It is not wrong to be curious about meditation and where it would take us. So as a long-time practitioner of mindfulness, here is a short list of what I have received in these last 10 years of meditation.
Make a man happy and he will be happy for a day. Teach a man how to be happy and he will be happy for a life time.
People today are finding life more difficult to be happy and easier to be discontent. The reason is because our happiness has become both fleeting and is always in front of us. We often think, “I’ll be happy if…”, “I’ll be happy when…” Thus, our happiness is always in the future. Never is our happiness with us in this very moment. We have become so busy running and jumping from one kind of happiness to the next hoping it would finally fulfil our lives. But the chase never ends.
"If you can't be happy now. You will never be happy."
Meditation is a method which allows us to be in touch with our inner balance. It is not about chasing, but about coming home. When we are in touch with our inner balance, we become more conscious of our inner imbalances. And that is how mindfulness builds and becomes awareness. What I mean by “imbalance” is our unhappiness; namely anger, worry, jealousy, greed, frustration, despair, disappointment and etc. (For more information about what unhappiness is, click here.)
Whether or not we will be happy or unhappy all depends on how much we can be awared of our own imbalances. When we are unawared of the unhappiness in our lives, the unhappiness spreads in our mind like wildfire.
When you are angry at someone and you do not forgive him or her, what you eventually find is yourself saying bad things about him or her in your head. You will start convincing yourself how he or she is a bad person and how you will never talk to them again. So by allowing our inner fire to go wild, we unknowingly fueled our fire of hatred.
Noticing these imbalances quickly and objectively is enough for the fire to stop. When you practice long enough, you will notice, in split second, even the slightest imbalance in our hearts. When we could quickly see what is causing our unhappiness, we couldn’t help but ask ourselves, “Why hold on to the hot iron?” This is precisely the reason why meditation or mindfulness is imperative to our happiness.
Mindfulness protects our happiness. It allows us to see the true cause of our unhappiness. It helps us to not be consumed by our own feelings and instead see it for what it is. Through mindfulness, we become the observer of our unhappiness and not the unhappiness itself.
I can’t tell you how many times a day these imbalances pop up in my daily life. And every single day for the last 10 years, mindfulness has countlessly saved my happiness. This is why I started True Happiness. This is why I know for sure that it will save your happiness too.
I used to think I am already “good”. Even when others gave me honest constructive criticisms or useful feedbacks, I would see them as “attacks” or attempts to delegitimize my identity of being “good”. I prefered to hold on to my image of being “good” rather than be good. And for that, I can’t grow.
This attitude of being too good for improvement is perhaps the worst attitude anyone could have toward self-growth. According to the Buddha, he considered these people to already be “dead.” For they no longer have anything more to offer because their attempts to hold on to their “goodness” has hinder them of bettering themselves.
Meditation has turn this attitude of mine 360 degrees. What meditation allows me to see is myself for who I really am. Before I was biased toward myself. I thought I was already “good”. And there is nothing more I need to improve. But once I started seeing myself more and more, I start to see that I was not.
I have found many contradictions within myself which I only apply to others but never to myself. I realised my prejudices and double-standards which many times have causes me many troubles without me seeing itse negative effects. I have come to see my many flaws and shortcomings which I had always overlook and sometimes even blamed others for. I have overcame many unwholesome desires which I thought was my “happiness” but turns out just to be the attempts to fill the unfillable void in my heart. The list goes on and on.
The mind is like a garden. If you do not tend it, only weed grows. It is impossible to improve what we do not know because you don’t even know what the thing to be improved is in the first place. Seeing ourselves is precisely what meditation allows us to do. And if meditation could completely change who I am for the better then it will change yours too.
This is not the romantic kind of “love” we know. But this is the love that is found and given out of self-understanding and selflessness. It is the love which comes as the fruits of meditation.
No one is perfect; and I am of no exception. Many times in my life I wanted to yell and insult others who have angered me. Many times in my life I feel jealous of others who are doing better than me. Many times in my life I wanted to hurt others who have hurt me. Many times in my life I wanted to lie and cheat to quickly get whatever I want in life. But I never did any of those things.
