Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Learning to Sit Still

Eknath Easwaran’s thought for the day likens the mind to an employee that needs to be trained well for his job by following “sound shop standards.” What are these standards? “Good, creative, consistently kind thinking, and no around-the-clock activity, either. When the mind has nothing productive to do, we need to learn how to close up shop and let it rest.” He also quotes Blaise Pascal, who said, “All human evil comes from this: a man's being unable to sit still in a room.”

I’m not sure that all human evil stems from an unfocused mind. In fact, I suspect that some have perpetrated great evil precisely because their powerful minds were focused on nothing but nefarious ends. However, I believe that there is truth to be found in the notion that if a great many more of us could learn to focus our minds in the ways that Easwaran and other sages have taught for millennia, we would see far less evil in the world and far more good. I grow increasingly convinced that mindfulness channeled into lovingly positive ends is, if not the panacea to our worst ills, the best medicine going.

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