“Be master of mind rather than mastered by mind.”
To be master of mind is not the same as a mastermind behind a nefarious action. Nor are we talking about controlling our thoughts all of the time. Thoughts rise up and when we focus these thoughts they can be very powerful. The sun is generally good, and essential to our lives. However, too much sun makes a desert, they say. A different concept altogether is when we focus the sun’s energy into a single concentrated beam, it is extremely powerful.
When we consciously think, “I must control my thoughts”, we are not controlling our thoughts. We must let thoughts pop up, like a drop of rain hitting a still pond, then let it ripple off and return to stillness. In this way, we are mindful, yet focusing on the void, focusing on the still pond. Soon enough, we no longer need to think of even the pond, and we have mastered our minds. When we focus, even on the void, it is very powerful.
On the other hand, being mastered by mind is to be controlled by our thoughts. What most of us don’t realize is our minds are throughout our entire bodies, within every cell. Our bodies and minds are the same. If we allow our minds, our thoughts, to be overwhelmed with stress or worry, then our bodies are overwhelmed with stress and worry, it is unhealthy.
Be mindful of your thoughts, do not let them overwhelm you. In times of stress and anxiety, you only need to think of your breathing. Breathe deep, count in, count out. Listen to the breathe of air coming in, leaving. Concentrate solely on this, this is the way to return to the void. In this void we are everywhere and nowhere at the same time. We are the universe and we are nothing to the universe at the same time.
Do this each day, then do not do it at all. It is the same. Just do not be overwhelmed by your thoughts. When the question is “how do I become healthy?”, the answer is never the same. A fat kid will be told to lose weight, a skinny kid will be told to gain weight. We all need to be told different methods and different ideas sometimes to achieve the same results. It is important to be mindful of this when reading Zen quotes. Often they are meant in a specific context and should be solely contemplated with logic and reason.