One of the aids to meditation is Contemplation.
Osho Rajneesh in one of his books tells the story of contemplation regarding the Buddha. It is a famous story and very meaningful. The Buddha was born a prince and he was so brought up that he had no conception of the suffering that exists in this world. His father arranged it so that he should not know that in life people fall sick, that they grow and old and that they die. The father wanted the Buddha to never meet anybody old or sick, to never be informed of suffering. But when he was 29 the Buddha toured the kingdom around his palace and saw one after the other, a sick man, an old man and a dead man. He asked his charioteer what these men were suffering from and for the first time in his life learned that there exists death in the world and that even he was not exempt and would die one day.
The Buddha's father wanted to do everything to prevent contemplation from arising in the Buddha. I am telling you the exact opposite. Contemplate on life, how everything is subject to change, how death is inevitable and life is fleeting.
This chance encounter changed the Buddha's life and he resolved to seek the path to the end of suffering and became enlightened.
It is a Buddhist tradition that a junior monk when he first joins the order - he is sent to the crematorium for 3 to 6 months and told to observe and meditate on all that takes place there. The Buddhists place a high emphasis on the contemplation of death because they know that to do so bring out a zest for life, a longing for truth, for religion and for the ultimate experience – enlightenment.
I do not advocate that you go to a cemetery for 3 months. Indeed I have not done so myself. But at stray moments during the day, observe what is going on around you and it's implications. When you visit your parents observe how they have aged and consider whether or not you will also age and grow old. When you read the newspaper and are informed of the many tragedies and deaths taking place in the world, contemplate as to whether or not you will also die.
This flies in the face of current culture and habits. We habitually ignore the fact that one day we will also die. We are trained to ignore this very important fact. We avoid thinking of death, we consider it unpleasant and frightening. Yet this is something that none of us can avoid. And contemplation on the fact that we will die can help us to learn how to truly live.
There is a beautiful novel written by Paul Coelho – Veronika decides to die. In the novel, Veronika, a young woman, who is leading an ordinary life suddenly, decides to take her own life. She is rescued and sent to a mental hospital. The director of the hospital decides to try out a certain technique, which will rid Veronika of her suicidal tendencies. He informs Veronika that due to the pills that she had taken, her heart is irreparably damaged and that she will die of a heart attack after 5 days. Veronika lives the next 5 days of her life with the shadow of death looming over her. And she then begins to appreciate life. She lives each day with zest and enthusiasm and roots out the demons within her by the awareness that she brings to the present moment. At the end of the 5 days she escapes from the mental hospital, finds the love of her life and begins to live life anew. Paul Coelho is a talented novelist and I recommend that you read this book.
These are the sorts of changes that you can expect through contemplation. It will yield you a passion for the truth, a zest for life. You will be more serious about meditation and spiritual practices. You will find that you have a direction in your life instead of drifting aimlessly.
Make contemplation regarding the larger issues of life a part of your life and watch the changes that take place.
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