(5.6) Buddha, the Able One, says,
“Thus, all fears
And all infinite sufferings
Arise from the mind.”
(5.7) Who purposely creates the weapons
That harm the beings in the hells?
Who creates the blazing iron ground?
From where do the tempting hallucinations arise?
(5.8) The Able One says that all such things
Come only from evil minds.
Thus, there is nothing to fear within the three worlds
That has not come from the mind.
Control over our life comes only when we have control over our mind. Why?
Because our mind is the creator. We need to try to understand clearly how our mind is the creator of all fears, sufferings, and so forth. Where do these appearances come from? The mind itself. Everything is like objects in a dream. With the creation of a cause within our mental continuum, there’s also the creation of a potentiality, which will ripen as a mind and its object.
Since the mind and its object are the same nature, if we have an impure mind we will experience all objects as impure. Why do we perceive and experience things as they do? Since nothing exists outside the mind, they must be imputed by mind. If we discriminate in ordinary, harmful ways, that’s how objects will be experienced. If we regard someone as our enemy, that’s what they will be for us, through the force of discrimination. At present we have many negative, impure, harmful states of mind. What will arise from these? All these states of mind must be bound, subdued, so that we can put an end to the fears and sufferings that arise from them. All will be bound simply by binding the mind. Why? Because they come from mind.
We might object, “but even if I change my mind, my bank account will still be empty and my partner will still have run off with somebody else? Changing my mind changes nothing.” It is important we think deeply about this objection and come up with a definite answer to it. If we don’t, we won’t be convinced of the need to realize emptiness.
There are two answers to this objection. First, changing our mind can change our opinion about what appears, and therefore our experience of it. We can view something as a “problem” or as an “opportunity.” From its own side, the situation is neither, but it becomes these things depending on how we view them. For example, imagine we have a bad stomach ache. If we view things from the perspective of unpleasant feelings, this is a bad thing. If we view things from the perspective of opportunity to purify our negative karma, train in renunciation or generate compassion, then our experience of the stomach ache is a good thing. It may still be “uncomfortable,” but it ceases to be a “problem.” The same is true or all things. By changing our mind, we can change our opinion about what appears, and as a result change our experience of these things.
Second, we can actually change what appears, but with a lag in time. It is true changing our mind will not give us our job back after we have been fired. But why did we get fired? It was the effect of karma. Karma comes from action, and all action comes from the mind. Kadam Bjorn said, “if you don’t like your karma, change it.” By changing our mind, we change our actions, by changing our actions we change our karma. From a very long-term perspective, if we stop creating negative karma, even if we engage in no purification practice, eventually all of our negative karma will exhaust itself and only positive karmic seeds will remain on our mind and we will know only pleasant experiences. If all our minds become pure, all of our actions will become pure, and therefore all of our karma will become pure. From this, eventually all of our experiences will become pure. There is a lag in time between when we change our mind and it starts changing what appears, but it does eventually happen. If we understand this, we realize if we change our mind we can change everything. Nothing else can promise such results. This is why Geshe-la says there is no solution to human problems other than Dharma.
As we go through our daily lives, we should make Shantideva’s questions our mental habit. We can look at any object, any situation, any problem and ask ourselves the questions, “where do these things come from?” “Who created these things?” When we ask these questions with wisdom, we are eventually led to a clear answer of our own mind. There is no creator other than mind. If we remind ourselves of this again and again, day by day our wisdom will grow, and as it does the efficacy of practicing Dharma as the sole solution to our problems will become self-evident.