The Good Person, Clear Mind
The basis of solving a human problem is understanding the problem and wanting
to solve the problem. The deepest motivation is the desire to become a good
person, to avoid harming others and to seek your own happiness in the benefit
you offer to others.
We know that drinking alcohol in excess turns good people into bad people who
can do much harm. We have acknowledged that alcoholics become outlaws. The
decision to recover from addiction is a moral decision to stop harming oneself
and others. The recovering alcoholic resolves to be a good person who does no
The world is full of good people doing good work and helping each other.
Often recovered alcoholics in AA become good Samaritans who guide fellow
alcoholics toward recovery. Recovered alcoholics can rejoin family and friends,
heal wounds they have caused, or they have a fresh start, constructing a health
lifestyle for the first time.
The belief in higher power who guides and supports the effort to become a
good person, can be interpreted in different ways. I prefer the mind development
approach that leads to a deep understanding of the human condition, compassion
and self control.
The mind-study traditions found in Buddhist practice provide concepts and
tools for working with experience and exploring our own mind. These are
strategies that can alleviate suffering and promote the expansion of your
consciousness toward a more universal common-mind, the goal of enlightenment
These are strategies that also guide research in cognitive neuroscience and
are essential to ask meaningful questions about consciousness, thoughts,
feelings, memory, goals and beliefs. Thus, the Tibetan Dalai Lama, a Nobel–prize
winning Buddhist Monk, and neuroscientists are interested in each other and have
had fruitful discussions about the nature of mind and its inner workings.
The Dalai Lama won the Nobel Peace Prize and his life-story has become
familiar to millions people through the movies Seven Years in Tibet and Kundun,
The Dalai Lama has become a spokesperson for sanity and human goodness. He holds
each person responsible for what humans do or do not do.
The Dalai Lama states that the pursuit of spiritual goals and
ultimate liberation from suffering and evil requires the intention to be of
service to others. Selfish goals and methods alone are not sufficient and
inevitably lead to unhappiness. He teaches that each person can work with his or
her own mind to develop a higher consciousness, characterized by compassion and
There is central hypothesis in Buddhism that humans are innately good and do
bad deeds because of wrong assumptions about the nature of the really real,
improper thoughts, lack of mind development and lack of self-discipline.
Meditations are techniques designed to explore the mind. Meditation practice
is a form of exercise -- mental, not muscular. Meditation is essential to
informed self-awareness and self-regulatory skills are practiced by doing
structured meditations. Meditations are a series of self-observation techniques
that have evolved both in religious and in therapeutic traditions. The basic
intent of meditation is to reveal something about the workings of your own mind:
to develop "more consciousness", more choice and a calm center from which you
can observe yourself and others with equanimity.
Through this exquisite form of self-study, humans may be able to understand
themselves better and modify the conditions that cause their suffering.
Modern practitioners of the old techniques of yogis may not benefit from the
mental discipline if bad food, bad air and noisy, chaotic environments disturb
their brains. It is absurd to think of successful yoga and meditation after
drinking three cups of coffee, smoking a cigar, drinking four bottles of beer,
eating a pizza or even a chocolate bar. A bowl of rice and glass of water are
better brain-inputs for staying calm and clear. The mind of an
alcohol-intoxicated person is the opposite of the clear mind that one hopes to
develop through meditation.