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: February, 2014

There is No Thinker

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One aspect of the mirror-like mind is that there is no difference between what is reflected in the mirror and the mirror itself: there is no duality. There is no thinker apart from the thoughts; there is no hearer apart from the hearing, there is only hearing. With this meditation technique you can have a glimpse of the fact that there is only the hearing, not the idea that ‘I am hearing’; that there is only the thinking, and that there is no thinker apart from the thoughts that are arising and passing away; that there is only the feeling and that there is no-one feeling.

It is like an orchestra, with the sounds, the thoughts, the emotions, the sensations; but the difference is there is no conductor. It is the conductor, the controller, who directs, who wants, who judges. When the conductor is absent there is only the orchestra; there is only the thought, there is only the sound, there is only the feeling.

It sounds very simple, but this is what the model is, and this meditation technique I find is very powerful, it has a lot of very profound and deep aspects. What I like in it is that you can really practice it in your everyday life. With certain meditation techniques you have to close your eyes or you have to sit in a particular posture. For this meditation you don’t have to close your eyes and you don’t have to sit in a particular posture. In any situation it is just having the awareness to know what is happening in your body and mind.

A Very Interesting Process

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Awareness helps us to recognise objects that come into our field of perception, and so with awareness we can see how perceptions arise in relation to the senses. In that process of interaction with the external world we see how perceptions give rise to concepts, and concepts give rise to our suffering and our problems. This is a very interesting process to watch.

When we see something, immediately our past associations arise, and from our past associations our likes, our dislikes, and our identifications arise: all our desires will arise, and our ego will arise, and similarly our prejudices and our biases arise. All these things arise, and this prevents us from seeing things just as they are, without distortion. This is a very important and interesting area to watch in relation to the working of perception.

About Thoughts

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However much you try to be with the breath, it is just not possible? I can really understand that. One suggestion I would like to offer is that when these thoughts during your meditation, try to focus attention not on the thoughts but on your state of mind. Can you at least have a non-reactive mind for some time with these thoughts coming and going? So the emphasis is more on the non-reactive mind. And you are just being with that, thoughts coming and going. Does that make sense? This is why I have been speaking a lot about thoughts, because we all have thoughts from morning till night, so it is very important to learn to work with our thoughts.

Suffering Forgotten

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I would just like to share an experience of a meditator at Nilambe. She had some deep wounds, deep problems. So being in isolation she was with them most of the time. As this is a meditation centre, a retreat centre, you have a lot of time by yourself and you can really become stuck in this inner world that you have created. So sometimes I encourage meditators to go and help people so as to see the suffering of others, because in Sri Lanka there are so many opportunities to witness different forms of suffering. She went to a home where there are retarded children, disabled children, and when she saw them with all their suffering, her own suffering was forgotten. She forgot her problems and picked them up and cared for them. There was an immense change in her.

Three Drives

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There’s a very simple aspect in the Buddha’s teaching in relation to human behaviour. It is said that human beings have three strong drives which are motivating them to act in particular ways. One is greed, another is hatred, and a more subtle and difficult one is delusion. We all have those three drives in us, and the Buddha said that unless and until we really overcome our subjugation to these drives completely, we are still crazy. We relate to the outer world, the external world, through a private world that we have constructed ourselves. In other words, we are being subjective and not objective.

Our problem is that we take this crazy, subjective world very seriously, we believe it to be true. If you can really understand that we are living in such a world, a world where there is such a lot of delusion, such a lot of grief and such a lot of hatred, that we live in a world where human beings are imperfect simply because they are still human, then you learn to see yourself and others in an entirely different way. I would suggest that this is real loving-kindness. When you see the shortcomings and faults of other people and you can remember that both you and they are living in a subjective world coloured with so much delusion, then you’ll be relating to them with more understanding, tolerance and compassion.

The Most Certain Thing

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About the point of death and impermanence, I would like to mention that this is a very important topic to reflect on sometimes. In Buddhist meditation this reflection on death plays a very important role in the practice. In Sri Lanka, in forest meditation centres, when you visit such places you see skeletons being used by meditating monks to remind them of the fact of impermanence and the fact of death.

Death is the most certain thing in life, and what is unfortunate is that we forget the most certain thing in life and get involved in other things that are uncertain. But if you can be with this most certain thing in life, then when we encounter it, either in ourselves or in others it doesn’t affect us in the same way.

In nature you get death and life co-existing together. They are not separate. They are inter-related, inter-connected. This is how we should see life and death. Not to see them as separate but to see how they are connected, inter-related. Then ideally, whether you live or die it makes no difference. Then you know the way to live and you know the way to die.

Rejoice in Happiness

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The quality of mudita is to rejoice in your own goodness. To rejoice over our own happiness is something we don’t generally do, we simply neglect that. Even more difficult is to rejoice in the happiness of other people. When others are suffering it might be easy to help them. But when they are happy, for us to really experience happiness for them is not so easy. But it is worthwhile trying because it can give more happiness to ourselves. When your own meditation is not going well and you hear that someone else’s meditation is going well, can you really be happy then?

Past and Future

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If you completely let go of your past you will not be able to go back to your home: this shows that we need to use the past. If you don’t think about the future, if you don’t plan, you would not be able to get anywhere.

When we think about the past, when we are recalling, and when we are anticipating the future, we are doing it now. We must realise that when we are thinking about the past, and when we are thinking about the future, we are always doing it in the present moment.

The only thing is that we give a reality to the past it doesn’t have. We don’t realise it cannot be changed and we allow the past to create negative emotions and suffering for us. This is also how anxiety about the future can arise. The future has not come yet, but while in the present we think certain things will happen. In a mirror-like mind all this thinking about the future and about the past is happening now.