Matthieu Ricard’s thought for the week

I always appreciate Matthieu Ricard’s ‘thought for the week’, and today’s offering seems particularly valuable as a starting point for reflection. From the teachings of the Dalai Lama, it touches the essence of what spirituality and religion should be about – not improbable beliefs, but personal transformation. ┬áIt also touches on the issue of neuroplasticity, and the mistake of assuming that the mind can be ‘reduced’ to a determinist view of neural activity. Here it is…

‘The mind is malleable: it is capable of change. So we need to learn to see how we can transform it. We need to identify the ways to achieve that transformation and put them into action. Samsara, the circle of existences, and nirvana, the state beyond it, are not like geographical locations far from one another. They are two states of mind. Samsara is a deviation from knowledge, a distorted vision of reality that makes the mind the slave of negative emotions, while nirvana is a state of inner freedom, free of any conceptual and emotional obstacles.

Oral Teachings given in Schvenedingen Germany, 1998.

FOURTEENTH DALAI LAMA, TENZIN GYATSO (B. 1936)