I Don't Smoke
As an analogy I would like you to consider gardening as a model for your mental life. Gardening is a good analogy, firstly because a garden is a living thing, secondly it is never completely finished, and thirdly because merely possessing a beautiful garden is not half as satisfying as possessing one you created yourself. Gardening seems like hard work at first, if you have never done any similar work before and you start with a patch of ground that has had little or no attention in the past. Turning over the soil and removing the weeds, and all their roots can be very tiring.
It is good advice to do a little every day. To get into the habit of taking a little time with it regularly, eventually it will become a habit you love. Trying to do it all at one time will inevitably result in your hating it long before you achieve any results. When you are gardening it is also good advice 'not to be in a hurry', I know this modern world is constantly telling us that we can have everything instantly and why shouldn't we? The truth is that mostly we can not have everything instantly, and that it is an ancient wisdom which says 'that which is gained little at a time is more likely to be kept, maintained and enjoyed than that which is acquired without effort'. This is because when we put effort into something we put something of ourselves into it and this inherently makes it more valuable to us. Life is not instant, it is measured in years and decades for most people, if everything was instant what would we need all these years for, one instant would be enough.
In gardening it pays, especially at the start, to take the time to do the job well, a shallow surface removal of weeds followed by a shallow digging and then banging in some plants will soon result in you having created a weedy heaven again. However if you dig deeply enough and take the time to remove all the weeds completely, roots and all, then new weeds will only be starting on the surface and can easily be removed. If you take your time and work steadily you will find the amount of effort you can put in increases and also that you become more efficient as time passes. Further more there is an endless amount of enjoyment and satisfaction to be had from gardening, so it soon pays dividends well beyond the costs.
It is important to realise that your mind, like a garden is a dynamic system that has other inputs besides those supplied by you, and it responds to all the inputs in its own time and manner. A garden is not static, it is in a constant state of change. To keep your garden the way you want it is a job for life, not just a few days or months or even years. However you will find that it is a work of love that well repays the efforts it requires. If this is true of your garden, and it is, ask any dedicated gardener, then it is far more true of the way you deal with your own mind.
Houses, gardens, cars, jobs and even friends can come and go, no matter how permanent they may seem in the given moment. Your mind however, like you body, is yours for life, it is the only one you have and you will have to live with it for ever. No-one else can care for it for you and you can not buy a new one if do not like it. It would seem therefore that common sense would indicate that looking after your mind, as well as your body and all other aspects of your being, should be fairly high on anyone's agenda. Unfortunately in this western world we seem to take the good health of our minds, even more than that of our bodies, for granted. In world where reports claim 40% of Americans are over weight it is a sad truth that far more of them have minds in far worse condition.
In one way this book is about how you as a person relate to your self and your mind, although the general principles apply to your heart and spirit as well. It is a book that I hope embodies the concepts of gentleness, tolerance, forgiveness and harmony as well as being a book that promotes observation, awareness and direct perception as the basic tools of learning, and learning as a fundamentally human occupation. It is a book that I hope you will come back to and reread selective aspects of time and again.
Finally it is a book that I hope will help you find your way to being a happier and healthier person.
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