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, 2015

Thought Continues

Godwin-Icon

From the time we wake up to the time we go to sleep thought continues. And even when we go to sleep the dreams we have can be seen as a continuation of our thoughts. So this continuity of thoughts is what happens in everyday life. And what happens to you when you are meditating? Is there any difference?

In everyday life we are unable to live in the present, but when meditating we have moments where we can be in the present. That is the only difference. So you see how important it is to learn about thoughts, to make discoveries about thought. From the time we wake up to the time we go to sleep thought continues. And even when we go to sleep the dreams we have can be seen as a continuation of our thoughts. So this continuity of thoughts is what happens in everyday life. And what happens to you when you are meditating? Is there any difference?

In everyday life we are unable to live in the present, but when meditating we have moments where we can be in the present
– that is the only difference. So you see how important it is to learn about thoughts, to make discoveries about them, because they are there most of the time.

Now one interesting discovery meditators make is that when they try to focus on breathing, the thoughts continue to come. Do you want the thoughts you are having right now to come? What does this show about our thoughts?

They are just coming. They come mechanically, habitually, repetitively throughout the day; whether you are meditating or not there is no difference. This is a very interesting and important discovery, to realise that they just arise mechanically and habitually. And then what do we do? Do we allow them to just come and go?

We react to the thoughts in some way. And this reaction is mostly about giving plusses and minuses to the thoughts. This is a very important experience for you, to realise what is happening when thoughts are coming and going.

And this process of reacting is how thoughts are related to emotions. One thing we could try to do is to see how far we can allow them to come and go on their way without reacting to them. If you can do that there is no need to stop thoughts, to get rid of them, or get angry with them. You will reach a stage in which whether there are thoughts or not makes no difference because the mind is not reacting.

Advertisements

Slowing Down

Godwin-Icon

You can sustain awareness just by slowing down. As you know, when we move in a very fast vehicle we are not able to notice the things that are around us. If you want to see your surroundings very sharply, very clearly, then the vehicle has to go very slowly. So it’s only when we can really slow down that we can see very sharply, very clearly, what is happening in our mind and body from moment to moment. In the same way, we can notice external things very sharply and clearly.

Related to this, one thing which we can discover with more and more awareness and slowing down is the intention that arises before doing something. We do things so quickly, so fast, that we hardly catch ourselves intending to do it. And with more and more observing the intention, you will realise that there is more and more awareness, so there is a connection between observing the intention and the practice of awareness.

And catching our intention has very important implications, so that we will not rush into things, especially in everyday life. Before we speak, if we can catch ourselves with whatever we were going to say, I think we will not hurt others and we will not be using our speech in an unwholesome or unskilful way.

In the same way before we act, if we can pause and try to see the intention why we want to do a particular thing, there again there can be a natural transformation in our action. On one occasion the Buddha was speaking to his son Rahula. The Buddha asked his son: What is the purpose of a mirror? And the little boy said the purpose of a mirror is to reflect. So the Buddha said that in the same way we should reflect about our speech and about our actions before doing them. But to exercise this reflection there has to be awareness and there has to be a pause.

To Explore

Godwin-Icon

One aspect of awareness is that we can use awareness to explore, to investigate, to learn, to find out what we are experiencing. So if you are experiencing physical pain, you can use awareness to start exploring the nature of pain. In ordinary life when we experience pain we merely try to get rid of it because it is unpleasant, but by reacting to pain in this way we never learn about pain, a very important part of the human condition. So with awareness, with this investigating faculty, we can make discoveries by ourselves about so many aspects of our mind and body.

What is beautiful is that we can learn from anything, we can learn from anyone. But we should have this openness and humility to try to learn, to try to discover the truth. Then meditation becomes interesting, because anything can be a learning experience, anything can be your teacher.

Breaking Plates

Godwin-Icon

When you see someone doing something wrong in a spiritual relationship, do you say: May you be well, may you be happy, may you be peaceful? Do you say: These minuses are only concepts, I do not use minuses? What will a spiritual friend do in such a situation? He will speak with the other person. He will want him to grow. He will engage in some kind of a dialogue, because a spiritual friend would try to get the other person to understand his behaviour. Sometimes we just assume that the other person understands why he is behaving in this way. So it is very useful to get that person to understand or reflect on his behaviour.

And then the spiritual friend does something very creative too. When the other person does not do anything wrong, the spiritual friend points that out too! It is extremely destructive to point out only the minuses, and only when the other person does something wrong. It is extremely important to tell the other person when they are doing something good, something skilful, something wholesome. This is a quality we need to cultivate. The other quality you do not have to cultivate, it is there naturally!

So it takes some effort to see these positive qualities, to say this with your whole heart and to really show your deep appreciation for these things. This can be very touching. There can be a beautiful communication when such a thing happens. And the spiritual friend does the same to you. It is simply sharing with each other, and not taking up a position that one is better or more superior than the other. But really just sharing together, learning together, and growing together.

