|"It doesn't matter who you used to be. What matters is who you become."|
- [Siddhartha failed and failed due to over-exertion. Then he relaxed effort to a point of balance by pursuing the blissful and increasingly more refined meditative absorptions (jhanas).
- This gave rise to temporary purification, which served as a strong basis for cultivating insight (vipassana). Trying to practice "insight meditation" without a solid foundation of concentration is almost certain to fail and leave us disappointed and discouraged.
- Siddhartha succeeded, he later explained, with the paradoxical statement that he neither pushed forward nor stood still, that is, neither he overexerted himself into a fruitless frenzy nor sank into laziness from a lack of effort. The key to success in meditation, therefore, is balanced-effort, persistence, strong-soft (sthira-sukha) cultivation.]
|As Siddhartha eventually realized, Too much exertion is as bad as not enough exertion.|
|If the heart/mind is settled and purified, one begins to see things as they really are -- including sensing the many kinds of unseen beings that live alongside us and often impact us.|
- First, find a suitable place, perhaps a room that is not too noisy and where you are not likely to be disturbed.
- Second, sit in a comfortable posture. A good posture is to sit with your legs folded, a pillow under your buttocks, your back straight, the hands nestled in the lap and the eyes closed. Alternatively, you can sit in a chair as long as you keep your back straight.
- Next comes the actual practice itself. As you sit quietly with your eyes closed you focus your attention on the in and out movement of the breath [just under the nostrils]. This can be done by counting the breaths or [alternatively being mindful of the grosser] rise and fall of the abdomen.
- When this is done certain problems and difficulties will arise. You might experience irritating itches on the body or discomfort in the knees. If this happens, keep the body relaxed without moving. Keep focusing on the breath. You will probably have many intruding thoughts coming to mind and distracting your attention from the breath. The only way to deal with this normal occurrence is to patiently keep returning your attention to the breath. If you keep doing this, eventually thoughts will weaken, your concentration will become stronger, and you will have moments of deep mental calm and inner peace. [Remembering the breath, and bringing it back to mind, is said by some to be the definition of "mindfulness," known in Pali as sati and in Sanskrit as smirti.]
- First, turn your attention to yourself and say to yourself words like, "May I be well and happy. May I be peaceful and calm. May I be protected. May my mind/heart be free of hatred. May my heart be filled with loving friendliness. May I be well and happy."
- Then one by one you think of a loved and respected living person of the same sex (like a teacher), a neutral person, that is, someone you do not know and neither like nor dislike, and finally a disliked person, wishing each of them well as you do so.