as light as L I F E S T Y L E  ии  M E D I T A T I O N

R  E  S  O  U   R  C  E  S

Introduction [see also: Meditation for the Young & Inexperieced]

Buddha Mind - get one, be one.




hard stuff


why -


We can think of 'me' as being divided into mind and body - nama and rupa in Pali. Meditation is about the mind.
Rupa is form - corporeality - the hard stuff (which is easy to understand).
    So, 'What is the mind?'
Nama is literally 'name' - mind or mentality - and the term is generally used as a collective for the four mental groups; feeling, perception, formations and consciousness [see: TEACHINGS - 5 KHANDHA]

How about mind = experience = direct personal participation or observation. It is the faculty we have to know, to be aware. Within this capacity to experience there is the potential ability to reflect on the relative nature of experience. Without this reflective ability there is usually little interest - or much point for that matter - in meditating.
Meditation is about strengthening our ability to be aware and to reflect.
    So, what is awareness?
In the context of a spiritual path it is more than just a superficial knowing or contact with the world. The issue of religion is life, and a full contact and awareness of life has a vitality and clarity beyond the narrowness of simple individual sense experience. Often the initial 'awakening' (to our limited narrowness) is some experience of the first Noble Truth - suffering.

While things are going along nicely we tend not to think: 'Why are things going along nicely? What could be the cause?' However, when we get dropped from a height, the pain is not what we want and there is a question that often arises 'Why me?'
There is a popular expectation that life should be pleasant - all the time - so why question it when it is? Only little children want to know why the sky is blue - we big people know it's just meant to be like that. Meditation is a process of investigating many of our basic assumptions about life. The work of meditation is 'internal' and while the basic question is 'why?' the answer is not pursued through analysis as one would some scientific proposition. This does not dismiss intellect but much room is left for the arising of wisdom - which will not be hurried.
A simple example: You have a problem - can't think what to do - you 'sleep on it' - morning comes - solution is there. The mind has been active in a non-thinking mode. How much more powerful is this process if the mind is fully conscious - as opposed to being asleep? Lots more. Although the appearance of wisdom cannot be demanded, conditions can be cultivated to make the mind more 'attractive'. This is the work of meditation.




we wonder

i don't

There is a transition period in many peoples lives - from about 20 ish to 35-40ish - when life is busy and full and it feels as if it all has meaning and direction and there is some degree of control. 'Going along quite nicely thank you.'
Before that it can be a bit confusing.
After that it can be a bit confusing.
During that it can be a bit confusing.
The point is, that when it is confusing we ask questions - about life and our part in it. We gaze at the sky and wonder. 'Why'
When it is going along nicely we tend to forget the questions, our sense of wonder is often lost.

In a Buddhist context, the basic question that underlies all this wondering is: 'Who or what am I?' - how does this body, mind, life, experience, stars, boys, girls, sun, moon, everything, relate to this point of awareness? Me! When one has an apparent sense of control - 'Going along quite nicely thank you' - it seems to make sense because it seems to be all doing more or less what I want it to - the bits close by are behaving - the other bits appear benign. It is when our desires are challenged that we begin to wonder why.

Meditation is a key practice in unraveling the wonder.
There are two basic forms of meditation - Samatha (tranquillity) and Vipassana (insight) - and, while they will be discussed separately, both work together to create the conditions for clarity and wisdom to arise; for the clear seeing of 'the Truth of the way things are'. This 'clear seeing' is wisdom, a fundamental aim in meditation practice.
How often we are mislead by impressions or perceptions of reality. The main reference point, as regards this confusion, is the three conditions of existence [see TEACHINGS - 4 NOBLE TRUTHS]. Briefly:
Impermanence - we get tricked into believing that what is impermanent (and that's everything) is indeed permanent. We get the nice thing and think, hope it will last forever and are surprised and disappointed when it doesn't. The not nice things do often feel as if they will last forever - 'I can never be happy again!' You can.
Unsatisfactoriness - All things, by their nature, have the potential to be a source of suffering, they are intrinsically unsatisfactory (because they are impermanent). We get tricked into thinking that this one, this person, this . . . will be (permanently) satisfactory. There may well be associated pleasant feeling but be careful of signing anything - never mind what the nice salesman or the pretty sales lady says.

Not-self - Where is the continuity? Between the me that was ten years old and the now-me? Something seems the same - but it is not the body (if only I still had that 18 year old body). The body has changed a lot. It is not the mind (am I glad not to still have that 18 year old mind). The mind has changed - an awful lot. If it is impermanent it is not you - it is not your self.

We can perhaps get an intellectual understanding of these three conditions but true insight into them is integral with the aim of Buddhism and meditation is a way of bringing about that clarity; it is the unfolding of wisdom, freedom from suffering. Go for it!