Important Groundwork

Ajahn Thiradhammo

Important Groundwork

Some very important groundwork can give us precious support for working skilfully with the various Hindrances. Many people simply throw themselves into meditation, usually hoping for a quick fix, with little preparation, only slight knowledge of the context or consequences and lack of awareness of the possible dangers.

Firstly, meditation should not be undertaken by anyone with any psychological imbalance. Concentration exercises can focus and empower the mind, but they can also empower mental disturbances. Also, while the tranquillity and peacefulness of mind generated by meditation can be very soothing and healing, they can also allow unconscious material to rise into consciousness.

But there are various activities, practices, attitudes and knowledge which are extremely useful for providing supportive conditions in which the spiritual exercises can bear the most beneficial fruit.

The three bases of skilful action, the foundation of Buddhist practice, are generosity, morality and meditation. Though they are different, they all work together in order to round out our spiritual practice so that it penetrates all areas of selfhood.

Traditionally generosity has been the main practice for most Buddhist laypeople. They come to the monastery and go to great lengths to make offerings; some may stay to undertake the Precepts, but most go home before the meditation begins. They have created a supportive and conducive environment for mental development, but then leave out the final step, although these three ways of skilful practice should really all be integrated together.

This reflection by Ajahn Thiradhammo is from the book, Working With the Five Hindrances, (pdf) pp. 37-38.