Sometimes it is also important to know when it is necessary to be assertive. That is, you should know when to be gentle and when to be assertive. I will share with you what a woman in Sri Lanka told me about regarding this aspect. This happened when I was in a very remote village speaking to a group of meditators. One of the women shared this experience with the group. She revealed that her husband would come home drunk and would start breaking the pots, plates, cups and so on. She tried so many things – practising loving-kindness, speaking to him in a very kind, gentle way when he was sober. She even spoke to his other friends, and through those friends tried to influence him to change. She would collect all that he had broken and keep the pieces in a place where he could see them. All these tools did not work. At last, one day when he came home drunk she said: If you break one plate, I will break ten! And that ended his days of breaking plates!

So as a spiritual friend you have to use these methods in a skilful way, and not merely always be passive. Some people understand only this language. This is a point to remember.

A Wound

Godwin-Icon

A mirror-like mind is that it does not retain anything. What happens in our own experience, what happens in our everyday life? We retain in our memory certain experiences which have affected us. Someone has made us angry, hurt us and we are really holding onto this in our memory. This is what I call a wound. And sometimes we can retain these memories throughout our lives. And I would suggest that as we are still human, it is natural that we retain certain experiences which have happened to us. So what we can do in our practice is to realize that and sometimes to bring the memories up and try to heal them so that what we are retaining, what we are holding onto is released. Otherwise such wounds can affect us in many ways.

Allow the Mind To Do What It Likes

Godwin-Icon

When we learn to meditate with an object it becomes very easy to come back to that object. But I think it is very important also to slowly, slowly learn to forget about having any object, and to allow the mind to do what it likes, just watching, just observing what the mind is doing.

In a way, what the mind is doing can be seen as an object. Let me take an example: When you allow the mind to do what it likes, then you realise that you are thinking. So thinking at that time becomes the object. The difference is, you do not get fixed, you do not focus on that thinking, but in a very loose, natural, relaxed way you allow the mind to do what it likes. Then from the thoughts it might move to a sound. When it moves to the sound, then you know: Now you are with that object; and then after a few seconds you come to the body, some sensations in the knee. So this is allowing the mind to scan, like in computer language: scanning.

So this can be done very easily in everyday life. For example you go to the office in the morning and you just sit there for a few minutes, you just allow the mind to do what it likes. Then you realise that you are seeing things, hearing things, just knowing what the mind is doing. So you can do it anywhere. In Sri Lanka sometimes I tell Sri Lankans, you can practice this waiting for a bus, getting in the bus, travelling in the bus, and even if you miss the bus! This is really objectless meditation.

A Very Hard Medicine.

Godwin-Icon

I feel that the second noble truth is extremely important because it is only when you realise it that the third and the fourth noble truths can follow.

One point is that when you see this, you have to take responsibility for what is happening inside yourself. This is not an easy teaching. To have complete self-reliance and to say: I create my own suffering and therefore only I can free myself. This is because there are some easier teachings where you are told: I will help you, you have only to trust or surrender to me and everything will be all right. You do not have to do anything, only have trust, faith, belief and so on. Hence this second noble truth is an extremely radical teaching. It is not an easy teaching.

What is also difficult and subtle is for you to fully realise this truth. Take the example I gave this morning. Someone had stolen from you what you consider as extremely precious, something that is more precious than your own life. And when you were sad and suffering, someone asked you: Why are you sad? Why are you suffering? So you said: That person took my most precious possession. When we are angry and are sometimes asked: Why are you angry? we answer: This person hurt me. He did such and such to me, that is why I am angry.

So you see the second noble truth is something very subtle to realise. When a person’s precious possession has been stolen, he says he feels sad because this man stole it. But can the person respond differently with something other than that reaction? Can he let go of his identification with what he considers as something very precious? If he can do that, then he will realise there is no suffering. So this is a very hard medicine. In fact, some medicines are not very pleasant, and not very sweet. So this medicine that is presented is also not very easy.

To Be Self-Reliant

Godwin-Icon

Meditation helps us to become completely self-reliant. When you meditate you realise that you have to take responsibility for what is happening in your mind. Sometimes I define meditation in my own words as finding the medicine for the sickness we have created ourselves. So as we create the sickness ourselves we have to find the medicine. When you are sick, if you want to heal yourself you cannot tell others to take the medicine.

The Buddha emphasised this point very much: to be self-reliant, to rely on one’s own efforts. The Buddha said: self-effort is the best effort. And when we develop self-effort, when we become self-reliant, then what happens is we learn to become completely self-confident about ourselves. When we have this self-confidence then when we see for ourselves that the medicine is helping then that gives us more confidence in the medicine and it also helps us to develop faith and confidence in the person who discovered the medicine.

The Most Beautiful Adventure

Godwin-Icon

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?

This is why I suggest you do it before you are depressed, because then you can really understand this process, you can really see very clearly what we are all doing to ourselves. This is what is called Dhamma insight. With more and more such insights, with more and more discoveries, the chances of becoming depressed become less.