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Please prepare this session by generating a mind of enlightenment, bodhicitta, to benefit the limitless number of sentient beings. I rejoice to have the opportunity to come here and teach the holy teaching of the Lord Buddha. Most of the participants in this audience know me, and this gives me an especially good feeling. An important term in Tibetan Buddhism is nang, which means “inner” or “interior.” Happiness and misery shall not be understood with regard to external objects, and to attain ultimate and unchanging happiness, one needs to realize one’s innermost being. One must strive to study the workings of the mind. When we realize our innermost being, we will realize the meaning of life and the meaning of the happiness that we experience in our life. In Buddhist teachings, the term “happiness” refers to authentic happiness. In the beginning is it important to study the teachings of the Buddha. The ancient Indian master, called Digniga, said, “Initially one should exert oneself in studying, followed by a phase of reflection, which should be followed a phase of meditation practice.” By engaging oneself in the study of the Buddha’s teachings, one will achieve peace of mind. By gleaning wisdom from listening and studying, one can cut through the doubt and hesitation with regard to the ultimate truth and acquire a very determined mind. When one has gained certainty of the ultimate truth through listening and studying, as well as reflection and contemplation, one needs to implement this certainty by uniting it with the phase of meditation. By relying on the wisdom that comes from meditation, one will be able to uproot the disturbing emotions. The Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism places a great deal of emphasis on analytical contemplation, which is the initial process of listening and studying. If one initially does not acquire the wisdom that comes from profound analysis, it is impossible to acquire wisdom from meditation. If concentrative meditation is not united with the analytical contemplation, by for example only favoring analytical meditation, the Tibetan expression “idiot meditator” may be applicable. No benefit will come from such meditation. So, one should unite analytical contemplation with concentrative meditation. Then, one should only do
” This can be applied to all sensory organs. contemplating and meditating. The same goes for the sense of hearing. to the sensory consciousnesses. adolescent. we are extroverted. Such phenomena can be very deceptive. We tend to perceive external objective phenomena through our senses. we are capable of developing a lot of discursive thoughts. The Tibetan word for relative truth implies “all” and “without essence. It is easy for you to see the stain on somebody else’s face. The first truth is relative truth. I studied the teaching of the Buddha for ten years. The deluded mind tries to decide what we see and hear by using our senses. As sentient beings. To quote the heart sutra: “The ’I’ does not have any true characteristics. as soon as this happens. Therefore. we are not able to turn our mind inwards and look at ourselves. Our bodies make numerous sounds that we seldom hear. It is . Also.” All samsaric phenomena are impermanent. One can aspire to become wealthy. and to the mind – they all lack true existence. Sometimes we experience joy. But the mind of the Buddha perceives external phenomena in a completely different way: as lacking true existence and characteristics. the tongue does have any true characteristics. However. there are two levels of truth.concentrative meditation. and then meditation came quite easily. If all these things lack true existence. then what is the truth? According to the teaching of the Buddha. what is deluded and what is not deluded. but it takes effort to see the stain on one’s own. although we easily hear sounds from outside. It is easy to observe that all phenomena are impermanent. sometimes misery. and think that one will be happy by the time one has a certain amount of money in the bank. the second truth is absolute truth. Impermanence applies equally to the external element of nature. one wants to have even more. our e feelings change. The mind that is occupied with discursive thoughts is a deluded mind that tries to establish what is pure and what is impure. and adult. what is true and what is untrue. Because of the function of the five senses of sentient beings. I brought up this in order to underline the importance of the processes of listening. what is right and what is wrong. one can see an infant born and gradually grow into a toddler. It is difficult to find ultimate fulfillment. Phenomena that have no characteristics do not exist. the ear does not have any true characteristics.
