As meditators, we spend many hours, inwardly gazing at the ocean of karma that crashes against our insides. But no matter how strong the need becomes, to understand our idiosyncrasies and undo suffering, we must not lose touch with the outside world. Sure it is nice to find that perfect, quiet spot where the world leaves us alone once in a while. But it is wise to remember that meditation is a means to an end, a way of finding peace with the other – whoever that may be. Only then can we find true unity.
Of course, it is not easy to ‘find’ peace and even more so when we go looking for it! I liken the seeker of peace, through meditation, to the story of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The golden ticket is the prize that every child in the land seeks, but it seems the more they search, the less chance they have of finding it! Then, along comes Charlie, he throws his faith into the wind. He knows that buying a winning ticket is not something he can will, but it is something he can enjoy, regardless of the outcome.
Through meditation, we become more like Charlie; we forget the ‘prize’ and simply remain aware of the process. Here, our afflictions to peace are revealed, and we learn to drop them one by one. We do this by observing our thoughts and witnessing the presence of our karma. We notice the disturbance this brings and allow any aversions we have to come through. Next, through the breath, we release anything other than peace – all that we are not. A peaceful, compassionate state becomes the by-product of our observations.
But that’s not the end of it! Next comes the tricky part, integration. How to remain peaceful and compassionate in daily living? Like anything worth working hard for, the process can be challenging. It matters not how peaceful you are inside the outside world will do its best to stretch you. The real work begins at the parameter of our inner world; here we build a bridge to the outside world. The two must merge. To remain inwardly focused is not the life of a liberated human being.
Imagine the scenario: you are on a tropical Island and have found the perfect meditation spot. Here, palms sway gently back and forth as the sea breeze cools your skin. The only person in your vicinity is a local man perched high-up in a tree picking coconuts. You sit down breath in the salty air and go inward; it is so much easier when in paradise. After a short period, it seems bliss is well within your grasp. You are in perfect harmony with your environment – or are you?
You cannot believe it; a voice appears, ‘Excuse me sir’. Your heart jolts, causing your nerve ends to tingle, but you try to remain poised. This is your time and nothing will disturb you. Your inner voice tells you; it is probably some fellow selling beads or possibly a beggar. You remain steadfast! And so, the outside world continues turning while you get back to your inner work. But seconds seem like hours and you cannot maintain focus. Your inner and outer worlds are in conflict, and there is no escaping this. Something is not right; you open your eyes, and there standing in front of you is a man waving a machete. His limited English affords him, a second excuse me sir. He then points to a rope dangling from a cluster of Coconuts in the tree he has just climbed from. When released the coconuts could swing in your direction, which would result in your head being removed from your shoulders. You jump to your feet as though you have sat on a termites nest. Thus confirms, your stubbornness to remain locked in peace was anything but harmonious…
It is a good job someone was practicing momentary awareness.
It happens – it happened to me. (lesson learn’t : go inwards by all means, but remain aware of the outer world).