How to Succeed in Meditation

Ajahn Pasanno

How to Succeed in Meditation

Chanda means bringing up of motivation, desire. If we have a particular goal we want to succeed at, to develop some kind of accomplishment in, then we have to motivate ourselves with desire and interest. In short, we have to be interested in what we are doing. I think of the times when I was a young student, and not a particularly good one. I just couldn’t get any interest and motivation going to do much, so I stumbled through. But my interests in spiritual training, meditation and the Buddha’s teachings were strong. So because of that interest, it has been much easier to arouse the qualities of desire and motivation.

I encourage you to really focus on what interests you. How will it benefit you? What brings up a quality of desire to attain these goals? What do you want to gain? That’s where the mind of desire, gaining and wanting can be channeled in a really useful way. This interest is quite necessary, because if we take absolutely zero interest in our meditation object, then the mind is never really going to become peaceful. This is just the way it works. If the mind is without motivation, attention and interest, then it’s very difficult–impossible–for the mind to really settle. Bringing up the effort and energy that it takes to sustain attention for any amount of time and these qualities will help the mind to settle and focus.

This sense of interest - clarifying it within oneself - helps us know what we are doing. Why do we meditate? Why do we keep precepts? Why do we go against the stream of our habits, desires and conditioning? This interest and recognition really helps: “Oh yeah, I really want to develop some kind of peace and contentment. I see that as valuable, as useful. I really would like to experience what it’s like for the mind to settle and become clear.” Or, “What is it like to really let go? You hear it talked about a lot. What’s it like to experience that, to see that?” This kind of clarity and interest helps us see what is valuable and useful and sets up the conditions to experience some fruits and results.

Obviously if all of our focus is on desire and motivation and the other factors that lay a firm foundation for continuity are ignored, then there is going to be endless frustration. Yet without any kind of motivating force or interest one doesn’t get very far out of the starting blocks. It’s like wanting to start a fire without any matches. It takes a while even to get that initial flame going.

This reflection by Ajahn Pasanno is from the book, A Dhamma Compass, pp. 25-26.