1.This body is impure
2.All senses are suffering
3.This mind is transient

4.Fixed Ideas Are Not of the True Self

The Four Stations of Mindfulness

Part 4- "Fixed Ideas Are Not of the True Self"

The aim of this meditation is: (1) to understand that all fixed ideas and images are illusory; (2) to enter Nirvana, the true world.
In this world we are strongly tied to fixed ideas and images, so we do not know what the Truth is.

Let me take a familiar example. This is about what happened to a member called "I". He quit his job and started to practice full-time on his savings.

However, when his parents had discovered his endeavor, they came to Tokyo and stormed into his house. His stout-hearted mother slapped him several times on the cheeks and said, "You've got to work. You've got to lead a more decent life. Eat meat and fish. Happiness for parents is to see their children's well-provided life."

"I" himself didn't restores and just kept sitting in the lotus posture. I heard that he, who could sit in the lotus posture during only 30 minutes until then, could keep sitting so for 3 hours and a half. What caused the problem here was the fixed ideas of his parents. "I" considered what the purpose of having been born as a human being was, how he could eliminate pain and sorrow that attended this life, and chose the path of practice, of attaining enlightenment.

But his parents had the fixed idea that happiness meant a materially well-provided life. What was worse, they imposed their value system on their son. Both of his parents had experienced a harsh and miserable life during and after World War II. It is not hard to see that their value system was formed through this experience, which everybody at that time was forced to lead.

We must realize that this value system differs with the time and experience through which we go through. Fixed ideas are changeable; therefore, they are far from the Truth.

The same can be said of education. Until the last day of World War II, every Japanese had been taught that the Emperor was a god, therefore, it was the duty of Japanese people to die for the Emperor. But what happened after that? Democracy, introduced with the American Occupation, formed the characteristics of today's Japanese people and established a new value system.

People are subject to such changeable fixed ideas and images. That is exactly the reason why you must realize this fact; and once you have, you should try to eliminate them as soon as possible. You must seek only the Truth. As I wrote in the last number, the True Self is a "pure contemplator". Painful human existence will continue forever unless the True Self is rid of these illusions.

How to Practice Meditation

Then, let me write about the points of the meditation of "Fixed Ideas Are Not of the True Self", which rids the True Self of illusions. Let us use I's case as an example.

Firstly, contemplate what happiness is. Delicious food, a well-provided life, a lot of money, etc. - are these things really indispensable to lead a happy life as his mother said? You must note that it was not so for "I". He had been leading a considerably good life, a happy life by his mother's standards, until he met me. However, he was not satisfied with such a life because he felt that it was not a true life. So he left it and entered the path of practice. Hence, we can already see that he fixed idea: "happiness means a well-provided life" has lost its validity.

This, too, contemplate: his mother may be able o believe "Happiness = a well -provided life" as long as this world continues. But death is sure to come to her. Her soul lives on, but her body disappears without fail. When this happens she will no longer need a good life, food, or money. In other words, she will lose everything she has regarded as the conditions for her happiness.

In this way, by taking one fixed idea at a time and denying it, you eliminate the illusions attached to the True Self. This is how you do this meditation.
I suggest you take the matters you are currently concerned with as the subject of this meditation. It may be affection, social status, honor, power, taste and so on. Take one subject at a time and contemplate if it is of an unchangeable nature, in other words, eternal Truth.

Lastly, let me confirm the aim of these meditations called "The Four Stations of Mindfulness". It is: to rid the True Self (soul), which has eternal life, of its illusions and lead it to Nirvana, the true world of eternal happiness.