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Sandra Pawula

Making Friends with the Real World

"In the practice of meditation, having developed a sense of trust in oneself, slowly that expands its expression outward, and the world becomes a friendly world rather than a hostile world. You could say that you have changed the world: you have become the king or queen of the universe.

On the other hand, you can’t exactly say that, because the world has come toward you, to return your friendship. It tried all kinds of harsh ways to deal with you at the beginning, but finally the world and you begin to speak with each other, and the world becomes a real world, a completely real world, not at all an illusory world or a confused world. It is a real world. You begin to realize the reality of elements, the reality of time and space, the reality of emotions—the reality of everything."

-Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche


It's easy to unwittingly use meditation as an escape from the real world. 

Especially in these busy and chaotic times.  We seek peace. We seek respite.  Meditation can become a safe, cozy cocoon, where you attempt to withdraw to drown out the tornado of life. 

You might even long for an "experience" of meditation.  Like bliss, clarity, or absence of thought.  Now, there's the real stuff of meditation!

Or is it?

Now it's true, these experiences can be good signs of progress in meditation.  They can indicate the momentary death of attachment, aggression, and ignorance, respectively.

But if you become attached to experiences like this, they only become obstacles in meditation.  These are only transitory experiences, not realization itself.  And the good experiences can sometimes lead you even further astray than the negative ones. 

As Kyabjé Dudjom Rinpoche said, "Spiritual experiences are like mist. They will evaporate."

There's nothing wrong with settling the mind and experiencing periods of calm abiding.  In fact, this is an essential step on the path of learning to meditate.  It's just important to remember that this is not the ultimate goal of meditation, nor is it a permanent state.

The truth is that meditation is not an escape route from the reality of  life.  Even if you practice meditation, you will still have pain and suffering.  "Negative" circumstances will still occur due to karma from this or previous lives.

The secret lies in how we perceive or relate to what is happening around us.  It is in each moment that the cessation of suffering can take place.

Meditation is simply remaining undistracted.  It is allowing yourself to be present in the face of whatever thoughts, emotions, or sensations occur in your mind and whatever circumstances appear in the world around you.  It is not hanging out in bliss, clarity, or absence of thought.

There is no escape.  It's time to make friends with the world.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.  Do you see meditation as a safe cocoon?  Or has it helped you make friends with the world in all its aspects?

Quotation from  The Ocean of Dharma Series  // Image:  Public Domain (dot) net