with regard to your friends and family. Impermanence should be understood in terms of birth. The presence of discursive thoughts in a mind that is filled with these emotions makes it very difficult for us to attain the omniscient state of the Buddha. your mind will not be perverted. such a realization corresponds to the universal truth. To understand the meaning of relative truth.therefore difficult for a samsaric being to attain ultimate fulfillment. selfless. and suffering nature of the external phenomena. if you realize the impermanence of relative truth with regards to all those things. Instead of trusting the objective phenomena. one must understand impermanence. is enlightened and don’t know the miseries of birth. sickness and death. you will receive immense benefit even if you lack the realization of the ultimate truth. Birth is followed by destruction. with regard to your spouse. old age. but cannot guarantee our happiness because new miseries will accompany the possession of new things. But again. and the singularity of the external phenomena. realize the meaning of the relative truth in this way. To realize relative truth. This situation changes when we obtain something that we want. If one observes the physical existence of Buddha Shakyamuni. if you believe in the permanence of the relative truth with regard to your beloved. if you realize the impermanent. All discursive thoughts can be traced to the three disturbing emotions: attachment. If you. as a meditator. anger and ignorance. particularly with regard to your physical existence. If we realize the impermanent nature of the objective reality of the objective phenomena. If this understanding develops into the realization of the . the true existence. but the mind of Buddha Shakyamuni. one should realize that the external phenomena do not hold absolute happiness. The Buddha said that lacking something is an illusion. one would see the nature of impermanence affecting his body. In contrast. it is essential to realize the meaning of impermanence. you will be at peace. empty. However. you will suffer. The view that holds onto the permanence. They are tainted by misery and suffering. and so is not lacking something. is a perverted view. When we lack something that we want we are miserable. or material objects.
we do not believe the sounds we cannot hear. remain silent. If you cannot do this for one week. . their capacity to discern is very weak. For example. Because of this. it means that the actual determining factor is one’s own mind. if you cannot see something. you will not believe that it exists. then you will certainly be able to suppress your conflicting emotions. then our reality would be completely changed. then you probably will not be able to gain control over your disturbing emotions. They are determined by how our minds perceive them. Because of this. This is why the Buddha said that the sense organs lack characteristics. speech and mind. But if you shut the gates. The phenomena are not determined by the objective reality. one-pointed concentration). the absolute truth. and the skin. at least while you are meditating. If you could practice this simple meditation technique of in a quiet place for seven days. The ultimate truth lies beyond the domain of expression and description. and concentrate. Absolute truth cannot be expressed because our mind is powerless to do so. One of the Tibetan scholars said that if our eyes were placed in a different position. with a small hole. then the discursive thought will be blocked from your mind. tongue. this is a kind of meditation. the ear is rather small. When the Buddha said that the three realms are only in the mind. if you open the gates of your mind or sense organs. For example. Our mind cannot go beyond these two extremes. If we close our eyes and prevent our sense organs from being distracted. this is the realization of emptiness. In the sutra the Buddha talks about the threefold meditation or samadhi meditation (Sanskrit: to make firm. The same applies to the nose. or true existence. our sense organs are incapable of perceiving the whole spectrum of reality. Our mind knows only two things: the extreme of existence and the extreme of nonexistence. then many discursive thoughts will come through. Earlier I said that the sense organs lack characteristics.emptiness of the true existence of objective phenomena. He said that one should sit still. and there is an infinite number of sounds that we cannot hear. we are not able to understand all phenomena. The same applies to our sense organs. The Buddha gave instruction on how to practice closing the gates of one’s body. We believe the sounds we can hear. for example vertical. The Buddha talks about the samadhi that is associated with the three gates of the body. For example. speech and mind.
Therefore. Do you have questions? Question: Is analytical meditation an absolute necessity for a real meditation experience? The Buddha teaches about the emptiness of self. One should not accept the teaching of the Buddha at face value. Since infinite time we have accustomed to thinking that an ego exists. it is crucial for the meditator to use mindfulness to look within his or her mind. but one will be capable of eradicating the root of the disturbing thoughts and emotions. The Indian Buddhist master Chandrakirti laid out the seven-fold reasoning of no-self of the chariot. one can practice meditation in formal sessions and implement whatever meditative experience one has gained in the informal period. what “I” state is true. one should observe one’s body and try to determine whether there exists a self within the body or not. then one is not only able to suppress and gain control over one’s disturbing emotions. Whatever we do is based on the true existence of self. To do this one must analyze and use one’s investigative powers. Because of the law of interdependence. it is impossible to experience happiness for oneself without experiencing happiness for other sentient beings. then this self will become so huge that it makes it difficult for us to see others.Our many past lives have made us very familiar with our disturbing emotions. Whatever the self does. we think is absolutely right. one should thoroughly analyze the teachings. We put a tremendous amount of trust into the notion. and one needs to realize the validity of this reason. This implies . This has been a very brief presentation of the relative truth and the ultimate truth. It is therefore important to combine the actual meditation session with the post meditation session. in the practice of being mindful of one’s body. This is meditation. We trust what “I” think is true. There is a reason the Buddha gave the teaching on emptiness of the self. then you are doing analytical meditation. If you meditate upon this seven-fold reasoning. If we build the ego in this manner. into one’s daily life. When the formal meditation session is supplemented with post meditation practice. In this way. For example.
