The Practice of Self-Study

“Garbage Pit

If your mind becomes quiet and concentrated, it is an important tool to use. But if you’re sitting just to get concentrated so you can feel happy and pleasant, then you’re wasting your time. The practice is to sit and let your mind become still and concentrated, and then to use that to examine the nature of the mind and body, to see more clearly. Otherwise, if you make the mind simply quiet, then for that time it’s peaceful and there is no defilement. But this is like taking a stone and covering up a smelly garbage pit. When you take the stone away, it’s still full of smelly garbage. You must use your concentration, not to temporarily bliss out, but to acutely examine the nature of the mind and body. This is what actually frees you.” (A Tree in a Forest: a Collection of Ajahn Chah’s Similes)

One of the objectives of this blog is to help academics and students specifically, who I believe often have a difficult time getting to a place of mental stillness due to their active minds (whether by innate character or by living a student/professor lifestyle). However, the dhamma (Buddhist teaching) shared above shows us there is a place for the mind in the practice of mindfulness! The active mind can be an asset to an individual’s path to well being and wholeness when the practice of study is turned into the practice of self-study.

So many times we believe the lies that others tell us about ourselves, about our flaws, about our lack, about our fragmentation. These are illusions that amount to little more than acculturation. These are a prison that you have let yourself live in. Your truth is coming to know yourself. Studying yourself. And fundamentally accepting all parts of yourself as unique facets of your own wholeness.

Take out the garbage that other people have thrown into your trash can. It’s long ago ripe and ready for disposal. Use your mind to affirm that you are well, that you are whole, that you are infinite.

Recommended affirmation (please alter according to what feels right to you):

All of my parts are hereby returned to me

I welcome my wholeness, my perfection, and my infinite existence

I am healed through my own self-love

Compassion runs through me

As within, so without*

*further reading on “As Within, So Without”

Photo credit: tumblr

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