MEDITATION = AWARENESS
The teaching of the Buddha contains the solution to all problems in life. It involves self-discipline and self-understanding. Meditation has always been the direct way to perceive for oneself both the problems and their solutions. The practice brings relaxation, mental stability and calmness in daily life - we could even say it polishes our life.
The purpose of this little book is to introduce the reader to the field of meditation. The practice of which is not, as I have explained within the book, withdrawal from the world, but a necessary preparation. Nor is meditation concerned only with the philosophical considerations of sages and monks. In every activity, in every mode of life, in every occupation, for all people at all times, the practice of meditation can lead us to an appreciation of our individual place in life and of life’s intrinsic value. Because we become aware more of ourselves as an individual than as a social/political animal, we gain the confidence and clarity of vision to use our powers wisely and for the good of all.
The Buddha encouraged his followers to “Meditate now so that you will not be lethargic and remorseful when the opportunity has passed and age or sickness overtakes you”. A great master of meditation once said, “Living a meditative life is the same as living an ordinary everyday life.....do not waste time”. With those words I close this introduction and I leave you to read on.. .
“There is no meditation without wisdom, nor wisdom without meditation. One who has both wisdom and meditation is close to peace and emancipation.”
Any religion, including Buddhism, is like a huge tree which has a trunk, roots, and a canopy of leaves, plus flowers, fruits, bark, soft wood and pith. None of them by themselves can be considered as a tree, but a tree can be made by the union of all these elements. Similarly the union of morality, concentration and wisdom is the vital essence which holds together all elements of Buddhism.
On the one hand, no moral practice alone can free us from the predicament of suffering; on the other hand, neither can concentration alone achieve liberation. It is the combination of both, coupled with wisdom, which leads us to the final goal. Meditation brings out the practical meaning of all aspects of this understanding. Without a good knowledge of meditation, it is impossible for us to make our practice perfect and to liberate ourselves from suffering.
Attention is an absolutely necessary factor. There are two kinds of attention - Bare Attention and Mindful Attention. One does not necessarily have to be a meditator to have bare attention, for even animals have it. Without bare attention it is impossible to know anything. Because we are not aware of the speed at which our mind operates, we take it for granted that our mind can know anything without having to pay much attention. What is more important is the second kind of attention, Mindful Attention, therefore, being an all-important ingredient of meditation, it is this full mindfulness which is an essential aim of all practitioners.
Without any hesitation or reservation, I recommend this timely book on Buddhist meditation written by the Venerable Dr. Medagama Vajiragnana, Chief Sanghanayaka Mahathera of Great Britain. I cannot think of a Theravada Buddhist monk better qualified than Ven. Dr. Vajiragnana to write a book on meditation in such lucid language. This book, I believe, will satisfy the ever increasing demand of meditators for guidance and instruction in this vital subject.