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, 2019

Meditation

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You can sit in a comfortable position, because the posture is not really important. What is important is to have your spine erect but relaxed. And you may have your eyes open or closed.

Now just allow the mind to do whatever it likes.

If thoughts are arising, let thoughts arise – thoughts about the past, thoughts about the future…

There is no need to repress thoughts, no need to control thoughts. See how far you can be aware of each thought that arises. You need to have moment-to-moment awareness.

Just know how you relate to each thought that arises. Are you judging them? Are you getting involved with them? Or can you allow them to just arise and pass away?

You have enough space in your mind for every thought to arise. See how far you relate to each thought that arises. Learning to make friends with your thoughts.

Make your own discoveries. Are the thoughts mostly about the past? Are they mostly about the future? Are the thoughts racing one after another? Are they slowing down? Is there space between two thoughts? Do you get involved in some thoughts? Do you judge your thoughts? Make your own discoveries about the different aspects, about the different dimensions, about the structure of your thoughts.

Have moment-to-moment awareness of the way you are relating to each thought that arises.

Now can you do the same in relation to emotions? Can you allow emotions to arise? Especially the emotions that you don’t like, that you resist, deny, repress and control?

Emotions like sadness, fear, anxiety, guilt. Can you just allow such emotions to arise if they need to arise? Can you make friends with them? Can you make enough space for them? Can you just allow them to come? Letting them be without repressing them, without controlling them, without resisting them?

Thoughts and emotions: Learning to see them as they are, not as they should be or ought to be. Learning just to allow them to be. Just letting them be.

Can you make friends with the emotions that you don’t like, that you resist, that you control? Can you create space for them?

Can you do the same in relation to sensations in your body? Tensions, pressure, unpleasant sensations. Can you allow any sensation to arise in your body and just let it be? Just allowing it to be?

Thoughts, emotions, sensations, sounds. Learning to see them as they are. Learning to have a mirror-like mind, just reflecting things as they are. Not resisting anything, not grasping anything. Not liking anything, not disliking anything. Not accepting anything, not rejecting anything. Just being, just allowing. Surrendering to what is.

Be alert and awake from moment to moment.

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Sexually Abused

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I have been trying to help some people who have been sexually abused, and people who have been raped. So I will share very briefly how the medicine can be given in this situation.

One thing I realised from the victims was that they were very angry at the person who was responsible for that incident. When I worked with them, I did not tell them about the second noble truth. I told them: Yes, you are suffering. All this has been created by the other person. I can understand your anger. I would tell them: Please go somewhere and show your anger, express it and bring it out.

Another thing I experienced with them was that often they felt guilty. They felt responsible for what the other person did to them. Here again I would tell them: It is natural that you feel guilty. But let us work slowly, gradually, gently to find out how far you can let go of the guilt. I did not tell them that the guilt is their own creation. I said: It is okay that you feel guilty, but see how far you can forgive yourself. It is not easy and it takes some time, but slowly, slowly the medicine may start to help.

Another thing I realised was the way they related to their body. Because of what had happened to their body they hated their body. Sometimes they felt alienated from their body, as if it was someone else’s body. So when they told me: Well, I feel as if this body is not mine, I did not say to them: This is the Buddha’s teaching, this body is not yours. I told them: It is natural that you should feel this way.

Sweeping the Body

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Just focus your attention on the body. Put your attention at the area of your forehead, and just sweep the body, feeling every part of the body: sensations. tensions, whatever you discover in your body.

If you feel any tensions in your body, just be aware of those tensions, don’t try to resist those tensions, don’t try to control them, but just be aware of the tension and continue sweeping the body. See how far you can feel gentle, friendly, tender towards those sensations, just accepting the body as it is.

Learning to listen to the body, and allowing it to tell you just what it likes. Just saying okay, whether you experience pleasant sensations, unpleasant sensations, tensions, or whatever is happening.

Sweep every part of the body until you reach the feet, and then sweep upwards in the same way, slowly, gently, feeling and experiencing every part of your body. Being anchored in your body.

When thoughts arise just let go of them gently and bring the attention back to the body. Just keep on coming back to your body – feelings sensations, tensions – allowing them, creating space for them.

You can also combine this technique with focusing your attention on the breathing.

Consuming Things

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I will try to touch on a few points where with meditation you might lose the motivation for some things. One of the biggest problems modern man has is this tendency to be victims of consumerism. We are not clear what we really need and what comes from our greed, so what happens is that society can manipulate us, society can bring up situations where attachments, this tendency to own things, to possess things whether they are necessary or not, can arise. So with more and more meditation, you lose the motivation for just consuming things for the sake of consuming things. There is a beautiful word in Pali, the word is santutthi, a beautiful sounding word, it means that we learn to be contented. So our lives become very, very simple and we can be really contented with just simple things. As I said, the motivation for consuming things will not be there.

Another thing which will happen is that with practice you become more peaceful; the need to be violent with others, the need to have unnecessary quarrels with others, becomes less. So you might even deliberately avoid such situations because there is no motivation to confront others and unnecessarily create suffering for ourselves and suffering for others.

So I just touched on some aspects where with the practice we can develop motivation for some things and then we’ll be losing motivation for other things.

I Left Her on the Shore

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What happens to us is that we identify ourselves with our experiences. We hold on to what has happened. This is how wounds are created and through our memory these wounds come up to affect us.

There is a very well known Zen story that shows very clearly the process of holding onto these experiences. Two Zen monks were walking together, and they came to a place where there was a stream. There was also a girl there who could not cross the stream by herself. One of the monks lifted up this girl and carried her across the stream. Then he placed her down and they continued on their walk.

