Transforming One’s Inner Environment
What is the purpose of meditation? Meditation, among its other benefits, offers us a way to clean and purify our inner environment, which, as is now widely recognized, is as important to our wellbeing as our external environment. In this regard, Tibetan culture contains abundant knowledge in the ways in which we can protect our spiritual environment. In addition, by helping one to find the way to a peaceful mind, it also contributes to creating a happier and more peaceful world.
It is extremely important to protect our external environment, but what is even more important is our inner environment. In this regard, there is abundant knowledge in Tibetan culture. Without protecting our inner environment, even if we live in an extraordinarily luxurious house and have a very good outer environment, we will not be able to live a happy life. There are many people who live in luxury homes, drive high-class cars and wear brand-name clothes, that still experience immense suffering and depression. Therefore, it’s very important for the younger generation to find a peaceful mind and inner happiness.
Our minds contain a lot of distorted thinking, such as competitiveness, hatred, and desire. All of these improper mental activities constantly disturb us. If we do not gain a genuine mastery of inner happiness and contentment, then no matter how abundant our material resources, we still will not feel the vastness of inner calm.
Hence, in Tibetan culture, we emphasize purifying the inner environment by removing such negative emotions as desire and hatred. Actually, more than we need the wealth of outer material resources, we need compassion and wisdom, and the wealth of love and spirituality. If we could recognize the nature of our minds or develop true altruism, then even if we lived in a very bad environment, we would still be very happy.
Actually, Buddhist education has had a direct impact on Tibetan culture. This culture, in turn, directly influences the environment. More than 99% of Tibetans are religious followers. Therefore, they possess an inner self-discipline rather than relying on being disciplined only by the law. The law is a kind of passive control, while religious faith is a natural tool of self-discipline. So, regardless of which school I travel to, I make an appeal to them to cultivate correct faith. If you do not have a religious belief, it’s better for you to have a faith in the truth.
I believe that a genuine and good religious faith is actually a faith in the truth. Without faith in the truth, if you live only to desperately earn money, seek temporary emotional happiness, and pursue an elevated status and reputation, in the end you will not gain happiness. This kind of faith in the truth can be developed in peaceful places, such as Tibet or Colorado, because the wisdom and love of human beings actually interacts with the natural environment. I went to the national park the other day in Colorado. Although the heavy snow prevented us from entering, I was very happy being in the forest. I told my hosts that if we were to have a retreat here, our innate wisdom would surely arise. A while ago, I stayed in some tall urban buildings and felt very uncomfortable. It seems that it’s very hard for me to practice inner wisdom and compassion inside those buildings. Therefore, it seems to me, that we humans have a greater need for inner peace and an altruistic mind, than for material wealth, no matter how abundant.