To cultivate the soul and mind by study; to sharpen all of the gifts of intellect by the observation and consideration of useful things; to increase our faculty of understanding every day; to know ancient things and, once known, to emend and amplify them; to discover new things by thought and to inquire after the causes of things; to examine the origin and progress of things; to explain the present through the past; to make obscure and intricate things easier; to separate true from false; to refute, knock down, and drag away trifling and absurd things and, in short, to see the truth – this at last is worthy of the human intellect and reason; this is the food of the mind; this, finally, is what it means to live and have the full profit of one’s soul!
Source: C.G. Cobet, An Encomium to the Life of the Mind | SENTENTIAE ANTIQUAE
The most important thing when you are meditating is to have the right attitude.
- When meditating, donâ€™t control. Donâ€™t try to create something. Donâ€™t force or restrict yourself.
- Donâ€™t try to create anything, but donâ€™t reject what is happening. But as things happen or stop happening, donâ€™t forget. Be aware of them.
- Trying to create something is lobha (greed). Rejecting what is happening is dosa (aversion). Not knowing if something is happening or has stopped happening is moha (delusion).
- Only when the observing mind has no lobha, dosa, nor soka (worry/anxiety) inside it, then the meditating mind will arise.
- You have to double check to see what attitude you are meditating with.
- You have to accept and watch both good and bad experiences.
- You only want good experiences. You donâ€™t want even the tiniest unpleasant experience. Is this fair? Is this the way of the Dhamma?
- Donâ€™t have any expectations. Donâ€™t want anything. Donâ€™t be anxious. Because if these attitudes are in your mind, it becomes difficult to meditate.
- Why are you focusing so hard when you meditate? You want something to happen? You want something to stop happening? It is likely that one of these attitudes is there.
- If the mind is getting tired something is wrong with the way you are practicing.
- You cannot practice when the mind is tense.
- If the mind and body are getting tired, it is time to check the way you are meditating.
- Meditating is waiting and watching–with awareness and comprehension, understanding, not thinking, not reflecting, not judging.
- Donâ€™t practice with a mind that wants something or wants something to happen. The only result will be that you will tire yourself.
- The meditating mind should be relaxed and at peace.
- Both the mind and the body should be comfortable.
- A light and free mind enables you to meditate well. Do you have the right attitude?
- Meditating is whatever happens, good or bad, accepting, relaxing and watching it.
- What is the mind doing? Thinking? Or being aware?
- Where is the mind now?Inside? Or outside (of oneself)?
- Is the watching/observing mind properly aware? Or only superficially aware?
- You are not trying to make things turn out the way you want it to happen, you are trying to know what is happening as it is.
- Donâ€™t feel disturbed by the thinking mind. You are not practicing to prevent thinking. To recognize and acknowledge thinking whenever it arises is what you are practicing.
- You are not supposed to reject the object (phenomena/things that are happening/being known). You are to know (and thus note/observe) the defilements that arise because of the object and thus remove them (the defilementâ€™s).
- Only when there is Saddha (faith), Viriya (energy) will arise. Only when there is Viriya, Sati (mindfulness) will become continuous. Only when Sati is continuous, Samadhi will become established. Only when Samadhi is established, then you will know things as they really are. Saddha then increases further.
- Just pay attention to what is exactly in the present moment. Donâ€™t go to the past! Donâ€™t plan for the future!
- The object is not important.The mind that is working in the background–working to be aware, i.e. the observing mind, is more important. If the observing (mind) is done with the right attitude the object will be the right object.
For more on U Tejaniya, listen to Gil Fronsdal’s dhamma talk.
So we say that mental activity is like the deadly poisonous cobra. If we don’t interfere with a cobra, it simply goes its own way. Even though it may be extremely poisonous, we are not affected by it; we don’t go near it or take hold of it, and it doesn’t bite us. The cobra does what is natural for a cobra to do. That’s the way it is. If you are clever you’ll leave it alone. And so you let be that which is good. You also let be that which is not good–let it be according to its own nature. Let be your liking and your disliking, the same way as you don’t interfere with the cobra. — Ajahn Chah, “Living with the Cobra”
Off topic, but this reminds me of a story told by Jack Kornfield. When he first arrived in Thailand he was warned, “There are 100 species of snakes in Thailand. Ninety-nine of them are poisonous. And the other one will strangle you.”