Bhagavad Gita

Saturday, June 13, 2009



Buddha was walking down a dusty road when he met a traveller who saw him as a handsome yogi exuding remarkable energy. The traveller asked him, "you seem very special, what are you? Are you some kind of angel or deva? You seem unhuman." "No he said." "Well are you some kind of wizard or magician?" "No" he replied. "Well, are you a man?" "No" "Then what are you?" At this the Buddha answered, "I am awake" In those three words - "I am awake" - he gave the whole of Buddhist teachings. The "Buddha" means one who is awake.

The practice of meditation does not ask us to become a Buddhist or a meditator or a spiritual person. It invites us to fulfil the capacity we each have as humans to awaken. The skill of becoming more mindful, and more present, and more compassionate, and more awake is something we may learn sitting on a meditation cushion, but this capacity for awareness can help us in every walk of life, be it during work, playing a favourite sport or walking by the ocean and listening to life around you.

Meditative awareness reduces tension and heals the body. Meditation quiets the mind and gently opens the heart. It steadies the spirit. It helps us to learn to live more fully in the reality of the present, to see more clearly the people we live with and the world we live in. As we train in mindfulness, we become more present - so that when we go for a walk in the park, we are not walking among the trees while thinking about the bills that we have to pay or our problems at work, something that happened to you yesterday. We learn to be where we are. In this way, meditation can help us to fulfil our deepest desires, to discover inner freedom and happiness, to come to a sense of oneness with life. Through it, we can understand more completely who we are and how to live wisely in this life we have been born into. The practice helps us to discover what the whole process of life and death is about. And all that is needed is a systematic practice of mindfulness and awareness to foster a sense of inner stillness, so that we can see and learn from everything within and around us.

Impermanence and Uncertainty:

"The more quietly you sit, the more closely you observe, the more you realise that everything you can see is in a state of change."

Ordinarily, everything we experience seems solid, including our personality, the world around us, our emotions, and the thoughts in our mind. It is as if we are watching a movie, we can get so caught up in the story until it seems real even though it is actually made of light flickering on a screen. And yet if you focus very carefully on what you are seeing, it is possible to see that the film is actually a series of still pictures, one frame after another. The same thing is happening in our lives. Nothing in our lives lasts or stays the same for very long. If we want things that are always changing to stay the same and get attached to them, we get disappointed and suffer. Meditation teaches us how to let go, how to stay centred in the midst of change. Once we see that everything is impermanent and ungraspable and that we create a huge amount of suffering if we are attached to things staying the same, we realise that relaxing and letting go is a wiser way to live. We realise that gain and loss, praise and blame, pain and pleasure are part of life. Letting go does not mean not caring about things. It means caring for them in a flexible and wise way. In meditation, we pay attention to our body with care and respect.

The Nature of our Body:

When we ask “what is the nature of the body?” we can see that it grows up, it grows old, it gets sick sometimes, and it eventually dies. When we sit and meditate, we can directly feel the state of our body, the tensions we carry, the level of tiredness or energy. Sometimes being in our body feels good and sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it is quiet, and sometimes it is restless. In meditation, we sense that we do not actually own our bodies but rather we just inhabit them for a short time, and during that time they will change by themselves, regardless of what we want to happen. The same is true for our mind and heart, with its hopes and fears, the grief and the joy. As we continue to meditate, we learn to relate to “the whole catastrophe.” Instead of fearing painful experiences and running away from them, or grasping after pleasant experiences hoping that somehow they will last, we come to realize that everything passes away, not only the good things but the painful things as well, we find composure in their midst. So we meditate to awaken to the laws of life. We awaken by shifting the emphasis from so many thoughts and ideas to come into our bodies and our senses. We begin to see how our body and mind operate so that we can come into a wiser relationship with them. The heart of this inner way of practice is mindful listening and careful attention to our environment, to our bodies, to our minds, and to the environment around us.

The mindfulness we train in meditation is helpful everywhere. For instance, you can use it when you are eating. You can hear the voice in your belly say “I have had enough, I’m comfortable”, “I’m nice and full.” In meditation, we discover a natural, open-hearted, and non-judgemental awareness of our bodies and our feelings. We can gradually bring this kind and open awareness to witness all that’s in our minds. We begin to see the world as it really is and we begin to see how we can relate to everything with wisdom.

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