Led by Bhante, the attendees found their individual relaxed positions, either sitting on chairs or cross-legged on the raised floor, each delving into his/her inner world of mindfulness. Here I could only relate my own personal mental journey amidst the sensory assaults on my auditory organs. In between chanting silently Namo Amituofo, I perceived, through hearing, the background humming of the air-conditioner interspersed with occasional cacophony from cars passing by, even a plane (or was it a heli?) flying by, coughing noise, even exhaling. When the humming stopped due to the thermostat setting, I could even pick up the sound of the wall clock ticking, and a periodic beeping sound from somewhere outside.
My mind drifted among the plot of the Jeffrey Deaver’s novel that I was reading, the planned drive up north tomorrow to send my son back to UF for the Fall semester, my blog on compassion, and perhaps others that escape me now. These fleeting thoughts arose and vanished, each time mindfulness being attained by chanting anew. And before I knew it, Bhante’s voice came through, announcing the end of yet another meditation session.
In the ensuing Dharma discussion, Bhante chose to focus on happiness, the pursuit of which understandably has become our primary preoccupation. Through a series of stories and personal anecdotes, Bhante imparted the following messages (from my perspective) that exemplify the Buddha’s teachings:
- Happiness comes from within.
- Don’t cling to the past. Don’t jump into the future. Otherwise we would lose the present moment.
- Whatever happens, put it in the reality basket.
- Just like a car that requires periodic oil change, we too need to tune up our mind, to see the mind mindfully and wisely, by using our own mind.
- Sugar, while it is sweet (and hence appeals to our palate), is harmful to our health (think diabetes). Herbs, while bitter, can heal.
- We live in an unbalanced world with a balanced mind.
- How not to be angry?
- Focus on identifying which of the 32 parts of my body is being hurt.
- Realize that being upset is no good for my position.
- I will lose my health.
- I will lose my serenity.
- I will worry.
- When conditions cease, we have to leave.
- Why are we born? To die.
- Birth is uncertain. Death is certain.
- Keep your own space (idea/mental solitude).
- Practice. Practice. Practice.
Shortly after noontime, all adjourned to a hearty vegetarian lunch, potluck style.