In the previous lesson you explored where you are
right now – the current state of your mind.
In the lesson following this, you will learn the “technique” of
shamatha meditation. Before you start on a path,
however, it’s important to know about your
ultimate destination, in this case peaceful abiding.
Before you begin this lesson, reflect
on the state of your mind. How often
do you abide peacefully? Do you know
what peaceful abiding is? Do you
recognize the unpeaceful state of
your mind? If so what do you do when
you recognize it?
Even though the bewildered mind is untrained, it
is already meditating, whether we know it or not.
Whatever we're doing, we're always placing our mind
on one object or another. For example, when we get
up in the morning and we're anxious about something,
that anxiety becomes our object of meditation.
So while your mind is always abiding, you’ve
learned in the previous lessons and will see for
yourself in meditation that it's not necessarily
abiding in its natural peaceful state. Seeing your
mind abiding in irritation, anger, jealousy, frustration,
and fear is how you begin to untangle your bewilderment.
"Peaceful abiding" describes the mind
as it naturally is —calm and very clear. In
shamatha meditation you're not trying to create a
peaceful state—you're letting your mind be
as it is to begin with and learning to see yourself
as you are. This doesn't mean that we're peacefully
ignoring things. It means that the mind is able to
be in itself without constantly leaving.
In peaceful abiding we begin to see how the mind
churns up intense emotions that keep us trapped in
suffering. Meditation shows how discursive thoughts
lead to emotions — irritation, anxiety, passion,
aggression, jealousy, pride, greed—which lead
Do you have a sense of
what it is you meditate on now? Where
are you putting your mind, your attention?
If you're now abiding in peace, what
are you abiding in?
As you begin meditating,
where you place your mind will become
quite apparent to you. But it's useful
to reflect even now on what awareness
you have of where your mind is abiding.
discursive might feel good, just as food
to tastes good, but after we eat it, we suffer.
But we have to learn
how to abide peacefully. If we can remember what the
word shamatha means, we
can always use it as a reference point. We can say, "What
is this meditation that I'm doing? It is calm, peaceful
abiding." We're accustomed to living a life
based on running after our wild mind, a mind that
is continually giving birth to thoughts and emotions.
It's not that there's anything inherently wrong with
thoughts and emotions — in fact, the point
of making our mind an ally is that we can begin to
direct them for benefit.
we lived in the wilderness, we'd observe
nature's patterns around us: the activity
of the birds and animals, the behavior
of the weather, and changes in the plant
life. After a while, we'd be intimate with
the environment. We might be able to predict
when winter is coming and whether it would
be long or short. In peaceful abiding — simply
by being conscious of the present moment — we
ground ourselves in our nature We begin
to observe and understand our thought patterns.
We watch how our mind weaves from one idea
to another, how emotions rise and, unobserved/unaware,
grow. We observe how we out thoughts and
emotions grow to the point that we act
on them, thereby creating our environment.
After we've spent some time watching thoughts and
emotions come and go, we begin to see them clearly.
They no longer have the power to destabilize us,
because we see how ephemeral they are. Then we
can actually begin to change our patterns, and in
so, change our whole environment.