In the opening to “Pathways to the Tao #3: Excursus on Meditation,” I write:
If one who enjoys a lesser happiness beholds a greater one, let him leave aside the lesser to gain the greater.Buddha, Dhammapada
We should take the Buddha’s principle here very seriously. Even if we have the smallest glimpse of our true nature, we should “leave aside” pursuits of pleasure, status, more experiences (“peak experiences,” most notably), sexual gratification, and more. None of these can truly satisfy our spirit, and all of them, after at best providing us with some form of temporary relief, end up issuing forth in more suffering.
The heart of meditation is remembrance. Remembering, we slip out of ignorance (avidya) and begin to make our way Home. For most of us, continuing to come Home is a lengthy process. But as I’d found in my own experience, I had nowhere else to go, nowhere else to turn. The path of awakening is the last stop for those who have tried, tried out, and ruled out everything else—all of which the Buddha calls “the ignoble search.” The Buddha’s principle was, for me, easily confirmable, and thus I’ve not looked back since. “Happily, very contentedly,” I should add.
Chan master Sheng Yen calls this pivot from the lesser to the greater happiness renunciation: we renounce our idolization of worldly pursuits (while still performing them as needed) so that we can begin, in earnest, the “Noble Search.”
Let us, without delay, do so.
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You can read the rest of the issue, whose subject is meditation, here.