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Change Your Mind: A Practical Guide to Buddhist Meditation - Introduction

Paperback - 184 pages (July 1996) Windhorse Publications;
ISBN: 0904766810

Amazon UK: £8.99
Amazon.com: $12.56
Barnes & Noble: $16.95

Meditation Amazon UK
Meditation Amazon.com
Meditation Barnes & Noble

The Door [ This page in Greek ]

In psychoanalytical circles there is a well-known story about a man who is haunted by a recurrent dream. He is trapped inside a room, unable to open the door and escape. He searches the room for the key but can never find it. He tries with all his might to push open the door but it will not budge an inch. There is no way out of the room except through the door which he cannot open. He is trapped and scared. In a session with his analyst he recounts this dream, which has been plaguing his sleep for years. The analyst listens carefully to the dream, paying attention to the details. He suggests that the door might open in the opposite direction. The next time the man has the dream he remembers this suggestion, and finds that the door swings inwards without resistance.

Many people today feel this sense of being trapped, locked inside a life that no longer seems to satisfy them. There is a feeling of quiet despair kept at bay by constant activity or new wonder drugs. Who among us has not at some time felt the need to break out to a new life? Fantasizing about being set free by a beautiful new lover, maybe, or winning the national lottery. Some of us spend our lives waiting; waiting for something to happen that will change our lives. Yet the basic and rather obvious lesson of life, seemingly so hard to grasp, is that happiness is a state of mind, not something that can be taken from others or from the outside world.

All of us seek happiness, but most of us look outside ourselves to find it. We look for it in other people, in our work, in our leisure. As we grow older our dreams slowly fade. We become less idealistic, more pragmatic. We count our blessings and try to be philosophical about the dreams that never came true, or did come true but turned out to be empty of the promise they once held. Mostly our lives settle down into predictable patterns, and we look about wistfully at our broken or empty dreams. In his poem 'The Door', Miroslav Holub, the Czech poet and immunologist, urges us to have the courage to take a fresh look at our lives:

Go and open the door.
Maybe outside there's
a tree, or a wood,
a garden,
or a magic city.

Go and open the door.
Maybe a dog's rummaging.
Maybe you'll see a face,
or an eye,
or the picture
of a picture.

Go and open the door.
If there's a fog
it will clear.

Go and open the door.
Even if there's only
the darkness ticking,
even if there's only
the hollow wind,
even if
is there,
go and open the door.

At least
there'll be
a draught.

The door that Holub speaks of is the door that opens inwards to reveal our deepest needs and highest aspirations. Meditation is a means of opening that door. When you open it you take the first step into the 'dream' of awakening that has held the imagination of mankind throughout history. It is a dream with no predetermined conclusion; it is an adventure - the adventure of re-creating ourselves, of re-becoming. It is the great human 'myth' of self-transcendence.
Calling it a myth does not mean it is unreal. It means that it is more real; it means we begin to connect with ourselves in a deeper way, to experience ourselves as part of something far greater, far more immense. We step into the whole flow of life. The door of meditation is the door of awareness and loving-kindness, of expansion without a known limit.

Meditation starts with stepping inside ourselves and leads to stepping outside into the stream of life, separation from which is the source of our deepest discontent. When we open this door we never know what we will find - yes, it may well be 'a dog rummaging', but maybe there's a 'garden or a magic city'. Meditation is an opening. At least there will be a draught.

Introduction | Body Meditation | Mindfulness of Breathing |
Loving-kindness Meditation


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