I recently bought a new computer for my daughter. I had all the virus protection soft wear added to it as she uses different sites to download songs. It was working fine for a few months. Then suddenly a lot of "pop ups" were appearing on the screen and she could hardly work. I tried to help her; by running some antivirus software, but it did not help. Finally, I had to call my computer repair guy. He said the computer was heavily infected with some sort of viruses. He warned my daughter never to download songs using those sites again. Well, it did not happen. Two weeks later I saw her downloading songs... again!
This got me thinking again. I thought the human minds are somewhat similar to a computer. When you are a small child you are like a new computer. You don't have too many "viruses" like anger, hatred, jealousy, envy and greed. You may get angry, but you don't hold on to anger like adults do. Try to observe two kids playing together. They may start fighting after some time, for example for the same toy, and cry. The next moment they will forget all about it and play like best friends. As we get older our mind gets infected with many "viruses" such as anger, jealousy, envy, greed and so on. How do these viruses get to our mind? The only "download" sites are our six senses. These viruses are called defilements of the mind. In Buddhist literature they are called "taints" (fermentations). Now the question is what if your "hard drive" (mind) is already corrupted by "viruses" (defilemnts). How can you clean it? For this purpose Buddha has given a very detail disclosure called Sabbasava Sutta. In this sutta he gives a description of number of methods of preventing taints arising in the mind and completely eradicating them once they are already arisen. One of the many methods described here; is the practise of mindfulness meditation (Samatha and Vipassana meditation).
Once you clean your hard dive how do you protect it form further viral damage? For this Buddha gave complete an "antivirus software package" in one of his disclosure called, Nagara Sutta. Here he describes how to guard your mind against these defilements using a simile of a well guarded fortress. This is one of my favorite suttas. Here he describes seven methods of guarding a fortress (mind) form the enemy (defilements).
"Just as the royal frontier fortress has a gate-keeper — wise, experienced, intelligent — to keep out those he doesn't know and to let in those he does, for the protection of those within and to ward off those without; in the same way a disciple of the noble ones is mindful, highly meticulous, remembering & able to call to mind even things that were done & said long ago. With mindfulness as his gate-keeper, the disciple of the ones abandons what is unskillful, develops what is skillful, abandons what is blameworthy, develops what is blameless, and looks after himself with purity."
In this sutta Buddha also describes how to be self sufficient within the city with four types of foods and medicines, and to be happy. This is the achievement of a higher state of consciousness through the practice of meditation, called the Jhanas.
In this post I tried to compare how a computer and a human mind can get "corrupted", although the mind is far more complex and sophisticated than a computer. The mind in its "pure state" is free from all defilements but with time and the concept of "self" in the center of things, it gets corrupted (see previous post below). This is what is called the "conditioned mind." The routes of these corruptions come via our six senses. It is not possible to shut down our six senses and to get rid of these defilements but it is to restrain them with mindful reflection (see previous post below). The most important thing you can do to recover the "pure state of mind" is to reactivate the built in antivirus program, called mindfulness. If mindfulness meditation is practiced diligently (see previous post below), this will not only eventually remove all existing defilements of the mind but also prevent further propagation and infection of the mind with new defilements.
Related previous posts:
"Stop worrying about your body so much...you are just renting it anyway" (Post on non-self)
Why is this dog asking for more ? (Post on sensory restrains)
The Practice of Mindfulness -"The four bases of mindfulness" (Post on mindfulness meditation)