Chapter 16: Lessons to be Derived from Meditation
Today I will be giving a sermon on “lessons to be derived from meditation”. Please listen attentively now.
Suffering which is fearsome
The human world is full of suffering. You all have suffering. You may have plenty of money, but still you fail to find and obtain the happiness you have been seeking throughout your life. Although the money or wealth you possess enables you to buy whatever things you want, you cannot buy happiness. You may yearn to have many cars, and if you have plenty of money, you can buy as many cars as you want. The happiness is in the purchase of the cars and the ability to travel in new and luxurious cars, but soon you may get tired of your cars and it will be something else that you are craving for then. So your “happiness” wears out and it is being replaced by a new craving, and a new dissatisfaction. If you cannot satisfy your new need, then you begin to suffer. This suffering is rather fearsome. It creeps into your mind and makes you restless and unhappy. It may even drive you to the edge of insanity.
People without moral scruples are inclined to be lazy, deceitful, easily jealous and unscrupulously scheming. They are the people who are most prone to invite awful suffering on themselves, and will most probably end up in their own self-destruction under four circumstances, which is a fate that can be scrutinized and understood through meditation. The four circumstances are :
1. The arising of the agonizing feelings of unbearable pain and suffering both in the physical and mental context. In such a case like this, a meditation practioner should concentrate on the agonizing pain, be it mental or physical, and perceive it with a clear mind, be fully aware of how it arises, and how it ceases, try to see through and fully understand its true nature objectively, then the mind will become detached from the agonizing state, the feeling of pain and suffering will cease to manipulate the mind, for they become non-existent, and a state of normality returns.
2. A general moral decay leading to a spiritual death. People without moral principles or with no moral scruples are bound to experience various stages of moral degeneration and decay. Such people can be unscrupulously mean, cunning and cowardly. They can be full of jealousy too. However, it is always their own moral degradation that brings about their own distruction. It will lead to not only a spiritual death but perhaps also their physical death.
3. A distracted and worried mind. People who get easily jealous of other people are most likely to cause mischief. They are always thinking of harming those of whom they are jealous. For distance, their minds are always distracted and driven by evil thoughts. They may be up to some mischief but yet they are worried about getting caught in the act and being exposed. So their minds are always distracted and worried.
4. Deserted by relatives and friends. People who slander other people and desert friends will live to see their own children being slandered and deserted by other people too, even if they themselves have managed to escape such a fate.
If one always nourishes compassionate thoughts and feelings for the other while one is practising meditation, one is unlikely to be deserted or forgotten by friends and relatives. If we have had at some time in our lives neglected or deserted someone close to us, then some day we may find ourselves in a similar situation, deserted by our own friends or relatives, even though we may have lots of money and great wealth.
The world is full of problems and suffering of all kinds. But if you practise meditation well, you will have enough wisdom to tackle whatever problems lie ahead of you. Your property and wealth will not slip out of your hands ; instead, you will have more added to your existing stock.
When the mind is always wholesome and “radiating” compassion, no evil will befall one who is in this state of mind. As the Thai like to say, “Surely no fire will burn the house of one whose heart (mind) is wholesome and compassionate.” On the other hand, there are cases of evil-minded people whose new houses were burned to the ground by merciless fire in a matter of just a half hour.
Kinds of suffering
There are about ten circumstances with which suffering is associated :
1. Sabha-va – dukkha – Conditional suffering : – Birth is suffering, old age or decay is suffering, and death is suffering.
2. Pakin ฺn ฺaka – dukkha – Miscellaneous Suffering – Suffering which creeps into the heart, feeling sad or sorry on behalf of other people, feeling painful throughout the body. Be attentively mindful. Then you will be able to overcome this kind of suffering.
3. Nibaddha – dukkha – Physical suffering resulting from both external and internal factors. For example, the suffering one experiences from extreme cold, heat, hunger and thirst. If you have good mindfulness, clear comprehension and wisdom, then you won’t have to face this kind of suffering.
4. Baya-dhi – dukkha – Physical suffering resulting from the invasion of diseases. This kind of suffering can be reduced if one practises meditation. Meditation helps to lift one’s mind beyond the pain of physical illnesses. When you come to practise meditation you must be willing to sacrifice your very life, noting “Pain, Pain, I am willing to die, please help me my dear friends.” Your dear friends are meditation practice : one is mindfulness and the other is clear comprehension.
5. Santa-pa – dukkha – Suffering arising from desires or craving such as greed (lobha), anger (dosa), and ignorance (moha). When you are angry with someone and want to take revenge, but you can’t do as you want to, then you suffer with anger. To overcome this kind of suffering, you must practise meditation by means of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness. When you are mindful, then suffering will cease.
6. Vipa-ka – dukkha –Suffering which comes from bad or evil acts and deeds. In other words, suffering brought on by the fruit of karma, i.e., the results of our past deeds.I have mentioned earlier that constant reflection on mindfulness will help one in recalling past or previous life, thus attaining greater insight in the working of the Law of Karma. It will also provide a clue to the solution to a problem. If you make progressive practice in meditation and contemplation of the Four Foundation of Mindfulness, and if you repent sincerely over your past misdeeds, it will be as good as if you have repaid for your past karma.
As I have told you, I knew in advance that I would have a serious car accident that would cause me a broken neck. I repaid my karma to those birds whose necks I had broken. Bad karmic result came from my own past action. I reaped its results alone. I used to be hired to boil turtles, and after that I broke my neck, my arms and my legs. I have been scalded by hot water, struck by lightening, and burnt by fire. I have expiated all my bad karma.
