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Eight-Fold Path Explained: Meditation

The Buddha said:


My doctrine is to think the thought that is unthinkable; to practice the deed that is not doing; to speak the speech that is inexpressible; and to be trained in the discipline which is beyond discipline.


How is one to continue on the path? It is the same way one begins. To settle the waves on the surface of your consciousness. This is not an easy task. To settle a wave, not much can be done. Patience is needed. Inaction is needed. However you have been blowing waves on this surface for eternity, and your patience is nonexistent. Even your patience has impatience within it. You have never known true patience, because patience requires an indifference that you have never had. You have only ever had intention and desire. Now is time for no intention and no desire. It will give rise to a new meaning of patience. True patience is not patience at all. This is the problem with the mind. Within each word and within each action is the opposite. The mind can only know patience because it knows impatience. 


The patience that you will need for meditation will not be patience, but love. True meditation is love. True meditation is adoration for existence. This is the missing ingredient that keeps the sweetness from developing in your meditation. With love there is sweetness, ecstasy. Without love in meditation there is a tasteless impatience.


It is an impossible task to prescribe this notion. I could tell you what laughter is, and I could tell you what brings me laughter however without finding laughter on your own you will never understand. Even to look for laughter will take away from humor. It will be too serious, you will not find it. I can only say to be relaxed, to be open, and laughter will find you. The same is for love in existence. Be open to this existence around you and within you. There is such extreme beauty and mystery that it is impossible not to feel love if you are open. If you have no waves on the surface distorting it’s perfection.


Forcing the waves to settle will never work. Touch a ripple in the water to stop it’s motion and you will create ever more ripples. Be patient. With love is the only way to have patience. Time spent with a lover is no time spent at all, it is timeless. There is no indication of time. Love takes you out of the mind that creates time. This is the key. Love takes you out of the mind.


Many people are forcing the mind to stop with the mind. This will never work. This is trying to stop the waves with force, and force can only ever create waves. You will sit and with the mind you will tell the mind stop. This is only feeding the waves. 


Do not become trapped in this foolishness. Forget about the mind. It is an illusion. It is brain waves and sparking nerves. It is not you. It is not your identity. You believe that the words in your mind are you. Who were you before language? Who were you before you were taught these words in this language? You were consciousness. You were a reflection. The world around you was reflected into your eyes and all of your senses. You were an experience of the senses. These words are not your natural state. There was a time where man existed with no word. Word has become a poison in your mind, a parasite draining the energy from your being. Draining the energy from your experience of existence. 


Imagine for a moment the experience without words. A silent internal reality. Suddenly the exterior reality becomes prominent. The other senses engaged. This silence is what is needed. This silence is what can be practiced. However it cannot be practiced with impatience. Nor can it be practiced in isolation of minutes per each day. 

From the moment of waking a person can meditate. When you notice the attention directing back in the mind, bring the attention back to the senses. Fully immersed in each breath, each step, each movement. Even each thought. 


What is thought but speaking to oneself? However you will notice that it is not. You will notice that it is involuntary, misfiring in the brain. A parrot repeating words spoken. An echo carrying sounds. The thoughts are an illusion. Not to be identified with, not to be mistaken for your spoken word. When you are hearing the thoughts, begin to speak to yourself within your mind. The thinking stops. Because all of a sudden you are aware in the mind. You are now using the mind instead of the mind using itself.


The Buddha says that only awareness is needed. Remain aware in the mind. A house at night with no lights will attract thieves. However leave the lights on and the thieves will be afraid to enter, knowing they will be seen. Leave the lights on in the mind and no thieves can enter. Remain aware.


This can be practiced more easily while you are sitting still. While the brain is not occupied with controlling the movements of the body. In this state you will have the most resources for awareness. This is typically seen as “meditation”. This must be done. However you will never reach a state of effortless mindlessness, of stillness on the surface, unless you practice this in every moment.


The Buddha said:


You should think of the four elements of which the body is composed. Each of them has its own name and there is no such thing there known as ego. As there is really no ego, it is like unto a mirage.

