Cultivating emotional balance with Alan Wallace at PIAMC

Ask if how many minutes you spend on making yourself look good? How many minutes you spend on makeup? How many minutes you spend on shaving? Maybe 15, 20, 30 minutes or even more.

How about spending 20 minutes daily paying attention to awareness of mental state? Is it important to maintain the hygiene of mind? Or is physical hygiene only important?…Really?

I had a chance talking with B. Alan Wallace, the founder and president of the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies. He, as well, is a chairman of Phuket International Academy Mind Centre (PIAMC) that will fully open in next April.

He started his studies of Tibetan Buddhism, language, and culture in 1970 at the University of Gottingen, Germany. He continued his studies in various countries such as India, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, and the US. In 1975, he was ordained as a Buddhist monk by H.H. the Dalai Lama and lived as a fully ordained monk for 12 years.

P: How did you become a part of PIAMC?
I met Mr. Klaus Hebben about a year and a half ago when he attended one medical retreat I was leading in Australia. During the retreat I mentioned about the great value I thought it would be in creating retreat center that people could have much more sustain training, and he ask me ‘What would you like to do in Phuket?’ Since then we began our friendship and I became a member of PIA family. My vision of having a meditation retreat center, people can come whether they are Buddhist or not. We really focus on central form of meditation, developing mind and heart. So I take my vision and then integrate with Klaus’s vision about the school and sport center. I think our collected vision is much better than either vision individually. So it’s been about a year and a half friendship and it grows stronger and stronger and we’re having a great joy anticipating synergy. They can take place among the school, sport center and mind center.

P: PIAMC is going to host a period of mind retreat, what is it all about?
Right now we’re planning to host a very intensive eight-week residential retreat. We have 36 people for each one and they’re coming from all over the world and from quite a wide variety of backgrounds. The meditations are really focusing on developing exceptional level of attention, of mindfulness, of introspection that people are be able to be aware of our own mental states. Also the quality of the heart, quality of empathy, kindness and passion. So we can call these inner resources. We know about the external resources; oil, minerals, or anything from outside that can give us the better quality of life. For example it’s good to have an air conditioner in a hot day. This is the strength of science and technology that helping us to live more comfortable life and happier in life from all we can get from outside.

This meditation which also brought from Buddhism, it can help everyone even though they are Buddhist or not Buddhist, religious or not religious. It’s for anybody, suitable for everyone. And we’re not trying to make people Buddhism, but if they want to become Buddhist, that’s their choices. It’s about to discover your internal resources. Even if you’re sitting alone in an empty room, can you be truly happy? Can you be very content and very relax with no help from the outside? So the true cultivating is about inner qualities. Even if the economy goes down, you’re still happy. If you lose your job, you can handle with it.

In so far we’re investing all of our times to find happiness outside. We’re finding a perfect marriage, perfect children, perfect job, and perfect house. It’s a little bit like playing a lottery. Maybe you’re lucky. We’re all would like to have a perfect marriage, but everybody does, right? But lastly we can cultivate from our inside not from the environment. Then we’ll truly find peace when we open heart.

P: For people like me who never ever had experiences about meditation retreat before, how could I possibly start?
In eight week would not be a good to start. It’s too much. Just before we host the eight-week retreat, I’ll be here for a few days with nothing else to do. And as I discussed with Raewyn (PIA PR & Marketing), I think we could have a two-day meditation for eight hours or nine. In these two days, I can give people a little introduction about the simple practice you can do in a daily basis. We will give a great sense of equanimity with the clarity of mind, to open heart, just graduate the cultivating senses of inner well being.

You spend 20 minutes for makeup, 10 minutes for brush your teeth, and 15 minutes shave your beard. These are normal and happen in our daily. People don’t think ‘Oh it’s spectacular you brush your teeth!’ Nobody thinks this is special. It’s ‘Physical Hygiene’. But what about the mind? What about spending 20 minutes daily with the attention, in calm, awareness of mental state. It’s important to maintain the hygiene of mind. That would be a very good start and of course you have to make it regular.

P: What’s genuine happiness in your point of view?
Genuine happiness is very simply. It’s about the quality of well being, concern about what we bring to the world rather than what we get from the world. It’s not only about giving money or material but the fully of our attentions.

Thank you very much for your valuable time. It was my pleasure to talk with you, B. Alan Wallace. You made me start thinking about inner retreat.

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