Personal Narrative- Meditation
Perhaps, like me, you have wondered how you might best contribute to helping save the world. There are so many problems evident around the world that need attention, but which are most urgent? Which people are the most needy? Where is the worst suffering, the most oppression? Where is the earth being damaged most? There is no shortage of strife around us needing attention. At the same time, we can wonder what it is we have to offer the people of the world. What talents, what time, what commitment? What can I do? Sometimes these considerations are so perplexing that we become paralysed and do not act at all.
One method that helps sort through life’s options and indicates the best course of action for us is meditation, although this is usually done indirectly. The meditation that I have been taught emphasizes the gradual development of both wisdom and skilful activity for the purpose of helping all living beings. One must have wisdom to know how to act, and one must be skilful in carrying out these actions. One without the other will produce less than satisfactory results. Incidentally, skilful activity in this context is a synonym for compassion. So, basically, the idea is to act with compassion based on wisdom.
One of the first purposes of meditation is to see our own mind. When beginning meditation, people are often taught the technique of watching one’s breath. This method has the effect of ‘taking a breather’, literally allowing our usual random and wild thoughts to settle naturally. With the settling comes more and more clarity of mind. With clarity comes a glimpse into how our thoughts are influenced by our emotions and how our emotions arise. With a better understanding of how we operate comes more effective activity in all our spheres.
Of course, learning to develop wisdom and skilful activity has application not only to saving the world, but also to life’s day-to-day basics like learning to get on well with your partner and kids, your neighbors and workmates. I am not qualified to teach you to meditate, but I can suggest its merits and, if you are interested, encourage you to find a suitably qualified teacher. Personally, I am grateful to my own teachers for this single greatest and most useful gift for life on earth.
Consider for a moment how fortunate we are to be born as humans. At a basic level, we have minds that can think, reason, discriminate, conceptualize, intuit and, through meditation, recognize its own nature. At a more personal level, if you possess the circumstances to read this on your computer, you are already better off than probably 90 per cent of the world’s humans. Not everyone is born in a (relatively) free country, in (relatively) free circumstances. You may have a home to sleep in and food to eat each day. You may have access to education and employment to some greater or lesser degree. You have the luxury of time to ponder the world’s difficulties and ask yourself...