The techniqe of meditation based on the Eight Fold Path
by R. L. Ihalamulla,
Department of Parasitology,
Faculty of Medicine,
The after effect of meditation lasts longer the longer you meditate. Sometimes you feel lazy and tend to postpone things that need to be done. Even if you attend to some work it would take a long time to finish. The after effect of meditation helps you to be more alert and focus better on the task you are engaged in. Thus you'll be able to finish it sooner and more successfully than before. If your mind gets distracted while being occupied in the task, you become aware of it before long and Observation will bring your attention back. This way you'll realize that a job that you took one hour to finish earlier takes only a fraction of that time now. You will be surprised at your own improvement. This means that one can do an increased number of tasks in a given time than before. Also increased alertness will not allow you to waste time. If you are doing nothing and wasting time it will make you aware of it so that you can think of doing something worthwhile. This is when you feel how much you would have lost earlier just by wasting it. So Observation improves your time management skills too. The result is that you are a more efficient and therefore a happier person now. How wonderful!
Some days there are a number of things to attend to. You start the day engaging in one of these which has a deadline, Now the rest of the things, come into mind "Oh, I have to do those jobs also. Or someone will disturb you reminding of these. Then in the middle of all these YOU may get a telephone call regarding still some other work you have to do. Now you get disturbed. So many things to do and yet some more coming in- You get confused. Lose your calmness. A real headache! Stress catalysts created! At this point if somebody talks to you, you are likely to get angry. No soothing utterance could be expected from you. Observation helps you to act with a cool head in such a situation. It'll tell you to choose only those tasks that you could tackle in the available time in that day. Then it will guide you to prioritize what was chosen and then attend to the first priority. If thoughts of other jobs come to mind it -will 'let go' of them. If there is some other external disturbance it guides you to respond calmly. If you get confused or angry by these, it will remind YOU that you are emotionally disturbed. So back on to the right track! This is how Observation will help you to attend to your daily tasks smoothly and efficiently with no stress so that - you can be satisfied at the end of the day.
A happy life
Everything in this world is in a dynamic state of change. We fail to understand this and try to see a permanent entity in constantly changing phenomena. This is the biggest illusion that we are doped with. We are conditioned with it from our childhood by our parents and elders who inculcate this into our thinking. And because of this we tend to get attached to worldly things in life, which results in suffering. So rather than crave for things you should learn to live with them - associate with them, make use of them - all the time observing them without getting attached to them. You do this perhaps like an alien watching the happenings in this world. This is a whole new experience. You begin to see this existence in its real perspective. So relaxing! So pleasing! Because you are no longer involved with or immersed in the scourge of existence of this world. The burden is being taken away and the suffering minimized. This is when you see the others who are possessed with this illusion, suffering because of the attachment to it and realize how fortunate and happy you are. Just do this once and see what a wonderful experience it is.
With understanding derived from logical argument you can minimize pain and thus suffering. Mind and body are two different entities. It is the mind that bears suffering. Suppose you have a wound. The body has the injury but the mind suffers with pain. Not fair! You can easily experience this. When you feel the pain of the wound and if the mind is distracted to something else there is no more pain. It vanishes. So if only the mind feels the pain why should you let it hurt and suffer? The body has the wound. Let it bear the pain. What do you care?
Coping with emotions
It is difficult for most of us to control our emotions. Many unhappy, unpleasant or violent situations could be avoided if one knows how to cope with one's emotions. The most difficult place to cope with your emotions is unquestionably your home. This is where you live 'with yourself: the way you want. This is where your beloved ones are; those that care for you and whom you care and love' most. Then why is it difficult to cope with emotions when living with them? It is once again due to this curse - the attachment; the root cause of the problem. Your attachment is the greatest at home. As such, you expect the other family members to love you and care for you in the same way that you do for them. But if you feel that they don't respond in kind you become hurt. Just a single word uttered by mistake would be enough to start 'fireworks'. Parents and elders expect the children to obey them, respect them at all times. The higher the attachment the greater is the hurt, the pain; that is the suffering. When the younger are teenagers the parent/child relationship in most families are at the lowest; sour and unpleasant. Most of them live like strangers under the same roof. Since the attachment is the highest the parents think that their children also should think and behave in the same way as them. This is when attachment is blind to reason. They are your children alright, yet they are different individuals with different mind sets. Be less attached to your loved ones and property and attend to your commitments and obligations dutifully. The lesser the attachment the more sensible, and reasonable you will be and it would be easier to control emotions.
Another remarkable achievement of the meditation practice is the slowing down of sudden reaction to emotional disturbances. This means though the natural quick reflexes are there, you don't react as fast as before. But you become aware of the situation and think before reacting. This way you avoid the situation getting tense or unpleasant.
Realizing these facts make home a pleasant place for the whole family to live in.
Of the defilements special consideration should be given to anger, hatred, jealousy and vengeance as these are fundamentally associated with the ego factor "I" These result in unpleasantness, unhappiness and could lead to physical harm to oneself and others. When your position or status is challenged, when a subordinate disobeys you, when your spouse or the romantically involved partner or a dear friend disagrees with you or worse, try to quit, you get angry, lost, and insecure and feel that life is hopeless. When you are falsely accused of, insulted or scolded you get angry. Who gets affected by these is the 'self known as 'I’. But there is no permanent self as 'I’.- only a constantly changing phenomenon. Thus it is understood that whoever that got affected is changed; gone-, no more, and a new 'I' has emerged; born. As such, why should the new person get hurt over something that happened to another person? This truthful fact gives you strength to face and overcome anger and other defilements.
The Observation plays a major role in calming down such a situation. If you have developed your Observation you become aware of it once you are emotionally disturbed. And instead of reacting at once as a mundane person would have done, the Observation will help pass over the initial shock and the disturbance and guide you to settle down thus making it easy to solve the causative problem. The same goes for situations when you are overjoyed. If uncontrolled you could become arrogant or overconfident and be tempted to try something impossible by which means you would hurt not only others but yourself as well. Whatever happened to the hardly achieved joy? The Observation could easily have prevented this unfortunate happening. With right understanding of these facts you can stay calm without getting agitated, overexcited when faced with an emotionally disturbing situation.
Life in its true sense and fear of death
Mind is the forerunner of our life. Like all other worldly things mind is also in a state of constant change. It is a continuous process of flux of thoughts arising, existing and passing away. This happens so fast, probably in a millionth of second that we don't realize it. This process takes place throughout our life. This means that birth, living and death of the mind occur at every moment of life. This same process takes place at the time of death but with the difference that the physical body ceases its physiological role and immediately starts to decompose. In other words the thought process of -the mind, from one thought to another continues even at the time of death. That is as the last thought of life dies away the mind has already chosen and conceived in another form of existence. The mind exits from the physical body leaving it behind, lifeless. Thus it is clear that there is no point in being sad or fearful of death, because it doesn't kill our mind. Mind is indestructible. So it continues to exist, of course in another form, human or other in other words., it 'is clear that the physical body which we cared for so much and were attached to so much is not the dominant and the essential component of life's existence. The body is principally a medium made of physical elements of the universe for the mind to experience the sensual pleasures and other feelings brought in by the sense organs. And what causes the sadness and the fear of death? It is the attachment; the attachment to property acquired, beloved ones etc. - that you don't want to leave behind - a cause of "suffering. Therefore, with a clear understanding of their true nature and with the Observation guiding, you can face both life and death meaningfully with no fear.
Continued on next Poya day