This is the last blog focused on Buddhism. We can take from these lessons that with practice we are capable of being in control of our mind and body.
Meditation and yoga are being utilized in the treatment of anxiety, PTSD, enhancing muscular strength and body flexibility, promoting and improving respiratory and cardiovascular function, promoting recovery from and treatment of addiction, reducing stress, depression and chronic pain, improving sleep patterns, and enhancing overall well-being and quality of life (Woodward, Catherine, International Journal of Yoga, 7-12/2011).
Buddhism itself can take us to a spiritual place of peace, a place of remembering that we are part of the earth and the sky, remembering that we are a part of the universe and we can just breathe.
As stated in previous blogs the body and mind are not our identity. How we feel is not rooted in reality but on our perception of reality.
In Buddhism the body is seen as an object of mindfulness that is made up of biological entities and with correct concentration we can observe negative thoughts and feelings within the mind. We can detach from these thoughts and not become absorbed by them. We can let them pass and disappear.
For those of us who are not skilled at deep meditation, we can continue to practice mindfulness – observing the mental and physical phenomenon that arise. The stable observer will arise for a moment at a time. Developing the ability to separate the act of thinking from the mind and viewing it as something the mind can see is indeed wisdom.
If we are skilled in deep absorption (Jhana) meditation then we should practice it. Fortunately, momentary concentration is sufficient enough to get us good results. In doing momentary concentration the observing critical ego must be quiet. Being able to concentrate on the moment and accepting that moment brings us to a place of wisdom.
Understanding that all the mental states and emotions we create are not us but are all the things that we have seen or observed. We have internalized beliefs, feelings or behaviors as our own. Our genes have contributed to physical and mental states but they are not us.
THE STREAM OF ENLIGHTENMENT
By doing our practice regularly, we can gain wisdom and understand that there is no permanent self, there is NO SELF.
When clarity occurs regarding this the mind will enter into a deep concentration and the false belief that there is a self will be eliminated. This is called the rising of the Noble Path.
Once enlightened in this way the practitioner has reached the state of the stream-enterer. By continuing to practice in the same way the practitioner will experience the Noble Path a second time. Impurities of the mind and feelings such as anger and greed are diminished even more. This is now the ONCE-RETURNER.
Buddhism states that attachment to the body brings us only suffering. Once we recognize this we have reached the third stage of enlightenment called the NON-RETURNER. I see this to be a difficult state to reach because being able to smell the ocean, see a sunset or feel a baby’s skin can bring us such joy. Yet, when there is no longer an attachment to the body there is no suffering. When the mind is attached to desire or phenomenon it suffers. When the mind is not attached to a desire or phenomenon it has become the mind of a NON-RETURNER. Once reaching this state the practitioner has attained enlightenment.
ARAHANT – The practitioner can enter into another state of suffering after attaining enlightenment. This is a place of great pain and sadness. This is a final challenge that the practitioner may experience before finally letting go and being FULLY ENLIGHTENED. This place is noted to be Nirvana.
I think as novices we can take away from these blogs that through a daily practice we can become more proficient in truly staying in the moment and becoming less reactive and just occasionally become one with the universe Kinda awesome.
Once we can emotionally detach and observe our thoughts we can ascertain if we are driven by an ego state. Letting go of our ego can give us such relief and freedom from not only pain but the nonsense of life.
(From: “The Buddhist Way to Peace of Mind” by Venerable Pramote Pamojjo)