Monday, January 30, 2006

Meditation and virtue

You know, we can hardly be successful meditators if we continually indulge thoughts of hatred, resentment, vengeance, jealousy, cruelty and the like. This point is well made in a short paragraph by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso in his book, The New Meditation Handbook: Meditations to Make Our Life Happy and Meaningful :
Meditation is a mind that concentrates on a virtuous object, and which is the main cause of mental peace. The practice of meditation is a method for acquainting our mind with virtue. The more familiar our mind with virtue, the calmer and more peaceful it becomes. When our mind is peaceful, we are free from worries and mental discomfort, and we experience true happiness.
It's really easy to demonstrate this. Repeat the word, "hate" on the outbreath for about 30 seconds or so. Notice how you feel. Then repeat the word "peace" or "compassion" the same way. Notice how you feel now. The alleviation of "mental discomfort" is truly remarkable, isn't it?

But remember, even using a seemingly neutral support for mindfulness meditation is also a way of acquainting the mind with virtue. We employ the virtue of non-judging whenever we bring the mind back to the support. And the support is always an example of "the way things are" - whether we use the breath, sound or a visual object. There's a certain intrinsic integrity to whatever support we choose. And so resting the mind on that support is truly a way of familiarizing our mind with virtue.

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