Reflection on The Essence of Life….
A reflection on practice by Ariya Baumann
As a human being we are endowed with a precious life. The human realm offers a mix of pleasant and painful experiences, there are opportunities for learning, doing good, or accumulating wealth. Many people strive to get as many pleasant experiences as possible, to accumulate material things, or to exercise power.
However, only few people reflect about the real essence of life. What essence can be extracted from one’s life? What is of benefit in this life for oneself and others? What is supporting one’s spiritual practice? Generally speaking, we are surrounded by material things, we have a body, and we have a mind.
Instead of accumulating material things or indulging in countless sensual pleasures – including food – we can share what we have with others. We can be generous and support others by offering food, building a well, sharing our time with a sick friend, or setting up a school.
Our manifold activities all day long and throughout our life are based on bodily actions and speech. We should make sure that they are guided by ethical principles; the base being not to harm or hurt others in any way. We should treat others with respect and dignity, be kind and compassionate. In this way, our body becomes a vehicle for virtuous behavior.
Due to confusion, distress, and negative habits in the mind we never attain the lasting happiness and peace of mind we so dearly wish for. Meditation is mental development of qualities such as kindness, compassion, patience, or equanimity and the cultivation of insight to see things are they really are. A well-developed mind is free from negativity and full of wholesomeness. Wisdom and compassion are the base of a liberated heart & mind.
The essence that can be extracted from our life to make it meaningful and beneficial is: dana, sila, bhavana – generosity, virtue, mental cultivation.
Every day we can aspire to be generous, virtuous, and cultivate our mind. In this way, we use our precious life – material things, body, mind – to extract what is essential.
Ariya Baumann was a nun in Myanmar (Burma) for many years where she assisted the Sayadaws by teaching & translation. In 2013, she disrobed & is now based in Switzerland. She continues to teach vipassana & metta meditation courses worldwide & is also a co-founder/president of ‘Metta In Action’ which supports a variety of social & medical projects throughout Burma, especially nunneries.
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