Being Patient with Disillusionment and Boredom
excerpted from “The Mind and The Way”
by Ajahn Sumedho
Sometimes people come to monasteries when they are really inspired, and they say they want to dedicate their entire lives to the Dharma. But they should watch out – anyone who is that high is going to be disillusioned and depressed in the not-too-distant future. Meditation is easy when you’re fascinated and the teacher inspires you; but then as you meditate, it becomes monotonous and boring at times. At first, you might try to arrange your life in a way that makes more time for meditation, but later you might find yourself arranging things so that you have less time. Of course, there are always important things to do in life, but what has really happened is that meditation, which was once fascinating, has become boring. And we want to turn away from anything boring.
Now in meditation, if you are really serious about insight, you can notice that boredom like everything else has its allotted span. It’s not a permanent state, even though it seems permanent when you lose enthusiasm and confidence. But that’s just the way it seems. When you are depressed and disillusioned, everything looks hopeless and you can’t imagine being happy ever again. If you don’t have the wisdom to understand depression, you judge according to the way things seem to be at that time. What we like seems to go by very quickly, and what we don’t like seems to stay forever. But we can learn something from those perceptions. We can observe how things seem to be, and we can remain undeluded by the appearance of the sensory world that we experience.
In Buddhist meditation, you are moving toward what is most ordinary – the unconditioned. Conditions are extraordinary; they can be exciting, sometimes fantastic, phenomena. But peace of mind, the unconditioned, the silence of it, is so ordinary that no one ever notices. It’s there all the time but we don’t even know it because we’re so fascinated by the miraculous and the extraordinary, by transitory things that stimulate and depress. We get caught up in the way things seem to be, and we forget, in meditation, we’re going back to the peace that is in the position of knowing. Then, the world is understood for what it is, and we are no longer deluded by it. We can live and act in the world without being overwhelmed by the conditions we experience.