The Refinement of The MindDecember 27, 2011 by TheTaoOfD 6
There are gross impurities in gold, such as earth, and sand, gravel, and grit. Now the skilled goldmsith first pours the gold into a trough and washes, rinses, and cleans it thoroughly.When the goldsmith has done this, there still remain moderate impurities in the gold, such as fine gritand coarse sand. Then the goldsmith rinses and cleans it again.When the goldsmith has done this, there still remain minute impurities in the gold, such as fine sand and dust. Now the goldsmith repeats the washing and thereafter only the gold dust remains.The goldsmith now pours the gold into the melting pot and smelts it, melts it together. But the goldsmith does not yet take it out from the vessel as the dross has not yet been entirely removed and the gold is not yet quite pliant, workable, and bright; it is still brittle and does not yet lend itself to molding.But a time comes when the goldsmith repeats the melting so that the flaws are entirely removed. The gold is now quite pliant, workable and bright; and it lens itself easily to molding. Whatever ornament the goldsmith now wishes to make of it, be it a crown, earrings, a necklace, or a golden chain, the gold can now be used for that purpose.Similarly, in the case of a practitioner devoted to practice, there may be such gross impurities as unskillful conduct deeds, words, and thoughts. such conduct the follower of the way gives up, puts away, lets go, and relinquishes.When one has abandoned these there may still remain such impurities of a moderate degree as lustful, angry, and violent thoughts. Such thoughts the follower of the way gives up, puts away, lets go, and relinquishes.When one has abandoned these, there may still remain grasping to special states of meditation.Thus concentration is not yet properly calm or refined; it has not attained to full tranquility, nor has it achieved mental unification. But there comes a time when the practitioner’s mind gains firmness within, settles down, becomes unified and concentrated. With such a concentration the practitioner is able to direct the mind to states of higher insight.Having completed this initial purification, a follower of the way devoted to practice should from time to time direct attention to three qualities of mind. The practitioner should from time to time pay attention to the state of concentration, the state of energetic effort, and the state of equanimity.If one gives direct attention exclusively to concentration, one’s mind may fall into indolence. If one directs attention exclusively to energetic effort, one’s mind may fall into restlessness. If one directs exclusive attention to equanimity, one’s mind will not be well concentrated on overcoming fetters and attachments.But if, from time to time, the practitioner pays attention to each of these qualities, the practitioner’s mind will be pliant, workable, and lucid.Suppose a goldsmith builds a furnace, lights a fire in its opening, takes the gold with a pair of tongs, and puts it into the furnace. From time to time the goldsmith blows on it, from time to time the goldsmith sprinkles water on it, from time to time the goldsmith examines it closely. If the goldsmith were to blow on the gold continuously, it might be heated too much. If the goldsmith continuously sprinkled water on it, it would be cooled. If the goldsmith were only to examine it closely, the gold would not come to perfect refinement. But if, from time to time, the goldsmith attends to each of these three functions, the gold will become pliant, workable, and bright – and it can be easily molded. Whatever ornament the goldsmith wishes to make of it, be it a crown, an earring, a necklace, or a golden chain, the gold can now be used for that purpose.Similarly there are those three qualities to which a devoted practitioner should, from time to time, pay attention to, namely, concentration, energetic effort, and equanimity. If on gives regular attention to these, then one’s mind will becomes pliant, workable, lucid, and not unwieldy, and it will be well concentrated upon overcoming all fetters and attachments .