Saturday, May 09, 2009

Keep calm and carry on

Listening to: 'P.Y.T.' by Michael Jackson [Thriller]

For those of you not familiar with Buddhist practices, yesterday was Vesak. A day to reflect upon the Birth, Enlightenment and Passing of the Gautama Buddha. A big part of practising Buddhism - I'm talking about 'practice offerings' (patipatti-puja) as opposed to 'material offerings' (amisa-puja) - is cultivation of the mind via meditation. I don't meditate nearly often enough, but when I do, I find it very rewarding. Sometimes you need to spring clean your mind and give it some room to breathe, and I find meditation does that. That said, it is by no means easy to do correctly, and the hardest part for me is maintaining concentration.

I suppose it makes sense. The human mind has a tendency to take a thought and run with it. Picture this: I'm trying to meditate and I hear a buzz near my's a mosquito serenading me. I get annoyed. I curse the mosquito. Then remember that all blood-sucking mosquitoes are female. Then I think of 'Female of the Species' by Space. Now the tune's stuck in my head. I can see the album cover art in my mind. Now I'm wondering how many times I've listened to that song. Then I think of the song I've listened to most (according to my profile) - Moving to New York by The Wombats. Then I think about my trip to New York. Hang on...wasn't I supposed to be meditating? Sigh. Buddhism refers to this phenomenon as papancha - the proliferation of thoughts. All because I got annoyed with the mozzie. What I should have done was thought "It's just a mosquito, it's just background noise. Focus." Or in other words, I should've kept calm and carried on doing what I was doing.

A lot of the issues we have in life are because we get too attached to things that distract us. We become attached to one negative experience, and believe it's the end of the world as we know it. We become attached to one positive experience, and prepare to pack up and move into our own little fantasy world. We choose to ignore the reality: that either way, it is just an experience. A fleeting instance. Here one moment, gone the next. Nothing more, nothing less. Now acknowledge it, accept it, and get on with your life.

The Internet is sorta like that. Related videos on Youtube, embedded links and citations on Wikipedia, blog rolls on blogs. We start with one thing in mind, and the next thing we know, we're looking at something we don't even particularly care about. Now I suppose this would be all well and good, except for the fact that I've got a PhD to finish this year. I shouldn't be papancha-fying so much...getting caught up in my daydreams. Must focus.

Yes. I must.


  1. great post! I was actually listening to a similar preaching by a monk on TV y-day....

    yes now to 'focus'.. *sigh*

    it just isn't easy!

  2. Totally. You got that right Missy!
    Its easier said than done.

  3. Maybe you should try prathyaveksha instead of prapancha! :) Peace!

  4. guess who's back? unable-to-concentrate-ish! :D am I the king of papancha-fying or what? hehe :D

    this post somehow reminds me of my mom's Buddhism lessons to me when I was doing O/Ls... (ok those actually consisted of mom reading books and writing short-notes and me basically falling asleep next to her...)

    ok, now got to go and *FOCUS* :(

  5. Nice post, well said.

    “Ignore the background noise” is one of my mottos in life, it can be applied beyond meditation, in our everyday life, easily.

    Now, focus! Good luck with your studies.


  6. LD - Thanks! It's not easy...the most rewarding things usually aren't.

    GadgetGirl - Yup totally.

    Angel - Hehe yeah, good idea! :D

    DeeCee - Thanks :-)

    Chavie - Hellooooo LTP! :D Hehe you got your mother to make your short notes?! Chee :P
    Good luck with the exams, now go study!!!

    Serendib_Isle - Thanks :-) Yeah...I totally agree with it being applicable outside meditation. I'm slowly learning to filter out the background noise :-). And thanks for the wishes!


Speak now, or forever hold your peace (well not really)!