|Practising meditation in the world |
|Ven. Ajahn Brahmavamso|
The purpose of meditation is to get you in touch with your real home, the place of stillness inside of you. You realize that your true home is carried around with you all the time. But how do we get in there? The door of your heart is open to you no matter what you do. Freedom, love, compassion, just being still, not controlling, letting go, is the door into that home inside of you. You don’t go there by measuring and by judging. You go there by quietness and not thinking. So you come through the door of your inner home where you can reside at will, at any time.
If you know that home, that place, it means when you do come out into the world, where you work hard, strive and struggle for the sake of other beings; at least you’ve got a place to come back to, a refuge, a home. When we don’t have that refuge, that home, we don’t know how to escape from the turmoil of life.
In the suttas, the Buddha said you should know the gratification, the danger and the escape from these worldly things. You can understand the gratification; you can understand the danger of the worldly ways, but please know how to escape as well. I have taught you the escape; it is going to the inner home. So once you know that inner home and are familiar with it, you can always go back there anytime. It’s a place of rest, and the real refuge of the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. One who sees the Dhamma sees the Buddha, it’s not Gautama the Buddha who passed away in Nibbâna thousands of years ago. One sees the Dhamma inside one’s heart, that state of freedom, that knowing, that awakening, that liberation, which is the real refuge. That’s what connects you and all the others to the Ariyas in the world; it is the ‘Ariya Sangha inside the heart’. That’s why it’s a refuge, because it’s deep within. You know it’s a refuge because whatever you are doing outside in the world, you can always come home and put your feet up as it were. We can come home to have a cup of tea and to really relax in the refuge of our real home.
When you go out of your home every morning – I don’t mean your house I mean your inner home – you go out to do your duties and your work. But you know you’ve always got a place to come back to, a place of rest and peace. This is what we do in the world. I go to Sydney this afternoon. I go to work over there but I take my inner home with me. At any time if you feel tired or stressed, you can go back into your inner home. It’s a marvellous resource. Sometimes, as a senior monk, you do a great deal, and you get very tired physically. What you need to do then is just go into your inner home and rest there for awhile. When you come out you can be so bright, so peaceful and so clear.
That’s where the Dhamma comes from, from the inner home.
A sacred place
I keep encouraging all Buddhists to have a place in their houses, if not a room, at least a corner of their house, which is their shrine room, their religious room. I sometimes see how big people’s bathrooms are. Sometimes they’re made of marble, and they have very fancy taps and faucets. What are they used for? People use that place to clean up their bodies!
People also have these amazing kitchens, and lounge rooms, and games rooms, and playrooms, and TV rooms, and dining rooms, and huge, huge bedrooms, with en-suites. But very few houses have got a spiritual room. A room set aside just for the cultivation of Dhamma or religious practice. They don’t have a spiritual haven in their house, a place where they’re not cleaning their bodies, but they are cleaning their minds. They don’t have a place where they’re not feeding their stomach, but they are feeding their heart. I think that it is so necessary in today’s world, to have a meditation room, a shrine room – just a place of peace and silence.
If you really haven’t got a room in your house to do that, ask yourself, “Do I need all these other rooms”? Are they really all that important, an office and all that other stuff? Put the office in a corner of your bedroom, and put your meditation room in your office. What is more important to you? But if you haven’t got the room, at least use a corner of some quiet room, a quiet space, where you can put your Buddha statue or your pictures, and your Dhamma books. Have that as a sacred space in your house, a place where you can go at any time. After a while by sitting there regularly; chanting there, even reading Dhamma books there, it builds up power. and becomes a power spot in your house. A place where you can just sit, because the only thing you ever do there is: to meditate, to chant, to read Dhamma books, to quieten down. It becomes psychologically empowered as a place of peace.
One of the things that I’ve always stressed about meditation is the happiness of meditation. Happiness is an important thing in meditation. If you get happiness in meditation early on in your practise, you will always want to meditate. It’s not a case of getting up in the morning and saying, “Oh, I’ve got to do my meditation now. I must get this out of the way so that I can go to breakfast.” You know how it is? You do your half an hour every day just like taking medicine. It’s not like that at all. If you really understand what meditation is, you love doing meditation. You just want to do it. Sometimes you have to get your breakfast out of the way to get to your meditation, or you have to get your work out of the way to get to your meditation. It’s just you doing it. You sit on your chair, or your stool, or your cushion, and your mind just leaps towards silence. The Buddha said that when the mind leaps, or jumps, to quietness, to stillness, to non-doing, that’s a great stage on the path of wisdom, on the path to Enlightenment.