Thursday, 8 December 2016

Meditation: A Tool for Stress-Reduction or the Way to Enlightenment

These are rough notes based on a dhamma talk by Lama Samten. Apologies in advance for any mistakes in transmission.
I am happy to be here. To begin, we need wisdom. The world is in a big mess. If we are not able to see ourselves, how can we understand others. So we must talk about wisdom first. Wisdom is like the head. Without a head, we can’t see, we can’t smell, we can’t kiss. That’s a problem! Second, we need moral ethics and integrity. These are like the arms and legs. Finally, we need meditation. This is like the body’s trunk. On its own, it is not much use. Meditation is conditioned on wisdom and moral ethics & integrity.
Wisdom is not the same as intelligence or wittiness. It is the ability to see the difference between what is harmful and what is helpful, and the ability to see everybody, not just yourself. Wisdom is to see other as yourself, where other means the environment as well as other living beings, all things that we depend upon for well being. Wisdom is to be grateful to others, to learn from others and to appreciate everything you gain from others, also gratefulness for this precious opportunity of human life. Wisdom is what makes meditation meaningful.
Moral ethics & integrity is to honour others and to honour yourself.
Meditation then is putting yourself together, first body and then mind. If we lead a simple life, then it is easier to put the mind together. In meditation, we simply sit and watch the mind without judging, like a driver paying attention to the road ahead, or a babysitter just watching the babies play within set bounds without disturbing. In time, the thoughts will settle, like the dirt in murky water sinking to the bottom so the water becomes clear. The key is not to shake the water. Don’t disturb, let be.
If the purpose is enlightenment, what does this mean? It means mind being at ease so nothing can disturb it.
Every morning you wake up, you have a choice whether to have a good day or a bad day. If you check your breath and you’re still breathing, celebrate! Do something to make yourself happy, make a cup of tea. Then share happiness with others. Whatever job we do, we do it to help others. The money is not significant. But if we wake up thinking I’m terrible, I hate my job, wanting what others have, then we’re sure to have a bad day.
Enlightenment comes from calm mind. Calm mind is temporary happiness. Ultimate happiness comes from putting yourself together, meditating, not chasing around. Because all the time we are chasing around, doing something, competing with others. I wish people would compete to be the calmest and most compassionate!
Some people are what I call lazy busy, so they don’t meditate. I ask, why don’t you meditate, and they say, “I have to watch a rugby match.” Watching is very important to them. Not enough suffering leads to many good excuses. But suffering is important and has meaning. It is like the firewood or fuel for enlightenment. In that sense, it is not negative but positive. And if you try to avoid it, it remains. Understanding suffering properly leads to contentment. Joyful, content, grateful to others, meditation leads to enlightenment.
Question: What is the right attitude to suffering in the world?
Help others, but do not disturb yourself. Do not take too much the suffering of the world into yourself. Stay open and compassionate without being overwhelmed. Then you are better able to help the world.

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