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You Can Find the Buddha of Your Own Mind

As a practicing Buddhist for over 40 years, imagesmy orientation towards my hypnotherapy practice has always been within the context of the extraordinary insights about how the mind works — insights that are readily available in the Buddhist teachings.

One essential point is that to see clearly you must gain the ability to stop the mind’s constant thinking. This is done through meditation. Many Westerners misconstrue this point to mean stop the mind forever — as in have no more thoughts — and so they quickly despair of ever being able to meditate. “I can’t meditate, because I can’t stop my mind.” But this is to miss the point.

The point is to stop the mind just for an instant and develop your ability to be alert in that instant. My first Buddhist teacher, Shunryo Suzuki, Roshi always told us “Whatever you say, that is (Buddhism), and whatever you say, that is not (Buddhism).” That one stops your mind! When you hear that your mind’s constant choosing between this and that is futile — either way you’re right, and either way you’re wrong — you stop in a moment of astonishment and openness. And that’s the point.

Hypnotists recognize and use this gap in the mind’s constant thinking to deliver hypnotic suggestions. At the point when the mind “gaps” we are very suggestible. Buddhist teachers do the same thing. They create gaps where they can deliver the healing and enlightening teachings, past the shield of constant thinking, straight into the student’s heart.

How do you tell the difference between a wise spiritual teacher and a not-so-wise one?  It’s in the sauce: the quality of the suggestion/teaching delivered. A teacher can deliver suggestions that reinforce views and activities that lead to suffering, or  suggestions/teachings that uplift and mature a person’s character. You can use the same test to tell the difference between an effective hypnotherapist and an unskillful one.

The cultural baggage that comes with teachings from the lands of the East can obscure the important points  (i.e., “Will I have better meditation on a black Zen zafu, or on a red-and-yellow Shambhala-type zafu?” or “Oh no, I don’t even know what a zafu is!”) To cut through this confusion, Shunryo Suzuki, Roshi always told us to “find out what is the most important thing.”

There is an emerging voice in Buddhism that is pointing the way out of the cultural baggage problem. Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, a brilliant young Tibetan lama, is stepping out of the cultural and religious trappings of his own heritage to emphasize to Westerners the most important point — find out who you are beyond allegiance to a culture or a religion. Hints to his students might come as hip poetry written in an urban cafe or a funny photo collage in a tweet (follow @ponlop), a post on Facebook, or a quote from Jimi Hendrix.

You can read his latest article in the Washington Post, “The Buddha Wasn’t a Buddhist” Nice timing, together with The Buddha on PBS here last night.

May you find delight and healing as you notice  what is present when you experience a gap in your mind.

May all beings be happy and free! May our compassion for all beings, ourselves included, continue to increase!

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View The Buddha (PBS) videos in chronological order here.

ftm-front-cover-finalJack Elias, CHT is founder and director of the Institute for Therapeutic Learning in Seattle, Washington. He is the author of Finding True Magic: Transpersonal Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy/NLP, a book and course which blends NLP training modalities with philosophical traditions of both East and West. Jack offers private sessions in Lucid Heart Therapy and Life Coaching. He offers live trainings and distance learning trainings in Transpersonal Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy/NLP. Jack also presents keynotes and other programs to teach audiences how to use the techniques of  Transpersonal Hypnotherapy/NLP to achieve success, confidence, and a consistent sense of well-being.  Book Jack Elias to speak to your group or organization.

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