In our world so filled with lust, greed, and lassitude, we need to hear the message of strong determination. But in a world of annoyance, hate, and drive, we need to hear the other side of the story -- the letting go, the letting be, the mindful (or non-thinking, non-striving, non-preference, non-judgmental) attention.
The meditative absorptions allowed Siddhartha to maintain equanimity in the face of keen investigation. He was observing, not "doing." He was practicing mindfulness (bare attention), not discursive thinking.
The purity of heart/mind cleansed by deep concentration/collectedness (samadhi) allowed his insight-practices (vipassana) to succeed. Indeed, two of the most important arms of the ennobling Eightfold Path are "right concentration" and "right mindfulness." "Right" simply means balanced, optimal, effective, not strenuous, dogmatic, or driven.
That First Vesak Day
For a long time (innumerable aeons) we have wandered on this weary trail of rebirth, lusting here, lusting there, ever in search of satisfaction, meaning, and peace. We do not find them for very long. Good states and situations pass away. When the mind is brightened by absorption and brought to bear on insight-practices -- nirvana. That's it! There it is! And finding it Siddhartha, now the Buddha, is reputed to have exclaimed:
"I who wept with all my brothers' tears, laugh and am glad, for there is liberty!"
What was it? What eternal truth did he rediscover? Nirvana, nirvana, what is this "nirvana"?
- Nirvana. nir-va, to blow out. According to ancient lore, complete freedom; according to Buddhist lore, liberation. The goal of Buddhism is the condition of [enlightened individual,] one who has achieved nirvana: a condition where there is neither earth nor water nor fire nor air; neither infinite space nor infinite consciousness; nor the sphere of void, nor the sphere of perception or non-perception. It is the end of woe. (Yoga Illustrated Dictionary, Kaye & Ward).