Thursday, June 07, 2007

Takes a minute to learn, a lifetime to master

Ever since I saw the 14th Dalai Lama I've been fascinated with Buddhism and the practice of meditation. In fact, I've been dabbling in meditation on my own in short, 15 to 20 minute bursts. The experience has been profound. I'm not sure how others meditate - I'd like to hear from those of you who do - but what I do is put on some comfortable clothes, sit cross-legged, close my eyes and concentrate on my breathing. From there luminous thoughts pass through my mind like fireflies, each competing for my attention. They range from the cerebral (if the universe is an isolated system and my consciousness dwells therein then the universe and by default my consciousness are eternal) to the commonplace (did I leave the stove on?). In either case, meditation always leaves me alert and tranquil.

I'm not claiming to have achieved enlightenment as I'm just a novice. The benefits of meditation, however, reach all who practice it, regardless of class, race or gender. It's easy enough for a child of two to learn but takes a lifetime to master. Meditation, or "sitting" if you prefer, helps slow the world down, and point ones attention inward, to understand what you think about and how to let go of your thoughts, so what's left is this feeling of interconnectedness with all life and transcendence above workaday banalities. I don't claim to be Buddhist, maybe I'm too Westernized to adopt the philosophy fully, but that doesn't matter, Christians, Muslims and even Atheists (which some Buddhists technically are) enjoy the fruits of meditation. But there's one thing everyone agrees on - the universe inspires dumbfoundment. We want to understand it, put it under a microscope and box it up to show to mom. But we can't truly grasp the immensity of this place unless we first know ourselves. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single breath.


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