Meditation

buddha1

Regular meditation practice trains the mind to be fully present, to perceive with greater clarity and accuracy, and to release unwanted thoughts and feelings, among other things. The basic technique is to rest the mind on a single object, such as the breath, and simply not allow the mind to wander. When it does, bring it directly back without allowing another thought (such as a doubt or a judgement) to arise. Try to sit each day for tolerable period of time, say ten minutes to start, and gradually increase the duration. Forty minutes is considered a sufficient amount of time in many traditions.

A meaningful variation of the basic technique is to meditate on the quality of loving kindness. For this, imagine a sun shining in your heart and let the light radiate out in all directions, to all beings. It may be helpful to begin with close friends and family, or your pet. You can state the words, “May we always be safe. May we be happy. May we be healthy. May we live with ease in the world.” This intention and these words should become a wonderful feeling of loving kindness that you can then suffuse through your entire body and radiate out to the world. Once the feeling is established, the words no longer need  be repeated.

I offer a meditation class on Friday mornings at 10:00 at the Wilson Park Senior Center, 2601 W. Howard Ave. There is no cost for the class, but I strongly encourage people to donate to charity. If you would like to donate directly into my teacher’s meditation lineage in the Theravada Thai Forest Tradition, you can do so here. I also recommend his Dhamma Talks.

If interested in learning more about the teachings of the Buddha, there’s a great resource called Access to Insight. Many of the Buddha’s teachings are translated here, as well as later writings and books. My teacher told me that I only had to know two of the thousands of teachings, the Anapanasati Sutta and the Satipatthana Sutta. This one is important as well, it describes the Noble Eightfold Path:

Magga-vibhanga Sutta: An Analysis of the Path
translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

I have heard that at one time the Blessed One was staying in Savatthiat Jeta’s Grove, Anathapindika’s monastery.

There he addressed the monks, saying, “Monks.”

“Yes, lord,” the monks responded to him.

The Blessed One said, “I will teach & analyze for you the Noble Eightfold Path. Listen & pay close attention. I will speak.”

“As you say, lord,” the monks responded to him.

The Blessed One said, “Now what, monks, is the Noble Eightfold Path? Right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.

“And what, monks, is right view? Knowledge with regard to stress, knowledge with regard to the origination of stress, knowledge with regard to the stopping of stress, knowledge with regard to the way of practice leading to the stopping of stress: This, monks, is called right view.

“And what is right resolve? Being resolved on renunciation, on freedom from ill will, on harmlessness: This is called right resolve.

“And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, abstaining from divisive speech, abstaining from abusive speech, abstaining from idle chatter: This, monks, is called right speech.

“And what, monks, is right action? Abstaining from taking life, abstaining from stealing, abstaining from unchastity: This, monks, is called right action.

“And what, monks, is right livelihood? There is the case where a disciple of the noble ones, having abandoned dishonest livelihood, keeps his life going with right livelihood: This, monks, is called right livelihood.

“And what, monks, is right effort? (i) There is the case where a monk generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the non-arising of evil, unskillful qualities that have not yet arisen. (ii) He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the abandonment of evil, unskillful qualities that have arisen. (iii) He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the arising of skillful qualities that have not yet arisen. (iv) He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the maintenance, non-confusion, increase, plenitude, development, & culmination of skillful qualities that have arisen: This, monks, is called right effort.

“And what, monks, is right mindfulness? (i) There is the case where a monk remains focused on the body in & of itself — ardent, aware, & mindful — putting away greed & distress with reference to the world. (ii) He remains focused on feelings in & of themselves — ardent, aware, & mindful — putting away greed & distress with reference to the world. (iii) He remains focused on the mind in & of itself — ardent, aware, & mindful — putting away greed & distress with reference to the world. (iv) He remains focused on mental qualities in & of themselves — ardent, aware, & mindful — putting away greed & distress with reference to the world. This, monks, is called right mindfulness.

“And what, monks, is right concentration? (i) There is the case where a monk — quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful (mental) qualities — enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. (ii) With the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, he enters & remains in the second jhana: rapture & pleasure born of concentration, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation — internal assurance. (iii) With the fading of rapture, he remains equanimous, mindful, & alert, and senses pleasure with the body. He enters & remains in the third jhana, of which the Noble Ones declare, ‘Equanimous & mindful, he has a pleasant abiding.’ (iv) With the abandoning of pleasure & pain — as with the earlier disappearance of elation & distress — he enters & remains in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither pleasure nor pain. This, monks, is called right concentration.”

That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, the monks delighted at his words.

 

For more information call (414) 217-7601 or everydaytaiji at gmail dot com.

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