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.

Toys

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We have become so dependent on external things for our joy and happiness. I call them toys. Though we are grown up we have our toys, and without these toys we are completely lost. Sometimes our whole life is just changing one toy for another, like children, thinking that maybe this toy will give us pleasure and then finding that it doesn’t give us pleasure at all, so that our whole life is spent changing one toy for another. I would like to suggest that meditation is learning to be your own toy, so that you can find yourself interesting and amusing. We can enjoy the dramas that go on in our own minds. We don’t have to watch a television, we can amuse ourselves watching our own television in this way. We have so many channels! So this is one aspect of individual and outdoor meditation.

Alone with Ourselves

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We hardly get an opportunity to spend some time alone with ourselves. So it’s sometimes useful to spend some time completely alone with yourself, and see how you relate to yourself. Some people don’t seem to enjoy their own company! They can’t stand it for more than a few minutes. It shows that they don’t find themselves interesting people, they are boring people. So it’s very important to make a connection with yourself and in that situation to see whether you can relate to yourself as your best friend.

Working

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We can see working meditation as an act of loving-kindness. We can learn so many qualities by working. It’s about giving and it’s about being generous. You learn patience in working with others. And if you can see work as not something different from meditation, then it is a very useful way of integrating meditation with daily life.

Give a Helping Hand

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We can also practise loving-kindness when we are eating. It is learning to take into account the persons with whom you are eating. As far as possible, whenever you get an opportunity give a helping hand to someone who might need it. It is a very important quality that we can develop, and we can develop this quality in silence and even in relation to eating. So it’s interesting that we can practise loving-kindness in little acts, small acts, not just with big acts of love; but even with these small things we’ll be developing the qualities of our heart. Actually I’m sometimes touched by the attention that I get from so many people when I eat. I feel as if I am pampered. I feel as if I’m treated as a child. I like it sometimes. But we should also learn to have the same concern for others in small ways, in little ways.

Decisions

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Another interesting area to work with is that we make decisions while we are eating. Do you drink water, do you drink Ovaltine, or do you drink both? Do you eat one bowlful or do you eat two? So it’s interesting if you can be aware of these decisions you are making. Again, if you can catch your intention it’ll be very interesting. It shows that even with a simple act of eating, if we can do it with awareness we can learn a great deal from it. And for all this learning, for all these discoveries, the mind has to be silent.

Tasting

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One aspect of eating is tasting. At what point do we really taste our food? I would like you to experiment and discover for yourself at what point you really start tasting the food. Another is swallowing our food, to consciously swallow our food.

Another thing that happens when we eat our food is we like certain food and dislike other food, or we neither like nor dislike the food. But most of these reactions happen habitually. So at least to be aware, to be conscious of this as a strong habit.

Another thing about food is the quantity of food. The Buddha advised meditators to avoid two extremes. One extreme is eating too much; the other extreme is eating too little. So again following the middle way in relation to eating. So while eating, how can we discover this right quantity?

We have to listen to our body when we are eating. So if we can listen to our body or the sensations in our body, then we’ll be able on our own to discover the right quantity of food. It is very helpful to develop a sensitive body.

Chew Properly

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One thing we should make a special effort to do is to chew our food properly. If we can really consciously chew our food it will even help our digestion. And then also you’ll realise that you don’t need lots of food because you eat consciously and even a little food can fill you.

Eating

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I would like to say something about eating. How eating can be a meditation. So here as you know one important aspect of eating is again, trying to be present while eating. It’s a very important aspect of our life but most of the time in everyday life we eat in such a mechanical way, we even don’t know sometimes what we are eating.

Before we start to eat, I would like to suggest to spend a few minutes just feeling grateful for those who have prepared the meal. This is very much emphasised in traditional Buddhist countries. So you develop the important quality of feeling grateful.

And then what normally happens when we start to eat is that we have thoughts. So here if you have awareness it’s like when you are doing sitting meditating, you catch the thoughts that are arising and then let go of them and come back to eating.

Cultural Factors

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It’s interesting for me that over the years I have been discovering the cultural factors relating to too much and too little effort. Usually when I meet Westerners I realise that they try too hard, so I tell them to relax and take it easy. And with Sri Lankans it is the opposite, they’re too relaxed. So with the Sri Lankans I have to push them, some of them.

So when you live in a culture where generally speaking you have to try hard, the danger is that you try to do things perfectly and this can create tension. I think it is O.K. to try to do things perfectly, thoroughly, it’s a good quality, but when that quality generates tension and self-hatred it is not very wholesome. And those who are not practising hard enough must realise that and exercise right effort.

Effortless

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Now what happens when you try too hard? Naturally there is tension. You might even get a headache, you might feel tired and you might feel restlessness and disappointment because you are trying too hard, and with a strong expectation. Practising in this way you can never achieve what you want, so then you feel bad, you give yourself a minus, you start hating yourself and so on.

And if you do not try at all, what happens? Then you might feel sleepy, drowsy, you might get into a dream-like state. So here again it is by learning, by experimenting, by finding out for yourself that you know whether you are trying too hard or not trying at all. And sometimes we need to exercise more effort, sometimes we need to relax effort. So one thing which will help us is that if we can have a meditative mind, then when we are not meditating awareness becomes natural, it becomes effortless.