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Episode 175 - Make Your Own Destiny

Buddhism for Everyone with JoAnn Fox

Release Date: 08/09/2023

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The mind is the creator of everything—all happiness and suffering. Thus, gaining control over the mind is the only real and reliable way to live a happy, peaceful life. Buddha said that "we make our destiny, “therefore, control yourself.”  

To tame the mind, a practitioner relies on mindfulness. Although "mindfulness" is a broadly used term, its original meaning in Buddhist texts means remembering the right actions and avoiding the wrong ones. During meditation, this involves remembering and remaining on the meditation objective you’ve chosen. For example, when doing a breathing meditation like counting the breath, mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of the breath. However, in daily life, mindfulness means remembering our planned practice and staying aware of what our body, speech, and mind are up to! 

Mindfulness refers to knowing what's going on in your body, speech, and mind and being mindful of your actions, words, and thoughts. When we’re mindful, we’re not acting on autopilot.

How does controlling the mind protect us from suffering?

The purpose of mindfulness is to control our minds and, therefore, our actions. According to Buddhist teachings, our harmful past actions, or karma, lead to misfortunes and dangers. An intention in the mind always precedes these actions, so negative karma comes from an uncontrolled mind. On the other hand, a disciplined mind restrains us from harmful actions and encourages virtuous behavior, keeping us safe. The Indian Buddhist master Shantideva said that taming our minds won't necessarily save us if we are attacked by a tiger, lion, or elephant. But it will prevent us from accumulating the karma that would lead to such dangers in the future.

 How does controlling the mind lead to all happiness?

All good qualities come from the mind, including the six perfections of a Bodhisattva: generosity, ethical discipline, patience, joyful effort, concentration, and wisdom. From good habits in the mind, like these, arise good intentions, so we give to others. We are patient and kind. We make an effort to meditate and so forth, creating good actions or karma. From good karma comes every happiness we experience, as Taylor Swift sings in her song “Karma:”

“Karma is the breeze in my hair on the weekend

Karma's a relaxing thought

Aren't you envious that for you it's not?

Sweet like honey, karma is a cat

Purring in my lap 'cause it loves me”

Good karma ripens as anything from having a mind predisposed to happiness, generosity, or patience, to pleasant experiences like seeing a beautiful sunset. Training our minds in good habits leads to positive actions, which directly leads to our moments of happiness and their causes.

Admonish yourself. 

Control yourself. 

O bhikkhu, self-guarded and mindful, 

You will live happily. (379) 


Oneself, indeed, is one’s own protector. 

One does, indeed, make one’s own destiny. 

Therefore, control yourself 

As a merchant does a fine horse. (380)

--Buddha, The Dhammapada

Links to References

Buddha.The Dhammapada. Translated by Gil Fronsdale. (Kindle). Shambala, Boston and London, 2011 (Link)

Buddha (1986).The Dhammapada: Verses and Stories. Translated by Daw Mya Tin, M.A. (Website). Edited by Editorial Committee, Burma Tipitaka Association Rangoon. Courtesy .of Nibbana.com. For free distribution only, as a gift of dhamma.


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