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The Seven Points of Mind Training
Rest in the nature of Alaya, the essence.
When it says rest in the Alaya then it means to just rest one's mind naturally without doing anything. How do we rest the mind? Like a person who has finished all of their work and they just rest. For example someone who works in a hotel who has finished all of their duties for the day so they can now relax. They are quite physically tired so first they take a bath in water that's not too hot or cold, just right. After their bath they go to the bedroom and just let out a sigh and relax. That's how we should relax. As if we have just completed a lot of hard work. Just let go and relax. We don't have to block the thoughts; in fact you can't block the thoughts. We can't shoot them with a gun. We can't blow them up with an atom bomb. We just rest naturally. Together with this natural resting comes mindfulness or awareness. This mindfulness naturally arises. To say it in brief, we are not distracted. Not distracted, but not meditating. We are not meditating. We are just being relaxed, but we are not distracted. Why are we not distracted? We are not meditating on something that we get distracted from and have to have mindfulness to return to. The mind itself recognises itself. Is it like this for you? You see wood; this table does not think does it? It doesn't understand anything. A stone doesn't understand anything. But it's not like this, mind naturally recognises itself. So when it says "Alaya" it means the natural awareness of the mind. Let us all for a minute or two rest and relax. Keep a straight back. (Short meditation) Ok, so in the beginning it's good to have small periods of time repeated often. We can't sit like this for long before we are distracted. Just a few seconds at a time, repeated often. Then gradually over time it will become better and better.
Seven Points Of Mind Training
༄༅། །བློ་སྦྱོངས་དོན་བདུན་མ། །
The Very Venerable Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche
Birmingham Karma Ling December 2002
Transcribers: Lama Chodrak, Jacqui Horne, Pat Pagett
The instructions we are going to study are what is known as The Seven Points of Mind Training. Generally if we want to put all the teachings of the Buddha Dharma into a concise form we can shorten them into two, compassion and emptiness. Emptiness is the aspect of wisdom and compassion is the aspect of skilful means. If we unify these two we can reach the level of enlightenment. For example, if a bird has two wings it can fly in the sky. If it has only one wing then it cannot fly, it needs both. So, like that, on the path we need the union of Wisdom and Skilful Means. So what is the main point? The main point is to train in compassion. Within these teachings there is a concise explanation of emptiness and after that there is a more thorough explanation concerning compassion. Within this teaching there are 7 Points:
1. The Teachings on the Preliminaries 2. The Main Practice of Bodhicitta Training
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06 11 11 14 17 21 26 26 31 35 37 41 42 42 46 49 53 57 60 60
Absolute Bodhicitta - Part 1 Absolute Bodhicitta - Part 2 Relative Bodhicitta: 2 Relative Bodhicitta: 6-7
3. Transforming Negative Circumstances Into the Path
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The General Practice The Special Application: 5 The Special Application: 6
• • •
4. Practicing in This Lifetime 5. Evaluation of the Mind Training 6. The Commitments of Mind Training
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Three General Principles Questions Specific Principles: 2 Specific Principles: 3-16 Questions
7. Guidelines of Mind Training
What to Eliminate: 1-3 4
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What to Eliminate: 4-6 What to Adopt: 7-11 What to Adopt: 12-21 The Conclusion
64 67 71 75 78 78 81 85 89
The Practice of Meditation
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The Practice of Shinay Shinay Without Characteristics Shinay With Characteristics Meditating With Thoughts
These are the 7 points. Do you understand them? If you understand them then I have finished the instructions of the 7 points. You said that you understood! I'm just joking!
Meditation and Non-Meditation Biography
I. The Teachings on the Preliminaries
The Teachings of the Buddha dharma are, for example, likened to building a house. First one needs to properly prepare the foundation, the ground. If one doesn't do this then in the future no matter how beautifully the house is made if it has no firm foundation then it will not be stable and it will fall down. The main point is that within our minds we have a very great grasping and aversion. Normally we have this great grasping and as strong as this grasping is then likewise our suffering will be equal to that. For example, there are two men and they both have a million pounds and jewels, gold nuggets and other precious things. One of the men understands Dharma and understands the meaning of the preliminaries, impermanence, the essence of Samsara is suffering and so on. The other man understands nothing. One day if they were suddenly to lose all their wealth then the man who had no understanding of the Dharma would become very sad and think there was no point to his life anymore and would have many problems. He would be unable to work or think about anything. The other man would think "I've lost everything but this is natural, the nature of Samsara, this is impermanence". Because he hasn't got too much grasping and worry about the loss of the money then his mind doesn’t become tight. Also because he realises that this is impermanence and the nature of Samsara, he knows that just because he has not been able to accomplish one thing he can make other plans. He can do something else, this is not the end. Normally we have, in our minds, a great grasping for our relatives, partners and friends. If they change slightly we experience a lot of suffering. So if we have a method to reverse the grasping and if we study the preliminaries it will be very beneficial. If as a practitioner you have a good understanding of the preliminaries then it will be easier to practice Dharma later on. Also, if we can reduce the grasping in our minds we can perform worldly activities better. As we have so many meaningless problems and suffering in our worldly life we can make things easier if we can reduce our grasping.
The Four Ordinary Foundations
1. The Precious Human Birth
In general there are various types of preliminaries. For example the Four Thoughts, the difficulty of obtaining human birth and so on. The human birth is wonderful, with this body we can reach the level of enlightenment and we can accomplish any worldly activity we want. By relying on this body we can reach enlightenment in one lifetime. This body is very important, but very difficult to obtain. It has a great power and strength. The main point or reason for reflecting on the human birth is that one gains confidence in the fact that one can do anything with this body, that the body is a good thing and one is lucky to have it. There are many points in the commentary concerning the precious human birth, the eight unfavourable states and so on but you can ask Simon who teaches on these subjects. So instead of explaining all that I will tell you a story. It's important that you understand the point of the story, as it is very beneficial for your practice. There was a Lama in Tibet and he taught about the precious human birth and the difficulties of obtaining it. The Lama had a student who was a businessman. This business man used to ply his trade from Tibet to Kalimpong down to Calcutta and back again. Calcutta is a busy city with many people and its streets are full of people doing business. One day a student stood up in the teachings and said would it be all right for him to ask a question. The Lama said yes. The student said "Lama, have you ever been to Calcutta"? The Lama replied that no, he had never been to Calcutta. The student said, "oh! you have never been to Calcutta, this is the reason you teach us about the precious human birth and how difficult it is to find. If you had been to Calcutta you would have seen that the streets are full of people. It's easy to get a human body! I go to Calcutta to do business and sometimes it’s difficult to walk around, as the streets are so full. Lama, you stay in Tibet which is empty. There are not many people, and you teach that it is difficult to obtain a human body, but it is not so" . The Lama replied "I know that. I haven't been to Calcutta but I know that!". Generally the Buddha taught that the hell realm has the most beings in it, the yidak realm has less, the animal realm has less and the human realm has less again. So the beings of the human realm are very few. The Buddha said that space has no limit, it is endless. Also like that worlds are limitless. Because of this the beings of the six realms are also limitless. The majority of beings don't know how to practice the abandoning of negative actions and the accumulation of virtue, or having the thought of benefiting others. For example, beings like ourselves, the majority of beings are under the power of the kleshas, the negative emotions so they kill and cause harm to beings and so on and do negative activity naturally. We don't have to train how to be angry; we don't have to go to school to learn how to be angry. Also with desire and jealousy we don't have to go to school to study them, they come naturally. If one tries to have loving kindness and compassion then we have to meditate on each of them and if we can't do it then we get angry, so it's difficult to have loving kindness and compassion isn't it? 7
We go to meditate and we close the door and start our session, trying to meditate well, and after some time we fall asleep. (Rinpoche mimes someone falling asleep). Now if this person were to go to town, the Birmingham City centre and look around at all the sights, the different entertainment, singing and so on. This person would be wide-awake and we would think that this was a different person to the one who was in the room trying to meditate before. It couldn’t be the same person; they're so different. If, for example, we divide our world into three pieces. Two of these pieces would be ocean and in the ocean are many types of fish and creatures; all of these would be classed as animals. The land is full of insects such as ants. In one anthill there would be more ants than there are people in, a country. The ants are classed as animals. Most animals we can see, but hungry ghosts and yidaks we cannot see . Sentient beings are endless and some beings practice Dharma, engage in virtuous activity such as generosity and helping other beings. These beings that naturally have this kind of activity are said to have the precious human birth.
2. Death and Impermanence
The second thought is death and impermanence. Generally impermanence means that from moment to moment things are changing. Likewise our lives our possessions and ourselves change. . Our parents, sisters and brothers our loved ones and friends change. Also our fame and good name changes. This is the nature of the world. If we don't understand this then if we have great grasping for our wealth and it changes a little then we will have a lot of sadness and suffering because of the grasping. For example, if our money becomes less we think that we cannot get past this suffering and there is nobody in the world with this kind of suffering. Also like that we have suffering when our relatives and friends and so on change. This meaningless suffering is made by the mind. If we have great grasping, for example we have grasping for a car, we want it to be really nice and we think we really want the car. If we have grasping then the car cannot satisfy us and it will give us suffering. For example if we feel that we have to look after the car very well and drive it very carefully and we don't want anything to happen to it. When we drive it, when we don't want to stop, it stops. When we don't want to go it goes. We damage the tyres and bump other cars. Like this we have much meaningless suffering. In another example, these days' boys and girls want to have a very beautiful face don't they? They think " I need a nice face" and they look in the mirror everyday. Now some people are naturally good looking yet they still look in the mirror everyday and with grasping think "oh I need a nice face". One day a little blemish may appear on their face, or their nose looks crooked, or a black spot appears on the face. When they see this they think this is bad, they say to themselves "I can’t have this, I must get rid of this!" and they have a lot of suffering. Everyday they try to fix their nose, which they think has gone crooked, or remove the spot. Each day whatever fault they think is there appears bigger to them and they think they are becoming more and more ugly. If we have more grasping then we will think that our big defect, which is really only small, is causing other people to look at us, even if they aren't looking. You think "everybody is 8
looking at my crooked nose". Other people aren't looking at you. In their minds they're not thinking of you, but you feel that "oh he is looking at me, I'm so embarrassed, now another person is looking". Sometimes you might think "people aren't looking at me it's just my misperception, but I should just look to see if he is really looking me or not" and you check. When you check you think "oh now I'm certain that person is looking". This result is false; it's not real. It's due to your grasping. In the end we have no confidence and we can't go out to see people and we become very tight. All this suffering is meaningless; it all comes from having grasping. I used the example of the face, but the same applies to anything, friends' possessions and so on. If it's money, say, then if we have grasping and we have no money we think "I have no money, I've wasted my money" . If we lose £1 we become very stingy, we think " oh if I had £1 I could have bought toothpaste with it. Now I have nothing". Like that in the end we can't think about anything and we don't spend money and we have suffering. These kinds of things can happen. Normally if we have suffering and problems there are two things that one should think about and these have a connection to the preliminaries. If one has problems or suffering with anything, parents, work or whatever, one has to think whether one can remedy the situation or not. If there is a way to remedy the situation then there is no need to worry. One doesn't have to have suffering. If one can do something about the problem there is no need to worry. If you can't find a remedy for the problem, there is no need to worry. One thinks that whatever happens let it happen. There is no remedy for the problem and it won’t make the situation any better by worrying. For example, if we have money on the stock market when the money goes down we worry and think how bad it is, oh this is terrible. If you can make the money increase by £1 by worrying then that’s good and it's ok if you worry, worry as much as you want! Then if you worry as much as you can that would be good, then maybe the money will rise by £2 or £3! It doesn't work like this though. No matter how much we cry and shed tears, how much we worry the money will not increase by £1, it will go down as much as it is going to, we can't change it, so there is no need to worry. So we think to ourselves that this is natural this is the nature of phenomena, this is the nature of the world, things are impermanent and they change. After birth comes death. One doesn't think that this doesn't happen to others, only to me. This happens do everyone. If you have a lot of grasping and think "there is no one as bad as me, nobody has suffering and problems like me" . It's not like that, just you who this is happening to. It is the nature of the world, the nature of fire is heat, and the nature of water is wetness. The nature of Samsara is change, things change. That is impermanence.
3. The Suffering of Samsara
After impermanence comes the suffering of Samsara. Some people think, "this is impermanence, I will die and if I die it's nothing, like an oil lamp after the oil has all been burnt. After the flame is gone there is nothing". Some people think that "I die but everybody dies, it's nothing". Samsaric suffering means that the nature of Samsara is suffering, but there is a way to be free of this suffering. If we follow the path then we can reach the level of Buddha hood, this is what we think about when we think of the sufferings of Samsara 9
4. Karma, Cause and Effect
It is not like this though, after death comes karma, cause and effect. Karma means that one thing is interdependent on another. For example if you plant a seed of a medicinal plant in a field it will produce a medicinal plant. If you plant a seed of a poisonous plant then it will produce a poisonous plant. If you plant medicinal seed a poisonous plant won't grow and if you plant a poisonous seed you won't get a medicinal plant. If we plant a seed and all the causes and conditions are present then it will definitely grow. Like that there is virtuous karma and non-virtuous karma. The result of virtuous karma is happiness. Like the medicinal seed producing a medicinal plant. The non-virtue produces suffering which is like planting a poisonous seed, which produces a poisonous plant. If one does non-virtuous deeds you will experience suffering. One thing depends on another and interdependence is unfailing. When we say virtue and non-virtue, mainly whatever is harmful to beings or creates the causes of harm to beings, this is what is called non-virtue. Virtue is the opposite of that. With this we have finished the preliminary part.
II. The Main Practice of Bodhicitta Training Absolute Bodhichitta - Part 1
Now we come to the main practice. Within the seven points we have completed the teachings on the preliminaries. The second point is the main practice, which is training in Bodhicitta. There are two types of Bodhicitta, the relative Bodhicitta and the ultimate Bodhicitta.
Regard all Dharma as Dreams.
Firstly I will explain briefly the ultimate Bodhicitta. In the text it says, "regard all Dharmas as dreams". "Dharmas" means all phenomena. Generally when we say Dharma we mean what is practised, we practise the Dharma. Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. It doesn’t just mean that. At that time it means Dharma related to practice. This time "Dharma" means all, everything is called Dharma. "All Dharmas are like dreams". Why are the Dharmas like a dream? It's because they are emptiness. How can we say that all Dharmas are emptiness? Generally all things arise with atoms and time. Einstein states that all things arise together with time, gravity, speed and atoms. All things are connected with time. Also the smallest of atoms are in all things. The Buddha has taught that time and atoms are not truly existent. Nowadays Stephen Hawkings, the scientist says that time is something that is made by the brain and not truly existent. Also certain scientists say that atoms are not truly existent. For example if you put negative and positive together they disappear. Some scientist's say that all phenomena are projected from the brain, like a projector projects an image onto a screen. I'm not able to explain fully about emptiness and the way mind is, how we practice with emptiness according to the way Buddha taught, as there is not enough time. Instead I will give an example using the scientist's view. The Buddha taught about the non-existence of time and atoms and it's similar to what some scientists say. The scientific understanding is limited and they cannot fully comprehend the emptiness. Why is this? It's because they have dualism. If one has a dualistic way of seeing things then one cannot understand emptiness completely, but they will have some understanding of emptiness and that will be beneficial. I have benefited from the scientific view. Now I will give you an example like that taught by the Buddha. The example is that of a dream. Time doesn't exist, atoms don't exist everything is emptiness, there is nothing that is truly existent. There is nothing. Though there is nothing, there is a table here isn't there? If I want to drink water there and if I drink it, it tastes nice. How can this be? If I don't drink water I'll be thirsty. Why is this? This is what we call illusion, a projection. What is projection? Our projection is that we misperceive what does not exist as existing. That is what is called projection. Nothing exists but it appears to have existence, appears to be real. What did the Buddha teach? Emptiness, empti-ness. He said two words. In Tibetan 11
language Tongpa-nyi. In normal everyday Tibetan conversation the word nyi doesn't have any particular meaning. But the Buddha didn't just say empty, Tongpa. He said Tongpa-nyi, Empti-ness. The word Tongpa in Tibetan means empty, nothing at all. The nyi word gives the meaning of "is" in the sense of it is emptiness. Also Nyi has the meaning that anything can arise and appear. So then it's not absence or nothingness we are meaning here. When we say emptiness we mean that anything can come from or arise from emptiness. If there is no emptiness then it must be real. If it is really, truly existing then one has to have permanence, a single thing and being free. But it can't happen like that. Permanence cannot be, there is nothing permanent. If things were permanent then nothing could arise. The six realms of beings could not arise. (Rinpoche drinks some water) I could not drink anything. Because of emptiness I can perceive the water. I can drink the water and satisfy my thirst. This is all emptiness. So what is this emptiness like? It is said to be like a dream. For example, in a dream a person wins £1,000,000. Now some people would have a great grasping for this money and be very attached to the money. He would be so happy that even if he were to wake up from the dream he would still feel a little bit happy. If suddenly, in the dream a thief came along and stole all of the money then the person would have so much suffering. You would be so upset that you might cry, and after waking up you would find your pillow wet from the tears. Now I'm going to ask you a question. In the dream is the £1,000,000 real or not? (Audience responds " It's an illusion. it seems real in the dream"). Ok, so if it appears real in the dream can it truly become real in the waking life? If it appears to be real but is not, then this is what we call illusion. So what that lady said is true, it appears real in the dream but is not in fact real. In the dream when we think that we have £1,000,000 really we don't have even 1p. Despite not having anything in the dream it appears as if we have. In the dream it appears to be true. Even though in the dream the money doesn't truly exist, we feel joy when we feel we have it and sadness when we feel we have lost it. In the dream we can experience joy and sadness, likewise it is said to be the same with the phenomena we experience. Now, it is dream-like. So this cup is like a dream, the water within is like a dream. The drinker of the water, myself, is also like a dream. The pleasant taste of the water is like a dream. The benefit it brings to my stomach is also like a dream. It is all just like a dream. The Buddha said that dream is like illusion on illusion. Double illusion. The dream phenomena and the normal phenomena follow the same rules, within the dream we take phenomena to be real. For example when we are dreaming we are asleep, now when we are awake we have the sleep of ignorance. In the dream we perceive various phenomena and in the waking state we also perceive various phenomena. So, I'm going to ask you another question. When you are in the Dream State and you experience problems, suffering, or fear. At that time without waking up, what method could you use to pacify your difficulties or fears? What do you think? Audience answers, To recognise one is actually dreaming. To say mantras to make things go away.
Sometimes when you say mantras in the dream the demons get bigger and bigger! Ok, I'll tell you. That man was right. The method is to recognise that one is dreaming within the dream. That is the best method. If you recognise you are dreaming in the dream then you can do whatever you want within the dream. For example one could jump off of a 100storey building and because you know it's just a dream you wouldn't break your legs. If you jumped into the ocean you wouldn't drown. If you walked into a blazing fire you wouldn't be burnt. Why is this? It's because if you know it's all just a dream then you can do anything you want. Likewise if we recognise that all phenomena in the waking state are based on emptiness then we can have power or freedom over appearances. Firstly one's grasping would be diminished, gradually getting less and less. Then one's mind becomes more open and gradually you begin to see that all phenomena are dream-like and one really perceives them to be so. After you have understood that then one cannot be hurt by fire. Milarepa wasn't harmed by fire. He could walk unobstructed through rocks. If he ate poison it didn't harm him. The reason for this is that the fire of emptiness cannot burn the body of emptiness. We can also become like this and have this experience. This is because all appearances are not, ultimately, real. They are projections from our mind. If we understand that our mind is the nature of emptiness then we can change the phenomena. Then one's wisdom, compassion and loving kindness become very vast. The understanding of emptiness is the cause for all of the Buddha's omniscience. Now, we don't understand emptiness and we take things to have real existence. This makes our mind smaller and smaller. We don't know if we are going to die tonight or not. So if you meditate on emptiness you won't go crazy in any way. You will become omniscient. This won't happen immediately, but rather gradually over time. If after hearing a little bit about emptiness from me and thinking you understand it, you then go out onto the road and go in front of a car you will be killed. You have to have a gradual understanding of emptiness through progressive meditation. This is the explanation for "see all Dharmas as dream-like".
II. The Main Practice of Bodhicitta Training Absolute Bodhichitta - Part 2
Examine the nature of unborn awareness.
All phenomena are the projections of one's own mind. Do you think that there is a mind and there are projections? Does one exist and one not exist? Or is it like a mother giving birth to a child, we give birth to the phenomena? It's not like that. The mind itself is emptiness. The mind is unborn. What we call mind, is like space. Space does not have any awareness, knowing or understanding. The mind, though, has understanding naturally. This understanding and awareness is inseparable from this unborn mind. It naturally knows itself. This awareness can not be separated from the mind. Like water cannot be separated from its wetness. Can you separate the wetness from the water? The audience answer; conceptually yes. In the mind we can separate them. In the mind we can do anything. We can think the whole world is in the palm of my hand. All of the world systems are in my hand. I'm just joking! When it says examine the nature of the unborn awareness it means look at this mind that also doesn't have a truly existent nature.
Liberate even the antidotes.
If one has the mistaken idea that everything is empty, so karma doesn't exist, the three jewels are empty and don't exist, the lower realms don't exist and whatever I feel like doing I can do it, as everything is empty. This view arises because the person has not understood emptiness properly. This is the view of nihilism. In this case the person has only heard the tong-pa of tong-pa nyi. The empty of emptiness. Emptiness means that anything can arise, anything is possible. For example. There was a hermit in a cave meditating on emptiness. After some time he had a good experience of emptiness. The hermit thought that his body was emptiness, all phenomena were emptiness. In the hermit's cave was a mouse and it was running all around the place. The mouse was sitting on the hermit's table. The hermit picked up one of his big leather shoes and thought, I am emptiness, the mouse is emptiness and this boot is also emptiness. Then he struck and killed the mouse; death is also emptiness he thought. This is what we call the wrong view; he didn't have a proper understanding of emptiness. When it says to liberate even the antidotes it doesn't mean that we have to take some really existent thing and then make emptiness to go with it. Emptiness is naturally there. It doesn't have to be made.
Rest in the nature of Alaya, the essence.
When it says rest in the Alaya then it means to just rest one's mind naturally without doing anything. How do we rest the mind? Like a person who has finished all of their work and they just rest For example someone who works in a hotel who has finished all of their duties for the day so they can now relax. They are quite physically tired so first they take a bath in water that's not too hot or cold, just right. After their bath they go to the bedroom and just let out a sigh and relax. That's how we should relax. As if we have just completed a lot of hard work. Just let go and relax. We don't have to block the thoughts; in fact you can't block the thoughts. We can't shoot them with a gun. We can't blow them up with an atom bomb. We just rest naturally. Together with this natural resting comes mindfulness or awareness. This mindfulness naturally arises. To say it in brief, we are not distracted. Not distracted, but not meditating. We are not meditating. We are just being relaxed, but we are not distracted. Why are we not distracted? We are not meditating on something that we get distracted from and have to have mindfulness to return to. The mind itself recognises itself. Is it like this for you? You see wood; this table does not think does it? It doesn't understand anything. A stone doesn't understand anything. But it's not like this, mind naturally recognises itself. So when it says "Alaya" it means the natural awareness of the mind. Let us all for a minute or two rest and relax. Keep a straight back . (Short meditation) Ok, so in the beginning it's good to have small periods of time repeated often. We can't sit like this for long before we are distracted. Just a few seconds at a time, repeated often. Then gradually over time it will become better and better.
In the post-meditation be like a child of illusion.
In the session one meditates on emptiness, then sometimes one doesn't meditate on emptiness, you just rest naturally as described before. Then again one meditates on the emptiness. If one cannot meditate on emptiness this is ok then just relax for a while. Then in the post-session time one reflects on the dreamlike nature of all phenomena. Everything is like a dream, like an illusion. I am like a dream. "Child of illusion" means oneself. You are like an illusion. In India there are many people who perform illusions. I have seen some of them. They produce illusory people. Then another man comes up and stabs a sword into the man. You can see the sword sticking out of his back. Sometimes he cuts off his head and holds it in one hand. Then he puts his head back on and talks as if nothing had happened. There are many people like this. This is not a real person though. It is an optical illusion. When you look at him he seems real. If you grasp him you can feel him. This is because he is an illusion of the five senses, hearing, touch, taste, smell, and sight. But he is not a real person. This is an example used for emptiness, the illusion. Another one is the dream. So as a child of illusion it means to see things like this as an illusion. Now do you have any questions?
Q. Can I ask you about Buddha Nature? Is Buddha Nature an illusion and impermanent? A. Buddha Nature is not an illusion, it is not impermanent. It is emptiness. The Samsaric phenomena are what we call illusion. This illusion is impermanent. Emptiness is not an illusory phenomenon. It is not impermanent. Also it is not permanent. Emptiness does not exist. Also it is not non-existent. That is what emptiness is. It is free of the four extremes, which are; existence, non-existence, being both of these and being neither of them. This watch is none of those four. It doesn’t exist; it is not truly existent. It is not non-existent as we can see it. It can't be both as they are opposites. And it is not neither of them. If we understand the emptiness then it goes beyond dualism. Q. I think with my mind so it must be dualistic by definition. A. There are two methods we can follow. One is following the path of emptiness and the other is following the path of nature of mind. The emptiness alone path belongs to Mahayana and Sutrayana. The nature of mind path belongs to the Vajrayana. With the emptiness only path one has to see all things as emptiness and this blocks off the first view of existence. The hermit who killed the mouse understood the first one but didn't understand the second one. Having understood the first one we have to understand the second one, which is non-existence isn't it? After blocking of the second one then we block off the third one and then the fourth one. Then naturally you will understand. Truly understand. So that is the sutra path and it takes a long time. In the Vajrayana path there is a quick method. This is that we all have Buddha Nature. We don't have to check this, we have it. We have a special consciousness and we have to recognise that. If we rest with that then the illusions are naturally pacified. So at the time of our meditation we don't have to think this is emptiness or not. Before we meditate though it's important that we know what emptiness is. In the Vajrayana the practice of emptiness and nature of mind go together. We can have the experience of the illusory phenomena, free from the dualism of subject and object. When some people start to meditate on emptiness they get frightened. "Oh everything is emptiness, I might fall down" . I had a student once who was meditating on emptiness. He came to my room once with his eyes very wide and quite scared. I asked him what was the problem. "Nothing," he said "except that yesterday you taught me about emptiness and today I feel quite scared walking around. I feel I might fall down". I told him that the person who falls, they are also emptiness aren't they? Then the student wasn't scared anymore. Generally fear is not bad. It's a sign at the beginning of understanding emptiness, it's good. Some people only feel joy when they hear about emptiness that's also good.
