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Becoming Real Meditation as a Gateway to Wisdom

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by Dayanandi

Becoming Real – Meditation as a Gateway to Wisdom

by Dayanandi

Audio available at: http://www.freebuddhistaudio.com/talks/details?num=LOC3
Talk given at Tiratanaloka Retreat Centre, Great Gathering 2000

Introduction – the value of wisdom

So thank you to Parami for that introduction. Encouraging to hear that she considers me
real and authentic – so that was a good start. So, becoming real through meditation. So
whilst writing this talk, I remembered a fairy tale that had really touched my heart when I
was a child; I’d forgotten it actually and it just came to mind in the process of writing the
talk and thinking about wisdom. And I don’t remember the title of the fairy tale or even
much about what it was about. But in the fairy tale there’s a scene where a boy and girl
are walking through the mountains and they’re going to seek a wise person, perhaps there
was some tragedy in their lives, I think, and I can still see the image of them walking
through quite rugged mountain territory and it’s the Spring and there are some, I think,
almond blossoms and they ask the birds and animals the way. So I’ve just got that little
image in my mind. And I can remember, I suppose what’s really stayed with me is the
feeling of joy that that gave me - that there was wisdom in the world. I remember
thinking “Gosh, oh right, there’s somewhere you can go and you can find a wise being” -
that there was a way out of the… I think I was very confused as a child by the
meaninglessness of life, and actually I remember believing the story was true. And then
as time went on and I grew up, realising it was only a fairy tale, and how disillusioning
that was, how disappointing that was. And then, in my adolescence just forgetting about
the story and getting on with life, as one attempts to do, and then, by chance in way,
coming across the Dharma and thinking, “Well, it was true after all: there’s wisdom,”
stumbling really on a source of wisdom in the world. And then I was thinking to myself
how wonderful that is and then how easy it is to get complacent about that, well, there is
wisdom in the world and that’s great and well do I, do we do our utmost to work towards
it, to become it? And thinking that actually it requires people to embody wisdom for there
to be wisdom in the world. So for future generations, if we’re not really working hard to
grow into wise beings, to grow into wisdom, well there won’t be wisdom in the world
any more. So wisdom, well it’s just so important it continues to be alive in the world and
the Dharma is there as a path to wisdom. I was just thinking how amazing it is actually
that such a rare and a beautiful quality, well that is something that we can approach in
ourselves, in our practice. So, in my talk, as you know I’m going to be exploring just a
little bit (I’ve only got twenty minutes) of how meditation can be an approach to wisdom,
how we can become real through meditation.

Wisdom as something to become, not something to find

But first of all before I talk directly about meditation, I thought I’d just share with you
something Bhante has said about wisdom, something about reality which I just find really
inspiring. It’s from one of my favourite seminars which I keep going back to and, again,
it’s just gone into my heart, this seminar, it’s called The Nature of Existence. It’s from a
chapter in The Three Jewels, and Bhante says in it that, “Reality is not a thing out there,”
so seeing reality is not like seeing something Real, with a capital R, sort of over there
somewhere in glowing lights, in bright lights, in fact it’s not a thing at all, it’s a mode of
experience. And it’s from that mode of experience, that way of being that we see things
differently. We see them more as they are. And how is that? Well he says, “We see them
from a sort of breadth of experience.” And he says that seeing reality is more like seeing
things as a whole, it’s seeing things much more broadly. The perception of the Real is
more like the perception of mundane existence itself in its totality. And to do this, he goes
on to say, is to see things differently and as they really are, it’s not just a question of
developing or adding on a quality, like wisdom actually; we can’t think in terms of
developing a new faculty, in that sort of simplistic sort of way. He says it’s as though you
can only see things differently if you are a completely different person. As you are, so
you see things. As you see things, so you are. So if you want to see things in completely
different terms to the way you see them now, you must become a completely different
person. Which means, well, if we want to see reality, we must ourselves become real. We
have to grow into the very thing that we’re trying to see. We have to become real. He
says an unreal person cannot see reality, or a person whose outlook is restricted by
unrealities cannot see reality itself. So I find that quite an exciting way of looking at
wisdom, at reality. So it’s not that we aim to see reality, we aim to become it, to become
real. And so you could say, you could look at the whole spiritual life as that being the
task of the whole spiritual life. And meditation practice in particular is going to be what’s
going to help us to do this. So we can think of our meditation practice as an aid to remove
our unrealities, to become more real. And I was thinking perhaps this is a bit like that
admonition we say each morning before the meditation, we’re talking about removing
our obscurations and removing our taints, and perhaps that’s one way of removing our
unrealities: removing our obscurations, removing our taints, letting the wisdom of the
gentle Buddhas enter in.

Meditation as a means to becoming more real

So I had a few general points as to how can we be more real in our meditation practice.
Well, I could make a few points. I think that’s a question we have to ask ourselves as we
sit down to meditate over and over again, in this meditation practice, well how can I be a
bit more real, a bit more genuine, a bit more authentic? And just wait to see what comes,
what comes from that. I think one answer to that is really trying not to compartmentalise
meditation, not try to, well, I don’t think we try to do it actually but it just happens, but
meditation and the person we are in the shrine room is rather a different person than we
often are outside the shrine room. So we can sometimes find we’re a bit dry or a bit bored
or lacking in energy or stiff, we get physically very stiff sometimes in the shrine room,
we get very tired, but we leave the meditation room and immediately we start chatting
with somebody and we’re lively and happy and that’s interesting isn’t it? [laughter] So
what’s going on there? We can ask ourselves, well, why can’t I bring all of me into the
shrine room, onto this meditation cushion? What’s the point in being unreal on our
meditation cushions when we’re trying to seek for reality? And one of the ways of doing
this of course is just trying to be as honest as we can about our own experience in the
present moment, just acknowledging what’s going on, whatever it is. We can’t be real
and be untruthful about ourselves, about our experience, so there’s no point hiding from
ourselves really in our meditation practice.

Wholeness and breadth

So, Bhante talked of these two hallmarks of what it would be like to see things more as
they really are: “seeing things as a whole” and “seeing things with a breadth of
perspective” so I thought I’d say a bit about that, open up the area a bit. So what does it
mean, what could it mean, to see things with a breadth of perspective, to experience
things more as a whole? So I thought if you like you could shut your eyes and we’ll have
a little opportunity here to go into another world. So, just imagine it’s night time at
Taraloka – maybe it’s like last night if you’re walking outside about midnight in the
depths of the night and it’s a very clear night, so all the stars are out and we walk right
out into the open, where we’re just surrounded by open space; it’s very clear and there’s
no light, we’ve walked away from the buildings, and so it’s just completely dark around
us, the stars are very clear, we can see the whole of the Milky Way above us, and the
grass is just very dry and warm so we think let’s just lie down and we’re going to lie
down and look at the stars in the sky. So we do that, just gazing up at the sky. And after a
while we notice one star, one particular star above us which really attracts our attention
and we focus in more on that star, that one star, just getting, you may be quite curious,
interested in that star. But then, after a while, we just broaden out again and look at the
rest of the stars, we broaden out our vision to encompass the whole of the galaxy, the
whole of the Milky Way. And then, even further: just expanding out to take in the whole
of the sky - the whole of the vastness of space. And then, just opening our eyes when
we’re ready.

So, Bhante was using that analogy in ...

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