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: May, 2015

Motivation for Some Things

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Let me touch on the aspect of how meditation develops motivation for some things. I think there is a belief that with this emphasis on being detached, being aloof, you lose your motivation for life. But I think with meditation you learn to find and develop an interest in life. Especially with the emphasis on the practice of awareness, you learn to live wholeheartedly. So whatever you do in life, you’ll be doing that wholeheartedly, with complete and full attention on what is being done. By developing this skill, your quality of living will change.

Related to this is that with the practice of meditation you are bound to see things, to hear things, to feel things wholeheartedly, so it can really awaken your senses. With this aspect of awakening your senses, you are bound to see certain things external to you which you have failed to see before. Small things, little things which we normally take for granted, you are bound to notice them very sharply and very clearly. This can enable us to really appreciate the beauty around us. There is a section in the Buddhist texts where monks and nuns who have become enlightened describe the beauty in nature. And these descriptions are recounted in such a creative, perfect way that it really shows how you can develop this passion for the things that you hear and the things you feel and the things that you see.

And it’s interesting that the same thing will happen in relation to noticing things within oneself. Certain aspects, certain areas in our personality which we might have taken for granted, which we have not noticed before, we are bound to notice them very sharply, very clearly. So you develop a motivation both for things external and for things internal.

Like Machines

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In this modern world one of the things that is happening because of mechanisation and industrialisation is that human beings are also becoming more and more machine-like, automatic. So in this connection meditation offers very important solutions.

One point is that as human beings are becoming more and more like machines, they also, like machines, don’t seem to have feelings. One aspect of this lack of feelings is that people are becoming more and more violent: more and more violent towards themselves and towards others, and also even becoming violent towards the environment, the surroundings that we are living in. This is why the problem of environment and ecology has also become a very serious problem in the present world. In this connection meditation of loving-kindness is extremely helpful in working with this aspect of having a lack of feelings, a lack of warmth.A phrase that I often like to use is that meditation of loving-kindness helps us to be our best friend.

If you can be your best friend then naturally your behaviour will not be something unskilful, unwholesome to you, and you will create more and more happiness for yourself and for others. So meditation on loving-kindness helps us to open our hearts to ourselves and to others.

Change and Impermanence

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Be open to any change that may arise physically and mentally and even externally. If we insist that change should take place according to our own idea, then when there is change which does not correspond to that idea it leads to suffering. But by realising that this is the nature of existence, that it changes and that we have no control over change, then if you can be open to change in whatever form it arises, internally or externally, this will result in freedom.

And according to the Buddha, this fact of change and impermanence and this idea of no-self are very well inter-connected, inter-related. He has a very interesting argument. If we own things, if there really is an ego, a self, then we should be able to order things: Now things should happen in this way, according to my ideas. But as there is no self, no ego, we cannot do that. So therefore we have to see from the fact of change, that there is no self-identity, no agent, only the process of change itself.

It is interesting that whenever there is suffering, there is suffering because you want things your way, and this your way or my way is the result of the feeling that you are Somebody. So whenever we are suffering, just find out what is the idea, what is the model that you are holding on to which is now being challenged. It is always some idea of how it should be, how it must be according to the ideas the self has.

To Free Ourselves from Suffering

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Why do we meditate? What is the purpose of meditation? So I’d like to say the idea of meditation is to free ourselves from the suffering that we create ourselves. The Buddha often said: I teach one thing – suffering and the way out of suffering. So meditation can be seen as the medicine for our sickness.

One very important aspect of meditation is learning to be aware, learning to be mindful, learning to be conscious. Otherwise we are becoming more and more like machines. Machines can function very well, but a machine doesn’t know how it is functioning, why it is functioning. Awareness is the complete opposite of that: just knowing, just being conscious, being aware of what is happening.

For example, what is happening right now? You may be physically present here but mentally you may be quite elsewhere. So where are you? With the help of awareness, come back here, to be present, to be conscious of what is happening right here and now. This is one very important aspect of meditation, learning to experience the present moment and also learning to be aware of and to work with the past and the future.