this teaching will actually create peace in your mind. because the way it is being presented it seems to imply more than an intellectual understanding – that there is an insight as well that must be gained by meditation. Can you explain a little bit more about the meaning of study in this context? If you are capable of digesting the teaching. because you have found your lost elephant. Therefore the sign of having studied and heard teachings is the experience of peace. this is no point. But until you develop this profound certainty. That is why the elephant is used as a symbol in the Buddhist texts. The Buddha has also said that the altruistic mind brings about benefit for all living beings. By relying on the phase of study and listening you are likely to generate the . when you hear instructions from a meditation master. In order to trust the teachings of the Buddha. And the sign of whether you have meditated is the absence of discursive thoughts. the Buddha claims that the existence of the self is responsible for suffering. I believe that many of you are quite knowledgeable on this topic. When does one know that one should stop studying and go into retreat instead? When you gain a profound certainty with regard to the emptiness of self. Therefore. you can drop your studies and apply this understanding to your meditation practice. Everybody knows this. reflect and meditate.that our experience is intimately connected with that of our fellow beings. It is crucial for a teacher to share his personal understanding with such an audience. and that many of you have been practicing for many years. but it bears repeating. But if you still pursue your academic study through listening and reading after you have realized the meaning of the view. listen. Question: I am a bit confused about the term “study” in this context. Question: But you can study for a lifetime without being finished. and this peace will permeate your body and your speech. one needs to study. Then one can become convinced of the validity of these teachings. the elephant was a very special and beloved animal. You are therefore a most receptive audience. This is the foundation of the teaching of the Buddha. During the time of the Buddha. you should continue your study.
This transformation can happen because we know how to do so. But such a process alone will not guarantee the realization of the vipashyana. good and bad. our minds entertain many polarities and extremes such as existence. whether from listening or contemplation or meditation. and so on ad infinitum. and one will not look upon study and listening as not being meditation. If the phase of study and listening allows you to exclude discursive thoughts. because the objective focus of your meditation is a virtuous object. at least while you are studying. whereas another is genuinely linked with meditation practice. For example. this constitutes the practice of one. you cannot call it “medicine. non-existence. Also. Before we enter into the gates of Dharma. instead of letting your mind become distracted. walking around. your mind will be protected from non virtuous objects. then this is the practice of meditation. it is possible to unite all the trivial acts that one performs in one’s daily life – such as waking up.” But if these compounds cannot eliminate illness. while you are studying and listening.” If you are able to lessen or prevent your discursive thoughts from occurring. To use an example.meditative experience of shamatha. Any practice that will lessen one’s discursive thoughts or conflicting emotions constitutes Buddhist meditation practice. focus on what you are studying and hearing. This habit of creating polarities within the Dharma will interfere with the practice.pointed concentration. because you are studying dharma. Sometimes we think that we can only meditate by separating ourselves from . compounds that cure an illness are called “medicine. the creation of polarities stops. When we enter the Dharma. This type of practice will constitute the practice of both the Dharma and meditation. then this also constitutes a practice. Buddhist practice should not be understood only in terms of escaping to an isolated retreat and staying within a small cell. sitting or sleeping – within the practice of Dharma. but if you understand the meaning of Dharma though the process of study and listening. Everyday actions can be transformed into virtuous actions. Giving rise to the experience of shamatha meditation will bring your closer to the successive meditation experiences that will lead you to the experience of the vipashyana meditation. We often think that one particular aspect of Dharma is not meditation. or insight meditation.
