Meditation, essentially, is a mental activity developed through the systematic training of the mind. In this practice, awareness, concentration, effort, dedication and patience are some of the many qualities that need nurturing and cultivation. Even after having all these requirements established, to some extent, we still find that meditation does not work as one expects. This is because meditation is not something that derives benefits like indulging in physical exercise. It is mental purification which demands genuine commitment, dedication and self-restraint. A sense of fulfilment of the preliminaries, can be of immense help to benefit from this practice. If someone has not fulfilled these preliminaries, or does not care for them much, progress can be frustratingly slow.
Discipline is the key and the secret of success in many fields; be that may in a business, a profession, sports or any other field. if we do not abide by certain rules and essential guidelines no one can succeed. It is the same principal in meditation, as well. As meditation is something to do with the mind, strict moral discipline is vital. These can be summed up under three categories;
- Restraint in the disciplinary code.
- Restraint of the senses.
- Guilt free satisfaction of livelihood.
1. Restraint in disciplinary code
Countries and societies are governed by certain rules and laws. We cannot act freely, doing whatever we want, without concern for fellow human beings, animals, environment and the world around us, as a whole. We should always respect the legal system of the country; the general rules and accepted norms of a society which are, sometimes, not included in the judicial system but enshrined in our societies, cultures, traditions and faiths. Killing, stealing, lying, sexual misconduct, taking intoxicants, cheating, offending, slandering, backbiting, intruding into others’ lives and, in general, all the behaviour that harms and causes unease for people, harms animals and the environment, is unacceptable and reprimanded in any civilised society.
A person should not transgress these laws simply because they are censored by the law and society but because of the consequences one has to face afterwards. It would be much wiser if we think about the indelible marks they leave in the mind such as guilt, regret, worries, fears, tension, agitation and many more unwholesome states. If you observe very sincerely, any wrong doings you did for somebody in the past, you may see clearly you are the first victim of that offence. One cannot kill a person without having killing intensions, anger and all the unwholesome states of the mind needed to commit that crime. It is the same for all intentional actions of our life, no exceptions.
2. Restraint of the senses.
Our life is what we grasp through the six senses (eye – forms, ear – sounds, nose – smells, tongue – flavours, body – touch and mind - thoughts). What is meant by restraint of the senses is, “not reacting”, neither liking nor disliking.
An analogy would be a pond which has only inlets but not outlets. The pond is continuously supplied with water through six natural springs and it never dries up. Underground, if something disturbs the natural flow of the stream then the water gets murky. If it is undisturbed the water remains crystal clear.
Our mind is also like a pond with an uninterrupted supply of water throughout life, until the last breath. But this pond is mostly polluted, murky and dirty due to the unclean and muddied water. When we react to stimuli with unwholesome states of the mind such as anger, desire, greed, lust, attachment, jealousy, ego and delusion, the mind is filled with polluted murky water, not with clean water. When the mind reacts either with liking or disliking the mind gets dirty. It may have intermittent intervals of clean water supply. That is when the mind is not reacting. Then the mind is clear, clam and peaceful. But this happens very rarely.
Our minds have the common feature of being attached to the pleasant forms, sounds, smells, tastes, touches and beautiful thoughts and dreams; while rejecting the opposite experiences. But, when the mind pursues the attractive it ends up in attachment; and when it rejects the unattractive it results in aversion; both detrimental for our wellbeing.
For example; watching something you really like on television will make you think of that for the rest of the day or days, perhaps weeks and months. However, accidentally, if you came across something that you really hate, it will haunt in your mind for days weeks months and sometimes for years leaving you in a state of unhappiness, as well as physical and mental unease. If one can restrain the senses by applying the strategy of neither liking or disliking, it will not only keep the mind calm and peaceful but it also will tether the mind to be in the present moment without letting it to go to the past and future.
3. Guilt free satisfaction of livelihood.
We all study, then work hard to earn a living to have a happy and enjoyable life. All people in the world work with that same goal in mind and there are numerous ways to earn a living and make ends meet. Majority of our fellow human beings work very hard, tirelessly to have a good life for themselves and for their families.
But not all choose the correct, acceptable paths; some rely on easy ways of making money without bothering about the harm they cause to other human beings, animals and the environment. The whole world has to pay for their inconsiderate and greedy intentions. Sometimes, that way of making money is much easier than doing a proper and decent job.
At the end of the day, everyone makes some money, may be enough or not enough to live on. Some may think, why bother about the others? Let’s get the job done by hook or by crook. Unfortunately, this attitude is getting popular and, as a result this, the world of ours is getting to be a very unsafe and dangerous place to live in. if you can read the minds of those people who make money in unscrupulous ways, you definitely will find how unhappy and guilty they feel within themselves, let alone the consequences one has to face if this proverb is really true; “what goes around comes around”. Therefore, satisfaction in our livelihood is of great importance when it comes to our wellbeing, peace and happiness of the mind.
These preliminaries are things that need to be done before beginning the practice of meditation, in our daily life. These are not part of the meditation, but they provide a strong foundation on which the meditative practice can be built on. If the mind is free of guilt, free of thoughts and worries, it is ever so ready to pick up things quickly. And that person does not have to do much to find even greater happiness and peace or, perhaps, the culmination of the practice.
"Discipline is the secret of success"
Discipline is the key and the secret of success in many fields; be that may in a business, a profession, sports or any other field. It is also the same when it comes to the purification of Mind.