by Shramanera Heng K'ung

      The primary function of meditation is to destroy the notion that the world exists, without creating the notion that it does not exist.  Paradoxical as it may seem, a richer appreciation of life is realized more when its importance is acknowledged less. We tend to take things too seriously, especially ourselves. The first challenge a meditator must face is to acknowledge that a problem does in fact exist. He must recognize that there is something he does not understand. Before he can realize a state where "everything is okay", he must first recognize that everything is not "okay". It's not okay for this reason: we think that "okay" and "not okay" both exist. For a correct view one must stand in the center. One sees the world as separate from oneself and thinks that there is something apart from oneself to be gained from interacting with it. One thinks one is the subject and the world is the object.

      But can a subject exist without an object? Can seeing exist without something seen?  Since by definition seeing is the act of perceiving an object, it logically follows that an object must exist for the seeing to take place.

      Does this object exist apart from the seeing? Since by definition the seen is what is perceived by the seer, how can an object exist without a perceiver?

      In essence the two are the same and only appear to be separate. If the world about us is perceived in this way, then what is there to be desired?

      This is the purpose of meditation. This is the state in which contentment prevails. Non-attachment grows gradually, and understanding is the key. What kind of understanding? The necessary awareness centers on material things: their empty nature and their impotency, their total inability to bring lasting peace to the meditator.

      The illusion of separateness is destroyed forever for the person who desires nothing and who desires to rid himself of nothing. For example, a wandering ascetic who is attached to his nakedness has as large a problem as the king who is attached to his throne. Knowing when to acquire goods and when to let them go is a skill, which is perfected through intuition; intuition is the product of meditation. If giving has anything fixed about it or if receiving is fixed, then the gift is rendered useless. By giving away what is difficult to give away and by keeping what is hard to keep, the perfection of giving is practiced.

      To stop making traps for ourselves--this is the purpose of meditation.  For example, we project an idea and then either follow through with action or not. In either case, the result leaves us frustrated. Why? Because when we judge the response to our projected ideas we do so on the basis of whether or not they satisfy our desires. Because desire is foremost, the nature of all projections is futile and frustrating. It is based on the same illusion as above: the object apart from the subject. Desire takes this illusion for its foundation and man, in his ignorance, tries to build a house on it. Suffering is the inevitable result.

      When we stop projecting an outer world we start to perceive an inner world which is free of desire and afflictions. Once the meditator is established in this state he can amass wealth or fame or he can give it all away and feel only joy as a result. If we project no self or sense of "I" on what we do, then what is painful and what is pleasurable? Who is there to judge? Meditation teaches us how to remove the judge. A judge, by definition, is one who judges a subject. If there is no subject then there will be no judge either. Who will there be to judge?

      Destroying the projected ego/self is difficult because it is as subtle as an expert spy. We may not even be aware that it exists. The spy makes us think that he is helping us when in fact he is planting a bomb, a bomb of frustration in our habit-patterns. When we meditate we can grow aware that this spy exists. By observing the spy and what he thrives on and then by removing these things, the spy has nothing left to spy upon and he departs.  The spy can be routed by using his own techniques when we meditate.  Meditation brings concepts and ideas to the surface of the mind. Meditation, when practiced regularly, teaches us how to use these ideas, how not to be controlled or used by them. Ultimately the point is to end desire and to destroy afflictions. In the end meditation itself is destroyed, just as the wood that feeds the fire is destroyed by the fire. When we have no desire we will no longer desire to meditate. If there is no meditator, then who is there to perform the act of meditation?

Better would it be to change the course
                    of a thousand rivers,
        Than to disturb the mind
                    of a cultivator of the Way.