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Sometimes young mothers bring their children into the meditation hall because they donít want to miss the dharma talk. Thatís very nourishing for everyone. The babies donít know whatís happening, but they feel the peaceful atmosphere. That energy of peace is rare in societyóitís very rare to have fifteen hundred people sitting and producing mindfulness and peace. If you offer children a glimpse of peace and love, even if they are very small and they donít know language yet, that does not mean that they donít feel it. Try to imagine a young mother feeding her baby during the retreat. She is listening to the dharma, sheís consuming the dharma, and the baby is consuming both the milk and the dharma at the same time. Itís very beautiful.

Later on, when the children encounter the cruelty in the world, they will remember that there was a time when they had the opportunity to encounter the energy of peace. When a sangha, a Buddhist community, comes together and practices, it can always produce that kind of peaceful energy, and young people can experience it and start planting the seeds for the future. Engaged Buddhism tries to bring this peaceful energy into many different situations. In schools, in hospitals, in town halls, in congress, the practice of mindful breathing is possible.

Is living in the present moment at odds with enjoying the media? Can we be mindful and still enjoy the internet and TV and movies and books?

There are good books and movies that you can enjoy. Thatís okayóitís good to enjoy them. But sometimes the quality of the film or book is not good at all, yet you donít turn it off because if you do, you will have to go back and experience the suffering inside you. That is the practice of many people in our society. Many people cannot be with themselves. They have pain, sorrow, or worries inside, and they read or watch or listen to cover this up, to run away from themselves.

Consuming media like that is just running away and it doesnít have a lasting effect. You can forget your suffering for some time, but eventually you have to go back to yourself. The Buddha recommended that we should not try to run away from ourselves, but learn to take good care of ourselves and transform our suffering.

What would you say to someone who finds sitting meditation painful and difficult and they struggle to do it?

Donít do it anymore.


Yes, yes. If you donít find it pleasant to sit, donít sit. You have to learn the correct spirit of sitting. If you make a lot of effort when you sit, you become tense and that creates pain all over your body. Sitting should be pleasant. When you turn on the television in your living room, you can sit for hours without suffering. Yet when you sit for meditation, you suffer. Why? Because you struggle. You want to succeed in your meditation, and so you fight. When you are watching television you donít fight. You have to learn how to sit without fighting. If you know how to sit like that, sitting is very pleasant.

When Nelson Mandela visited France once, a journalist asked him what he liked to do the most. He said that because he was so busy, what he liked to do the most was just to sit and do nothing. Because to sit and to do nothing is a pleasureóyou restore yourself. Thatís why the Buddha described it as like sitting on a lotus flower. When youíre sitting, you feel light, you feel fresh, you feel free. And if you donít feel that when you sit, then sitting has become a kind of hard labor.

Sometimes if you donít have enough sleep or you have a cold or something, maybe sitting is not as pleasant as youíd wish. But if you are feeling normal, experiencing the pleasure of sitting is always possible. The problem isnít to sit or not to sit, but how to sit. How to sit so that you can make the most of it ó otherwise youíre wasting your time.

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