II. The Main Practice of Bodhicitta Training Relative Bodhichitta: 2 The Preliminary Practice
Now we are going to look at the main practice of the training in Bodhicitta. Concerning the Bodhicitta there are two, the Ultimate and the Relative. I have explained the Ultimate Bodhicitta yesterday. Today I will explain about the Relative Bodhicitta. In general when we are practising for the benefit of sentient beings we need three things. Compassion, limitless compassion and bodhicitta mind. With these three we can accomplish the benefit of sentient beings. In the beginning when we are trying to benefit sentient beings we need to train in the compassion. Based on the compassion we train in limitless compassion. and based on the limitless compassion we train in bodhicitta. At first we train in Compassion. Generally all of us have compassion. If we have this compassion and loving-kindness then we experience few problems in life and people around us will not have problems either. On the other hand if we do not have much compassion and loving kindness in us then we will always have problems and anger can arise very easily for us. We won't experience much peace and happiness The opposite of loving kindness and compassion is anger, jealousy and so on. The person who is under the influence of disturbing emotions such as anger, pride and jealousy are generally driven by the idea that they have to make themselves victorious and defeat those who they perceive as their enemies. The person with an angry, proud mind thinks I have to accomplish my wishes and be victorious and be above others. But if the person with an angry mind truly wants to have peace and to accomplish his wishes, as long as he follows what the angry mind tells him he will only have suffering, defeat and problems. If we follow what the angry mind says we will experience suffering. From beginningless time until now through the power of anger we have wandered in Samsara. We will have suffering, in future lives and in this life, and we will have many problems and will not be in harmony with others. If one's mind is full of anger then you will think that others have a mind of anger and they have the wish to harm you. For example, if you look at a person you will think "that man is giving me a funny look and he must be planning to do me harm". But the man is not really looking at you he's just thinking his own thoughts, nothing to do with you. So you feel anger towards this person and you stare at him angrily. Then the other man thinks why is that man looking at me funnily? This continues for some time, each person looking at the other one and in the end they argue with each other and maybe come to blows. Many problems come from this and it happens a lot. Another example is when you are driving a car. One moment you are in front then someone passes you and gets in your way. You shout at the driver who has cut in front of you and he shouts back. You have an argument with the other driver and if you get very 17
angry you might hit the other driver. Both drivers end up fighting with each other and they both fail to accomplish their wishes. Another example is if one is a thief and steals others belongings you will think that other people also wish to steal your belongings. Whatever mind poison one has, anger jealousy and so on, whatever one is the strongest in one's mind will influence one's perceptions of people and appearances. I'll give an example using anger. One starts off with one enemy and this becomes worse and one ends up thinking everybody is your enemy. The worst harm you could do to your enemy is to kill them. If you kill one then another arises. If you kill two then four will arise and so on. In the end the whole world will seem like your enemy. Hitler killed many of his enemies but he couldn't kill them all and in the end he killed himself. He didn't have any happiness and he didn't accomplish his wishes. Now I want to ask you a question. Using an example as a question. There is a man who doesn't like to walk on the ground as the stones and dirt harms his feet. He covers the ground wherever he walks with carpet. One day the carpet runs out, what can he do now? The audience answer: Get a pair of shoes, stick carpet on the soles of the shoes. Ok, if one puts carpet on the soles of one 's shoes then that is the same as carpeting the whole world. Our anger is the biggest enemy we have and if we can defeat that then it's the same as defeating all our enemies. If we can defeat the enemy of anger in our own mind then we will obtain a supreme happiness and joy. If we try to defeat external enemies then we will never obtain lasting peace and happiness. Some people have a lot of wealth but it doesn't bring them happiness. Some people who have a lot of wealth and possessions still end up committing suicide, as they are not happy.The cause of real peace and happiness lies within one's own mind not in external objects. For example Milarepa had no possessions but he was a very happy person. Compassion and loving-kindness are very important. If I have a mind of compassion and loving-kindness then I will be compassionate and loving to my parents and family and people I meet and I can bring happiness to lots of people. A person who has this compassionate and loving nature will make people happy when they see him and also people will naturally have trust and confidence in them. People will listen to what they have to say. This type of person would receive help from others and have no enemies. They would be victorious and all enemies would be defeated. If our mind is filled with mind poisons then it is difficult to sleep at night and we wouldn't be able to have any peace in our mind.
2. The Main Practice
I'll now explain how to develop compassion. There are two methods of developing compassion. The first method is based on the mother you have in this lifetime. The second method is based on somebody who is having a lot of suffering or in a bad situation. The Buddha taught these two main methods. Whichever one you like is ok. First though we need an easy method of developing compassion. Some people have difficulties with their parents so they can use the other method. So using one's mother of this lifetime as a basis we remember her great kindness to us. Because of her we have this body, she has fed us and helped us in many ways. The main points being that she gave us life and a body. Reflecting on this great kindness shown to us by our mother we generate compassion for her. Then gradually we generate compassion for our brothers and sisters. After some time we can also generate compassion for beings we feel neutral towards and even our enemies. Finally one can train in generating compassion for all sentient beings. The reason we do this is because all beings have at one point been our mother. The Buddha taught that Samsara is without beginning or end. So because beings go round and round in Samsara they have all, at some point, had the connection with us of being our mother. We should try to perceive all the sentient beings as being the same as our mother of this lifetime. Apart from the fact that your mothers of previous lives are far away from you and your present mother is near to you, there is no difference. If one is able to meditate that all beings are our mothers and have compassion for them that is called immeasurable compassion. The difference is that to think one's present mother is very kind and to have compassion for her alone is limited. But to regard all sentient beings as one's mother is to have immeasurable, limitless compassion. The other method is to generate compassion for beings that are having great suffering. This could be the suffering of thirst or hunger, or being locked up in jail due to having broken the law. These beings have various kinds of suffering over which they have no control or protection from. Because of their suffering they have become humbled and one generates compassion for them. One starts off by training in compassion for beings who are close to you, then those who you are neutral towards, then ones enemies and finally all sentient beings. The point of all this is that just as you wish to have happiness and not to have suffering, likewise all of the sentient beings have the same wish. This is very important. We all want to have happiness and to avoid suffering. Take yourselves, for example when I said about the person who looks at you and you think they are looking at you with intention to harm you, immediately you feel upset and unhappy. Another person praises you and says you have beautiful body then yo feels happy and we like that. If someone told you that you are fat or bald you wouldn't like it. Generally we don't realise that like ourselves all beings desire happiness and don't want suffering. If we think about this though we are able to generate compassion for these beings that wish for the same as ourselves. When we train in compassion then we have lightness in our body and mind and our mind becomes open and spacious. Also our confidence increases .If our mind is full of anger or jealousy then it becomes smaller and the slightest thing will make us unhappy. Fear and 19
suffering arise and in the end one becomes very lonely. If one has compassion and a mind wishing to help others then one's mind becomes vast and no matter how much things don't go well it doesn't affect or harm one. So we have looked at training in compassion and limitless compassion. What comes next is the Bodhicitta. How do we train in the Bodhicitta? Our wish to have happiness and to avoid suffering is just one persons wish, our own. The other beings that wish for happiness and want to avoid suffering are many. Out of one single person and many beings who is more important? The many are important. If we think that all sentient beings want happiness and not suffering and we wish to bring all beings to the level of Buddhahood then that is what is meant by Bodhicitta, or Bodhicitta mind. If one has compassion then this helps with generating limitless compassion. If one has limitless compassion then that is beneficial for generating the Bodhicitta mind. Now we'll meditate for a few moments on compassion. 1. First relax your body and mind. (short meditation) 2. Now one reflects on how one wishes for happiness and wants to avoid the suffering (short meditation) 3. Now reflect that all the limitless sentient beings have the same wish and desire as oneself to have happiness and to avoid suffering (Short meditation) 4. Now one reflects that sentient beings are ignorant of the ways to obtain happiness. Through ignorance they don't abandon the actions that lead to suffering. One generates compassion for them. Sentient beings don't understand the meaning of emptiness. Because they don't understand emptiness they have grasping for a self when there is no self and this gives rise to much suffering which is unnecessary. (Short Meditation) Now relax again, it's like this, hold this idea of having compassion for sentient beings and thinking that I want to practise to bring all sentient beings to the level of enlightenment, to the level of Buddhahood, for this reason one will practise.
II. The Main Practice of Bodhicitta Training Relative Bodhichitta: 6-7
གཏོང་ལེན་གཉིས་པོ་སྤེལ་མར་སྦྱང༌ ། དེ་གཉིས་རླུང་ལ་བསྐྱོན་པར་བྱ།
6. Sending and taking should be practiced alternately. These two should ride the breath.
If you have this idea in the mind to practise for all sentient beings it will give birth in your mind to Bodhicitta. The important method for training in the generation of compassion is what we call sending and taking. The attitude you have when you do this practise of sending and taking is that whatever positive you have in your stream of consciousness, and that you have generated from Dharma practise or any virtue that you have, you give this away and dedicate it. You dedicate it to all sentient beings as vast as space, thinking may all sentient beings have this positiveness and joy. Then you also think whatever unhappiness that sentient beings have and whatever sickness or suffering that they have you say may that ripen in me. When we say sending, what is meant is that you send out all of your joy and positive virtue and merit to all sentient beings and the taking means you take all the negative suffering and non-virtue from all the sentient beings. When it says these two should ride the breath it means when you are breathing you practise the sending and the taking based on the in and out breaths. If you use the breath as the basis for sending and taking that is the best method to have as a support. How do you do this practise? You start off by breathing naturally through the nose and then along with this breathing in a natural way you visualise that all negativity from sentient beings, all of their suffering, all of their impurities and obscurations comes to your nostrils in the form of smoke which is like incense smoke. It is dark and heavy and it comes into the nostrils and dissolves into one's heart. Then you think that all of the sentient beings' suffering, obscurations and defilements have been completely dissolved into yourself and they have become free of them. Then you breathe out. On the out breath you visualises a white light which embodies all of your positiveness brought about by your Dharma practice. In meditation all of your virtuous karma, all of your happiness and joy and this very bright shining white light come out and dissolves into all sentient beings. Then you think that sentient beings have obtained all of your happiness, joy and good karma, everything good. You think all the sentient beings have obtained this. You think all sentient beings have obtained the level of Buddhahood, do you think you could do it? Do you think it is difficult? If you think purely of your own happiness, wanting only yourself to be happy and free of suffering, you won't achieve the supreme happiness because you are being selfish. But if you think "may all sentient beings have happiness and joy in their minds", then in your own mind you will achieve the supreme happiness and joy. Because of that attitude our own defilements and obscurations are purified. When you are sending out all of your positiveness and good karma and joy and taking in all the negativity, illness, obscurations and defilements from all sentient beings, you might 21
think that you may become a very evil person, a very sick person and have a lot of problems but you shouldn't think like that. The reason it doesn't happen like that is, for example, if our desire is to cause harm to beings and cause suffering towards them then our own suffering and negativity will increase but if we have the opposite mind state and think may all of our positiveness go to all sentient beings and all their positive mind states increase then all our own mind poisons and defilements will immediately be purified and we will obtain real happiness and joy. The main point of this practise of sending and taking is the mind. Generally speaking we are unable to give our positiveness and good karma to others and we can't take the suffering and bad karma from sentient beings. The reason for that is that one's karma is that, its one's own personal karma and you have to experience the effects and results of the causes you have created. Nobody else can experience that but yourself. Other beings they experience the causes and results of the karma they have created. So what is the benefit of sending and taking? The reason for doing this practise is that your own defilements, impurities and obscurations will be purified. Your bad karma will be purified and you will become positive and have joy in the mind and your sickness will be pacified. Eventually because of purifying your defilements you will obtain realisation and then you can really achieve benefit for all sentient beings. At this present time when we are practising this sending and taking technique we are not really able to benefit sentient beings. But eventually through having this wish to benefit beings by this practice of sending and taking when you reache the Bodhisattva levels or the level of Buddhahood then you are really able to be of benefit to limitless beings. Whether we can reach the level of Buddhahood and really help limitless beings depends on our practise of sending and taking that we do now. Also the practise of generating compassion and making great aspiration prayers to do that in the future. This practise of generating compassion and having loving kindness is said to be the best protection against demons. Milarepa was meditating in a cave in Tibet. In the sky before him he saw a cloud coming and from this cloud came the appearance of his teacher Lord Marpa and on seeing the appearance of his teacher Lord Marpa he became very happy and supplicated to Marpa for his blessing. After this vision of Marpa he went off to collect some wood and generally, when he was collecting wood, he would put it in the bottom of his robes. Because of having done this over a long period of time a lot of tears had appeared in his clothes. Whilst walking along with the wood all of a sudden a big wind came up and almost blew the wood out of his hand, so he held on tightly to the wood. The wind blew again and almost blew the cloth away, so he held more tightly to the cloth. Milarepa thought I have been meditating in a cave on ego-clinging and I still have a little bit of clinging and right at this moment I'm clinging to the wood and so he just let it all drop down. As Milarepa climbed up to his cave the wind became less. When he entered the cave to his surprise there were seven beings there and their bodies were the size of a thumb and they had very big heads, and their eyes were half the size of their heads and they had very long beards and large noses and they were sitting in the cave. They ran all over the cave and one was sitting in Milarepa 's chair and looking through the 22
pages of the texts, one was in the corner of the cave giving the appearance of teaching the Dharma and one was sitting there listening to him. The other couple were running around making noises, looking at Milarepa and making funny faces at him. Milarepa thought , oh there are a lot of them, and he was a little frightened. he thought he had better do something and he prayed to the Buddha, but as he prayed nothing really happened there wasn't much benefit because they were still there making their clucking noises at Milarepa, making faces at him and frowning. Then he thought I better try something else so he visualised himself as a wrathful deity and said wrathful mantras, he said Hung Hung Peh Peh and became a wrathful deity, but the demons multiplied and became more. They became so many they were jumping around and the cave became full of these demon creatures. Milarepa thought, what I can do, what method can I apply here. The idea occurred to him that maybe these creatures were apparitions from the local deity. Maybe I have been here such a long time and haven't made any prayers to the local deity maybe it is upset with me. So he made some nice offerings of wood and sang a song of praise to the local deity saying how nice he was and praising him and what happened was two of the demons disappeared but the others were just as made and crazy as before running around all over the cave. Then Milarepa thought nothing I do seems to help. Then he generated compassion for these beings who did not know the nature of emptiness; they don't know this truth or how to cause benefit for sentient beings. All they can do is cause harm and because of this continuously causing harm to beings they are sowing the seeds of a rebirth in hell. He had great compassion arise in him and he sang another song. Milarepa said in this song everything is fine, whatever you want you can have it, if you want to eat my flesh you can eat it, if you want to drink my blood you can drink it. Anything you do to me is fine. He asked them stay in his house and said he would talk to them. Milarepa sang this song from the doorway of the cave whilst the creatures were running around inside. Milarepa then vanished from the doorway and re-appeared inside the cave. One of the creatures was there shaking and making a lot of noise and the other demons were running around but one by one they dissolved into him and he became very large. Finally the last big remaining demon ran out of the cave. They were not able to harm Milarepa, what was the reason for this? It was because he generated this great compassion. Before Milarepa did not have compassion for them and he had gotten a little bit annoyed with them and they multiplied, but when he generated the compassion they all run off. In the secret Vajrayana practises there are the practises of wrathful deities such as Mahakala Bernachen and so on. These are wrathful yidam deities, but though they appear very wrathful the basis of their appearance is compassion. It is out of great compassion they appear to subdue the beings that can not be subdued by peaceful methods. So to stop these beings from generating negative karma and experiencing the hell realms they manifest a very wrathful form but their nature is that of compassion.
Three Objects, three poisons and the three virtues.
The three objects are pleasing objects, unpleasant objects and neutral objects. Based on these three objects are the three poisons, desire, anger and ignorance. Because of the pleasing objects desire arises. Because of the unpleasant objects anger arises. Because of the neutral objects ignorance arises. If we have practised in the training of Bodhicitta then we can transform these three mind poisons to virtues, it is very important to know that. It is very important because we are not free from the mind poisons. If you think that you can immediately block these or cut them out, you can't. For example, at the moment when we generate great anger we think because of this anger comes great suffering and because of that we wander in Samsara. When anger arises we have to know we are giving rise to anger. We have a wish that in this anger that has arisen in mind may the anger of all sentient beings dissolve into and become one with that. May all of the sentient being's anger be removed. Because all of the anger of sentient beings comes into our anger. Then it's like representing the anger of all sentient beings, you have taken it upon yourself. Then because all of the sentient beings anger has been removed may they reach the level of enlightenment. Based on that wish and aspiration that you have when you have the arising of anger the anger becomes a virtue and the same with desire and pride. Then if you can apply this technique to the mind poisons of anger, jealousy and so on the strength of these mind poisons becomes less and less, isn't that easy? If, for example, there is one enemy and you kill him it's like getting rid of all the sentient being's anger, that’s ok isn't it? So then you have achieved two things you have killed the enemy and turned the anger into a virtue, one also generates virtue so if you cause harm to others its ok! Just joking! If, when the anger arises we apply the thought may all of the anger of the sentient beings dissolve into this, may I take on all the anger of all sentient beings there is great benefit in this it is like a practise. If one gives rise to anger but does not perform any action or activity based on the anger or the wish to harm, then that anger can be transformed into a virtue. You wish that the anger of all sentient beings is contained in your own anger, then that anger in itself becomes the basis for virtue. This is the same for the anger desire jealousy etc all are the same.
The Post Meditation Practice
7. In all activities train with these slogans. Begin the sequence of sending and taking with oneself.
Training in these words or slogans means you say "may all of the sentient beings negativity and bad karma ripen in me and may all my positive and good karma and happiness ripen in sentient beings". Start with yourself in the practice of sending and taking. When I say starting with yourself if you can't immediately take on the suffering of other sentient beings then you think of the suffering its possible you are going to experience in the future. You think that you take that on yourself now and gradually bit by bit you can practise with other sentient beings and have the idea you are taking on the suffering from them. You train your mind in a gradual way. For example if this cup lid were money then you practise the idea of giving to sentient beings by giving from your right hand to your own left hand, starting with the self. Then the left hand gives it to the right hand. Then this is like an example of ones own virtue and happiness. Then you think I am giving all of this to sentient beings but you are giving it to your left hand. Then if one practises like that with oneself it is very beneficial, so you start with oneself and gradually go on to the others.
III. How To Carry the Practice Onto The Path A. The General Practice
1. When the world is filled with evil transfer all mishaps into the path of Bodhi.
All of the negative circumstances and unfortunate events that occur in the world, such as disasters and, for example, for us the sentient beings, we can experience so many forms of sufferings and unpleasant circumstances and harm from others. All of these one has to transform into friends or helpers on the path. There are three methods of training: 1. Based on the Relative Bodhicitta 2. Based on the Ultimate Bodhicitta 3. A particular training.
The Relative Bodhicitta
2. Drive all blames into oneself.
The first is drive all blames into oneself, this is based on the Relative Bodhicitta. For example all of one's illness and suffering caused by others, if someone says to you oh you didn’t accomplish this, you are a bad person or people saying bad things to you. At that time when people are saying this to you what do you do? Most people at that moment will think I am fine it is that person who is wrong, they are at fault, I am ok. Along with that can arise great anger, many unpleasant feelings in the mind and fear. You can't accept people telling you these things about yourself. If another person has some kind of difference about you or says something wrong even if it is a very small thing then one has great suffering. The main point one has to remember at this moment is that one is experiencing the result of one's previous karma. You need to think the suffering I have got and the problems I have are due to my ego grasping, I am grasping to myself, because of this and due to my previous karma I am experiencing these difficulties. What I am experiencing now is the fruition of my previous actions based on pride, anger, and jealousy. I created the negative causes and I am experiencing the results or the fruit of my actions. You also have not understood the meaning of emptiness. You cling to the self and the solidity of your body, thinking that you are flesh and blood and bone. If you understood and realised emptiness then you would be like an illusory body, you would not have this flesh and blood body and so then you could not be burnt by fire or harmed by any of the elements or enemies.
3. Contemplate the great kindness of everyone.
When we want to practise patience we need someone who makes us angry, if we don’t have someone who makes us angry then how can we practise patience? If we lock ourselves up in a nice house and eat nice food and sit in a nice room and think I am meditating on patience your not really are you. There was a great lama in Tibet called Patrul Rinpoche and he had a student who thought that he had perfected patience. He thought I have got a very profound and very good realisation of patience and I am very accomplished with this. Nothing can make me angry I am completely relaxed This disciple went to a place called Katok and in this place was a big white Stupa and with his Zen over his head he meditated on great patience. Then his teacher, the great Patrul Rinpoche, came in disguise looking quite different wearing different clothes and walked round and round this student who was rocking backwards and forwards thinking about patience. The student was wrapped up in his Zen and not thinking about this strange person walking round and round him, he was just meditating on patience. Patrul Rinpoche leant towards the student and said can I ask you what you are meditating and practising on? The student said oh I am meditating on compassion and patience then Patrul Rinpoche walked around the student and when he had walked around he asked a second time can you tell me what you are practising and meditating on? The student said I am meditating on loving kindness and compassion. Then Patrul Rinpoche walked around another time and again asked please tell me what it is you are practising. Then the student very loudly said I am practising loving kindness and compassion! And the student got very angry and annoyed with this old man asking him so many times. Patrul Rinpoche was quite surprised, and when the student really looked at this old man he realised that this was Patrul Rinpoche his own teacher. The teacher said to the student oh your compassion is like that is it? Then the student was full of regret and thought yes, I have to think about this now and then gradually later on he really did achieve a good understanding of loving kindness, compassion and patience. In relation to practise, generally we say that the kindness of the Buddha and sentient beings is the same. The sentient beings are what we base our practice of Bodhicitta on. If there were no sentient beings then we would not be able to practice Bodhicitta. Generally all one's practise is based on giving benefit to sentient beings and helping sentient beings, bringing them to enlightenment. If there are no sentient beings we have nothing to base our practise on. If we have them and they cause us to give rise to anger then we can practise loving kindness and compassion and practise the patience with them. Without them we can't hope to practise the loving kindness and compassion. Based on that the people who cause us harm and want to cause us unhappiness are very kind to us and are very beneficial for us. For example, if you have a perfect environment in a house, a beautiful room and nice food and you meditate there for a month on patience, loving kindness and compassion. Then one day you go out into the street and meets someone who is angry and aggressive towards you, in that moment if you practice compassion and loving kindness that is much more beneficial than the month in retreat. The sentient beings that cause harm to us and make us angry they are very kind to us, as 27
kind as the Buddha.
The Ultimate Bodhicitta
4. Regarding confusion as the four kayas is unsurpassable shunyata protection.
As I have previously explained all phenomena is emptiness. Now, for example, a person is angry with us and causes us harm, or we have a lot of fear or suffering, that kind of thing. At that moment if we understand emptiness, we think that the anger that this person is showing to us is emptiness and the person who is experiencing the emotion of fear, myself is also emptiness. Also the fear itself is emptiness, so the three, the person who is causing harm, the person who experiences the fear, and the fear itself are all emptiness. So who is giving whom the suffering? Who does one have to be afraid of? You don’t need it, everything is emptiness, it is like an illusion or dream, and it's not real. The enemy in our dream who hits us or causes us harm, it doesn’t hurt us really does it? It's not real. This is the same. Then also with fear, a person who has fear, the person trying to scare you or the fear itself all these three are emptiness too, so one doesn’t have to have fear. Then you think all of these are emptiness so I will relax. So for a short moment the anger, the jealousy, the fear, they are all pacified. Then again they come up! Then again one realises that the object, the enemy, oneself and the anger are emptiness and again one pacifies these emotions for a short time, maybe half a minute. Then again they arise so one does it again and again, this process of realising the emptiness then pacifying, then, the emotion arising again. Then after some time the strength of the anger becomes less and less. Eventually what happens is that as the anger arises at that moment realisation of the emptiness naturally arises with it. Then the anger itself is beneficial for realising emptiness. Then the suffering is of benefit to realising the emptiness, the fear in ones mind is also beneficial for the realisation of the emptiness. Then everything is like a friend, so nothing can harm you. Sickness can also be beneficial. When you are sick or ill you think may all of the illness of the sentient beings dissolve into my illness. I take onto myself on behalf of all of the sentient beings their sickness and illness, may they be free of illness. At that moment it is the cause of generating great virtue and will be very beneficial for you. What are the four kayas? All phenomena are emptiness this is what we call the Dharmakaya. All the appearances have the nature of clarity, we can perceive them, and this is called the Samboghakaya. The appearances such as the watch or table that we see this is called the Nirmanakaya. So, appearing but being emptiness and being emptiness but appearing, the union of these two that is called the Sambhogakaya. But all of these are the same; they have the same essence. The three kayas having identical nature we call the Essence kaya so these are the four kayas. All of the Buddhas are contained in these four kayas. There is not a Buddha who does not relate to these four kayas. Then all phenomena are the four kayas. If we understand this then it is called the realisation of all phenomena or existence as the Dharmakaya. When we talk about all phenomena is like the Dharmakaya we are not saying that all phenomena is like a rainbow 29
or light we are not saying that. But if we understand the essence, it is emptiness. If everything is the nature of Dharmakaya there is no reason for one being to be angry towards another being; it's not necessary. That is the training of the ultimate Bodhicitta. What comes now is the special methods.
III. How To Carry the Practice Onto The Path B. The Special Application Of The Teaching: 5
5. The four practises are the best method.
The four practices are: 1. The accumulation of virtue 2. Confessing negative actions 3. Offering torma to the demons 4. Offering tormas to the protectors and the dakinis. The first activity is accumulating virtue. This means making offerings to beings that are higher than oneself, the Buddhas the deities, and to the beings that are below one, practising generosity towards them. Also making prostrations, offering mandalas and so on. After that is making supplication We pray to the Buddha and the three jewels, if it is better for me to be ill may I be ill, if it is better for to die may I die. Whatever is best may that happen. We pray for the blessing so that whatever is beneficial to remove our ego clinging and all of the mind poisons whatever is best to accomplish that may that happen. The second practice is the confession of negative actions. We use four powers to accomplish this. The first power is that of regret, thinking this negative action I have committed is not beneficial, the second power is having an object for one's confession such as Dorje Sempa and meditating that the deities are pure and one is making a confession to this deity. The third power is relying on the practice accumulating virtue. The fourth power making a commitment that one will never commit this action in the future. The third of these four activities is giving torma offerings or making offerings to the demons and obstacle makers. You think up until now you demons have created many obstacles and suffering for me and this is a great kindness, thank you very much. Please give me some more suffering and problems please. The reason for this is to purify me of ego clinging. If you can do that then it is really good. If you have that mind state nothing can harm you, but if you think maybe that is not very good, maybe they can harm me then the suffering will increase and increase. You think maybe they can hurt me, I'm not sure of they can hurt me or not. If you have hope and fear then they will definitely be able to hurt you. The main cause of the demons being able to cause harm to us is having this hope and fear. If you do not have hope and fear they can't cause harm to you. You say to the demons here is this torma this offering to you and as much harm and suffering and problems you can give to me to rid me of the ego clinging then please let that happen. If you are not able to have this strong idea of bringing as many problems to oneself, if you aren't able to do that then while knowing that the demons can't harm you, you think I give you this torma, this offering, and please do not make any obstacle for the Dharma activity I wish to accomplish. Then you practise with loving kindness and compassion. And the fourth activity is offering tormas to the Dharma protectors. You pray to the Dharma 31
protectors, here is this offering for you, please remove all the obstacles and bad circumstances that prevent the accomplishment of my Dharma practise. If it is better for me to be ill let me be ill, if its better for me to recover let me recover whatever is the most beneficial to rid me of the ego clinging may that happen.
Q. When we do this about not being afraid of the hurt when I have been hurt in the past now I have fear and what you said last night, nice idea, but I don’t know how to do it. A. The main point is to generate compassion. You think, whoever is causing me harm whether it is a demon or a person like me then they are the same as me, they want happiness and they don’t want suffering, exactly like I am. So you think if it’s a person who is causing you problems or suffering then you think that person is under the influence of the mind poisons anger and so on. Without freedom they are totally under the influence of the mind poisons so they are not happy. Then through the activity of acting out the mind poisons they actually cause harm to others so they actually create the cause to experience the lower realms in the future. Then you think because of that these beings are going to experience great suffering in the future and you have compassion for them. If it's a demon then they will never be happy they don’t have the causes to be happy they have no freedom. They have to cause harm to other beings so demon's nature is that they often have suffering and happiness and they die and are revived again and they have very great suffering. But the demons are the same as us they want happiness and to be free from suffering. To put it briefly then all creatures or people that cause harm to us, they don’t know how to create the cause to experience happiness and they continually create the cause to experience more suffering and they can't accomplish their own wishes. What they don’t want they experience that. If we can generate this compassion thinking at some point in the past they were like our mother and if you can generate compassion for these beings then it can help and you don’t have to have fear. If you have compassion no demon can cause you any harm. Also you can mediate on emptiness, the demon is emptiness the harm is emptiness and I am emptiness. Then in the emptiness who is causing who harm, you can't burn the space can you? It’s the same. If you meditate on compassion and emptiness there is nothing better than that. My father, the late Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, had one friend who was a practitioner of Chod and this practitioner was in quite a high place, in upper Tibet, he was doing pilgrimage. One day he came to a small village. The villagers came to this lama and said will you stay with us for a little bit, there is a very nice valley with some very nice land and you can stay and do a short retreat there. The lama said oh that would be very nice. They accompanied the lama up the hill a little way then they left him there and gave him lots of tsampa or barley meal then they left him there. The lama was practising the Chod and playing his instruments and meditating when he heard a noise at nighttime. It seemed to be quite far off but then gradually the sound came closer and got louder. Then the earth began to shake. He was thinking what is going on here with all this noise then all of a sudden a large boulder landed right in front of him. When he looked at the rock it transformed into a 32
great black creature which looked like a man. The black creature said to the Lama you are practising the Chod aren't you. The Lama continued his mediation playing the bell and the drum. He was concentrating so hard on his meditation he began to feel dizzy. Slowly the creature grabbed him by the throat. The Lama tried to pray to the deity and to the Buddha but nothing seemed to help. Then the hands got tighter and he was unable to breathe and was almost dead. Even though he was half dead he thought this is demon probably going to kill me and he has probably killed lots of other beings and he will reap the result of his actions and have a very negative rebirth. He generated compassion for this being as he did the hands became less tight and relaxed around his throat. Then at the end he let go of the throat. The demon like creature said there have been lots of practitioners of the Chod in this place and I have ate them all but I am not able to kill and eat you, what is going on. The lama replied that this is because I had the strength of the compassion. The demon said to him that is true and whatever you have got to say to me I will listen to that. The Lama made a stone wall around the demon, quite a big wall, and he said to the demon you are not allowed to step outside the perimeter of this wall and cause harm to sentient beings. Then later on this demon creature dissolved into the rock. This is a real experience, something which really happened. Because of that if you practise compassion nothing can harm you. Q. When practising the tonglen I had the experience of something undermining me in my practise saying you haven't got enough goodness and virtue to give out to compensate for all the bad that you are trying to take in. The only way I could overcome this was by thinking even just by breathing out and breathing in the bad that is enough virtue to carry me through in the practise. Firstly would Rinpoche say whether that is ok and secondly his advice on how to overcome those sort of doubts which arise in the mind. A. You don’t have to have this doubt or lack of confidence in the practise because you have Buddha nature don’t you? So then you have enough positiveness, you have a well of positiveness to send out to all sentient beings and you feel you send out all of your positiveness on the basis that you have Buddha nature. Of course this is enough and you have the wish that all sentient beings get this benefit from you, don’t have a doubt about it. At the moment when one is practising you can't really benefit the sentient beings but it is a preparation of really being of benefit in the future. Q. Why, if we all have the Buddha nature do so many beings in the world cause harm to others and make wars? A. The reason is that the majority of sentient beings do not recognise that they have Buddha nature. Because they do not recognise that, they create harm for sentient beings. This is due to ignorance. What we are studying are the seven points of mind training. In general when one listens to Dharma teachings as I said yesterday one should have a relaxed mind, without hope and fear. In this relaxed way one should listen to the teachings. Hope and fear is thinking that one is listening to the Dharma and worrying whether it will benefit one or not. It has to benefit me. Maybe next month I may be enlightened and if I'm not that is not good. This hope and fear doesn't just apply to listening to Dharma, it can come up when one is doing any kind of worldly activity as well. For example if one is a business person one 33
wants to have a very good business and if it's not going well that will never do. Wanting to definitely have good business and having this kind of expectation is not good. Generally we can only do business to the best of our abilities and no more. Sometimes it goes well and at other times not so well. It is not certain. If one has a lot of grasping to good business, if things don't go so well one will have a lot of suffering. Another example is if one is studying. I have to study very hard and do well in the exam. If you have a very tight mind then one will forget what one has learnt and not do well. Also driving a car, if one has a tight mind the car will go the opposite way that you want to go and you may bump into someone else. Out of the seven points we have covered the first three, the preliminaries, main Bodhicitta training, and part of transforming negative circumstances into the path.