Greed, Hatred and Delusion

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There is a very interesting perspective, a Buddhist analysis of human nature. That our shortcomings – it can be hatred, it can be violence, in whatever form they arise – are due to three reasons.

And the three reasons are greed, hatred and delusion. So as long as we have these three characteristics, we will behave sometimes violently, sometimes irrationally, in all the ways human beings are behaving in this world.

When you see behaviour arising from greed, hatred and delusion – in other words, when you see such actions coming from imperfect human beings – should we be surprised? We should be surprised if people don’t live in this way!

According to Buddhism we are living in a crazy world. In that sense we are all crazy. Only when we are enlightened do we become completely sane. Why do I say we are crazy? Because we have created a subjective world and we live in this subjective world which does not correspond to reality. Who can say here that you always see things just as they are? The problem with us is we take this crazy world too seriously. So when we see crazy behaviour please don’t be surprised.

Until you Fall Asleep

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There are three benefits to doing meditation of loving-kindness before you go to sleep: you sleep peacefully, you wake up peacefully, and you do not see nightmares. So when you go to bed – everyone has to go to bed every night – just for a few seconds say: May I be well, may I be happy, may I sleep peacefully, just have these thoughts of loving-kindness until you fall asleep.

It is called mudita

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Another beautiful thing is rejoicing in the happiness of others. When you see other people happy that makes you yourself very happy. When you are happy, you are happy about that, and when you see others happy, you are happy about the happiness of others. It is called mudita, sympathetic joy.

How Things should be Different.

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Whenever we have a problem, it’s a very interesting exercise to try to find out what is the model, what is the expectation, what is the image that I’m having which I am resisting now. So you realize that what you call a problem is, in a way, not the problem; but rather the problem is the idea, the image you have of how things should be different.

Sometimes it’s also good to reflect very consciously: this is the problem I have; now in what way can I find a solution, in what way can I respond to that problem, what I call a problem? Sometimes we have problems which cannot be solved. Take a practical example: sometimes in Sri Lanka a mother would come to me with a deformed child, or a mentally retarded child, and for such conditions there is no cure. So what can she do?

It is very important to know what can be changed in our lives, and what cannot be changed in our lives. If something can be changed, you can try to reflect about it clearly, and if things cannot be changed, you have to accept that. We have to have the wisdom to see the difference very clearly, what can be changed and what cannot be changed.

Don’t be Surprised

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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.

Changing from Moment to Moment

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What does it mean that when there is insight, calm can come? One way of understanding this in relation to developing insight is that you can allow any thought to arise, any emotion to arise, any sensations to arise; and whatever arises, you just observe, you just watch, you just know. So from that practice sometimes calm can come naturally without your wanting to have calm and tranquility. And sometimes if calm is not there and you are unable to really develop insight in that way, then you can focus your attention on the breath and try to develop some calm and clarity and again start investigating and developing insight.

And in relation to insight, according to the Buddha’s teachings there are three characteristics, three important aspects which we have to develop if we are cultivating insight. The first is to develop the understanding, to realize, how things are impermanent, how things are changing from moment to moment. So while we are sitti changing from moment to momentng now, your thoughts are changing from moment to moment; there is one thought, then another thought arises. So there is this continuous change taking place in relation to your thoughts. Sensations in your body are also changing from moment to moment. Your state of mind too is changing from moment to moment; sometimes you may feel happy, sometimes you might feel restless, sometimes you may feel calm. So whatever your state of mind, that is also changing.

It is a very important step to be open to the changes that you are experiencing internally, and then whatever changes take place in your mind and body, if you learn not to resist them and if you learn to be open to them and realize what is happening, there can be any changes taking place but there will be no suffering.

In the same way, externally, the world out there, the life out there is also always changing from moment to moment; sometimes good things happen to us, sometimes bad things happen to us, sometimes unexpected things happen to us. But here again, whatever is happening externally, if you can realize the fact of change, of impermanence, and be open to it, any changes can take place but you can still be free because you recognize that we have no control.