The purpose of meditation is to make our mind calm and peaceful.
If our mind is peaceful, we will be free from worries and mental discomfort, and so we will experience true happiness; but if our mind is not peaceful, we will find it very difficult to be happy, even if we are living in the very best conditions.
If we train in meditation, our mind will gradually become more and more peaceful, and we will experience a purer and purer form of happiness. Eventually, we will be able to stay happy all the time, even in the most difficult circumstances.
Usually we find it difficult to control our mind. It seems as if our mind is like a balloon in the wind – blown here and there by external circumstances. If things go well, our mind is happy, but if they go badly, it immediately becomes unhappy. For example, if we get what we want, such as a new possession or a new partner, we become excited and cling to them tightly.
However, since we cannot have everything we want, and since we will inevitably be separated from the friends and possessions we currently enjoy, this mental stickiness, or attachment, serves only to cause us pain. On the other hand, if we do not get what we want, or if we lose something that we like, we become despondent or irritated.
For example, if we are forced to work with a colleague whom we dislike, we will probably become irritated and feel aggrieved, with the result that we will be unable to work with him or her efficiently and our time at work will become stressful and unrewarding.
Such fluctuations of mood arise because we are too closely involved in the external situation. We are like a child making a sand castle who is excited when it is first made, but who becomes upset when it is destroyed by the incoming tide.
By training in meditation, we create an inner space and clarity that enables us to control our mind regardless of the external circumstances. Gradually we develop mental equilibrium, a balanced mind that is happy all the time, rather than an unbalanced mind that oscillates between the extremes of excitement and despondency.
If we train in meditation systematically, eventually we will be able to eradicate from our mind the delusions that are the causes of all our problems and suffering. In this way, we will come to experience a permanent inner peace, known as “liberation” or “nirvana.” Then, day and night in life after life, we will experience only peace and happiness.
Karma means actions: the actions of our body, speech and mind. This subject is very meaningful. Throughout our life we have to experience various kinds of suffering and problems without choice. This is because we do not understand what actions we need to abandon and what actions we need to practice. If we had this knowledge and put it into practice there would be no basis for experiencing suffering and problems.
Buddha Shakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism, showed the manner of accomplishing the ultimate goal of living beings, the attainment of enlightenment, at Bodh Gaya in India in 589 BC.
Dharma means “protection.” By practicing Buddha’s teachings we protect ourself from suffering and problems. All the problems we experience during daily life originate in ignorance, and the method for eliminating ignorance is to practice Dharma.
What are the Four Noble Truths? These are first teachings Buddha gave after he attained enlightenment which explain the entire path to enlightenment.
Buddha taught how to examine our mind and see which states produce misery and confusion and which states produce health and happiness. He taught how to overcome the compulsively non-virtuous minds that confine us to states of discontent and misery, and how to cultivate the virtuous minds that liberate us from pain and lead us to the bliss of full enlightenment.
Different people have different capacities for spiritual understanding and practice. For this reason, out of his compassion, Buddha Shakyamuni gave teachings at many levels, just as a skillful doctor administers a variety of remedies to treat different types of sick people.