Summary: What to expect from meditation, and how it influences daily life.
Peace and Happiness : in Life or Meditation?
Recently we hosted a Dhamma Talk by Steve and Rosemary Weissman at Baan Aree. We had chance to chat to and interview them both before hand, and some of this conversation will appear in blogs over the next week. One of the things Steve said, which he bagan the evening’s talk with, referred to a nice little sutta that describes four kinds of peace and happiness:
Peace and Happiness that arise:
- In meditation and in daily life
- In meditation, but not in daily life
- In daily life, but not in meditation
- Neither in meditation nor daily life
Most people relate to the final clause, and aspire to the first. But which of the clauses two and three are the more worthy? Most people, though they may not be aware of it, strain after the second, and not the third. That is, most people want to experience bliss and happiness while they meditate, maybe with the thought that if they could just ‘do it’ they would meditate more. It must be the biggest obstacle of all to meditation, this desire that it should be blissful.
The truth is, some sittings will be good, but probably most of them will be something of a struggle. But if one has the foresight to see that true value lies in the third clause, then the struggle to establish mindfulness, far from being a failing, becomes a source of peace and happiness in daily life. This is what many schools call vipassana meditation, as opposed to the chiefly blissful but wisdom-lacking concentration meditation.
It is while the mind is unruly that you learn the true nature of the unruly mind. It is while the mind is dull that you learn the true benefit of a sharp mind, wieldy and ready for work. It is when that little alarm bell rings in the meditators mind reminding them to be mindful, even if it only rings once or twice a sitting, that the real work is being done. One is gaining a distance from the moods that bedevil the mind, and seeing what is there. At first of course, it is a maelstrom of confusion, with only intermittent flashes of mindfulness. But bit by bit, the mind reveals itself, learns and lets go. This is the kind of meditation that makes ones life away from the zafu (meditation cushion) more peaceful and happy.
Steve followed the sutta with a 25 minute talk on the Paramittas – the ten perfections. It is the development of these that will have the most effect on daily life he said, and they are developed both on and off the meditation cushion.
A reminder: the ten are –
- Loving kindness
Earlier post that included the ten paramitta: https://littlebang.wordpress.com/2008/03/20/meditators-boobytrap/
Italicised sections are from Steve Weissman’s talk, and the remainder reflect the views of Ven Cittasamvaro.