|Religion 21st Century|
Meditation is an ancient practice of mind exploration and self control. Sitting quietly on the ground with eyes open but unfocused, you experience spontaneous mind activity, especially self-talk. This inner activity can be relentless and disturbing. Many of the vices of the human mind are active in self talk and no-one without proper training and discipline is spared. A variety of techniques have been attached to sitting practice to assist the effort to tame spontaneous mind activity. The goal is to become calm and clear. Pranayama is focusing on the breath, following the in and out rhythm. Mantras are short phrases that you repeat. Some mantras have sound qualities that are calming. Visualizations use simple geometric designs that you attempt to memorize and continue to see when you close your eyes.
The Buddha’s path directs you toward disengagement from goal-oriented activities so that you can explore your own mind, develop insight into the really real and emerge with equanimity and compassion. Meditation is one method of understanding how our mind works, how we know things and what conclusions we can derive from our knowledge. I prefer sitting on a beach, on a mountain, in a garden, in a boat, or floating on an inflated tire on a lake. Sitting inside buildings is not so appealing. One of my practices is sky and cloud watching which requires you to lie on a grassy or mossy patch of ground and looking up. One of the rules of mediation is not to look around and become distracted. Sky watching requires you to look up at the same patch of sky and let events such as birds, clouds and insects pass without following their paths.
The practice of meditation is based on a fundamental disinterest in the redeeming possibilities of language. Meditation leads to ineffable experiences and away from the beliefs, demands and rules of the local group. The Buddha manifests his identity as a professional philosopher by sitting upright in the Lotus position, poised, calm and alert. The lotus position is stable and can be maintained for hours. He has a gentle smile and his philosophical work looks effortless and natural. The Buddha required no books, wrote no books and said nothing during years of intense mind study. He studied the processes of his own mind and focused on being present in the world. His PhD thesis required seven years sitting under the Bo tree.
The Buddha recognized selftalk and all the other spontaneously arising contents of mind. He discovered the reactive aspects of mind and all the manifestations of selfish desire.
The Buddha discovered the constant contest between self-interest and generosity.
The Buddha explored the causes and nature of pride, greed, criticism, anger and hate. He explored the illusions of self.
The Buddha revealed the truth of spacetime as a ceaseless and integral flow of events.
The Buddha discovered the meshiness of events all interconnected; causes and effects without beginning and without end.
He developed, compassion for sentient beings caught in Samsara – needs, desires, passions, confusion, conflict and impermanence.
The Buddha discovered the way out – enlightenment. Even if we do not know exactly what enlightenment means, we all have a glimmer of hope that there is a state of grace available to us characterized by peace, happiness and profound understanding.
The Buddha’s path does not point you to a college course, a career, an investment, a new car or big house as way stations or destinations on the path toward enlightenment.
Much of the work on the path is solitary and has little or no outward manifestation.
The path of enlightenment is a non-event and is boring. We can develop a sketch of how a highly developed mind might work and refer to an ideal or enlightened mind.
The enlightened mind sees all, knows all, and identifies with none of the local conditions that would limit knowledge and understanding.
The enlightened mind creates the best conditions for the greatest insight, understanding and greatest opportunity to experience rapture.
The enlightened mind recognizes the interrelationship of all living beings; cherishes life and treats others with tolerance and compassion.
The enlightened mind thrives in the natural world and never kills other sentient beings.