Saturday, October 18, 2008

In search of tranquillity

Each day shares something in common; adds to monotony; stress is a by-product. Many a thought runs through my head; past incidents, future expectations, hates, desires, etc. This reminds me why Lord Buddha has preached mindfulness as an essential element in attaining eternal bliss. It implies and necessitates the need of living in the present, neither the future nor the past. ‘Present’ here is not a lengthy time span but instead a very subtle moment. One needs to observe each of these moments which ultimately are stringed together. As a result peace of mind could be attained.

Is tranquillity a requirement for gaining tranquillity? In other words, are tranquil environs a definite need for a meditator? For example, have we got to choose a calm and lonely place to meditate? It depends on what kind of a character you are. In the Maha Sati Pattana Sutta six types of persons (charitha) are mentioned: Raga, Dvesha, Moha, Saddha, Buddhi & Vitakka. I remember once in a forest hermitage close to the precincts of Yala, we (me and a friend) were at the apex of a rock where one could view the surrounding scenery for several miles. There, the chief monk with many a meditating experience, told us that the summit was suited for ‘Vitakka personalities’ in meditating. Not that it wasn’t suited for others, but was mentioned as an example of the effect environment has on an individual. It’s true for an individual not only in a spiritual state but also mundane, as I comprehend. Quoting Lord Buddha’s words once again, you could find many instances in the Tipitaka where he advices monks to meditate in a forest hermitage, under a tree or an empty enclosure. The fact discussed above is therefore acknowledged.

Many of us seek mental relief from our hectic lifestyles by departing the city for a much peaceful locality. But it’s not many who utilise that element as it should be. I refrain on commenting on others and continue to concentrate on myself. Importantly it’s not only the calmness, peacefulness, serenity or any other thing of a given location that would make my mind content. Though I have visited many such places, only a few did really have an effect on my seeked spiritual development. How would one explain this?

Once again, the Tipitaka has several answers. A prominent explanation is ‘samsaric behaviour’. A site which is a forest at present could have been a place of living on several occasions during our journey in this infinite samsara. If for example, we had encountered many pleasuring acts at a specific location, most probably a similar feeling will have an effect on our subliminal activity when visiting that area. Therefore, how tranquil or calm the spot may be, a meditator’s cause is most likely to be affected by thoughts congruent to the aforementioned. One needs to note that surroundings are just one factor which has an effect on a mundane individual in this way. Other aspects such as weather, people, etc. too have been sermonized. Need mentioning that these factors vary from one person to another.

Given the amount of locations I’ve visited, this makes me feel no surprise at the amazingly sparse number of places figured out (or discovered) which I could really make use of in search for tranquillity. Hence, at times the home bedroom seems more appropriate than a serene forest setting although I’d personally like to blend with nature. However, through perseverance our mind would adopt even to a previously detested location. This, Lord Buddha preaches as another essential element for the one who seeks eternal freedom.