I just finished reading „In the Shadow of the Buddha“ by Matteo Pistono. It´s a fascinating book about a nearly decade-long pilgrimage through Tibet, on the footsteps of a great master of the past. And it’s also a detailed description of the author´s inner journey, a journey through the various levels of meditation.
After 8 years of sometimes dangerous travels, Matteo arrives at the last sacred place that his teacher had told him to go to – and finds a completely devastated, “empty” and abandoned place at the end of the world. Right there, with all his expectations being crashed, he has a fundamental insight.
Gaps fascinate me. They have a great and completely underestimated potential. They separate things, they are the space between. One could even say that it would be really difficult to distinguish anything, to say where one thing ends and another starts, without gaps. And the interesting thing about them is that they do not only separate physical objects, but also mental "objects". And that's where they become really relevant for meditation.
About three weeks ago I blogged about how happiness can increase longevity. So in this post we can look at study that shows that people who spend more time living in the moment are happier than people who are lost in thoughts and day dreams.
Sogyal Rinpoche offers advice on how to find inner peace and contentment.
Many times I have heard my meditation teachers talk about how the mind we discover through meditation is like the sky. All kinds of clouds can cover up the sky, but the sky itself is never harmed by them. In the same way, although all kinds of thoughts and emotions appear in the mind, and cover it up, ultimately the true essence of our mind can never be harmed by them. Furthermore through the practice of meditation, we can begin to see that our mind (or its essential nature) is really free of all the emotions that arise within it and find true and lasting contentment as a result.
There is a fascinating study, it is part of a broader research project dubbed “The Nun Study”, in which the lifespan of grumpy nuns is compared to happy ones.
It was on a bright summer afternoon that I tried it for the first time. I was a teenager looking for states of rapture and mystical revelations, self-assured that those were within my reach.
I still remember it vividly: The family had gone out and I found myself a quiet spot on the living room carpet. I placed my new book in front of me and got ready to pick a method and finally do it.
It had taken me a few years to actually find instruction on how to do it, and just today I had stumbled upon this book in the bookshop. I had bought it, rushed home with it and had read the introduction. Getting more excited by the minute, I had skipped ahead to the second part which included a variety of methods that one can try. Meditation methods, that is.
So now I was ready: I picked the simplest method, got in position and… well…
It´s not any brick wall, it´s the one outside my window. It not only limits the little backyard, it limits my view. And, although I sometimes maybe tend to be a little strange, I would be lying if I would say that this is the most fantastic view I can think of. I would definitely prefer the view on a nice landscape, preferably some nice gentle hills with the ocean or a big lake behind.
Of course, in the beginning my mind told me “what an ugly, limiting wall, what a miserable person you are that you cannot afford a flat with a nicer view!” But then, with time, being confronted with that wall anyway when sitting on my sofa, I made peace with it. And it became a teacher for me.
I was sitting in a café having lunch with a friend I had not seen for a long time. By the time our desserts arrived we had updated each other on all the usual facts of our lives. He knew that I had been practicing meditation for a few years and suddenly, just as we received a warm fondant au chocolat he sprung on me the big ‘WHY?