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The purpose of this meditation is to familiarise ourselves with the way in which things actually exist – their ultimate nature.
I began the meditation by deciding to investigate my ‘I’ or ‘me’. I thought about how it normally appears to my mind. It appears as a solid and real entity, completely separate from its parts and its causes. It seems to exist on its own. In order to get a better feel for it, I brought to mind a situation where I was being told I had done something wrong. I remember feeling a thrill of dread pass through me and I felt very solid. I then used the reasoning given in The New Meditation Handbook to investigate this entity further.
Was this entity my body- its hands, arms, head or so forth? No. Was this entity my mind? No it felt more tangible – it was not just a feeling or a thought. Was it the combination of my mind and body? No, I don’t think of my me in that way – it is not a combination of things – it is one thing. Finally, is it separate from the mind and body? No it is always appearing along with them. So where is it? I have looked in all the places it could be but it is not there.
I let the power of this logic sink into my mind, and then let the absence of my ‘I’ become more apparent. It felt like my ‘me’ had vanished. With this ‘me’ vanishing, I realised that there was no basis for my self-cherishing, because there is no self to cherish. It felt clear and peaceful, as if I had no problems. I tried to focus on this recognition and feeling for the rest of the meditation.
May all living beings realised the true nature of phenomena, and through this realisation, attain liberation and enlightenment.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will try to maintain this recognition that my self and all other objects I perceive are mere appearances to my mind.
The purpose of this meditation is to develop the strong wish to attain liberation from the sufferings of samsara.
I began the meditation by thinking about the suffering of sickness. Normally we are in reasonable health and we do not think about illness at all. But from time to time we have a cold, the flu or something more serious, and we immediately have to endure many sufferings. We feel sick – an unpleasant pervading feeling of suffering. We may be vomiting, have diarrhoea, or sores and ugly disfigurements. We may have to endure long periods in hospital, away friends and family. We may have to eat food we do not like, take medicines which taste awful and make us feel even worse. Even the strongest person is helpless when they are sick. There are many sufferings to endure.
Slowly we recover but it is only a matter of time before we fall ill again. This cycle is repeated many times during our life.
As I meditated on these facts, it seemed to me that my body was an unclean, disease infested thing. It was incubating suffering which it unleashed every so often. It became clear that this body will always be the cause of the suffering of sickness. I understood that something that I normally view as a source of pleasure is actually a cause of suffering.
I developed a sincere wish to be freed from this cause of suffering, and attain liberation from it. I had a deep wish to rise up out of my diseased body and attain the pure freedom of liberation. I focused on this feeling of becoming free from this diseased body, and becoming free. It felt like I was shrugging off a filthy overcoat and rising up and away from it, to experience peace and purity. I stayed with this wish to shrug off the overcoat for the rest of the meditation.
May all living beings develop the strong wish to attain liberation from samsara, and attain complete enlightenment.
Practice in the meditation break
I will take note of the suffering of sickness around me, and my own bodily aches and pains and encourage myself to keep a strong wish to seek liberation from samsara.
I began the meditation by reminding myself that I needed to try and establish the truth about how I exist. Normally I don’t even think about how I exist – I just do. ‘I’ am here. ‘I’ am eating, driving, meditating. But what do I find if I look more closely?
I started by trying to see myself clearly. I thought about where I normally am, and it seemed to me that I am sort of ‘above’ but also part of my my body and mind. I thought about if ‘I’ am my body – but ‘I’ am different from my body because I say ‘my body’. If ‘I’ possess my body then obviously ‘I’ am not my body. Likewise, I considered my mind. Am ‘I’ my mind? No, because I say ‘My mind’, so ‘I’ am different from my mind.
So now I had established that ‘me’, ‘I’, and ‘myself’ are not my mind and not my body. Could it be that my ‘I’ was a combination of my body and mind? That is a non-starter because if my ‘I’ is not my body or mind, it will not help to combine them because they can’t just turn into my ‘I’. I’ve just got two things that are not my ‘I’.
So the only other possibility is that my ‘me’ is located away from my body and mind. But I never think of ‘me’ separate from my body or mind.
I looked at my body and mind with my ‘I’ there as a definite presence. Then I saw that the ‘I’ is only there for convenience. The body and mind almost need this idea of ‘I’ to function sensibly. But that does not demonstrate the existence of the ‘I’. I realised that the ‘I’ exists like a chairman exists in a meeting – simply as an imputation on its parts, to make it all effective. But it still does not really exist as a separate thing.
As I considered this, the concept of a separate ‘I’ faded, and I saw a space where it should have been. It was clear and peaceful – unmoving and unchanging. It felt like I did not have any problems, because my problems are ‘mine’, and if there is no ‘me’ then there is no ‘me’ to experience them. I felt very peaceful.
I stayed with this feeling of emptiness and peace for the rest of my meditation.
Saturday today so I had the luxury of extending the meditation for an extra 15 minutes or so. Lovely.
I began the meditation by thinking about how my body normally appears to me.
It is so obvious and so ‘present’ that it seems strange to even question its existence. So I began with visualising it – seeing it like I do in a full length mirror. That was the visual part, but my body seems to me to be far more than just a physical lump of flesh.
I imagined myself standing on weighing scales in the bathroom, and seeing the needle telling me how much my body weighs. I tried to identify the thing that I am so proud of when it weighs a little less than normal, and the thing I am disappointed with and averse to when it weighs a little more than normal. I got a feeling for how I normally conceptualise my body and combined that with my visualisation – giving it an extra dimension.
Then I started to look for this ‘body’ I normally see. I normally see a body that is a unit – a singular entity: my body. It exists separately from everything else. I looked harder at this body and realised that I could only see parts of my body. I did not see a singular entity, although that is what I normally perceive. I kept looking and confirmed that there was no single body, just parts.
What happened next is a little difficult to put into words. I sort of saw the parts of my body ‘move a little to the left’ and I ‘saw’ the inherent existence of my body ‘move a little to the right’ and in the middle was a sort of patch of emptiness. It was not nothing. It was a lack of my body parts, and a lack of the inherent existence of my body. This patch of emptiness was where they should have been. All three were in my perception at the same time.
I then moved into the emptiness and tried to stay there. I felt an expansive clear feeling, knowing that this related to my body, but that it had no boundaries, form, colour etc. It was very calm and peaceful – very pleasant.
I stayed with this for the rest of the meditation.
It is another beautiful day outside my window this morning. There is definitely something about the stillness and the quality of the light in the early morning this time of year which is special. And conducive to my meditations.