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SHARING BUDDHA'S MEDITATION JOURNEY
WITH CHILDREN AND TEENAGERS

by
ANDREW SHUGYO BONNICI, PH.D.

Applied Zen Meditation & Core Mindfulness Based Therapy
Zen Buddhist Priest & Minister of Faith

Email: Dr@zendoctor.com


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Ancient Seal of Seated Meditation is Just Like This

SHARING BUDDHA'S MEDITATION JOURNEY
WITH CHILDREN AND TEENAGERS

Library of Congress Copyright
Andrew Shugyo Bonnici, Ph.D. 1998-2003

Click Here to View My Copyrights Notice,

When we were in our mother's body, before we were born, we did not have a name. We were not yet a baby in the outside world. We were a living and growing being called an embryo. We floated gently in a special water sac in our mother's womb. We did not have to breath or eat or want for anything. Everything was taken care of by our mother's body. Our mind did not know words. It was in a beautiful Silence because we did not have to think about anything. Our heart did not know about wanting things. So we felt calm and peaceful inside our heart and body. This was a special time of heart-not-wanting and mind-not-knowing. We wanted nothing and we knew nothing. We felt a Peaceful Love and a Wise Silence that took care of everything inside our body and outside our body.

Then one day we left our mother's womb and we were born into the world. As soon as we came out of our mother's body, we started to breath by ourselves. We started wanting to have food to eat in our mouths. When we began to want food and nice feelings in our body, our heart forgot about the Peace of not-wanting anything. When our mind began to figure out different ways to get others to give us food or to give us good feelings in our body, our mind forgot about the Wisdom of not-knowing anything.

Buddha was an embryo and baby once too. He was the son of a very rich King and Queen in India. This King and Queen ruled over a group of people called the Shakya Clan. Because he was a Prince, he always got anything he wanted. They gave him any toy he asked for and he could have any kind of fun that made him happy. When he was born they called him "Siddhartha". This was the perfect name for him because Siddhartha means "the one who got anything he wished for". As he grew up, Siddhartha learned lots and lots about the world and how to do many things with all he knew.

Siddhartha had everything as a Prince, but he always felt lonely and sad inside himself. He felt lonely even around the people who loved him. He felt like there was something missing, something important that he didn't understand inside himself. His heart never felt peaceful. His mind never felt quiet and calm. He was always thinking, doing, and wanting to know more about things outside himself. By keeping his mind and body busy, he hoped he could forget that something was missing inside himself. By keeping himself busy with outside things, he hoped he could forget about his inside feelings of sadness and loneliness. He tried to think a lot about the things that he could do and have as a Prince. This way he hoped he would not feel his hurting heart anymore. But when he thought more about things outside himself, it did not help much. It seemed to make things worse. Lots of thoughts about himself, people and things just kept happening inside his head. He knew that he really did not have control over all the thoughts that kept filling his mind. He knew that he could not even stop them. This sometimes made him feel more suffering inside himself. He suffered because he felt more and more lonely, confused, helpless, small, and scared inside.

The more he felt his own suffering, the more he wondered if other people suffered like him too. He wondered if their minds were always filled with words and thoughts coming and going. He wondered if they felt like they were missing something too. This made him pay more attention to how people felt. He began to notice that other people felt separate and lonely in their heart. He began to see that people felt a heavy pain or suffering in their heart. He saw that they felt this pain from not being with the one's they love. He saw that people suffered from being with people they don't like. He saw people suffered from having things they don't want. He saw that people suffered from not having things they want. He saw that people suffered from growing old, from being sick, and from dying. He saw people become very sad and angry when a loved one died. He saw how people suffered from fighting with each other over all kinds of things, places, feelings, and ideas.

All this made Siddhartha feel very sad for himself and everyone. So he decided to leave being a Prince. He wanted to go out into the world away from the riches and protection of his fatherís kingdom. He wanted to find a way of Truth that would bring peace and wisdom to everyday life, just as it is. He wanted to find a way of Truth that would answer all his questions about what was missing and who he really was inside himself. He wanted to find a way of Truth that would change the helpless and sad feelings in his dissatisfied and lonely heart. He wanted to find a Way of living everyday life that would bring true healing to our world of sickness, old age suffering, and death. He wanted to find the Truth that would help human beings live with more joy, love, and wisdom both inside themselves and with others.

