Today ends the first week of Sravasti Abbey’s annual Retreat from Afar. I’m only doing the meditations on the four establishments of mindfulness once a day here at home. Even so, knowing that the Abbey community and guests are in the hall five sessions a day, honing their wisdom and compassion and dedicating the positive resources (or “merit”) they’re creating to the welfare of all beings, gives me immense satisfaction.
I feel encouraged, supported, and connected each time I start to waver into afflicted states of mind and then redirect myself with the simple thought, “Wait – you’re in retreat!” I remember the dedication and enthusiasm of the meditators in full-time retreat, which leads me to be mindful of our goal. The short term goals are things such as gaining a more peaceful mind, having more resilience to deal with difficulties, being more open and transparent with others, and being free from miserable states of existence.
But our genuine goal, for each one of us alike, is to attain a complete cessation of all undesirable experiences and the mental afflictions and deluded actions which bring those about, ultimately culminating in the supremely awakened, responsive, omniscient state of a Buddha, who is best able among all beings to benefit others.
Recalling this goal and the motivation required to progress towards it, my mental afflictions naturally drop away. Simply having the support of a spiritual community, even though it’s on the opposite side of the country, evokes integrity within me. If they can do it, so can I!
Afflictions cower before the power of this unified body of human beings, all working sincerely to develop themselves to their fullest potential.
Of course, both the strength of the afflictions and the power of to overcome them actually are all within my mind. But lacking strength of mind and wisdom, the sheer thought that there are people to back me up, and in turn to hold me accountable after I committed to do the meditation practice, brings greater determination and clarity.
Today, I’ll reflect on the inner might of those engaged in spiritual practice. I’ll allow myself to feel inspired by their example – heck, even by the fact that they simply exist!
This is really quite incredible: in this world many people don’t question the presumption that money equals happiness and that material prosperity is ultimately rewarding. Yet, there exist people who see through illusory, transient pleasures and strive to actualize genuine, lasting happiness for themselves and others.
Today, I’ll continue my retreat practice from afar, increasing my understanding of the impermanent, impure, unsatisfactory, and selfless nature of the body in order to abandon craving attachment, anger, pride, jealousy, and ignorance.