Thursday, September 25, 2008

Walking The Mistress!

(Walking the Mistress!)

Question: (unedited)
Hello justin, I hope you are happy and healthy. I have another question for you: I have read a lot about "natural mind" or finding the "natural state" of my mind during meditation. Does this natural state mean letting my thoughts (good and bad) flow through me without holding on during meditation? Or does this natural state mean a feeling of "no thought" where the mind is simply pointed at the here and now? Thanks again for helping me along the way, may you be happy and healthy always.

My comment:
Hi! Nice to hear from you again. You are talking about the subject of meditation; Buddhist meditation for that matter. It is important to emphasize "BUDDHIST MEDITATION". I don't know whether to regard it as "tradition" or "trend" to always separate Buddhist meditation into Vipassana (Insight) and Samatha (Tranquility). To me, Buddhist meditation IS simply Buddhist meditation. There is always this debate between these 2 types of meditation. I regard this futile exercise as a sheer waste of time.

Meditation is simply to know the mind, to tame the mind, and ultimately, to cultivate the mind. The first step is to understand this mind; that it wanders continuously. Knowing that, we train this mind to stay "quiet", until it is tamed. With a trained mind, we can now start to "teach" this mind to do the "tricks" that we want it to do. An untrained person is with a mind that is not trained. The mind becomes the master, and the person becomes the slave. He will succumb to the whims and fancies of his mind. And he is in trouble; just like most people (including me).

With a trained mind, a person is the master of the mind, and the mind is the "slave" or "servant" of the person. The person has full control over his mind. He will direct his mind to do what he wants and not what the mind wants. He becomes a skilful person with wisdom. He will live in peace and happiness.

As an analogy, an untrained dog-owner taking his untrained dog for a walk, is actually allowing the dog to take him for a walk. The dog will drag and pull him, and the owner simply follows the leash! This is hillarious! This is like the mind taking us for a walk.

The owner has to know that it is the wrong method. He has to learn the technique to train the dog. Once the dog is trained to obey instructions, the owner can then teach the dogs other tricks. Coming back to your questions. First we must tame our mind. The method is to focus on an object so that whenever the mind wanders, it is pulled back to that object of concentration. This is to confirm your second question. This is Samatha or Tranquility.

The next step is to teach your mind to perform "tricks" that you want it to do. This corresponds to your first question. Our mind always wanders, because we allow it the freedom to create havoc in our lives. The method to train this mind is to know its nature. Whenever a thought comes, simply NOTE THE THOUGHT. Whatever comes simply note...PERIOD. When we become skilful in this exercise, we will notice that whenever and whatever the mind thinks or feels, we just note and finish with it. No more stray thoughts, no more problems. This is the gist of what the Buddha explained in the "four foundations of mindfulness". This is Vipassana or Insight.

We understand the nature of the mind, and we know how to direct it to our advantage. Both tranquility and insight must come together if one is to experience calm and acquire wisdom. With only tranquility, these is no wisdom. Without tranquility, there is no way one can gain insight. So as far as I understand, Buddhist meditation must have both.

Happy meditating. See you again.

Smile from justinchoo :-)


N4M said...

When you use the word "thoughts", you refer to mental activity. There is always a mental activity occur without break. Even in the dreamless sleeping state. The bhavanga is there. It is a kind of passive mental state.

In the active mental state, wholesome or unwholesome thoughts may arise.

These mental states flow like stream. They flow rapidly. Fast until we could not see it. That's why people think that there is "I", "I think".

In the meditation, yogi notes at the mental states with mindfulness. This can be what you mean by "natural state".

Normally, we are not able to go to the state of "no thought" or no mental activity. In Buddhism, only Anagami or Arahatta beings with Jhana attainment are able to attain this kind of meditation experience (Nirodhasamapatti).

To be able to note at this fast stream mental states, yogi needs strong concentration.

When yogi able to note at these phenomena, wisdom arises.

Justin Choo said...

Wah that's very deep.

I still prefer simple meditation practice.

A true Malaysian said...


I will start with the key words,

Mind - make this a slave to us Master

Tranquility and insight.

In short, have a "focus mind" when meditating? Anyway, will see how to go about.

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