When the Buddha sat beneath his tree, deep in meditation, he encountered feelings of anger, despair, jealousy and fear and realised that each of these is the cause of suffering in the world. When he came out of his meditation it was as though he had been asleep and was now awake. Indeed, the word Buddha means, ‘One who is Awakened’.
I thought of all this the other day when I was at the Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital in London to have a small vein in my nose cauterised. The doctor told me how the previous patient had wept and sobbed in apprehension. It was an entirely painless procedure, yet she was filled with fear in anticipation.
And so each of us at some point has to say to ourselves,
I am fearful. Why?
I am disappointed. Why?
I am embarrassed. Why?
I am angry. Why?
I am jealous. Why?
I am unhappy. Why?
In the Gospels we read how, before starting his life’s work, Jesus went into the desert for forty days and was ‘alone with the wild beasts’, and tempted by the devil. Only after he has confronted his demons do we read that ‘angels came and comforted him’.
The practice of meditation is not an escape from reality. It involves facing a deeper reality within ourselves, secure in the knowledge that the angels of healing will appear to show us the way forward.