Saturday, November 29, 2014

on reasons for meditation

There are a lot of good reasons to meditate. Stress reduction. Coping with anxiety or other difficult states of mind. Finding peace of mind. Better concentration. Enhanced creativity. It's interesting that there is research which indicates that what you seek in meditation is what you will find. So, if you seek stress reduction, you will experience stress reduction. The same with better concentration. The same with experiencing less anxiety or depression. It seems there is something about how intention directs energy, which manifests in actuality. Mental energy becomes physical energy. It's pretty neat how it works and that it works. The power of the mind.

A Buddhist standpoint is that meditation is practiced to alleviate suffering. Suffering was the problem which the Buddha sought to solve and his teachings sprang from and revolve around this intention. Many if not all of the reasons we first want to learn to meditate, including those listed above, are forms of wanting to alleviate suffering. And it's been my experience, both in terms of my own desire to learn to meditate and those of others, that this is the case. We want to move away from something that is unpleasant and toward something that is pleasant. Meditation, coupled with right living in it's various forms, is the technology for accomplishing this alleviation of suffering.

Briefly, as a Buddhist perspective, meditation begins to stimulate a deeper appreciation of and sensitivity to the internal and external causes of suffering.  Buddha taught directly and succintly that the causes suffering stem directly from states of mind based on attraction/greed, aversion/hatred, or ignorance/delusion. When we don't get the things we are attracted to, we suffer. Has this ever happened to you? When we get the things we feel averse toward, we suffer. Has this ever happened to you? When we don't see things as they really are, we suffer. I won't ask :-).

How simple and yet how challenging. It's not difficult to see how these three causes can cause suffering. Just watch the news. These experiences of suffering surely ring true in my life. And even with a deep trust in the veracity of this teaching of the Buddha, I still experience a whole lot of attraction/greed, aversion/hatred, or ignorance/delusion. Not so simple after all.  But I like to believe that a shifting toward the direction of less suffering is taking place.

To fully embrace the power of letting go of attraction/greed, aversion/hatred, or ignorance/delusion ultimately leads to what Buddhist view as 'enlightenment.' Maybe the best, most brief phrase for capturing what enlightenment is would be 'a total experience of true freedom.' Much more could certainly be written about enlightenment, maybe I'll write more once I have experienced it. Check back in a lifetime or twelve. But what I'm trying to express is the encouragement to aim high. If you have a meditation goal, and much could also be written about the value of not being goal oriented in the practice of meditation, let it be the goal of enlightenment. Let enlightenment be the propulsion and gravitation pull of your intention. Even if you don't know what it really is. All the benefits of meditation - stress reduction, relief from difficult states of mind, more creativity, greater peace of mind – await from beneath the broad and beautiful canopy of enlightenment, of total and true freedom.

This is just a suggestion, a thought, an encouragement.  The bottom line is, for whatever reason, if you are so inclined - meditate.