“May the Buddha please teach us the Dhamma in a way that leads to our welfare and happiness in this life and in future lives.”
VIPASSANA (Main Insight) As lay people, we can live happy and peaceful lives by practicing the Dhamma.We have to cultivate skillful qualities and abandon unskillful qualities in order to be happy in this lifetime and in future lifetimes.By abandoning unskillful qualities and cultivating skillful qualities, we can reduce our kamma and therefore greatly reduce the number of times we are reborn.
MIND TRAINING We always need to remain mindful of our thoughts, feelings, and actions all through the day. This is how we build sustained and continuous mindfulness. How are we treating our friends, neighbors, and co-workers? Are the actions we display towards them skillful or unskillful? Do they bring us happiness or do they cause us to suffer? Let’s reflect upon this.How do we handle our money? Are we spending our money on drinking, gambling, sex, and lots of food, and being heedless in our actions? Let’s reflect upon this.Who are we associating with? Are we associating with the wise, with Dhamma friends who can keep us on the path, or are we associating with foolish people who encourage us to indulge in sensual pleasures and do unskillful things such as kill other living beings, steal things, commit sexual misconduct, slander others, and abuse intoxicants? Let’s reflect upon this.
PREPARATION Find a comfortable place to meditate. It should be quiet, secluded, and dark. It should also not be too hot or too cold.Sit in lotus position with your legs crossed. You can also sit in a chair if you are unable to sit down on the ground. Place your hands in your lap and close your eyes.
METTA WARM-UP Let’s start our meditation practice today by radiating metta towards ourselves and all other beings. Say to yourself “may all beings be well, happy and peaceful”. Say this several times. After that, recite the words “may I be well, may I be happy and peaceful”. Say this several times as well. Then, spend the next few minutes alternating between these two recitations.
THE BREATH Bring your attention to your nostrils, lungs, or abdomen. Notice the air going in and out of your nostrils or lungs or your abdomen expanding and contracting. Note “rising” in your mind every time the air goes into your nostrils or lungs or every time your abdomen expands and “falling” in your mind every time the air comes out of your nostrils or lungs or every time your abdomen contracts. Keep your attention here. Do not let your mind wander here and there. Remain concentrated on your breath. You will begin to notice your body and mind calm down and relax. Observe the rhythm of your breath. At the beginning of your meditation practice, it may be faster. As your body and mind calm down and relax, your breath will become calmer and more subtle.
THE BODY When your mind begins to calm down and your breath begins to become more subtle, your body will begin to relax.The Buddha teaches us the truth of Anatta (not self). It’s important that we get rid of our belief in a self.To do this, briefly observe your head hair, body hair, nails, teeth, or skin. Understand it’s function (i.e. to help you chew food or to protect you from sun rays), and then remember how skin color changes and gets darker or pale depending on the seasons and how your skin wrinkles as you grow older, how head hair becomes white and falls out as you age, how body hair falls out frequently, how nails can fall out and change size all on their own, and how teeth can fall out, break, and rot all on their own.This practice will give us insight into the impermanence of the body, and then we will be able to see it as “rupa”, meaning form, and not self.
THE MIND Even as your mind calms down, your breath becomes more subtle, and your body relaxes, your mind stays active, thinking about this and that.When thoughts arise, try not to follow them. Just observe them as they come and go. Try to keep your mind concentrated on the breath. If you follow your thoughts, they will stay in your mind and you will become distracted.
MEDITATION TIPS When you meditate, make sure to focus on removing unskillful qualities and cultivating skillful qualities.Reflect upon what qualities will lead to happiness in your life as a lay person. Cultivating mindfulness, associating with wise Dhamma friends rather than heedless and foolish people, cultivating metta, committing yourself to meditation and the Dhamma practice with Right Effort and energy, eliminating your personality view or belief in a self, and understanding the true Dhamma and instilling yourself with Right View.What do you wish to do in your life? We only have so much time alive. If you want to be happy in your life as a lay person, you have to put forth a lot of effort in your Dhamma practice and live according to the Buddha’s teachings for lay people. Remember this during your meditation.During your meditation, notice your defilements as they arise. Greed, hatred, and delusion can arise when you meditate. You may be able to just notice them and let go, but the Buddha also wanted us to abandon unskillful qualities altogether. So you may want to think about why you have these defilements in your mind as you notice them. What are you still clinging to? What are you still attaching to? What are you still craving for? Will getting what you want make you happy? Or will you just want more? Craving all the time can lead to a lot of stress in your life as a lay person. Reflect upon how reducing craving will allow you to live a happier and easier life as a lay person.
SELF-GUIDED MEDITATION Often times as lay people, we believe that we cannot or should not practice the Dhamma seriously. We may believe that the Dhamma is only for monks to practice. However, this is not true. Lay people, with Right Effort, can practice the Dhamma seriously and reap the benefits of this practice.Let’s remember Anathapindika, King Bimbisara, and all the other noble lay people during the Buddha’s time. Let us strive to be like them.Let us share our wealth with our family, Dhamma friends, and the Sangha, rather than spending it on drinking, gambling, drugs, sex, and other foolish things.Let us abandon unskillful qualities in our lives as lay people. We should not kill other living beings, steal anything, commit sexual misconduct, lie, slander or insult others, or drink and use other intoxicating substances.Let us cultivate skillful qualities in our lives as lay people.
Understanding the Four Noble Truths and practicing the Noble Eightfold Path will help us to cultivate skillful qualities.Let us ask the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha for forgiveness when we feed unskillful qualities. Let us learn from our mistakes. Let us continue to strive to live our lay lives according to the Buddha’s teachings for lay people.Old age, sickness, and death are all coming. Happiness requires effort. Reducing our craving and letting go of our attachments is necessary for our happiness in this life as lay people. Let’s reflect upon this and return our attention to the breath.