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What is meditation and why? – Prajna Bangsha Mahathero

 

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Meditation is a mental faculty, a concentration of mind. The word  meditation means deep thought on certain issue. Deep thought is to solve the problem or to find out the real answer of critical questions. From the very beginning of the human civilization we, the human beings have used this mental faculty in order to fulfill our necessities. Really, this mental faculty is wonderful. Its power is limitless and boundless. Gradual use on this mental faculty has given human civilization a wonderful advancement. A human being in the deep forest of Africa is similar to a wild beast. He has no idea about god, creator, religion or the life. Even he has no capacity to enjoy the all comforts of modern scientific lives. Between a civilized man and an uncivilized man how gulf of difference there is! In this sense while we carefully observe the gradual development of our human civilization we feel it clearly the wonderful and unique role of a concentrated or meditation mind. To concentrate a mind is called meditation.

The nature of a being is to search comfort of his life. Uneasy feeling generates the necessity of comfort. Comfort is also a mental faculty but it fully depends on materialistic arrangements. For example a man of footpath feels uneasy from sun, rain and cold. A simple shade or shelter will draw a wonderful comfort to him. Comport will make him happy, but no satisfaction at all. In the days to come he again has to face uneasiness in that simple shelter. For his gradual desire more comfortable and more beautiful shelter then he will need to make himself happy. Like wise even a king will never be happy within his territory! Why? Because he is not satisfied with what he has. Satisfaction is also a mental faculty which fully depends on materialistic enjoyment too. This is also a boundless, limitless mental factor. Unsatisfied man is never happy? Every action of an unhappy man is always against the peace. Unhappiness is a dangerous contagious factor too. He will suffer who will accompany that unhappy one. So, how could you expect peace and happiness from an unhappy and unsatisfied person or a leader?

Modern science is giving importance on materialistic development and is engaging all efforts and energy for it. But why this development we need this question is gettingless importance very often. Commercial mentality is working only behind it. Satisfaction of the consumers had been treated a the capital of the producers just to earn more and more money. So money has become more important than the happiness to the human society. In this way loving kindness compassion, delight and equanimity have little value in the modern scientific world. It is out of the scientific mind too.

If a scientist world believe that his invention are only for the peace and happiness of the human society he shall never make his efforts for the technical development of more and more sophisticated weapons, arms and ammunitions. At the same time the producers or the proprietors would never involved with the trades of arms and weapons. If the kings or political leader what they want is just for the peace and happiness of the mankind they would understand the result of capturing power by force having used arms and weapons. Hatred begets hatred. Love begets love, Loving kindness is more powerful than any other weapons to win the hearts of others.

Peace and happiness are the early quest of mind. A wise and thoughtful mind is able to understand clearly. Untrained mind always keeps himself out of control. An uncontrolled mind always over whelms us to keep us under its control. So that a man becomes a slave of his own mind. He acts only what his mind wants. It has been proved that uncontrolled mind is never be a wise mind and it never allows you to understand the reality or the true result of your every action. It gives you a wrong idea, a belief which seems right and correct. At the long run it proves itself wrong. But the problem is that we forget the beginning in most of the case (by this time). In this way human beings are always in wrong by the uncontrolled mind. So, they are always in sufferings by the numerous problems in their day to day lives.

We never want to keep us into sufferings. We always want to be happy, joyful and peaceful. Thia’s why we need to control our mind at first. There are numerous process of “mind control”. Thousands of years numerous numbers of saints and scholars are trying to find out the best process for controlling their own mind in guest of peace and happiness. It is called Meditation. Meditation means concentration of mind.

We need physical rest after continuous physical laboure. It helps us to recover our physical strength. Sleeping is one of the best processes for physical rest. But, is there any rest for mind? Even in our sound sleep we meet dreams. It means there is no rest at all for the mind. The nature of mind is to keep itself busy always throughout the day and night. All the sense organs i.e. eye, ear, nose, tounge, skin and mind.

All previous experiences of the mind are the fields of the mind to play and to run throughout the day and night. Restless uncontrolled mind never helps you to get mental peace and real happiness.

According to saying of the Buddha

“Vikkhitta Citta nekaggo samma dhammam napssati,

Apassamano Saddhamma dukkha na parimuccati.”

i.e. a restless and uncontrolled mind will never understand the real phenomena of life. How is it possible to overcome the sufferings of life without understanding the real phenomena of life?

