Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, founder of Heruka Kadampa Meditation Center, defines meditation as a mental action that is the main cause of mental peace. This means concentrating on a “virtuous object”.
Normally, throughout the life we experience delusions which limit and sometimes destroy our mental peace. If we concentrate on something that causes us to develop an unpeaceful mind such as anger, this indicates that the object is non-virtuous. When we concentrate single-pointedly on a virtuous state of mind as long as possible, we become deeply acquainted with it.
The purpose of meditation is to make our mind calm and peaceful. If our mind is peaceful we’ll be free from worries and mental discomfort, and we’ll experience a sort of true happiness. If our mind is not peaceful we’ll find it very difficult to be happy, even if we are living in the best material conditions. If we train in meditation, our mind will gradually become more and more peaceful and eventually we’ll be able to stay happy all the time, even in the most difficult circumstances.
Usually we find it difficult to control our mind. If things go well our mind is happy, but if they go badly it immediately becomes unhappy. If we get what we want, such as a new home, a new position, or a new partner, we become overly excited and cling to them tightly; but sooner or later this mental stickiness (called “attachment”) will serve only to cause us pain. On the other hand if we don’t get what we want we become despondent or irritated. For example if we are forced to work with someone we dislike we’ll become irritated with the result that we’ll be unable to work with him/her efficiently and our time at work will become stressful and unrewarding. Such fluctuations of mood arise because we are too closely involved in the external situations.
By training in meditation we create an inner space and clarity that enables us to control our mind regardless of external circumstances. Gradually we develop mental equilibrium, a balanced mind that oscillates between the extremes of excitement and despondency. If we train in meditation systematically, eventually we’ll be able to eradicate from our mind the delusions that are the causes of all our problems and suffering. In this way, we’ll come to experience permanent inner peace .
At the beginning, even if our meditation does not seem to be going well, we should remember that simply by applying effort to training in meditation, we are creating the mental ground to experience inner peace in the future. Our happiness depends upon the experience of inner peace, which in turn depends upon the mental action of meditation. Since inner peace is the source of happiness, we can see how important meditation is.
Adapted from How to solve our human problems, by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso