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Amor Saṅkhāras

By | 11/19/2023

I’m grateful for my saṅkhāras, especially the profound ones that occasionally disrupt my equanimity. These mental formations motivate me to sustain my meditation practice, helping me manage and ultimately dissolve my suffering.

The title, Amor Saṅkhāras, draws from amor fati, a Latin term meaning “love of one’s fate.” It means that one accepts life as it is and tries to make the best of it. There are certainly parallels with Vipassana in way of thought, although the practical element is missing from amor fati. Here, it simply means to love your saṅkhāras because they serve as a potent catalyst for meditation.

To truly grasp the first Noble Truth—the origin of suffering—one must experience suffering. Many people join meditation courses to address their suffering.

The Evolving Journey

When I began meditating, I was confronted with an array of saṅkhāras that I naturally wanted to get rid of. Like for many of us on the path, the eradication of suffering was my motivation for meditation. Over time, consistent practice reduced many of my disturbances. Following Goenkaji’s advice, meditating two hours daily and sitting at least one course a year, reactivity to inevitable suffering decreased within a few years. However, at times, as the tension in my mind lessened, so did the initial motivation driven by suffering. I noticed that I was not alone in this situation, which even led some people to abandon their practice. This was true even amongst people who had been meditating seriously for some years. Once the feeling of relief grew, their meditation practice faded away and sometimes even stopped completely.

Personally, when my practice weakened, I learned to redefine my goals and motivations for meditating. During my first few years of practice, I suffered a lot, which made me come often to the Center to sit or serve. As I gradually felt more at ease and happy, other goals presented themselves. Today, I meditate because it makes me a better father, co-worker, Dhamma server, and friend as well as friendlier person to be around. Ceasing my practice would surely set back my spiritual and personal growth.


Navigating the Path

Craving can paradoxically serve as a motivation, too. In the Great disciples of the Buddha, Ananda taught, “Supported by craving, one can transcend craving” (156). Craving can propel you on to your spiritual journey, though it’s crucial to transform this craving into a balanced desire for genuine growth. While aspirations like “I meditate to become a better person,” or “I meditate to become enlightened” won’t lead us to full enlightenment, they’ll guide us partway. As we deepen our understanding of life’s inherent suffering, we’re less likely to quit meditating. In this way, craving aids our practice when understood and observed correctly.

Today, I embrace my saṅkhāras. I don’t see them as obstacles, but as stepping stones on the path of equanimity.

Amor Saṅkhāras!

Jeppe

Jeppe Strandskov

1 Comments

Michael Beisert
Date: 11/20/2023

When we take up the practice of the Dhamma, we apply a brake to this relentless generation of sankharas. We learn to see the true nature of the sankharas, of our own five aggregates: as unstable, conditioned processes rolling on with no one in charge. Thereby we switch off the engine driven by ignorance and craving, and the process of kammic construction, the production of active sankharas, is effectively deconstructed. By putting an end to the constructing of conditioned reality, we open the door to what is ever-present but not constructed, not conditioned: the asankhata-dhatu, the unconditioned element. This is Nibbana, the Deathless, the stilling of volitional activities, the final liberation from all conditioned formations and thus from impermanence and death. Therefore our verse concludes: "The subsiding of formations is blissful!" (https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/bps-essay_43.html) The Buddha referred to the absence of sankharas as "nibbanam paramam suññam" (nibbana is supremely empty). Nibbana is the ultimate emptiness because it is free of kilesas, free of clinging, free of everything problematic, and free of dukkha. Yet it is nothing at all. It is pure emptiness, the true essence of Dhamma. All Sankharas are impermanent, their nature is to arise and decay. Once arisen they quench, their stilling is happiness (DN16)

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