The Noble Eight-Fold Path
Master Heng K'ung
Practicing concentration when not firmly rooted in morality is very dangerous work and one who does so can easily go astray. In practicing meditation techniques we want a stable outer life so that the inner life can unfold. If the outer life is not pure, the inner life cannot be property cultivated. The aim of meditation is to cut off desire. We can save ourselves a lot of toil and squirming on the meditation cushion if we begin by making all our affairs wholesome.
Proper unification of the mind is known as concentration. What is the mind unified to? The mind becomes unified with the topic of meditation and nothing else whatsoever. Properly unified, one does not feel pain, or cold, nor does one have any of the usual false thinking. A mind properly unified with the topic of meditation will not give rise to thoughts that generate desire. While the satisfaction of desire is pleasurable, let us not forget that this satisfaction, no matter how pleasurable, is still related to a human body and the experience cannot transcend the sense-realm. Most of us are lopsided because we only know what lies within the realm of the senses and have neglected to develop awareness of that which causes the mind to think, the heart to beat, the nose to smell, etc. This is not to say desire is bad, for if we never became hungry, we would not be motivated to eat, and our body would waste away. But we must keenly recognize when the fulfillment of our desires nourishes us and enriches our lives and when the demon of greed slips in and causes us to create hindrances for ourselves.
When the consciousness is evenly
fixed on a given object, in an undistracted, unscattered
and unperturbed way, we have concentration. This means
the meditator does not distinguish himself from the topic of meditation. One must
have a sincere desire to end birth and
death before this kind of concentration
can be attained. A person casually
interested in mediation can never achieve true
concentration. One must develop
will power strong enough to work for many years (or perhaps live
without any perceivable
results). As with
growing a flower,
you plant the seed, wait patiently, and one day behold. Cultivation
is just that way. We have no way of knowing when our causes and conditions will
ripen and the flower
of understanding will
bloom. We must start by examining
ourselves and thinking of ways to change our bad habits.
This is planting
the seed. Bad habits impede us because they cause us to do upside
and waste tremendous amounts of mental
energy. Second we must see what aspects of our personality
other people don't like and try to change them.
-to be continued