Mind over Matter

Essay by Matt PickeringCollege, UndergraduateA+, November 1996

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Mind over Matter

Out of the myriad of religions that encompass the earth, one of the least understood is Buddhism. In the pursuit of a higher plane of existence, a Buddhist monk will renounce his worldly secular life, instead embracing a life of meditation and study. While attempting to achieve enlightenment, and therefore nirvana, a Buddhist must first come to eradicate his sense of self, effectively destroying his ego. By doing this, 'durkha,' (pain and suffering), end and one can be at peace and harmony with the world and all who reside in it. A practice that helps monks achieve this enlightened state is meditation. By clearing the mind of mundane clutter and distractions, a monk can become in tune with his inner being and body, which results in a greater understanding of the barriers that need to collapse before nirvana can be achieved. This practice of meditation was the Buddhist practice that I participated in, with the intent on a greater understanding of what being a Buddhist means.

This exercise taught me the inherent difficulty in calming the mind, along with the negative effects outside influences like other people have on the practice.

The first place I attempted to meditate was outside my dorm next to a tree. This proved to be a comfortable place, yet full of distractions. I have meditated before in my martial arts classes, yet it was difficult calming my mind. While concentrating on my breathing, I was easily distracted by outside occurrences such as leaves falling and people walking by. The more I attempted to shut out the outside world, the more my mind focused on the little things around me. I gained immediate appreciation of the Buddhist monk's ability to shirk the outside world and focus on his inner self. When I...