Mind Over Matter

1298 Words6 Pages
Mind over Matter

Out of the myriad of religions that encompass the earth, one of the

least understood is Buddhism. In the pursuit of a higher plane of existence, a

Buddhist monk will renounce his worldly secular life, instead embracing a life

of meditation and study. While attempting to achieve enlightenment, and

therefore nirvana, a Buddhist must first come to eradicate his sense of self,

effectively destroying his ego. By doing this, "durkha," (pain and suffering),

end and one can be at peace and harmony with the world and all who reside in it.

A practice that helps monks achieve this enlightened state is meditation. By

clearing the mind of mundane clutter and distractions, a monk can become in tune

with his inner being and body, which results in a greater understanding of the

barriers that need to collapse before nirvana can be achieved. This practice of

meditation was the Buddhist practice that I participated in, with the intent on

a greater understanding of what being a Buddhist means. This exercise taught me

the inherent difficulty in calming the mind, along with the negative effects

outside influences like other people have on the practice.

The first place I attempted to meditate was outside my dorm next to a

tree. This proved to be a comfortable place, yet full of distractions. I have

meditated before in my martial arts classes, yet it was difficult calming my

mind. While concentrating on my breathing, I was easily distracted by outside

occurrences such as leaves falling and people walking by. The more I attempted

to shut out the outside world, the more my mind focused on the little things

around me. I gained immediate appreciation of the Buddhist monk's ability to

shirk the outside world and focus on his inner self. When I had meditated before

in my dojo, it was as a group and in silence. This greatly helped the exercise

and I can see why this is the modus operandi at most temples.

The second place I attempted to meditate was in the basement of Reid

Hall. I hoped that the familiar surroundings would calm the mind easier and

allow me to concentrate on clearing my mind. While not an ideal setting, it was

better than outside. As I concentrated on my breathing and felt myself unwind, I

was able to tune into the sound...

... middle of paper ...

...lp guide and direct the learning

of the monks. They offer subtle forms of encouragement, often disguised in

hardship, that aid the monks in their struggle toward understanding. This is a

boon, allowing enlightenment to occur quicker than in the solitary meditation I


A Buddhist way of life is a lot harder than one may suspect, for while

they are released from the worries of everyday life, the mental tasks assigned

to them are far greater than worrying about what to cook for dinner tonight or

paying one's electricity bill. Furthermore, a Buddhist lifestyle is not very

conducive to an American lifestyle. I give a lot of credit to the founders of

the Zen Mountain Center in San Francisco, creating a microcosm which can support

the solitude necessary for personal growth is a daunting task. From my limited

venture into the life of a Buddhist, I learned that controlling one's mind and

then harnessing this power to delve out truths and desires from oneself is a

feat almost inconceivable by the normal mind. Those who accomplish this task are

truly Buddha's, master's of the world and therefore outside the grasp of time,

free at last.
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