Good morning everyone! This is today's Dharma Espresso.
Have you ever hated anyone? When we hate someone, we always think about him/her. It's difficult to get that person out of our mind. Have you loved someone very much? When we love someone, it's also difficult to get him/her out of our mind. Loving or hating is a way to invite someone to stay in the hotel of our mind, and it is hard to get rid of them. When we meditate, those love and hate stories that we can't resist will come to our mind, not the people. They are very powerful emotional memories.
For example, about 10 or 15 years ago, someone unknown to us berated or smeared us online, making us very mad. We couldn't do anything to retaliate, so our anger just stayed on. Gradually, it sank down into our subconscious and became an emotional memory in our brain, having its own place there. A dozen years later, we might be sitting in a lovely setting when all of a sudden, that memory emerged. It was so powerful that we couldn't stop thinking about it. We kept asking ourselves, "Why didn't I retaliate then? Why didn't I smear them back?" and so on. Unexpectedly, we spent 10 or 15 minutes in meditation just to think of them, of those who slandered us 15 years ago, for example.
When we got out of that sitting, our memory of anger and revenge just intensified. It turns out that the more we pay attention to it, the angrier we get. The level of anger and hatred gets even higher in meditation. Dear everyone, there will be countless emotional memories constantly emerging while you're meditating. That’s because in your real life, you haven't learned how to forgive, how to let go, how to comfort, and how to open your heart completely. After months and years, those memories will go on staying in your mind and getting more powerful. Actually, there are two paths in meditation: 1. We look back at those memories with a forgiving mind to dissolve karma and untie knots. When those memories come, we have to smile so they can go away. 2. We create more karma when we get angry with those memories during meditation, then once the sitting is over, we'd call up this or that person, or angrily speak our mind, or vent our anger on others with very negative actions.
In general, we're the victims of those memories. Sometimes we live in the past for months and years because we always remember a certain person or we bury certain past event in our mind without ever learning to forgive. So why do we meditate?
But how do we forgive? Let those memories come and go, emerge and disappear. But we don't forget them. We recognize them, smile with them, and realize clearly that they are our life experiences. Whether they're good or bad, beautiful or ugly, sad or happy, love or hate, have or have not, gain or loss, etc, we clean them all up, sweeping away all karmic hindrances when we meditate. Their power can no longer hold the attention of our consciousness. Therefore, we dissolve our karma. They won't bother us again. On the other hand, if we keep them, bury them deep inside, and deny them, we get mad, argue with them, fight with them while we're meditating, they will continue to show up in our life. We call it karma catching up, i. e., our karmic hindrances will come and hold us forever. Therefore, we should open our heart and always think that to meditate is to forgive.
Meditating is not for reaching beautiful altered states. The more we want to have them, the easier we'll have nightmares or painful dreams, not while we're sleeping, but while we're meditating. So we should sit and be still. That stillness is often stirred. For instance, if we visualize our consciousness is like a straight thread, the stirring of our consciousness is our past memories. The only way to still them is to forgive, accept, and look at them with very kind eyes. Let them come, witness them, recognize them, and then let them go.
Every moment of the life we're living is a beautiful experience. Be aware of each experience; let it come, then let it go. While meditating, don't hold on to it, tug with it, and react negatively, or even positively. Look at it very gently, and let it go away.
Thus, to meditate is to forgive.
Thank you for listening. Have a beautiful day, and may you be joyful and awake with this Dharma Espresso.
Dharma Master Heng Chang
(Translated and transcribed by Compassionate Service Society)