There are certain things that we have to do in the morning. However busy you are, I think everyone will brush their teeth in the morning. No one will say I don’t have time to brush my teeth. Can we just practise a little awareness, mindfulness when we are brushing our teeth, just as an example? What happens when we brush our teeth? Again, we have thoughts. We hardly know we are brushing our teeth. This becomes a very strong habit in us. As it is a strong habit, thoughts will come. So with awareness, knowing thoughts are arising, knowing thoughts are coming, just learn to let go of the thoughts and come back to brushing, the conscious brushing of your teeth.
Just as you wake up in the morning – you may have lots of things to do – but just as you wake up, can you spend a few minutes meditating, even while lying down on your bed? I mean, it would be ideal if you could do some sitting meditation in the morning even for a short time, but let us assume that you are too busy. But at least while still lying down spend 5 minutes in the lying-down posture and start the day with loving-kindness meditation, just feeling friendly towards yourself and maybe radiating thoughts of loving-kindness. And it is useful to make a wish: During the day may I get an opportunity to practise loving-kindness. This is a beautiful way to begin the day. It won’t take more than 5 or 10 minutes.
One can see meditation as a medicine for the sickness that we create ourselves. The first point to be very clear about in your mind is: are you really interested in taking the medicine? Have you really made a commitment to take the medicine? Because if you have really made a commitment to take the medicine, you can never say I forgot to take the medicine or I have no time to take the medicine. You all have different priorities in life but where does this taking the medicine figure in your list of priorities? This is a very important point to be clear about. This is the first point I would like to make.
The second point is, as you know, we have been emphasising the importance of just knowing, just being aware, just finding out what is happening to us especially in our daily life. So one has to make an effort, a sincere effort during the day to try to be aware, to try to be conscious of what is happening to you. Maybe a good time to do this is in the morning.
Just learning to observe, just learning to watch the thoughts that arise and the thoughts that pass away in our mind.
Let us learn to make friends with our thoughts. To observe them very sharply, very clearly.
Let us see how far we can observe the thoughts without judging them. No plus, no minus. Just letting thoughts come and letting thoughts go again.
If you are judging the thoughts, just know that you are judging them. And see the difference when you are judging and when you are not judging the thoughts.
If some of you are having difficulties with unpleasant emotions, can you allow them to arise now if there is a need for them to arise. Sadness, fear, anxiety, depression, whatever you don’t like, let them arise now.
If there are no such unpleasant emotions, just to know that they are not there, and if they are there, just to know that they are there and then to make friends with them.
In everyday life sometimes we are forced to deal with people whom we consider to be negative, maybe starting with your husband or wife, or more probably the boss. So what do we do when we have to relate to such people? Fortunately or unfortunately, we can’t avoid them, so we can’t escape from them. Then what do we do? I will give some suggestions.
First suggestion is, don’t be surprised. Why? Because they are unenlightened beings just like yourself. So it is very important to realise that we are living in a world which is full of imperfect human beings, including ourselves. Putting it in stronger language, according to the Buddha until we are enlightened we are all crazy. We are crazy in the sense that no-one can claim that they can always see things just as they are. We all see things subjectively, not objectively. In this sense we are all crazy, and so we are living in a crazy world. So when you see imperfections in everyday life, whether arising in yourself or in others, please don’t be surprised.
The second suggestion is that when you see imperfection in others, try to remind yourself: I am also imperfect like that person. Otherwise we have a self-righteous attitude: I am perfect, the other person is imperfect. I am positive, the other person is negative. Is there anyone who is always positive? Are you always positive? So just to realise: Now the other person is negative, so I can also sometimes behave like that. Then you become more and more humble.
The third suggestion is to try to see them as your gurus, as your teachers, as your masters. I would like to mention now that I have been called a master but I would like to see myself as a spiritual friend and not as a master. But when you see negative people, please see them as masters. Why? Because the master is showing you a mirror. So what to do when you are getting angry? Use the mirror and look at your face reflected in the mirror. Whichever way the master is behaving, look at your own emotions. What are the emotions that are coming? I’m giving that person a minus. See I’m getting angry, I’m getting annoyed, I’m getting agitated. See all the emotions that are arising thanks to the master. The function of a good master is to try to test whether you are good meditators. So this master is testing you whether you are a good meditator.
And then one thing that is very difficult but very interesting to do is: can you see the master as if for the first time? Sometimes we come to a conclusion that this person is a negative person. So everytime we see that person we relate to him with that conclusion, with that prejudice, with that bias. Sometimes we see what we want to see. So poor master, even if the poor master is behaving in a positive way we think how negative that person is: see the way that person is looking at me! Because we only see what we want to see.
And the last suggestion is to ask the master what are the negative things you can see in me? That will be very revealing.
Reflection is using thoughts in a very creative way. Usually we use thoughts destructively to create our own suffering, but when you use thought creatively you’re using it to work with the suffering, all kinds of suffering.
So what is important is that with a mind that is calm, with a mind that is clear, you start to reflect on the problem you are having. And a very interesting exercise is to see that problem, to see that situation, from different angles.
Usually we see only one or two aspects of the problem, but when we reflect in this way we can see so many areas, so many aspects of this problem that we are reflecting on.
So this in itself becomes a meditation, and from this a solution to the problem may arise in this kind of meditative reflection.
Please realise that meditation is a way of living. Please realise that meditation is not only when you are sitting. Whether it is sitting, standing, walking, lying down, in any situation one has to practise the meditation of just being aware. Then meditation becomes natural, then meditation becomes part of us, then all these questions about what happens in sitting may not arise.