The Purpose of Meditation
from Guided Buddhist Meditations: Essential Practices on the Stages of the Path
by Ven. Thubten Chodron
The purpose of meditation isn’t to get a “hit” of good feeling. The purpose is to understand what life is about and how to make our lives meaningful. It’s to understand our Buddha potential and to actualize it for the benefit of all sentient beings.
Make sure your motivation is suitable; try to understand the Buddha’s teachings and apply them to your life because doing so will bring about enduring and beneficial change.
Be brave and honestly acknowledge what is going on in your mind. For example, let’s say you do the meditation on equanimity, visualizing a friend, stranger, and enemy in front of you and examining, “Why am I attached to my friend? Why am I apathetic to the stranger? Why am I hostile towards the enemy?”
Do research in the “laboratory” of your own mind and heart. In the process, you may discover some biases and prejudices. It may become evident how you create the friend and the enemy and ignore everybody who doesn’t directly affect you.
We like to think we’re broad-minded, caring people, and realizing anything contrary to that may be difficult. Our self-centered attitude prefers to think, “I’m a really good person. I’m unhappy because the rest of the world is ignorant and hostile.”
As long as we hold that idea, spiritual progress will be difficult. As long as we keep blaming our problems on others and seek a “feel-good hit,” we are not doing actual Dharma practice.
When doing lam rim (stages of the path) meditations, it is important to know clearly the state of mind you want to reach as a conclusion to the meditation. Lamrim texts describe the purpose of each meditation, and we want to make sure that our mind arrives at that conclusion and not at an incorrect or irrelevant conclusion.
For example, when meditating on the disadvantages of the self-centered thought, our mind may twist that meditation and come to the conclusion, “I’m a horrible person because I’m so selfish.”
This is the wrong conclusion to reach from that meditation. The Buddha didn’t teach the disadvantages of self-centeredness so that we would deride ourselves.
In stores July 30
Guided Buddhist Meditations: Essential Practices on the Stages of the Path
by Ven. Thubten Chodron
* Learn more about “Guided Buddhist Meditations,” an updated edition of Guided Meditations on the Stages of the Path.
* In stores July 30, but you can pre-order now.
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