THE BENEFITS OF MEDITATION Part I
Understanding the Universe,
Inside and Out
Understanding the Law of Nature
The study of meditation helps us realize two perspectives on life. The first is knowledge about the Universe or Law of Nature, which includes natural phenomena such as seasonal changes and the characteristics of food. Some people say: “The main characteristic of food is that it’s meant to be eaten.” However, lack of knowledge about the qualities a food possesses during a particular season can lead to food poisoning. Also, ignorance about the weather can result in suffering. Many people travel to Tibet. The moment they step out of the plane, they start to feel dizzy. Before they start their tour, they are lying in a hospital bed relying on an oxygen tank with tubes up their nose, looking like an extraterrestrial. If they’re lucky, they can travel again after three days. For others, altitude sickness means they have to be sent home.
Meditation helps us understand Nature. However, Nature, like feng shui, is a difficult thing to grasp. There’s a saying: “Only the ignorant live by the sea.” In the past, the Chinese didn’t like living by the sea as the wind is strong and it is very humid. Just a kilometer inland, the air is much drier and so it is better for living.
Do you read people’s minds or recognize your affinity with another? If you truly have affinity with someone, you may be friends for life. With others, you’re fated to be enemies. If someone annoys you at first sight, you’ll still be enemies 20 years later. There’s a reason for the annoyance: Your magnetic fields repel each other. If two people with incompatible magnetic fields marry, they’ll have conflicts and bad fights; one or both of them will be troubled. This can be part of one’s inborn destiny.
Some spend their entire life analyzing minerals or a specific stone such as ruby, diamond, or the stones used for making cement. There are some who devote their life to one task without much achievement.
Besides your occupation, there are over 10,000 other professions. But some may gravitate to a particular profession for the wrong reasons. Sometimes a 70-year-old artist isn’t as artistic or talented as a 7-year-old. He may have chosen art only because he wanted an artsy girlfriend.
Despite having persisted in drawing, he failed to sell his art. There are also some singers who sing so badly their audience ends up in hospital. There is such a “talent” in Vancouver. I can’t take his singing.
Understanding the external world involves all of our behaviors. No matter how capable and intelligent we are and how much time we have, it’s hard to know the Universe. Becoming a tailor is easier. However, becoming a good tailor is tough too — making a masterpiece requires about 30 years of experience. Becoming a great fortuneteller is even harder.
Meditation helps us understand the Universe and Natural Law. We also need to understand the rules of conduct. Go with the flow, but we cannot ignore all manmade rules. For example, “A life for a life; a debt must be repaid.” When you ignore this and don’t follow the rules, someone may put a bullet in your head.
Many people don’t understand human psychology and how to maintain good interpersonal relationships. I’ve met many businessmen who are worried about not getting wealthy. Life’s like an uphill climb where everything’s expensive: buildings, houses, the cost of living. Before we can understand the external environment, we have to first ask ourselves if we have performed simple tasks well. Many businessmen have forgotten a Chinese saying: “Every visitor is a guest.” The more visitors you get, the more opportunities to earn money. You shouldn’t be impolite to a customer just because he is a sloppy dresser. If you do, you may drive him away.
Through meditation, the process of coming to understand the Universe can be accelerated.
Understanding the Inner Self
The first part is about understanding the external Law of Nature. The second part is about understanding the inner self through meditation. How do we come to understand our inner self?
We start with understanding our own thoughts. In other words, we understand ourselves from within. We use our senses — sight, smell, touch, sound – to understand the world around us, to make judgments about people and products and the effects and influence others have on us. Most of us use our senses to understand this world, but few use them for self-awareness. Are you always right when you make judgments? Perhaps your perspective is skewed when you view the world. Let’s use a pair of glasses as an example. If you wear rose-colored glasses, the world looks rosy. It’s because the lens are tinted that your judgment is inaccurate.
A well-known Chinese parable highlights this idea. It is called “The Blind Men Touching the Elephant.” There are four blind men and each touches a different part of an elephant. The first man says that an elephant is like a big hose because he’s touching the trunk. The second man disagrees and says it’s like a pillar because he’s touching the leg. The third man, touching the ear, comments that it’s like a fan. While grabbing its tail, the fourth man says it’s like a rope. None can grasp what an elephant actually looks like.
When our state of mind is not expansive enough to evaluate things across time and space, our understanding and judgment might be biased. When biases exist, our emotional state and self-expression become skewed. Sometimes we’re angry when it is unnecessary. For example, a couple feels anxious if they’re unable to have a child after three years. When they finally do have a child, they get annoyed whenever he is mischievous. My point is that the feelings that make us troubled or joyful are not real.
From a perspective that transcends time and space, your troubles arise from your ignorant state of mind. Your joys are delusions that can be likened to the bubbles of soap. Soap bubbles are only a form of air. Humans can be emotionally sensitive and responsive — a split-second sensation causes us to respond emotionally. This is a key source of our troubles. We should learn to understand our inner self and the Universe more deeply in order to resolve our physical and emotional ailments.
When I was young and a little “enlightened,”I realized that “Buddha sits in our heart; demons arise in our heart.” Sometimes both Buddha and demons are born of our mental state. Why does one feel troubled? Either because you don’t behave well or you do not have true love. Selfish people take an extremely sensitive perspective when observing the behavior of others. Such a person, when seeing two innocent strangers chatting and giggling, will think they are teasing him. If two strangers are yelling,he thinks they are shouting at him. This is the vulnerability of mankind — the lack of a big heart. Selfishness creates a fear that you may give too much. Lack of self-confidence creates a worry that you’re misunderstood.
Due to ignorance, you may lose self-confidence when you don’t receive recognition. Your suspicion about others causes you to become isolated.
To step out of such mental ailments, expand your heart. If your heart contains love, contribute and do your best to serve others. This is the first step toward stepping out of your lonely world. Start to love another person, and then love a second and third one. Here I’m not talking about romantic relationships, I’m referring to offering more help to friends. Slowly your heart will expand and the
troubles will melt away. Your heart determines