III. How To Carry the Practice Onto The Path B. The Special Application Of The Teaching: 6
6. To Bring Unexpected Circumstances To The Path, Whatever you meet with meditation.
So what is it we are training in here? It is the Bodhicitta training. When one is doing this training then whatever arises on the path, negative or positive, one transforms everything into our friend or helper on the path, For example if we have illness and suffering this is good. Generally if we have enemies we should respect them. The reason for this is if there is someone who is learned and clever, if they have enemies they will improve. Even if one is not a Dharma practitioner, if one is an ordinary person, if one has enemies it is beneficial and one's wisdom can increase. If one was to never meet unfortunate circumstances or enemies and things were always comfortable one would never have the opportunity to practice patience, tolerance and so on. If we encounter enemies then we have a situation where we can accumulate merit. We can train in Bodhicitta, generate compassion and practice patience. Our qualities will increase due to our enemies Some people think enemies are not good, they have a harmful intent towards us. I cannot respect them. Because that person has ill will towards me and wishes me harm I cannot show them any love. The people who say nice things one will feel like giving them love, as we prefer to hear nice things. I have to like this person. Generally the majority of us like to have happiness. But happiness doesn't like us. Happiness doesn't think you are nice does it? Emptiness doesn't like us. Emptiness doesn't say it likes us. As practitioners though we say we like emptiness don't we? We like happiness. We like the loving kindness and compassion, but they don't say they like us do they? The enemies don't like us. Why do we label them enemy? It's because we think they have ill will towards us. If they didn't have ill will we wouldn't call them enemy. Because of the harmful intent we call someone enemy. If that person does cause harm to us it is beneficial as we can practice patience .If one has no object to have patience with then our patience will not increase. If we have no object to have loving kindness and compassion for then they also will not increase. We don't have any loving kindness for compassion for a stone, or for the space. Are you able to meditate like that? Can you have compassion for the space? The space has a lot of suffering. We need to take the space to the level of enlightenment. We can't think like that can we? We need an object don't we? an enemy is a good object isn't it? If you remember the student of Patrul Rinpoche from yesterdays story. He was sitting in the sun thinking he was meditating on loving kindness but he wasn't really was he? Unfortunate circumstances enemies and difficulties are good for our practice as when we encounter them if we can train in Bodhicitta at that moment we can purify aeons of negative karma. If one is a Bodhisattva one likes enemies and rejoices whenever one meets them. We like our mother and when we see her we become really happy. It's like that for the Bodhisattva when he sees an enemy. The enemy gives the Bodhisattva great joy and he has no suffering. If we see an enemy we become quite sad. If you think that now the enemy is here and he will harm me and I 35
will have suffering. If you think that way then one will really experience suffering. What we call joy and happiness does not depend on an external object. For us we see the enemy as a source of suffering and unhappiness. The Bodhisattva rejoices when he sees an enemy. So the happiness or suffering do not depend on the enemy, but on our attitude. Food also is not the source of happiness. If I'm really hungry and I eat a lot of food I feel happy. But if I continue to eat then after some time I will feel sick and my stomach will become bigger and the food that was so nice before makes me feel ill just looking at it. If food really were a source of happiness then the more I ate the happier I would become. Food does not give happiness; it comes from one's own mind. We would all agree that a diamond is a very beautiful and precious thing, If we had one the size of the top of my thumb we'd be very happy. But dust and bits of gravel we never like them. They hurt our feet and we sweep them out of the house. If the whole world was made of diamond and there was no dust or bits of gravel, if the world was like that, then dust and bits of gravel would be perceived as very expensive and precious. When we saw some dust or gravel we would be really happy, and maybe put in on our shrine. Maybe we would sell it in a shop for a lot of money. If a bit of diamond were in our house we'd think how dirty and sweep it outside immediately. We wouldn't like the diamond, even if it were vary small, it would make us angry. At the moment a small diamond would cause us to be happy, but if it were the other way around it would cause us to be unhappy. It all depends on one's mind, all made by one's mind. This is the first level of wisdom. The second level is emptiness. As explained yesterday, everything is emptiness, the diamond is emptiness and the dust and gravel are emptiness. When we say emptiness we don't mean that there is nothing at all. What is meant is that though nothing is real, anything can arise. If we become ill we pray that we take on all of the sickness of all the sentient beings, on behalf of them may their entire illness manifest in mine, and may they be free of illness. Then your own illness transforms into a way of purifying vast amounts of negative karma and it becomes very beneficial for you. One's qualities will increase. Also if one has an enemy one thinks that may the enemies of all the sentient beings be joined in this one enemy and may they never have to experience an enemy again. This will purify one's karma. If one has negative thought such as anger, wrong view one thinks that may all the negative thoughts of all beings come into my thought and may they never experience such thoughts again. Further if due to our ignorance we perform some unwholesome activity we think that may the unwholesome activities of all beings be contained in this activity. May they never commit such activity again. This is a very powerful way to purify one's negative karma. Whatever one does one can transform it with this method. The main cause of experiencing suffering is the mental attitude one has towards things. Oh this is going to harm me; I am going to suffer now. Without this attitude we would be happy all the time. One could get along with everybody. One could stay anywhere and do any activity. One would be happy always. One's mind would be come vast and very powerful.
IV. The Practice Of Mind Training In This Lifetime A. The Five Powers During This Lifetime
How to practice from now before one dies and how to practice at the time of death, there are two topics.
1. The condensed heart instructions are the five strengths; practice them.
What are the five strengths? The first one is determination, the second is familiarisation, and the third is the white seed of virtue. It is a big white seed; we need this big seed. Like a mountain, (I'm just joking). When you translate into English you have to say seed don't you? A long time ago there was a meditator who stayed in a cave meditating. He did not have a very good understanding of anything though. One day he came down from the mountain and he met Sakya Pandita a very erudite and clever lama. Where have you come from the Lama asked? Now the meditator was quite proud and he said I am the great meditator and I have just come down from my cave on the mountain. What is your practice? Asked the Lama. Mahamudra he replied. How is your Mahamudra? It's very big and a yellow colour, better than gold! Sometimes if I meditate very well I can go inside this yellow sphere. But the Mahamudra isn't like that is it? It has no form, colour or shape. Sakya Pandita had great compassion for the meditator. He doesn't know anything but he is so proud, then he shed tears. Then the meditator saw the lama crying and said yes, if you didn't study when you were young you won/t know anything, and to meet someone as clever as me has brought you to tears. Some people who meditate on Mahamudra think that it has form, colour and shape, but it is not like that. The fourth power is repudiation and the fifth power is that of prayer. These are the five powers. The power of determination means that one will practice to the best of my ability. From now until enlightenment I will continually practise and train in Bodhicitta. For example we make a time or schedule to practise the Bodhicitta. Maybe everyday at least 25 times I must remember or be mindful of the Bodhicitta. This is very beneficial. One's mind will become relaxed and open. One keeps this schedule for a week or so then one just relaxes. Then again one thinks now strictly for two weeks I will be mindful of Bodhicitta. As much as one can one does this. If it goes well or no doesn't matter, I will do my best. That is the power of determination. The second power is familiarisation. One reminds oneself that one is practising for the benefit of all the sentient beings and one keeps reminding oneself so it becomes one's habit. There was a very great Lama in Tibet who was teaching his four-year old cousin the Tibetan alphabet Ka, kha, ga, nga. The small boy forgot what was next and the lama said ok I want you to think that you are learning the alphabet for the benefit of all sentient beings. The small boys heard what the lama said but didn't really take much notice of it or think about it. Later when he was much older he had a good understanding of Bodhicitta. 37
Likewise for us if we remind ourselves often why we are practising and about the Bodhicitta it will be very beneficial. One needs to have mindfulness. If anger or problems arise, they start from something quite small. Like we said yesterday, someone looks at you and one thinks they are looking at you in a funny way and one starts to become angry. At that moment we need mindfulness. Oh this is the start of anger arising, we have a choice at that moment if we have mindfulness and remember Bodhicitta then we can stop the anger right there. It won't increase. That was the second power of familiarisation. The third power is the power of the virtuous action. This refers to all virtuous activities, the ten virtues, generosity, moral conduct and so on. Together with the practise one prays that may the Bodhicitta arise in my stream of consciousness and may it increase more and more. The fourth power is repudiation.What do we have to repudiate or reject? It is the ego clinging which we have to reject. Because of ego clinging we have a lot of hope and fear, so we think that is not good for me to have, I will reject this ego clinging. The fifth power is the power is the power of prayer or aspiration. Whatever practise one performs one prays that through this may I bring all sentient beings to the level of Buddhahood. Also that from now until I achieve enlightenment may I never be separate from the Bodhicitta. Whatever negative circumstances may arise may they become friends on my Dharma path. That is the practice for one's lifetime.
B. The Five Powers At The Moment Of Death
2. The Mahayana instructions for ejection of consciousness at the time of death is the five strengths: how you conduct yourself is very important.
At the time of death, in this text this is the Mahayana method of Powa, or ejection of consciousness that is being referred to here, not the Vajrayana method. First when one realises that one is dying one collects all of one's possessions and offers them as a mandala offering to one's Guru. This is called the power of the virtuous seed. If we have grasping for our possessions then at the time of death they become an obstacle for us so we should have no attachment for our possessions. We think in our mind that all of the merit I have accumulated in my lifetime I dedicate it all to the sentient beings so they will reach the level of Buddhahood. May it happen like this. This is the second power, that of prayer or aspiration. After that we think now I am dying and the cause of my dying is the ego clinging, if I didn't have ego clinging I would not experience death. The reason for this is that birth and death are just projections of one's mind. In reality both birth and death are emptiness. If I realise that I would not need to be born or to die. The Buddha ultimately did not experience birth or death. He only performed these activities to show the sentient beings. Also when Milarepa died, the day after he was seen to be teaching in another part of Tibet. Birth and death do not have any true reality. They arise because of our ego clinging. So this third power of rejection or repudiation is that we reject the ego clinging. The fourth power is that of determination. One wishes very strongly and with great determination may I not be separate from the Bodhicitta even when I am in the Bardo or intermediate, after Death State. The fifth power of prayer is that when one is dying one meditates or visualises the Bodhicitta and pray that one will continue to have the Bodhicitta mind in one's consciousness. When one is dying if one can sit up straight in meditation posture that is very good. If one cannot do that then one can lay down on the right side. With the ring finger of the right hand one closes the right nostril. If one cannot lay down on the right side then lay however is comfortable. The main thing to remember at this time is the sending and taking practise. When one breathes out one visualises white light that goes out to all the sentient beings and sends them all of one's good karma and everything positive. One prays that all the beings experience happiness. On the in-breath one visualises black smoke that contains all of the sickness and bad karma and whatever negative the sentient beings have and this dissolves in your heart centre. One prays that may all the beings be free of suffering. Now I have taken away all the sufferings of the body, speech and mind of all sentient beings. With a relaxed mind one has joy because one has taken away all their suffering. If one can do this two or three times it is very beneficial. Finally one reminds oneself that birth and death are emptiness 39
and do not have any true reality. With this in mind and being relaxed then one dies. This is extremely beneficial to do at the moment of death. If one can do this it is possible that one gains liberation at the time of death. That is the fourth of the seven points completed.
V. Evaluation Of Mind Training A. Clinging To A Self As A Measure
1. All dharma agree at one point.
This means that the Buddha taught in a variety of ways, the three vehicles and so on. All of the teachings though are for the purpose of reducing or lessening the ego clinging. If one follows a path that gives one clairvoyance and other powers, but increases ego clinging then that is not of benefit and is a mistaken path.
B. Relying on Yourself as a Measure of Mind Training
2. Of the two witnesses hold the principal one.
One witness is oneself, and the other witness is other people. The others are a witness because they compliment one and say nice things about you. Oh you are a great practitioner and you are so clever. Hearing this kind of speech from others can be a source of pride so it is not really very helpful. This type of witness is not a perfect witness, not to be relied upon as sometimes people just say nice things to one and not mean it. The second witness is oneself. If one can examine oneself and not be ashamed of one's actions, then that is the best type of witness.
C. State of Mind as a Measure of Mind Training
3. Continuously rely on only a happy mind.
If one can have a happy and open mind even if one is experiencing difficulties then this is the sign of the Lojong or mind training. If enemies were to appear one would have confidence and still be happy.
If this can be done even when distracted, you are proficient.
Even if one is distracted, one can still practice.We need to train in this. If we are distracted or not we still have the Bodhicitta. If, for example we are not particularly thinking about mind training and an enemy appeared, if at that time we naturally give rise to the Bodhicitta that is the best sign. That was the fifth of the seven points and now we have the sixth.
VI. The Commitments of the Mind Training A. Three General Principles
1. Always abide by the three basic principles.
The first one is not to break the promises one has made in the mind training. The second one is not to behave in an outrageous way, and the third one is to avoid being one-sided The first one related to breaking promises made in the mind training. An example of this is if we see a person who we don't like and we think even if in the future I can help you I will not do so. If we have that attitude it is said that we have broken our promise. If we have an enemy who hurts us and we become angry with them. If we think in spite of this present harm I will one day bring you to the level of Buddhahood, then that is good. Now I am going to hit you all! Later I will take you all to enlightenment, but now I'm going to hit you. If you all hit me that's ok, (just joking). When I said that you could all hit me that was a joke, but when I said I was going to hit you that was real. Is that ok? One may think that now I am practising the mind training and I'm a Bodhisattva. Now other people will praise me and respect me. Now I'm a Bodhisattva and I can do anything I want, thinking this one may do things that upset people. But one is only really able to do things on the level one is at. For example, with generosity if one can only give £1 then one does it. If you are unable to give £100 then one can't. If you have a very high experience and realisation of emptiness and have an illusory body then one can give away one's flesh to whoever needs it. If one doesn't have such a realisation then one cannot give away one's flesh.Some people think they have a very great understanding and that their view is higher than anyone else. This is said to be an obstacle on one's Dharma path. When we see our family and friends we treat them very nicely and say pleasant things to them. If we see our enemies we are not so pleasant. If we see demons we say wrathful mantras like Hung! Hung! Peh! Peh! If we have an attitude of compassion it is permissible to manifest as a wrathful deity. Such as Mahakala when one draws in the consciousness of the harm doers, these beings who can only be tamed by wrathful means. It is all right to do this. If there is a person who harms a lot of beings it is permissible to argue with him and fight him. The reason being that out of compassion I prevent him from harming others and himself by making him stop his harmful activity. This person doesn't create any more bad karma and so if one's actions are based in compassion it is ok to argue and fight with him. One manifests anger towards this person not out of fear but compassion. If one has a lot of compassion then one does not experience hope and fear. One is never fearful. I will leave the text for today and tell you a story. A very nice story. In India a long time after the Buddha had passed away and his teachings had declined somewhat. There was a lady lay practitioner who thought now the Buddhas teaching are in decline I must do something to help the teachings. Now the lady wasn't very learned or experienced so she thought what can I do? If I have to sons then they can study and learn the Dharma and be of benefit to beings and spread the teachings. Some time later she gave birth to two sons. 42
Now she thought nowadays in India there is both the Hinayana and Mahayana teachings so she sent the younger son to study the Hinayana and the elder son to study the Mahayana. The elder son studied the Mahayana but he wasn't too clever so he didn't understand much. He thought if I pray to Lord Maitreya and I meet him face to face I would ask him to teach me the Dharma. He went off to the jungle and meditated in a cave onLord Maitreya. He wanted to have a vision of Lord Maitreya. He practised for six years without any good signs or dreams. So one day he thought I can't do this I may as well leave the jungle. On his way he came across a man who was at the bottom of a mountain rubbing a big rock with a soft cloth. "What are you trying to do with this rock what are you trying to achieve?" The man said "well my house is at the bottom of this mountain and the mountain is in the way of the sunlight and I don’t get any sunlight so I want to get rid of the mountain". He wanted to destroy the mountain and take it away. So then the older son says to this man "you are just one person how can you expect to take it away" and he replied " well if you have got diligence then you can accomplish anything". Then the older boy thought this man must have great diligence, but its all for a meaningless thing he is just going to take away the mountain. I've been practising hard for six years maybe I just don’t have as much diligence but I've been trying to practise this very good thing and I don’t have as much diligence as this old man has. So then he went back to his cave in the mountains and meditated for a further three years. Again nothing happened, no signs, he didn’t have any positive dreams so then again he thought I am not going to be able to realise this practise of the lord Maitreya so he abandoned his cave again and went off walking. He went walking for many months then he came to a village and there was a man sitting there with a big iron bar and he was wiping the bar with a soft cloth. This man was working from early morning to late at night and was polishing this iron bar with the cloth. The boy said to him "what are you doing?" He said "in this area we never get any needles so I'm making a sewing needle". So he was working very strongly wiping this big iron bar with a soft cloth. The boy said to him "do you think from that big metal pole you will make a small needle?" The man said "of course I can if I have diligence I can accomplish anything people have done this before they just keep rubbing like this and they get a needle". Then the boy became really embarrassed so then he thought well I really do not have diligence. So he took himself back to his cave and meditated for a further three years. Again he didn’t get any result any good signs, no good dreams then he got mala and threw it away got his text and threw it away and left the cave. Then he went off walking aimlessly but was quite happy though. Then he saw a big rock with a stream running in front of the rock then next to that was a very small path and below the path was a lot of water. Lying down on the path was a dog .The stomach of the dog was ripped open and full of sores and there were many maggots eating in the sores. When the boy approached the dog the dog wanted to bite him. Then the dog was lying across the path and was completely blocking the way, his legs were hanging over and his stomach was moving around with all of the maggots. The boy generated great compassion for the dog then he thought that dog is experiencing so much pain and suffering and although he is experiencing all of this pain and suffering because of his anger or negative mind he is trying to bite me. He doesn’t know anything else he is under the power of these emotions and the pain so he thought I must try to help 43
this poor dog. Then he thought if I was very gentle and quite slow maybe I could remove some of the maggots from the wounds of the dog. But he thought if I grab the maggots with my fingers maybe they will die too. So he was thinking how he could help this dog. He couldn’t think of anything to do so he thought maybe he would go away but he could not just leave the dog there because of this great compassion he had so he started to cry. Then he thought I have an idea I will bend down close to the dog and I will get my tongue to lick the maggots away from the wound so he went down towards the dog with his tongue to lick the maggots away and the wounds had a very terrible smell then when he got close to the wounds and smelt them he was unable to put his tongue out so he was thinking what to do. I will close my eyes and hold my nose and just lick the maggots out so he went closer and closer with his tongue out until his tongue touched the ground. When he opened his eyes there was no dog there, instead in front of him in the sky was the lord Maitreya. He was really surprised and happy. Then he said to lord Maitreya "I have been practising you for twelve years now wanting to see you face to face and you have never shown your face to me before I don’t think you have any compassion! I think you are really bad" so then he said this and then the Buddha Maitreya smiled back very nicely to him. (If Maitreya hadn't smiled at him maybe the boy would have hit the Buddha -Just joking) Then the Buddha Maitreya replied to the boy "when you first began your retreat I was there with you I was never separate from you but you were unable to see me because your mind was obscured by the defilements so you were unable to see me. Then after your twelve years of practising your defilements were somewhat purified so you were able to see me in the form of the dog. But when you generated great compassion for the suffering of the dog it purified all the remaining obscurations you had in your mind and then you were able to see me and that is because of the power of your compassion". Then the Buddha Maitreya said to him "maybe you don’t have trust in what I say, maybe you don’t believe me but I want to sit on your right shoulder, we will go to town and you ask everybody you see what's on my right shoulder". So then the boy went to town and asked everybody "what have I got on my right shoulder?" Then the people in the village thought he was a crazy monk they couldn’t see anything on his right shoulder. Then he went from one side of town to the other and was almost outside of the town limits and there was a very old lady there who covered up her mouth with a shawl and said "oh you have got a stinking corpse of a dog on your shoulder and if you keep it close to you you'll catch maggots in your face you should throw it away immediately!" The reason the old woman could see the dog is because a lot of her obscurations had been purified before and she could see this form of the dog. So in the boys mind great faith and devotion arose for the lord Maitreya. So then the lord Maitreya taught him five great teachings and then later on the young man toured around India teaching these five great teachings. So in the end it all worked out fine. Then at the time when he was practising he didn’t have limitless compassion but he had compassion for what he perceived as the sick dog and it was this that purified his defilements. So then if one has this Bodhicitta mind and the generation of the limitless compassion then that is the most beneficial thing one can have. What is the most 44
beneficial thing one can have to purify our negative mind states and defilements it is this limitless compassion.
VI. The Commitments of the Mind Training A. Three General Principles Questions
Are there are any questions? Q. What happened to the other boy? A. The younger boy who followed the Hinayana path became a great scholar and a great debater and was very learned. He studied the Abhidharma text which is the study of logic. One day he heard somebody teaching the Mahayana teachings but because he was a follower of the Hinayana path he didn’t have must positive feeling for the Mahayana so his brother was teaching the Mahayana but he didn’t have much faith for it. Then the younger brother said to the older brother (whose name was Togme) "Togme spent twelve years in the jungle and said he was meditating but I don’t think he really meditated I think he spent the time writing books! There is a really big pile of books he has written; there is no meaning to that!" Then one day the elder brother Togme was with a student he was training to memorise two sutras. There were two students memorising the two sutras. Then Togme said to one of the students "in the morning go very early to the home of my younger brother, go behind the hut and recite aloud the sutra". Then he said to the second student "you go the back of the hut and you recite and memorise out loud your sutra there". So then students did what was asked and one went in the morning and one went in the evening. Then the younger brother heard the sutra being recited and he thought to himself there is a lot of meaning in that sutra it is very nice. Then he thought maybe not only did my brother write books but maybe he did do some meditation. So then bit by bit slowly the younger brother went to the older brother's place and they debated the sutras and became quite friendly. These two brothers Togme and Yiknyi they became quite famous in India, so that’s what happened. Q. When Buddha gained enlightenment he was approached by Indra and Brahma to turn the wheel of Dharma, can you tell me why? Because as a child I was told that it was because the gods were jealous. A. Vishnu didn’t have jealousy for the Buddha they offered him the wheel as a symbolic request to turn the wheel of Dharma which meant to teach the Dharma. Brahma blew the conch and Vishnu gave the golden wheel. Q. Rinpoche, Last night we talked about beings who do not have causes for happiness and that we should have feel compassion for them if there are people who are very difficult in life and you can have the generation in the mind that you can see that they have no causes for happiness, despite the fact that they are very difficult, does that have a beneficial effect on that person in as much as even though they have no causes for happiness your positivity can actually help them. A. If they haven't got causes for happiness of course you can have compassion and loving kindness towards them, have this positive mind of helping them and at that moment you can be of some help but not ultimately because they don’t have these causes. But at that particular moment it is very beneficial. There are not any beings that never have any 46
causes it doesn’t happen like that. There is always some cause some causes are very strong and some are weaker but there are always causes. The main cause is that they have the Buddha nature other causes may be that they are wishing for happiness and are trying to avoid suffering, that is also a cause. For the benefit of understanding the Dharma and practising and for causing one to have the power to benefit sentient beings today we are studying the seven points of mind training. Of the seven points of mind training we have completed six of them, those are the teachings on the preliminary, the main practise of Bodhicitta training, transforming bad circumstances on the path, practising in this lifetime, evaluation of mind training and commitments of mind training. Then regarding what was taught yesterday evening if anyone has any questions maybe we can talk about that first. Q. The unborn awareness and Alaya essence and when I looked in the book it said that the Alaya essence is like the eighth consciousness, there are eight consciousness' and the Alaya is the eighth one of them. So my question is if you meditate on the sense organs from the sense organs you go to the sense consciousness do you then go the mind consciousness then the seventh consciousness then the eighth consciousness, then is it like a progressive meditation from one consciousness to the next? A. Within the practise of the shinay meditation there is a practise in regard to the five senses and also the sensations and so on so there is a kind of progression or supports one can use for the shinay. Then when it refers in the text to the Alaya it is not referring to the ground consciousness, which is the eighth consciousness what it is referring to in this text, is the mind's natural clarity. So then what does this mean the natural arising clarity of the mind? What it means is that from that clarity one can know everything there is a knowingness there. So because of that knowingness or awareness one can know all of the different mind states so then all of the different mind states arise from that naturally arising clarity. So then because of that natural arising clarity all of the objects which one perceives outwardly, such as form, taste, smell and so on arise from that, one can perceive them because of that. That is what we call the Alaya or the "all ground consciousness" in regard to the text. Q. So the eighth consciousness is something else? A. We are not talking about the eighth consciousness in this it doesn’t mean that. In this system there are eight consciousness' then it is number eight but we are not referring to that we are talking about the minds natural arising clarity that is what we are referring to in this text. Q. So what is the difference between that and the Alaya? A. In the eighth consciousness is the ground consciousness. In the classification of the eight consciousness then the difference is that the it’s the absence of the other consciousness' which is connected with the other six sense perceptions it is absent of that so there are also two different things that are different about it so there is the afflicted mind, because of having the afflicted consciousness then all of the mind poisons arise from that. Then there is the Alaya or the all ground consciousness. In the ground consciousness is also the not knowing, there is ignorance there so then one doesn’t recognise the object clearly, we are not referring to that consciousness at the moment that is in a different category. What we are referring to in the text is the natural arising clarity of the mind 47
If you don’t understand this in a gradual way later you will know, don’t worry it's not a problem now. Q. Rinpoche last night when you were talking about ego clinging you said that the word should not be recognition it should be more like repudiation. I got a bit confused because then in Jamgon Kongtruls' text the translation mentions surrender rather than rejection I was just wondering if you could clarify that for me. A. The example Rinpoche gives is the same as yesterday in that there is an old man who is surrounded by lots of children and they are constantly teasing him and saying bad things about him. Slowly he getting more and more unhappy and you'll go away so he is not peaceful at all he is quite frightened and tight and he can't relax. So that is what the word "sun" is. I have one book, which says recognition in another book it says to recognise the fault and reject it you have surrender; Rinpoche thinks reject is ok. Q. What if, for example someone is saying" that’s no good you shouldn’t be doing that!" that would be an aspect of compassion how would you distinguish between that and just anger how do you draw the line? The difference is that the mind of the person who appears to be angry but they have a heart of compassion in their mind they are wishing to benefit the other. So if that is really the case if they really have the mind based on loving kindness then they can manifest this wrathful aspect for the benefit of the person if the person is just angry they have the wish to harming the other person, the difference is whether they have the wish to harm the other person or not. Q. So its motivation? A. Yes, motivation. Q. I read in the song on Milarepa that he says devotion and compassion are the same thing so obviously devotion is the higher? A. They are the same from the view of emptiness they are the same that you have a virtuous mind because of them but in the way you practise with them that is different. They are the same in that they give you a virtuous mind and they are the same in the way in which your experiences can arise, you need to look at how the words are in the text. Before and after, don’t look at only one line look at its context.
