased dramatically over the years. If you would have asked me 7 years ago, I might have felt 40% in charge. It's a work in progress to be sure, and the work, no matter how difficult and painful, always pays off.
To simplify, there are two parts to this: the stimuli and the response. Those two parts are also two parted....this is information for another BLOG. Suffice it to say, we can make mind-stuff all we want including minding all the teachings and analyzing them! Simple truth is the more we watch the mind, without swatting away phenomenon or grasping on to it, the more power we have as liberated beings to appropriately respond rather than habitually react.