We spend our lives busily in the pursuit of well-being and happiness; but as we do not know how or where to find it, confused as we are, we end up believing that we can find satisfaction in the immense diversity of forms, smells and tastes that attract our senses, objects, all of which, are outside of us. So, we entrust our happiness to the possibility that certain causes and conditions are produced, all of which are external and, thus, their achievement is beyond our control. As a result, whenever we believe we have achieved something, as it is only the result of external and variable circumstances, as soon as they change, the object that we thought we had apprehended disappears, because it also transforms, it is no longer the same. The pleasure of yesterday’s delicious food has vanished, and if we want to experience it again, we have to labour in the vain attempt to reunite again the same conditions that made it possible. And so it continues!
But when will all this incessant activity end? Does it not tire? And in the end, do we achieve anything?
The truth is that, as with other worries of life, neither work, nor effort or time can guarantee us happiness. Nor is it helpful to just want it. It does not work like that, right? If so, we would not be here now (asking these questions). It is clear that we need another method, one that lies within us, capable of ensuring lasting experiences of happiness, and less dependent on external factors.
(At a conventional level) we are made up of a body and a mind, but it is the mind that is much more powerful. Everything we think leads to positive or negative acts, because it is the mind that directs the body; that is why it is so important to observe it. Our attitude in life and, consequently, our problems or our happiness will depend on our mental state at every moment. Our sensations and experiences are a faithful reflection of our mental state; that’s why we have to make it stable. From positive and virtuous mental states, positive and virtuous experiences and sensations are derived; from conflicting mental states, follow conflicting events and experiences.
As long as we have created their causes and the necessary conditions are met, pain or happiness will arise and it will be of no help to want some of these experiences and avoid others. If we do not do something to cause experiences of happiness and avoid those of pain, we are arguably not doing anything (we are allowing ourselves to fall victim of the whims and vagaries of life). If we want happiness, our actions will have to be positive. Equally, if we want to avoid suffering and problems, we must start by eliminating our negative behaviours. And in order to exercise control over our actions, we need to train the mind. To train it, we need meditation. So, we meditate to help observe the mind and avoid being negatively influenced by it.
This does not appear in any particular text but, in my experience, these are the reasons why we should meditate. The true meaning of meditation is not to stop thoughts and stay blank, but to eliminate our negative emotions. If we only do the first thing, stay blank, we will achieve a neutral state for some time, which may be pleasant, but we will not be doing anything to eliminate our anger, our pride, our attachment, etc. in short, our problems.
The true meaning of meditation is not to stop thoughts and stay blank, but to eliminate our negative emotions.
We must know that everything that attracts difficulties to our life, are caused by negative emotions. And we have many. Every time one of these emotions seizes us, our mind becomes disturbed, confused and our behaviour becomes a source of problems and conflicts not only for us, but also for others. Therefore, it is essential that we learn to control these mental states until they are eradicated, and in that way we no longer become a cause of suffering for ourselves or others. Of course, it will always be useful to enjoy good physical and material conditions, but only if we consider them purely as a means to an end. In the end we must never lose sight of the ultimate objective which is the total elimination of our negative emotions. And that is only achieved through meditation.
For other articles and advice on meditation click here – Meditation advice and practices
Note: Any error in the translation of this text is wholly attributable to me, and me alone, and should never be attributable to the perfect dharma teachings of the Venerable Geshe Tsering Palden. I sincerely apologise for any errors.