VI. The Commitments of the Mind Training B. Specific Principles: 2
2. Change your attitude and act naturally.
How we are normally we have this mind set that we are the most important and we want to look after ourselves so because of this mindset of putting ourselves first we have a lot of suffering. So what do we call that? We call it the ego clinging or grasping to the ego. There are two types of ego grasping; there is the grasping to the self the I there is the grasping to my things. The main cause for us wandering in Samsara is both of these grasping to the I and grasping to possessions. Even if we are a normal worldly person if we have this idea of clinging to self or clinging to ones possessions then one also experience a lot of suffering. Me and my things. For example, normally I give examples to explain things. First of all the idea of my things, we need to be introduced to that first. How will I introduce you to that? I am going to use the example of a car. Generally we are using the car, driving along in the car. Normally the person driving the car has great attachment and grasping for the car and thinks it’s a very important and nice thing. How much the person has grasping for the car then their sufferings and grasping for the car will be equal to that. If you have this idea that its my car but you don’t have a very strong grasping to that idea of possessing the car then you won't have too much suffering to it. If you don’t have the idea of this is my car then you won't have any suffering, as soon as one has this grasping for the car this is my car then this is the beginning of the suffering. So if you are a person like me and I like a car. I have a very old car not very good then I think I would like a nice car. Then one day I go to Birmingham City centre just looking not particularly for cars. Walking around town I see a very nice car and I stand staring at the car and thinking what a very nice car I would like that as I am gazing at this car another car approaches from another angle and the two cars collide they are completely smashed. If I had a negative mind, I would think ha ha that was quite nice, quite entertaining. I've seen a really entertaining thing today, I've had a very nice experience today I have achieved my purpose of going to town I have seen something very nice and entertaining. Then if one has a more positive mind state you think what a shame, after seeing this accident I go home. After seeing this accident I go back home and drive my old car but it's not really much use and I don't really get much benefit from it. So then I think a couple of weeks later I'm going back to the city centre and I'm definitely going to look for a new car, I really need to buy a nice car. So again I go off to Birmingham City centre and I think I really must buy a nice car today, so I go to car dealer. When I get to the motor dealers' place in the forecourt I see a car, it's the same car which got smashed up the other day but it's been redone and made up to look really nice but I don't know it's the same car as the other day. I see the car and think it's a really great car. 49
I like the car so much I get the money out and pay for the car immediately. Its exactly 12.00 midday. I have a very happy mind I am thinking I have this great car and I have a great attachment for it. I go off driving the car but the road isn't very good there is lots of gravel on the road. As I am driving along one piece of gravel is thrown up by the wheel and smashes the windscreen. It's almost like having a heart attack; something has smashed my precious car. Actually what happened is that the gravel hit the windscreen with a big noise but I felt like it was my heart breaking the stone hit my heart and my hair stood on end, I got very angry. Then I become very sad and upset. Because of this great grasping for this car I couldn't sleep at night and couldn't eat food. The car I saw two weeks before, the car I like so much now is the same car I saw smashed two weeks before. It's the same car I laughed at when it was smashed, I was able to look at it and think how entertaining it was. Then a short while after 12.00 midday when I bought the car then this piece of gravel jumped up and smashed my own windscreen it was the same as having a piece of gravel hitting my own heart. The car is actually the same car nothing has changed. It is the same car that was in the accident before. So what is the difference between the car that was there before which one was able to laugh about and the car now where the piece of gravel has smashed the windscreen? What has caused so much suffering what is the difference, what has caused that? At 12.00 midday it became MY car and with great grasping this become my car, my possession. At the moment you have this great grasping connected with this idea this is my possession this is my car then the suffering starts to come. Then a minute before 12.00 before I bought the car then whatever happened to it if it got smashed up or whatever then it wouldn't be causing you any problem at all because you wouldn't be thinking or having the thought that's my car. Because of this great gasping to what is mine, what I possess, these are my things. This is the main reason, the main cause for us travelling around in Samsara. How is it we have this grasping to what is mine and to what are my possessions? Because we have the grasping to oneself we have the feeling that we exist that I am this person then because of that we get the grasping to what you think you possess. For example if someone picked up a stone and chased after you and threw it at your head you would cover your head with your hands and think oh that person is throwing a stone at me and is going to hurt me, its going to hit my head so you would have this suffering because of this clinging to oneself as real, as I. Then you have I and my things this is two things. The stone is being thrown at "me", it is going to hit "my" head. The "me" comes first and the "my" comes second. Because of this great grasping to this "I" that you have you get the grasping to other. If one has the "I" and then "other" that is the beginning of the problems and the suffering. Why is this? What are the conflicting emotions they are the five poisons. Or you can say six poisons; they are pride, jealousy, and ignorance, desire anger and greed. Because of one having the grasping to oneself the "I" if gives rise to the "other" and because you are relying on the self and the other this is the start of the five mind poisons. They come out of this grasping to self and other and they rely on self and other, this is 50
where they come from. To give an example of anger, you think that person has caused harm to me or has hurt me, straight away you think I must do something back, give something back to him, say something back to him or hit him that is an example of anger. The first thing is having this feeling of I. He hurt me so I have to do something to him so you are relying on this duality this self and other, because off that this anger can arise. Me and this other person we are the same but I am jealous of him, he is a bit more famous than I am he has a bit more money and everybody seems to like him and you become jealous of him. So then I have to defeat him, whatever he is doing I have to destroy it whatever plan I can find I will have to bring him down a peg or two so maybe being nice and peaceful towards him could be a good method maybe be a bit angry and wrathful to him. Maybe doing something bad in front of him or bad behind him may be better. How am I going to achieve this? We call that jealousy. Because of this thinking of self and other as the same then jealousy can arise because if they change then the jealousy comes from that. Pride is thinking I possess great qualities I have great wealth and he has nothing compared to me, that is pride. Whatever I do is fine I don't have to think of others, we call that pride. So you think yourself as better than other we call that pride. Desire, if you look at an object and think if I could have that then I would be happy if I had that it would be very good that is desire. Ignorance is not knowing that oneself has the nature of emptiness this is the ignorance. Because of this ignorance we don't know the cause of the anger desire etc. Because we experience them we get the problems and the difficulties and the suffering. Then there is stinginess then if you have some money you find it very hard to give to another person you don't want to practise generosity. For example you go the city centre and you see an old man who says please give me some money, you reach into your pocket or bag and take out £100 note and think that's far too much and you put it back into your pocket that is stinginess. Then you try again and bring out another note this time it is £10 and you think that is still too much and you put it back. Then finally you reach to the bottom of your pocket and you take out a £1 coin or even less and you think, there you are. Then if you really are a stingy person then when you get home you think to yourself oh I gave that guy a pound I should have kept it for myself. If I had £1 I could have used it for many things, I could buy a toothbrush and toothpaste with that! Now I can't buy anything I have given the money away! You would be very upset, but that is the stinginess. As much as we have these emotions the five emotional state coming up it is this much we have the suffering then if you have an angry mind and you think that a person is thinking harmful thoughts about me and I must get him and then afterwards maybe he will try to get me back then you are constantly having the suffering. Then if one has this angry mind you will never be able to defeat your enemies, if you defeat one then two more will come in its place and they will multiply so you will never be able to defeat your enemies. If one has a lot of anger towards others then oneself doesn't have peace in the mind. Then you will eventually perceive that everyone is looking at you angrily and is thinking bad thoughts towards you. Then in the end even your food will look as if it is angry with you and is causing you pain. So you throw it away because you don't like it. Some people when they make food and it doesn't turn out right they get the whole saucepan and they 51
just chuck it away! I have a friend who has a car. He was trying to fix it so he went underneath and when he came up he banged his head on he pedal he became really angry and whatever it was he was holding in his hand he just chucked it at the car! So it was completely ruined, he threw the spanner at the car and the car was bent then he got even more work than he had at the beginning he was thinking that car has hit me now I have to hit it back because he was under the power of his own anger his work became more than he had originally. What was originally one hour's work turned into two days work because of his anger. If we have anger it doesn't cause happiness it only causes problems. All of the different mind poisons are the same so then if we understand the mind poisons are faults we won't give rise to them. If one can lessen one's mind poisons then naturally peace will arise in one's mind and then others will perceive you as someone quite nice and whatever you have to say they will listen to you and they will say nice things about you. This will happen naturally and you won't have to make it happen. Then you won't be angry with your food, or your car and you won't have to work for two days on a car you will finish it in one hour, isn't that good? What does it mean when it says change you attitude. It means change your attitude to the ego clinging that is what we normally have and its very much based on one's own benefit so you have to turn it around so whatever you are thinking and whatever action you are performing is for the benefit of others.Then when one is transforming the attitude you have of the ego clinging to that of helping others, having a positive beneficial mind for others, one doesn't get very proud and think I am practising the Bodhicitta path I am practising to be a Bodhisattva. You don't have to show your ability. For example someone is looking at me and I have to show them that I am doing very well rather you do it in a very natural way and have humility with it, you don't have to show off that you are practising the Bodhicitta training.
VI. The Commitments of the Mind Training B. Specific Principles: 3-16
3. Don't talk about other's weaknesses.
If someone has something wrong with their eyes, you don't point it out by saying "look at your eyes, maybe you are blind!" or "you are so fat, you're just like a pig!" Some people are stupid, but you don't point it out by saying to them "you are so stupid!" Whenever one is talking speak truthfully, use pleasant words and smile. Also look nicely at the person you are talking with. Don't snap at them "what are you saying? eh?" Some people walk along with their nose in the air, looking down at people with a lot of pride. When others see this person they will instantly take a dislike to him. This is because this person has the sign of a lot of defilements. Some people are very relaxed and people naturally feel drawn to them even though they have not done anything in particular. They will receive help from others. This is the sign of having the mind that is focussed on benefiting others.
4. Don't concern yourself with others' affairs.
This means that you avoid saying things like he has not done the work he should have done. She does not have a very good mind. Avoid pointing out the faults of others. If one has faults oneself you will perceive fault in others. For example, if one is a thief you will think that others are trying to steal from you. If someone came to your house you would think they were coming to steal from you. If when they were talking with you and they looked around the room you would think oh he's looking at my things thinking that he may steal something. But the person is not thinking of stealing at all. It is because you are a thief that you think this way. A lot of things happen like this. Even if one were living with the Shakyamuni Buddha for a long time, eventually you would even perceive the Buddha to have faults. This is our own projection. A long time ago in Tibet there was a woman who had a big nose and a hair-lip. She had a big mouth and was always pointing out others faults. "You are fat like a pig"; "you have a big nose". She talked so much she sounded like a parrot. She didn't understand that she herself also had faults. Now in Tibet they don't have very good mirrors. She met a man one day who gave her the advice that it was not good to point out others faults and that she should look at her own faults. The lady didn't listen to him and replied that others do have faults, and I have to tell them. So one day the man brought along a good mirror and told the lady to look into it. When she looked she saw how her nose and mouth was very badly shaped and she thought I've been telling others about there faults but I have my own. She said to the man what you told me is true. From that time on she didn't say anything about other people and one day the people of her area liked her so much that they made her the head of her region. She had a very capable way of talking.
5. Work on the stronger disturbing emotion first.
This means that if you have a lot of anger then you train with that first, then maybe train with desire. If one has a lot of anger then one uses loving kindness and compassion as an 53
antidote. If one has a lot of desire then you can reflect on impermanence and the nature of Samsara is suffering and change. If one has a lot of ignorance then one should meditate on Emptiness. Generally meditating on Emptiness is very beneficial for all of the mind poisons. If I am not truly existent and the others are not truly existent, who is getting angry with whom? Then there is no need to get angry with anyone. The anger will become pacified, for a minute or so if one is a beginner. Then it will arise again. Then one meditates on emptiness again and the anger will be pacified for a bit longer, then again it will arise. Through the continual practise of meditating on the emptiness like this the strength of the anger will slowly become less and less and one day it will be pacified.
6. Give up all hope for results.
When one is practising the mind training one shouldn't have the idea that one should practise really well and so become famous. Also if one thinks that now I am a great practitioner and go around all inflated with pride that is not good. If there are no qualities inside then there is no meaning to this behaviour. One should think that if others praise you or not it is fine. One does of course have some feeling that you are practising the mind training to free yourself of the faults but don't have a very strong feeling that everything should go well. If things go well or not then that is fine. Sometimes as beginners we might think that we have got a lot of grasping and we think now all my mind training is ruined I can't practise well, or I want people to say nice things about me. One doesn't need to have strong thoughts of hope and fear.
7. Give up poisonous food.
The example is that we have a plate of delicious food and unknown to us there is poison in it. We eat the food without knowing it has been poisoned. Another is that if we practise generosity with the motivation that people will see us and think that you are a very good person The intention to benefit beings is not there, though being generous is a virtue, if we have an ego-clinging attitude then it is poisoned. The main point is that the motivation to benefit others should be there, not expectation of praise or fame.
8. Don't rely on consistency.
Generally if someone helps us we think oh he helped me so I should help him in the future. If someone harmed you, you think I will never help him. Giving something with expectation of getting something back. If people hurt or help us we should be the same with them. If someone harms you then don't get angry. If someone helps you have show them loving kindness and compassion.
9. Don't disparage other people.
For example you tell someone to put a cup down and then say "not there! I said put it here!" to shout at somebody over such a meaningless thing as where a cup is placed is not good. If at work someone asks you do some job, you shouldn't shout at them I can't do 54
this get out! If one can't do the work then say so in a pleasant way, "I'm sorry I cannot do this".
10. Don't wait in ambush.
If in one's mind you think that some person harmed you but you are unable to do anything back to them at the moment but you think I will get them back one day. To keep this idea in your mind is like lying in ambush. If you are on a mountain with only one path passing and you see someone coming towards you and when he goes past you you hit him, that is what is meant here.
11. Don't bring things to a painful point.
If there is someone who is normally embarrassed about some fault they have and you shout at them and make reference to that fault, or another example is some people have very low self-confidence if you shout at them and say "you are useless, you can't do anything!" this is bringing things to a painful point. Some people have brothers or other family members that have died. If you say "oh your parents are dead you must be someone with very little merit!" Don't say things like that.
12. Don't transfer the dzo's load to the ox.
The example is a dzo, which is a very strong ox like creature that can carry a lot of baggage. If you have a lot of work and you think oh that person is very stupid if I talk to him nicely I can dump some of my work onto him. To trick somebody like this is what is meant here.
13. Don't aim to be the best.
When people race in cars or on horses then the aim is to win, to be the best. If as practitioners we try to be better than one's fellows and think that one should be the best this is a wrong attitude. This is similar to mixing poison with one's food. If one has this attitude then one's Dharma practice is wasted. Also a worldly person who tries to be better than everybody at the workplace they won't be able to achieve their wishes.
14. Don't act with a hidden motivation.
If we take a medicine to heal oneself and then the medicine turns into poison then that is useless. As Dharma practitioners we practise so that our mind poisons are reduced. If we find that our anger and pride increases then we are not practising correctly. If through pride we think I have a better understanding than anyone else does then this is like have pride as a friend of your practise. In France a lot of people come out of the 3-year retreat. Some of them are very good but one or two are quite proud. Say one person was called Karma before the retreat. When he comes out someone calls out to him "hi Karma". He gets angry and replies "I'm Lama Karma now, not Karma". Some people behave like this. In the 55
3-year retreat ones pride should be lessened, but for some people it is increased. This is due to not practising properly.
15. Don't make a god into a demon.
This is the same, if you don't practise the mind training well and don't understand the real meaning then one's faults and mind poisons can increase. In the retreat if one is thinking all the time I will be a Lama when I come out then one doesn't practise well. When the retreat master comes around one makes a noise like one is practising and when he has gone you go back to daydreaming or sleep. This is not real practise. If one really practises correctly then these kinds of faults will not arise. If you have the correct attitude to mind training then you don't have to worry about these faults.
16. Don't seek others' pain as a component of your own happiness.
An example is a person who is not really practising when they are in retreat and thinks Oh when I get out people will come to me for teachings and if they are ill then I will pray for them and I will receive offerings, it would be good if they were ill. In the East then people will ask a Lama to pray for them and if someone has died the Lama will do Powa for them. So if the person thinks I will profit from others problems and suffering then that is what is meant here.
VI. The Commitments of the Mind Training B. Specific Principles Questions
Q. If someone else's anger effects you is that because you have a weak mind? A. The main point is to look at one's own mistakes. If one has made a mistake then apologise for it. If you find you have done nothing wrong which you need to apologise for then you look at this anger which someone is sending to you and you think, I have done nothing wrong I am in the right here there is nothing I can do about it. So you just look at it like that but don't get involved in it because it is without meaning. In general if you have suffering because of someone else's anger it is because of a little weakness in the mind. Q. if the person is accusing you of something and you know it is not your fault does that mean you shouldn't apologise for it? A. If you haven't done what they are accusing you of then you don't have to apologise. You haven't caused them any harm you should be neutral towards them. The person who is accusing you maybe they will think about it later on and it will become clear to them that they have made a mistake. Q. So just be neutral and not point out their mistake to them? A. If the person says something you can give the reason why you are not saying sorry or why you are not reacting. You don't have to say "I didn't say or do that, you're wrong." You don't have to start off at that level you just talk very gently and give a reasonable answer. You should be peaceful. If the person is screaming in your face you should just be peaceful and smile at them. You don't have to be scared if they are coming at you like a dog about to bite you don't have to be scared of them at all. There is no cause for you to be scared. Then you can just speak truthfully and explain your reason in a very gentle way. If you speak peacefully to them then that person will more easily recognise their fault, they will realise that. Then they will pacify it and be able to let it go. They will be able to see the truth of the matter and they will see that what you said is true. Q. If you notice that you start to become emotionally involved if you start to become angry? A. Then at that moment you have to apply the method of the shiney to that anger and you just have to look at it meditate on emptiness. Look at the anger itself. Then yesterday Rinpoche said when anger arises then this is good, may all the sentient being's anger be dissolved into this may I carry everybody's anger in that. That is one method the second method is using the anger as a support for ones shiney and another method is to look at from the view of emptiness. There are lots of different methods; whatever you do is fine. How are you going to apply this shiney method? So the shiney the Samantha meditation the main point is the mindfulness the awareness. If one has this mindfulness awareness then everything becomes a support for your shiney. Generally when one is doing shiney one relies on the breath and uses this as a support for 57
your practise. The breath becomes the support for your mindfulness, now when your anger arises you this as a support for your practise you replace the breath with the anger as the support. Then you have to have this awareness of the anger when it arises. You have to be one pointed with this awareness. Anger is a feeling so you look at the feeling that is associated with the anger and be one pointed with it. If you can do that and have this one pointed awareness of the feeling of the anger, then the anger itself has become the support for your shiney and mindfulness. So isn't that good. So if you get angry that's fine it can be your friend for the shiney. If you become angry lots of times you have many friends for your shiney. For example you see an enemy and you think I will rush and hit him but then you think "ah I'm angry " and you just look at the anger itself so you just put the one pointed awareness of the anger you won't immediately get rid of the anger but gradually your mindfulness will increase and then your anger will get less. This anger will not appear like it normally appears. Normally when you have anger you don't have any control with it. At that moment if you can look at the anger you can see it's not like the normal anger arising. When the anger arises it won't be out of control. It's the same with pride, jealousy and suffering. You think I'm very bad I've got so much suffering. I'm not a good person this kind of thing. You look at the feeling; you don't look at the object you look at the feeling. You look at the perceiver of the object. You don't look at the enemy you look at the anger itself, you don't look at the object you don't have to block out the enemy completely you can see a little bit but your main focus is the feeling. When you have an angry mind or negative thoughts, the main thing to look at is the perceiver. Don't look at the object, look at the subject. For example with a neutral feeling, I want to go to the city centre I want to look around .At that point you can look at the object, where am I going to? I'm going to the shops. You can also look at the thought itself I want to go to the shops. There are two things you can look at. If you think now I'm going to the Birmingham City centre, immediately one looks at that thought and then one looks at the shops and the various things. Then if you have the mindfulness then all of these things can become a support for your shiney. If one doesn't have the mindfulness then it's just like normal everyday thought. If one has mindfulness then all of the thoughts become transformed into meditation. The anger can also become transformed into a support for your shiney so isn't that good? Q. A general trap I find in this for myself is that you get involved with guilt for these negative thoughts or these emotions. A. If you feel somewhat guilty because the anger has come up, generally that's ok you don't have to take it to the extreme and think now the anger has come up and I cant study the mind training properly I'm not a good person, I cant manage to do this. If one does have the mind poisons coming up then one thinks well its not really a positive thing to have. It's not going to help me and it's not going to help others. So if you think of it like that in a general way but you don't lay a big trip on it and think now I'm not able to do anything I'm a totally bad person because this has arisen in my mind.
If you can get angry towards the anger that's fine, that's very good.
VII. Guidelines of Mind Training A. What to Eliminate: 1-3
1. All practice should be done in one way.
If one is practising the Vajrayana path, and if you are practising solely the development stage, then it is said that one should bring one's practise into a single practise within the development stage. This would mean that one visualises oneself as a deity and one visualises other people as deities and the environment is the pure land and all houses are the celestial palaces and so on. All of the sound is the sound of the mantra. Thoughts are the nature of wisdom. When one eats food and drink this is like making an offering of dutsi to the deities. If one is practising the development stage then all of one's activities become development stage practises. If one is practising Shiney or Shamata meditation then one's entire practise is focused within that. If one is walking one has mindfulness if one is sitting still one has mindfulness, whatever activity one is performing one has mindfulness. If desire arises one has mindfulness. Everything can become a support for mindfulness. So if one perceives objects with the eye and one can have mindfulness with that if one hears sounds then one can have mindfulness with that also. If one is following the path of emptiness then one meditates that everything has the nature of emptiness. If one is practising recognising the mind essence then when one is eating or meditating whatever activity one is performing one recognises the mind essence with that. With this particular slogan at the moment then this is relating to the lojong or the mind training practise so every activity we perform whether we are walking around sitting still, working or whatever is happening we have the motivation to practise the mind training with that. What does it mean at this particular moment to have all of the practises done in one way? It means that with everything that we do we have the Bodhicitta mind. For example, if one is walking up a staircase or ladder one thinks as one is walking may I lead all beings up the staircase to enlightenment so the normal action of walking up the staircase becomes something of great virtue and becomes the cause for generating a lot of merit. In the same moment it is the cause of purifying lots of defilements and bad karma, isn't that good! So if one is exercising then one thinks I am exercising for the benefit of all sentient beings to bring them to enlightenment so then that exercise is very positive so that is very good! Also when one is eating one thinks I am eating this food for the benefit of all sentient beings. What is very important for us to realise at the moment is that we need to have a very wide and very vast motivation so the motivation is to benefit all sentient beings and bring them to the level of enlightenment At the moment we can't help beings to a vast extent but when we achieve enlightenment then our help will be limitless. If we take the example of the Medicine Buddha before he became enlightened he made vast prayers of aspiration that when I become enlightened may people who recite my name or recite the mantra or practise meditation on me may they be completely free of sickness and completely healed. Because of that vast aspiration and his Bodhicitta mind then when he became Buddha then that is what happened. When people become ill or are 60
very sick then that is the practise they do of the medicine Buddha. If ones illness is specifically due to one's previous karma one cannot heal that, but if it is not due to one's karma then if one performs the medicine Buddha practice and recites the mantra then with certainty one's illness will be purified, will be removed. If one prays to the medicine Buddha why is it of more benefit than if one prays to the other Buddha's? It is because he made this vast aspiration that if one supplicates to him that your illness will be removed and you will be healed. Likewise with ourselves at the moment, if we have a vast aspiration that I am practising for the benefit of all sentient beings to bring them to the level of enlightenment the fruit of that aspiration now until the moment we achieve enlightenment will manifest and we will be able to help beings in a totally limitless way. If when one is going down a staircase one thinks I am going down the staircase in order to accomplish the benefit of sentient beings. If one has a cup full of tea or water, then one thinks that in the same way the cup is filled may all the sentient beings stream of consciousness be filled with joy, happiness purity and wisdom. If one has an empty cup one prays that may all sentient beings be completely empty of all the defilements and suffering. This is an example but you can say anything you want along those lines. From time to time if one gets bored with doing this kind of thing one practises the shiney meditation. One doesn't at that moment think about these various things, one just meditates. Generally speaking when one is practising it is a good idea to change the techniques from time to time. Sometimes one meditates on emptiness, if you are always meditating on emptiness if it makes you a dizzy, then you meditate on Bodhicitta. If one is meditating on the Bodhicitta and that becomes boring and one becomes uncomfortable then one doesn't meditate on anything and just rest in the shiney. If the shiney becomes boring then one does development stage then one visualises the deity Chenrezig and appearances are the pure realm and all beings are the yidam. If you can't do all that then just go to sleep! That's a joke!
2. All correction of wrongs should be done in one way.
If at the time one is practising the mind training, one has much suffering and obstacles, what is desired doesn't happen and what is not wanted happens, at that time you might feel that this practise of the mind training doesn't really have much meaning and one doesn't really like it. Then you think I am not getting any good experience from this practise of the lojong, maybe one's anger increases. At this time when one experiences these various obstacles and sufferings in the practise then you have the thought may all sentient beings obstacles and thoughts come into my obstacle and suffering and may their obstacle and suffering be removed, may they be free of it and may I carry their suffering. One thinks as long as the suffering comes I don't mind because it is an opportunity to purify the sentient beings suffering and bring virtue. This transforms your suffering and obstacles into virtue. It is said when some people begin the practise of the mind training they experience an increase in their anger and the other defilements of the mind. But it is also said that it is not 61
a bad thing, It is good, it is a sign that one is beginning to purify ones obstacles and defilements. Look at the lid of this cup, imagine that on the lid of this cup is a lot of dust which you don't perceive when you look at it now when it is dry. If you put one drop of water on the lid and rub around the lid, because it is not dry anymore you can see the dirt much more easily. You might think this cup lid is very dirty now. What is actually happening is that the drop of water has loosened the dirt and has started the process of cleaning it. What we think though is that the water has made the lid dirtier. When one is practising the Bodhicitta training from the depths of one's mind one is starting to purify and a sign of that happening is the arising of the different mind poisons like anger and desire, so that is quite good. Then gradually, over some time one actually purifies that.
3. Two activities: one at the beginning and one at the end.
At the beginning of the day one wakes up and one think I am beginning a new day and as much as I'm able today I'm going to practise the Bodhicitta and the mind training, the ultimate Bodhicitta which is the emptiness and the relative Bodhicitta which is the loving kindness and compassion and the wish to bring all sentient beings to the level of enlightenment. I'm going to practise this mind training as much as I am able to. Then one practices as much as one can throughout the daytime one can meditate throughout the day with whatever activity one is involved with. Whilst driving a car or walking around, or working one continually has this mindfulness and remembers the aspiration one made in the morning. When you are about to go sleep at night one checks what has happened during the day and reviews how the day has gone. If one realises that one has been able to generate some Bodhicitta no matter how small during the day then one rejoices in that and one dedicates it thinking that all the Buddha's and bodhisattvas of the ten directions are before one in space and I dedicate all the merit that I have accumulated during my practise of Bodhicitta during the daytime. You dedicate it to the benefit of all sentient beings so one can take all sentient beings to the level of enlightenment. If one realises that one has accumulated some negativity during the day then one makes confession and purifies that. At this time when one is about to go to bed and one reviews the day and thinks well, I wasn't even able to generate one tiny piece of Bodhicitta toady and I am a useless practitioner, I'm not a good meditator at all I am totally bad, one shouldn't think like that. The reason we shouldn't be depressed is that from beginningless time we have been travelling around in Samsara and it's difficult to remove that kind of habit. If it was possible that one could practise Bodhicitta completely in one day properly and correctly then within one week one would be enlightened. Then it would be very easy wouldn't it! But it doesn't happen like that. If one creates the cause by practising the Bodhicitta now, then in the next lifetime or further than that one can achieve enlightenment. So one thinks well, I have done the best I can today and tomorrow I will do better and later on I will do better. Also when one is practising the mind training and you think I have achieved quite a high level of Bodhicitta and there is no one else like this I am such a good person. Then one's pride will increase and at that moment one has to recognise that one has given rise to pride and has given rise to a fault. The two activities, one at the beginning and one at the end means starting off the day with the aspiration and 62
finishing with a review of the days activities.
