EIf we analyze our life and the events that take place in it, we can come to the conclusion that all events and phenomena are absolutely neutral in nature. Why is that? You can give the simplest and most striking example of the weather. Some people like sunny days, others like cloudy ones. Some like cool, others like hot. And now, for example, a hot day is coming. And it brings suffering to some people, and happiness and joy to others. It turns out that the same event happened – a hot day came, but the reaction of different people is different. And what ultimately caused suffering for those who do not like the heat?
The cause of suffering was not the hot day itself, but the attitude of these people to hot weather. Thus, it turns out that the causes of our suffering, as well as our happiness, are in ourselves. And only our attitude to this or that object or phenomenon makes us either suffer or make us happy. And the weather example is just the most striking example. But by this principle, any event can be disassembled. Only our attitude to this event shapes our reaction to it.
So, all things and phenomena are neutral in nature. Any event is an accumulation of experience, and there are no “positive” or “negative” events. Even the most unpleasant event can benefit. And most importantly, if you learn to perceive everything as an experience, and not divide events into pleasant and unpleasant, this allows you to stop suffering. And what about meditation? What does it have to do with this dichotomy of “black” and “white”? The relationship is the most direct.
So, only our own mind makes us suffer. Because it is our mind that divides events and phenomena into pleasant and unpleasant. This dichotomy, in turn, gives rise to the pursuit of pleasant things – attachment – and the avoidance of unpleasant things – disgust. And it is attachment and aversion that are the causes of our suffering. And the root of this division into pleasant and unpleasant is ignorance.
It was about these three causes of suffering (among which the root is ignorance) that Buddha Shakyamuni spoke at one time. And he did not just tell his students about the causes of suffering – he gave a method on how to stop this suffering. This method is called the Noble Eightfold Path. It consists of eight “steps” and the last step, which leads to the cessation of all suffering – Nirvana, is precisely meditation.
What does meditation really do for a person? Maybe it’s some kind of fashion trend, or maybe just an empty pastime for idlers who have nothing to do? Really, are there really no more important things to do than “sit and think about nothing”? Let’s try to figure out how important meditation is in the modern world for a modern person, and especially in the current frantic rhythm of life in a metropolis.
Meditation, or dhyana as it is called in Sanskrit, is a method of gaining control over your mind. With the help of meditation, one achieves the state about which the sage Patanjali wrote in his philosophical treatise on yoga: “citta vritti nirodhah”. It translates something like this: ‘elimination of restlessness of the mind’ or ‘cessation of fluctuations in the mind’.
As mentioned above, it is our mind that imposes its projections on all events that occur, and divides them into pleasant and unpleasant. And it is precisely this activity of the mind that is its “fluctuation” or “excitement” about which Patanjali wrote. And if we can eliminate this excitement, we will begin to see reality without projections – to perceive all events with a healthy degree of composure, rationality and awareness.
Meditation allows you to control the mind. Here we should consider the question of what is meditation. Is it really “to sit and not think about anything”? Yes and no. There is such a thing as “the state of one thought.” This is probably the best and most accurate description of the process of meditation. Our task is to drop all thoughts, all worries, all worries and concentrate our mind on a single object. We can say that each of us is almost always engaged in meditation.
For example, a student who has an exam tomorrow. Or an impressionable patient who is sitting in line at the dentist. Both of them focus on a particular thought. The first, for example, can draw colorful pictures of tomorrow’s failure in the exam, and the second already imagines the terrible pain that he will experience in the doctor’s office. Both are engaged in meditation, but the object of meditation, of course, is not the most positive chosen. And most of us are constantly doing this kind of unconscious meditation; and it is not surprising that we suffer almost constantly.
Thus, our mind is already accustomed to concentrate, only we concentrate most often on the negative. And all we need is just to turn our attention to something more positive. It can be anything – a mantra, an image, a thought, and so on. Everyone chooses something for themselves. And when we focus on something positive, on something that inspires us, the mind begins to work differently, and our suffering gradually subsides.
