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: April, 2018

At the Time of Death

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When we die, we have a last chance to become enlightened. Because at the moment of death, if you can practise meditation, if you can really practise conscious dying, that will give us a great opportunity to free ourselves, so to create that opportunity is part of the practice.

There is a very interesting book from the Tibetan tradition: The Tibetan Book of the Dead. It shows how your experience at the time of death is determined by the way you have lived. So in simple terms, as I understand it, at that moment our emotions, especially unpleasant emotions, can surface and they can take many forms. At that moment we don’t recognise that they are simply emotions but as they manifest themselves externally we react to these external forms that we see.

So you see how this is related to meditation. How it is important to recognise how our mind works, how it works with our emotions, to recognise them. And what is interesting is, it is said that enlightenment also manifests itself and we have to recognise it, and if you don’t recognise it your last chance is lost.

So in practical terms, in our meditation we also should recognise our positive states of mind, just to know that they are there. When you know them, when you recognise them, then when they manifest themselves you just know that it is the free mind, the enlightened mind that is manifesting in this way.

So it shows clearly that when you have awareness, when you are conscious at the time of dying, you can know all these things, recognise these things, and we have a last chance to free ourselves from what is happening.

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A Sense of Protection

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Another benefit of loving-kindness meditation is that it gives you a sense of protection. It is interesting that loving-kindness can be so powerful it can in some ways protect you from situations. An aspect related to protection is that it also gives a sense of security, confidence. In one of the statements in the text it is mentioned that those who have loving-kindness feel at home wherever they are. So you don’t feel threatened, you don’t feel insecure because of loving-kindness. You feel at home with yourself, you feel at home with others.

Experience a Calm Mind

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There is a very interesting benefit related to meditation. It is said that with loving-kindness it is easy to experience samadhi, one-pointedness. This is why I emphasise friendliness so much in the practice, because when we are practising, if you are hating things, if you are resisting things, if you are fighting things, it is not easy to have a mind that is calm. This calmness comes naturally when there is friendliness, when there is gentleness, when there is openness. So this is a very important point to remember in our practice; we are learning to use friendliness and gentleness in whatever technique we are practising.

Part of the Environment

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In the modern world we have a lot of problems with the environment, what is called the ecological crisis, and so on. I see it as a manifestation of our own self-destructiveness which comes through in this way. When you have loving-kindness you learn to develop a sensitivity to yourself, your surroundings, your environment, so this is a very simple way of protecting the environment, by making a connection with the environment. See yourself as part of the environment and not as something separate from it.

Non-human Beings also Like You

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Another interesting benefit is that non-human beings also like you. What are these non-human beings? One can interpret this in different ways, but perhaps we can include animals, perhaps we can include plants and trees. We can include non-human beings who may be here in this world but which we cannot see. I think it is a fact that animals can really feel your loving-kindness and they can respond in the same way. I was saying the other day that we have monks in Sri Lanka who meditate in deep forests where there are wild animals, where there are animals who can harm you, but it is interesting how the monks get on with these animals. I know in one place the chief monk talks to these wild animals and they seem to obey the requests or orders of the monks. So I think animals are disturbed when you have fear, but when you have loving-kindness, when you are friendly towards them, I think they can feel that.

They have done some research which shows that even plants can feel your emotions, they can react to your emotions. So here again, I think loving-kindness may be able to affect them in some ways.

Other People Like You

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Another benefit of loving-kindness meditation is that other human beings like you. Why do human beings like you? Because you are friendly towards them, so naturally when you are friendly to others they are friendly towards you. If you are not friendly to others they will not be friendly to you. So it is a very simple point that when you are friendly to others, others will respond in the same way. I think this is very important because we have a lot of problems and difficulties in relationships due to the way we are relating to other people. So if we can be friendly to ourselves and friendly to others this can generate a lot of joy, a lot of happiness.

Sleep and Wake up Peacefully

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The first benefit of loving-kindness is that you can sleep peacefully. There is a difference between sleeping peacefully and sleeping well. This is related to the second benefit, which is that you wake up peacefully, and that is related to the third benefit where it is said you don’t have any nightmares, any unpleasant dreams.

What are these unpleasant dreams we have, these nightmares? I would suggest that they are related to the emotions we are repressing, perhaps related to the wounds that we are holding onto. So with loving-kindness you heal these wounds, then you don’t have these nightmares or unpleasant dreams, and then you can sleep peacefully and wake up peacefully.

In Sri Lanka, sometimes I work with people who suffer from insomnia, and the way I try to help them is by the practice of this simple method of loving-kindness before they go to sleep. It has been interesting for me to see that it works most of the time.

Guided Loving-Kindness Meditation

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We’ll now end with meditation on loving-kindness.

Please feel the area of your heart. Please spend some time just feeling that area.

Can you feel that your heart is opening up like a flower, feeling gentleness, softness and tenderness?

Can you feel that you are your best friend, can you really feel it in the area of your heart and every part of your body?

As your best friend, can you really forgive yourself for whatever mistakes you have made in the past? If you do not have to forgive yourself, just feel happy that you are not carrying any wound.

As your best friend, can you forgive others for whatever mistakes they have done, letting go of any hatred or ill-will you are carrying in relation to them?

May you all be well. May you all be happy. May you all be peaceful. May all beings be well. May all beings be happy. May all beings be peaceful.be well. May all beings be happy. May all beings be peaceful.

The Buddha’s Medicine

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When you practise in everyday life you can really see the result, you can see that the medicine the Buddha has given us really heals, it really works. Then you have more and more faith, more and more confidence in the medicine. And you have more and more confidence in yourself. Then you really feel grateful for the Buddha who discovered this medicine, and you feel happy that you have discovered it and that you are using it and you are feeling the result.

And what is beautiful about the Buddha’s medicine is that it can be applied in any situation in life. It can be applied when you are sick. It can be applied when you encounter death in any way. It can be applied when we are hurt, frustrated, disappointed. It can be applied when we have very serious problems, very serious conflicts.

The only thing is that one has to be very clear about the practice. Are you really making a commitment to your practice? Have you really made a commitment to take the medicine? I think it is also important that while you are taking the medicine you should also encourage others to take the medicine by just sharing with them – this is what I am doing. Please see for yourselves.

Feeling Grateful

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A very important quality in relation to loving-kindness is this quality of feeling grateful. Before coming here I spent some time in India and while I was in the place where the Buddha became enlightened I was reflecting on what the Buddha did after his enlightenment. According to the tradition, after he became enlightened he spent 7 days just looking at the tree which gave him shelter. Just reflect on this: Buddha spending 7 days showing his gratitude for a tree. So it shows what a very important quality feeling grateful is.

Do we feel grateful for things? Do we feel grateful for other people? Do you feel grateful that you have discovered the Dhamma, that you have a group of spiritual friends? Do we ever make an effort to develop this quality of feeling grateful? Do we ever feel grateful that we can see? There are people who cannot see. Do you feel grateful that you can hear? There are some people who cannot hear. Do you feel grateful that you are healthy and that you can practise meditation without any problem?

So these are small things, little things, which we take for granted. You should visit very poor countries like India and Sri Lanka and then you might realise that you should feel grateful for some of the things you enjoy. But do we ever think about this? In those countries there are people without food. So shouldn’t we feel grateful when we have food to eat?

There is another aspect of feeling grateful: when we have unpleasant experiences we should also feel grateful for them because we can learn from them, they become our teachers.