Posted by: lrrp | October 21, 2011

Obstacles in the path of meditation by Dr Padmaka Silva, Compiled with instructions by Venerable Nawalapitiye Ariyawansa Thero.

When one keeps on practising the Dhamma he gets the ability to attain concentration. He gets the ability to develop understanding in the Panca Upadanakkhanda. Thereafter he develops dispassionateness with understanding. Desire gets away from such a person. Desire gets annihilated. Complete calming down of the mind takes place. He gets the ability to develop the special wisdom. He gets complete understanding of the Noble Truths. He realises Nibbana. Therefore it will be a gain of no small magnitude if we develop trust in Dhammas like this which are explained to us in a straightforward manner by the Buddha.

Five meditation subjects are explained in this sermon. Asubha Sanna (idea of the impurity of the body), Loathsomeness of food, not taking delight in worlds, Considering all Sankharas as impermanent, and thinking of death. If one practises these five Dhammas he gets a chance to attain Nibbana.

If one practises these Dhammas what type of person would he be? He is a person who accepts this preaching. One who does not accept will practice for a short while and say ‘there is nothing’. Or he may ask ‘Is that enough?’ That is the characteristic of the person who finds it difficult to accept. Therefore one must be clever enough to have confidence in the facts explained by the Buddha.

The confidence should arise in us that one can definitely realise Nibbana if one practises these Dhammas. Such a person will not get into a hurry. He will do it continuously. Will do it methodically. In an orderly manner.

The results cannot be achieved in a day or two. We do not know how long we will have to spend on it. It may be a month, or two months, one year, five years, ten years or even the entire life time. What is important is not the duration. What is important is realising Nibbana. One arrives at the path to Nibbana by believing in the understanding of the Buddha (Sadda).

If the person who develops confidence in that manner fails to attain Nibbana in this life he will definitely do so in the next birth. That is inevitable. Therefore what should one do at the beginning? What should be done by the individual who wishes to begin meditation? He should develop confidence in the Buddha’s understanding. Why? Why do we meditate? We meditate to get liberated from Sansara. For what else? Is it to travel in the air? Is it to dive in the ground? No. We decide on meditating in order to get liberated from Sansara.

Therefore what should be present in a person to perform the meditation with a liking for it? The confidence in understanding of the Buddha. If an individual has trust in understanding of the Buddha will he remain without meditating? He does meditate. Does he do it in a hurry? No. He does it systematically. He does it in an orderly manner. Therefore what have we got to do at the start? To have confidence in understanding of the Buddha.

To get that confidence we have to read the Dhamma preached by the Buddha and accept it. The individual who accepts the Dhamma practises the meditation indicated therein little by little. He does it systematically. He is not in a hurry. He is calm. His sense organs become disciplined little by little. Why? There is an inherent calmness in him. It is not something forced.

Many people have calmness which has been forcefully formed. That forced calmness is useless. It is a nuisance. It is like remaining in a prison. That forced calmness arises where there is no confidence in the Dhamma. Where there is confidence in Dhamma calmness arises. Why? He starts getting calmed. Indecent hurry leaves him.

There is a definite thing to be done by him. One who has something definite to be done does it without getting into an indecent hurry. One who has nothing definite to do does one thing, abandons it, does another, abandons it also and thinks “This does not work for me”.

He carries out one meditation for some time. Then abandons it thinking that “This does not work for me”. Thereafter carries out another meditation. Abandons that also. Says “Venerable Sir, Asubha does not seem to work for me. Metta might work”. In this manner he comes out with various excuses.

Such things happen. Why do they think like that? He has confidence only in himself. It is he who thinks “Asubha does not work for me. Metta works for me”. We should not develop confidence in ourselves. We should develop confidence in the Buddha. If the Buddha says “If one practices these five he gets these results” we should rely on it. Under such circumstances we will not think in a weak manner.

But many people meditate for a few days. Then says “Asubha does not work for me. Asubha does not settle on me. My mind says Metta might work”. That is how many people say. You can thus see on what they have placed confidence.

Many people say that they know the preaching. They carry the Sutta books in their hands. But where is their confidence? They have faith in themselves. They start with faith in themselves. After a time they say “I cannot practice Asubha” and start practicing Metta. After sometime they feel “Meditating on the virtues of the Buddha is better than Metta for me” and give up Metta.

They practice the virtues of the Buddha for some time and think “Virtues of the Buddha will not work for me. Must practice meditation on Sense Organs”. In this manner they keep on changing from one meditation to another. Finally they say “Meditation is not suitable for me. I will read books and meditate later” and give up meditation completely.

Why? He thinks meditation does not work for him. The reason for that is his having faith only in himself. He remains in the conclusion formed by himself “I will fail in this. This will not work for me”. We should not come to a conclusion based on our ability or belief. We should come to a conclusion based on the Dhamma preached by the Buddha.

It is explained in the Dhamma that by practising these five factors one gets disgusted definitely. Then there is no use in believing in ourselves. There is a belief we should have in ourselves. There is a way, an aspect which we should have in ourselves. What is it? “I am not a person with great wisdom. I am a person with weak ability. I have been born in an age in which wisdom is deteriorating.

This opportunity has come my way because of a small merit performed by me. Therefore I must have confidence in understanding of the Buddha”. That is the conclusion one must come to about oneself.

One who has arrived at the correct conclusion believes in understanding of the Buddha. He becomes a strong person. It is like putting a fainted person into a good vehicle. It will be inconvenient for a fainted person to walk. If he gets into a comfortable vehicle is it difficult for him now? No. He is comfortable. He has strength now. Similarly we are weak now. But we can overcome it by developing confidence in understanding of the Buddha.

That is what is referred to as being certain. That is where patience is formed. That is where energy is generated. If someone believes in the understanding of the Buddha energy will definitely get generated in such a person. He will not meditate for a short while and then come to the state of weak energy saying that “This does not work for me”. He will practise systematically. He will meditate in an orderly manner. He has energy. On what is that energy based? By believing in understanding of the Buddha.

He accepts that the Buddha is Arahan, Samma Sambuddha. He accepts that Dhamma is well preached. He accepts that the Aryan priesthood is on the correct path. One who accepts in that manner becomes a person who has accepted the Dhamma. He knows that irrespective of what people say the Dhamma is reliable. He says “I will therefore practice the Dhamma”. He does not look for results. Why doesn’t he look for results? That is because there is no need to do so. He knows that there will be results.

Suppose one consumes some food. Does he feel his abdomen to see whether the stomach is getting filled up? No. He knows that it goes to the stomach and the stomach is getting filed up. To the person who has confidence in Dhamma, the fact that practicing this Dhamma produces results is no stranger than the knowledge that consuming a meal fills the stomach.

The acceptance that this Dhamma definitely makes the one who practises it attain Nibbana is stronger than that. He arrives at such a strong acceptance and confidence. Therefore we must read these preachings and be willing to develop a strong belief in this absolutely profound and beautiful Dhamma preached by the Buddha.

This article has been taken from DailyNews online edition.


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