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: January, 2019

Why We Meditate

Godwin-Icon

We should be clear why we meditate: the purpose of meditation is to free ourselves from suffering. The Buddha often said: I teach the fact of suffering and the way out of suffering. So it is to really achieve a mind that is free and a heart that is boundless. And the techniques are rather simple but we complicate them because of the complicated minds we have. Human beings are very clever at complicating simple things! I often ask the question: What have human beings not complicated in life?

Advertisements

Learn from a Dog

Godwin-Icon

I would like to share with you an experience I had on one of the retreats I gave in a foreign country. So on the last day I was having a talk with the meditators and one of them told the group that whatever she has learnt from me on the course she has already learnt from her dog. So I became curious about her dog. I told her, please tell something more about your dog, and she said: Well, you tell us to just live in the present and this is what my dog does; you tell us to feel grateful, and my dog is always grateful. And she went on to describe the behaviour of the dog and what happens in the retreat. Then I asked her: Is there no difference between your dog and me? She said, Yes, you talk a lot, but my dog can’t talk at all! I like that story very much.

A Beautiful Way to Live

Godwin-Icon

Thoughts are really words. Words and pictures, and they give rise to feelings. Let’s take a couple of examples. Let us think of breakfast tomorrow. Let us close our eyes and see what happens to our mind when we think of breakfast tomorrow.

So we see bread, we see coffee, whatever is usually there we see. Actually these are pictures that come, and then with the pictures some feelings will come depending on our likes and our dislikes. So actually our thoughts come in the form of images, words and feelings. It sounds so simple. And then what happens to us is that with these things, these pictures, films, we create our suffering.

What is interesting is that with techniques like focusing on breathing, when there are no thoughts none of these things are present, pictures, words, but we are just dealing with the sensations. Words and pictures are always from the past. We can never see pictures and images which we have not experienced before. So only when they are absent can something new happen. This is the beauty of some of the meditation techniques that they help us to have no pictures and so on.

Make your own discoveries about your thoughts, make your own discoveries about your emotions, make your own discoveries about how suffering is created. We are so fortunate to have this mind and body. Sometimes I tell meditators that we can be our own laboratories and we can make experiments, we can make discoveries, we can learn from them.

Without taking anything for granted our whole life becomes learning; and we should develop a taste for it, we should develop a curiosity for it, we should find this very interesting, entertaining, sometimes amusing. So then when you leave this place you can continue to discover, you can continue to learn, you can continue to find out. Then we have this openness that we can learn from anything, we can learn from anyone, not only from the so-called teachers, but life itself becomes the teacher, our mind and body become our teacher, and I think it is a beautiful way to live.

Another Battle!

Godwin-Icon

When there’s friendliness, when there’s gentleness, when there’s openness, then the mind may start co-operating with us. Otherwise we tell the mind to behave in one way and it is going the other way and we get angry about it.

So it becomes a battle and becomes another big fight. Meditation for most people is a fight. Fighting the mind. I often tell meditators, you have enough battles in life, please do not make meditation another battle! So with friendliness we need to understand how our mind and body works, and then through that understanding, developing mastery is the next thing. When I spoke on loving-kindness I mentioned that one of the benefits is that when there is loving-kindness the mind becomes calm naturally.

 

The Mind in Opposition

Godwin-Icon

When we don’t want thoughts to arise they arise, and when we want thoughts to arise they don’t arise. When we don’t want emotions they arise and when we want emotions they don’t arise. Why is the mind acting in opposition to us? This is a very important question to reflect on. Is this the nature of the mind? Or have we conditioned the mind in this way?

I think what it shows is that we cannot tell the mind: Have thoughts, have no thoughts. It doesn’t work that way. It’s like telling a child: Do this, don’t do that. And the child likes to do what you don’t want him to do. So this is why I emphasise friendliness such a lot. If you want to understand a child you have to be very friendly and see what the child wants, so in the same way if we want to understand our mind we cannot be telling the mind to do this and don’t do that, but rather, with friendliness, try to understand it.

When a Thought Disappears

Godwin-Icon

There is a very interesting quotation by the Buddha in relation to his own thoughts: One of his disciples told the Buddha: You have so many powers, you have so many miraculous powers. And the Buddha said: My greatest miracle is that when a thought arises, I know a thought has arisen; when a thought continues, I know that a thought continues when the thought disappears, I know the thought disappears.

This shows it is not the absence of thought which is important. I like that very much. So we can try to work on the third aspect: when a thought disappears. For someone to have that type of mind they have to have a very calm mind, an alert mind, just to know when a thought disappears.

Images

Godwin-Icon

 

In a way we need to have images, even to have expectations. What is important for us to realise is in what ways we are using them destructively.

So that if we don’t have these qualities in us, if instead of loving-kindness we have hatred, hatred towards ourselves, hatred towards others, then it is very important to bring about a shift within ourselves by learning to be our best friend, learning to be a friend to others. In this way it is no harm having an image: I want to be a person who is friendly and tries to practise. Or you can still practise without an image but just developing these qualities and allow your behaviour to emerge from that.

So one can really practise at two levels: if you like to have an image, you can have it, but otherwise you can just practise without an image and allow your behaviour to arise from whatever spiritual qualities you have developed. What is important is to see whether that image corresponds to reality. This is what we have to work with. Images create problems sometimes if the images are unrealistic. When you have an image of how things should be and then what happens in reality is another thing, this is how suffering is created.