Medicine Buddha Today

First Aid

Open Mind, the Ultimate Healer

The first thing to attend to, no matter what approach you take to healing, is often harm reduction, and the fact is that much of the harm we experience with problems is in how we think about them. So to begin, it is important to work with not what we think but how we think. The most harmful thing we often do in difficult circumstances is to adopt repetitive, overly negative thinking about our problem and/or ourselves. The outflow of negative thoughts around a life problem is like the outflow of blood with an ordinary wound. You might be able to survive the wound, but first you need to stop the flow of blood.

Cloud in blus skySo if you find yourself in a dark space in life, can you see your thoughts and can you see if they seem stuck in negativity. And could it be that such thinking makes matters worse? No matter how justified that thinking seems, would you like to get free even for just a moment?

It might be great if we could stop negative thoughts, but trying to do so can make negative them stronger. However, if we cannot stop negative thoughts, we can at least not feed them. Then they weaken and fade on their own and healthier energies can emerge.

Negative thoughts may start from a good intention, such as a search to find the source of or solution to our problem. But we tend to carry the negativity of our problem into the way we conduct our search, and in that way, darkness becomes entrenched. So, the first thing we need to do is find a gap in our negativity. This can be like putting pressure on a wound to stop the flow of blood onto the street—a small, essential beginning to a natural healing process.

So, first, notice any thoughts about your problem, but don’t struggle with them. See them as a call to action, a call that you can respond to by not just repeating that thought, but rather by saying something like “Thanks, I know you intend well. I have heard you. You have done your job. You must be tired. Now you can go back to the good intention from which you came and rest.” Or you can just say, “Thanks and goodbye” to that thought. Even if just for one moment, you are free. You are back in charge of your mind and life.

Honor the mind that holds thoughts

Seeing gaps in your thoughts is a good way to:

  1. Stop the cascade of suffering
  2. Gain insight into your primordial health before thought
  3. Establish a base-camp of health from which you can begin your healing journey
  4. Touch directly into the radiant heart of health
  5. Provide a space for seedlings of healing energy to sprout up into view
  6. Meet the mind of Menla, the ultimate healer, who embodies the blue sky of non-distracted mind, as is said, like the cloudless sky, high in the mountains

You don’t have to practice sitting meditation, but if you do so, it can help you to appreciate the healing space of natural mind and from that, use Menla more effectively. Positive thoughts can help, but until you have gotten a handle on your thinking process, your mind might tend to fall back into a subtle over-reliance on fears that really miss the point of life. The best parts of life come to us before thought. If we recognize the fresh mind before thought, then the thoughts that do arise can be more health promoting.


The primal health in the universe is like the clear, blue autumn sky, as we might see it, high in the mountains. And all our experiences, including thoughts, both positive and negative, flow like flocks of birds flying through the sky of our mind. None of them ever damage the sky. The sky is always bright and clear. This clear sky is our natural mind before thought, and Menla embodies the fundamental nature of natural mind—open, bright, clear and fresh, and can accommodate all the experience-birds there ever can be. Scary birds and happy birds all fly in the same fearless sky, and the sky is never disturbed by either. Our mind is like that sky.

Open Sky surrounded by cloudsEven if just for one moment, see if you can get even the slightest sense of your mind’s natural, undisturbed vast, bright, and clear basic nature. Just for that moment, can see how your mind is by nature bigger than your problem. This becomes much easier once we stop feeding negativity in the form of repetitive, negative thoughts. Once you stop supporting the painful thought train you can appreciate and work with the natural gaps that you have been avoiding all along.

You have to be bigger than your problem in order to know that whatever you have as a problem, and in fact, we all are bigger than our problems. You must know health before you can see something as not health. So even if your situation is painful, there is some gap or space through which you can see a less troubled sense of being that contrasts enough with your problem in order to know which state you prefer.

So appreciate just being alive. Take a breath, let go, and see if you can recognize the subtle gaps of the negativity in your thoughts and see through them to the big sky of your endless mind. These gaps may be subtle, but they are there. Don’t gloss over them just because they seem quiet compared to the scream in your pain. Look at those little moments when things change or shift. Appreciate them and eventually you will find they will open to more health in your mind and life.

As you go along, not feeding harm by attending to negative thoughts, but rather appreciating your open mind, you may begin to get the sense of freshness, a breeze, a buoyancy, an open sense of freedom that actually cheers you up.

This open sky may be your first personal sense of the vast energy of unconditional health you are made of. You may find this open sky first in your mind, but this openness is the incorruptible, forever young, fresh, joyful life force of your being.

black-and-white-menlaKnowing this, you are never limited or defined by your problem. You can see how this open, blue sky mind actually glows with health. It glows in all directions, from every point to every point. And in time you may see that your life energy powers this glow, and that this glow is in your very own being. You may see that you can have your problem and that by seeing these gaps in your mind stream you can still find goodness in your life. You have found a path to the ultimate source of health in the universe. There may be problems, but you are never defeated. When you see this, everyone wins!

This blue, open sky-like mind can be Menla’s first health offering to you. He is also open, as you can see from his image, and in that openness, the sky-like blueness will shine through. This is the radiance of primordial health.

Menla lights the path to ultimate health. When you hold your mind in the same open alertness as Menla holds his, you hold whatever difficulty you have just like the vast, open sky holds all birds, each in the way it needs to be held. Clouds of fear and tension may drift through this sky, but they always pass. This sky of your mind is always bright, no matter what is happening. Once you open your mind in this way, your world opens as well. The health and healing that you need is calling you. The universe wants you to recognize your wholeness. Now you know how to start.

Congratulations! You have gone through fear to the space of healing. The rest of this path helps you use that healing better. Now, the healing adventure unfolds.