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Lojong 38) One method will correct all wrong.

7. Guidelines (37-57)

38) One method will correct all wrong.

This suggests there is one way we can go about achieving a more enlightened life. That method is awareness and mindfulness.

This saying is about one method, not just doing one simple thing. Often people ask what is the one thing I need to do to solve this problem. First, they are making an assumption that the problem is not multiply determined and not contextually relevant (most situations are multiply determined and contextually relevant.) There is not one thing you can do to solve every problem, but there is one method that is always a good start.

When we develop awareness and mindfulness, we create an environment in which self-directed behavior change is possible. Without this, it is impossible for us to create our own change. I don’t dispute that a living organism can be conditioned to new behavior without awareness. Contingency based learning takes place all the time. If the organism becomes aware of the contingencies, then there is an opportunity for rule-governed learning. A further discrimination comes when a person develops awareness and mindfulness, so that they can generate entirely new behaviors of their own volition.

If we understand the rules of the universe (whether we call it physics, biology, behavioral psychology, etc.), it is evident that breaking out of habitual patterns of behavior is very difficult. Some might argue that there is no real mechanism by which we can become the masters of our own fate. I argue that developing awareness and mindfulness is the only process by which we can change this “determinism” to engage in behavior based on genuine “free will”.

To the extent that I act with no awareness at all, or act based on faulty rules that automatically arise in my thoughts (without opportunity to evaluate these), I am stuck in a predetermined outcome based on my physiology and history. There is a way out. I am able to choose to act differently; when I am aware my thoughts are “just thoughts” and that I can evaluate their veracity, merits, or reality to choose to act in accordance with my Values.

I can only determine my Values through this same process of awareness and mindfulness. If my Values are “The Bible [my Daddy, my country, the preacher, etc] said it, I believe it, and that’s it”, there is no ability to develop self-efficacy. One can be mindful and come to the conclusion that the Bible, Daddy, country, etc. is a perfect match to my legitimate Values, but the process is the key difference.

Awareness and Mindfulness create the opportunity to break out of habitual patterns into living a meaningful life based on Values.

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