Do you apply yourself to meditation?

Question: Do you apply yourself to meditation?

Answer: We have to be very careful about what we mean by meditation.

I avoid using the word meditation because different people have different

ideas about it. Our goal should be the development of right understanding of

realities that are appearing now. We can begin to notice and consider one

reality at a time and then there is no need to name it or to think about it.

Understanding can be developed in any situation, one does not have to

change one’s life or do anything special. Right understanding can develop

naturally, at this very moment, one does not have to sit in a quiet place.

Thus, this is different from what people generally mean by meditation. The

development of right understanding or insight, vipassana, is a kind of mental

development which can be done no matter where you are.


Question: Don’t you need a quiet place in order to concentrate?

Answer: Not at all, because the purpose of the Buddha's teachings is to

understand the realities which arise naturally, in daily life. We have to develop

understanding of realities such as seeing, visible object, hearing or sound.

Sound is a reality, no matter where you are, whether it is quiet or there is a

lot of noise. If we are in a noisy place and we have aversion towards that

noise, aversion can be realized as just a conditioned reality, not “my

aversion”. If we know that understanding can be developed in whatever

situation we are, there are conditions for its development.


Question: You were talking about sound. It is so unusual to have sound as a

meditation subject. How can you develop understanding of it without retiring

to a quiet place and considering it? How do you begin?

Answer: Do you have to try now in order to see, to hear or to touch? These

are realities which naturally arise in your life. When there are conditions for

their arising, you cannot help seeing, hearing or touching. When there is

intellectual understanding of realities there are conditions for direct awareness

and direct understanding of them as they appear one at a time. However, we

cannot fix the time for their arising; it may be now or later on. There is

nobody who can force the arising of right understanding, it is conditioned by

many factors.

Topic 166