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The purpose of this meditation is to recognise and abandon our self-cherishing, the view that believes in an inherently existent ‘me’ and believes it to be the most important object in the universe. Also, I will consider what this means in the context of death and impermanence.
I began the meditation by remembering that the ‘I’ I normally see does not exist. It is a construct – an imputation, and despite it’s very concrete appearance, when I look for it with logic, it is complete unfindable. By believing this ‘I’ to exist, I enslave myself. If it is insulted or ignored, if it does not get its way or is hurt, I experience painful feelings. I commit many negative actions for its sake, creating further unpleasant experiences for myself in the future.
I thought about how whenever I feel unhappy I need to clearly identify what is going on in my mind. I often experience unhappy feelings, but I rarely examine them closely with wisdom. I experimented with some recollections of recent events and I found that whenever I properly examined the situation, there was always a line of thought which said ‘They are not interested in what ‘I’ have to say’ or ‘Why can’t ‘I’ achieve this?’ etc. Behind these unhappy feelings there is a view which includes this ‘I’. And this ‘I’ is the equivalent of an imaginary friend. He appears clearly to my mind, and seems to be absolutely solid and real, but he is imaginary, and the unhappy feelings he provokes are mistakes.
I understood that if I can always remember that my ‘I’ is like an imaginary friend, and not inherently existent, then there will be no basis for unhappiness. I felt as if all the unhappiness was being swept out of my mind, leaving a clear, happy and peaceful mind in its place. I actually felt the unhappiness leave my mind, and I stayed in that feeling for a while.
I then considered how death and impermanence impact on this recognition. Self-cherishing is not a permanent part of my mind. It depends on my believing that actions done on behalf of my ‘I’ are the cause of happiness’. It also depends upon my assenting to the view that my ‘I’ is inherently existent.
By changing these conditions I can destroy self-cherishing. If I choose to recognise that self-cherishing causes only suffering, I will not want to engage in selfish actions. If I choose to recognise that my ‘I’ lacks inherent existence then my self-cherishing cannot function – it has no object.
I held the thought that self-cherishing is not a permanent part of my mind, and returned to my feeling of peace and freedom, knowing that I can release myself from its grip. I stayed with this feeling for the rest of the meditation.
May all living beings free themselves from the grip of self-cherishing, and thereby become enlightened beings for the benefit of all.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will watch out for unhappiness in my mind, and immediately try to properly rationalise what is causing the unhappiness. When I understand a thought such as ‘how can they say that to ‘me”, I will ask myself ‘where is this ‘me’?’. By doing this I will try to overcome unhappy feelings, and destroy my self cherishing.