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.

Category: Meditation and Mindfulness

Only Minuses

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In what ways do we become our worst enemy? One is that we can be extremely critical and hard on ourselves. The phrase that I like to use is: we give ourselves minuses – it can become a very strong habit. And when we have this habit of giving ourselves only minuses we’ll also be giving minuses to other people. We can create a hell where only minuses exist. So meditation of loving-kindness helps us to see this very clearly, how we become our own enemies by giving ourselves minuses and giving minuses to others; and then we learn to see more and more the positive qualities in ourselves and in others.

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Friendliness

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Metta in simple terminology means just friendliness. So the question is: where do we begin this friendliness? It is psychologically interesting that we are to begin with ourselves. I think it is difficult to be friendly to others unless you are friendly to yourself. A phrase that I would like to use is: Metta enables us to be our own best friend. But we don’t realise sometimes that we can be our own worst enemy. And generally speaking we see enemies outside ourselves, and maybe all our life we are trying to find and get rid of the external enemies but we don’t realise, as I said, that we can be our worst enemy.

Four Friends

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There is a very important aspect in Buddhist meditation. It is related to developing four very important spiritual qualities in ourselves. They are called “The Four Sublime or Beautiful States”. They are also called “The Divine Abodes”, because when we develop these qualities we are like divine beings, like gods.

I would like to see these four qualities as our friends because if we can encourage these four friends to be with us most of the time, this will help us to experience a lot of joy and lightness and it will also help us to bring joy and lightness to others. To put it in another way, when these four friends are not with us this can create lots of suffering for ourselves and lots of suffering for others.

And these four qualities in Pali sound so soothing, so nice. They are Metta, Karuna, Mudita, Upekkha. So Metta is loving-kindness, friendliness. Karuna is compassion. Mudita is sympathetic joy. And Upekkha is having a non-reactive, equanimous mind.

Meditation

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If you’re having thoughts, just know what thoughts you are having very sharply, very clearly.

If you are experiencing sensations, just know what sensation you are experiencing from moment to moment.

You can experience the present moment, just feeling the peace and the stillness in this room.

Feeling what it is to sit with your body completely still.

If the body is still, the mind may become still, and you can feel the stillness around you.

Feeling friendly and gentle towards our mind and body.

Joy and Bliss

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It’s a very important aspect of the practice to experience joy and bliss in meditation. So when joy and bliss arise, when the body trembles, just know that the body is trembling, just try to find out what exactly is the sensation you are experiencing and just be with the sensation. What is important when we have these positive emotions is not to hold onto them.

Like a Lotus

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I would like to present a Buddhist simile which shows how we can live in any environment and learn how not to be affected by that environment. And the simile is a lotus flower. As you know, a lotus flower grows in muddy waters. But though it is surrounded by muddy, dirty water the lotus is not affected by what is around it.

So in this modern world, there can be lots of challenges, lots of difficult situations, lots of problems that might arise, but with the practice of meditation we’ll be able to see them as challenges and learn, like a lotus, not to be affected by the surroundings that we find ourselves in.

Responsibility

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Meditation helps us to learn to be our own teacher, to be self-reliant, to have complete confidence in ourselves. This is a hard teaching but it’s a very important teaching: to develop your own resources, to develop your own self-reliance, to develop your own tools, how to work with suffering when it arises. So what is the result of that? We learn to take responsibility for what is happening in us, without blaming others, without blaming the surroundings that we find ourselves in. When such a change takes place in our minds, then we’ll be able to handle whatever arises in a particular environment, in whatever surroundings we find ourselves.

Working with Emotions

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I think everyone is familiar with other unpleasant emotions like anxiety, fear, sadness, guilt – all these are quite familiar to us. And what normally happens is that when we experience them, we have no way, we have no tools to work with them. So human beings have become helpless victims of these unpleasant emotions which really control us, overwhelm us and affect us. In meditation, there are techniques and ways to work with these unpleasant emotions. In fact there has been a very interesting book, “Emotional Intelligence”. The author, who is a Buddhist, says that human beings are trying to develop more and more high I.Q., but what is more important is to develop an intelligent way of working with emotions. This book has become a best-seller, and there have been lots of workshops on this problem, because in this modern world unpleasant emotions are a real challenge.

So here again, meditation, especially the aspect of awareness, helps us to work with these emotions. One method is not to repress them, not to control them, nor to express them but just to be aware of the emotions when they are there. In fact in meditation there are other tools, techniques, for working with these emotions. We cannot prevent these emotions from arising but what we can learn is how to work with them when they arise rather than continue to suffer as a result of them.

Stress

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We can use awareness to learn, to discover, to explore, to investigate what is happening in our mind and body. A real challenge we have in everyday life is how to relate to unpleasant emotions. One problem modern man is confronted with is the problem of stress. It’s a problem everywhere. So now people are finding ways and means of working with stress. It is interesting that there are workshops, courses, which are called stress management courses. They’re not trying to get rid of stress, they want to manage it, control it. So awareness helps us to find out under what circumstances we feel stressed, what really happens to us, mentally and physically, when we experience stress. In this way, we can explore, learn, investigate, any unpleasant emotion that we experience.

Past and Future

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We do need to use the past and we do need to use the future. And one simple way of using the past and the future creatively is if we can learn from the past, whatever has happened in the past, if we can see the past as a learning experience, as a teacher. So whatever mistakes we have made in the past, rather than hold onto them and then feel guilty and suffer from them, we can ask ourselves: What can I learn from my past mistakes? It can be a very useful way of coming to terms with the past. Otherwise what happens is that we carry the past as a burden. So this type of thinking, this type of practice enables us to let go of the burden that we are carrying most of the time.

And in the same way we can use the future, again as a friend. As we know, when we think of the future sometimes what happens is that we feel anxious, we feel insecure. But if we can make friends with the future and learn to be open to the future, we will be learning to relate to the future in a much more creative way. So with awareness we can learn to experience the present moment when we breathe consciously. And then in relation to the past and the future, if we can see the past as a teacher and if we can see the future as a friend, this will be a really beautiful, creative, happy and peaceful way of living.