How Meditation Forgoes The ‘look’ In Order To Become More Real

We all want to appear real. It seems so easy: Just turn your eyes from the outside world and see the world inside. In doing that, though, we often allow our emotions to rule. Emotional expression of how we feeling in particular situations is important for how we act, but in a real interaction, our true character can really come through.

I often hear people talk about how much better their lives are when they follow the Buddha’s way of meditation. Many of those who make this claim are using the term mind meditation, but that term has a certain baggage. The mind means everything to us and we tend to think of this as an abstract concept. Mind and meditation, though, are different. Mind meditation means using the mind’s awareness to observe our experience. For one thing, it involves listening and paying attention to the thoughts and sensations arising in the mind. So even if we don’t have a problem with the mind, we would have a difficult time meditating if we simply relied on the outside world to notice and evaluate our experience. We’re much better off concentrating on what our senses and brain are actually experiencing.

The reason it’s harder to do this meditation properly is because there isn’t a right or wrong way to do it. The Buddha’s way of meditation was not the Buddha’s way of meditation. His way of meditation was the Dharma. The Dharma is how we relate to reality. There is no separate ‘way.’ There are only words and actions.

What makes it difficult to start actually practicing without trying to come off like a guru is that we’re often afraid of what it will feel like to actually do this meditation. We tend to think that we’ll make the thoughts go away with a breath and have a cool feeling and peace about our lives. We can be like this at first, but that will change. We have to be willing to give up some of our assumptions in order to get to that level to where we can do the meditation the right way.

The Buddha talked about the process of doing meditation this way: ‘Just observe your mind there and thereā€¦ and think only of whatever arises, thinking nothing of it.’ It’s difficult to say anything more than that because the Buddha did not reveal how it’s actually done. Most people can’t even say something along these lines, because they find it difficult and hard to even think of. They want to come off with anything at all, even a good-natured laugh. But there’s no room for just one of these ‘good-noses.’ There should always be self-respect. Even if a person knows he’s being facetious with you, you shouldn’t take it personally.

The point is to think not of the meditation, but actually observe the process.

Once the body becomes calm, the mind can take off on its own. I usually tell people to do it in this way: Do the meditation, notice the thoughts, and let them go. Notice the sensations, and see if there are any signs about what’s going on in you.

Don’t be concerned with what they are. Don’t be thinking about the signs. Don’t stop the practice even if you think there will be an outcome of all that is happening in your awareness. Just observe. If the sign that was there earlier looks different, you don’t need to stop. You just need to start again.

What happens then, if you try to stop the meditation? You’re only going to make it harder to make it happen. You’re not just stopping the meditation; you’re stopping yourself from seeing. Just be aware that there’s still some sign. If it disappears, you can continue. If that sign reappears after another few seconds, again you can keep going. That’s the Buddha’s teaching. It’s very important.

It’s interesting to know that the more calm the mind, the more it tends to come out of that state. Once the mind is relaxed, it’ll start to wander out because there’s nothing there to think about. It’s like the moon shining through the clouds. If there is anything there it’s only the reflection in the water. The moon will continue shining. But if there is nothing there to shine, it won’t shine at all.