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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2828

Meditation & Medicine

By Bhikkhu Mandawala Pannawansa Thero

In the Western world of today there is a famous expression: “Living in the present moment” They also say: “Here & now!” Most of the people who use these expressions do not know their origin. They come from the Satipatthana Sutta. In Sanskrit there is the word: Kshana, the shortest possible moment. Life is a sum of Kshanas. Past is gone & future has not yet come. The only moment that exists is the Present. Therefore we should live in the present moment. Sages like Buddha who live in the present moment are not swayed by past worries & unending future projects. Meditation is living in the present moment.

A Brahmin comes to Buddha & asks about his spiritual practice. In response to his question Buddha says: we eat, we sleep, we walk etc. Then Brahmin replies: we also do the same thing. At the Brahmin’s answer Buddha says: But there is a difference; when we eat we know that we eat, when we sleep we know that we sleep, when we walk we know that we walk. This is meditation.

In Buddhism there are three words which are very important:

Smruti; Samadhi; Prajna

1. Smruti is Mindful awareness
2. Samadhi is Concentration
3. Prajna is Transcendental wisdom

In meditation we should be mindful of our every action. In our daily life mindful awareness offers us tranquillity & inner peace. For instance, a housewife can chop her vegetables by being aware of chopping vegetables without being mentally vagabond. If she continues this way she practices meditation without thinking that she is in meditation! Some people are of the opinion that one has to be older to sit in meditation. This concept is utterly false & baseless. We have to meditate because we need it. We need silence.

Otherwise every one becomes mad. If a surgeon who is cutting open a skull of a patient happens to think of his home while the operation is being done the patient’s life would be in danger. He has to be absorbed in his action. He has to be mindful of what he is doing.

That is meditation. This is being in Smruti or Sati. While in meditation one can come to a point where he or she understands that there is no separation between him or her and the rest of the world. He or she thus understands non-duality through which automatically arises compassion. That is why in Buddhism Prajna & Karuna are complementary. (Transcendental wisdom & Compassion) It is noteworthy to mention that the word charity is derived from Karuna (Karuna-caritas-charity)

While you continue to be in Smruti (mindfully aware) automatically Samadhi (concentration) comes about. While you are in perfect Samadhi, one day Prajna (transcendental wisdom) arises. This is the realization of truth & then you are not shaken by ups & downs of the life. You are safe from all the vicissitudes of fortune. The face of the Buddha is always wreathed in a slight smile! He is not shaken by outside ups & downs.

Analysis & reasoning are not connected to meditation. In Meditation you become an observer who does not judge! Just be an observer, as if you are standing by the side of the road watching the traffic-no judgment, no evaluation, no condemnation, no appreciation-just pure observation. The meditator surpasses death and he experiences the eternity in the Kshana.

Please read the following poem of William blake:

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour

The Austrian scientist Erwin Schrödinger writes thus:

“Eternally & forever, there is only Now ; this one & immutable Now; the Present is the only thing which has no end.”

It is interesting to know that Meditation & Medicine are from the same language root. In Sanskrit too Vyadhi & Samadhi are of the same root. Our ancestors had understood the fact that the meditation is a therapy. Today in many hospitals in the USA meditation is practised as a means of treatment.

At present, Neurotheology (a new science discipline) studies the changes that take place in the brain while in meditation. Scientists have found that simple change of thought process would bring about radical changes inside brain. In other words, the effects of meditation are scientifically proved. Enlightenment can be studied and is scientifically proved.

One easy meditation method is Anapanasati. You become aware of your breath. You can meditate on your in-breath & out-breath. While you continue this awareness your mind calms down.

Especially, we are not sufficiently attentive to our breathing. It is this breath that makes us grow, makes our bones solid, but we are not paying due attention to it. We are not grateful to our life-giver. We just let it happen. If you start to breathe mindfully then your mental & physical health ameliorates. Meditation relieves karma.

In many languages the word for the soul & mind is the same as breathing.

1. : ANIMA, SPIRITUS (Latin)

2. :PNEUMA, PSYCHE (Greek)

3. : RUAH (Hebrew)

Atman is the German verb for breathing! (Atman is soul in Sanskrit!)

Buddha: In this fathom long body I see the world, its birth & its extinction.

Socrates: Know yourself then you will know gods & the world.

Jesus: The Kingdom of God is in you.

Mohamed: One who knows himself will know the God.

Jalal Uddin Rumy: I looked around me to see the God, but He was not there, then I looked into me & He was there:

Nietzsche: The Kingdom of God is a state which forms itself inside heart.

- Asian Tribune -

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