Reflections on Meditation
Dr. Ratna Bahadur Sakya
What is Meditation? It is a question. The question itself may be the beginning, the starting point of meditation. The question reflects a curiosity, an interest in something not known; wanting to know what is unknown.
Why do I ask the question? It may be worth exploring where the question comes from. The question can be approached from different angles. On a superficial level the question could be the starting point of a conversation. On a mundane level the question may be an indication of a need to find happiness in our lives. On a profound level the question may have no answer, an expression of a sentiment that is not expressible in a concept confined by the rules of a particular language.
Who is asking the question? One could say the question comes from a human being living in this world. Such a worldly being functions with the help of its body and mind projected in the form of a personality, an individual ego. Ego is the function of our conceptual mind, programmed for survival of the body and also procreation for the survival of the species. We could spend most, if not all, of our lives under the influence of these instinctual drives.
There comes a time when we realise that our lives are beginning to fade before it comes to the end of the journey. Who am I, why was I born, why was I born as a human being, has my life a purpose, where did I come from, am I going anywhere are some of the questions that help to stimulate a different aspect of our mind-an intuitive mind.
Meditation is the doorway through which one can enter from the conceptual mind of ego to the innate awareness of the ego being the creation of our own conceptual mind. This awareness leads to the universal law of impermanence, the law of continual flow of change, an incessant vibration of movement of the universe.
Thinking is one of the functions of ego. Thinking is incessant and dominates our existence. Awake or asleep, our thoughts punish us no end, whether we know it not, whether the thoughts are of pleasure, pain or boredom. Enjoyment of pleasure makes us want to have more of it. It does not matter how much pleasure one is having the greater the pleasure, the more the wanting. The wanting is a stressful situation. Pain is part of sentient existence. However, the thinking capacity of our mind makes us not want to feel pain. This feeling of not wanting is an unending stress. Even when we are not suffering pain or pleasure, it is the turn of boredom to envelop our mind. Boredom reflects dissatisfaction with the present condition in pursuit of satisfaction.
Meditation is a process of getting in touch with the intuitive faculty of mind.
To meditate one has to develop those faculties of mind which go against the ordinary flow of life. Ordinarily there is a tendency for life to flow in the direction where little energy is required. It is easy for us to go towards what we want and away from what we do not want.
Meditation gives us the energy to resist or delay what we want and to be with what we do not want. If we can do without what we want and accept what we have (even if we do not want it), this ability gives us the freedom to choose what is wholesome and not chose that which is not wholesome.
Thus meditation also gets us in touch with the wisdom to know what is wholesome and what is not.
Our likes and dislikes persist due to a false understanding of the conceptual world as that which will give us happiness on a permanent basis. This is why we are unprepared for the dukkha of birth, aging, sickness and death.
Our sense of linear time takes us away from the reality of the moment. The linearity of time in the form of the past, present and future is part of the conceptual world we have created. When our life is directed and controlled by time, our life flows with habitual defilements. Both time and defilements are part of the world that we have created, fabricated out of our habits. To develop the faculty of being one with the moment, we have to disengage from the world which is captured by time function.
The intuitive faculty of mind has altruism as its nature. Intuition and altruism are part of the whole. Reality is wholesome. Mindfulness is to be in touch with reality, truth, Dhamma and to be in touch with reality is to have access to wisdom.
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