Meditation (Part 1) - Sitting With Ourselves, Just As We Are
Just as we are, each one of us such flawed human beings, caught up in our suffering and imperfections... So was the Buddha. It's important to remember that Buddha was not a God, or a divine spirit or a sorcerer, he was simply a man who had an ego. He had an emotional life quite similar to each one of us. Like the Buddha, we all have come into this life with a human mind, body and heart. For that reason we are just like he was. Each one of us is equipped with everything we need to practice the same meditation techniques the Buddha did. This makes it possible for all of us to become enlightened human beings. All we need do is take the time to sit with ourselves, just as we are.
That is why the Buddha was such a great teacher, he was always quick to remind his followers that there was no difference between them. They were all capable of achieving enlightenment just as he did. This is how he showed us all the way in this life. He also emphasized that others may be able to teach us the various techniques of meditation practice, but ultimately we must take responsibility for our own enlightenment. Only we ourselves can liberate our minds from confusion and suffering. And so it is, that through regular meditation practice, we soon discover that just as murky water clears naturally when it is allowed to be still, so our minds to will clear when we settle into the stillness of meditation.
“Meditation is a sane relationship to experience.”
- Chogyam Trungpa
The great meditation master, Chogyam Trungpa, defined meditation as a sane relationship to experience. Meditation is the practice of becoming more familiar with the nature of our own minds. This familiarity, this insight into the mind of awareness, gives us the clarity we need to see ourselves and our actions from a stable "ground of being" providing a clear and healthy perspective.
Discovering The Sea Inside:
The mind is unbounded and clear by nature. A non-dual state of emptiness and clarity. This profound realization is self-realization. The very purpose of meditation is to bring us in communion with the very deepest sources of reality, the deepest core of our being which is often referred to as the "ground of being". Seated meditation is the silent, noble stilling of mind and body which liberates our awareness beyond an egocentric sense of self. Thich Naht Hanh tells us that this realization is like discovering that we are not simply a wave on the this vast ocean of consciousness, but that we are the entire ocean. I like to call this the experience, the discovery of the sea inside.
Meditation is also the path that leads to the ripening of positive potentialities that will ensue from a committed, contemplated, seated practice. In this respect we can see that meditation practice is, in fact, a discipline. By anchoring ourselves in a committed, seated practice with a pure intention, we will transform and free our minds. This is why I consider meditation to be a spiritual practice. All religions offer a form of meditation and I personally feel that these contemplative spiritual practices are religion's greatest gift to humanity.
“Meditation is sitting with yourself, just as you are”.
- Pema Chodron
All you need to practice is yourself. All anyone really needs to meditate is a heart, a mind, and a body. This is all the Buddha had, and it was what enabled him to practice and become enlightened. It is the same for each of us. Meditation is not about an out-of-body experience, it is about an in-body experience. It is not about achieving bliss, it is about being still and experiencing the bliss of our own natural awareness. It is not about making you a better person, it is about discovering your own innate goodness -- the good person you already are. All the benefits we experience in meditation are simply the byproducts of a consistent and disciplined practice. When I refer to discipline, I am referring to mindfulness. Mindfulness is about paying attention and being conscious of our actions. Just bringing ourselves to the meditation cushion is a discipline. Being aware that we need to practice is a discipline. Making time in our lives to practice is a discipline. Being mindful of all we do and don't do is a discipline.
The actual practice of meditation is about creating space. It is about watching, learning and discovering who we truly are, right here, right now, so that we can undo the neurotic games, the hidden fears, and the self-deceptions that keep us from experiencing our own authentic being. It is about facing our fears -- looking directly at our most undesirable parts and accepting ourselves as we truly are and then working with that. This is our spiritual warrior-ship, this is conquering our fears through meditation.
“When I'm Silent, I Roar!” - Rumi
The practice of meditation is the discipline of silence. We learn to be silent by being silent, we create inner silence by observing/practicing outer silence. As we enter love by being love, we enter silence by being silent. Once we enter the land of silence within our own being, we soon recognize that silence is the foundation of all there is. In inner silence we discover the stability of the ground of being, distractions become less of a draw, in this way silence lessons our illusions, lessons our attachments. As we practice outward silence, the internal noise begins to lessen, our internal monologue slows and stills. Silence in meditation engenders a liberation from the illusion of self and all that we think we are. So you see, meditation is not about making you a better person, it is the practice of awareness, revealing to us who we really are, just as we are.