Buddhism and Meditation

Buddhism – Tools for Living Your Life


Last night the Milton Keynes group met to practice some Metta Bhavana meditation and start exploring Vajragupta’s book: Buddhism – Tools for Living your Life.

We explored the importance of examining our life history and identifying the themes of our life. Are we becoming who we want to be?

We took some time to reflect and write short life stories in preparation of finding our “Sacred Question”.

Here are the notes from the evening:

Buddhism – Tools for Living Your Life – Chapter 1 – Everyone has a Story

 

Part 1 – Sacred Questions

 

To write down all I contain at this moment

I would pour the desert through an hourglass,

The sea through a water-clock,

Grain by grain and drop by drop

 

(exert: Kathleen Raine – The Moment)

 

Everyone has a story to tell – a unique combination of events – light & dark, hopes and fears, meeting and partings

 

Living a Buddhist life is about understanding our story

  • We need to know our heart’s deepest wishes
  • We need to be aware that we have the tools to change direction if we wish

 

 

In Triratna Buddhism we often tell our life stories – you may get to give yours many times and get to hear many lives in return. This is a privilege – there is no such thing as a boring life story.

 

  • You get see the physical and psychological make up that people start out with
  • You learn about social conditioning such as family, school and friendships
  • You hear of their working with complex interacting conditions, their victories and failures, their struggle for happiness and fulfilment
  • People tell you of the choices they have made that bring them to this point
  • You can see where they have come from

 

 

Through reflecting on our own story we can take stock:

 

Where is our life leading us?

Are we becoming the kind of person that we really want to be?

 

The Buddhist life involves asking these kinds of questions

 

  • Buddhist practices such as meditation help us to become more aware
  • We can become more conscious of the patterns in our life
  • Through leading a Buddhist life we endeavour to become the authors of our life story
  • We try to move beyond experiencing life as being something that happens to us

 

 

Modern life can be very busy and life can seem to just slide by without us noticing it. With so much activity we may find it difficult to be present or to fully experience things as they happen – we may watch TV but our mind is somewhere else.

 

We may experience a desire to live more fully, from the depths of ourselves. When we manage to do this life feels more real, more authentic, more satisfying.

 

 

Exercise 1 – Life Story

 

Spend some time reflecting on your own life story

 

- Maybe prepare a story-board – like making a movie

- You can use short sentences or draw simple pictures

- Perhaps choosing a dozen key phases or incidents that have influenced you or given your life direction

- You might choose events that symbolize a particular time in your life

 

Take time to reflect on your story

 

- Are there themes or patterns that you can see in your life?

- Themes or questions trying to work themselves out?

- Aspects wanting to express themselves?

 

 

As we become more conscious of the forces playing themselves out in our lives we can begin to formulate what Jack Kornfield call a Sacred Question – a question that summarizes what we are looking for.

 

Our Sacred Question may be about meaning – an existential question, or it might be psychological – about our relationships with others, or about a search for beauty or peace. Or it might be something else entirely!

 

Exercise 2 – Your Sacred Question  

 

Reflecting again on your life story, can you formulate something that is a Sacred Question for you?

 

- Start by sitting quietly and allowing your thoughts and feelings to emerge

- You could meditate or just sit with a cup of tea or in the garden

- You can take rough notes if this helps

- Allow themes and questions to evolve gradually

- You may have a very clear idea right from the beginning or it might start as a feint intuition or sense of matters most to you