Practice awareness of your internal dialogue and of your external dialogue. Typically you will speak without awareness. You’ll engage in idle chatter and gossip. You’ll fill empty space with words. You will brag about the new journey you are on. Avoid this. Silence does not need to be broken. Gossip and bragging are an exercise of your ego. To avoid this however it is only needed that you become aware. Become aware that this speech, internal and external, are creating waves on the surface. You will become aware of this as you practice. The desire for gossip will arise and if you keep the words away from your tongue then you will find that the surface of the mind will begin to settle. However if you engage in the gossip, if you allow the tongue to boast through the ego, you will feel the waves begin to form and crash on the surface. 


This is what the Buddha calls right speech. To refrain from boasting, to refrain from gossip, to refrain from idle chatter. To speak on what you have not known is to speak through the ego. Right speech is to speak only on that which you have experienced. Only on that which you have gained through experience. Fictitious speech will only cause disturbance.

Many people use wrong speech to tell you about happiness. Many people are regurgitating borrowed information to you without experience. This is the entire self help culture. Speaking on what information has been gathered but not on what has been experienced by the soul.


Awareness will create a sensitivity to what is known and what is fictitious. Therefore only awareness is needed. The ability to forcefully stop the mind cannot be cultivated. Only awareness can be cultivated. 


The Buddha asked:


“How do you measure the length of a man’s life?” 


The monk answered, “By the breath.” 


The Buddha said: “Very well, you know the way.”


How does a person cultivate awareness? In every movement. In every action, in every breath. The breath is seen as the bridge between the body and the spirit. Without the breath, the spirit no longer exists in the body. Become aware of the breath and you will see that it’s activity is married to your emotions. They move in tandem. In anger your breath is different than when you are at peace. 


For the Buddha it is the same. For yoga and Patanjali, it is the same.. Monitor the breath. There is no need to memorize breathing techniques that others show you. Simply monitor your own breath. For a week, or for a month, come to know the patterns of your breath. Come to know the pattern of breathing when you are angry, when you are anxious, and when you are at peace. Because the path between breath and emotions does not flow in only one direction. The path moves both ways. Emotion controls the breath and the breath controls emotion.


When you come to know what pattern you breathe in during a peaceful state, you can bring this pattern into any state. When you’re anxious, become aware of the breathing. Bring your breathing to your personal pattern of peaceful breathing. Use this breath when you sit down to meditate, and use it through the entire day. Stay in awareness of your breathing.


However, awareness can not just be limited to each thought and each breath. Each step you take must capture your full awareness. Every sound you hear must capture your full awareness. Do not separate this from one part of the day to another. This is what the Buddha calls right mindfulness. This is what is meant by meditation. Meditation cannot be separate from life as it is in the modern world. In the modern world we separate time for meditation from the rest of our lives however this is not right meditation, right mindfulness. 


Right mindfulness is a discipline because the mind is very persistent and very egoistic. It is very difficult for the mind to surrender. The mind knows that it can walk and breath and go about the day without focusing on any action. It has made a habit out of giving minimal attention to the body, diverting most of the attention to itself. It loves itself, it loves to be paid attention to. It is a discipline to divert attention away from the mind and onto the actions. On to the experience of life. It is a discipline to divert attention to the senses. The mind will say this is boring, I’d much prefer to focus on my own senseless chatter.


In this discipline, do not fight with the mind. To fight with the mind is to fight with one’s own shadow. It is pointless. Instead, become more and more aware. Each time you notice the body moving without attention, come back to the body. Each time you notice that you are listening without attention, come back to listening. 


This is a discipline however you must remember to do this with indifference. It is a paradox. Why so much effort if there’s no desire for an outcome? There is a balance to this. You are simply rewinding, untangling. You are simply unlearning the habit of constant thinking. You are allowing the self to come back to nature, to the natural state of being. If you were to leave your house, you would come back home. There is no extreme intention, it is just natural that you come back home. Some effort is needed, yes. The steps you take will be some effort, however know that they are just small steps leading you home.