MAINTAINING THE MIND
IN A FAST-PACED WORLD
Venerable Pasura Dantamano is the Chief of the International Relations Division at the Dhammakaya Temple. He has dedicated his life in spreading meditation worldwide and traveled to over 76 countries to teach meditation.
Q: Tell us about your self.
A: My name is Phra Pasura Dantamano. I’ve been a monk for 13 years and I’m a member of the Dhammakaya Temple in Thailand. One of the jobs I was assigned to do is to share the knowledge and practice of inner peace around the world. I’ve traveled to more than 76 countries, covering all continents of the world, and each place that I go, I really have a blessing in life to get to know a lot of people and share how life can be simpler and happier, and how people can share the peace inside of themselves. That is the mission of what I’ve been doing.
Q: Because meditation is your main product, why do you think meditation is important for people to learn?
A: One of the biggest problems that a lot of people are facing these days is the problem of the mind. Whether it’s anxiety, depression, or stress. It’s coming from something normal and regular in life. It’s not something random that disturbs people’s minds, but something in regular life, such as their lives, their jobs, and their relationships. Meditation is something that can help people find a sense of balance and let people be more grounded, and more centered, so that they can learn to cope with the pressures that come with life, which is something you’d normally have to do anyway. But in many cases, people get caught in the routine of life to the point that they forget to see life’s different aspects.That's why many times, they end up using intoxicants or end up hurting themselves in the process of trying to relieve stress. That's why I think meditation can be really really helpful. It's really cheap, it's free, and it's also very simple. Anyone can do it anywhere, anytime, and it's one of the solutions to many different problems we have in our mind that doesn't carry any side effects.
Q: It makes sense for a monk to teach meditation, but why did you choose to become a monk?
A: In Thailand, we have a tradition for every man to become a monk for a short period of their life. Back then, it was for the man to learn about discipline and ethics so they can be a better father or better husband. People would take leave of their life to be a monk, which can be as long as two weeks or two months. In my case, I was busy with my life until I turned 28. With that, I started to do something based on tradition and became a monk for a short period of time. I also wanted to take a little break before turning 30, but afterwards, after the few weeks I spent with myself in monkhood, I realized that life has always been so quiet, and I really enjoyed the feeling that the monk's life gave to me, called peace and happiness. It came when I didn’t have any possessions at all in life and that felt strange and made me feel that life can be so simple and that happiness is not too far from my reach. I felt that I really enjoyed this life more, so after the 4 months that I intended to become a monk, I kept extending until at the point where I had to quit my job, and finally, it's become 13 years.
Q: What do you think is the best way to share the benefits of meditation to people?
A: There's actually a lot of scientific research these days that talk about how meditation can help people deal with problems, to be happier, and to have a more positive mental state. But I think a lot of people just take it for granted with all the information that's already out there. So I think the foundation is coming back to the fact that everybody has problems. Every problem begins with the mindset. If the mindset has not changed, no one can change any other aspect of life, because they're fixed on one solution instead of looking at the bigger picture so that they can find the other solutions. I think one of the best ways to introduce meditation is to introduce the problems that people are facing first. If they realize that these are the problems and there's a solution, a skill that's so easy to obtain, I think it will be very helpful to get people to be interested. I think at the end of the day, everybody is always looking for some skills to help themselves become better. They just don't know what to look for and they can forget that they have the mind and the parts of the mind that need to be balanced and fulfilled.
Q: You mention meditation as a solution to the problems that people face today. What do you think is the biggest challenge the world faces today, and what might be a solution to that challenge?
A: I see that the world today is moving really fast. How life can go so fast from one thing to the next until they can't really see. We have been running after schedules, routines, habits, relationships, we jump back and forth between these all the time that we just get caught up and become robotic about it. That's why even when people get fed up and stressed over their life, they don't see the differences because they feel that it's become normal. For me, the biggest challenge is that people don't really see the benefits of meditation because they see these problems as normal to have. They can't see the reality that it can be simpler, happier, and more positive. Even when they have the same responsibilities and duties as they have already been doing, they can do it with a better state of mind. That's why the biggest challenge today is to convince people to realize that, look, life can be easier. If you just learn to pause a bit, see the priorities of things, how to let things go, how to disconnect yourself from the emotional pressures arising, and you can really live the life to the fullest. You can enjoy life when you're with family, not just worry about your job and everything all the time. That is really the main challenge. The solution to that, we have to tell people more and more. Outreach them with something that is simple. I know it sounds very naive in a way. It sounds too simple in a way for even me to believe, but most cases I've seen is that most people don't see the little "click" in their life. They forget, because life has been moving so fast. But they begin to realize as they pause a bit, take a break, they realize they can shift their attention to something else and that makes life feel so different.
Q: Once we do get people to engage in meditation and practice, what do you find is the thing that holds people back the most in meditation and what is the way to overcome that challenge?
A: Number one, people often believe that meditation only belongs to religion or spiritual practice. But that's not the case as there's a lot of research that explains how meditation can be used to cure daily stress or problems and pressures in life. There's also many techniques of meditation that are non religious, or non sectarian, that can be used for many people and various groups. That is one of the ways that people can understand. It is not for a particular purpose or pre-conceptualized idea. There are also some people who believe they can't do it. Just because they think that they meditate, they sit down and close their eyes, they should be enlightened immediately and that is not the case either. Meditation is like any training or practice. It would take some time to get used to that state. We can then slow the mind down, we keep it at a standstill, we can develop the power of focus. It takes some time to develop, but it's not hard to do. So that would be two of the misunderstandings that people usually have that hinders them from trying out meditation. So the solution is that we just have to really understand that meditation is something closer to their life. Meditation is the method, the technique, the practice, that can help bring your mind to stay still, peaceful, and focused. If you really know how to do it, you probably will realize you have been doing something similar to meditation throughout your life. Just that, when life goes on, when time goes by, we have more responsibilities and duties so it becomes much harder to disconnect from the problems. We have to intensify the techniques and skills we have before a little bit more, so that we can learn to deal with our mind better.