One goes in circles. Question: Sometimes I feel vipashyana is like going through lists. like the seven fold reasoning of emptiness. then this practice has not done much good. especially monks and nuns living in monasteries. but after having been there they want to go back to the pure mountains. some will brag about their vegetarianism and look down upon those who are not vegetarians. are strictly vegetarian. Therefore. our mind will not be so interested in producing thoughts. For example. if the Buddha were to eat bad food. then our mind will calm down. One does not need to distance oneself from regular life. In a way it becomes so familiar that the vitality is lost. even grass eaten by horses. Most of the people of Tibet spend their lives high up in the mountains. he would be able to extract nutrition from that food as if he were eating very wholesome food. and one day maybe they find themselves in such a city. but it is possible to meditate within a society. When we develop a sense of weariness with regard to the discursive mind. speech and mind are taking part in the process of eating. the conceptual mind does possess certain qualities. and therefore one should not condemn it. a certain amount of weariness is desirable. then the act becomes whole and total. because of their craving for meat. eating. It is similar to this.society. sitting and so on. apart for not eating flesh. the food becomes tastier and more nutritious. eating is an ordinary activity. The act of eating can be united with meditation. we should not condemn individuals who are entertaining discursive thoughts by thinking that “I have fewer discursive thoughts than that person. They are eager to see these big cities. Then you know the meditative art of eating. That is because his body. However. How should I avoid that? To avoid experiencing boredom one needs to alternate analytical meditation with concentrative meditation.” Chinese Buddhists. and if you are eating with your totality. By eating in this way. If one’s vegetarianism gives rise to such arrogant thoughts. Also. These vegetarians should develop compassion towards the non-vegetarians. . The conceptual mind allows us to make the journey from the discursive mind to the non-discursive mind. if we implement our meditation practice with walking. When you meet such practitioners. The process seems to become mechanical and boring. In this way the discursive mind forms a ground. For example. Also. this is samsara. with your whole being.
In the same way. Actually. in reality the external enemy is neither our friend nor our enemy. We cannot describe the external world as pure or impure. the Buddha of boundless light. in a real sense medicine is not medicine. The external world escapes both purity and impurity. this will increase ego and arrogance. because in the final analysis the perceiving mind decides whether it is pure or impure. one will not be able to recognize him. which will lead to the condemnation of others. as a Buddhist. Buddha-nature. the practice of humility with regard to all sentient beings is crucial. the phenomenal world of the three realms is nothing more than a creation of one’s mind. not in limited way. This world can be a paradise or a hell. Also. . then even if one were to meet Amitabha. one will go through hell on earth. But if one realizes this meaning. then my engagement in Buddhist practice does not serve any real purpose. this wisdom will have the power to change your mind to perceive the reality. As the Buddha said. As we said earlier. If one understands these teachings. nor is it poison. If you study the Dharma through listening and hearing. As we practice. Now.” This means that your attitude and perspective are the most crucial elements. Whether you perceive the phenomenal world as pure or impure depends solely on your perceiving mind. If one lacks this understanding. the Buddha says that the nature of all living being is sugatagarbha. “I have showed you the path to liberation. The actual nature of the so called enemy eludes both friend and enemy. the Buddha says that all phenomenal experience and appearance in reality is infinite purity. It depends on the one taking the medicine. as it is. even if we think we have has an enemy. If this is the case. If I. reflection and meditation. gradually a shift takes place in our mind so that we are capable of generating a sense of love and compassion even towards our enemy. In the tantric teaching. or that my religion is more genuine than others. then the next person transfigures into the Buddha of boundless light. If one does not realize this. In the sutras. whether you gain the enlightenment of liberation or not is your responsibility. have a philosophy that is profounder then that of others. and acquire the corresponding wisdom. This shift occurs because of a transformation of attitude. then this place can be paradise wherever one actually is.
Norway . June 2005 Translated by Lama Changchub at Karma Tashi Ling Buddhist Centre.Oslo.
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