Can meditation be like drive-thru enlightenment?
All three may sound delicious, but there are obviously some major differences. And many of us may partake in all three from time to time, without understanding the underlying implications.
Meditation is a very wholesome exercise, yet by itself, or done unskillfully, can have little benefit. Workshops and retreats can be more intensive and instructional, but they too can only offer temporary benefit unless incorporated into daily life. And McDonalds is of course our drive-through, fast food, answer to temporary hunger or craving. While that “McMeal” may satisfy you for a while, the benefits are negligible and the harmful ramifications can be tremendous. Yet I am sure there are many of you who are students of the Buddha and yet fail to see the correlation between all three of these.
The “practice” is far more potent than one single act or intention. It is not about putting band-aids on our life or our difficulties. Meditation, retreats, and McDonalds are all simply particles of life. Meaningless actually, if not seen with understanding and wisdom. Our practice is a moment by moment awareness of our thoughts, words and action. Being mindful of the implications of each, and consistently holding Noble intentions as our guide.
In each moment we have the opportunity to become more fully aware of our thoughts, and skillfully speak in a way that offers goodwill and compassion. And in doing so, we develop wholesome actions that follow our thoughts of loving kindness. This does not happen on the cushion anymore than it happens at the drive-thru window. It happens right here and now as you read these words and breathe this very breath. This is the true nature of the dhamma, the teachings of the Buddha.
Are you grateful for this life? Then be aware of this. Can you be of benefit to others? Then do so. Do you accept yourself and all those around you with unconditional love? If not, then understand that this can be cultivated by way of gratitude and giving. All this and so much more are present each moment, but it is only with a gentle determination that we observe this and truly grow. Not by way of some future goal or aspiration, but by humble awareness of all things present. By the impermanence of our life, and the preciousness of each moment.
Like the lotus flower, we all have roots in the soft mud. Yet through the murky waters we can each gradually reach up to bask in the sunlight.