Friends of Godwin Samararatne

Learn to be your best friend and also to be a friend of others. Learn to forgive yourself and others and then heal any wounds that you are carrying.

See for Yourself

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The Buddha said: Please do not accept anything just because it is said in the traditions. Please do not accept anything just because it is written down in the scriptures. Please do not accept anything just because it sounds logical and reasonable. This is the important point: Don’t even accept when a teacher says something. So please don’t just accept what I am saying also!

The Buddha said only when you see for yourself from your own experience what is creating suffering, what is creating happiness, that is the right way for you to practise. So the real teacher is your own experience. To see whether the medicine is working or whether the medicine is not working. So you have to see it for yourself. I am so amazed and I am so inspired by this very radical teaching of the Buddha.

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Internally and Externally

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Sometimes I consider unpleasant experiences more valuable than so-called pleasant experiences. There are no problems with pleasant experiences. In that sense, such unpleasant experiences are valuable because you learn to handle them when they arise. And this is exactly what happens in life.

Suddenly we find ourselves with an unexpected situation in life: same principle. So you see the importance of learning to handle such situations when you are meditating so that if such events were to arise externally you learn to do the same. This is why in the Dhamma it is said you should meditate internally and externally: same principle, same solution.

It’s O.K. Not to Feel O.K.

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When we meditate we really don’t know what is going to happen.  The most unexpected things can happen. When such things happen, please don’t be surprised, and please don’t blame yourself.  Please don’t give that experience a big minus. Please don’t try to analyse it.  Sometimes we cannot understand it intellectually. So what we can do is just to know it. This is the beauty of awareness. This is why the Buddha said this is the only way. Just to realise this is what is happening to me, and just to be with it. If it is very unpleasant you can say: I don’t really feel O.K. but it’s O.K. not to feel O.K. Just really feel it, just really say this.

Meditation is also learning to work with unpleasant experiences. Please realise that meditation does not mean having only positive experiences, pleasant experiences, experiences we are happy with. Unpleasant experiences are extremely valuable, extremely useful, if you can really learn from them, if you can see them as objects for meditation rather than seeing them as something strange, unusual. So please make such experiences the objects of meditation.

Overwhelmed by Emotions

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There are certain situations where we are really overwhelmed by emotions, where there is lot of suffering and it is not possible to think of meditation at that time.

What I would suggest is that you can wait until you recover from that state of mind. It does not matter how long it takes. And then you can look back, you can reflect: Now what really happened to me? What really made me go through that physical and mental suffering? What can I learn from that experience? And maybe this is the importance of spiritual friends: maybe at that moment, if you have a spiritual friend, it is something very wholesome, very skilful, just to share your suffering with another person. This is how we help each other.

Spiritual Friends

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In the Buddha’s teaching spiritual friends are very much emphasised.

Spiritual friendship is learning to grow together. In the relationships you have with different people, if you can also see them as spiritual friends, again it is a very positive way of relating to others. Anyway, if there are meditation groups around, please join one of them.

Four Noble Truths in Daily Life

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Try to see the Four Noble Truths in everyday life. It would be really excellent, it would be wonderful if when you are suffering during the day you could remind yourself, here I am experiencing the Buddha’s First Noble Truth. If you can tell yourself this, if you can remind yourself of it you’ll see you’ll be relating to that suffering in an entirely different way.

And then you can really move from that to the Second Noble Truth: Now let me see, in what way am I creating my own suffering? And then you can use the Third Noble Truth and the Fourth Noble Truth in the same way. During the day just find out when you are free, when there is no suffering, and then explore: Now there is no suffering; what is the reason why there is no suffering? So if you can really learn to use the Four Noble Truths in daily life in this practical, simple, direct way, you’ll be living the Buddha’s teaching whether you are suffering or whether you are not suffering. Isn’t that a beautiful way to live?

5 Minutes with your Friend, the Breath

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I would like to suggest that during the day, especially if you are very busy, just try to take very brief breaks to spend some time with yourself. You don’t have to leave the place of work and you can still be seated on your chair and you can even have your eyes open so no one really knows what is happening. And then please spend some time with your friend, the breath. Even for 5 minutes, it will create space in your mind. Even for 5 minutes, whatever the build-up that is happening in your office, or whatever you are doing, there can be some recovery and some space and this will really help you.

So during the day, whatever emotions arise, whatever states of mind arise – and they are bound to arise in a place where it is busy – what we have to do is to make them the objects of meditation.

And when you go back home maybe you’ll be too tired to meditate, so at least spend 10 minutes, maybe not in the cross-legged posture but just lying down or seated on a chair, and just reflect on how you spent the day. Try to do this reflection in a very friendly, gentle way: Now how did I spend the day today? What were the times when I had unpleasant emotions? What were the times when they were not there? This is equally important. Sometimes you might be surprised that for the whole day you were angry only once. So this can really help you to understand, to discover about yourself, about how you are relating to yourself, how you are relating to others. And this can naturally bring about a transformation in oneself.

To be Assertive

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Sometimes, in certain situations, we need to be assertive, we need to be firm because some people only understand that language. So here again you very deliberately, consciously decide: now I’m going to be very firm, I’m going to be assertive in relation to this person. You do it with complete awareness. I know some meditation teachers, some meditation masters who pretend they are getting angry with their students in order to awaken their students. So it can be used as a tool, it can be used as a device.

The Problem of Relationships

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A very important aspect in the place of work, and also in everyday life, is the problem of relationships. How to relate to the people around you. Because we live in an imperfect human world. So all the time we have to encounter, we have to have relationships with imperfect human beings. What we can try to do is to learn from them.

The importance of meditation, the importance of awareness, is trying to watch your own mind when relating to others. And it is natural that you sometimes have unpleasant emotions in relating to people, so don’t be surprised. This is the importance of awareness. This is the importance of watching. This is the importance of learning. And then to see how we can work with these emotions, how we can understand them, how we can let go of them.

Supposing at some time we are unable to do that and we get angry, we get annoyed, we show our anger, we express our anger. What happens when we do this? Again, please don’t be surprised. Please learn not to give yourself a minus. This is very important. When you have a little space, what you can do is reflect on what really happened. As I said earlier this reflection, this exploration, has to be done in a very friendly, gentle way and not in a harsh, hard way, being extremely critical of yourself and seeing yourself as a failur

Breakfast

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I think you will definitely be having breakfast. I won’t be telling you to eat breakfast in silence because it is not possible. But at least spend one minute before you start eating breakfast feeling grateful. Maybe someone has prepared the breakfast for you. It is beautiful to feel grateful for that person. Or even if you have prepared breakfast yourself, just feel grateful that today I prepared breakfast myself and now I’m eating my breakfast. Just to develop this quality of feeling grateful. This is a very important aspect, a very important spiritual quality.

Then to make an effort while eating your breakfast, at least occasionally, to come back to awareness, just to come back to tasting, just to come back to chewing and swallowing. Just make an effort to do that.