Living Meditation, Living Insight by Dr Thynn Thynn
A: I have a lot of worries and stress. I try to meditate in order to relax, but it is no use.
Thynn: In this fast-moving world, meditation is regarded as an instant remedy for life’s ills. If you look upon meditation as merely a tranquilliser, you are underestimating its true value. Yes, relaxation does occur through meditation, but that is only one of its many results. Meditation in Buddhism is neither an instant cure nor just a stress-relieving measure.
Meditation in Buddhism means cultivation of the mind in order to achieve insight wisdom or panna, ultimately leading to liberation or nibbana.
D: Nibbana aside, I want to meditate, but I cannot find the time.
When you speak of meditation, you may think of the type of meditation that is popular these days, the sitting form of meditation. But that form is merely an aid, a support to develop a mental discipline of mindfulness and equanimity. The form should not be mistaken for the path. The popular notion is that you need to set aside a special time or place to meditate. In actuality, if meditation is to help you acquire peace of mind as you function in your life, then it must be a dynamic activity, part and parcel of your daily experience. Meditation is here and now, moment-to-moment, amid the ups and downs of life, amid conflicts, disappointments and heartaches – amid success and stress. If you want to understand and resolve anger, desires, attachments and all the myriad emotions and conflicts, need you go somewhere else to find the solution? If your house was on fire, you wouldn’t go somewhere else to put out the fire, would you?
If you really want to understand your mind, you must watch it while it is angry, while it desires, while it is in conflict. You must pay attention to the mind as the one-thousand-and-one thoughts and emotions rise and fall. The moment you pay attention to your emotions, you will find that they lose their strength and eventually die out. However, when you are inattentive, you find that these emotions go on and on. Only after the anger has subsided are you aware that you have been angry. By then, either you have made some unwanted mistakes or you have ended up emotionally drained.
R: How do you handle these emotions? I know that when I am angry I want to shout and throw things. Should I control these emotions or express them?
The natural inclination is to try to control the emotions. But when they are kept under a lid, they try to escape. They either rush out with a bang or they leak out as sickness or neuroses.
R: What should I do? Do I let my emotions go wild?
Certainly not. That is exactly what we don’t want to do. That is another extreme – to release your emotions impulsively. The important thing is neither control nor non-control. In either situation you are working up your desire to control. Neither situation is tenable. So long as this desire occupies your mind, your mind is not free to see anger as it is. Hence another paradox arises: the more you want to be free of the anger, the more you are not free of it.
To understand the mind, you have to watch and pay attention with an uncluttered, silent mind. When your mind is chattering away, all the time asking questions, then it lacks the capacity to look. It is too busy asking questions, answering, asking.
Try to experience watching yourself in silence. That silence is the silence of the mind free from discriminations, free from likes and dislikes, free from clinging. Thoughts and emotions by themselves are just momentary and possess no life of their own. By clinging to them, you prolong their stay.
Only when your mind is free from clinging and rejecting can it see anger as anger, desire as desire. As soon as you “see,” your mental process is fully preoccupied with “seeing,” and in that split second anger dies a natural death. This seeing, or insight, called pannya, arises as a spontaneous awareness that can be neither practiced nor trained. This awareness brings new insight into life, new clarity and new spontaneity in action.
So, you see, meditation need not be separate from life and its daily ups and downs. If you are to experience peace in this everyday world, you need to watch, understand and deal with your anger, desire and ignorance as they occur. Only when you cease to be involved with your emotions can the peaceful nature of your mind emerge. This peace-nature enables you to live every moment of your life completely. With this newfound understanding and awareness, you can live as a complete individual with greater sensitivity. You will come to view life with new and fresh perceptions. Strangely enough, what you saw as problems before are problems no more.