Consider the two examples above. So, the student does not sleep all night before the exam, his mind draws terrible pictures – shows him in colors with what a crash the student will fail in the exam. But the matter is not limited to this. Here the student already sees how he went to repay his homeland in sunny Dagestan, his girlfriend went to another, and so on. And if the student’s fantasy, so to speak, is too “creative”, then the restless mind will bring him to a real hysteria. The same with an impressionable patient – a tooth pulled out, rivers of blood, hellish pain, and so on.
What is the cause of such painful fantasies? There is only one answer – a restless mind. And if both had skills in meditation, they would easily (well, or not quite easily) be able to redirect their attention to something positive. And now the student already sees how he successfully passed the exam. And even if not, then the military service is also nothing more than experience, which, perhaps, this particular person needs. And if the mind is calm, then all events are perceived neutrally, from the position of an observer. With such a mind, the student will sleep peacefully and pass the exam the next day. Or not, but he will also perceive such a turn of his fate calmly, without unnecessary anxiety. After all, from the fact that a person will worry in various traumatic situations, it will not get better anyway.
As one very wise philosopher wrote: “Why be sad if everything can be corrected? And why be sad if nothing can be fixed already? These are good words, but if our mind does not obey us, then, unfortunately, these will be only words. And as soon as some situation arises in which our mind can again make us worry, the wave of anxiety will again knock us down, like the current of a fast full-flowing river.
Thus, by curbing your mind, you can stop suffering. Consider the weather example. If a person perceives the heat as suffering, he will not be in the best mood all summer (or most of it). While those who love hot weather will experience happiness. And the fact that a person suffers, it turns out, only he is to blame. Indeed, in the case of the onset of summer, we are unable to cancel it, or postpone it, or change the weather to cooler. And all that a person can do is change his attitude towards hot weather. And this is achieved by controlling your mind.
If we put our mind on the track of positive thinking, then the final destination of the movement will change. It’s like a switch on a railroad. When our mind is accustomed to see the negative in everything, then we move only in one direction – in the direction of receiving suffering, moreover, regardless of external circumstances. The mind works according to the same principle, and if we learn to see the positive in everything, we will inevitably move towards obtaining happiness, again, regardless of external circumstances.
He who conquered his mind conquered the whole world. As one sensible philosopher wrote: “Where would I find so much skin to cover the entire earth? The leather soles of my shoes – and the whole earth is covered. What a good comparison, right? We cannot just take and stop all the processes around us that we consider unpleasant. We do not have such powers. But on the other hand, we can pacify our mind, and it will stop imposing negative projections on everything that happens around. Just like wearing leather shoes, you can safely walk on the ground without fear of hurting your feet.
Even on a purely biochemical level, meditation changes lives for the better. The practice of meditation promotes the production of melatonin, dopamine and serotonin, which are the cause of our good mood and happiness. The state of happiness is just a set of chemical reactions in the brain and nothing more. And if we perfectly master the practice of meditation, this will allow us to control the chemical reactions in our brain to a certain extent and, as a result, regulate our mood and psychological state ourselves. Can you imagine what a high level of freedom this is?
A person who has mastered the practice of meditation ceases to be influenced by all external circumstances. More precisely, they cease to influence his mood. Such a person has happiness deep inside, and no “weather in the house” can affect his friendly and positive attitude. In addition, a sufficient amount of melatonin production contributes to the rejuvenation and healing of the body, so the practice of meditation is also beneficial for physical health.
You can win a thousand battles, you can conquer a thousand lands, you can bring a thousand kings to their knees, you can conquer the whole world. You can become a great warrior, a great ruler, who will be worshiped by all nations. But he who has only subdued his own mind will be a thousand times more worthy of reverence. For the most important victory is the victory over oneself. And if you have succeeded in harnessing your mind and making it serve you, that is a great victory.
Our mind is a beautiful servant, but an abominable master. And if you were able to conquer it with the power of meditation, it will serve you faithfully. But woe to the one who himself has become his servant – his own mind will make such a person suffer again and again. Sometimes even for no good reason.