In Buddhist meditation, people are considered to consist of five aggregates. These are: the physical body, feelings, thoughts, habits and consciousness. During meditation, we look at the interaction between these elements.
‘Feelings’ can be categorised into three types: painful, pleasurable and neutral feelings. Neutral feelings imply the absence of both pleasure and pain. ‘Thoughts’ refers to reasoning, analysing, language techniques, or anything that sharpens the way we think. Thoughts play a pivotal role in making us happy or unhappy. We should check the underlying thoughts behind our feelings. Thinking positively allows us to move on from our feelings.
‘Habit’ refers to karma and concept formation. It can be roughly translated into the word ‘energy’. We might spend a lot of time learning and improving our thinking, but fail to consider how to use our energy and skills wisely. When we become angry it is very easy to be thoughtless, wasting any good knowledge base we may have accumulated. When we are full of hatred we only want to obtain negative information about our enemies. By contrast, when we are full of compassion, we are very patient. Our ‘consciousness’ should be kept sharp at all times as there is always something brewing in the mind. When our minds are not sharp, they are like blurred, worn-out photocopies.
In meditation or mind training, we look at the relationship between the physical body, feelings, thoughts, habits and consciousness. We don’t just seek peacefulness. The feeling of peacefulness that arises during meditation can be compared to the feeling of quenching our thirst. The feeling of satisfaction does not last long.
Feelings and karmic forces affect the way we think and act. If we are able to see the way we think and let it go, then we’re in control. When we can’t, we’re in trouble. This is one reason meditation is so important. We should recognise good thoughts and hold onto them, and let go of bad thoughts. Once we have recognised which thoughts are good thoughts, we should find opportunities to use them. Ultimately we are in control of our own happiness or unhappiness.
It is helpful to smile when meditating, not because we are feeling happy (we may be feeling the complete opposite!) but to maintain control over our feelings. When we are hungry, the more we think about it, the worse it gets. When a young child smiles when being bullied, the bully quickly loses interest and stops teasing the child. Likewise when we are in pain, the pain will not harm us too much if we maintain our calmness. If we are additionally able to arise a feeling of joy, this will ensure that the feeling won’t further intensify its effects on us. Thoughts affect emotions, emotions affect karma, and karma affects thought.
Last Updated on Monday, 29 December 2008 02:00