Something to do? Somewhere to go?
August 18, 2008
It seems to me, the more we get, the more we want. The more we do, the more we feel we need to do.
But, how do we stop doing?
How do we find peace?
Most people are confused by their knowledge – the learned habitual ways of thinking and doing handed down from parents and society. Today, we don’t even know what we are looking for, we simply crave. We think, I need money, a house, a car, a cell phone, husband or wife. Material, it is never enough.
It seems to me, most people do not really know what it is to be happy or people confuse happiness with excitement, sensual pleasures and the habit of satisfying their craving or having. When we are depressed, angry, bored or even happy we crave stimulation to compensate for our unpleasant feelings or the anticipation of unpleasant feelings. If we are able to tie our mind to one object we allow it to calm and cool our cravings. Like a wild horse that is tamed by running it in circles, when it is tamed we can put it to work where we wish.
When we first sit for meditation, we are able to see how our mind really is: excited, angry, unsatisfied and impatient. We know this because these are the feelings that arise. We may think the meditation causes these feelings to arise. This is not the whole truth.
Meditation allows us to see the workings of our mind. When we sit and attempt non-doing it allows us to see what it is that we cannot stop doing. This can make meditation difficult at first, because it may be painful to see how much we are not in control. Meditation and study of the dharma can help us to see what it is that we can change and what is unchangeable. Only when we are clear on what we can change and what we cannot can we build a foundation for practice. Only when we familiarize ourselves with the true nature of our mind can we identify the parts that are broken, warped or sick, and fix them, straighten them and cure the mind of its diseases.
Samatha meditation (calming meditation) is not magic. It is actual. It allows us to see our shortcomings, faults and ignorance. It allows us to see how we create suffering for ourselves. Like a diabetic who keeps eating sugar not knowing he is a diabetic, we create our suffering not realizing the causes. We do not see our experience as a result of our past actions and experiences. We see life as something that happens to us not as something we are continually manifesting. A calm mind, unclouded by emotion, allows us to see the later clearly.
Once we see that how we choose to act is the cause of our suffering, we realize we can make choices that bring better results. Then, with a little effort the quality of our life rises. Human interaction and the pursuit of happiness become finely crafted sports. We see that we can hone this skill of contentment, ease and ability to make wiser choices. We see life is not so serious and heavy. Rather, it can be light, fun and dynamic.
But, we must realize where we have a choice. It is sometimes difficult for us to see the difference between emotions, or feelings, and our reactions to them. It is difficult to separate our feelings from how we habitually react to our feelings. A calm mind can see the difference, the many steps and many choices.
When we practice Samatha meditation regularly, we also gain the ability to stay in the present moment. Normally, our minds are longing for or worrying about the future. If the mind is not in the future, it is in the past. We are seldom present.
The ability to stay present creates a greater view beyond your habitual reactions. The Buddha says are 84,000 ways to deal any problem that arises, 84,000 ways to make ourselves happy – now. Only in the present can let go of craving and remorse and be alive.
Our incentive to continue the restless pursuit of sensual pleasures is continually provoked by our media. Everyday we are reminded we are not good enough unless we have this face-wash, Ipod or medication. This is our collective illusion. Really, this pursuit of getting, only leads to more craving and dissatisfaction.
There is nothing to do and nowhere to go. Happiness is here, in the present, and it’s free. But we have to be the present to experience it.
That’s why we should meditate.
Meditation is about balance and clarity. When we are able to taste this peaceful contentment in meditation, we can then apply it to our life. This is the purpose of Samatha meditation, to find calmness and clarity, to transform our life.
We don’t have to be a hermit meditating atop a mountain our whole life! All you need is a steady practice.
I could write a book on meditation, on why you should meditate, but it is better if you try it. Really, nothing is more important than finding peace within.
You have something better to do?