In every picture of the Lord Buddha; we see him sitting cross legs and meditating. Yes, the Buddha has given us meditation. The Buddha has said; by meditation, we can develop the power of concentration. By developing concertation, we can attain insight and when we have insight, our understanding increases. With the power of understanding, we can see things in right perspective and; when we have right perspective; our actions become right and when our actions become right; we are able to solve most of the problems in our life and as a result, we have a remarkable quality of life full of peace, serenity, tranquillity and happiness.
As per the Buddha, ‘Meditation is giving ourselves our true presence’. Are we present and available to us? Most of the times, we are lost in the regrets of past or worries of the future. The Buddha has said, ‘Past is gone and the future is not yet here’, present is the only moment available to us.’ We actually consider present moment as a passing moment or gap between the past and the future, and we, actually, do not live our life which is available only in the present moment.
After getting enlightenment, Buddha started sharing his realizations through his teachings. If we really try to learn and understand teachings of Buddha; we will realise that the whole message of Buddha is that we do not have to go anywhere for enlightenment or nirvana; enlightenment and nirvana are available in the here and now. Eminent Zen Master Thich Nath Hanh, the Buddha of our times, has said ‘there is no enlightenment outside of our daily life.’
Teachings of the Buddha are all about Dhyana and he has made it simple in form and easy in formation. If we see life of the Buddha and the way he led his life for enlightenment; we will realize that Buddha has done what is written in Chapter 6 of the Bhagavad Gita titled as Dhyana Yoga, and the Buddha has practiced Dhyana Yoga in its letter and spirit. After practising and getting enlightenment; the Buddha realization and teachings was that we do not need to go anywhere for enlightenment. We can be enlightened where we are; by living our normal lives and while shouldering our worldly responsibilities.
It is not important for everyone to become a monastic or sannyasi to follow the teachings of Buddha and even by being lay practitioner, we can practise the teachings of Buddha and attain enlightenment, as the teachings of Buddha are practical in nature, and just need practise. That is what Buddha has given us; to realise our true selves or attain enlightenment or nirvana through the practice of Dhyana Yoga. The practise can be done wherever we are, just by using various forms of Dhyana Yoga.
The Buddha has simplified Dhyana yoga and has given three types of meditations/ Samadhis which are as follows:
Meditation in stillness: This is sitting meditation wherein we sit cross legs and concentrate our mind on our breath or any other object or we lie down in stillness and do total relaxation by scanning our body parts.
Meditation in Motion: This meditation includes developing concentration and awareness in every activity we perform while walking; we can do walking meditation, while eating; we can do eating meditation, while reading; we go do reading meditation etc. We only need to be concentrated and/or aware in each and every activity we perform.
Meditation in observing: when we cannot do either meditation in stillness or in motion, we can do meditation in observing. Suppose, we are sitting somewhere or sitting in a bus, car etc. and we cannot do both the aforesaid meditations, then, we start observing our surroundings and we bring our awareness to our senses to; see what is happening around us; hear sounds near and far; observe the quality of air going in and coming out and smell the things around us; feel the taste in our mouth; and sensation and/or feeling in our skin and body.
Whole message of the Buddha after enlightenment was to follow the Noble Eightfold Path which are 1) Right View; 2) Right Resolve; 3) Right Speech; 4) Right Conduct; 5) Right Livelihood; 6) Right Effort; 7) Right Mindfulness; and 8) Right Concentration. The Buddha has given these eightfold paths with a view to transcend suffering into happiness, because the four noble truths are: 1) that suffering exits; 2) there are reasons for suffering; 3) happiness also exists and; 4) there is path leading to happiness.
Right mindfulness have been considered as one of the excellent paths to happiness, because, once we become mindful which is also awareness, we can have concentration, and if we have right concertation, we will have right insight and once we have insight, we can create understanding and once we have right understanding, our view, resolve, speech, conduct, livelihood and efforts shall become right. Hence, Buddha has given us the practise of mindfulness which is very easy. Its starts form observing our breath to activities to thoughts and then converting our negative thoughts into positive ones which will help us taking right actions and right action shall result into positivity in our life and ultimately, happiness.
Most of us may feel unhappiness despite having everything we need and desired at some point in time. We are lost in our desires and desiring has become continuous process. We have never-ending desires like desire to have more money, more power, more fame etc., and most of these desires are either to compete with each other and/or to show off. Till the time, we are driven by these desires and keep running, we will not be able to attain real peace & love and will also not be able to eliminate hate, violence and suffering from our lives and life of others.
The Buddha has never said that we should not have desires but says, it is attachment to desires that makes us suffer. Also, as per teachings of the Buddha; only desires which are to avoided are desires to harm others. Let us desire without getting attached to it. To do this, we have to develop a habit to let go.
Our minds are like mirrors, which get dirty by various types of consumption. We consume by different modes: by eyes we consume; what we see, by ear; we consume what we hear, by mouth; we consume what we eat and converse; and by nose we consume, what we smell and by touch, we consume, what we feel. Hence, if we have to improve our life, the Buddha has said that we should be mindful of what we are consuming because by being mindful of our consumption, we can influence our mind. Buddha has said, ‘Mind is everything, what we think we become.’
Buddha has given a message to the world that peace is very important and peace is the only way to resolve all our disputes, and peace is possible and peace is available within us, it only needs practise, and mindfulness is the practise to attain peace. Peace is the only way, peace in mind will create peace in the world.
Let us try to walk a little on the path given by Lord Buddha which is creating peace within us, our families, societies, communities, cities, states, countries and in the world. Let us create a world which is peaceful. Let us start creating this peaceful world by working on ourselves first, because it is said that charity begins from home and we are our true home.
(The author is a Founder, Mindfulness & Life Coach at Sachetan)