Hwa Tsang Buddhist Monastery 華藏寺

Dharma and Meditation

Whether you are a young student or an old student, you will find much to gain and enjoy on these web pages. But before you begin, perhaps we should prepare you, by asking you some questions …

What should you do, when your best friend says they don’t want to associate with you anymore?
What should you do, if you can’t achieve your ambitions?
Why do some people seem happier than others?
Which faculty at College or University teaches you how to live contentedly?
How do you become more patient?
What will you do when your parents die?
How can you tell if someone is wise?

What is Dharma?

This website is about the Teachings of the Buddha. The Buddha was a very special and wise person, who grew up in India many, many, years ago. He cared very much about his family, his friends, his country, and the plight of humans and all living things everywhere. 

We call the Buddha’s teachings, the “Dharma”. The Buddha’s dharma was as pure as crystal clear water, and it had only one purpose; to reduce the sufferings of all living beings, and to show the path to liberation. We have given a brief introduction of this under the “Buddha’s Teachings” menu item.

What is the purpose of Meditation?

Buddhist meditation aims at producing a state of perfect mental health, equilibrium, and tranquillity. While many people think of meditation as escaping from daily life, assuming a particular posture, and being absorbed in some mysterious trance, Buddhist meditation is much more than this.

Its purpose is to cleanse the mind of impurities and disturbances, such as lustful desires, hatred, ill-will, indolence, worries and restlessness, sceptical doubts. It aims to cultivate the mind’s qualities of concentration, awareness, intelligence, will, energy, analytical faculty, confidence, joy, tranquillity. This can allow the mind to finally attain the highest wisdom, and the ultimate truth; Nirvana.

How can we develop our mental abilities in our daily lives ?

Buddhist meditation is not separate from our daily lives. It is deeply connected with our daily activities, our sorrows, our joys, our words, and our thoughts. The Buddha explains carefully in the Satipatthana Sutta, (Foundations of Mindfulness), that the first, essential element in improving our mental development, is mindfulness and observation.

For example, we breathe in and out all day long, but we are rarely mindful of it. Not for one second do we pause to concentrate on it. Why not try this little exercise now:

Breathe in and out as usual, without any effort or strain. Now bring your mind to concentrate on your breathing in and your breathing out. Let your mind watch, and observe your breathing in, and breathing out. Do not try to breathe quickly, nor try to breathe slowly. Just observe your breath, and try to keep your mind concentrated on your breathing, and nothing else.

Forget all your other things, your surroundings, and your environment. Just try to do it for five or ten minutes …

How did you go? Were you able to keep your mind on your breathing, without distractions? If it was your first time, you may have been surprised at how our minds just keep running around and do not stay still. Thoughts come to distract us, we hear sounds, and our mind just jumps from one idea to another.

However, if you practise this regularly, you will gradually improve your concentration. After a certain period of practice, you will experience a split second when your mind is fully concentrated on your breathing. Then you will not hear the sounds outside, and no external world will exist for you. This slight moment will be full of joy, happiness, and tranquillity.

With more practice, you may be able to repeat this for longer periods. But aside from this benefit, these breathing exercises are good for your physical health, relaxation, sound sleep, and efficiency in your daily work. It will make you calm and tranquil. But the journey does not end here.

Why should we have Mindfulness and Awareness ?

Another very important part of Buddhist meditation, (Bhavana), is to be aware and mindful of everything that we are doing; physically, mentally, and verbally during our daily routines.

Whether we are walking, standing, playing football with our friends, sitting watching TV, brushing our hair, eating our lunch, or anything else, we should be fully aware, and mindful of what we are doing. This is another discipline for us, to try and live in the present moment.

Generally, people do not live in the present moment. They live with their thoughts in the past, or perhaps their worries, in the future. But we cannot live in the past, – it is gone. We cannot live in the future, it is not yet here. You see your friend sitting down and eating while watching the TV. Does your friend eat, or does your friend watch TV?

We say that your friend is doing both. But actually, our minds can only process one stimulus or thought at a time. So if we are doing more than one activity, it is difficult for us to truly enjoy all activities. When our mind is engaged in multiple activities, it will be oscillating between various ideas, and so it is much harder for us to truly live in the present.

Mindfulness or awareness, does not mean we should think and be conscious, “I am doing this”, or “I am doing that”. It means we should be living our actions. For example, if we are talking to our friend, we should not think, “Oh, I am talking to my friend now”, it means we should concentrate on what we are saying, and concentrate fully on what our friend might be telling us.

Why live in the present ?

Living in the present, and being aware of our thoughts and feelings, whether they are happy, unhappy, or neutral, gives us greater control of our lives. Examining our feelings, our sadness, or our happiness, watching these emotions arise and fall, allows us to become more detached, and free. We can gain greater confidence in our lives. We can practise more compassionately towards others, and reduce our worldly troubles.

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