Ill Will

Ill Will

Ill will toward yourself may be the main reason why your meditation is difficult.


Ill will toward yourself may be the main reason why your meditation is difficult.

Ill will toward yourself can manifest as not allowing yourself to peacefully settle into meditation, or become successful in meditation.

I suggest this simple solution: Give yourself a break. Say to yourself, “The door to my heart is open to all of me. I allow myself happiness. I allow myself peace. I have goodwill toward myself, enough goodwill to let myself become peaceful and to bliss out on this meditation.” If you find it hard to extend loving-kindness toward yourself, ask why. There may be a deep-seated guilt complex inside, and you still expect punishment. You haven’t given yourself unconditional forgiveness.

On the other hand, ill will toward the meditation object is a common problem for people who have been meditating on the breath without much success yet. I say “yet” because it’s only a matter of time. Everyone will have success if they follow the instructions. But if you haven’t succeeded yet, you may have some ill will toward meditation or the meditation object. You may sit down and think, “Oh, here we go again,” “This is going to be difficult,” “I don’t really want to do this,” “I have to do this because it’s what meditators do,” or “I’ve got to be a good Buddhist, and this is what Buddhists are supposed to do.”

If you start the meditation with ill will toward meditation, doing it but not liking it, then it’s not going to work.

You are putting a hindrance in front of yourself straightaway. Try treating meditation as a dear old friend, one you want to spend time with. You’re willing to drop everything else. If I see a meditation a mile away I just run toward it and give it a good old hug and take it for a cup of coffee somewhere. And as for the meditation object, the breath, we’ve had such good times together, my breath and I. We’re the best of mates. If you regard the breath with that sort of goodwill, you can see why it’s so easy to watch the breath in your meditation.

To sum up, ill will is a hindrance, and you overcome that hindrance by compassion to all others, forgiveness toward yourself, loving-kindness toward the meditation object, goodwill toward the meditation, and friendship toward the breath. You can have loving-kindness toward silence and the present moment too. When you care for these friends who reside in the mind, you overcome any aversion toward them as meditation objects. When you have loving-kindness toward the meditation object, you do not need much effort to hold it. You just love it so much that it becomes effortless to be with.

One form that ill will can take is anger. In the next few sections of the book, we’ll look a little more deeply at anger.

All the hindrances emanate from a single source: they are generated by the control freak inside of you that refuses to let things go.

Adapted from Kindfulness by Ajahn Brahm. © 2016 Buddhist Society of Western Australia. Reprinted by arrangement with Wisdom Publications, Inc.,

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