Some Thoughts Of A Meditator
Written by Edna Lake
Every meditator has some aims. He may want to get calm, peace, a solution to some problems, rest and relaxation for the body and mind, or he may hope to develop psychic powers or attain enlightenment. At first it is necessary to keep the aims simple. To learn to concentrate on the meditation object is enough, insights and wisdom will arise by themselves. If we are taking a flight to some other country we do not need to know how to fly the plane. We need to be at the airport on time, to have already bought the tickets, to be committed to the journey and to follow the instructions on boarding. If there is delay, turbulence, trouble with other passengers, there is no point in getting angry, fearful or depressing. It is most probable that we shall arrive, safety, at our destination, so also, with meditation.
There are some mental attitudes which are hindrances to progress. Fear of failure is one another is the wish to get special results or powers, or powers, or too much effort can result in agitation. The faculties of faith, energy, concentration, understanding (wisdom) and mindfulness are compared to four horses and the driver of a coach and four. The horses should pull together equally. Faith and understanding balance each other. If there is too much faith this may lead to blind acceptance without understanding. If there is too much theoretical knowledge it can be a block to the arising of intuitive wisdom or to the acceptance of good advice. Concentration, which means a calm focussing of the mind on the given object, can lead to torpor unless it is balanced by energy or effort. Energy, if it is not balanced by concentration can cause restlessness or agitation. The driver who controls the four “horses” is mindfulness, which keeps everything in balance and prevents the mind from lapsing into idleness or into distraction.
It is important to remember in meditation that we are not concerned with an individual, but with universal facts which we are aiming to discover for ourselves. Buddhism is essentially pragmatic and deals with realities which we discover from our own experience. It is a form of self-discipline which works not by reward and punishment but by release from misunderstanding, through the observation of our own body and mind and the phenomena which occur in our lives.
Meditation enables us to see the actual problems which arise to face them bravely and when insights arise to see their solution. The mind, empty of opinions, expectations and attitudes is capable of wisdom and purity of thought. We need to give up the weakness of wishful-thinking and develop the strength of fearless investigation. For this we need the three supports of morality, wisdom and meditation. Morality or discipline regulates the person’s word and deeds so that he is not agitated by wrong thoughts and actions. Concentration in meditation, controls the mind so that it does not become disturbed by attachment, aversion and delusion. Wisdom allows of the complete elimination of all the defilements in the mind of the aspirant to sainthood.
There is a difference between wisdom and intuition. The former explains results which arise from causes. The latter observes phenomena and draws its own conclusions. Neither burdens the mind with mere concepts, rules or commandments, the moral precepts only after advice and encouragement they do not say “They shall”, or “They shall not.”