7. Sahagata – dukkha – Suffering that arises from the possession of wealth, status, praises, happiness, criticism, decline in wealth or status, etc. When people praise us, we become highly pleased, but it does not take a long time for us to be unhappy again because when people start to criticise us, we are most likely to get upset or offended. Thus, most of us are concerned with status and such things as fame and face. Little do we realise that these are the very things which can bring us a lot of pain and suffering.
Should I be reprimanded or scolded by someone, I would consider myself as being lucky because I would have the chance of reaping the benefit from that scolding. I would not listen to the sound of the scolding but I would listen to the reasons for the scolding. If the scolding does not hold any truth, it bounces back to the person who is scolding me.
8. A-ha-rapariyet ฺt ฺha – dukkha – Suffering which arises from the earning of a livelihood. Some people take up jobs which are morally questionable. When money is earned in this way to support living conditions, the question of moral justice comes into mind. In short, honest money means a clear and clean conscience, which is an important criterion for happiness. When money is earned by dishonest means, some amount of uneasiness, and hence suffering, is sure to exist.
9. Viva-damu-laka – dukkha – Suffering may also arise from relationships between members of a family, friends and people of the same or different communities. Quarrels may develop between husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, parents and children, etc.
10. Dukkhakhandha – Suffering also may have roots in the Five Aggregates (Corporeality, feeling, perception, mental formations, and consciousness).
Merits of Meditation
Practice Meditation helps to maintain a state of “meritorious well – being “in your mind. There are ten kinds of merit to be derived from practising meditation :
1. For people who practise meditation regularly, a sense of willingness to give away material goods, or to share knowledge for philanthropic purposes and a tendency to forgive will arise from the depths of their hearts.
2. Meditation practice enables people to develop the ability to adhere to moral precepts and discipline, that is, to refrain from wrong and evil doing.
3. Regular meditation practice helps to train one’s mind, that it may adhere firmly to righteousness.
4. Regular meditation practice leads to humility. The more we meditate, the better we will understand about our own selves and this will make us more humble.
5. People who practise meditation will learn to be more compassionate and helpful to other people. They will have no jealousy in their mind.
6. Regular meditators will gladly hope for others to share or to have the merit they themselves have “accumulated”.
7. People who meditate seriously will sincerely appreciate and praise the good deeds of other people.
8. Sincere meditators will learn to love listening to sermons and talks from which they can derive good, moral lessons. They will not like listening to nonsensical talk.
9. Meditators will teach people to do good things only.
10. People who meditate will always seek for and cultivate right views.
Evils of Jealousy
People who practise meditation know that jealousy brings about five bad consequences :
1. It is the main reason behind disunity.
2. It is an obstacle to the building up of good mutual contact and cordiality.
3. It is the tool which destroys the incentive and spirit of colleagues.
4. It helps one to create enemies for oneself, since in jealousy there is no room for compassionate feelings or thoughts.
5. It provides no place for sincerity.
People who have no sincerity towards themselves always tend to lie to themselves. They find it hard to accept the fact that there are other people who are better off than they themselves and their hearts always burn with jealousy.
If you practise meditation for seven days and manage to reach the core of Buddhist Dhamma, then you will understand my sermon well. You will not want to be jealous of anybody at all, and you will only want to do your best for your family as well as for society.
Actually, people in society demand you perform your duty well, but ironically, when you excel in your work or duty, you may unknowingly make some enemies because there may be people who become jealous of you. That is the time for you to apply the Dhamma you have learned to overcome this.
My dear Buddhist followers, if you are persistent in your meditation practice, your hearts will have no room for jealousy or any other evil feelings. Instead, there will be only the Triple Gem – the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha – in your hearts. You will even love your enemies and feel sorry for sinners.
The Results of Meditation Practice
You have come to practise meditation and the results are as follows :
1. You have developed self – discipline in three aspects :
1.1 You have learned to be cautious about yourself.
1.2 You have learned self – restraint.
1.3 You have learned to be willing to listen to elders.
2. You have acquired four qualities regarding working habits :
2.1 Diligence, love for your work and willingness to face challenges.
2.2 You have learned to be thrifty and to spend your money and live wisely. 2.3 You have learned to improve yourself and your occupation.
2.4 You have learned about the spirit of unity and co – operation, as well as the love for your family, community and country.
3. You have acquired four qualities of good personal character :
3.2 Willingness to try or to make an effort.
3.3 Practise according to regulations and discipline.
3.4 You know where you stand.
4. Your secular knowledge coupled with moral scruples provide the four necessary conditions which make it possible for you to develop a quality life :
4.1 You know how to think rightly.
4.2 You know how to re – adjust yourself (adapt)
4.3 You know how to solve your problems.
4.4 You will prosper in your work. Your boss will trust you.
For anyone who practises meditation, the future will be promising. The relationship between the employee and employer will be good and cordial. Both share mutual good will and benefits. When you practise walking meditation, take whatever appropriate position you wish, but do it with great mindfulness. Whether you lie down, sit upright, stand, walk, or turn either to the left or right, always be mindful.
The Benefits And Merits of Walking Meditation
1. One is sure to have great patience for travelling a long distance without getting tired easily.
2. One will develop patience for practising meditation.
3. One will not become sick easily.
4. Food gets digested easily.
5. The concentration power or mindfulness which arises from walking meditation is more lasting or enduring than that from a sitting posture.
Today I wish to congratulate you on this occasion of merit – making and Dhamma practice. May you all be happy.
Credits: eBooks. Wat Amphawan.