Here's an excerpt from my notes (to myself) on what I learned via my own experience during two, 10-day meditation retreats. I intend to use it to remind myself of my motivation to meditate and its tangible value to me. I'm hoping that it will help me stay committed to my practice when all the "other stuff of life" starts competing for my time (which it already has!)....and when I feel pulled back toward my old tendencies of pursuing what I'm after externally first (instead of the other way around :). Feel free to share with whomever else you think might enjoy/value it....
Only when one has peace/balance inside -- a state which arises not from getting/having/achieving, but from accepting/allowing -- can one desire something without attachment. If you don't get it, there's no disappointment: You're already at peace. If you do, you're free to enjoy it while it lasts, without feeling loss or craving another. Your happiness/well being is not dependent on the external object or condition and, thus, no addiction is formed: Everything you need to be joyful is inside already.
Attachment/clinging, then, is the true cause of all suffering, since not only are you rarely in control of what happens, but Everything is temporary. (If you attach to something that's constantly changing and destined to pass away--even unconsciously--you've just created suffering that you will experience consciously.)
Secondly, when one's in alignment with this truth (wanting/desire felt from a calm/balanced/peaceful/grateful mind without attachment), one is rewarded: The state of well-being and "equanimous allowing" allows/attracts the object of one's desire to manifest most readily, replicating and deepening the current state of mind.
And, vice versa: When one's out of alignment with this truth (wanting/desire felt from an distressed/unbalanced/ agitated/ungrateful mind with attachment), one suffers: The unbalanced state of clinging and "happiness conditional on the external object/occurrence" attracts more of the same, repeling the very situation desired, and again replicating and deepening the current state of mind.
Thus, the FIRST step to happiness and acquiring whatever you desire is to cultivate a calm, balanced, peaceful, equanimous and grateful state of mind. Similarly, the first step out of misery is also to cultivate this state of peace within.
The mistake commonly made is to ignorantly (and habitually/unconsciously) attempt to alter the circumstances and/or people/objects external to ourselves (over which we have little actual control) in order to reach the inner state of mind we seek. Although this rarely succeeds, we are usually unaware of this unconscious habit.
To make matters worse, this poor strategy for happiness is constantly perpetuated by the values prevalent in today's materialistic/consumeristic and external pleasures/distractions-based society. We see almost everyone everywhere unconsciously addicted to this same method of interacting with life and we assume it's the only/best way. (When all you have is a hammer, all you've ever been taught to do is hammer, and all you're surrounded by are people hammering, people espousing/teaching hammering, new/better ways to hammer, etc.... ;-).
Even if we are aware of this dynamic in our lives, we find it nearly impossible to to break this habit pattern, since each occurrence happens so quickly and unconsciously that by the time we realize consciously that it's happening, it's generally too late. Typically, by the time we're aware of this (and this awareness is the exception rather than the rule!), we find that we've already just responded in the same patterned way, which has just deepened the groove of the habit pattern another notch! As such, we need a tool that allows us to work at a level of the mind which is currently unconscious to us most of the time and interrupt this cycle, teaching the mind a new way to respond before we react in the previously patterened way.
Break this habit pattern of the mind at the root level, cultivate peace inside first, and everything external that you desire will align with your inner state of balance/allowing/gratitude. Vipassana meditation is the best vehicle I've found useful for breaking these habit patterns at the root level of the mind (below what one has access to in normal states of consciousness) and creating an inner state of peace which will attract the external circumstances one most desires.
Should you wish to explore further:
In terms of the technique/process, what happens externally and internally, the benefits, etc., you'll find more at the "Audio Interview with the Teacher" and "Video Intros to the Technique". To a lesser extent, he touches on this in the "Art of Living" article.
Should you wish to experience this wisdom for yourself, first hand:
I've done the course twice and would highly recommend to anyone (especially the special, scaled-down version for children). The course is especially powerful for those with little or no experience with meditation, or those who are going through a difficult period of their life. The reason I consider this course among the most valuable I've done, is that it works on the habit patterns at the root level of the mind (beneath the level at which we're communicating here). So, it affects *every* other aspect of my life--ie, how I experience/relate to everything that happens (or doesn't :). Also, it's a completely non-sectarian/direct experience technique that's independent from and compatible with any belief system/religion/etc.
At the website, you can find all the different places in the world where the courses are offered freely (paid for by people like me...who wanted you to be able to receive the benefit I did so much that we voluntarily donated money to cover the cost for you to go): http://www.dhamma.org/
"Gratefulness does not come from Happiness. Happiness comes from Gratefulness."
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