The purpose of this meditation is to make a really firm decision to overcome our self grasping ignorance.
I began by making the appropriate preparations for meditation and then drew on Geshe-la’s instructions from his book ‘How to Understand the Mind’. The quotes Buddha’s words from the four Noble Truths:
You should abandon origins
The origins in question are the roots of our sufferings. In particular our ignorance of self-grasping. Our ignorant mind automatically grasps at objects as being inherently existent. They appear to be inherently existent, and we naturally (and powerfully) assent to this appearance. We hold onto objects as existing ‘out there’, independent from our minds. But these objects do not exist in the way they appear. They are mere appearances to our minds.
It is this belief (that things are inherently existent) which gives rise to all our problems and all our sufferings. We identify objects and ourselves as different and separate. We then develop attachment for the things we desire and anger towards things we dislike. This attachment and anger then leads us to act in non-virtuous ways. These actions are karma which create potentialities in our mind, which later ripen as suffering. It is as if self-grasping is the trunk of a diabolical tree, whose branches are the delusions, and whose fruits are out sufferings of all our future lives.
I was reminded of the Billie Holiday song ‘Strange Fruit’. In this song, Holiday sings of the horrors of racism in the southern States of the USA in the early part of the 20th century. Black men and women were lynched by mobs of racists, and their bodies hung from the branches of southern trees. This seemed a fitting image for this meditation, and I imagined a massive tree whose trunk was self-grasping, whose branches were our delusions, and whose fruits were suffering. In the dark shade of the tree were hung a thousand rotting corpses. As I looked up, I saw that the tree was tall – so tall that it reached out of sight into the sky. With each set of branches there hung another crop of sufferings.
I thought: I must destroy this tree of the sufferings of all my future lives. I must destroy my self-grasping mind and in doing so, I will destroy all my delusions and all my suffering. I imagined the trunk disappearing, and then the branches, and then the hanging corpses of my future self. The whole tree vanished and in its place was a clear open space pervaded by light and peace and tranquillity. I looked at this image for a while and saw this this is my aim. By destroying my self-grasping I can being and end to all the sufferings of my future lives.
I looked at this and knew that the most meaningful thing I can do with my life is to destroy my self-grasping. I made the determination to destroy my self-grasping. It was all I held in my mind, and I focused on it for the rest of the mediation session.
May all living beings abandon the inner demon: self-grasping.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will keep my determination strong – I will abandon my self-grasping.