7 mins read
I got the chance over the holidays to house sit in the Rockies, taking care of 2 Dogs, 2 Cats, and an unspecified number of Fish. I took the time to do lots of meditation, in between animals jumping on me, that is, and hiking up snowy mountains.
Never since I was a child woken cheerily by my mom have I been so consistently warmly greeted in the mornings… What I learned from Charlie and Maverick is that it can be very cool waking up — to jump out of bed and wag your figurative tail and be practically ecstatic to see everyone … You can bounce delightedly around the yard (again, figuratively) and relish every tiny treat that comes your way, as if it was the Best Thing Ever.
This is not, I am sorry to say, how I normally wake up, which is slowly and requiring tea. But I figured this week that if dogs can be this enthusiastic about waking up and being alive each morning, then I certainly can too with my precious human life.
And so to help get our 2018 off to a good start, I’m now going to outline a ten-minute meditation for developing some confidence in inner peace (as explained in the article Changing direction), as well as in ourselves. We can relax into our heart, contemplate a little, and decide to love our way out of our problems instead of relying upon the usual attachment or aversion.
First a bit more background.
Has anyone not had a problem today?
Whenever I ask this, it is rare that people say yes. Truth is, everyone in the world has problems, except for those who have controlled their minds. And whatever problem we’ve got, the first thing we need to be able to do is relax and let it go. Stop holding onto it so tightly and — even if only for a short while — quit trying to solve that problem outside of ourselves.
Whatever problem we’re having at the moment, we can examine our customary methods of solving it. Do these involve attachment or aversion — trying to fix something, manipulate the object or person, change the situation? And is it working?
It’s not working, is it? That’s pretty wild. Why do we keep doing it? We don’t have to keep doing it, so at least there’s that.
Our inner peace is always there, latent, because it is the very nature of our mind. It is just that we are constantly shaking it up, like shaking up a glass of water for example. Left to its own devices, when not following attachment and aversion, our mind is as clear and pure and peaceful as a still glass of water. But when something attractive or unpleasant appears to us, it’s like we shake this water up and down and around and around. Our mind gets turbulent; it can go quite crazy quite quickly. And the peace and and the purity and the clarity – why, we forget it’s even there.
We feel so involved with the object outside our mind, and it’s so frustrating because there’s nothing we can do about so many of these things we try to do things about. Such as trying to change other people’s behavior.
How’s that going for you? Trying to get people to cooperate? Good luck. At best, we can get people to cooperate for a few days or a few minutes. Through force, or bribery … Or if it happens to coincide with their interests. We can’t even control our own thoughts at the moment, so what makes us think we can control other people or external situations?
As I’ve said loads of times, this doesn’t mean we stop doing anything practical at all. But it does mean that we change our motivation and our understanding of where problems really come from and how to solve them for ourselves and others.
So here’s the meditation:
We can begin by simply relaxing into a good meditation posture, with a straight back. We relax our shoulders, relax our arms with our hands resting in our lap, and so on. We take a moment to focus on how we’re sitting and let everything else go. We don’t need it for this meditation.
We can feel contented for the duration of this meditation, thinking:
I have this opportunity to increase my compassion and wisdom, learning to use it to solve my own and others’ problems.
We feel too, that we’re already in our heart. We have dropped from our head into our heart, and all wave-like problematic thoughts have dissolved away into the clarity and peace of our ocean-like root mind. Just imagine.
Now to settle the mind some more, everything that’s on our mind, everything that needs to be solved outside, all those uncontrolled thoughts that keep trying to go outwards all the time … these all take the form of thick heavy smoke. And we recognize:
I don’t need to keep thinking these thoughts that constantly shake up my natural peace of mind. I can let them go.
Every time we exhale, we now breathe this thick smoke through our nostrils, and it completely disappears. We do this for a few minutes, feeling our mind becoming lighter and more free with every breath.
Now every time we inhale, feel that our breath is in the aspect of very blissful light, and breathe this deep into our heart. It is not just light, it is inner peace, it is blessings, it is the love, compassion, and wisdom of all enlightened beings. We feel this filling our heart with every in-breath, spiritual sunshine dispelling the darkness of ignorance. We do this for a few minutes with concentration and conviction.
Now we are in our heart, experiencing peace, warmth, light. It is true:
I don’t have a care in the world!
Our mind feels radiant and peaceful. We feel happy. (Even if we don’t feel totally happy just yet, we can still imagine we do – everything starts in the imagination, everything IS imagination or imputation.)
And we develop the confidence that we have everything we need inside us:
I don’t need to keep going outside of myself to get happy and solve problems, I already got it going on inside.
So we relax into this peaceful feeling, thinking:
This is me. I can always feel this way. And I can deepen this.
Within this peaceful space, we can now take any problem that is coming up for us in our life and spend a couple of minutes seeing how we’re trying to solve it with attachment or aversion, how we are grappling with it like a dog with a bone.
And then we can examine in our own experience whether this is working for us, whether it has ever worked, and whether it is ever going to work.
If we check like this, we can see that we’re trying to solve our problems and get happy using the very same minds that are creating these problems and making us unhappy in the first place.
So we can contemplate this conclusion for a couple of minutes:
I am going to give up this useless way of solving problems — by dropping these delusions and using Dharma instead. The more I familiarize myself with wisdom and compassion, for example, the more genuinely peaceful and problem-free I will become.
Finally, we can observe how, instead of other people being the objects of our delusions, we can transform them into the objects of our love and compassion; at which point they cease being a problem for us.
And one day, with practice, we will have the love and compassion of a fully enlightened being, constantly radiating bliss into the hearts of all living beings, zapping and transforming them with blessings.
We’ll be like Buddha Shakyamuni, who is now appearing in our life and in front of us as our Spiritual Guide, guiding and inspiring us through these teachings. He is surrounded by the countless Buddhas and Bodhisattvas — those who have completed their mind-training — and we can think:
I want to and I will become part of this enlightened assembly.
With this intention we can, if we want to, do the Liberating Prayer.
Then, when we rise from this meditation, our mind is calmer and will remain so for as long as we stay mindful of our own inner peace. We will feel more confident that we have what we need inside us and, interestingly enough, as a result we’ll get a lot more done to help people.
Happy New Year! May we solve our own and others’ problems for real, and bring genuine peace and happiness into the world.
Last installment here.