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Turning On The Television: Where Is Your Mind?

Everything I See and Say is Born in My Mind.


Turning On The Television

The Mind is a television

with thousands of channels.

I choose a world that is tranquil and calm

so that my joy will always be fresh.

Mind is consciousness. Consciousness includes the subject which knows and the object which is known. The two aspects, subject and object, depend on each other in order to exist.

As the Vietnamese meditation master, Huong Hai, said, "In seeing matter, you are at the same time seeing mind. Without the arising of the object, the subject does not arise." When our mind is conscious of something, we are that thing. When we contemplate a snow-covered mountain, we are that mountain. When we watch a noisy film, we are that noisy film.

Our mind is like a television set with thousands of channels, and the channel we switch on is the channel we are at that moment. When we turn on anger, we are anger. When we turn on peace and joy, we are peace and joy. We have the ability to select the channel. We are what we choose to be. We can select any channel of the mind. Buddha (awakened mind) is a channel, Mara (confusion, compulsion, and delusion) is a channel, remembering is a channel, forgetting is a channel, calm is a channel, agitation is a channel. Changing from one state of being to another is as simple as the change from a channel showing a film to a channel playing music.

There are people who cannot tolerate peace and quite, who are afraid of facing themselves, so they turn on the television in order to be preoccupied with it for a whole evening. In contemporary culture, people rarely like to be with themselves, and they frequently seek forgetfulness--downtown at the theater or other places of amusement. People rarely like to look deeply and compassionately at themselves.

Young people in American watch television more than five hours per day, and they also have all sorts of electronic games to occupy them. Where will a culture in which people do not have the chance to face themselves or form real relationships with other lead us?

There are many interesting, instructive programs on television, and we can use the TV guide to select programs which encourage mindfulness. We should decide to watch only the programs we have selected and avoid becoming a victim of the television.

Taken from Thich Nhat Hanh's book Present Moment Wonderful Moment--Mindfulness Verses for Daily Living, Parallax Press, (1990). See also Parallax Press Resources for Mindful Living:

To UNDERSTAND your mind and HOW it works, visit: The Nature of Mind: What is it? Where is it? and the meditation section for helpful hints on how to develop greater peace and contentment.

Visit the TV Turnoff Network!

See the FACT sheets below and also visit their site to discover RESEARCH findings about the effects of TV watching. Learn about:

  • TV's effect on children

  • How TV affects body image and lifestyle

  • The general effects of TV

  • How TV promotes violence

  • Less TV means less aggression

  • How TV causes obesity

  • The CDC report on physical activity

Visit this site for TONS of helpful information! Gently be aware to GET UP AND STRETCH after you read each article! Remember that computer use also counts as being sedentary.

Visit TV Turn Off at