Why? Because I kept my practice and was mindful of these unwholesome desires. I can’t command what kind of thought would pop up in my mind. I can’t tell my feelings to never feel bad. I can’t tell my stomach ache to stop being painful. These are my realities. However, what I can do is how I response to it. And I simply choose to be mindful of it instead of giving in to it. This is meditation.
When I become mindful of my own reality. I start seeing myself as something which comes and goes. I learn to not take my negative thought and feeling seriously. I start seeing myself as something which has death as its final destination, I learn to let go of my unhappiness knowing life is too short to be unhappy. I start seeing myself as part of the absolute law of cause and effect, I know that everything happens because there are conditions for it to happen. Thus, I can easily come to terms with reality whether it is good or bad.
The practice of mindfulness is an upward spiral which helps one to be better than oneself. Each time I come to understand and let go of one unwholesome desire, I became better and better at handling the next. This is self-mastery. If you truly love yourself this is what you do. If you seek happiness and truth, meditation is what you do.
When I can overcome my unwholesome desire, I am in the process stop myself from harming others. This for me is love–one which is good for all.
Purpose in Life
Every individual lives to seek happiness in one form or another. However, the pursue of one’s happiness does not necessarily mean that it is always beneficial for all. Often time than not, our pursues of happiness only benefit ourselves. And worse, in some cases, they come at the cost of others.
What is the best way of living life–one that is beneficial for both oneself and the world? What is the best way to solve world problem and social problem of today? What is the best step to take toward creating the condition for world peace? What is the best thing life can offer? These are the questions I have since 18.
In my journey to answer these questions, I began studying Philosophy. I traveled, backpacked, and lived in India, France, Japan and many others countries around the world. I even ordained as a Theravada Buddhist monk for one year.
After years of ceaselessly searching for the answer, the answer I have found is happiness. Happiness is what create our world, for good or for evil. It dictates people’s lives and decides how our world will be. Wealth will not save this world from itself. Even if it rains in gold today, people’s greed will not end.
World peace can not be achieved by changing what is outside of us, it is achieved by developing how each and everyone of us seek and define happiness inside of ourselves. And meditation is the tool for developing our happiness. Through the practice of mindfulness, not only will we find both Truth and True Happiness, but in the process benefits the world as well. It is the best thing that one can do for oneself as well as the world.
"Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom." - Aristotle
What originally led me to meditation is not my desire to be happy, but my desire to know Truth. It is rather odd how the two coincide. But from my experience, they do and they must. There is no True Happiness without Truth. One would not be wrong to say that finding Truth is also finding True Happiness.
During my time in college, I studied Philosophy. My journey in Philosophy has led me to know Truth. I know that Truth is outside of language. I know that it is the Unspeakable. I know that it transcends all dualities of life. But what I am saying to you right now is like describing to you how a dish would taste. I could tell you all about it but in the end it is you who have to taste it to know what it actually taste like. Similarly, Truth can be learned. But it must be experienced through meditation in order to truly know what it actually is.
For me, learning the truth of life is enjoyable in and of itself. Think of it as learning how to ride a horse. When you don’t know how, it is difficult and stressful to try to steer it. But once you come to learn about the nature of the horse and how to ride it, it is much easier and much more enjoyable. Life is very much the same. The more I became aware of the Truth of life the easier and happier life becomes.
You either live life or the life will live you, one way or the other. And the only difference is how much can we come to know life.
What meditation has given me is unrequitable and invaluable. There is too much that meditation has given me to all be written in words.
I have spoken to you about what I have received through meditation. But just as a final note, meditation is not something anyone should expect to gain anything out of. The expectation and desire of meditation will make it impossible to succeed in any attempt to meditate. Even though meditation leads you to True Happiness, but you can’t even expect or demand it to make you happy. Meditation is just to be mindful of ourselves. Just that is enough to get us to True Happiness.
All in all, I am not here to prove to you why you should meditate. Meditation does not need convincing as much as it needs to be proven. Thus, the only way to find out if what I have told you is true or if meditation can really give you True Happiness is to give it a try. Let meditation speaks its own truth to you so that you can see for yourself what meditation is and what it is for.
"I can only point you toward the door. But you have to walk through it yourself." - Buddha
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