Dukkhaboy

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Why isn’t my meditation working?

Firstly I bet you it is. May not in the way the amount or with the speed you want, but it will almost certainly be having a positive effect. So don’t worry.*

How long do you meditate a day? A week? How long each day are you NOT on your cushion? As Lama Zopa Rinpoche once said about our days, “30 minutes meditation and 23 and a half hours ego”. And unless you give up your job or go on a retreat this ratio is unlikely to alter much let’s be honest. So there are two options; 1) improve the quality of your meditation, which I am not skilled enough to write much on apart for the basics, which I already clumsily covered here or 2) Make your 23 and half hours become a support for your daily meditation.

Firstly, to be able to practice well it is necessary to have enough of life’s necessities not to have to worry about getting or having them. But also it is important not to have too much, or rather not to be too attached and involved with it all. To help concentration in meditation it is important to be content with life and possessions and not to have too much attachment to them. This will both lessen distraction in meditation and allow more  time for it to happen.

Secondly, a busy life will lead to a busy mind and a lot of conceptual thought arising. Personally, my job and family life means my days are packed and in the evenings I am worn out. Therefore I have found that a routine of morning practice before I leave for work can help lessen all that mind traffic. Also I like to have had breakfast before I settle down so that i am not worrying about my stomach!

Buddhist teaching also mentions leading an ethical life aids meditation. this of course is harder to change quickly. But to reflect on the motivation behind actions and words during the day greatly helps meditation by lessening strong emotions. This is best left for another day, but Lama Zopa Rinpoche wrote wonderfully about this here if you want to read more about that.

Finally, I was lucky enough to hear Venerable Robina Courtin talk earlier this year. (She has an excellent website full of good stuff and links here ) I got the chance to ask her a question I said,  “I had been meditating for years and felt I was getting nowhere.” She replied:

  1. If we notice bad things we are doing or saying or thinking, this is positive and is progress
  2. We all have deep seated attachment so if our mind is calmer or concentrating better or more compassionate or wiser we then think, “Why aren’t I doing even better?” we are never satisfied
  3. So don’t worry, we are doing okay 🙂

 

*But beware: Whereas many religious and spiritual traditions including Buddhism emphasise the importance of concentration, in Buddhism concentration is only a tool, not the end itself. Concentration on its own, without compassion and wisdom is just another reason to be reborn in Samsara.

The majority of the ideas for this were gained from Geshe Tashi Tsering’s excellent book “Emptiness” and especially chapter 2

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Donald J Trump; a Buddhist view

If you have been reading my twitter feed for the few months you will have seen on a daily basis that the new President of the USA gets my goat. I don’t agree with his policies, his morals or his attitude to anyone who questions him. In short he makes me very angry and anger is a negative emotion in Buddhism, creating suffering for me and probably others in the present and myself in the future as well.

This week I was lucky to attend two evening teaching sessions from the Australian nun Venerable Robina Courtin. She spoke initially about happiness and covered a lot of topics around this including unhappiness, delusions, attachment, love, compassion, self esteem, relationships and quite a bit else. Toward the end she mentioned when bad things are happening in the news and you see someone who is acting or speaking in a negative way. She said you can approach this from two viewpoints:

  1. With wisdom, by a) saying to your self “Thank you for showing the ways not to act or speak” and b)recognising the anger, attachment and pride in others that we ourselves also possess.
  2. With love and compassion by wishing a) the person would create less suffering by their words and actions and b) wishing the person had less suffering and delusions that cause such words and deeds

I present these ideas , not as someone who has been able to implement them, but rather as someone who thinks they are a good idea and would be delighted to even start reacting less negatively to every tweet and media appearance from the leader of the free world.

Finally of course, this is my interpretation of what Venerable Robina said. If any part of it is incorrect, it is due to my misunderstanding not hers.

You can find more about Venerable Robina and her fantastic teachings here