Full text of Buddhist practitioner Dr. David Hendricks’ talk: Mind is Everything at TEDxTraverseCity conference.
Listen to the MP3 Audio: Mind is Everything by Dr. David Hendricks at TEDxTraverseCity
(Announcer) Please welcome to the stage Dr. David Hendricks.
Dr. David Hendricks
Tashi delek – that’s how you say hello in Tibetan.
Today I’m really happy to be here to share thoughts that have been on my mind every day since 1989.
My talk today, I hope, you will find some benefit in. That’s the basic motivation I have in talking to you today.
And the subject matter of my talk is going to appear to you today just to be a little bit on the academic side, and there’s a reason for that.
Before my own recovery, the only emotions that were easy for me to access were anger and depression. And one of the true gifts of my recovery was the ability to access a full range of emotional responses. And I haven’t yet got the hang of all of the more tender emotions, so I tend to break into tears easily.
So staying on the academic side is the best thing for a macho man like me so I don’t break down in front of you.
So, the other thing I want to say is that even though the presentation may seem at points academic, it has a deep soulful purpose, because it’s been my passionate intention over the years to try to relieve the suffering of addiction particularly, but also mental illness.
Before I start, the last thing I’d like to say is that I’d like to dedicate this talk today to my old Buddhist teacher, who died last year.
So Buddha said:
“The mind is everything. What we think we become.”
Because I really believe that to be true, I’m often made really uneasy when I see the kind of crazy stuff that goes around in my own mind.
But what’s in my mind today is really more peaceful and calm than it was in the many years during my rough childhood, where my father was incessant in his attempts to shame me and break me down. And it’s certainly clearer and better than it was during the uncontrollable anger of my 20 years as an alcoholic.
I figured that if Picasso can have a blue phase, then I’m entitled to an alcoholic phase, which I’m glad is over.
But at the end of that career, I really didn’t believe that I would ever be able to have a normal life. But I joined AA anyway, and within one year of that, I met my Buddhist teacher and I began to meditate. And I began to practice the Buddhist philosophy of mind, which was the most profoundly useful psychological system I’d ever encountered.
And then three years later, the unexpected miracle of a top-to-bottom revolution in my entire life occurred — something we call “sobriety in recovery.”
This has been a pivotal event in my life, and at the time that it occurred, it’s become my fundamental motivation in life to try to help other people who suffer as I did to also achieve the same kind of redemption that I was lucky enough to achieve.
So, what I would like to do is to see if there’s any fundamental truths that we can bring out of my little miniature biography today, and I’d like to start in childhood.