VII. Guidelines of Mind Training A. What to Eliminate: 4-6
4. Be patient, whatever happens.
Whichever of the two happens be patient. The two things are the suffering and the happiness. If one has some kind of suffering or obstacle arise then one supplicates the Three Jewels thinking may all the suffering and obstacles of sentient beings be brought into my suffering and may they be free of suffering If it is due to one's previous karma one might not be able to change the circumstance and the obstacle and suffering might still be there. But one might have the wish that it will be changed and one feels well, if it's due to my karma then I accept it. Generally if we say may I take on the suffering of sentient beings onto my suffering, even if your suffering is from previous karma it will be somewhat lightened. If a problem arises and we can find a remedy then there is no need to worry. If we cannot find a remedy to the situation then there is still no need to worry. Worry itself will not make the situation better. If one has this feeling that one has got a lot of virtue, a lot of bliss and happiness arising or one achieves a lot of wealth or fame then one might forget ones practise you might abandon your practise. That is not a good situation to have. You may cut your Bodhicitta when you have suffering and throw away the idea of having the Bodhicitta mind. Then because one is having a lot of happiness and good circumstances one thinks why do I have to meditate on emptiness and why do I have to have this Bodhicitta mind? I don't need it anymore I will throw it away. For example in Tibet there are some places which are very scary for travellers to go to and there is this one very well known road but a lot of robbers and thieves will lie in wait for you. So knowing that, a person will go along and pray to Guru Rinpoche, Orgyen Pema please look at me, save me from the bandits but if its just a normal road with no problem he will just go along singing. He has forgotten about Guru Rinpoche. It should not be like that; one should practise all of the time whether one has good or bad circumstance. If you have a good accumulation of virtue and karma then one dedicates that to the benefit of all sentient beings and feels that they obtain all of that and you make a good dedication prayer. You feel that like the good thing I am experiencing at the moment, may all sentient beings experience that.
5. Maintain and guard your vows.
One has to protect ones vows like one protects ones own life. Regarding ones taking refuge and the Bodhisattva vows or any vows that one has and practising the mind training there are certain commitments that go along with that so as much as one is able to one protects and safeguards that.
6. Learn the three difficult things.
The first difficult thing is recognising the mind defilements. The second difficult thing is to reject them, and the third thing is cutting off the cause completely. In the beginning one doesn't recognise that the mind defilements are arising or where they come from, one doesn't recognise that. So if one has jealousy one doesn't recognise where it comes from and doesn't really recognise that jealousy. So if one has a jealous mind state, even if you see a good person you will perceive them as bad. The reason you see this person is because of your jealousy, but one doesn't recognise that at the time. The jealousy will make one think that the person has many faults and he could be harmful. If one is jealous one doesn't really have any benefit, for oneself or for others. This jealous mind state cause's harm to oneself and to others. If one has a jealous mind state one can't accomplish everything that one wants to. One doesn't have happiness in the mind other people will dislike you and you will not be happy with other people so it is suffering all round. You cause harm to this other person you perceive as bad and in return they will cause harm to you. Then if you are blaming the other person then the other person will blame you and it goes backwards and forwards so the whole thing is meaningless. You will blame the other person for not accomplishing your wishes and desires and the other person will do likewise for you. On the other hand, if you had the mind of benefiting others and you two became quite friendly, then together you would increase and grow in a beneficial way that would be good for both parties. You think I can accomplish this other person's wishes and he can help me accomplish mine so together we can grow and become better. One can apply this thinking to all the other kind of mind poisons, the anger the desire and so on. When anger arises in the mind it is normally a small thing that sets it off. For example two people are talking together then if the person says something slightly off to you think I don't like that, I don't like this person. Then you say something slightly bad back to the person then the other person thinks he is talking to me in a very strange way, I don't like what's going on. Then he talks to you in a stronger way, then you reply even more strongly then eventually you are arguing and fighting and you say "its not me, its you" and the other says "no its not me, its you", so that's how people behave when they fight isn't it? Now the meaning is very small, there is no point to it, then what happens is you have more and more arguments and conflict with people. But if one recognises or has mindfulness in the beginning of the conversation, if they say something slightly off to you or slightly strange, if you recognise at that moment you have this feeling of anger and dislike just recognise that, just be neutral. Don't give any answer back don't start the whole thing off. Then you don't give rise to the feeling that this person has the intention to harm you, and the other person also doesn't have the feeling that you have the intention to harm him so then there is no anger, it is controlled. In the forest there is a big dry tree and one has lots of matches and starts a small fire at the bottom of the tree. Whilst it is still small then you can immediately put it out but if you leave the fire and it grows up a taller tree you can't do anything about it, it is very hard to put out. It's more difficult to put out so, going back to recognising the anger; one has to recognise it in the beginning stage when it is still quite small. At the beginning if one recognises the anger when it is still in a very small stage one can have more control over it and then one can pacify the anger. 65
Even though the fire gets higher up the tree there is still a method one can apply to that. Likewise, though the anger has become quite large in one's mind there are still a number of methods one can apply to it the Bodhisattva training, the mind training, and emptiness, so there are many methods one can apply. Finally one thinks may this mind state not arise again in my mind. May I never give rise to these negative thoughts and may I be free from them. One prays like that. This is an example, set in China. In China there was a pig. Now if there is a farm and the pig sees the nice lucious vegetables he will want to eat them. One day he comes along and sticks his nose through the fence and immediately he eats these nice luscious vegetables and he thinks oh I will come here again. So even if you try to block the hole off he will come around another way grunting and come into the other part and make a big hole in the fence and you will not be around to see it. Then it will roll around in the vegetables and make everything dirty and eat as much as it can. But there is another thing that could happen, at the very moment that the pig puts its nose through the fence and you can see its nose you take a stick and whack it on the nose then that pig will never come back to the same place. So this is the story Chinese people tell. If we recognise our mind poisons immediately at the beginning it's like hitting the pig on the nose and you will able to stop them.
VII. Guidelines of Mind Training B. What to Adopt: 7-11
7. Adopt the three main causes.
The first cause is to have an excellent lama or teacher, one has to have the wish or desire to practise the Dharma and thirdly one needs the right causes and conditions to practise the Dharma, for example one needs a place to practise one needs things to eat and a situation which will enable one to carry out one's practise. If you have all three of these conditions then one prays that all sentient beings will have them and that one will practise for the benefit of all sentient beings. If one doesn't have the three conditions then one thinks there are many sentient beings who don't have these conditions also so may I take all the negativity and obstacles which are preventing them from enjoying these perfect conditions into my self and may I purify them and may my suffering be a substitute for all sentient beings so that they may enjoy these conditions in the future.
8. Meditate on three undiminished things.
The first thing that shouldn't be diminished is one's faith and devotion for the Three Jewels. If one is a beginner and cannot give rise to this perfect unshakeable faith then one feels in one's mind, deep within one's mind that to have faith and devotion would be a very positive thing. The second thing not to diminish or lose is one's feeling or liking to practise the mind training, may one never be separated from the mind training. This is going to be beneficial in this life and beneficial in future lives not only for myself but also for all sentient beings. Through this practise of the mind training I will ultimately be able top help beings in limitless ways. We should practise the mind training in the same way as a small child eats sweets. They don't have one they have another and another and they taste so nice they want more. We have to be like that with the mind training, we can't get enough. The third is whatever one has made commitments for with Bodhisattva vow or ordination, the Vajrayana or whatever, and then one doesn't break these commitments.
9. Have the three inseparable things.
The three inseparable things are not being separated from the virtuous activities of body speech and mind. One accomplishes as much virtuous activity as one can with these three aspects of oneself, the body, speech and mind.
10. Train impartially in all areas.
Pervading everywhere and very deeply, this is how one's practice should be. Also not 67
having preference to the objects of one's practise for example, one will find it quite easy to have loving kindness and compassion, tolerance to one's parents and loved ones and one's associates who you have a favourable feeling for anyway. But somebody who annoys you, you may think you can't give any compassion to that person and I can't give any help to them. One shouldn't have these different standards, one tries to be equal with everybody. Further to that apart from having the object of sentient beings to practise with one can practise with the elements, fire, water, air and so on, or some kind of object like hitting your head on the car. So don't get angry with situations like that and don't get angry with the elements. If it's raining there is no need to get angry about it if it's a person or the elements or the circumstances then also one tries not to give rise to the mind poisons. In Sherabling there is a cook who cooks for the monks and sometimes he gets annoyed and he gets a big ladle and hits the saucepan and says arghhhhhh shouting at the saucepan. Just hearing that in the background and not seeing what is happening you think the cook has gone mad and is hitting somebody but when you look around the corner he is hitting the saucepan. Then you can say to him, what is happening why are you having this argument with the saucepan? Why are you hitting it and he just laughs. He replies that if I'm angry and hit the saucepan then my mind becomes very peaceful after that! Some people do give rise to anger to the elements and to different objects like saucepans! That is the all pervasiveness of the slogan but being deep, then from ones deep mind one has the wish to benefit sentient beings. Some people recite at the beginning of teachings the four immeasurable may all beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering ... Etc and they just chant the words it is at the level of the throat and it's not getting deeper than that. I had an experience in some European country, not quite sure where it was, in some countries you have mosquitoes and other flying insects and people have a stick with a flat piece on the end, and if they hit the insect it obviously will die. So this person was sitting there saying his prayers, he was reciting his prayers saying may all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness WHACK! Every so often an insect would come.... May all beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.... WHACK! Then it just the words at the level of the throat and has no deeper meaning. There was another man who had a dog, the dog caused him quite a lot of difficulty was always barking and running after him. Then the man had hit the dog so the dog is quite angry and the man is also angry towards the dog. So this man was doing his daily practise, reciting his text. Normally this man had a good attitude with his mind. He was thinking may all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness, then he thought hold on a minute, I'm saying all beings and the dog is also a sentient being. So then he thought I have been hitting the dog which isn't very good I should have compassion for him it's terrible I should be nice to the dog. Some time later the dog was barking again and was annoying him and some times the dog would nip him, he forgot about compassion and he became angry again. Because the dog kept annoying and biting him then running off and barking through the window he couldn't really practise properly but slightly differently he said may some beings be free from suffering..... He changed the words to some beings! Later on he made his peace with the dog and they ended up friends.
11. Especially practise mind training on those things that are hardest to practise on.
Meditating with compassion for one's enemies, meditating with compassion to the demons and obstacle makers and people who are jealous of us, generate compassion for them, and people who have harmful intentions to you, have compassion for them. If you can, meditate with compassion for these beings. If one takes the example of the enemy then this enemy is completely under the power and control of the anger, he thinks I don't like that person, I hate that person, I have got to give him some suffering I have got to give lots of people suffering, I have to hurt everybody. So then because of this uncontrolled anger he doesn't have any peace in his own mind and he doesn't cause other sentient beings to have peace in their minds he is just causing problems. So it's suffering and problem for him as well as for the others. Why do you give rise to anger towards the enemy? you think I am angry towards that person because they have a mind which is intent on causing me harm, they want to give me pain and suffering, for that reason I am angry towards them and one gives rise to anger towards the enemy. You think that person is the enemy and he has the intent to cause harm and suffering towards me so I have to also give harm to him. You have to think about this very well. When this person is using harsh speech and saying bad things what is it that is harming you? Is it the words that are harming you? The words are not harming you. So if a person picks up a big stick and hits you on the head who should you be angry towards? The stick, or the man? Normally we get angry towards the person who has hit us, normally one has this mind state that whoever causes me harm then I have to cause them harm and they are my enemy. If you really think about it, it was the stick that hit you on the head, it was the stick that really hurt you. You think if it is not the stick that hurt me it is the person that held the stick so then it's not him its his body which hurt you. You think I have to be angry towards his body but then you think again it's not his body which caused me harm it's his mind, the anger in his mind that hurt me. So then you get angry towards his anger, it's because of his anger I have suffering so then I have to get angry towards his anger. How should one think about this and what does one need to have? One needs to have wisdom when one is thinking about this. If one thinks about it properly with wisdom one can see that the person is under the control of the anger, so because of that one generates compassion for them. If you think that this person is really under the control of the mind poison of anger and what's going to happen to them. Because of his uncontrolled mind he is going to cause harm to others and suffering to them and he is never going to experience happiness and peace in his own mind. Also he is creating all the causes to be reborn in the hell realms, which has been created from anger. This person who has created the causes to be reborn in the hell realms because of his very strong anger and all the hell beings just taken rebirth in the hell realm, who is it necessary to have the compassion for? It's the person who is creating the causes at this 69
moment the person who is your enemy, the person who is experiencing the uncontrolled mind, which is ruled by the anger, under the power of anger. It is that person you should have the compassion for. What is the reason to have compassion for the person who is the enemy now rather than the hell being? The difference is that the hell being through the fruition of his actions is now experiencing the rebirth in the hell realms and that is the start of him purifying the karma that he has accumulated. But the other person, the one who is the enemy now under the control of the anger he is accumulating the causes to take rebirth in hell so one has to have compassion for him. Use him as the object for your compassion right now because he is accumulating moment by moment the causes to be reborn in the hell. He is going to have the suffering the person in the hell realm has started the process of purifying. So the object of your compassion should be the person who you call enemy who is under the power of the conflicting emotions such as the anger.
VII. Guidelines of Mind Training B. What to Adopt: 12-21
12. Do not depend on external conditions.
What does this really mean? It means when one is practising the mind training if one is happy one can practise the mind training if one is unhappy one can practise the mind training whatever is happening one can apply the teaching and the practise. One doesn't think now I'm going to study the Lojong, the mind training and I need to have these particular circumstances to come together to enable me practise. One doesn't think like that. One practises with whatever has arisen, whatever situation one finds oneself in. If one is happy or having a nice time one thinks may all the sentient beings experience this happiness as I am. The causes of this happiness I dedicate to all the sentient beings so that they may experience this happiness and peacefulness and one dedicates it like that with a good prayer. If one has suffering one takes all that suffering into one's own suffering and it becomes a substitute for all other beings suffering and one prays that they are free from that. If all the causes and conditions come together that's fine, but if they don't come together that's also fine. One prays may all the sentient beings suffering due to lack of causes and conditions be brought into my suffering and may it be a substitute for their suffering If one is sick that is fine, one can practise, if one is happy one can practise there is no difference. If I'm wealthy that's fine if I'm poor that's also fine. If I'm famous or not that's fine. If I've got a lot of food and drink that's fine if I haven't that's fine. If I have many enemies or not that's also fine. If I have friends and helpers that's fine if I don't that's fine. Everything is good, everything is fine.
13. At this time practise is what is most important.
What is the reason that we have been in the Samsara from beginningless time and having the suffering? It's because we haven't liberated ourselves from the suffering so we need to understand this very significant thing; we need to know how to liberate ourselves from the suffering. What are the main reasons for us having experienced this since beginningless time? Its is mainly because we strive to get wealth and possessions and we strive to get fame and recognition and because of this we have the rebirth constantly in the Samsara. Some people think only of fame, wealth and worldly things for their whole life, but when one dies none of these are of use to you. But if you realise that you have got this fantastic opportunity to practise and the result of practising is purification of one's negativities and the accumulation of merit which ultimately leads to enlightenment for the benefit of oneself and for the benefit of the sentient beings, then one thinks I'm not going to waste this opportunity and I'm going to practise with a strong devotion and determination.
One thinks in this lifetime if I'm not able to practise the Dharma sufficiently and properly enough then in my next life I will take a very low rebirth. Maybe I will be a hell being or a hungry ghost or an animal. My lifetimes will become progressively worse and I won't be able to have the causes and conditions to practise the Dharma so one thinks one will take hold of the opportunity now and practise correctly.
14. Don't make mistakes.
There are six mistakes. First is mistaken patience. If when we are practising we have no patience with the practise, but we have patience when we are being harmful to others, that is mistaken patience. The second one is having the wrong wish or intention. Instead of having the intention of practising so that one's negative karma is purified, instead one has the wish to subdue enemies or become famous this is having wrong intention. Having the wrong experience. If one meditates correctly one will experience true happiness. Thinking that the external objects are the source of happiness when in fact it's from one's own mind. Mistaken compassion, we need to have compassion for beings that are in Samsara and are creating the causes for future suffering. If we feel a practitioner such as Milarepa needs compassion this is mistaken. To think he has no food or clothing he has nothing. Milarepa doesn't need compassion. Mistaken Care, if one is showing people the way to behave and one misinforms them like saying you should defeat your enemies you should hit people you should do various negative actions then is not taking appropriate care of people who are in your charge. So you should encourage them to do positive activities and not negative activities. The wrong rejoicing, if one sees a practitioner who is a very accomplished person and is doing very well and has a lot of virtue and merit one thinks without any jealousy, that is so wonderful I hope to be like this person and have this kind of accomplishment and one rejoices in that. There is a generating of good karma for oneself because of that attitude. But if one sees a thief and thinks oh that thief has just robbed that house successfully I will rejoice in that I am happy with that that is a mistaken rejoicing and one will only have negative karma coming from that. So having the correct rejoicing is very beneficial for one. Even if one is not a good practitioner oneself one rejoices in the good activity and the good practise of other people and one thinks that person is a very good practitioner I can't manage to do that myself but I rejoice in their accomplishments. Having that mind will be of benefit to oneself. At the time of Buddha Shakyamuni there was a king called Sajang. This king invited Buddha Shakyamuni and his followers, all of the monks and the nuns and all the Sangha to stay in the vicinity of his palace for many days and he offered all of them food. At the doorway to the palace was a very old lady and she was looking in and thinking oh that king is so lucky, every day he has been able to listen to the teachings of the Buddha, he is feeding the Buddha and making offerings to all of the Sangha and that is such a wonderful thing for him to have this. That evening the Buddha made a dedication for the 72
merit that was accumulated throughout the day. The Buddha said to the king Saja now I'm going to dedicate all of the merit we have accumulated today. Who should I make the dedication in the name of, should I make it in your name or should I make it in the name of somebody who has more merit than you? The king said whomever has more merit than me please tell me their name. The Buddha said the name of the old lady and dedicated it in her name. The Buddha made the same dedication of the merit for her for four days. The king didn't like that too much. The king though what can I do, how can I change this? He got all his friends, ministers and advisors together as asked what was going on, I am the one who is giving the Buddha all of the offerings every day and it is the old lady who is getting all of the merit, what we can do about that? One minister spoke up, he said to the king that old lady comes to the door of the palace every day and she takes the leftovers of the food, what we should do tomorrow is not give her the leftovers and she is bound to say something bad to us. The king put some soldiers outside of the gate where it was usual for the old woman to come along and beg for the food. When she came along they said to her have you no shame? Every day you come here begging for food what's wrong with you can't you go somewhere else? They shouted at her like this. Then the old woman became very angry and she thought that king is so bad he doesn't give me any food it's terrible.Then the next day when it was time for the dedication the Buddha dedicated in the kings' name and the king was very happy. What was the reason for this? The old lady became angry and because of that fault it completely removed the virtue she had generated from rejoicing in the kings merit. But she still got the virtue from the previous days.
15. Don't fluctuate.
All of the time whenever you practise if you having suffering or are sad, however much one is able to one still practises.
17. Find freedom through examination and investigation.
This refers to when one is practising, generally one's defilements become less and less, the strength of them diminishes. But every so often we should check this and see how much our defilements have lessened. Normally we have an object of someone who caused anger to us, gives rise to anger in our mind, so we examine and look at how one reacts to the object of anger. If one practises well in the training of compassion it is difficult to give rise to the anger. One checks through the different mind poisons, one checks out anger and how one reacts to that and the desire and the jealousy and the others. Then also one looks from time to time and the different mind states like being depressed or being upset because one hasn't accomplished ones wishes. So one looks at these mind states and how they affect you. If one finds one is still quite affected by anger or depression or the different things then one again trains in that and if one has not had much harm coming from these things then 73
one rejoices in that.
18. Do not expect appreciation.
When one is practising the Bodhicitta one doesn't go up to someone and say look I'm doing this for your benefit I'm practising the mind training for you one doesn't do that its for your benefit not for them.You are practising mind training so one can be of benefit to all sentient beings, but you don't have to show that to one person.
19. Do not be irritable and sensitive.
It is not good if one has a very short temper and no patience at all. One thing is not right and then another thing makes you annoyed. Don't be like this.
20. Do not be hysterical.
There are two aspects to this. On the one hand a person can come up to you and say you are fantastic and I really like you. Immediately you will become very happy and think back to them and I like you too. Then another person will come up to you and say you're rubbish you have no qualities at all and you may feel just burst into tears and think oh no I feel so bad. Immediately it changes. It's like English weather!
21. Do not expect thanks.
One doesn't have a feeling in one's mind that I am practising the Bodhicitta path I'm doing the mind training and everybody should thank me for that they must reward me somehow, one doesn't think that way. That is the conclusion of the main part of the seven points of mind training.
VII. Guidelines of Mind Training The Conclusion
The conclusion tells us why we need to practise the mind training path.
སྙིགས་མ་ལྔ་པོ་བདོ་བ་འདི། །བྱང་ཆུབ་ལམ་དུ་བསྒྱུར་བ་ཡིན། །མན་ངག་ བདུད་རྩིའི་སྙིང་པོ་འདི། །གསེར་གླིང་པ་ནས་བརྒྱུད་པ་ཡིན། །སྔོན་སྦྱངས་ ལས་ཀྱི་འཕྲོ་སད་པས། །རང་གི་མོས་པ་མང་བའི་རྒྱུས། །སྡུག་བསྔལ་གཏམ་ ངན་ཁྱད་བསད་ནས། །བདག་འཛིན་འདུལ་བའི་གདམས་ངག་ཞུས། །ད་ནི་ ཤི་ཡང་མི་འགྱོད་དོ།། །།
When the five dark ages occur, This is the way to transform them into the path of bodhi. This is the essence of the amrita of the oral instructions, Which are handed down from the tradition of the sage of Suvarnadvipa. Having awoken the karma of previous training And being urged on by my intense dedication, I disregarded misfortune and slander And received oral instructions on taming ego-fixation. Now, even at death, I will have no regrets.
This is called the age of the five degenerations or the five dregs. If you mix dirt and dust in a cup with some water then things will fall to the bottom this is like the dregs. There are five degenerations. Degeneration of time, life, beings, emotions, and the view, so these are the five kind of poisons which are associated with what we call the Dark Age. All the negative aspects are multiplied so if one practices the mind-training path correctly then all these negative circumstances can be turned into the path of training in the Bodhicitta. So each of these five dregs can be transformed into one’s friends on the path and can help one. Where did this teaching come from? It came from Lord Serlingpa. Based on his previous Karma Serlingpa wrote the text. Because Serlingpa practised the Bodhicitta training in his previous lifetimes he had great faith and devotion for these teachings, so he wrote the text. So now he’s saying in the concluding poem that he has discarded all his attachment to praise or blame or if people attack him in any way, and he’s got rid of his ego clinging. So however people manifest to him, if they like him or not makes no difference and also if he dies even at the moment of death he will have nothing to regret, nothing to be sorry for.
Q. [Inaudible] A. One needs three conditions, the Lama, ones wish to practice the Dharma, enough to eat and a place to stay. If you got more that this fine, but if you got these three then that's enough to practice the Dharma. You have enough to eat and a place to stay, and the wish to practice and an excellent teacher to receive the teachings from. You don’t have to have the misperception that I’m glad I’m in the Dharma Centre and I can practice, but when I’m driving my car that’s not a time for practice you can practice wherever you are, whatever you are doing. You think, I can only meditate when I am sitting in front of the Buddha Statue, if I meditate in the toilet it’s not good, there is no difference really. Q. [Inaudible] A. Yes that's true, if you don’t have that cause originally in the first place, the Lama, then you can’t, you need that. Yes as Rinpoche said you need those three, the Lama, the wish to practice and enough food to eat and a place to stay. Q. I thought that everything that happened was caused by Karma, so how is it some things aren't caused by Karma? A. Rinpoche says not everything is, it’s about half and half actually, half of it is your previous Karma and then the other half will be the obstacles in this lifetime. Obstacle, so when they say in Tibetan barche its like something is supposed to happen but then the obstacle cuts through that so that the arising of the obstacle so instead of something happening smoothly the obstacle comes and cuts through that smoothness, so that’s the obstacle. Half of it will be the karma from before and half of it will be the obstacles arising in your present life. If one is practising the mind training, the Bodhicitta and one prays to the Three Jewels, then these obstacles can be pacified. If it is due to one's previous Karma then one can’t immediately purify it and remove it. The main point is that through thinking of the emptiness and thinking that one is going to practice in a very strong way then one can purify. If one just prays one cannot purify the Karma. You have to practice too. Q. How do you work with mistrust in a teacher A. Well, whether the Lama or the teacher is a nice person or a nasty person that’s not really of much use but what one has to look at is does the teacher have lineage and does the things that he says, the teachings he presents do they benefit you or not you have to look at it like that. So then for example if you ascertain that the teacher has a very good lineage unbroken vows and everything connected to the lineage is very pure then it's like your teacher is the same as the Buddha. If you think in that way, that the teacher is the Buddha you will receive the Buddha’s blessing, it doesn’t really matter if the person himself has a few faults or not you are not seeing him in a bad way you are generating this faith and doubt free confidence in him, and if you can do that and think of him as the Buddha, then you will definitely get the Buddha’s blessing. But for a beginner they cannot immediately have this very deep kind of unshakeable trust and confidence, but if deep in your mind you feel that to have confidence and faith in the teacher would be of benefit for you, that is a good thing to have. Q. Isn't it due to previous karma that we get obstacles or not? Why do some people seem not to have them? 76
A. The majority of things are the Karma but then the obstacles are caused by the different conditions that one meets in one's life so then some people have them some people don’t have so much of them but the majority of things are the Karma. So then if one has this negative Karma from before if one continually supplicates to the Three Jewels and practices then one can purify that. If after supplicating and practising is not able to pacify the suffering associated with the arising of the obstacle then that is due to the Karma and one accepts that, that’s the way to pacify it.
