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: March, 2014

Feel Grateful

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One aspect of loving-kindness is a quality that we take for granted, the quality of feeling grateful. I was in Bodhgaya, the place where the Buddha was enlightened. Now according to the story of what the Buddha did after he became enlightened, one thing was to spend 7 days looking at the Bodhi tree which had given him shade, which had helped him to get enlightened. And he showed his gratitude by standing and gazing at the tree for 7 days.

Do we ever feel grateful for things like a tree, or for something which has helped us? But when we develop this quality of loving-kindness, we learn to appreciate and feel grateful for things, for little things, for small things, which we normally take for granted.

In a way one of the things in meditation, in the spiritual life, is to realise this: to see that we have all these qualities within us, just to see them, just to realise them, and this can make such a difference to our self-perception, it can make such a shift of attitude in us. So in this way, as with rejoicing, we can find so many reasons why we feel grateful.

Make a Choice

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If someone is anxious to heal a wound, what are the tools that he can use in healing that wound?

One is to reflect in the first place how this wound has been created. Then you realise: the wound has been created by the image, by the expectation I had of how others should behave towards me.

Another way to heal the wound is to realise that this has happened in the past, it is gone, I cannot change it, but I am carrying the pain of the past in the way I carry this wound around in myself.

So you have to make a choice: do I continue to suffer, or do I try to stop this suffering I am having by letting go of the past? And then try to understand his behaviour and as far as possible to forgive him.

There is a very interesting statement by Christ in this connection that I like, he said: forgive them, because they do not know why they are acting in that way.

An Opportunity

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A difficult aspect in meditation is to work with yourself, because in meditation what comes up is sometimes not very pleasant. Sometimes there is physical pain; sometimes there is psychological pain. Because in everyday life, you are so busy that there is no space, no opportunity for them to come up. But here in such situations, practising silence, being alone with yourself, these monsters come up. We are creating an opportunity for them to arise. So again, please prepare to do this, please prepare to really work with them.

The usual thing you do when you have such problems – isn’t it right? – you go to the therapist. So here, what are you doing: here you are learning to be your own therapist. If there is a therapist here, he will not be very happy! But that is another matter. So learning to be your own therapist is another good reason to rejoice.

Just reflect on what it means to be your own therapist: it means that you have self-confidence; you are trying to develop tools to really work with whatever happens mentally, physically. Having complete self-reliance on yourself. This is something Buddha emphasised very much.

Unpleasant

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I feel that actually we can learn a great deal from what we consider as unpleasant experiences. So in meditation, if we can learn to relate to these unpleasant experiences in a positive way, then in everyday life we can learn to relate to unpleasant situations in whatever form they arise. Because it is natural that in our daily life, in everyday situations, unpleasant experiences will arise just as in our meditation. So in everyday life, if we can see such experiences also as objects of meditation, then we can really learn something very important, how to handle these unpleasant situations in everyday life, especially learning to relate to unpleasant emotions. It can be fear, it can be anger, it can be sadness, it can be guilt; in whatever way they arise, I feel that it is very important for us to learn how to handle them.

And again both in meditation and everyday life, when we have pleasant experiences, when we have positive experiences, we like those experiences to continue. Here again, we have no control and if we identify ourselves with only pleasant experiences, calm experiences, when they change what happens is that we suffer in reacting to such situations.

Forgiveness

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It is sometimes difficult to forgive others because the wounds we carry are normally created by those who are close to us. It is very interesting to reflect on that. People who are distant don’t create wounds: pen friends never fall out! Only friends do who are close to us. This is an important aspect of close relationships.

A way of developing this forgiveness is by realising that you are human and others are human also. We sometimes put ourselves on a pedestal and this can be very unrealistic, it may be too idealistic. In Western culture the model you use is often the model of perfection. What happens is that you fall down from this pedestal of perfection, and consequently you suffer from guilt and self-hatred. You give yourself a minus because you have fallen from this pedestal, because you couldn’t live up to your own expectations. This is what we do in relation to other people also: we put them on pedestals. In Buddhist terms it means that you want to behave like an enlightened person and you expect that also from other people. And when others don’t behave like enlightened people you give them a minus and start hating them. This is how you create so much suffering for yourself.

I sometimes say that if you make a mistake, you should remember: “Don’t be surprised, you are still not enlightened”. And when you see someone else make a mistake: “Don’t be surprised, they are not enlightened either”. This is a very simple, direct way of accepting ourselves, our humanness, our imperfection and accepting the imperfection and humanness of others.

Buddha-Nature

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We can really feel as though we are a nobody. We say to ourselves: “No one likes me. Everyone rejects me. I’m a victim. Poor me”. This is what I call being a nobody in the sense that you’re giving minuses to yourself and you’re getting minuses from other people. From feeling like nobody we need to feel like somebody. For that we need plusses from ourselves: we have to learn to see the positive in ourselves, to rejoice in the good things that we have been doing.

This is why I emphasise loving-kindness very much. We all have the qualities by which we can really free ourselves. They are all hidden inside us. Meditation or the spiritual life should enable us to see these inner resources that we have. The practice is to see that the Buddha-nature is within us and to allow this Buddha-nature to flower out.

You can also be nobody in the true sense of the word. When you are truly nobody, you are no longer dependent on plusses or minuses. You have gone beyond plusses and minuses. That is where you learn to be your own toy and you learn to be really self-contained within yourself.

You are Worthy to be a Monk

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You remember the quotation of the Buddha, that if you can practice meditation of loving-kindness during even the time that it takes to snap your fingers, you are worthy to be a monk. So in the morning just lying in your bed, try to think at that moment: May all beings be well and happy – include yourself – just for a few minutes, just to have thoughts of loving-kindness, thoughts of friendliness in the morning.