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.

Month: November, 2013

A Non-Reactive Mind

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A helpful tool in everyday life can be to develop a non-reactive mind. If you are in a situation where you are getting anxious or unhappy, try telling yourself not to react. In most of these situations it is reacting to the things that happen that makes the problem worse. We don’t like something and we start resisting it. Naturally it becomes a battle, a tiresome struggle.

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How We Relate to Ourselves

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No human being can avoid relationships. Even if someone is living as a hermit in the forest he or she has relationships. A person has a relationship with his food, with his surroundings and, of course, with himself. This shows that we cannot avoid relationships. It is a very important theme that we have to be clear about. When we use the word relationship usually what comes into our mind is a relationship with another person, but what is most important is to find out how we relate to ourselves.

The way we relate to others will depend on the way we relate to ourselves. If you are very critical of yourself, you will be very critical of others. If you do not trust yourself, it will be very difficult for you to trust others. If you feel insecure, other people will generate a lot of insecurity in you. Therefore it is very important when we discuss relationships to find out how we relate to ourselves. This is why meditation of loving-kindness is so important. With this meditation we can really learn to be our own best friend, and our dependencies on other people can become less.

Sometimes what happens is that we use other people to cover up our own sense of inadequacy. This is how we give so much power and so much energy to other people. We allow our own happiness or unhappiness to be dependent on other people. Though we are grown up, we still have our toys in the form of external things that we have become dependant on for our amusement and our happiness. Like children, we keep on changing toys. When we have one toy we think: “Now this is going to make me happy”, but very soon we are unhappy with that particular toy and we start looking for other toys. Our whole lives we are looking for toys, and at the end of it we are still dissatisfied.

Meditation helps us to become our own toy: that is the only difference, but it’s a very big difference. Having loving-kindness and being our own best friend helps us to have a relationship with ourselves where we become our own toy and where we’ll be contented and happy with ourselves. That doesn’t mean that when we are with other people we are unhappy. It is more that when we are with ourselves we can be happy and contented with ourselves, and when we are with other people we can still be happy.

Thinking about Ourselves

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We can ask ourselves: About whom am I thinking? Most of the time we are thinking about ourselves, everything is related to us. Isn’t this very fascinating? Even when we are thinking about others, it is always related to ourselves. And then we do something more interesting. What do we do when we are thinking of ourselves and others?

We think how we would like others to be. We compare. We have doubts about ourselves. We think how things can be useful to us.
We emotionally make judgements about others.

And the phrase that I use is: we give plusses, we give minuses. Please see it for yourself. Good things that you remember about yourself – plus. Good things you think of another person – plus for him. Bad things, wrong things you have done – minus. Wrong things, bad things others have done – minus.

The people I meet who suffer the most are those who give themselves minuses most of the time. Such people can create a hell for themselves, and in that hell only minuses exist. Minuses about ourselves, minuses about others, minuses about the world. When that happens we use a very common phrase, we say: I suffer from depression.

So you see the connection between plusses, minuses and emotions? Isn’t this interesting? Isn’t this fascinating? Shouldn’t we find it curious? Isn’t meditation something very worthwhile? Isn’t there an element of lightness in it? Isn’t this an adventure? Isn’t this the most beautiful adventure we can have, understanding, exploring, investigating, as I said this morning, the inner world?

Affluenza

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Sometimes it is good to be exposed to other cultures and different situations. Then you will realise what a lot of – how shall I put it – abundance and consumerism there is here. I will just give an example. When you come to the West, there are so many choices. I am always being asked: Would you like this tea or that one or another one? Because there are so many varieties available.

One day I was taken by a friend of mine to have some ice-cream, and there were about 30 varieties of ice cream! And I was asked to choose. I did not know how they would taste, so I just said: I would like this one. In Sri Lanka there are no choices. In our Centre there are only limited choices, simple choices, like: do you drink water or do you drink tea? For breakfast there is only one meal. If you do not like it … That reminds me: there was once a Western monk staying there and I always used to say to people: Try to eat the food here as if for the first time – that is the way to survive here. But the monk said: I eat it as if for the last time!

So because of this affluence, in these affluent countries there is a disease which I call affluenza! Have you heard of this disease? It is very interesting to see the rest of the world suffering due to a lack of things, and here the suffering is due to affluence.

Thoughts like Clouds

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An important discovery we can make in meditation is how to work with the thoughts we are having and our states of mind. What is more useful and meaningful is not so much to be concerned about the thoughts, but to work with our states of mind in relation to the thoughts that are coming and going.

In this connection there is a beautiful metaphor that is used in Tibetan Buddhism which I like very much. In the metaphor, the mind is compared to the spacious sky and the thoughts to clouds. That is very beautiful. In practical terms, it means you allow thoughts to come and go like the clouds and yet you remain in a non-reactive state with this spaciousness.

However, as we are still human, I am sure we will be reacting to some of them; even though it is nice to be human with some of the clouds, with some of the thoughts. As a reaction is when we use thoughts creatively, we can explore and investigate our reactions.

You will understand that these reactions are generally related to this very strong habit we have of making judgments, of giving plusses and minuses. We need to learn about the judgments we make, understanding that sometimes we need to use judgements functionally. However, understanding this process of giving plusses and minuses also opens up a very, very important area for us to explore regarding how we relate to ourselves and how we relate to others.

Again what is interesting is we never question the plusses and minuses we give! Where do they come from? Who taught us to be our own teachers, giving ourselves marks and so on?