The Practice of Shinay
Actually we have studied the 7 Points of Mind Training with the root text and we have completed all of the seven points. Along with the 7 Points of Mind Training root test there is a very small commentary and normally one would explain that but as the shinay meditation is ….. Generally speaking with the Shinay we practice with our mind and our mind has this naturally happy state and peaceful state and also power, it has power. But often we can’t utilise this power that we have naturally within our mind. The reason we aren’t able to use this natural power in our minds is due to us not having the mindfulness. Our mind can be likened to this mala; each of the beads is like a thought so we have one thought after another without reason, one after another. There is little bit of a gap there, but in reality there probably wasn’t any gap, just joking. We can also liken the mind to a waterfall that is rushing down a mountain, this water that comes down with great force and rushes down to the plain, if one gets that water when it is in the waterfall stage then one can use that water to wash with and one can drink it. When the water comes down into the plain and spreads out then it meets the earth and it will meet the sand and it gets mixed with the sand and one is unable to use it. You can’t really wash with it and you can’t really drink it because it's polluted with the sand. So our mind at the moment with all the thoughts is rather likened to the water that is in the plain mixed with the sand. Often when this water is in the plain stage mixing with the sand, one can’t actually see clearly through the water because the sand is mixed in with it. How can we recognise the naturally present power of the mind that we have what kind of method we can apply? There are three things we can apply, first is mindfulness, the second is one-pointedness and the third is not being distracted. So these three have the same meaning, though the name is slightly different, the meaning is identical. If one is able to rest naturally in a relaxed state with mindfulness then naturally we can subdue and pacify the mind poisons and one's naturally existing power of the mind will arise and one will obtain joy and happiness, without having some kind of very strongly applied technique. If one has this mindfulness and relaxed state of mind then these things naturally happen. Then one will reduce one's suffering, pacify the suffering, and within one's mind one won’t experience difficulties or problems. There is an American psychology doctor and he said “if you put four Americans together one of those Americans will be crazy”, his mind will be a bit off, the reason for that being he is not practising the awareness of the mind, mindfulness. Normally, how we are every day we can’t actually rest in this natural state for very long or maybe not at all. Staying without any kind of problem or difficulty we can’t really stay in that state for long, maybe we don’t achieve it at all. It is rather like a monkey, if you put a monkey in a house and it doesn’t have any work to do, it doesn’t have any problems, but it makes work and it makes problems for its self by running around. For example, if you put a monkey in the shrine room here then he would jump on the shrine and throw all the things on the floor, he would get the thankas and hang on them and pull them to ground, and everything that’s on the table here he would throw on the ground, he has no reason for doing this he doesn’t have to do it but he just does it, 78
its his nature. What happens with us then is we don’t have to make a problem but we make a problem it can be quite small then gradually it becomes a bigger and bigger problem, its rather like having a hammer and hitting oneself on the head with it. But if one has the mindfulness with the shinay practice then naturally one's problems and suffering will be diminished and pacified. If one takes vitamin pills, one's illness is pacified and it happens like that naturally, shinay is like a vitamin. Now I'm going to explain the practice of shinay. The first thing one has to do is have a very straight upright body, not slouching. If one can sit with crossed legs and hands like that. You don’t have to stretch out like that because you will be falling over backwards, and you don’t sit like this with your back all bent because then you will fall asleep. If one sits with this kind of hunched up back then all of one’s subtle channels in the body will be squashed land bent over, so then the blood and the wind energy that moves in the subtle channels will be constricted, and that will give rise to many illnesses and also problems with one's mind. For that reason one is told to sit up straight, if one has a sore back or problems with the back one can put a cushion at the back. In brief there are seven points. One sits with what some people call the lotus posture, crossed legs, if one can do one crosses the legs completely, or you can do it another way you have one up and one leg down whatever one is able to do, and if one has difficulties with one's legs one can sit with the legs pointed out straight. or you can sit on a chair, if you can’t do that then just go to sleep. The last one was a joke! If you can adopt what is generally known as the lotus posture or just the crossed legs posture if one can do that, it is very beneficial. Then secondly one has the hands in this posture, left below and right on top, and it is also possible to do it the other way, right underneath the left. Generally speaking males should have their right hand on top and females should have their left hand on top, but whatever you do will be fine, ladies can also put their right hand on top, both on top, so you can do both it doesn't have to be one or the other, but generally speaking there is a difference. The third point is about having a straight back, straight spine, and if one finds the posture with the hands in the lap is uncomfortable then you can rest them over your knees like that, so one covers the knees with one's hands. The fourth point is that between the elbows and the side of one's chest there should be a gap there, you don’t sit with your elbows tucked into your side, you don’t have to hold it very forcefully keeping a space there, just naturally there should be a gap. The fifth point one has one's chin slightly pulled down, one is still straight, you don’t have it pointed up like that, and you don’t have it all the way down, a lot of Chinese people tend to go like this!!!!!! Pull their chin right on their chest, and a lot of western, English people all go like that, their eyes are really wide and their mouth are wide open. Then Tibetans go like this, slouching, so those three are not very good not very beneficial, just keep straight 79
just a tiny tilt of the chin down, not very much. The sixth is the mouth, the tongue is just resting slightly behind the upper front set of teeth, a little bit touching the top, not flat against it, just the tip of the tongue against the palate behind the top set of teeth. If one has got a very short lumpy tongue and you can’t reach then it doesn’t matter. You don’t have the mouth wide open either like that, not like that, and you don’t have your lips closed together either, the mouth is naturally just open a little bit, a little gap. Don’t put your teeth together, it’s fine to breath in and out through the nose or in and out through the mouth or any combination of that it doesn’t matter you don’t have to make the breath follow a certain pattern. The seventh is the eyes, with the eyes one should not have them facing one way one direction or other, up or down or to the sides, one just rests and naturally look straight ahead. You don’t have to have your eyes wide open, and you don’t have your eyes screwed up either. Some people kind of move their eyes about a lot and squeeze them up, you don’t have to do anything like that, just naturally leave your eyes and they will look straight ahead. There are three different positions you can use, the first one will be looking down slightly, so it's kind of looking down and one can still be aware of one's nose looking down, the second one is just level straight in front of you, and the third is looking slightly with eyes raised up, and it's very good for you to inter change them, if you use one of the eye positions for a long time it will be boring and some have problems if you use the one looking up into the space, if you do that for a couple of days or for a few hours then you get quite a lot of nice feelings coming up, but after sometime continually using that position one will become tired and uncomfortable. So leave that and look downwards and immediately you will feel better, and then you feel quite fine looking downwards for a while, and then when that gets boring and uncomfortable then you look straight ahead so you interchange these three eye positions. Generally with the eye positions whether they are looking up, down or straight ahead, one does it naturally. However, it is beneficial to have the eyes open. Generally if one has the eyes closed when one meditates at first one will be quite relaxed you will feel it's ok, but the fault of having the eyes closed is one won’t have a very good experience or clarity. These seven points are of great importance because in one's body are many subtle channels which go all over the body including the brain area and there’s a wind energy that moves around in those channels and gives rise to the different mind poisons. If you can sit in this seven-point posture then it helps to naturally pacify them and one can meditate properly. Really, if one is having meditation sessions or a kind of practice session then if one can adopt the seven point posture at that time it is very beneficial but that doesn’t mean you can’t practice shinay when you are doing anything else, you can meditate when you are driving you can meditate when you are walking around, the most important thing to remember if you are not in the actual session is to have a straight body. For beginners with meditation these seven points are extremely important but for someone who got some kind of realisation then they are not so important for that type of person. That was how the body should be; now I'll explain about the mind.
Shinay Without Characteristics
There are two types of methods we can have with the meditation the shinay with characteristics and without characteristics, so the first one I will explain is the method of shinay without characteristics. With this method one just rests the mind naturally without making anything without doing anything one just rest naturally. It’s like finishing one's work when one rests, totally relaxed. There is a story connected to how one should be. The story is about the British Queen, it's just an example it's not a real story. The Queen has two palaces, an old one, and a new one, she wants to move all her precious things, jewels and furnishings and so on to the new palace, but she can’t move them herself obviously so she’s trying to think. I don’t trust anybody to move them for me. Then she has an idea and she thinks of this one particular minister who she has trust in, She tells this minister I want you to take all of my precious things and the jewels to the new palace, but she makes this stipulation, you have to move everything in one day, and only you can carry the things you can’t give this work to anybody else. At that time the minister didn’t have a car. The Queen said to the minister if you accomplish this work carrying all my valuables in one day I would reward you very handsomely. I’ll you a house with land and money and food, so you will never have to work again in your life. Then the minister was thinking, well if I can accomplish this work in one day then like the Queen said she will give me a house, land and lots of money and food and I will never have to work again, that will be absolutely wonderful. But then he thought oh but what if I can’t manage it then I won’t get any of these things, so he had two things arise in his mind hope and fear. He had this great hope thinking oh if I manage to do this I’ll get all these things then he had fear also thinking well maybe I can’t do it and I’ll have nothing. So the minister got up really early in the morning, at that time it was summer so the days were pretty long anyway, but he got up really early, maybe about three o’clock in the morning. He started to carry all the big diamonds and the precious jewels and lumps of gold and stuff on his back walking. When it was lunch time he only gave himself a twenty minute lunch break, about eight o’clock in the evening he had completed the whole move he had finished everything, moved everything. He had great happiness arise in his mind, he slowly went up to where the Queen was staying, he said to the Queen I have accomplished the task I have move all the precious things to your new palace. The Queen replied to him thank you very much now I will give you the estate and lands and money and everything you want and you will never have to work again. Having obtained all of the things from the Queen he went back to his house and had a really nice wash in not too hot water not too cold just right. He was extremely tired and exhausted, but he wasn’t upset in his mind at all he had no hope and fear he had become completely happy because he had achieved his aim. He had done the job and he had been paid for it. He went to his bedroom and sat on his bed and just sat down and went phew! And completely sat there naturally, tired but completely resting. Like that man at the end of his labours we have to be relaxed like that when we meditate, just like him. Do you think you can do that? Resting naturally like the man who had completed his heavy work just sitting there, resting. You have to do it just like that. You don’t have to meditate, you don’t have to do anything, you don’t have to visualise, but one needs non-distraction. There are two points in short, non-distractiveness, not meditating, 81
that's easy isn’t it? It’s difficult to meditate isn’t it? I have to visualise the deity and its moving all over the place and I can’t do it. It very difficult visualisation because the deities' head falls off or the legs move around. When I’m thinking of the arms the legs disappear and the colour doesn’t come right and its mouth is all twisted it is really difficult to visualise. If one is meditating and thinking I need the clarity I need to be vast open mind I need to have this now and that is very difficult also isn’t it? You don’t need all that, you don’t need anything, just leave the mind resting naturally. If one can rest the mind naturally that’s the best meditation. Non-meditation is the supreme meditation The Buddha said that all of the sentient beings possess Buddha Nature, because of this all beings processing the Buddha Nature they have this natural purity, peacefulness and power. We all have that, we all possess that. It is not that we don't have it and at some point in the future we’re praying to get it. We already have it we possess it already, we just rest naturally. We can rest the mind naturally because we are already in possession of the qualities so we don’t have to get them. That is why we can rest naturally, it's just like that. You don’t have to look in the front and to the side and think what is going on? One doesn’t need to do anything; you don’t have to think is it clear? Is it vast? Is it good? You don’t have to have all these ideas about it, if you are sitting there thinking clear, clear, relax, relax, you will just get more and more tight won’t you. One doesn’t entertain all these ideas of hope and fear one thinks I am going to practice the shinay to the best of my ability, if it’s a good meditation that fine if it a bad meditation that’s fine, whatever happens, happens. If I make a mistake in meditation or not that’s fine. If I go to the Hell Realms or become enlightened its fine, whatever happens let it happen. If I am meditating or not meditating it's fine, if I go on a mistaken path or not then that’s fine. At the actual time one is meditating then one does not have to entertain hope or fear, this is the way one has the mind when in meditation practice, without hope and fear. But generally speaking, when one is not in the meditation practice one has to feel I take refuge in the Buddha, the Three Jewels and I have to rely on a perfect path, I have to give up negativity. I need to have compassion for the sentient beings. I have to generate virtue. One has that when one is not in the Meditation State, but when one is in the actual practice of resting naturally one does not have to entertain anything about hope and fear. Whenever we have a session of practice, we think I will perform this practice to the best of my ability. If one rests one's mind naturally one doesn’t have to think about am I one pointed or have I got the mindfulness or where is the mindfulness. One doesn’t have to think like that. If one has the non-distractedness with the relaxed mind then naturally the mindfulness and the one pointed mind will arise. If one has the mindfulness first, nondistraction, and the one pointedness will come with it, the three will come together. As beginners it won’t be easy for us to be like that, we won’t be able to achieve it for a long time, two for three seconds it will last, maybe ten seconds. If one can manage one minute of non-distracted meditation that is fine, it is possible that some people can sit for five minutes. You can’t say that everybody is of the same type, everybody has a different experience of that. For the majority of people though, normally they can’t rest in meditation for a long time. Now I'd like us to meditate together for a short while. Please keep your body straight and have a relaxed mind. 82
It’s finished. How was that? Does anyone have any questions?
Q. Is there an object of mindfulness? A. At this moment there is not object for the mindfulness, one doesn’t have any idea of object, there is not even the idea I am not going to be distracted one just rests. There is no idea that there is an object that one is going to say to oneself, I am not going to be distracted from this, there is not an object at this moment. Q. So how are we resting the mind? A. Rest the mind naturally, without object. Just how the mind rests itself naturally leave it like that. Q. What if thoughts arise, what do we do then? A. You don’t have to do anything, if the thoughts come up they come, if they don’t come, they don’t come, and you don’t do anything. This is the meditation of Shinay without characteristics; with the meditation of Shinay with characteristics in some way you relate with the thoughts. I will explain that later. Q. Do we have to look at a particular object? A. You are not looking at any particular object. If you are looking straight ahead you still have a perception of everything that is around you. You are not looking at a particular thing, you can look at something if you want, but normally one doesn’t pick a particular object and stare at it one just rests the mind and perceives. Q. [Inaudible] A. When you are meditating it depends upon one's mindfulness. So whether there are thoughts or no thoughts the difference is whether one has mindfulness or not. We don’t say that if one has thoughts that is not meditating or if one has no thoughts that is meditating. We don’t say it like that, what we are saying is that the mindfulness is the key point here, whether one has mindfulness or not, not the presence or absence of thoughts. Q. If one is just resting how can we have non-distraction? A. If one is just resting naturally you are not distracted. If one is resting naturally then one has this idea of being in town, if at the time one is meditating and the thought of going to town arises, you have become distracted if you forget the feeling of "I am meditating". That is distraction. A more correct way to say it is that one has a very subtle feeling that one is meditating, then if one has the idea of going to town arise, if one is not distracted by that then that thought hasn’t stopped you from meditating. We have this subtle idea that I am resting. The mindfulness doesn’t have to pinpoint on to something, why is it like this, it’s because the mind itself has a natural clarity like the flame of the candle. It has this clarity naturally with it we don’t need an object for that clarity to be with, it's just naturally arising, naturally present, it doesn’t depend on an object. If one doesn’t have a good understanding of this 83
Shinay without characteristics then it is better to practice Shinay with characteristics. Q. What is the difference between mindfulness and awareness? A. The meaning is the same. Q. How do we deal with the various experiences that can arise which are not just like thoughts of going to town? A. If you have an experience then one can look at the experience itself undistractedly. It is possible to be non-distracted with the experience, if one rests ones mind naturally, then naturally you will have the clarity and bliss, most people will experience some bliss at some point. Q. Sometime I sort of experience fear though? A. For beginners that can happen, one can experience fear and that’s not bad. Q. Initially I experienced restfulness, then I had sleepiness. A. As a beginner, then these kinds of experiences will arise, you will feel like this, this is not a problem do not worry about it if one starts to feel sleepy. One looks at that itself directly, that feeling of sleepiness that becomes one's support for the mindfulness this actual feeling of the sleepiness. That would be good wouldn't it? You can look at that support when you are falling asleep. The mind that is non-distracted with the idea of falling asleep, if you are not distracted when you eventually go to sleep the sleeping becomes like Shinay. If you can accomplish this, the mindfulness with the sleeping then if you sleep a lot it will be very good for you won’t it? But if one hasn’t got mindfulness when one is asleep then it is a lot of wasted hours, generally you can apply this kind of technique. Q. Are we trying to rest our mind in its natural essence? A. You don’t have this specific idea of thinking that I have to look at the awareness or where is it? Is it there or not? You don’t have to look around one for that one just has natural arising awareness, just rest the mind. You are not doing anything you are not looking for anything you’re not inspecting it one just rests. So if one rests the mind, the awareness will arise naturally. Q. There's no need to look at the awareness A. Just relax, just relax, that’s all, mindfulness, awareness will naturally come. Q. If you are doing that meditation and you realise that the body has leaned over to one side, do you just bring it back up straight? A. Yes of course yes.
Shinay With Characteristics
Now I am going to explain the Shinay with characteristics, connected with oneself. We have the five perception which are like doors, doorways, what do we mean by the door? They're doors by which arise the mind poisons the anger jealousy and so on. Also the suffering, one example of looking at an object then because of that perceiving the object the mind poison can arise and one will have suffering with that, if one perceives a beautiful object and you think ooh that’s really nice and desire arises and you think I want that, I need that, then one will have suffering from that because you have engendered the desire. If one is looking out and then one sees a person and you’re smiling happily to them and they give you a really dirty look back immediately you will feel angry with them and that is also through the doorway perception. The door of the eyes along with that anger one will have suffering. All of the other doors of perception are like that and also the mind poisons are the same, if you hear with your ear that some one is saying oh! You're so beautiful you’ve got a wonderful body you’re nice and thin, you'll really like it. You’ve got a very nice mind you’re a very good person you’ll like that won’t you? If the opposite of that happens, if you are hearing the words someone saying you’re rubbish you’re really bad you’ve got a terrible mind and you’ve got no qualities then if you heard that then you’d be quite saddened wouldn’t you? Because of the perceptions you can have suffering associated with that, with the senses of the smell, taste and touch one can also experience suffering with them. The time when ones mediating then one's five perceptions which give rise to the five objects, you use these objects as a support for one's practice they become like your friends in the practice, if one understands the point of the meditation practice then one can utilise the objects like that. First of all I am going to explain how to use looking at something as a meditation support. The main point of the Shinay is the mindfulness, and also non-distractiveness, awareness, so generally speaking when we when we say mindfulness we are also including within that the one pointedness and the non-distractiveness within that awareness. We are looking at a form or object we are going to use that as a support we are going to use the object as a support for the mindfulness. How do we approach this? If one is using an object as a meditation support, if one perceives a nice object or a bad object that doesn’t make any difference at all in one's mind, one realises that you are seeing a form. You don’t have to think whether it is good or bad just the object itself, with that perception of looking at the object there arises at the same time the awareness of "I am looking at an object". So you look at both of them the object and the awareness of object. When one is a beginner it's best to look at a small object, that would be more beneficial. So we are going to meditate like that, you can look at anything you want, you can look at this nice container on the table if you want, or whatever colours or form one likes. Also the people who are sitting behind people you can look at the back of the person's head in front of you, that’s ok, this ones got long hair this ones bald, you don’t have to think like that, long hair or bald. You just perceive it as the back of someone's neck, an object. We will do a little meditation like that, first please just sit with a relaxed mind. ... so look at the object now ... and again rest naturally…that's the end. This kind of remaining aware won’t last for a very long time, just a short time, one may experience four or five, six seconds then one will become distracted and then one will 85
come back and then again a few seconds later become distracted again. The way to practise is to have short moments repeated often, sometimes when one is practising this looking at the form, the form itself can seem to rotate and move around, sometimes it will look like it's two forms instead of one. Sometimes one's vision will fade and one won’t be able to perceive the object, sometimes you can’t see very well and you become dizzy, its like seeing the objects very close to ones eyes, whatever kind of experience like that happens if they arise then it doesn’t matter its not a problem. If the object one is looking at turns into two, then you can meditate on both of them. If the object seems to have the appearance of smoke that’s ok you just rest with that. If one is practising for sometime with the object and one finds you have unpleasant feeling arise then just leave it, rest and use the meditation of Shinay without characteristics, just rest naturally. I have explained that we were just looking at one particular object. But then you can also do it a different way you can just look, so I am just looking out, I am aware of the Lama on my right side, and of the translator on my left side. I'm also aware of everybody here. Just looking just perceiving one can also use that as a technique, all of the things that one perceives with one's eye you are aware of that. The mind recognises all of the things that are there it's aware of that it knows what it sees, so one just thinks I am seeing. We will sit like that for a short while, just be relaxed at the beginning ... now just look ... now relax again ... finished, anyone have any questions? Q. Sometimes the breathing becomes quite slow, at other times I'm panting. What is the reason for that? A. The variations in one's breathing whether one's going slowly or whether one's panting this is naturally arising from the bodies movement of the wind and the blood. You don’t have to think I am breathing slowly that is not very good I’m breathing too quickly that’s not very good. Don’t worry about it its just naturally the body itself working. Q. What happens if you are aware of things around with one's other senses? I was aware of people behind me but I wasn't looking with my eyes. A. If you can see a person behind you with your eyes that's very good! Actually the technique we are using at the moment is just associated with the vision of what one perceives with one's eyes. We're not meditating on hearing or smell, taste or feeling. We haven’t said anything about that yet, but that will happen, it is coming. If one's looking at an object as support then if one is hearing something then one can also use that as a support, one or the other. If you want to do it like that you can. The second thing we are going to look at is the sound, using the sound as a support. One hears sound with one's ears doesn’t one, when one hears a sound in your mind you think I am hearing sound and you look at that. You think what is the sound I am hearing with my ear? Whatever one is hearing that's fine one's just hearing. Can you hear a sound at the moment? What kind of sound? Are you hearing anything at the back? We are going to use sounds we are perceiving with our ears as a support for the meditation for a while, first thing is to relax ... now just hear ... again relax ... that’s finished. As we used the sight and the hearing as a support then in the same way we can apply that 86
to smell, taste, and touch. With one's smell one just smells whatever is there. When one's making food that's a very good thing to do isn't it? Something’s are boiling, some things are frying maybe we are making a big steak, and as the nice smells are coming up you can smell them, so you can meditate on that. One can rest one's mind with the experience of the taste, if it is bitter, salty or sweet, whatever, if its tasty, or hot, when you are meditating you put out some food and go mmmmmmmmmm hot, later on when all of you go into some short retreat or something then you can buy very lovely food the most tastiest food you can get and sit in your meditation and just eat it and if some one says to you after you spent all the time in your retreat just eating food you can say I was practising the awareness of the taste, that would be very good wouldn’t it. That’s a joke! Also with one's perception of touch or feeling, you can meditate on that. When one is meditating one's leg might hurt, back could hurt, and we have headache. If one experiences pain anywhere in the body at the moment one is totally aware of that pain one puts one's awareness onto that. Generally speaking the pain in one's body is a very good support for one's awareness and meditation. If you’ve got a sore tooth for example, without any control one's mind just naturally, immediately goes there and kind of looks at that pain, you’ve time to think oh! I’ve got pain! Maybe half the actual pain from the illness is what’s naturally there the other half is what you make with your mind, thinking, I’m poorly I’m sick I’m in pain. Buddha said that the main cause of having illness is the thinking that I’m ill, that thought, this is not very good I don’t want to have the pain or the illness, its going to hurt me, it's harmful to me, I definitely have to have a remedy for this. If one has a very strong feeling of this then it can make the illness increase, if we have mindfulness of the pain, when we are experiencing the pain and one rests with that then slowly over time the feeling of I have pain, I am sick, will diminish, if one has mindfulness associated with feeling or experience of the pain then normally what would happen is the pain itself would become less it wouldn’t increase. You don’t have to think I must pacify this illness I must remove this illness all this pain. It's not beneficial to think like that. You don’t have to think now for the reason of getting rid of my illness and pain I am going to meditate now, one does. Not have a strong feeling of that. Whatever experience one has of pain, if it's in the back or legs whatever it's in one's mind then one experiences that, you look at that feeling directly. If you get your hand and squeeze a big lump of cheek, if you squeeze your cheek like that its painful isn’t it? Normally you think oh that hurt I don’t like it. It’s not very good if you think like that the pain will increase. But that's the feeling of the body isn’t it? If you look at that feeling, then as much as you squeeze its not going to get worse its not going to hurt you more. If you cause yourself pain and look directly at the pain normally what will happen it won’t become stronger it won’t get worse. So that’s the practice with the touch or feeling. Whatever arises associated with these five doors or perceptions then one can use them as a friend in meditation as help. Some people say I am trying to meditate and there’s this guy going up and down, it ruined my meditation completely, if you’ve got mindfulness and you are aware that the persons 87
moving up and down and you have mindfulness with that then you are meditating you don’t have to feel that your meditation has been ruined. It becomes a friend to your meditation, it’s a kind of friend on the path, and support to your meditation, that person can’t destroy your meditation. Also another thing that can happen somebody will be sitting in the house meditating and will hear some people arguing outside shouting at each other cars going up and down the road your think oh! I’ve lost my meditation completely its gone. But if one's totally aware of the sound and uses the sound as a support for meditation then it will be better, you have not lost your meditation at all its been helped actually by having a support. If you have lots of sound you have lots of support for you meditation, you are very lucky then if you have lots of sound lots of noise around you. All of the objects of perception whether it’s the sight, sound or taste any of these can be a support for your meditation.
Meditating With Thoughts
That was the explanation of the Shinay using the five doors of perception as a support. Now I am going to talk about using the thought itself as a support for the meditation. Many people think argh! I am trying to meditate and I have too many thoughts at a time in my mind and they ruin my meditation, I’m not able to meditate. If one understands the point of mediation the thoughts will be transformed into one's friends and supports for the practice. How do you do this, how do you achieve this? It's really easy actually, its not difficult at all, as said earlier if you are using your eye perception as your support when you see the object and you know you have seen the object and have awareness of that then that’s the support, it has been transformed into a support. Likewise if one hears a sound with one's ear and one has mindfulness of that and rests one's mind with that, then that sound has become a support for your practice. Like that we look at the thoughts. In my mind what thoughts are arising? If one can be aware of the thoughts as they arise then all of the thoughts in your mind become transformed to help us as a support for your practice. Then you are able to have one pointed awareness with your thought, and you have non-distractiveness with your thought. If you have a million thoughts then you have a million supports for your practice, that’s very good isn’t it? You can say oh! Please come thoughts, come on, come on! The main point is that one's just sits relaxed and one just looks at the thoughts. What’s arising? If one can see the first thought that comes up then that’s followed by a second thought, and third thought, and a fourth thought, if one can keep one's awareness and mindfulness of that then all of these thoughts become supports for your practice. Normally we have two states in the mind. The presence or absence of thought. There are just these two states, either the mind moving and having thoughts or the mind resting and absence of thoughts, there is no third state apart from these two. If one can look at the thoughts one then can use that as a support for the meditation. If one has no thoughts that’s fine that’s Shinay with no characteristics, if one is able to have mindfulness and look at the thoughts that meditation Shinay with characteristics. So if one has thoughts or not, it's ok, if one has no thoughts that also ok, both are very good, we only have two states in our mind either with thought or without thought, there is no third state to be in, you can meditate in both of these states. There is nothing easier than that. What could be easier than that? To think that now I have thoughts it's no good when I haven’t got thoughts it's better, one doesn’t think like that, if you think like that, if it was like that then one would have a lot of difficulty, its not like that. We are going to do a short meditation looking at the thoughts, first one has a relaxed mind, ... now look at the thought ... now relax again ... It’s finished how was that? Q. What is the difference between thought and distraction? A. One can have mindfulness with the presence of thoughts or without the presence of 89
thoughts. Not all thoughts are distractions. What is meant is if one has lost the mindfulness then one has become distracted that is what distraction means. The absence of mindfulness. Q. But doesn’t the mind send the thought away? A. If one has mindfulness the thoughts can go away but then it can also happen that you have mindfulness with the presence of thoughts, you can have both. For beginners then they have the mindfulness together with the thoughts. If one practises the Shinay gradually over a long period of time then eventually one's thoughts are pacified and become like the ocean without waves. So without having control of the thoughts one just naturally subside and then one will have this wave free ocean. At that point when one has this control of one's mind one can send out or rest. You can have control when one has clarity. If one wants the mind to rest, it will rest, if one wants to send the mind outwards then it will go out. At the moment we don’t have control of our minds, after some time one gets that, if you think I need the mind to rest it doesn’t rest it goes off it gets distracted, and if you think I have to think this won’t happen, we don’t have control of our mind at this time it comes later. Q. What about clinging, self-clinging, should we look at that? A. Yes its good you can look at it directly, like yesterday we were looking at the anger, it’s the same. Q. How does one relate to grasping? A. You can look at that itself, look at the grasping itself. You are aware that you have grasping, so you look at that grasping itself directly. If one has illness in one's body one looks at that feeling of the sickness the feeling of the pain. You don’t have to look particularly at the illness itself you look at the feeling associated with the illness that’s what one puts one's mindfulness on. Q. Here at the centre we have a meditation day. Would you please give us some advice on how to begin and end a meditation session? A. At the beginning one does the Refuge and then recites the Bodhicitta aspiration so that you feel I am going to practice meditation for the benefit of all sentient beings to bring them to the level of enlightenment. The actual practice itself, in between those prayers of the Refuge and Bodhicitta, and the Dedication at the end, one can practice whatever technique one wants. Q. Sometimes thoughts arise which I call wisdom thoughts. In the context of meditation should one just allow them to arise or would it be appropriate to contemplate them? A. If one doesn’t understand the nature of one's mind if one has these naturally arising thoughts which you are calling wisdom then they won’t be very beneficial to you, won’t be much benefit it has to go with one's realisation of the nature of mind. Now I'd like to say something more. When one is looking at the thoughts as a support of practice then there are three things that can happen. The first one is, as John was saying, if one looks at the thoughts they can disappear, and one is unable to have thoughts they 90
don’t seem to arise, one is just sitting there with no thought, that’s very good, but it won’t last for a long time. Only a very short period of time that’s Shinay without characteristic, maybe two or three seconds it will last for. Then again a thought will arise, then you look at it again and then it disappears and then one is just sitting there, there is no thought, and there is nothing particular happening, then another thought will arise, it changes like this, it alternates between thought and not thought, that’s very good. The second thing that one experience is that when the thoughts arise, immediately you have this awareness of the thought arising, so this is like a mala one thought comes and then it's followed by another one, and another one and then one can be aware and look at all of these thoughts in a row, that also very good. All of the thoughts become a support for ones Shinay practice, with the arising of the thoughts one has one pointed awareness of the thoughts and one has mindfulness of the thoughts, then you can have awareness of all the thoughts in the session you have this one continued awareness. The thoughts themselves become the support for one's nondistractedness in the practice. The third thing that one can experience is that a thought arises one looks at it and it disappears, and then there is a long gap between a thought arising, it’s a very long time no thoughts at all and that’s also very good. It's easy isn’t it? The mindfulness is the most important, that’s the most important thing to know. Any kind of conflicting emotion, the anger, jealousy, pride and so on, if they come up one can look at them and they can all be transformed into support for one's practice. If one uses these techniques of using anything that arises as a support for the meditation then over time one will achieve more control of one's mind and peace, happiness and bliss will naturally arise in the mind. Having this mindfulness and practice of the Shinay then one's power and openness of mind and qualities will increase. One will have a very strong confidence and power with the mind, then you will have absence of fear and suffering, finally we will have the experience of our mind being open completely like a cloudless sky. So from the beginning we practise in a gradual and relaxed way and one will have the experience of clarity, emptiness and bliss, so these three things emptiness, clarity and bliss will be a natural result of having a relaxed mind. They are the peaceful experiences. Also at the beginning when one is practising it seems one's thoughts have increased, have become more than normal. The explanation for this is that normally we are not aware of our thoughts, but when we practice the meditation our focus is the thoughts we are becoming aware of what’s going on in the mind, so then we see what we normally don’t normally perceive. Then finally we can have the experience of what is called very well trained, that means that one's body feels lighter and one naturally has the feeling of bliss, emptiness and clarity. In the beginning when one enters this stage of very well trained the first feeling one gets is that one's head will become a little bit heavy. After that one will get this feeling of bliss, and one's body becomes very supple and free and whatever one wants to do with the body one can do it and also in one's mind the suffering is decreased. An example of this well trained feeling is like when you have completely shaved your head with a razor so there is nothing left and then you put a very hot hand on top of your head, that feeling you get with that hot hand is similar to the feeling of the well trained, where you 91
have this feeling in one's head. One gets this arising of bliss and absence of suffering. There’s another example, it’s like the lining of a very good quality sleeping bag it's like kapok or something very soft and very nice and warm, its like being wrapped up in something like that. These are the experiences one gets when you enter this stage which is called well trained. At the point one has achieved this level of well trained then the experiences are like that and they don’t change. But up to that point then one has experiences that are going up and down and they won’t be stable. They will be all over the place, sometimes one will have a great feeling of bliss and happiness, and maybe a month later you will loose it all and become very depressed and feel that you can’t meditate. Also you can experience bliss and then you sometimes get depression. None of the experiences are stable; this is likened to the waterfall that comes down a mountain rushing here and there all over the place. You have various experiences some are good and some are bad and their instability is not a bad sign it's actually taken as a good sign, this is the sign of the beginning to start meditation practice. You need to recognise this and look at that, be aware of it, so you have to understand that it's a good sign. If one does not recognise that these things are a good sign then you will have suffering because you’ll think I’m not doing very well, things are going badly I’m not happy all the time I’m unhappy. One needs to recognise these ups and downs as a sign, a good sign. This brings us to the end of our teachings. You’ve had a lot of diligence sitting here quite happily listening to the teachings and I would like to thank you all. If you can practice it will be very good. The happiness and peacefulness we have is from the mind itself, so if we want to have peace and happiness in our lives we should practise with our minds. OK.
