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: January, 2014

Letting Be

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Sounds. Thoughts. Emotions. Sensations. Just letting them be.

No plus. No minus. Learning to see things just as they are. Having a mirror-like mind. Learning to reflect things just as they are. Not as they should or as they must be.

In the seeing just the seeing, not ‘I’ am seeing.

In the hearing just the hearing, not ‘I’ am hearing.

In the thinking just the thinking, not ‘I’ am thinking.

In the feeling just the feeling, not ‘I’ am feeling.

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Shortcomings

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A challenge can arise in relationships when we see the shortcomings of other people. Whatever the relationship, sometimes we see the other person behaving differently from how we think they should behave. Normally what we do when we see other people’s weaknesses is that we become very judgmental. We want them to be different and we get angry with them. We give them a minus and try to correct them. This shows that we are demanding how other people should behave.

Nothing is Excluded

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What we are suppressing, pushing away, denying, is most of the time something that we don’t like, something that is unpleasant. When we push these things away we don’t realise that we give them more power. And when they arise again, they will come in a much more powerful way.

In my opinion this is a very important aspect of awareness. It means that nothing is excluded, and this is very much related to meditation. We may think that meditation is only about having pleasant experiences, calm experiences, positive experiences. So we push away and don’t experience the unpleasant and negative. This is why I often emphasise that meditation is also learning to work with physical pain, mental pain, and other unpleasant states. When these so-called negative experiences arise we should not give them a minus. We should not think of them as a disturbance or a distraction. Rather we should see it as a very good opportunity to work with them and to realise that we have these aspects in us. If we don’t realise that we have them, how can we work with them or overcome them?

Really Alive

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In one of the Buddhist texts, which is called the Dhammapada, there is a very interesting statement that says that if we don’t have awareness we are like people who are dead. We can understand from this that awareness is the opposite of being dead; with this quality of awareness we become really alive, fresh and innocent.

For instance, we ordinarily see work as something that we are forced to do, but if you use awareness you can see work as an expression of loving-kindness. Then you learn to see work in an entirely different way, and rather than suffer as a result of the work we have to do we can really enjoy it.

When we are eating together, unless we are aware and present we don’t feel the need to pass the butter or to help someone who needs something. It is only with awareness that we develop this kind of caring for people. To be present for other people, to forget yourself and to focus on others is related to loving-kindness. It only comes about when you are in the present moment, when you are aware of what is happening in any given situation.

Many things are happening in our mind and body. Only if we are aware do we realise what a lot of thoughts we have, what a lot of sensations we feel in our bodies. So many things are happening. Unless we are aware, unless we have space, it is as though we are living but we really don’t know what is happening. We don’t know what is happening externally and we don’t know what is happening to ourselves internally.

No Problem

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I am reluctant to speak about stages, but what I would like a meditator to achieve is such a state where he or she can say with complete self-confidence that there is no problem when unpleasant emotions arise that he or she cannot deal with because he or she knows the medicine that works. Then the meditator comes to a state in which whether the emotions come or not makes no difference. Why? Because he or she knows what to do when they are there. And when they are not there, he or she knows that too.

Guided Meditation

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(to be read slowly to a friend or silently to oneself)

Please spend some time with your body. Feeling the body, becoming conscious of the body. Feel the different sensations and all the movements in your body.

Learn to gently let go of your thoughts and come back to your body. Learning to feel the body. See the difference between feeling the body and thinking about the body.

Let us learn to feel friendly, gentle, tender and soft towards the body. Just accepting the body as it is.

Learning to listen to the body. Allowing the body to tell us what it likes. Just listen to it with gentleness, like listening to the wind or the birds.

Just feel what it is to sit in this posture. Just feel what it is to sit completely still.

When the body is still, the mind may become still, and you may feel the stillness around you. Just allow the body to breathe naturally.

Please spend some time allowing the body to breathe the way it likes to breathe. Not controlling it. Not manipulating it. Not directing it.

You don’t have to do anything. Learning non-doing with the help of the breath.

Now please become aware of the different sensations, the different movements in the body as the body is breathing. Do you feel any sensations in the area of the nostrils, the area of your chest, or in the abdomen? Just be with those sensations and movements with each breath.

When the body inhales, you know that the body inhales. When the body exhales, you know that the body exhales.

