Meditation: Seeking Inner Truth

how to gain truth in meditation

Meditation has been used for thousands of years to gain a better understanding of the mind and human experience. One of the most ancient meditation techniques is the Buddhist method of Vipassana, which involves cultivating mindfulness and awareness through close attention to a particular sensation, such as breathing. This practice can lead to insights into the true nature of reality and is often referred to as 'insight meditation' or 'clear seeing'.

Meditation allows us to experience the 'Truth' by dissolving our conditioned patterns of being and connecting with our True nature. Through meditation, we can gain a deeper understanding of non-duality and experience a sense of unity or oneness with all life. We can also reach important insights into the nature of suffering and the illusory nature of self, which can profoundly change the way we experience our lives.

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Understanding the difference between the small 't' truth and the big 'T' Truth

The concept of "truth" is a complex and multifaceted one, and it can be helpful to distinguish between the small "t" truth and the big "T" Truth. While both are valid and important, understanding the difference between them can provide insight and clarity, particularly when it comes to meditation and self-reflection.

The big "T" Truth represents universal, objective facts that are independent of individual perspective or interpretation. These are the truths that are universally accepted and are not influenced by personal biases or experiences. For example, the earth is round, the sky is blue, and ice is frozen water. These are the big Truths that form the foundation of our understanding of the world.

On the other hand, the small "t" truth refers to the subjective nature of our experiences and perceptions. It acknowledges that each person's truth is shaped by their unique perspective, memories, and internal filters. No two people will have identical truths, as they are deeply influenced by individual backgrounds, beliefs, and emotions. The small "t" truth recognises that there are multiple valid viewpoints and that each person's truth is a piece of the larger puzzle.

In the context of meditation, understanding and embracing both types of truth can be transformative. The small "t" truth invites us to explore our conditioned selves, the patterns, values, and behaviours we have adopted to navigate our world. By acknowledging our personal truths, we can begin to identify and dissolve the egotistical patterns that may be hindering our spiritual growth.

Meditation provides a safe space to observe our thoughts, emotions, and sensations without judgment, allowing us to connect with our true nature, which is often obscured by the conditioned self. This process of direct seeing and intimate indifference helps us to distinguish between the small "t" truths of our daily lives and the big "T" Truth that lies beyond.

By cultivating mindfulness and truthful speech in our daily lives, we can further our journey towards the big "T" Truth. This involves practicing loving-kindness, or metta, towards ourselves and others, and being aware of the motivations behind our actions and speech. When we lie or are untruthful, it is often driven by fear, craving, or ill will. By recognising these negative emotions, we can begin to let go of our defences and embrace honesty and vulnerability.

In conclusion, understanding the difference between the small "t" truth and the big "T" Truth is a powerful tool for self-discovery and personal growth. It encourages us to explore our subjective experiences while also recognising the existence of universal truths that transcend individual perspectives. Through meditation and mindful speech, we can strive to align ourselves with the big "T" Truth, finding balance, fulfilment, and joy.

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Practising truthful speech

Being truthful is about more than just the words we speak. It is a total commitment to the truth—in being, in words, in actions, and in intentions. It requires deep understanding, awareness, and a delicate balance of honesty. This commitment to truthfulness is known as Satya, the second Yama of Yoga. Satya is about having integrity in our words, deeds, and intentions. It is about being genuine and authentic.

When we are untruthful, it is often due to fear, craving, or ill will. We may exaggerate to gain praise, lie to avoid losing someone's esteem, or be untruthful out of a desire to hurt someone. However, when we start to consider that we are being controlled by these negative emotions, honesty becomes a form of freedom.

To cultivate truthful speech, we can bring awareness to the following commitments and contemplate what each feels like in our body, especially at the throat chakra:

  • "I commit to always telling the truth."
  • "I commit to speaking in ways that bring people together."
  • "I commit to speaking gently and meaningfully."
  • "I commit to minimising harm."

By practising truthful speech, we create the karma to be listened to, trusted, and heard. It helps to nurture our relationships and allows us to live a happier and more fulfilled life.

However, it is important to note that truthful speech should be practised in harmony with ahimsa, or non-violence. Sometimes, speaking the truth may cause pain or suffering, and in such cases, it may be best to remain silent. Additionally, truthful speech should be practised with kindness and at the right time.

In conclusion, practising truthful speech is an essential aspect of mindfulness and meditation. It involves a commitment to honesty, integrity, and authenticity in our words, actions, and intentions. By cultivating awareness and contemplating our commitments, we can minimise harm and communicate with clarity and purpose, leading to more fulfilling relationships and a happier life.

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Recognising the impermanent nature of all things

The Buddha's teachings emphasise that all of existence is impermanent and transient, and that suffering arises when we cling to things that are unstable and unreliable. By understanding the transient nature of our desires and attachments, we can reduce our suffering. This insight can be gained through direct seeing or intuitive understanding of the nature of things.

In meditation, we can observe our thoughts, emotions, and sensations as they arise and pass away. We can notice how our experiences are constantly changing and realise that there is nothing fixed or permanent to cling to. This can help us to let go of attachments and identify less with our conditioned self, and more with our true nature.

Change is a central feature of life, and it can evoke a range of emotions and responses. By recognising the impermanent nature of all things, we can strive to become equanimous in the midst of change and cultivate wisdom in how we respond to what comes and goes. This understanding of impermanence is not unique to Buddhism and can be found in various religious and philosophical traditions, including Hinduism, Jainism, and Greek philosophy.

