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Excerpted from Transforming the Mind by His Holiness The Dalai Lama. Copyright © 2000 by H.H. Dalai Lama. Excerpted by permission of Thorsons/HarperCollins.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.

"Meditation is a spiritual discipline, and one that allows you to have some degree of control over your thoughts and emotions."

  His Holiness The Dalai Lama
Transforming the Mind
, Part 1

Meditation: A Spiritual Discipline

What do we understand by meditation? From the Buddhist point of view, meditation is a spiritual discipline, and one that allows you to have some degree of control over your thoughts and emotions.

Why is it that we don't succeed in enjoying the lasting happiness that we are seeking? And why are we so often faced with suffering and misery instead? Buddhism explains that our normal state of mind is such that our thoughts and emotions are wild and unruly, and since we lack the mental discipline needed to tame them, we are powerless to control them. As a result, they control us. And thoughts and emotions, in their turn, tend to be controlled by our negative impulses rather than our positive ones. We need to reverse this cycle, so that our thoughts and emotions are freed from their subservience to negative impulses, and so we ourselves, as individuals, gain control of our own minds.

The idea of bringing about such a fundamental change in ourselves may at first sight seem impossible, yet it is actually possible to do this through a process of discipline such as meditation. We choose a particular object, and then we train our minds by developing our ability to remain focused on the object. Normally, if we just take a moment to reflect, we will see that our mind is not focused at all. We may be thinking about something and, all of a sudden, we find that we have been distracted because something else came into our head. Our thoughts are constantly chasing after this and that because we don't have the discipline of having a focus. So, through meditation, what we can achieve is the ability to place our minds and to focus our attention at will on any given object.

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