A friend of mine who has been a monk for a while once taught me something really powerful. Beside being aware and investigating what goes on within our minds and hearts we need to work as well on purifying it.He used the analogy of a bucket with muddy water:
It is great to be aware that’s what you have in front of you. Most of people don’t!
However there’s no point in looking at it and wishing it to not be muddy. You have then to start filling it with clean water, beyond the point it overflows.
After a while, the dirt is gone and bucket will be full of clean water. For the path to unfold a similar thing has to take place within us.
And this is pretty much aligned with Buddha’s recollection of his own practice in regards to thoughts before his Awakening, recorded in MN19. In a nutshell, remind your self the path is eightfold and right at its first factors you find right view and right thought/resolve.
"As I abided thus, diligent, ardent, and resolute, a thought of non-ill will arose in me…a thought of non-cruelty arose in me.
I understood thus: ‘This thought of non-cruelty has arisen in me. This does not lead to my own affliction, or to others’ affliction, or to the affliction of both; it aids wisdom, does not cause difficulties, and leads to Nibbāna.
If I think and ponder upon this thought even for a night, even for a day, even for a night and day, I see nothing to fear from it. "
You see, it’s already an aspect of right view that you see a problem with these things. The next step is to endeavour on the cultivation of right thought/resolve, which is threefold: renunciation, love and compassion.
However, as MN19 shows as well, once the water has been made crystal clear one needs to then move a step further and then just allow it to still:
"Bhikkhus, whatever a bhikkhu frequently thinks and ponders upon, that will become the inclination of his mind. If he frequently thinks and ponders upon thoughts of renunciation, he has abandoned the thought of sensual desire to cultivate the thought of renunciation, and then his mind inclines to thoughts of renunciation. If he frequently thinks and ponders upon thoughts of non-ill will…upon thoughts of non-cruelty, he has abandoned the thought of cruelty to cultivate the thought of non-cruelty, and then his mind inclines to thoughts of non-cruelty.
“Just as in the last month of the hot season, when all the crops have been brought inside the villages, a cowherd would guard his cows while staying at the root of a tree or out in the open, since he needs only to be mindful that the cows are there; so too, there was need for me only to be mindful that those states were there.
The above tells you that once the homework is done in terms of cultivation of positive mind states and thoughts of renunciation, non-violence and compassion, the right sort of energy and awareness is brought about. And that is the very foundation of the stillness that in turn triggers awakening, as it was in the case of the Buddha himself:
Tireless energy was aroused in me and unremitting mindfulness was established, my body was tranquil and untroubled, my mind concentrated and unified.
“Quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, I entered upon and abided in the first jhāna…I directly knew: ‘Birth is destroyed, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more coming to any state of being.’
Above all, remember, the path has many factors and auspicious!
“When a person has right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration, right knowledge, & right release, whatever bodily deeds he undertakes in line with that view, whatever verbal deeds… whatever mental deeds he undertakes in line with that view, whatever intentions, whatever vows, whatever determinations, whatever fabrications, all lead to what is agreeable, pleasing, charming, profitable, & easeful. Why is that? Because the view is auspicious.
“Just as when a sugar cane seed, a rice grain, or a grape seed is placed in moist soil, whatever nutriment it takes from the soil & the water, all conduces to its sweetness, tastiness, & unalloyed delectability. Why is that? Because the seed is auspicious. In the same way, when a person has right view… right release, whatever bodily deeds he undertakes in line with that view, whatever verbal deeds… whatever mental deeds he undertakes in line with that view, whatever intentions, whatever vows, whatever determinations, whatever fabrications, all lead to what is agreeable, pleasing, charming, profitable, & easeful. Why is that? Because the view is auspicious.”
Hope it helps!