An individual desirous of mediation very often asks “What shall we do? How do we do it?” In such instances, what have we got to explain to them? How can we motivate him? The proper answer to such questions, that is in keeping with the Dahamma, is that we should practise four activities: Listening to Dhamma, participation in Dhamma discussion, Samatha and Vipassana. Only the individual who practises these four activities together develops his/her mind and develops the motivation to continue further.
Therefore one should direct one’s mind to all these four aspects. Listening to Dhamma and participating in Dhamma discussions help us gain a good knowledge of Dhamma. From Samatha and Vipassana we develop concentration. In short we need the knowledge of Dhamma and also simultaneously practice meditation.
Some of us want to start meditating after studying the Dhamma. Some others think of studying the Dhamma after completing meditation. This is incorrect. We should select both. They should be done at the correct time.
Also you have to be clear about your intentions, mature about admitting when you have some unskillful intentions in the mind, and honest about the results that come when you act on unskillful intentions. Only by observing that, again and again, can you finally overcome them. When you really see that there’s a connection between unskillful intentions and needless suffering, you become genuinely motivated to find the escape from that suffering. This is the only way you can do it.
When it comes to specially Samatha & Vipassana Meditation, it is not an easy thing to get into as this Mind has been defiled for a Long Time. The word meditation (bhavana) is used so often that we believe it is something very easy to do. In our normal life when we study a subject, all we have to do is to listen, write and then memorize it. But, meditation is not an easy subject, as such. Meditation has to be viewed in the right context. Our minds are obsessed with facts and thoughts. Indeed, it is very difficult for us to turn away from habitual ways of thought and conduct. The practice of mindfulness is a difficult task. Mind is the core of our existence and for a long time it has been defiled. So we should firstly understand that the mind is defiled by delusion and obsessed with all kinds of useless things.
We have constructed our world either by seeing a visible object with the eye, hearing a sound with the ear, smelling an odor with the nose, tasting a flavor with the tongue, touching a tangible object with the body, or cognizing a mind-object with the mind.
Virtue (sila) is the stepping stone. It is the foundation for mental development. For this purpose, the sense organs must be controlled. This is very important. If after reflecting on an object, unwholesome thoughts associated with desire, hatred and delusion arise in our minds, we should be fully aware of this. Then, we should consider the disadvantages of the unwholesome thoughts in this way: ‘These thoughts of mind are unwholesome and bring painful consequences to me and others’.
With determination, those unwholesome thoughts should then be removed. By the removal of unwholesome thoughts, the mind stands firm and becomes calm. t is essential for us to discipline ourselves and make a strong foundation before we undertake the difficult task of training our mind through meditation.