Meditation and Non-meditation
The Very Venerable Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche
Halifax Shambhala Center, Nova Scotia Canada, January 27, 2004
Translator: Tyler Dewar Transcriber: Ben Trembley Editor: Judith Smith
Good afternoon everyone. Tashi Delek. Good morning. Maybe good evening. In certain parts of Canada, it is daylight for six months and then dark for the other six months. So these phrases of "good morning" and "good evening" would not always apply. It is "good whatever."
Tonight we will talk about calm abiding meditation, or shamatha [Skt]. The title of the lecture series is "Meditation and Non-meditation," and it seems that these two are contradictory to each other. But if we really understand what meditation is we will see that they are the same. The Tibetan word for calm abiding or shamatha is shi-ne The first syllable is shi, which means to pacify. What does "to pacify" mean? We have no control over our usual mind, the mind in which we experience suffering and the mind that behaves like a crazy monkey. Shi refers to pacifying our mind - we gain control of it and pacify these undesirable qualities like wildness. The second syllable, ne, means to abide or to rest. This means that we can harness our mind toward whatever purpose we desire. If we want our mind to stay, our mind stays; and when we want our mind to do something, it does something. We have complete control over our mind. That is what is referred to by ne. We are talking about gaining control or freedom over our mind. We could ask the question, isn't it usually the case that we do have control or freedom over our mind? No, there is no such control or freedom. Even though we don't wish to become angry, we become angry. Even if we think that getting angry is not good, anger arises. In the same way we do not want to become sad or depressed, we do not want to be tense in our mind, but all of this happens anyway. In particular, our mind creates a lot of problems where there are none.
If we brought a crazy monkey in here and let it roam about, it would do two types of things: it would create tasks for us where there were no tasks to begin with, and it would create problems where there were no problems. The monkey would create messes where there were no messes. It would come and tear down the artwork from the shrine and mess up all the offerings. It would pull down all the ornamentation, and mess up all the cushions, scattering them all over the place. But the monkey doesn't need to do any of that. It would be fine for the monkey to come in and sit on a really comfortable cushion and just relax there. If the monkey got a little bit thirsty, it could maybe go up to the shrine and drink some water; there's plenty of it there. Aside from that the monkey really doesn't need to do anything. This is similar to what our mind does. Our mind becomes upset over very small issues; it takes a small issue and turns it into a very big issue and we become more and more tense about it. Why does this happen? It happens to us because we bind ourselves up with our own fixation, and because we do not know how to relax. During my talks on lovingkindness and compassion, this principle of how we make minor issues into major ones was illustrated by the example of the placement of the cup.. When we are working, we become fixated over the small problems in our job, and that occupies all of our attention so that we completely miss the big problems. When we are studying, if our mind is tightly fixated we will not be able to learn very well because there will not be any space in our minds for new information to come in. When we drive a car, we are always thinking about who is in front of us and how we can get in front of them, and how the time is running out. [Rinpoche acts out being very anxious and in a hurry.] If we drive like that it is very easy for us to get into accidents; we will turn our cars where we should not turn them and it will take us a longer time to get where we want to go. In this way we behave like a crazy monkey. To give another example, we could take how we view our own faces. Many people have a lot of fixation and become very tense about their own face. [Rinpoche acts out again.] "I need a nice face." We look with this tight and fixated mind into the mirror. Even if there is nothing at all wrong with your face, if you look at it with this attitude for long enough, eventually you would find something wrong with it. You would find that you have a slightly crooked nose, or that one cheek is bigger than the other, or something like that. And you get more upset about it, and more fixated about that "problem." In terms of your own perception, that "fault" would become bigger and bigger and bigger. After about a month of doing that, you would look at yourself in the mirror and think, "My nose is extremely crooked," even though it isn't crooked at all. You would become very embarrassed with yourself, and you wouldn't want to go out where people would see you. You might even want to stop talking and communicating with people because you would think everyone was looking at your crooked nose, even though they weren't looking at it at all. Even though none of these things were true, from the perspective of our own perception we would see ourself as unattractive, and in that way our mind would have made a problem where there was no problem at all. We should understand that that is what is happening here. If we understand that, this is what's known as precise knowledge, or prajna [Skt.]. There are a lot of things our mind does to us in the same way and there is no good reason 94
for them other than being a creation of our mind. But we always believe our mind and think that our mind is one-hundred-percent true. Perceptions are created by the mind, the mind believes those projections so it becomes like a circle. That is the way it is, mind ends up believing in its own perceptions.
When we meditate on calm abiding, or shamatha, we make our mind more pliable, and thereby gain control of it. We bring strength to our mind, just like exercising. If we exercise and eat vitamins at the same time, that will bring forth the natural strength that is in our body. If we bring forth the strength that is naturally present in our body, the illnesses that we may currently be suffering will be removed and our good health will help us prevent future illnesses from arising. This approach of exercising and taking vitamins in this way is much better than taking medicine for illnesses that we have, because, for example, if we take medicine for an illness connected to our lungs, that might harm our liver and our kidney. If we take medicine to work on our kidneys, that might harm other parts of our body - the medicine does not bring forth the natural strength and potency that is available in our body in the first place. This is why we practice shamatha, calm abiding: to bring forth the potency and strength that is in the mind in the first place. Further, when we practice this meditation we awaken what is called "inner peace," an inner peace that does not depend upon outer causes and conditions. If we try to depend upon outer causes for peace, this is similar to taking medicine for the fast relief of an illness. If we are particularly stricken by a cup, and fixate on that, that might make us feel good in the short term. But if that cup breaks, it causes a lot of suffering for us. If we play GameBoys or other such entertainment, then temporarily it is very pleasant. But if we have strong fixation towards it, it causes us suffering when it gets broken, and getting broken is the nature of such machines because they are compounded phenomena. These are some general ideas about why it is important to practice meditation, shamatha. It is very important for us to understand these general ideas before we learn the actual practice. For instance, if we are shooting a gun, we need to know what and where the target is. Otherwise we will not know where the bullet is going to hit. In terms of the practice of shamatha, there are two essential points: the key points of body and the key points of mind.
Mind and Body
In the early stages of the path of meditation, when we haven't achieved a high level of realization, our body and mind relate to each other in the manner of support and supported. Our body functions as the support for our mind, which in turn is supported by our body. If we compare this view to what modern scientists are saying these days, it is very similar. In Buddhism we talk about three different qualities that make up the more subtle aspects of the physical body, which relate to our meditation. They are called channels, winds and 95
essences. Modern science talks about neurons, brain waves and cells. The neurons are parallel to the channels, the brain waves are parallel to the winds, and the cells are parallel to the essences. In addition, what modern science says about what happens in the whole body is similar to the Buddhist presentation. The body is like this cup, and the mind is like the water inside it. Until we attain liberation, for as long as we move the cup, the water will be moving inside. If we drink the water, we will drink our mind [laughter]. In this state, the body and mind go along together, in very similar continua. Our body goes from the stages of the body of the present life to the body of the intermediary state, between death and the birth of our next life, and then it becomes the body of our next life. Our mind goes right along that same continuum as well. This is the presentation according to the Buddhist teachings.
Seven Points of Posture
When we meditate there are seven key points to our body posture that are very important. The first point is to cross the legs - just how basically all of you are sitting right now. This is very good posture. If you are able to assume what is called the vajra posture, more commonly known as the lotus posture, this is the number one way to sit with your legs. However, we should pay heed to what our body is telling us; if it hurts us a lot to sit in that posture and if we try to force ourselves into it, even though we don't want to sit that way, then that really can hurt us a lot. So we should not do it. Even if we are sitting in a regular cross-legged fashion, if our legs get sore it is no problem to extend them. Also we can sit in a chair. The second key point of posture is to put our hands in the posture of equipoise, with our left hand underneath and our right resting on top of it, or with our right hand underneath and our left hand resting on top of it. The most important point is to rest them in a relaxed way. We can also rest our hands on top of our two knees. Some people have short arms and it is not comfortable for them to rest their hands on their knees, so they can rest them further up their thighs. The third key point of posture is to relax our shoulders appropriately. There should be some space between our torso and our upper arms. If we relax our shoulders evenly and have our hands on top of our knees, there will naturally be a space between our upper arms and our torso. If we have the posture where our hands are in front of our navel, we can extend our upper arms slightly so that there is slightly more space between them and the torso. These are like the wings of a vulture. One time while I was traveling in France walking through a park, I came across a person sitting down in the park. He was thrusting his arms out every few seconds. This person looked up and saw me, spoke to me and asked if I were one of those Buddhist monks who meditates. I said yes. The person asked me if I was having any difficulty with meditation, and I said no, no problem really. This person responded, "Well, when I meditate, it's kind of hard for me, because you have to do this with your arms, right?" I said, "No, I've never heard of that technique, where did you learn it?" The person said he had read it from a book. So I asked him what it said in the book, and the person told me it had said that your arms should be like the wings of a vulture [laughter]. Maybe it's because Tibetan vultures are different from French vultures[laughter]? Just joking .
The fourth key point is the most important point of all: sitting with a straight back. We should not slouch over like this. If we try to over-extend our back, then we will fall backwards. So we should sit with our back straight. It is no problem if we end up leaning back or forward a little bit, and we should keep our mind relaxed and not be too fixated about it. We do not need to get caught up in the more subtle points of whether we should be sticking our chest out or in or anything like that. The fifth key point is to bring the jaw inwards slightly taking the general weight of our head onto our jaw, letting our jaw absorb the weight of the head. We let the weight of our head rest so that our jaw is slightly pressing down against our Adam's apple. If we wanted to turn our head from side to side it would be completely ready to do that. Some people have a tendency to lean back with their head, or forward, or side-to-side or what have you, but we should have our head in a central place. The sixth key point of posture is that our mouth should be relaxed in a way that our upper and lower teeth are not touching each other, and our upper and lower lips are not touching each other - there is a slight space in between. We can be breathing through our mouth, breathing through our nose or breathing through both. The seventh key point is to rest our eyes in the way that they naturally are. We can have our gaze going slightly downward, it can be going directly outward or it could be slightly upwards. It is actually better to shift our gaze from time to time. If we try to keep our gaze in the same place for a long time, it tires us out, so if we shift our gaze occasionally, that keeps things fresh. It is okay to blink when we meditate.
This completes the body posture. From among all these key points it is important to keep in mind that relaxation in our body is very important. We should sit with the muscles in our body relaxed. Let's try this together, just practicing the body posture. We don't need to meditate. Sit up straight, with your body relaxed in general, and relax your mind as well. You do not need to think of anything in particular - we're just sitting with our body relaxed and our mind relaxed. We're not talking about meditation yet. We are just going to sit with our body and mind relaxed, just like we had finished a long job that made us tired. [Rinpoche leads the participants through this practice.] When we have finished an intense workout or exercise, and we have worked really hard, we are tired, and are completely relaxed in our body. Let's just sit together like that. [All sit.] That's all. How was that? Were you able to relax? Good. This relaxation is meditation. But I did not instruct you to meditate. But it is said, nonmeditation is the supreme meditation. Therefore we don't need to meditate. We relax our body and we relax our mind. We experience these states of relaxation in our body and mind frequently in our everyday life. Why doesn't that benefit us when that happens? Because we do not recognize that it is happening. Just now we relaxed while knowing we were relaxing. This is what is known as mindfulness. Therefore, if we relax, mindfulness comes right along with it. Usually, we tire ourselves out and then relax after that, but we do not realize that we are relaxing - our attention is always facing outward, looking at other things.
Here we are relaxing in our body and mind while being aware that that is what we are doing. By being aware that we are relaxing when we are relaxing, we come to gain control over our mind. So that's easy, right? It is very easy. You do not need to do anything. You do not need to meditate. You do not need to create anything. You do not need to work hard. Therefore it is easier than sleeping! When we want to sleep, we need to make our bed and make sure there's a nice pillow and then finally we lay down and relax. When we relax in this way what is our mind like? Our mind is relaxed and comfortable but still we cannot identify it; we can't point at our mind and say "this is my relaxed mind" or "this is my comfortable mind." This meditation technique that has just been described is called shamatha or calm abiding meditation without object. Beginners probably would not experience that type of meditation for more than two, three or five seconds, but that's fine. We should practice in short segments many times. If we set out a very large container and put it in a place where it could catch drops of water, these single drops of water will cause the whole container to become full. In the same way, if we practice in short segments many times, our meditation will improve. We shouldn't think thoughts like "I need to sit for a long time," "I need to stop my thoughts," because thoughts will happen and we cannot stop them. We can't shoot our thoughts, we can't burn our thoughts, and even if we set off a bomb, that will not stop our thoughts. That is the nature of mind. We do not need to stop our thoughts. What do we need? We need mindfulness. The main point about shamatha meditation is mindfulness, or, in other words, awareness. That's why we can say that when there is mindfulness, there is shamatha, there is meditation; but when there is no mindfulness there is no meditation. We are not saying that when there are thoughts there is no meditation, and when there are no thoughts that is meditation; it's not about that at all. The point is whether there is mindfulness or not. So meditation in this way is extremely easy, but there is one difficulty: it is so easy that it is hard. It's hard because we don't trust it. We are always thinking that meditation must be referring to something very special. [Rinpoche demonstrates in an amusing "blessed out" kind of way] Relaaaxed! Peeeace! Opennessss! Niiice! This is not meditation. Our expectations about meditation bind our minds. This way of meditating is so close to us that we do not see it. It is just like the design on this cup I'm holding. If we put the design right in front of our eyes we won't be able to see the details. Meditation is like that. Therefore, for beginners, it is a little bit easier to do a meditation that is a little bit difficult.
Now I will give you a difficult method of meditation [laughter]. This one relates to the collection of consciousnesses that we have. Buddhism teaches about six different consciousness: the eye consciousness that sees form, the ear consciousness that hears sounds, the nose consciousness that smells, the tongue that perceives tastes, our body consciousness that perceives tactile objects, and our mental consciousness that perceives thoughts. The reason why all of our disturbing states of mind, our suffering and monkeylike behavior, happen is because of this very collection of consciousnesses that has six different parts. We can see how, from the mere perception of a form, we have attachment, we feel anger, jealousy, fear, and all kinds of different disturbing emotions. To give a little example: If we said to someone else, "He-hey!" and that person said, "He-hey!" right back to us then we'd 98
be happy about that. But if we said, "He-hey!" and the person just looked at us and frowned, that would make us sad and upset, and become a difficult experience for us. This is what happens in relation to forms, and it is the same with sound. If someone says, "You're good!" that makes us happy; if someone says to us, "You're bad" then that upsets us. The same is for tastes: when we taste delicious foods, that makes us have a pleasant feeling in our minds; and when we taste food that is not delicious, it makes us upset in our minds. What would happen if we eat hot chili? Are hot chilis tasty or not tasty? [Various lively responses from the assembly; Rinpoche laughs.] How many people think they're tasty, raise your hand. Ah, me too! How many people think they're not so tasty? Hot chilis themselves cannot say anything about their being tasty or not tasty; they have to depend on the people tasting them. It is actually the exact same way for all things in the world good and bad are created by our own mind. If tasty or not tasty were qualities that existed within the hot chili itself, then it would be tasted in exactly the same way by everyone. So if the hot chili actually existed as "tasty," then it would have to be perceived as tasty by everyone who ate it. But because those qualities do not exist in the chili itself, then for some people hot chilis are tasty, for others they are not. It is the same for smells, tangible objects, and so on. When some people who are immersed in meditation consider the thoughts that arise from seeing forms, hearing sounds, smelling smells, and so forth, they think that these thoughts harm their meditation, are enemies to their meditation. But for those who really understand the essential point of meditation, all of those thoughts can become supports and aids to our meditation. Let's look at the way in which we can make these thoughts supports for our meditation.
Meditation With Form
First, with regard to form, our eyes see two kinds of things: shapes and colors. So it would be best for us to start off with a small object. We can look at a very small object and at the same time that our eyes are looking at that object, our mind should also look. If our mind can look at that object, this is what is called shamatha with object. We do not need anything but for our eyes to be looking at the object one-hundred-percent. It is not necessary to try for two-hundred-percent. [Rinpoche holds up his hand.] You see my hand. Even if we were to look at it for one whole hour, would our mind be looking at the hand for the whole hour? If our mind can see the hand, then this seeing is shamatha. That's easy, right? We do not need to meditate on our hand. We don't need to visualize our hand in our mind, or worry what a hand is like. We need merely to see it. [Rinpoche demonstrates by moving his hand around and saying "hand" in each location.] Meditation for beginners is just like a frog - it jumps to one state then goes to the side again, then back and off to the other side, then back and off in another direction. We focus our mind on a particular object and it actually focuses on that object but then scatters off to something else, comes back to the focus, scatters off to something else. We do not need to hold our mind tightly or put a whole lot of energy into our mind to try and bring it into focus. We merely need to see. We manage to look at the object with our mind for a few moments and then it goes off for a tour somewhere in Halifax. We bring it back, and the mind sees the object again for a 99
while, and then it might go home for a few minutes, and then we bring it back to see the object again and that is how we meditate as beginners. We simply just keep bringing it back to that object of focus many times. It is just like exercising. If we practice in this way, our mindfulness will become stronger and stronger. Seeing the form, our mind will extend for longer periods of time. We can practice this type of meditation now, together. You can choose any object to look at. You can look at the back of the head of the person sitting in front of you, if you wish. You do not need to think, "Oh, what kind of hair-do do they have, how did they get their hair to go that way" or "This person doesn't have much hair at all." You don't need to think about that. First, relax your mind. [Pause] Now look at a form. [Pause] Now, without particularly looking at a form, continue sitting with your mind relaxed. [All practice.] When we take a form as an object of our meditation in this way there could be four things that happen that would make us uncomfortable. One is that the object we are looking at turns into two objects. Second is that our perception of the object becomes obscured so that we cannot see it clearly any more. Third is that everything starts moving so that the object does not remain still, kind of like getting dizzy. Fourth is that our eyes could start to hurt, as if the form is actually kind of penetrating into our eyes in an uncomfortable way. Nothing is wrong with any of these four happening; we can simply continue to look at whatever is appearing to our eyes. If we see two things that were once one we can keep looking, but at two. When we practice this way, it is good to alternate the way we just did, sometimes looking at the forms, sometimes not particularly looking at the form but just sitting with our mind relaxed and going back and forth between the two. If we get tired of looking at form, just sit relaxed. If we get tired or bored from sitting relaxed then look at the form. Are there any questions about this particular meditation technique with forms?
Meditation With Sound
Now we can work with the technique related to sound. Do you hear any sound? What sounds? Is there a sound coming from the roof? We'll meditate together and pay attention to what we hear - it could be any sound, doesn't matter what. We do not need to focus on one sound. We simply look with the thought "what is my ear hearing?" We open up our ears. If we do not hear anything in particular, then that will become shamatha without object, and then when we place our attention with mindfulness on what we do hear, that is shamatha with object. When practicing this type of meditation with sound we can have both happening, in alternation with each other - shamatha with object and shamatha without object. First sit with your mind relaxed. [Pause] Now listen to sound. [Pause] Now relax your mind. [Pause] When we do these practices looking at forms and our mind looks at them too, listening to sounds and our mind listens to them too - when our mind is also looking at the form or 100
listening to the sound - we are practicing mindfulness and developing our mindfulness. The more our mind is able to stay with those perceptual objects, the stronger and more developed our mindfulness is becoming. Through continuing to practice in this way, our mind becomes more tamed, more peaceful, and more happy and joyous. We come to gain control over our mind and we gain pliancy in our minds - our minds become more supple.
Question: I was listening to a clock ticking and the sound of the air moving in the vents. I was wondering why I cannot hear that as one sound. I view it as two different sounds. Even if my mind really wants to hear everything as one sound, I'm always flitting between hearing different sounds, and it is never one. Rinpoche: That is not a problem. You do not need to assimilate everything that your ears are hearing as one sound. You can simply place your attention on either whatever is more interesting to listen to or whatever seems most clear or most apparent. You're just sitting there with your ears open, asking yourself what your ears are hearing. Whatever sound becomes more apparent or whatever sound interests you more, you can listen to that sound with your mind. Sometimes it will happen that even if there is sound, you won't be able to identify it as a particular sound. There is sound [Rinpoche fiddles with the microphone to make a sound] but you won't be able to identify it as a particular sound. That also is not a problem. This will be like shamatha without object, and when that happens it is good. In particular, if you like to meditate on shamatha without object, these types of shamatha practices using sounds and forms, and so on, can actually improve your meditation. You will find that the moments in your practice of shamatha without objects are better than your usual attempts at shamatha without object. For the older students who have received pointing out instructions, their recognition of the nature of mind will become even clearer in these moments when they cannot identify sounds. Q: What is the difference between listening to a lecture or talk when you are focusing your ears and your mind together on that sound as opposed to when you are just focusing your ears when you are doing shamatha meditation? R: The difference is mainly that of the presence or absence of recognition that you are meditating. If you listen to the dharma talk and take the teacher's voice as the support for your mindfulness, and you are aware that you're using that voice as the support for mindfulness, and you are relaxing and paying attention with your mind at that time, and you are aware that that is what you are doing, then that is meditation. But if you are not doing that, if you are not intentionally taking that as a support for your mindfulness and are just listening to the words, then that is no different than listening to somebody talk in an ordinary sense. There is the difference of whether there is mindfulness or whether there is no mindfulness. Usually when we listen to sound, we lose ourselves. But when we practice this type of meditation on sound we do not lose ourselves. Q: Do you offer meditation on the sense of taste? R: Yes. Tomorrow I will teach tasting, touching with thought. Q: Assuming that if I am going to start meditating I do it everyday, how long should I be doing it as a beginner? A: You can look at and work with your schedule and see how much time you have in a general sense, but if you can start off by sitting for an hour that is good. And if you can sit for two hours, then that's really good. Also, when you are beginning meditation, it is 102
important to rely on mindfulness from time to time in your ordinary life as well. For example, if you are drinking water you can remove the lid from the cup that you're drinking from and place your attention on that. Then place your attention on setting the lid down. Lifting up your hand again, place attention on your hand, and then when picking up the cup place you can place your attention on picking up the cup. Then place your attention on the taste, and know that you are putting the cup down. Placing your attention and knowing what you are doing are the same thing. Q: Thank you. R: You are welcome. Beginners need to be relaxed. But when you become more familiar, you can do things fast and still have the presence of mindfulness. You can have mindfulness in doing things like that. When we apply meditation to our ordinary life we do not have to be robots. Q: Rinpoche, I once heard Ringu Tulku Rinpoche give the advice to a woman who was irritated by barking dogs to turn off her ears [Rinpoche laughs]. R: If you can turn your ears off with your mind then that is great. The best way to do that is for your mind to not think of the sound as an enemy but to think of it as a friend. If your mind can think of that sound as a friend, then it is the same thing as turning off your ears. There is a story from a long time ago. A famous musician from India, a really good guitar player, was invited by many people to perform in different places. He once went on a tour of India that took six months. When he returned home he discovered that his wife had entered into a relationship with another man. When he discovered this he and his wife had a long conversation [laughter]. At the end of the conversation he determined that he was going to give up everything and go off to meditate. He gave all of his possessions to his wife, and went to the mountains taking only his guitar. On the way to the mountains he saw a yogi meditating in a cave. His hair was tied up in a top-knot, and he was wearing big bone-ornament earrings. He was gazing straight off into space. The man saw this yogi and became very much instilled with faith. He approached the yogi and asked him for meditation instructions. The yogi had a little bit of a big belly. The teacher taught the young musician how to meditate. He said, "Sit with your mind relaxed." He received this instruction from the teacher and went to a meditation place right beside where the yogi was meditating. He tried to practice those instructions, sitting with his mind relaxed. But he could not do it at all - his mind was filled with thoughts. In particular, he could not stop thinking about his guitar. Sometimes he would sit there and meditate and then think about his guitar. Finally he would give in and pick up his guitar and play it for a while. But he would say, "No, this is an obstacle to my meditation," and would cast it aside for a while and try to sit but then become distracted again. The next day he went back to the yogi and said, "Precious guru I have such bad karma! I have no karma to meditate, I cannot do it. Please look upon me with mercy." The lama said, "What is your problem?" The musician said, "Because I have accumulated the bad 103
karma of playing the guitar I cannot get it out of my mind. All I can think about is wanting to play guitar." Lama said, "That is no problem at all! I will give you a new method." The lama taught him a method of meditation where he could focus on the sound of the guitar, and the man was really happy to receive that instruction. He returned to his meditation hut and meditated while playing his guitar. The point where he began his session was the point when he started playing his guitar. After about seven years he became a great mahasiddha. He really did become a great siddha, and I hope that happens to you too. You can do it with your computers, or maybe with the telephone or car. Q: What happened to his wife? R: She got a good new husband and a good new house. Because he gave her everything he had. [Dedication of merit.]
Good evening, everyone.
Tonight we will continue discussing shamatha [Skt.], or calm-abiding meditation. Shamatha is the first type of meditation we engage in when we embark on the path of meditation. As we discussed yesterday, in Tibetan, shamatha is translated as shi-ne. The first syllable, shi, means to pacify - meaning to pacify the mind over which we have no control or freedom - this wild mind that behaves like a crazy monkey, creating problems where there are no problems. This monkey-like mind that we have is ordinarily present with us throughout our day-to-day lives. It is good if we recognize this monkey-like, very wild mind. The worst situation to be in is not even knowing that the mind is behaving like a monkey. If we do not recognize this monkey-like mind, then the phenomenon of creating problems where there are no problems, and creating tasks where there are no tasks, becomes greater and greater. How is it that this wild mind causes problems for us? It causes problems through fixation and being too tight. We could use the example of looking at our face in a mirror. There is nothing wrong with our face to begin with but, because of our tight fixation, we end up making problems with our face, looking for and creating faults. That type of fixation causes greater and greater suffering. There are three levels to this fixation: coarse, subtle and very subtle fixation. In meditation we begin to work with the coarse level of fixation first. The syllable ne in shi-ne means "to abide" or "to rest" - to gain freedom or self-control over our mind. The method we use to gain such freedom is to rest our mind in its own nature by way of mindfulness. If we are able to practice a mindfulness that is harmonious with the nature of our mind, then we will eventually gain control over our mind.
