By Rev. Yogavacara Rahula – An excerpt from “The Way to Peace and Happiness”
The application or direction of thought in the system of Buddhist meditation is aimed at bringing about the purification of those conditions which produce suffering. Vipassana meditation is initially cultivated by means of awareness and investigation, which observes the comings and goings of the mind and body during the processes of sense perception, thought formation, and the subsequent outward actions by the body.
All of this is observed without getting personally involved, attached or identified-which is possible. One views the whole show or processes in the various manifestations as being just an impermanent, fleeting consecutive series of conditioned phenomena that are not being controlled by anybody.
By detaching the mind from all of the sensory impingements and undermining by insight-wisdom, the notion/feeling of a separate “I” who is experiencing, the mind gradually quits reacting to sense stimuli; the separate “I” feeling fades away and a state of undifferentiating, all-embracing, self-less awareness is experienced. This direct, intimate experience of the mind’s uninfluenced nature is intuitive proof that what we think is an individual Self that experiences the world, is merely an illusive reflexive-like notion. There are only conditioned mental and physical activity arising and passing away according to the law of cause and effect, without a substantial soul or governing entity. They are the source from which arises this whole complex, mysterious thing called life with all of its entailing trials and tribulations.
Now one might ask, “What good is there by arriving at this view?” The answer is that this will be the impetus for actually starting the disentanglement process from this whole affair and the elimination of many of one’s worries, anxieties, fears, self-wrought pain, and discomfort which one experiences. The meditator will stop doing all the unnecessary things in life which only add to the involvement and bondage to his body and mind.
This is because he will understand how it is all kept going by the unwholesome actions he is presently doing. These present actions are based on the previously done actions and the future actions will be conditioned by the habits one is now practising. So, by eliminating the unwholesome, selfish, greedy, and unnecessary actions in one’s life one will be paving the way for a calmer, smoother flowing life in the future. This is accomplished by practising the Noble Eightfold Path laid out by the Awakened One for this purpose.
This task has to be taken up by everyone personally. No one else can do the purifying of another’s mind. This is stated in another verse from the Dhammapada: It’s by oneself that evil deeds are done; one makes oneself corrupt. By oneself is evil left undone. It’s by oneself that one is purified. Purity and impurity on oneself depend. No one can another purify.
It is up to each person to start the process of disentangling and freeing their mind from the bondage of their past actions. This can only be started and successfully completed when one has the proper detached attitude towards the body and mind and the objective world.