“Our life is shaped by our mind, for we become what we think.”
This is the essence of the Buddha Dharma, and the theme of the Dhammapada. If we can gain control of our thinking process, we have the ability to re-shape our whole character and personality. We can re-make ourselves.
Destructive and negative ways of thinking can be rechanneled, constructive channels can be deepened, all through right effort, introspection and meditation. “As irrigators lead water to their fields, as archers make their arrows straight, as carpenters carve wood, the wise shape their lives.”
Our personality can be divided into 5 distinct parts or skandhas according to Buddhist philosophy. These parts are; form (rupa), sensation or feeling (vedana), perception (samjna), the forces, habits and impulses of the mind (samskara), and consciousness (vijnana). The Buddha tells us that birth is the coming together of these skandhas, and death is their breaking apart.
If this idea was better understood, the truth that what we think will shape our reality, our experience of life on the planet would be very different. There is an Indian folk story about two princes, one high-minded and generous, the other very selfish. They were both sent to foreign lands and asked to tell what kind of people they found there. The first reported that he found people basically good at heart, not very different from those at home. The second man felt envious hearing this, for in the place he visited everyone was selfish, scheming and cruel. Both, of course were describing the same land.
This story only goes to prove and strengthen the truth behind the initial quote; “our life is shaped by our mind, for we become what we think.” To follow on from this it is clear that If we begin to make changes within ourselves, we will by doing so, change the world and how we experience it.
Little by little we must begin to make changes in our lives. The image we should have is of a bucket filling with water, it does so drop by drop, slowly and consistently until the bucket is full. Many of us want the bucket to fill much quicker than is possible. When the bucket doesn’t fill and we don’t see any changes after a week or two, we give up. If only we could be aware of all of the drops that we have accumulated during those two weeks, would we be so quick to lose hope?