Experiencing the present moment, the here and the now, with the help of the in-breath and the out-breath.

You hear sounds, you have thoughts, you feel other sensations. Don’t try to exclude them. Just let them be there, but the awareness is more and more on your breath.

Let us now let go of our awareness of the breath and learn to be aware of whatever is happening in our mind and body from moment to moment.

Just allow the mind to do what it likes. Like creating a lot of space for a child to do what it likes. Like a friendly mother, just watching, just knowing what the child is doing from moment to moment.

Sounds. Thoughts. Emotions. Sensations. Just letting them be.

No plus. No minus. Learning to see things just as they are. Having a mirror-like mind. Learning to reflect things just as they are. Not as they should or as they must be.

In the seeing just the seeing, not ‘I’ am seeing.

In the hearing just the hearing, not ‘I’ am hearing.

In the thinking just the thinking, not ‘I’ am thinking.

In the feeling just the feeling, not ‘I’ am feeling.

No Owner

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While working with emotions you can sometimes ask the question: “Who is having this emotion? Who is having this joy? Who is having this sadness?” When you explore this question your attention goes to something other then the emotion. You might realise that there is no-one having the emotion, but only emotions that come and go: there is no owner.

Memories

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We have to learn to let go of things that we are holding onto, that arise from our memories. When they arise from our memory we start judging them, especially by giving minuses, and then we push them away. In the technique of the mirror-like mind we are there with all these things, allowing anything we are holding onto in our memory to come up. We are just being a passive observer, allowing these things to come and allowing them to go. Things that arise can be in the form of emotions, they can be in the form of memories, they can even be sensations in the body. We don’t realise what we carry in our body, but we carry all our past experiences in our body. Tensions and unpleasant sensations sometimes are related to repressed emotions. When pain and unpleasant sensations arise in the body, just like the mirror you learn to observe them, just to create space for them, just to make friends with them.

Avoid Two Extremes

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I would like to offer some suggestions on how to work with pain in meditation. One way is not to see the pain as a disturbance or as a distraction to meditation. So the pain becomes the object of meditation. When the pain is there, you can try to explore, investigate and find out about the pain. In everyday life, when we have pain what we do is try to get rid of the pain, but by doing that we never learn about pain. So here when pain comes you should consider it a blessing for it gives you an opportunity to work with pain and to understand it. You can explore when there is physical pain whether you can observe and work with the reaction to the pain. Sometimes it is the reaction that is creating the suffering in relation to the pain – by your not wanting the pain, considering the pain as a disturbance, and hating the pain. Having these reactions can create more suffering on top of the pain.

I have discovered that sometimes the pain can have a physical reason, and sometimes certain pains and tensions can be due to a psychological reason. If it has a physical reason, you can work with the pain in this way for some time and then change the posture.

However, in relation to pain you should avoid two extremes. One extreme is pampering the body, for example whenever there is pain you change the posture immediately or try to get rid of the pain. The other extreme is being very hard and severe on yourself, so that you continue to sit without changing the posture at all even when it is very painful indeed. I would suggest therefore discovering a middle way where you learn to be friendly and gentle to the body, to the pain, avoiding being hard and severe towards it, but at the same time not pampering the body. In practical terms, this means to work with the pain when you are sitting and then if necessary to change the posture.

Shortcomings

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I encourage you to use the Four Noble Truths in your everyday life. To do this, one really has to use reflection. So I will give an example: When you are suffering, when you are hurt, angry, disappointed, at that moment you have to learn to reflect: Why I am angry? What is the cause of this? What is the expectation that I am having? What is the model that I am holding onto? So this kind of reflection enables you to see very clearly how you are creating suffering for yourself.

And this kind of reflection can naturally bring about a transformation in oneself. It also enables us to look at ourselves rather than look at other people. So when you learn to reflect and look at your own behaviour more and more, you see more clearly your monsters, your shortcomings, your failures – and maybe some positive aspects also!. Then that will really help you in relation to other people, when you see the shortcomings of other people: Ah, they are just like me and I am also like them. So you can have a real feeling of oneness with your fellow human beings, and see that we are all just a group of imperfect human beings.

What is important about reflection is that you not only see your shortcomings or failures, but you will learn to see your positive qualities also. You have to have a very good balance to really see yourself objectively just as you are. It is very important to see both your failures and your so-called successes also.