The following day the other monk said: “You know, you should not have touched that girl, you should not have carried her across the stream. We are monks and we are not supposed to do that.” Then the other monk responded: “I left her on the other shore, but you are still carrying her!” This is what we are doing, we are carrying things we should have put down, so it is very interesting for us to know what we are carrying.

Something Factual

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There is something we do with our thoughts: we create stories. We then give reality to the story that we have created, and even though the story is not real, we become a victim of the reality that we have created ourselves. This is really a destructive and dangerous mechanism. These stories can give rise to uncertainty, insecurity, anger, guilt, and so on. I think that all our so-called monsters can arise thanks to the stories we create. This is a clear example of how we create our own suffering without realising it.

This shows the importance of awareness. If you analyse the different meditation techniques, you’ll see that most of them are an attempt to be with something factual. Maybe it’s being with the breath, being with the sensations in the body, or being with the sounds that are around. It is an attempt to distinguish reality from unreality.

What is also interesting is that we can become so dogmatic about our beliefs. Yet most of our beliefs may be the result of such stories, the stories we have made up. When somebody comes and tells us that our stories are nonsense we become angry with that person. We don’t like it when our reality is challenged. This is how we hold onto beliefs, this is how we become dogmatic. Unfortunately it is impossible for us to really communicate with each other when we hold on so strongly to our beliefs.

After a while our made-up stories develop into a fantasy, a kind of a daydream that we are trapped in. You can ask yourself what is the difference between a dream at night and a daydream. Actually there is no difference: it is only when we wake up that we realise: “Ah, I was dreaming”.

The wonderful thing about the breath is that it is something factual. It is something objective. You can’t create a story out of it. You can’t fantasise about the breath. It is a very clear situation where we can really draw the distinction.

Torture

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Once I met a Tibetan monk and I asked him: Did you suffer when you were tortured? According to the Dhamma, how do you see that? And he said: I knew that it was because these people were torturing me that I was suffering. But as a meditator I had been practising very hard with physical pain, sitting for two or three hours at a stretch. So when they were torturing me, I was trying to see how far I could work with the pain rather than hate the person torturing me. I tried my best to use the Buddha’s medicine when I was suffering. Sometimes I was very successful and I had real gratitude for the Buddha’s teaching for I saw that the medicine was working. And when the medicine was not working and I was suffering, I thought: May I be able to practise more.

Let Them Go

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We all have selective memories. If someone has a very strong self-destructive aspect he or she will be carrying only the minuses, only the failures. Only the wrong things others have done. It is natural, as we are human, that some of our past experiences have had a deep effect, so unlike the mirror we hold on to them and do not let them go.

We have to learn to let go of things that we are holding onto, that arise from our memories. When they arise from our memory we start judging them, especially by giving minuses, and then we push them away. In the technique of the mirror-like mind we are there with all these things, allowing anything we are holding onto in our memory to come up. We are just being a passive observer, allowing these things to come and allowing them to go. Things that arise can be in the form of emotions, they can be in the form of memories, they can even be sensations in the body. We don’t realise what we carry in our body, but we carry all our past experiences in our body. Tensions and unpleasant sensations sometimes are related to repressed emotions. When pain and unpleasant sensations arise in the body, just like the mirror you learn to observe them, just to create space for them, just to make friends with them.

Like an Orchestra

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Another aspect of the mirror-like mind is that there is no difference between what is reflected in the mirror and the mirror itself: there is no duality. There is no thinker apart from the thoughts; there is no hearer apart from the hearing, there is only hearing. With this meditation technique you can have a glimpse of the fact that there is only the hearing, not the idea that ‘I am hearing’; that there is only the thinking, and that there is no thinker apart from the thoughts that are arising and passing away; that there is only the feeling and that there is no-one feeling.

It is like an orchestra, with the sounds, the thoughts, the emotions, the sensations; but the difference is there is no conductor. It is the conductor, the controller, who directs, who wants, who judges. When the conductor is absent there is only the orchestra; there is only the thought, there is only the sound, there is only the feeling.

It sounds very simple, but this is what the model is, and this meditation technique I find is very powerful, it has a lot of very profound and deep aspects. What I like in it is that you can really practice it in your everyday life. With certain meditation techniques you have to close your eyes or you have to sit in a particular posture. For this meditation you don’t have to close your eyes and you don’t have to sit in a particular posture. In any situation it is just having the awareness to know what is happening in your body and mind.

Spiritual Friend

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I would like to say one thing: it is also related to the Buddha’s teachings. Some of you have been calling me Master. Actually in the Dhamma, in the Pali tradition, the word teacher is not used. Two beautiful words are used: spiritual friend. This is how I would like to see myself, as a spiritual friend. And it’s a very beautiful relationship to have. When you say you are the Master, then again a big division between the Master and the student, but when we are spiritual friends then we are exploring together, investigating together, learning together, sharing with each other, it’s a beautiful way to relate to each other.

And then there’s another danger I would like to also warn you about. With the Master you just accept whatever the Master says. You accept him as an authority. There is no place for such authority in the Buddhist teaching.

I would like to conclude by quoting from a very well known Buddhist text. A group of spiritual people called the Kalamas who were exposed to different teachers came to the Buddha and said: We are confused, so many teachers are saying so many different things. What should we do? Please help us.

The Buddha said something very radical at that time. He told this group of people: Don’t accept anything just because it is in the traditions. Don’t accept anything just because it is in the scriptures. Don’t accept anything just because it is logical, reasonable, rational. Don’t accept anything just because a teacher tells you, but accept only when you know in your own experience what is conducive to happiness, what is creating suffering and what can help you to overcome suffering. When you know that in your own experience, then accept that experience. What a statement to make! Experience is your teacher. Life is the best teacher you can have!