The purpose of this meditation is to generate a strong wish to abandon self-cherishing by contemplating its disadvantages.
I began the meditation by thinking about how self-cherishing affects me in my family life. How do I relate to the people I live with? When I am busy doing something, and someone comes and disturbs me, asks me to move, or asks me to do something, what are my reactions? I become irritated. I think ‘how can they ask me this, when I am busy’? Then I realised that at these times, self-cherishing distorts my view of reality. It seems that my activities become vastly more important than the wishes of the other person, and at the same time, the wishes of the other person become negative. ‘How can they think that is more important than what I am doing’!? ‘If they understood how important I am, they would know what I am doing must take precedence’. At the time, these appearances are subtle in their own way – they seem very natural and simple – very easy to believe and go along with. But they are there and when I look at them in the clarity of meditation, they are absurd.
Even when I am doing something trivial, and I am asked to help someone who needs my assistance, I still experience a ‘tug’ of resistance and resentment, that my wishes are being interfered with.
I thought about what I am missing out on by following this delusion of self-cherishing. When I am busy doing something, I am ‘on guard’. I am anxious that someone will come and interfere with my wishes. So even when no-one is around, self-cherishing does not allow me true peace. When someone comes, I mentally prepare myself, so that as soon as they speak I have a response planned to justify what I am doing, and explain why I can’t stop. Maybe even a bit of sarcasm thrown in, just to pay them back for their lack of respect!!!!!
So this subtle current of self-cherishing in my mind builds a wall between me and others. It separates me from others, and sees them as a threat to my happiness.
I thought about what it would be like to not have self-cherishing. I would be relaxed. I would not feel threatened. If I were disturbed while doing something, I would be able to stop my activity straight away to assist the other person. I would feel no resentment or reluctance.
It felt like there would be no separation between the other person and myself, between their wishes and my wishes, their mind and my mind. It felt like I would experience my mind mixed with theirs. True intimacy with the other person.
I let my mind rest on this feeling that if I could rid my mind of self-cherishing, I would be able to be truly intimate with other people, share their concerns and pain, their happiness and joy. I felt the determination to abandon self-cherishing, so that I could experience this peace and happiness immediately.
May all living beings see the disadvantages of self-cherishing in their own experience, abandon it, and become enlightened beings as quickly as possible.
Practice in the meditation break
I will be watching for self-cherishing, and just seeing how it effortlessly distorts my priorities, making my wishes seem so important, while ignoring the importance of the wishes of others.
It did not take long to see a real example arise. I was sitting on the living room floor a few moments ago and had just started to write up this post, when down came Eldest lad, wanting to watch some telly. Immediately I wanted to carry on with the blog. I immediately started to think of reasons why I COULD NOT POSSIBLY stop what I was doing:
- The blog is important
- I was here first
- If he watches telly I will have to stop, because I can’t write while the telly is on
- I will have to go into the kitchen and it isn’t as comfy
- I will have to get up and that takes effort
- I would have to unplug the computer and plug it in somewhere else
- I don’t know where the socket is in the kitchen (we are in a holiday cottage at the moment)
- He will only want to watch rubbish on the telly, which is not important
- He should still be asleep – how inconsiderate of him to wake up early.
All these thoughts instead of what I should do, which is smile at him with loving kindness and say ‘Good morning! I love you’.
I only spotted and became aware of all these thoughts because of the meditation I had just done. They seem pretty trivial, but at the time, they seemed very relevant, and together they appeared to create a whole raft of justifications – each one was good enough but combined, they were irrefutable.
However, I changed my approach. I remembered that he is on holiday, and to him, watching telly is important. I simply got up, unplugged the computer, and set up in the kitchen. He smiled at me and said ‘Thanks Dad’. My heart felt very warm. And it was easier than I thought it would be.