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, 2022

Daily Life

I would like to share some thoughts with you about integrating meditation into daily life. One thing is that we have to be very clear about our priorities. If we give a very high priority to meditation and the spiritual life, then everything flows from that. It will be difficult for such a person to say: “I don’t have time to meditate”. So one has to be very clear about this point.

All by Ourselves

Another aspect of dying to reflect on is that when we die we have to face it all by ourselves. We may have spiritual friends, we may have other people, but at that moment we are alone. This is why I encourage you as meditators to spend some time alone, to spend some time with yourself and to make a connection with yourself. In a way this can be seen as learning to live with yourself, to be happy on your own and enjoy your own company. Then when the moment comes for you to leave you can face that situation in a different way. Because you have made a connection with yourself, your dependencies may be less.

When we Die

We can reflect on what are the things that we might miss when we die. This will help us to recognise our identifications, it will help us to recognise the things that we think we own. Things we consider “our” things; things we don’t like to leave. These identifications can be divided into three categories: the first is identification with ourselves, with our mind and body; the second is identification with other people; the third is identification with our possessions. While reflecting on them we realise that in an absolute sense we really don’t own them, and we can die to our identifications.

Reflect on Death

In traditional Buddhist countries one is encouraged to reflect on death. I think it is a very important reflection. Otherwise we forget about the most certain thing in life and we assume that we are going to live forever. So when you encounter death it can really give you a shock, you will be taken by surprise.

Talking of cultural differences, I think, generally speaking, in the West death is something that is not looked at, it is something hidden away. In Asian countries you can see death more easily. In India, for instance, you even see people dying on the roadside. You can see death in Sri Lanka also, it is a common sight. One grows up with the idea that death is part of life, that there is no difference between living and dying.

When I was in South Africa I was asked to officiate at a funeral there. That was the first Western funeral I saw: what a contrast to a Sri Lankan funeral! For example, the dead body was in the undertaker’s place; this would never happen in Sri Lanka! In Sri Lanka when there is a funeral, the whole village is watching the funeral. In South Africa only a few people came to the funeral. And people, even the close relatives, were wiping the tears away from their eyes, like they didn’t want to express their sadness, they didn’t want to show their tears to others! But in Sri Lanka and in India people really express their sadness, they even shout and scream without hiding their tears. What shocked me most was that the grandson of the person who had died, he was about forty years old, told me that this was the first time he had seen a dead body. In Sri Lanka you can’t find a four- or five-year old child who has not seen a dead body.

The point here is that it is good, as part of your practice, at least occasionally, to reflect on the impermanence of life: how things are changing from moment to moment. Sometimes reflecting on death, the inevitability of death, helps us to forgive ourselves and to forgive others. It emphasises the need to heal the wounds we are carrying. This idea of death can be something very useful to cultivate and it can be very useful for our practice.

Only the Mistakes

I think that in our spiritual practice we also have to learn what we should forget. People often remember only their minuses and they tend to forget their plusses. That way we are using our selective memory to create more suffering for ourselves. This is a very interesting, a very fascinating area to work with. Someone who is self-destructive will remember only the minuses, only the failures, only the mistakes that he or she has made.

Teaching with his Being

I remember an old gardener we had working in the Centre. I considered him as one of my teachers. Although he was teaching he was not conscious that he was a teacher. He was teaching with his being, with his openness, with his gentleness, which is the real teaching. He would speak to the plants, he would speak to the trees, he would speak to nature. It was fascinating to watch because he had a personal connection with nature. One day we were talking and he told me that even in his dreams he sees nature. I asked him to meditate, and after a while I asked him what was happening in his meditation. He said: “I see plants, I see trees!”


Work can be seen as an opportunity to develop spiritual qualities like patience, caring, and compassion for others. I could draw up a long list of spiritual qualities relating to work. So it is possible to see the work you do as something you can use as a practice to help yourself and other people.

The Monsters

During the day we can experience many so-called negative emotions, but can we make an effort to realise when the monsters are not there? Wherever you are, in the office or at home, and whatever you are doing, just take your mind back and remember the times the monsters came, and the times they didn’t come. Very soon you will realise that you are spending more time without the monsters, and this can give you inspiration, faith and confidence in the Buddha’s medicine. You will be surprised to realise what a good person you are.

Something Beautiful

In the Buddhist texts there are many references to seeing something beautiful. On one occasion the Buddha was walking with Ananda, his attendant, and at some point he said: Look back, what beautiful scenery we are passing through! There is a section in the Pali texts where it describes how monks and nuns became enlightened, and in that section some of them describe how the beauty of nature was very inspiring, because most of these monks and nuns were living in forests. And sometimes, as we are living in towns, big towns, where we don’t see nature very often, we are losing this sensitivity for appreciating something beautiful, for learning to relate to nature in this way.

Playful about Life and Death

There are some interesting stories about people who have been able to laugh at life, and they were able to laugh at death in the same way. At present I am reading a book about how people met their death. It is fascinating how many of them have been able to really laugh at death and dying. There is a Zen story that comes to my mind, about a meditation master who was dying. When he realised he was dying he called all his students and asked them: “In what posture have you seen people dying?” His students replied: “In so many different postures.” The Zen master continued: “I am going to die in a most unusual posture.” After that he stood on his head and then he died! It shows that one can be playful about life and even about death.