When he left being a Prince, the people began to call him Shakyamuni instead of Siddhartha. This was the perfect name for him now because it meant "The One who left his fatherís kingdom in search of the Truth". He shaved his head like a monk and for six years he went everywhere looking for wise teachers. When he found great teachers, he asked them, "What is the True Way that can heal the suffering inside myself and all other people"? But none of the great teachers knew the answer. Shakyamuni searched and searched for the Truth. He went off into the forest by himself and practiced many different kinds of yoga meditations that he had learned. He tried to stop all his passing thoughts in meditation, but this did not work. He tried to put an end to all his thoughts and questions by putting his body through many painful things that hurt it. He even tried to give up food for a long time and almost died. Then one day when he was very, very weak and almost dying, he saw that all the hard things he had been doing to himself and his body didn't work. He saw that his search for six long years did not make his heart or mind any better. He saw that he was doing the wrong thing by starving himself and not taking care of his body. So he decided to eat food, make himself healthy again, and stop looking for the Truth by hurting his body. He decided to stop looking for the Truth in ways that he had learned from other teachers. He decided to stop looking for the Truth in all the different teachings outside himself.

After he made himself well again in his body, Shakyamuni didn't know what to trust to guide him to the Truth. Everything he trusted outside of himself had failed. He had trusted great teachers, great teachings, and great ways of searching for the Truth and all of these did not work. Just then, he asked the most important question to himself "What can I trust that will guide me to Way of living and being that will heal suffering inside myself and othersĒ? He looked up at the stars and the moon and everything around him and said, ďMy eyes can see that there are lots and lots of things, plants, and creatures on the earth". "My eyes see that there are so many stars and planets in outer space that go on forever and ever". He said to himself, "All these things everywhere seem to work all together without falling all apart". It was at that moment that he felt a Big Trust rise up in his heart, body, and mind. He said, "I Trust that there is an Infinite Wisdom that makes all things happen together moment by moment without everything everywhere falling apart". Then he looked at his own body. He felt his heart beating and his breathing going in and out. He knew that his body was made up of many different things like blood, bones, cells, and organs. Like everything outside himself, Shakyamuni saw that something was keeping his body and all its parts working together, moment by moment, without all of them falling apart. When he saw that his body was one of the infinite number of things that were being kept together without falling apart he said, " I Trust that the Infinite Wisdom that is everywhere is also in my body keeping all its parts working together and making it alive, aware, and feeling right now". When he felt that deep Trust in an Infinite Wisdom inside and outside of his body, he said to himself, "I trust that this Infinite Wisdom knows the answer to all my questions". "I trust that I can feel the answers of Infinite Wisdom by listening with my whole body in the deep stillness and silence of meditation".

After he felt the Deep Trust in the Infinite Wisdom within his body, Shakyamuni made himself comfortable and sat down under a tree with his back straight. This time he sat down in a special kind of meditation that he had not done before. It was a meditation that trusted the Infinite Wisdom that was everywhere. This time he did not try to make something happen anymore. He did not try to stop his passing thoughts. He did not try to get rid of the questions that hurt his heart. Instead, he just let his thoughts come and go and kept following his breath deep inside his body. He trusted that when he followed his breath deep into his body, it was exactly his true listening to Infinite Wisdom. Instead of closing his eyes like he had done before, he kept his eyes open. He wanted to listen to Infinite Wisdom both inside his body and outside his body. So he kept his eyes, ears and all his senses brightly awake, like a great round mirror shining and listening outward. Feeling into the deep quiet stillness of his body and shining all his senses outside, he was willing to sit, wait, and listen forever. He was willing to sit until Infinite Wisdom showed him the Truth that would finally bring peace and healing to himself and all human beings.

