The purpose of this meditation is to generate a good understanding of the problems caused by self-cherishing, and to try to meditate on this understanding with good concentration.

I began by recognising the sufferings of samsara, and how living beings drowning in samsara’s ocean thrash around harming themselves and others. I resolved to meditate well so that I can bring samsara to an end as quickly as possible.

I then began by bringing my mind into my heart, purifying it with black and white breathing meditation, and then focused on a particular image that came to mind.

I thought about how distractions seem to be very big and attention grabbing things. Once a distraction has arisen in our mind during meditation, it seems to take over and undetectably lift our attention away from our chosen object.

I wondered what better way I could conceptualise distractions. It seemed to me that I should really think of distractions as being like a tiny pebble rolling down the side of a massive mountain. If the mountain was capable of feeling it’s ‘skin’ it would be almost completely oblivious to the movement of a tiny pebble. But even so – the mountain does not have a consciousness that allows it to feel its ‘skin’. It is simply massive, stable and still. I tried to imagine my mind as being massive, stable and still, and completely undistractable by the movement of distracting thoughts. I settled on this idea for a long while, before moving on to the main meditation.

Angry Man

I started by thinking about a Facebook ‘conversation’ I had yesterday, where I was directly insulted by the most offensive comment I think I have ever read online – and that’s saying something, I can tell you, given the things I have read over the years. I thought about the person who wrote it. He was obviously in great distress and pain, to have wished such misfortune upon me. He was clearly invested in the subject of our exchange, and found my viewpoint so unacceptable that he was unable to prevent himself writing the comment. But the pain it could have caused could have been serious. I was untroubled by the comment, but if I had responded with anger, his pain would have increased even more. Even without that escalation, he was clearly in great distress.

I thought about the situation as it related to self-cherishing. It seemed to me that self-cherishing not only makes our ‘self’ seem supremely important, but also all the things that we value. So if something we value is attacked, it is as if we ourselves are being attacked. Essentially, the more we ‘value’ something with self-cherishing, the more vulnerable we make ourselves to pain. It is like we spread a layer of our own skin over our object of concern, and when it is attacked, it feels like our own skin on our own body is being lacerated. No wonder we react so strongly!

I thought about this and it became clear how self-cherishing causes us to experience manifest mental pain, and I focused on this for the rest of the meditation. I generated a sincere disgust at how self-cherishing operates, and a wish for all living beings to be free of it. I meditated on this for the rest of the session.

Dedication

Many all living beings recognise the disadvantages of self-cherishing, and quickly turn to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha for temporary and ultimate refuge.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to watch my mind for self-cherishing, and instead of caring for people and issues through self-cherishing, I will care for them with wisdom and compassion.

PS

The final ironic twist to this story is that the person who insulted me had actually misread my comment.  He thought that I was disagreeing with him. In fact, we were both of the same view. Such is the danger of self-cherishing, that it can make us wish such harm on even our friends 😦