Meditation allows us to open ourselves to the less immediately perceptible realm of impermanence, gaining insight into the moment-to-moment arising and passing of all experiences. For example, by bringing mindfulness to a physical sensation like pain, we can observe how it is not fixed but constantly changing and in flux. This deeper experience of impermanence highlights the futility of clinging to anything, as there is nothing real or permanent to hold onto.

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Observing the character of your experience

Impermanence and Suffering

The Buddhist concept of "Dukkha" refers to the inherent unsatisfactoriness and pain that is part of the human condition. Through meditation, we can become more aware of the underlying thought patterns and afflictive emotions that cause restlessness and suffering in our lives. We can observe the transience of our experiences, thoughts, feelings, senses, and sensations, which arise and pass away. This realisation can lead to a deep sense of peace and acceptance of impermanence, reducing the power that causes suffering, such as craving, clinging, and attachment.

Emptiness and Interdependence

Meditation can help us appreciate the concept of "emptiness," which refers to the lack of an independent existence for any person or thing. We are all interconnected and interdependent with our environment and the world around us. Through mindfulness, we realise that everything is the result of complex, interdependent causes and conditions, and thus, no person or thing exists separately from its environment. This understanding can significantly change how we perceive the world and lead to a sense of equanimity and calmness even in difficult circumstances.

The Illusion of Self

Meditation helps us recognise that our sense of self, or ego, is illusory. While we instinctually feel that we are distinct and permanent personalities, the science of the brain tells us otherwise. The brain is constantly changing, and there is no fixed place for a permanent self to reside. Through mindfulness of our conscious experience in the present moment, we can observe the flowing and ever-changing nature of our experiences, thoughts, and feelings. This realisation can free us from being defined by our memories, expectations, and anxieties about the past and future, allowing us to find peace in the present moment.

Non-Duality

The term "non-duality" refers to the essential unity or oneness of all life. Through meditation, we bring our attention to the present moment and observe the unfolding of life before the appearance of labels and concepts. We can perceive the interconnection between ourselves and our environment, blurring the boundaries between "self" and "other." This realisation can have a profound impact, making us feel more connected to the people and the world around us, fostering a sense of oneness and unity.

Letting Go and Acceptance

An important aspect of meditation is learning to let go and accept things as they are. This involves withdrawing support for your personality and allowing your true presence to emerge. It is about sitting with your experiences, thoughts, and emotions without judgement or attachment, simply observing them as they arise and pass away. This process can be liberating, as you realise that peace and stillness were within you all along.

By observing the character of your experience during meditation, you can gain profound insights into the true nature of reality, your mind, and your place in the world. These insights can lead to personal transformation, improved wellbeing, and a deeper understanding of yourself and your interconnectedness with all that exists.

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Understanding the concept of inherent emptiness

The concept of inherent emptiness is central to Buddhist philosophy and meditation. Emptiness, or Śūnyatā in Sanskrit, is a state of mind that can be achieved through meditation. It is a realisation that all things are empty of intrinsic existence and nature (svabhava). This understanding is not a product of intellectual reasoning but a cognitive experience, a mode of perception that is free from the usual conceptual elaborations we add to our experiences.

The idea of emptiness is closely linked to the Buddhist concept of non-self or anatta in Pali. It suggests that nothing has an inherent or permanent essence, and that all phenomena are dependently originated. This means that everything arises due to a cause and is subject to change and cessation. Nothing is permanent or independent, and our sense of self is an illusion created by our minds.

Meditation on emptiness involves perceiving the six sense spheres and their objects as empty of any self, leading to a formless state of equanimity. This is achieved through intense concentration and the insight to note the presence and absence of disturbances in the mind. By letting go of our attachments and preconceptions, we can realise the true nature of reality, which is constantly changing and interconnected.

The understanding of inherent emptiness is a path to liberation in Buddhism. It helps us recognise that our suffering arises from grasping at things as if they were permanent and ours. By seeing the emptiness of inherent existence, we can free ourselves from these attachments and find peace in the ever-changing nature of reality.

The concept of emptiness is often misunderstood as promoting nihilism. However, it is important to note that emptiness does not mean nothingness or non-existence. Instead, it points to the absence of inherent existence and the understanding that all things arise in dependence on other causes and conditions. This realisation can bring about a sense of freedom and enlightenment, as we recognise the true nature of ourselves and the world around us.

Frequently asked questions

The 'truth' refers to the small 't' truth, which is the details of our lives that are constantly changing. The 'Truth' refers to the big 'T' Truth, which is the realisation that we are already perfect, whole, and complete beings.

The first step is to be willing to experience the 'truth' in order to get to the 'Truth'. This involves letting go of the conditioned self, which is created by deeply ingrained survival instincts and the need to feel like we belong.

The ultimate purpose of meditation is to reach the source of life and consciousness. It is a way to free ourselves from the grip of mental soundtracks and gain a better understanding of our minds and the nature of human experience.

Understanding insights on a conceptual level is knowing the theory behind them, while directly experiencing them is having a visceral and sublime encounter with the true nature of our minds. It can take months or years to reach a full and deep understanding of these insights.

The most effective method is to practice shamatha meditation, which involves gradually training the mind to remain focused on one object of meditation. This helps us to familiarise ourselves with the underlying thought patterns and afflictive emotions that cause restlessness and suffering in our lives.

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