Meghiya was the Buddha’s own attendant, before the position was taken over by Ananda. He was the closest to the Buddha, but nonetheless found that his mind was beset with unproductive thoughts.
He asked to retire to the forest for the afternoon to meditate, but was refused permission three times. After the third time asking the Buddha relents and tells him – Well then, go do as you see fit.
There is a lesson here – we are always looking for the better teacher, trying to find someone more inspiring, more enlightened to teach us. Yet even when the teacher is the living Buddha himself, people will experience difficulty in taming the mind in meditation.
Meghiya returns later complaining that he cannot control his mind.
Beginners to meditation, when the meditation does not go as desired, seek to find a fix, a cure. Yet that is not the right approach. The effort should be put in with every mind state – no matter whether concentrated and controlled or not. Mindfulness, the self-awareness that is so important, can arise with any condition of mind. This is where the work is put in; so rather than finding a cure, one should find patience.
The advice given to Meghiya by the Buddha at that time was not a clever fix to correct the ‘wrong’ state of mind, but rather more general advice designed to generate a better foundation of mind. He said the yogi cultivates:
- Good friends and comrades
- Virtue in behaviour and habit, seeing danger in the smallest fault
- Talk which is serious and a help to opening the heart, talk on wanting little, on contentment, on solitude, on going apart, on strenuous endeavour, on virtue, on concentration, on wisdom, on emancipation, on the knowledge and vision of emancipation
- Strenuous exertion in purpose, without shirking the burden of righteousness, putting away unrighteous conditions, persevering and energetic, he shirks not the burden of righteousness.
- Wisdom: and is endowed with wisdom regarding arising and ceasing, with Ariyan penetration concerning the way to the end of suffering.
- reflection on foul things: to put away passion
- reflection on metta: to put away ill will
- mindfulness in inhaling and exhaling: to cut off distraction
- the thought of impermanence: to uproot the conceit “I am”
A iv book of nines