He sat for a very long time during the night. Then just before the sun came up, his thoughts slowed down and he felt his mind become empty of words, thoughts, and questions. When his mind was empty of thoughts about himself and his world, his whole body felt a Great Silence and a Great Wisdom that was everywhere inside and outside himself. His mind finally rested in not needing to know anything. His heart stopped wanting and hurting for himself and others because he felt a Great Peace and an Infinite Love everywhere inside and outside himself. Just then the night was ending and he saw the morning star in the sky. His body, heart, and mind were filled with joy when he said, "How wonderful! Everything and everyone is in a Great Silence, a Great Wisdom, a Great Love, and a Great Peace whether they know it or not." At that moment, Shakyamuni understood the Truth that everything and everyone comes from this Great Silence and Infinite Wisdom. He felt the Truth that that Vast Silence and Infinite Wisdom was not only in his body, mind, and heart----It is everywhere and always all at Once. His body felt the Truth that there is an Infinite Wisdom in all of us. His body felt the truth that that Infinite Wisdom was not only happening in life, but IT was also happening after death. When his body felt the truth that the Infinite Wisdom was happening in both life and death, his mind and heart rested in a deep Peace. When he felt the Infinite Wisdom everywhere inside and outside his body, he was not lonely anymore and he finally remembered what he had forgotten about himself. He remembered how his body felt when it was an embryo in his mother's womb. He remembered the feeling of Deep Peace in his heart not-wanting and the feeling of Infinite Wisdom in his mind not-knowing. This Peace and this Wisdom was exactly his True Nature before his mother and father were born, before they gave him a name. He remembered the Truth that the Great Silent Wisdom was always with him---that his True Home of Peace was everywhere inside and out.

When Shakyamuni felt the Truth with his whole bodymind, he became know as the Buddha, which means the "Awakened One" or the "Enlightened One". When we say that Buddha felt enlightenment with his whole bodymind, we mean that he was a human being who woke up to an important Truth inside himself and the Whole Universe. He woke up to the Truth that we are not separate from everything outside our body. He woke up to the Truth that we are One with everything in the Whole Universe. He woke up to the Truth that we are more than our name and all the thoughts, ideas, and beliefs we have about ourselves and our world.

We say that Buddha's enlightenment is about waking up because people sleep in their mind during the day even while they are awake and doing things. This means that even though people have their eyes open during the day, they live and talk like they are "dream-thinking" about themselves and their world. This kind of dream-thinking happens when people are awake because they create word pictures in their minds about themselves and their world and then forget that they are not the Truth. They forget that their thinking mind creates word pictures of what they touch, see, smell, taste, hear, and feel, but the words are not really what they see, smell, touch, hear, taste, and feel. When people think that words are the real living experiences of their bodies they are dream-thinking. Dream-thinking happens when we use words to think about ourselves and our world and then forget that the word pictures are not who we are or what the world is. In dream-thinking, we think that a word picture is the thing itself. When we dream-think, we think that the word picture of an apple is the apple itself. But we know we can't eat the picture of an apple like we can eat and taste a real apple itself. Shakyamuni saw that we think we are all the thoughts and word pictures that constantly fill up our minds. But he knew that we are not just our name, our ideas, or our beliefs about ourselves or our world. Shakyamuni Buddha saw that when we dream-think, we forget who we really are deep inside before our word thinking mind. He saw that when we live only in our word pictures we forget the True Wisdom that can only come from a still and silent place deep within our living and breathing Body.

Buddha's Enlightenment is about waking up from all our dream-thinking and recognizing the Truth of who we are before our thinking mind, before all our thoughts and word pictures. So you see Buddha's enlightenment, his waking up, is not just about Buddha. It is also about you and me. It is about being asleep in our own dream-thinking, our own word pictures, and not knowing it. It is about waking up from all our dream-thinking, seeing the Truth of who and what we really are, and then beginning to practice Being that Truth with our whole heart for the benefit of ourselves and others.

Shakyamuni Buddha saw that we create lots of ideas in our life with our dream-thinking mind and then fall asleep in them. We forget that we are the one's who created them. He saw that we fall asleep in the word-pictures that we use to describe ourselves by name, position, religion, nation, history, race, language, and group. When we fall asleep in these word pictures we get lost in them. That is what dream-thinking is, being lost in our thoughts. Buddha's enlightenment showed him that when people fall asleep in dream-thinking, they forget that they are a Vast Silence, a Vast Wisdom, and a Vast Peace. He saw that deep inside each of us we feel like we are lost in our dream-thinking mind and that we are missing something very important about who we are. He saw that this creates a deep suffering in ourselves. He saw that we are always trying to avoid feeling this suffering by trying to have things that make us feel good. He saw that we try to avoid this suffering by keeping things away from us that do not make us feel good. He saw that we try to avoid this suffering by trying to hold on to those feelings that we like to feel. He saw that we try to avoid this suffering by trying to hide from or ignore the feelings that we don't like to feel.

