How to Change Your Mind

by Bob Schwartz

Floral Chair

The phrase “how to change your mind” is, as are many English expressions, simple and complex:

“How to” as in which method.
“How to” as in which direction.
“Change your mind” as in making a different decision.
“Change your mind” as in transforming it.

Sorting through all that begins with an example.

There is a big colorful overstuffed chair. The fancy fabric is maybe striped or covered with big flowers or designs.

You look at it and think it is beautiful or ugly. You sit in it and think it is comfortable or uncomfortable.

Someone else looks at it and thinks it is beautiful or ugly. Sits in it and thinks it comfortable or uncomfortable.

You two discuss the chair, your thoughts and feelings about it. One may try and explain to the other why one view or experience is better or worse, right or wrong. You might talk about the construction and style relative to the current market for chairs or the historic evolution of chairs.

Yet there it just is. An object with four legs, to keep you sitting up from the floor. There it just is.

You might change your mind about the chair by engaging in the discussion about it, or by sitting in it a few more times.

Or you might realize that it is just that chair. About which your mind is fundamentally changed. Whether the chair is plain wood or elaborately upholstered. Whether you think about it or look at it or sit in it or not.

That is one way to change your mind.

MIND is the forerunner of all actions.
All deeds are led by mind, created by mind.
If one speaks or acts with a corrupt mind, suffering follows,
As the wheel follows the hoof of an ox pulling a cart.

Mind is the forerunner of all actions.
All deeds are led by mind, created by mind.
If one speaks or acts with a serene mind,
Happiness follows,
As surely as one’s shadow.

“He abused me, mistreated me, defeated me, robbed me.”
Harboring such thoughts keeps hatred alive.
“He abused me, mistreated me, defeated me, robbed me.”
Releasing such thoughts banishes hatred for all time.

From the Dhammapada, translated by Ananda Maitreya.

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