|I am greatly honored to have
been invited by the Sir Lankan Buddhist Association and the Buddhist community of the
Asian Institute of Technology to give a Dhamma talk on Meditation.
"There is no meditation to him who lacks wisdom, nor is there wisdom to him who lacks meditation. In whom both meditation and wisdom are found, he, indeed is in the presence of Emancipation (Nibbna)."
Today all of you have assembled here to listen to Dhamma on the subject of meditation. However, before explaining meditation it should be noted that to hear Dharma in this world is not easy, for there are many obstacles which arise both by internal mental strains and by external factors in our environment. Fortunately you have not been affected by either of these obstacle and have come to sit in quite to take advantage of this opportunity to hear the Dhamma. For this reason you should try to obtain the benefits of this talk while listening to these humble words that are based upon the Buddhas teaching. If you do this, the Dhamma may then enter into your heart and become the guide for your life. One should not think that the Dhamma is a religious dogma or doctrine; on the contrary, the Dhamma is to be found and seen in the everyday events of our lives it is Reality itself.
Meditation based on the above mentioned verse from the Dhammapada exhorts us about the interrelationship between meditation and wisdom as factors which cant be separated just the same as the modern world and technology will always be united. The Buddha taught us how to develop both meditation and wisdom or technology together to achieve Nibbana, Supreme Emancipation. Here it does not mean just to strive to achieve Supreme Emancipation but it is also intended that everyone should accomplish all necessary work no matter whether it is gross, delicate, scientific or technological to solve all problems that arise throughout life.
"Meditation" is a very inadequate rendering of several more precise terms in Pali. The nearest equivalents to some of these in English, would be: mental development, one-pointedness, collectedness, absorbed concentration or we may still say it is a technology of wisdom and peace. It can be realized by a state of quite and stable mind and thinking. Everyones mind is always thinking about something. Sometimes we think very deeply, seriously and quietly which is to say that we are meditating on a plan or a treatise. Therefore, meditation is the psychological approach to mental culture, mental training and purification.
In these modern times, economic growth through increased business opportunities is an integral part of human life. But it is only a part, not the complete picture.
If we plan to erect a tall stable structure but fail to consider the foundation what will happen ? First we must consider the total scope of the project and then decide what type of foundation is required to support the structure. The higher up we wish to build, the deeper we must go with the foundation. This building is like our economic and community prosperity in as much as this type of growth is dependent on intelligence, initiative and creativity as its hidden foundation of the system.
You are now studying to become experts in the constructing the building, but are you foundation experts able to adjust the design to conform with various types of soils ? Are you confident that the building will not collapse because of errors in your structural analysis. ?
Many people are clever in the technology of outer prosperity, but one must also be clever in the technology of inner prosperity. The source of inner prosperity, the source of motivation intelligence, creativity, intuition, appreciation, happiness, peace and wisdom is the field of integrated consciousness that is within us all.
When some of the leaves of a tree are looking brown and dry, do we paint them green ? Or do we water the roots of the tree ? If we wish to nourish the whold tree, we must look at the inner unseen sap that flows throughout the tree with life sustaining elements absorbs through the roots. Only by providing water to the roots can we enjoy the fruit of the tree. The same is true with the tree of life on which there are business leaves, government leaves, education leaves, family leaves, etc., dont try to paint them over. Instead go to the root of the problem and insure that proper nourishment is provided. To nourish our lives we must look at the inner unseen values of life, the field of integrated consciousness to enable the tree of life to blossom.
Life has three fields; the outer field, the inner field and the transcendental field. Outer consciousness, or action; inner consciousness, or thinking; and transcendental consciousness. Inner consciousness is the development of virtures. Outer action is for all beneficial prosperity. Transcendental consciousness is for infinite stability, unbounded peace, fulfillment and eternal freedom.
Integrated consciousness is the basis of an integrated life. If consciousness is awake, full and bright, then thinking will become clear intelligent; and purposeful; and action will be efficient, joyful and beneficial.
When consciousness is one with the Dhamma, natural law then spontaneously every impulse of thinking and doing will be in accordance with the Dhamma. This harmony with the Dhamma provides the means for fast and efficient progress for the good of all. Problems, tension, confusion, superstition and unhappiness result when we do not apply the Dhamma to our daily lives.
Have you ever been faced with these problems ? What is right ? What is the best thing to do ? In our lives must the right action always be to paint the leaves green ? Is there a technology to make the impulse of intuition, feeling, thinking and doing, to make it purposeful, fruitful and right ? Right means, for all prosperity in accordance with the Dhamma. Wrong means in violation of the Dhamma.
The Dhamma provides prosperity, happiness, wisdom and freedom to those who comply and apply the Dhamma to their life style and their actions. Fortunately for us there is a technology for purification of the fields of action, thought and consciousness to bring about the state of right action in society.
I would like to take a group of the Buddhas teachings to world beings, which was also referred to in one part of a Royal address to the people of Thailand by His Majesty the King on the occasion of the bicentennial celebration of Bangkok as the four virtues for all Thai nationals.
The following are the four virtues that should be observed by all human-brings:
- Maintaining truthfulness and sincerity and being determined to do things that are beneficial and righteous.
- Having self-control and knowing how to restrain ones mind to ensure that ones behavior is within such truthfulness and goodness.
- Having patience, self-restraint and being thrifty and frugal in order not to transgress truthfulness and uprightness regardless of the reason.
