Oakville Zen Meditation

#377 Steps toward spirituality by Kris


Among the essential teachings of Buddha are:
• Everything is impermanent, transient, and changing
• Suffering or dissatisfaction with the world because we get attached to things we love and because of the earlier two teachings, we have to give them up.

Impermanence means that life as we know it is in constant flux. We can never access the moment that just passed, nor can we ever replicate it. As each day passes, our body cells are different, our thoughts change, our environment changes. Everything around us is different. Always.

To celebrate the idea of change. Accept that everything is constantly changing. So let's savor those moments we do enjoy and know that the ones we don't enjoy, will pass.

Suffering : by attaching or clinging to particular expectations and material items, is often a cause for acute frustration, disappointment, and other forms of suffering. So rather than fear our suffering or seek an ultimate resolution to it (and become frustrated by our lack of finding one), we can learn simply to recognize our suffering. Expect that death, aging, sickness, suffering, and loss are all part of life. So practice acceptance in the face of strife.

Because of the ignorance of our core nature (which is peace and equanimity) we run after transient worldly things. Unfortunately, things we run after are few in number and effort is required to achieve them. Even if we get what we are striving for, then fear kicks in because we may lose it. If we don’t get what we worked for, then that also creates internal stresses by producing anger and jealousy against the person who got it rather than you. This is the principle that Buddha referred to as dissatisfaction or suffering.

So how does one initiate this inner spiritual journey? Three steps are suggested:
One is hearing or reading spiritual material to understand your own innate nature. The purpose is to develop clarity of understanding within you.

The second step is to regularly and constantly contemplate what you have learned in step one to remove your doubts. As new doubts arrive, try to remove them through learning or by asking a spiritual teacher who has devoted their life to this understanding.

The third step is to bring what you have learned and accepted as the truth into your daily life by taking these ideas for a spin. In other words, practice these principles in your daily life so it becomes internalized.

We struggle daily to manage our unruly mind which through years of indiscipline has grown wild, unfocused, and unruly. Learning how to focus this unfocussed mind through the daily practice of meditation is one of the secrets of self-improvement.

To summarize, we have to acknowledge our transient existence on earth and work from that. In other words, we have to create a daily regimen for us where meditation is part of that mind management. Even this unruly mind can be managed.

Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh says, "Thanks to impermanence, anything is possible.