Shakyamuni Buddha woke up to the Truth that enlightenment was not just a Wisdom he felt in his mind. He knew inside himself that everything and everyone comes from that Infinite Silent Wisdom. He knew that nobody could own something that was everywhere and everything. He saw that this Infinite Wisdom creates everybody and everything everywhere, so he called it the Great Making Wisdom.

Shakyamuni Buddha knew that the Great Peace he felt was not just in his heart. He saw that the Great Peace was everywhere, all the time, and all at once. The Great Peace made him feel One with all the stars, animals, human beings, rocks, dirt, water, and sky. He finally understood that people did not have to feel lonely or separate because a Great Wisdom and a Great Peace was always in their body and everything around them. He felt this Great Peace like a Big Hug everywhere, and so he called it the Great Love or Compassion. Buddha awakened to the Truth that we are all a Great Peace, a Great Silence, and a Great Wisdom inside ourselves. He saw that we always forget the beauty of what we are because we are lost in a dream-thinking that separates us from other people and the things around us.

Shakyamuni Buddha found a WAY to live our life so that we can use our thinking mind without getting caught up in our dream-thinking. He found a Way to wake up from our dream-thinking and remember who we really are. He called this WAY the Eightfold Practice of the Awakened Truth or the Eightfold Path for Living Enlightenment. Shakyamuni Buddha showed us how to live and die, how to work and play, and how to love and be loved by following this Eightfold Path. This Path of Buddha is the Path of Awakening to your True Self and this True Self is the same as Buddha's True Self. So you see, when you practice living the Eightfold Path, you are a living Buddha too. When you live the Eightfold Path you are a Buddha who practices the Peace of heart-not-wanting and the Wisdom of mind-not-knowing. Here are the Eight Steps for living Buddha's Wake-Up Path:


Breath is the Bridge between Meditation in Stillness and Action


1. WISDOMING MEDITATION: Practice sitting down quietly once a day. Keep your back straight. Pay attention to just your breathing. Let all your thoughts just come and go. Allow your whole heart body, and mind to rest in a growing peace, love, and joy for yourself, others, and all of life, just as it is.

2. WISDOMING UNDERSTANDING: Honor your self by living according to the Body of the Truth. Practice understanding all of your life experiences with honesty, acceptance, wisdom, curiosity, and openness for the mutual benefit of yourself and others.

3. WISDOMING THOUGHT: Cherish your mental clarity like a precious diamond. Practice thinking in ways that promote truth, equality, loving kindness, consideration, and clarity inside yourself and with others.

4. WISDOMING SPEECH: Practice speaking your truth with straightforwardness, kindness and compassion. Speak accurately and clearly by being honest and sincere in how you communicate your experience. Do not gossip, call people hurtful names, or say things that make people feel unworthy or less than you.

5. WISDOMING ACTION: Practice behaving in a truthful, kind, gentle, safe, and caring way for the mutual benefit of yourself and others. Act kindly and compassionately, be considerate of the belongings of others, honor your sexual nature, and respect the personal sexual integrity of others.

6. WISDOMING LIVELIHOOD: Study well and grow in learning so that one day you will find or create a way of work that benefits both yourself and others----a Honest Way of Work that helps other people without taking advantage of them or hurting them or their environment in any way.

7. WISDOMING EFFORT: Practice not pushing things away that you don't like to do. Like cleaning a messy room or picking up garbage. At the same time practice not always just doing the things that feel good. Like playing and having fun. Practice caring for the things you usually donít like to do. Donít do them just to get them done. Enjoy playing and having fun but also do those "work things" that need to be done with your whole body, heart and mind, one hundred percent.

8. WISDOMING WAKEFULNESS: Moment by moment, practice being aware of your breath in everything you do. Moment by moment, practice being aware of what you are doing, feeling, thinking, seeing, smelling, tasting, touching, and hearing. Listen with your whole body to the Infinite Wisdom that is all around you and within you.

When We Practice Living These 8 Steps
We Are Living The Way Of Enlightenment,
The Way of Being Buddha,
Just as We Are.

Library of Congress Copyright
Andrew Shugyo Bonnici, Ph.D. February 4, 1998

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