The nature of our mind is restlessness, os, we need to keep it in control for its concentration. What is concentration? According to a German scholar Bhikkhu Nanamoli, “Concentration is of many sorts and has various aspects. An answer that attemped to cover it all would accomplish neither its intertion nor its purpose and would besides, lead to distraction. So we shall confine ourselves to this kind intended here, calling concentration profitable unification of mind.” Unification of mind in Pali Lingusitic term, “Cittassa ekaggata”. It is in the sense of agreement or harmony (Samagga) of conciousness and its concomitants in focussing on a single object. It is sometimes rendered one pointedness in that sense, or in that sense of the focussing of a search light. It may be concluded that this term is simply a synonym for “Samadhi” and nothingmore. Samadhi is in the sense of concentrating (SAMADHANA). What is this concentrating? It is the centering (Adhana) of conciousness and consciousness concomitants evenly (saman) and rightly (smma) on a single object; placing, is what is meant. So it is the state in virtue of which consciousness and its concomitants remain evenly and rightly on a single object undistracted and unscaltered that should be understood as concentrating.

Concentratin has non-distraction as its characteristic. It is manifested as non-wavering. Because of the words ‘Being blissful’, his mind becomes concentrated. Its promimate cause is bliss.

There are many kinds of concentration :

1) First of all it is of one kind with the characteristic of non-distraction.

2) Then it is of two kinds as access and absorption [applied thought that occurs as though absorbing (appents) associated states in the object is absorption (appana). Accordingly it is described as absorption, absorbing (appana Vyappana)

3) Likweise as mundane and supramundane. (lokiya/world means connected with the world because of being included in it or found here) and supramundane (lokuttra, means beyound the world i.e. Nibbana)

4) As with happiness and without happiness,

5) As accompanied bliss and accompanied by equanimity. It is of three kinds.

6) As inferior, medium and superior likewise as with applied thought and sustained thought etc.

7) As accompanied by happiness etc.

8) As limited exalted and measureless.

9) As of difficult progress and sluggish direct knowledge etc.

10) As limited with limited object etc.

11) According to the factors of the four ‘Jhanas’ (developing stages of mindfulness)

12) As partaking of diminution etc.

13) As of the sence sphere etc.

14) As predominance.

There are five ‘Jhanas’ reckoned by the five fold method. This five fold method has been mentioned in Pali Text. “Vitakka’ ‘Vicara’, ‘Piti’, “Sukha’ and ‘Ekaggata’.

 

1) ‘Vitakka’ means reflection of mind on a particular object. It is the directing of concomitant properties towards the object.

2) ‘Vicara’ is the continued exercise of mind on that object. Vitakka and Vicara are the first two properties of the Jhanas.

3) ‘Piti’ means happiness or emotion of joy of mind due to oneness of mind on one object.

5) ‘Sukha’ means pleasure or bliss, it is pleasant feeling of Jhana and bliss of Nibbana.

‘Ekaggata’ means concentration of mind or tranquality of mind.

The five fold Jhanas (those) mentioned above are the gradual development of concentration. The development of concentration up to the arising of the access of a given Jhana is called propress.

And understanding that occurs from the time of access. Until absorption is called direct knowledge. That progress is defficult for some, being troublesome owing to the tenacious resistance of the inimical states beginning with the hindrances. The meaning is that it is cultivated without ease. It is easy for others because of the absence of those difficulties. Also the direct knowledge is sulggish in some and occurs rapidly, not slowly. When a man cultivates what is unsuitable, his progress is difficult and his direct knowledge is sluggish. When he cultivates what is suitable, his propress is easy and his direct knowledge swift ….. etc.

Besides one should be understood as classed according to craving and ignorance and according to whether one has heed practise in serenity and insight. The serenity and insight have Pali terms ‘SAMATHA’ and ‘VIPASSANA’.

Samatha means absorption, concentration and Vipassana overwhelmed by craving his progress is difficult. If not it is easy. And if not he is overwhemed by ignorance, his direct knowledge is sluggish. If not, it is swift. And if he has had no parctice in serenity, his practice is difficult. If he has it is easy. And if he has had no practice insight, his direct knowledge is sluggish. If he has it is swift.

In conclusion we must say as modernity becoming it miserable more and more. So, we need to introduce meditation in the world of people as fast as we could out of compassion. Buddhism suggests two ways of meditation i.e. Samatha and Vipassana which need to practise in various methods and technics. But we should know the other ways and methods from other religions and physical teachings too for the cause of manking and peaceful world.

Selected Bibliography :

  1. Visuddhi Magga : Translated by- Purnananda Swami
  2. The Path of Purification : Bhikkhu Nanamuli.

সম্মন্ধে Mudita Bhikkhu

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