Here at ASHW, we want to make the search for enlightenment as simple as possible. It is far easier to do something easy many times, than to do something difficult even if only occasionally. For that reason, we concentrate on what we believe the Buddha taught and try not to pay too much attention to commentaries from distinguished monks. The more basic the teaching, the easier the practice. We have only one meditation (Loving Kindness) with prescribed words, and even then the exact wording is left to you.
There is of course another problem with commentaries from distinguished monks: relevance. Many of these commentaries were made hundreds of years ago in what would be a very different world, and by keeping the teaching basic we avoid any relevancy problems.
We start with Insight Meditation, meditation that helps slow down the internal chatter, and gives you a clearer understanding of why so many thoughts lead to strong emotions. It is expected that this will take a number of years to bring real fruition even with regular daily practice. Only when the separation of thoughts from emotion is clearly seen, would we recommend adding the next step to your practice.
The next step is to add Mindfulness to your practice. Rather than setting aside time for this, it is best to just do this as convenient – which if done properly should be over half your time awake. It is so simple to describe, but tough to do, at least until you have a lot of Insight Meditation experience. All you do is stop thinking and just live. As you walk just experience the sights, smells and sounds. If you are washing up, just wash up. That is it. Don’t think about something different from what you are doing. And don’t have any internal dialogue about what you are doing. Just live and experience everything. When the internal chatter starts – it will – then just let go of it and go back to enjoying the world. The feeling is sensational. Enjoy!
Sometime about now the difference between the Buddha and ordinary people becomes apparent. The Buddha had a spoiled upbringing, he was a prince and was kept away from unpleasantness. Almost certainly, he wasn’t traumatised by punishments or bullying when he was young. For us lesser mortals, we have to accept that bullying was part of our lives. We suffered trauma. For some people this can be a point where self-blame for one’s early years overwhelms one. You can think of nothing but what went wrong. If you are a monk, this is the time to visit the abbot for advice. Well, I am sorry but we can only give advice in a pre-written form. And that means you have two options to try. One of them is to use the Loving Kindness Meditation to help, the other is the Joy of Life Method. Neither of them is instant, so please, please, please give them time. I hope with all my heart that one or both of these helps.
The next step cannot be planned, it has to arise by itself. This is where something happens in your life that makes you “get it”. Something that changes how you see the world, something that makes you understand from experience, not just from logic. I am sorry we cannot prescribe any action to help this step come about – just be patient. All we can do is prepare you so that this step can be reached. Be patient and you will know when you go through this step.
Whether earlier or later, there will come a time when it is necessary to rebuild the love inside one. The simplest way to do this rebuilding is with Loving Kindness Meditation. Practiced daily, this meditation will not only help you have empathy for others, but also make you stronger inside, more confident in your dealing with others. Something that works really well to build a calm confident person.
The last thing when talking about the ASHW method is our views on right and wrong. Morals. In the time of the Buddha, Jainism was already an established religion. (The Buddha before finding the middle path tried the abstinences of Jainism.) Thus the teachings of that time were quite severe. It is one thing to decry war where the individual soldiers have no emnity, it is different to say that it is wrong when killing the rapist of one’s daughter, or a paedophile caught in the act. The morals that flow in harmony with mankind are correct, those that oppose that flow can easily be seen to be wrong. As you make progress on the path towards enlightenment, you will see more clearly the difference between harmony and discord, the difference between should and should not. For those people who take justice into their own hands, a certain level of understanding is necessary.
This of course is just an overview of our method, more detail can be found in the indvidual sections, even though we try and keep it short and simple.
Good luck with your practice.
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