“Don’t worry about other people’s minds; learn how to read your own mind. Look for the skillful and unskillful qualities you have there, and as if your head was on fire, try to straighten it out.” -Thannisaro Bhikkhu on teachings of the Buddha
The Christian says to the Buddhist, “I’m born again!” The Buddhist replies: “Aren’t we all!”
Why meditate, and how to start? For new practitioners especially, even once you’ve resolved to give it a try, it can be tedious. That’s why I highly recommend finding inspiration first, and as an ongoing aspect to training; we are not seeking tedium- it abounds where worse suffering has taken a break. My links page is a short list of some teachings that inspire me. It may be that some of the same things inspire you, but likely only in part, if at all. I listened to dharma talks for a long time before I got a steady practice going, and I still listen to them frequently, including other traditions than Buddhism. The beautiful simplicity of some of the talks and suttas made me want to explore my own mind through that lens.
Meditation is, in part, about taking full responsibility for my mind, and hence, my life; the talks came about in part because I was thoroughly uninspired, disillusioned by mainstream culture, and I realized that I needed to take matters into my own hands. It is a work in progress, but I’m inspired to keep it up because, at least in part, I’ve seen the burning quenched.
Your inspiration can come from anywhere, but it seems to always have the need for change as an undercurrent; the thing on fire needs to be put out, the suffering needs abatement, the wholesome needs cultivation, the beautiful needs to be seen. So we cannot wait for a perfect situation to begin our practice. As my teacher Thanissaro Bhikkhu says, “The practice is for an imperfect world.” Seek inspiration. Like many people, I sometimes like quotes for this purpose, so here’s one last one from another teacher, Neil Kramer: “To love creation is a craft.” Go forth, practice your craft, and I will do the same.