The subject of practice isn’t far away at all, it’s right here in our body and mind. Westerners and Thais are the same, they both have a body and mind. A confused body and mind means a confused person and a peaceful body and mind, a peaceful person.
Actually, the mind, like rain water, is pure in its natural state. If we were to drop green coloring into clear rain water, however, it would turn green. If yellow coloring it would turn yellow.
The mind reacts similarly. When a comfortable mental impression “drops” into the mind, the mind is comfortable. When the mental impression is uncomfortable, the mind is uncomfortable. The mind becomes “cloudy” just like the colored water.
When clear water contacts yellow, it turns yellow. When it contacts green, it turns green. It will change color every time. Actually, that water which is green or yellow is naturally clean and clear. This is also the natural state of the mind, clean and pure and unconfused. It becomes confused only because it pursues mental impressions; it gets lost in its moods!
Let me explain more clearly. Right now we are sitting in a peaceful forest. Here, if there’s no wind, a leaf remains still. When a wind blows it flaps and flutters. The mind is similar to that leaf. When it contacts a mental impression, it, too, “flaps and flutters” according to the nature of that mental impression. And the less we know of Dhamma, the more the mind will continually pursue mental impressions. Feeling happy, it succumbs to happiness. Feeling suffering, it succumbs to suffering. It’s constant confusion!
In the end people become neurotic. Why? Because they don’t know! They just follow their moods and don’t know how to look after their own minds. When the mind has no one to look after it, it’s like a child without a mother or father to take care of him. An orphan has no refuge and, without a refuge, he’s very insecure.
Likewise, if the mind is not looked after, if there is no training or maturation of character with right understanding, it’s really troublesome.
This reflection by Ajahn Chah is from the book, Bodhinyana, pp. 21-22.