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Apr 10
Dharma Teachings, Sakyong and Family
Cultivating a Healthy Sense of Self

By Sakyong Mipham

In his journey toward enlightenment, the Buddha saw that human existence is characterized by three qualities: impermanence, suffering, and selflessness. He discovered that we suffer because we try to make ourselves solid and permanent, while our fundamental state of being is unconditionally open and changing—selfless. The Buddha encouraged others to discover this open state of being for themselves in the process of sitting meditation.

A Tibetan word for meditation is gom—familiarity. When we meditate, we’re becoming familiar with something. In shamatha meditation we first become familiar with a technique: to recognize and release thoughts and emotions and return our attention to the breath. Over time we become familiar with the open state of being that the Buddha called selflessness. As we learn to abide peacefully, we also become familiar with what I call a healthy sense of self. Like the Buddha, we become strong, caring, clear-minded individuals in harmony with ourselves and our environment. The meditation posture itself embodies this healthiness: grounded, balanced, and relaxed.

In sitting meditation, we develop the patience and honesty to be self-aware. As our minds become more flexible and curious, a whole new range of reality becomes available to us. We begin to see certain truths about the way things are. For example, we begin to notice that even though we want to live a dignified, enlightened life, there’s a constant pull on our attention. Everywhere we go, moment to moment, we’re trying to be entertained. We’re not just talking about watching movies and television or roaming around on the Internet. This notion of entertainment is older than modern technology. The ancient meditation texts are full of observations about how the mind is always seeking entertainment.

Click here to read the rest of April’s monthly dharma teaching on www.Sakyong.com

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