A Meditative Life
This topic is covered in an article entitled “A Meditative Life” by Thanissaro Bhikkhu, based on one of his evening Dhamma talks. Here are brief notes, based on the article, by way of introduction: . . .
When you’re a meditator you also have to look at the way you live your life, your day-to-day activities. See if you’re creating a conducive environment for the meditation to thrive and spread. Otherwise the meditation just gets squeezed into the cracks between the rocks here and there, and never gets to permeate much of anything at all. . . .
There’s a teaching in the Canon on five principles that a new monk should keep in mind. These principles apply not only to new monks, but to anyone who wants to live a life where the meditation can seep through and permeate everything. . . .
The first principle is virtue – make sure you stick to your precepts. . . .
The second principle for creating a good environment for meditation is restraint of the senses – in other words, you’re not only careful about what comes out of your mind, you’re also careful about what comes in, in terms of the things you look at, the things you listen to, smell, taste, touch, and think about (and be careful not to focus on things that will give rise to greed, anger, or delusion). . . .
The third principle for creating a good environment for meditation is restraint in your conversation – in other words, before you say anything, ask yourself: “Is this necessary? Is this beneficial? Is there a good reason to say this?” . . .
The fourth principle is, for the monks, to frequent wilderness spots, to get out of society, to find a quiet place to be by yourself, so that you can gain perspective on your life, perspective on your mind, so that what’s going on in your mind can stand out in bolder relief – this principle applies to lay people, too; try to find as much solitude as you can; it’s good for you (when people have trouble living in solitude it shows that there’s lots of unfinished business inside). . . .
The fifth principle is to develop Right View. Right View has two levels. First, there’s belief in the principle of karma, that what you do really does have results – and you really are the one doing it. As for the second level of Right View, the transcendent level, that means seeing things in terms of the four noble truths: stress and suffering, the cause of stress and suffering, the cessation of stress and suffering, and the path of practice to that cessation. . . .
Source: Notes taken and adapted from “A Meditative Life” by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (July, 2003; original title: “Advice to a New Monk”) to introduce the original article which can be downloaded by clicking on A Meditative Life.
Evening Dhamma Talks – talks given by Thanissaro Bhikkhu during the evening meditation sessions at Metta Forest Monastery. (Each talk generally lasts between ten and twenty minutes.)
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