When Gautama the Buddha was about to leave the body and the world, his closest disciple Ananda was deeply troubled and sad. For he had been with Buddha many years, and was very close to him, but he was also concerned, as he himself had not yet become enlightened.
The Buddha’s last words to Ananda were, “Be a light unto yourself.”
After years of the Buddha teaching non attachment, the time had come for Ananda to drop his attachment to Buddha. It is said that that moment that the Buddha died, Ananda became enlightened.
We are the very ones that become a hinderance to our own understanding of ourselves, and life. Through our building up of ideas and concepts that become our attachments.
Our attachments are simply those things that we become so entangled with, we are unable to step back from them to see what we are without all the dressings.
Vipassana, is the method of meditation that buddhist monks and many laymen observe till this day. It means, special seeing. The breath is used as a point of focus as you allow the awareness of the body sensations and thought. It is a state of self exploration through observation. Over time one comes to experience that they have thoughts and sensations, but they themselves are not the sensations or thoughts.
If there is one thing that can slow and ease the neurosis of humanity, it is meditation. For it is simply our attachment to who we are superficially, and what we have externally that has a great many of us left with a feeling of inner poverty.
Of all the methods and tools that I have given to my clients over the years, meditation is the one that is the most profound, especially when it is understood as a practice of inner insight as apposed to the goal of an empty mind, which is the idea that most people think meditation is.
It is no coincidence that the word meditation comes from the same root as the word medication.
I prescribe the meditation that I practice, which I like to call the ‘step back mediation’, as it is very simple (which meditation should be) easy, and effective for even those that have never meditated before. Try for yourself, and see how you feel.
The step back meditation
- Sit in a quiet space with your spine erect
- Close your eyes, and just allow you breath to be
- Wait for a thought to come
- When a though arises, step back from it using your imagination
- Watch the thought without involvement or judgement
- Whenever you feel yourself getting involved in a thought, simply step back
- Allow, without involvement
- Wait and watch without judgement
- When a thought leaves, wait and repeat with the next thought
Thoughts will come and go. All you need to do is NOT allow yourself to identify with or judge them. Simply give them your awareness. See them like infant children. They are always after your attention, but have little to offer. They simply want you to watch. As you observe each thought, IT will be satisfied and move on.
Meditation is something that must become a part of your life, to defrag the mental system each and every day. Like anything, the more you do it, the better you get at it.
Start with doing this meditation for just 10 mins a day, and slowly build it up to longer durations. Do not do it seeking an outcome, that too is simply something to be observed. There will be a beautiful unfolding, and finding of the self, but simply allow this to happen organically.
This is what it means to be a light unto yourself.
Let there be light