- Abandoning all wickedness and dishonesty and giving up personal benefit for the great benefit of the nation as a whole and the world, if possible,
With these four virtues in minds, one is able to keep the five basic precepts with ease, namely: refraining from destroying life, from taking what is not given, from committing adultery, from telling a lie; and from all intoxicants inducing carelessness.
Everyday we spend time doing many things. For the body we bathe, eat, exercise and rest. For the mind we study, play, look, listen and learn. For ourselves, family and society we work, travel, make decisions, hope and plan. What about spending a few minutes everyday in meditation going to the source of all these many things. A river without a source dries up. For greater outer success seek greater inner success.
All diversity of agree is integrated by the intelligent nourishment of the inner sap. We do one thing, we water the roots to nourish the thousands of flowers, leaves and branches in a natural way. By doing one thing all aspects of life become enriched in a natural way.
Let the consciousness be unbounded, pure, rested, peaceful, full, empty, cleans, clear, integrated, alone, completely at home, fully aware and alert. On the basis of this peace everything good is possible, everything can be known in its true significance and prospective and one gains the full support of the Dhamma in daily life.
This is the technology of consciousness or meditation. A few minutes, say 10 to 15 or 20 minutes every morning and afternoon should be kept aside to come back to the source of all your activities. The benefits will truly be rewarding. Any actions done in accordance with the Dhamma must be meet with success.
A technology of consciousness, coming back to the source, is the basis of a technology of thinking and doing. While the field of thinking and doing is not pure, a daily mental bath in meditation is essential and a duty to society. In the meantime we must be careful to uphold the good cultural and religious values of society.
The essence of Samadhi or meditation in Buddhism is pure calmness of mind together with equanimity by wisdom without prejudice. All hindrances (sensuous desire, ill-will sloth and torpor, restlessness and scrupulous and skeptical doubts) are obstacles to mental calmness which prevent tranquillity from arising in the minds; and prevent the mind from exercising its wisdom. A practice to calm them is called a "meditation subject". The Buddha taught many meditation techniques, however, only one of them will be discussed here today which is from the great discourse of Satipatthana called Arousing of Mindfulness. The first point of it is the Mindfulness of breathing in and out.
The posture as stated in the discourse is to sit down cross-legged, holding the body erect and sitting mindful alert. If sitting down in the cross-legged position is not convenient one may use another position or one may sit in a chair, but one should hold the body erect.
Once these preparations have been accomplished, one should set mindful alert, and collect the mind to first look upon the body. What part of the body should be observed first ? The act of breathing. By this way the Buddha taught that one should do the following:
- Breathing in long, one knows: I am breathing in long.
- Breathing out long, one knows: I am breathing out long.
- Breathing is short, one knows: I am breathing in short.
- Breathing out short, one knows: I am breathing out short.
- Experiencing the whole body, I shall breath in: Thus one trains oneself.
- Experiencing the whole body, I shall breath out: Thus one trains oneself.
- Calming the bodily formations, I shall breath in: Thus one trains oneself.
- Calming the bodily formations, I shall breath out: Thus one trains oneself.
Just as a clever turner or a turners apprentice, turning long knows: "I turn long, or turning short, knows "I turn short". In the like manner the experienced medicator knows the breath.
npnassat, mindfulness developed on the process of breathing is not difficult. One has only to collect the mind and focus the attention at the nostrils or at the upper lip, then the air itself and the act of breathing will be made known to ones consciousness.
One can know: "I am breathing", by the means of touch or contact of the air at the nostril or upper lip, and one can know "I am breathing-in" by the means of a single act of drawing air into the lungs, and: "I am breathing-out", by the means of sending the air out of the lungs. At the time of breathing-in, the air entering the body will first make contact with the nostril or the upper lip and at the time of breathing-out, the out-going air will also make contact at this same point. Therefore, one should imagine that they are standing at the point; and watching the stream of air coming and going all the time. In the beginning the mind will be distracted like a swift current. To calm the flighty mind one should find a support in the same way that a rudder is used to support a boat in the swift current. One support system is to repeat the word Bud-dho, at the time the action is occurring; breathing in Bud and breathing out dho or for those who do not need a support mindfulness of breathing may be used by itself.
Being ardent, clearly comprehensive, mindful and alert and having overcome both the hankering and dejection concerning the world, one can achieve a pure calm. With equanimity, neutrality by pure wisdom, then one can obtain right views, right thoughts, right speeches, right bodily actions, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration. Understanding the wisdom of the Eightfold Noble Path one can achieve true happiness of life that is the real peace in the world.
As one cultivates their meditation practice with clear comprehension or wisdom one will be able to realize the world as it really is. This we call the Four Noble truths; suffering, the cause of suffering, the cessation of suffering and the path leading to the cessation of suffering. Throughout insight wisdom about the path leading to the cessation of suffering, the Eightfold Noble Path, one develops a clear understanding of life and attains Nibbna. Wisdom and the practice of meditation are inseparable as mentioned in the Buddhas verse quoted at the beginning of this discourse.
I invite you now to join minds and hearts in this essential awakening and meditate with great technology of wisdom to get to the true source of life so that its roots can be nourished enabling you to come into blossom and bear great fruit.
Thus this talk comes to an end. Blessings be unto you and may you be triumphant in your endeavors.
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