Shamatha Without Object
In terms of resting the mind naturally, I spoke last night about "shamatha without object" or "shamatha without attributes." During this type of shamatha, we relax our body and we relax our mind in its natural state, just as if we were relaxing after having done two hours of exercise, or having done a very hard job. We tire ourselves out, and then we relax completely. That is how we rest in this first type of shamatha. Shamatha without object is so easy that we don't trust it, and so for beginners we need something that is a little bit difficult - the practice of shamatha with object. Whether we're practicing shamatha with object or shamatha without object, we should simply have the attitude that we are going to try our best. We don't have to hold our mind tightly thinking, "It is absolutely not okay if I do not have a good meditation session."
We should think: "If my meditation is good, let it be good. If my meditation is bad, let it be bad. If it is mistaken, let it be mistaken. If it is correct, let it be correct. If I am to be reborn 105
in hell, let me go to hell. If I'm to be reborn in a Pure Land, let me be go to a Pure Land." The time of meditation is precisely this state of being free from cares. We shouldn't be that carefree in our post-meditation stage, but when we meditate, we should definitely be as carefree as that. Once when I was traveling from Delhi to the West, I met up with a Western person in the Delhi airport. The Westerner asked "Do you meditate?" And I said, "Yes, I do." I returned the question, "Do you meditate too?" and he said, "Meditation is too hard for me. As soon as I meditate, about ten minutes pass, I start to feel dizzy, and like I'm about to vomit" [laughter]. Then I said, "If it is like that for you, then it must be a sign that you are not relaxing enough. So you need to relax more." He said, "Forget about that! The more I relax, the worse I get. The more I relax, the more dizzy I get." I asked him, "Do you have a meditation teacher?" He said, "No, I'm reading everything from books." I said, "Well, sit down here and meditate, and I'll watch you." The Westerner said, "Very good, I will." So he sat down on a chair and started meditating. [Rinpoche mimicked the person meditating - people laughed for a long time.] He was just like that, with his body shaking and his eyes really tense and his lips pursed. I said, "Okay, that was okay. Now I'll meditate, and you watch me." He said, "Good idea," and I sat down. The Westerner looked me up and down, head to feet, and then back up to the top of my head again. After a few minutes the Westerner said, "You're just sitting there!" I replied to him, "Meditation is pretty much just sitting. It is just resting with your mind in whatever its nature is." Then some announcements were made over the P.A. system in the airport, and that meant both us had to leave for our respective gates. The first leg of my flight from Delhi landed in Frankfurt. I got off the plane and went into the Frankfurt airport, and saw the same Westerner getting out of his plane. He approached me and said, "I was just sitting on my plane ride just like you were doing in Delhi, and I didn't get dizzy. So I think you have the right method. I think I got something from it." Meditation is just sitting, just relaxing with our mind, with whatever nature it has. Our mind has a nature that we cannot label saying it is this or it is that. But at the same time, its nature is relaxed.
Meditation With Taste and Smell
In terms of shamatha with object, we discussed last night about meditating using forms and sounds as objects of meditation. We will continue with that explanation, starting off with smells, using whatever smells that are occurring as a support for our meditation pleasant smells and unpleasant smells. Perfume, incense - whatever it is. It is the same as forms and sounds. We can look at whatever forms are in front of us, and when we are using sounds, we listen to whatever sound is resounding at the time.
Smells are something that are perceived by our nose, and when we do shamatha with smells, we simply guide our mind to perceive the smells as well - we look at the smells with our mind, but that is all. We do not need to visualize smells, or try to meditate on the smell in any special way. We simply bring our attention to the smell, with our mind being aware of the smell. It is the same with taste. We can take any taste as our object of our meditation - sweet, sour, bitter, spicy - whatever it is. When we eat food, our tongue faculty perceives the taste. In order to practice meditation, we merely bring our attention to it and have our mind merely notice the taste. That is all. If you go into a retreat sometime, you should prepare very nice food for your meals. If your dharma friends ask you why you are putting so much effort into your food on retreat, that you should be spending most of your time practicing, you can just tell them, "That i's my meditation. I just eat tasty food." If your friends then ask, "How is it going to help you to just eat food all day long in retreat," you can simply say, "That is my practice" [laughter]. Just joking!
Meditation With Sensations
The fifth meditation is tangible objects or tactile sensations. From among all the five senses, the tactile sensations are the best to use with meditation. Tactile sensations include headaches, backaches, leg pains, knee pains - everything like that. Being hot, cold, hungry, overstuffed, thirsty; having a toothache, being dizzy, feeling heavy - all of these are tactile sensations. When we have a strong toothache, our mind helplessly becomes focused constantly on it. We do not have any control over it. If we try to eat a tasty meal, our mind doe not pay much attention to that; it is on our toothache. If we try to go out for a walk or try to play some sports, to refresh ourselves, or go out to watch a movie, that doesn't help too much because all we can think about is our toothache. What is the main helper for this toothache all along? It is our own mind, thinking, "This toothache is terrible, this toothache is hurting me. When will I be free from this toothache?" Here we have hope and fear both: fear of the toothache harming us and hope for the toothache going away. These continuous thoughts in our mind make the toothache stronger and then the pain gets greater and greater. But if we bring this toothache to our shamatha meditation practice, we can place our attention on the pain. Where is this pain happening? The pain is a feeling experienced in our mind. We do not look at the tooth itself; we look at the pain that we are experiencing in our brain. If we look directly at the pain in this way, we will genuinely experience nondistraction. Usually our mind is naturally distracted by the pain. So if we intentionally direct our attention toward the pain, there already will be a strong support for nondistraction. When we place our attention on the pain one-pointedly in this way, the pain does not go away but 107
it will be a different pain than before. There will be a vivid sense of pain and, at the same time, a vivid sense of well-being and of joy. Thoughts like, "This pain is bad. I need to be free from this pain, I wish this pain would go away" will dissolve. So this is a very good opportunity to both improve our practice of mindfulness, and to help ourselves because we are not increasing our own pain. We will do this practice together using tactile sensations - sore legs, sore backs or sore bums from sitting on the cushions. If you do not have any particular tactile sensation, you could create one. Squeeze your hand in between your thumb and your index finger. Chinese doctors say that this helps headaches and stomach aches, so you should squeeze hard enough so that it hurts. The pain that you are creating is a feeling and so it exists in the mind. Look at that feeling one pointedly. Do not be distracted from that feeling, that sensation. We will meditate like this together now. First, sit in meditation posture, with your mind relaxed, and do shamatha without object for a little while. Then create a tactile sensation and look at it. Sit with your mind relaxed. [All meditate together.]
Meditation With Thoughts
If you understand this meditation-without-object technique, you will attain Buddhahood very quickly. Maybe in two or three days [laughter]. It is a very profound meditation but there is nothing special about it. Our biggest obstacle in meditation is the movement of thoughts - thoughts of desire, aggression, ignorance, jealousy and so on. There are all kinds of movement in our minds we usually think of these thoughts as getting in the way of our meditation and harming or destroying our meditation. But if we understand the key points of meditation, then those very thoughts actually will be support for our meditation and will not harm our meditation at all. It is the same as how forms become support for our meditation. Thoughts are any type of thought: negative thoughts of mental afflictions - desire, jealousy, anger and things like that; positive thoughts about helping others or thoughts of love; neutral thoughts, like "I want to eat" or "I want to stay here" or "I want to go for a trip around Halifax" or something like that. Any of these thoughts can become a support for our meditation simply by looking at our thoughts. It is just like looking at forms and listening to sounds. When we meditated on tactile sensations and brought sound into our meditation, they became supports for our nondistraction. They helped us to maintain undistracted mindfulness. In the very same way when we look at our thoughts, they help us to be undistracted in our meditation. There are two different basic states that our minds could be in: stillness and movement. There is no third category for beginners on the path of meditation; there is no state of mind they could experience that is not stillness or movement. The technique of using thoughts as the support for our meditation relates with the state of 108
mind when it is moving. So it is important to know that we do not have to look at one thought alone, we simply look at whatever thoughts are arising. For example, thoughts are like this rosary or mala - one thought comes after the other after the other after the other after the other. Our mind usually operates like that, but when we do not look at thoughts, we are not aware of the process. We should look at them now. Mindfulness is like my right hand, and the thoughts are like the mala. The mala is being pulled, bead-by-bead, by the right hand. In the same way, we look with our mindfulness at all of our thoughts. So our thoughts will not remain occupied with one thought because our minds are like wild monkeys. We will be filled with thoughts. We'll be thinking, "I need to eat something, I need to drink something, I need to go here and do this, and I need to stay here and do that," and that is absolutely fine. We can just observe all of it. As we look at our thoughts in this way, even a hundred thousand thoughts, that means you have a hundred thousand supports for meditation. That is very good. The thoughts themselves become a support for holding our mind. [Brief meditation.]
Question: Rinpoche, is it necessary to label your thoughts, or is awareness simply looking at a movement or hearing a sound? Rinpoche: The most important point about it is recognizing that we are having a thought. But it is fine to use a label as a technique for doing that, because our mind does not work without labels. The entire work of this mind, the sixth consciousness, the mental consciousness that we are working with, is to join words and meanings, join words and the things to which they refer and cling to them as being the same thing. So to use the label would be fine, because that is how this mind operates. When we work with shamatha with object, there is a subject and an object, a viewer and viewed, a sense of duality, so the labeling process is fine. The looker/viewer is mindfulness, and the object being looked at is our thoughts. There is a quote from a Buddhist text that says, "Through relying on focus, the state of nonfocus excellently arises," and that is what is being pointed to here. Q: I noticed yesterday with the practice we did looking at a small object, that the mind would see the object, and then it would sort of fade out, like bad reception on a TV set, and come back in. Today, when doing the sort of physical negative-pain practice, the same quality would happen: even though you wouldn't like the pain, the mind would fade out and come back in the same way. Then when doing the thought-watching practice, the contrast wasn't as sharp. So that when there was sight, versus sort of foggy sight, going back and forth, and pain ... Translator: Did the thoughts get replaced by sense perceptions? Q: Yes. Rinpoche: It is fine if the thoughts get replaced by a sense perception. When we are working with this mental consciousness, our main object is whatever appears to the mental consciousness. Usually in a special sense, what appears to mental consciousness is thoughts, but of course our mental consciousness can also focus on any of the five sense perceptions. If we are not having thoughts, but what is appearing more clearly is a form or a sound, then that is fine - we can focus on that. Q: Does the practice mean that you just indulge in thoughts with the mindfulness? For me, it was more that you produce more and more thoughts and just stay with the train of the thoughts, and actually the more they come up, the better that is? Rinpoche: The technique that we are practicing now is not about producing thoughts or creating thoughts, but rather looking at thoughts if they arise, recognizing that thoughts have arisen. This recognition is mindfulness. It is looking at what is happening in the mind, what the mind is thinking. "Oh, it's thinking about my house now. Oh, it's thinking about the city now," and so on. Q: So, is it that when there are not so many thoughts you are more into the sense perceptions, or what you said before? Rinpoche [laughs]: We'll discuss a little later what you do when there are no thoughts, 110
Q: Thank you. Q: When I was trying to relax my mind during meditation, that's when I would be thinking a lot of thoughts. And when I was trying just to think thoughts, I didn't really have any thoughts [laughter]. Rinpoche [laughs]: Okay. We'll talk about that later too [laughter]. Q: Earlier when you were talking about meditation, the first translation came that it is a way to "control the mind," and then it changed to "hold the mind." The transmission that most of us received from Trungpa Rinpoche was that controlling the mind was the problem, and he very much encouraged us to allow space for things to arise and dissolve. So I just want to clarify what you mean - could you comment on controlling the mind or holding the mind? Rinpoche: With respect to the choice of words there, "control" has more of a sense of fabrication than "hold" does, a sense of contrivance to it. So that is why "hold" is a little bit better. As to the general meditation technique that Trungpa Rinpoche presented, that was more connected to shamatha without object. The main instruction was to allow thoughts to arise and allow thoughts to depart. Whereas the particular technique that we have been discussing is slightly different: It is to look at the thoughts and use the thoughts that arise as the support for mindfulness. In this context, it is best if thoughts arise; it is slightly preferable if thoughts arise. If more thoughts arise, then that is number one for this particular technique. We'll practice together again. This time, if you do not have any thoughts, make them. Make many thoughts quickly, clearly. There are three qualities to this technique: quickly, many and clearly. But there's one important point: You have to look at every single one. Don't let one thought go by without being looked at. The looking is important. [All practice.] Q: Rinpoche, although that seemed a little fabricated, there was a sense of moving the mind quickly, like scanning a television screen. Actually, the eyes move too. Rinpoche: The fabricated or the contrived part that you referred to is fine, because we are working with shamatha with object, and when you do this meditation technique, there is always going to be some fabrication. As was said before, through relying on a focus, the state of nonfocus excellently arises. We'll talk about your second point, scanning the TV screen, a little bit later. Q: Rinpoche, as someone who has been trying to get rid of thoughts for thirty years, it was interesting to dredge them up from where they had been hiding. It was almost like shining a spotlight on them one at a time - spotlight, then rest in the next one, spotlight on that one. It was almost like a cartoon cat that sticks his finger in a plug and gets all fuzzy. These thoughts didn't really go anywhere, they sort of got nailed, or paralyzed, somehow. Rinpoche: That's very good. Q: In the beginning and it the end when we were relaxed, there was this space that if a thought occurred, I would relax and let go, but I would notice it. And then when it was important to look at the thoughts and a thought would arise, when I looked, the thought 111
would not be there. It's hard - the mind is either looking or thinking. Rinpoche: Okay. That's good.
Meditation Without Thoughts
When you are looking at thoughts, like this, and in particular for beginners, there are two types of things that can happen. Most people try to look at thoughts and don't see anything happening. There is a gap that happens, but it only lasts for about three or four seconds. Then another thought arises and we look at it. As soon as we start looking at it, we don't see it anymore. It goes back and forth in this way. A thought arises, we look at it, and we don't see it anymore; a thought arises, we look at it, and then we can't identify it. This is very good. It is just like sitting here. If you are someone who has already received pointing-out instructions on the essence of mind, this type of practice is particularly beneficial. The meditation during which we cannot see any thoughts becomes shamatha without object. The meditation during which we can look at thoughts becomes shamatha with object. Both of these are very good. This is what happens to most people. For other people it is like looking at a TV screen. The example used to illustrate this is of an elderly person watching two children who are very involved in what they're playing. They might be crashing two trucks together, or they might be building a house, or they might be playing video games, and they're very involved and very excited. But the old person is able to sit back and just laugh, no matter what is happening. Therefore, we can look at the thoughts. When we look at thoughts this way they're rendered powerless. It is like taking a snapshot of our thoughts or zapping our thoughts in this way. When we are doing this, it does not matter how many thoughts are arising. If we can look at them, all of our thoughts become a support for meditation. When the hand is telling beads of a mala, it is going through the beads one after the other in unbroken succession. We can do so in a way in which we are mindful of each bead as it passes. In the same way, when we are mindful of thoughts, it is impossible for us to be mindful of just one thought and keep our attention on that for any period of time, because the nature of thoughts is they come one after the other, and one thought does not stay around. It's an easy meditation, isn't it? It is okay if we have thoughts; it is okay if we do not have thoughts; and there is no state of mind we can experience that is beyond these two - having thoughts or not having thoughts - so how much easier can you get? With our last meditation session, the instruction was to create thoughts. But when we practice in the ordinary sense, there is no particular need to create thoughts. In meditation, one main point is to simply pay attention with mindfulness. We do not need to identify what we are paying attention to. It is the paying attention itself that is most important. 112
When we continue practicing in this way, we begin with a sense of duality, with a viewer and viewed, or a looker and object looked at. As we become more and more familiar with the practice, the viewer and the viewed will become the same thing. When that happens, we are very close to seeing the essence of our mind. During the shamatha audience this morning, one student asked if it were possible for shamatha to turn into vipashyana, or insight, without applying any particular effort. In most cases, the answer is no. You would have to apply some other view, such as the view of emptiness. But there is one situation where shamatha could change into vipashana without bringing in any other technique. This is that very instance.
Meditation With Negative Thoughts
As we said earlier, there are three main types of thoughts we could have: negative, positive or neutral. For beginners on the path there is a special method for working with negative thoughts. When we have negative emotions, such as strong anger or aggression in our mind, the first thing is to recognize that "anger has arisen in my mind." At this stage we don't try to stop the anger, we simply recognize it. So don't hit the other person right away. Look at the anger not at your enemy. For beginners, we chiefly look at the perceiving subject, instead of the perceived object. That is the key point, that is the key difference. In this moment of anger, there is a mind thinking, "I want to hit that person." There is a mind that feels uncomfortable and painful and angry, all at the same time. So we look at that - we look at that mind of anger and we place our mindfulness on it as one-pointedly as we can. This helps us to relate with our anger in the same way that placing our attention on a toothache helps us to relate with the toothache. It helps us to stop creating more pain for ourselves, and the unbearable aspect of the anger becomes pacified. There is still going to be a sense of anger or a sense of wrath, but the unbearability and the uncomfortableness of it will be slowly pacified as we use this as our object of meditation. As well, the anger itself will become a support for our nondistraction. We can apply this technique for other negative mental states too, such as depression, fear or any other type of suffering.
Meditation With Neutral and Positive Thoughts
If we are working with neutral thoughts or positive thoughts, we can look at both subject and object. For example, if you are thinking, "I am going to go to downtown Halifax," you can look at the object aspect of those thoughts. You can look at what buildings appear in your mind, the streets, the lights, people coming and going - all of that. If you looked at all those images as they are arising in your mind, it is the same thing as visualizing a deity in the creation stage. It is the same thing as visualizing yourself as a deity inside a palace and another deity in the sky in front of you. It is also the same thing as taking refuge, and visualizing all the objects of refuge in the sky in front. What is the difference between thinking about going to downtown Halifax and visualizing deities? The main difference is that there is an aspect of pure appearance in the 113
visualization of deities, and there is none of that in just thinking about going to downtown Halifax. But from the perspective of nondistraction and practicing mindfulness, accomplishing shamatha or calm abiding, there is no difference between the two. However, there is a separate benefit from working with pure appearance rather than with just thinking about Halifax. If you ask yourself, "What is the difference between my usual thinking about going to downtown Halifax, and thinking about it with mindfulness," you're not aware of what you are thinking. You are not aware of how you arrived in your thoughts at downtown Halifax. There will not be any awareness of your thoughts of getting in the car and driving down the road, and then finally arriving in downtown Halifax. But if you have mindfulness, you will be aware and have a recognition of each stage. You will know when you entered the car and how it is that you are traveling. If we keep meditating in that way, finally we will arrive at a state where the object we are looking at and the looker become one, and all of our mental afflictions - desire, aggression, jealousy, and so on - will be self liberated. The power of our disturbing emotions or mental afflictions (kleshas) will be gradually diminished. This has been an explanation of the sixth method of shamatha. The main point of shamatha is to gain freedom over our mind, to tap into the natural energy of our mind and tame the mind's wild monkey. When we do that, we will become like a well-tamed elephant. They don't go about following their every whim or harming people randomly. They walk with a purpose. What do we do with this shamatha mind that is like a well-tamed elephant? We put it to work on the path of liberation. In order to join fully with the path of liberation, we need to join with the practice of vipashyana or special-seeing, insight. Vipashyana is of two types: the vipashyana of emptiness and the vipashyana of the essence of mind. If emptiness and the essence of mind are joined with shamatha we attain the state of Buddhahood. That's all. Are there any questions?
Question: First, I would like to thank the Shambhala Centre for affording me the opportunity to experience all four of your talks, and to be able to experience your profound wisdom. "Thought thought thought thought" - I have about a million of them, and I'm finding them in questions, so be patient with me. I'll try to be very brief. I've experienced so much wisdom and knowledge from you in these last few days that I'm wondering, as a beginner, what would you like me to leave with if you could tell me one thing? Secondly, [to the translator] and I think you're a wonderful interpreter, I know that with different languages sometimes it is difficult to translate thoughts and phrases, and I'm wondering if Rinpoche is feeling confident that you gave expressed [laughter] everything. I don't blame you if you don't ask him! Like, is he confident that you have expressed properly everything that people wanted to be expressed? And thirdly, he seems like such a calming person, I'm wondering if he ever experiences "monkey-mind." Rinpoche: So, as to your first question, in relation to the talks on loving-kindness and compassion, the one point to keep in mind is to benefit others with a sense of balance. In relation to the meditation talks, mainly stay with shamatha without object. Q: Okay. Rinpoche [in English]: Good translator! I've been many places. Some translators make things worse. Tyler is very direct and very clear. Very good [applause]. Okay. Monkey-mind? Yes, I do have monkey mind. Q: Thank God! Thank you. Q: I was curious if Rinpoche believes that certain negative emotions might hide themselves? And if so, how does one encourage negative emotions, specifically anger, to come to your conscious mind? Rinpoche: The main thing is to try to get into the habit of recognizing anger. Once you are able to do this, then slowly you will be able to see it more and more clearly. For example, you might experience anger and then only later be able to recognize that you were feeling anger. You can take whatever moment it is that you remember that and say, "Oh I was feeling anger back then" and just appreciate that moment of recognition. Try to get into that habit slowly in that way. There is anger that arose before that you weren't aware of, and there is the moment of recognition later on. When you have that moment of recognition, you can ask yourself, "How did I feel back then when anger was arising, and how do I feel now that I have recognized it?" You can take that as an example - kind of inform yourself with that and then move forward into this habit of recognition. Q: If there is no arising is there no anger? Rinpoche: If anger does not arise that does not mean that there is no anger. Everyone has the root of anger present in them in a dormant form. So there is obvious anger then there is dormant anger. That seems to be what you're asking about. But the dormant anger does not disappear until you attain what is called the first bodhisattva bhumi. Until you first directly realize emptiness, everyone has dormant anger, and you don't need to worry 115
about that. Q: But it could take a while [laughter]. Rinpoche: A little while. Q: Firstly, I would like to say thank you. Secondly, last night you answered a question about the amount of time a beginner should meditate or sit, and you said an hour. As the mother of a young family, I think that was rather discouraging for me, that amount of time. Thirdly, I have been practicing my spirituality as a Christian for the better part of my life, and I have come to a part of life where I feel that needs to change, but at the same time I do not feel that I am finished with Christianity. So I feel confused. Rinpoche: With the example of one or two hours of meditation, that is not necessarily how long you should have to meditate. That recommendation was for those who are very serious about really training in this meditation technique and have time. You could try to do it for that long. But it is not saying that if you could do it for an hour you will get the benefit, and if you don't do it for an hour you do not get the benefit. You could start by doing fifteen minutes of meditation, even one minute of meditation or even five. If you do one minute of meditation then there is the benefit of one minute of meditation. If you do an hour, then there's the benefit of doing an hour. So you could begin by meditating for fifteen minutes there is a very good benefit to doing that. With regard to the second question about spiritual traditions, you absolutely do not have to give up your old tradition at all to practice these meditation techniques. It is completely fine to maintain your practice of Christianity and still meditate by using these Buddhist practices. Furthermore, you can bring some of your Christian images into the practice of shamatha with object, as we have been talking about. Instead of using a Buddhist figure as an object of your focus you could, for example, use a cross as the object of meditation and do shamatha with that. Sometimes in Buddhist meditation we visualize Buddhas in the sky in front and do shamatha with those objects. You could visualize Jesus and use that as a support for shamatha. It is a question of personal preference - I prefer Buddhist view and meditation techniques and Buddhist teachings as a spiritual path, but that does not necessarily mean that this is what everyone wants. It is up to each individual. Q: I feel that it is time to move on spiritually and learn about other things. That is where the confusion lies. I've learned about Christianity, not that I'm any expert, but as well I feel it's time to learn about another spiritual ... Rinpoche: What to do will depend on your own feelings. Examine them and examine what your desires are in that regard. People may have a lot of questions about their old religious tradition. They might start thinking that some things are untenable or do not make sense to them. Then they might encounter something new and have a sense of coming home. They might think, "This is really making sense to me. I feel like I am coming home with this." If that happens then it is fine to go with that new tradition. You can examine for yourself how you feel. Q: Rinpoche, I was a bit distracted by a negative thought when you gave the instruction on the technique for working with negative thoughts. So I wonder if you could go over that again, and perhaps expand a little bit on the part about working with the subject rather than the object. Rinpoche: What's your practice level in the Buddhist curriculum? 116
Q: Sadhaka. Rinpoche: You can refer to the teachings on the Three Words that Strike the Vital Point . Listen to the tapes and read the text. The basic point here is that even negative thoughts can become the support for mindfulness. When you look at them they become the support for mindfulness and the support for nondistraction, just like concentrating on a form or listening to a sound. To further clarify this, you can listen to the tape of tonight's talk. Q: Thank you. Q: Hi. I am actually in a Buddhism class at Dalhousie University [in Halifax], and I have an exam tomorrow [laughter]. There has been considerable debate in my class over the nature of impermanence. There are certain students in my class who seem to feel that Buddhist doctrine in its own essence contradicts itself because they are saying that everything is impermanent. But then our professor also taught about the state of nirvana, and enlightenment being a permanent thing. That's where they are feeling the confusion and the contradiction: If everything is impermanent, how can the state of enlightenment be permanent? I'm just wondering what you think, and if you yourself believe that the state of nirvana to be permanent. Rinpoche: This seeming contradiction of enlightenment or nirvana being permanent on the one hand, and all apparent reality being impermanent on the other, actually is not a contradiction. Seeing them as a contradiction is a case of mixing the way things appear with the way things are. In other words, the way things appear is the relative truth, and the way things are is the ultimate truth. When we refer to the true nature of reality, that is a synonym for Buddhahood. Buddhahood is the true nature of everything - the true nature of all sentient beings, the true nature of Buddhas - and the true nature of sentient beings is enlightenment. It is nirvana, ultimate reality. It is said to be permanent because it is free from arising - it never came into being and it never will go out of being. Something that is devoid of arising can never be said to be impermanent, because to be impermanent, something has to go through the stages of arising, abiding and ceasing - arising in the beginning, abiding in the middle, and ceasing in the end. The ultimate nature, the true nature of things, never arose so it can not be permanent. But as long as something arose, then it is necessarily impermanent. That refers to all phenomena of relative truth, or apparent reality, the way things appear. From the perspective of the way things appear, everything arises, abides and ceases. As soon as something comes into being, it is marked by the quality of impermanence. It has to abide and then it has to cease. But on the other side, ultimate reality, there is no such impermanence because there is no arising. You can't call it permanent either because if there is no impermanence, there cannot be permanence. Nevertheless, it is sometimes called the permanence that is beyond impermanence and permanence. Q: If Buddhahood can never arise, how does one become enlightened, or how does one transcend from the relative? Rinpoche: We go back to the distinction between the way things appear and the way things are. Buddhahood, or the state of enlightenment, is actually the way things are, the way we are ultimately. But from the perspective of the way things appear, we appear as confused sentient beings. The way we appear is not really the way we are. So when we 117
attain Buddhahood, when we recognize the way we really are, the way things appear and the way things are become the same thing. Q: Thank you.
We'll conclude at this point. I have received some requests to say a few words about Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok. Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok was a great lama, a great teacher and a great practitioner. He was mainly a Nyingma practitioner, but he also practiced Kagyü lineage practices. He also was a tertön, a treasure discoverer. In particular, he was a great siddha, a mahasiddha. Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok would fill an entire valley in Tibet with people and give teachings to gatherings of upwards of fifteen thousand people - ten thousand monastic monks and nuns, and five or six thousand lay people. The people would create a little city by building earth houses to stay in along the sides of hills on both sides of the valley, and then gather together under a huge tent to hear Jigme Phuntsok's teachings. He would teach all day long. From the perspective of the students it was never a very elaborate situation. Basically they studied the dharma and meditated together. They did not have much to eat or fancy clothes to wear or anything like that. Nevertheless, Jigme Khenpo Phuntsok produced a lot of master scholars (khenpos) from these gatherings. He also produced a lot of master practitioners from amongst the monks and nuns. On that very ground there were two monastic colleges (shedras) - one Kagyü and one Nyingma. Sometimes Jigme Phuntsok would give teachings to his students, and at the same time he would take them to a place where he would discover treasure teachings ( terma), which he would reveal in front of everyone. There are two khenpos at Sherab Ling monastery, my primary residence in India, both of whom came from this place in Tibet where they studied with Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok. Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok passed away two or three weeks ago. Everything is impermanent. Right? I have been very delighted to be able to come to Halifax for a few days to talk about the dharma with you, and am very happy that you have listened with such enthusiasm and interest. In particular, I'm very pleased with the way the vajrayana students listened to the teachings, and have a good feeling that you have understood the material. The shamatha talks and audiences also were very good. So thank you to everyone, especially to all who were involved in the preparation and coordination of the program. Everything was done excellently. When I was going down the stairs, there always was someone there ready to support me. There was someone ready to open the door and help me with my seat. It was just like being a king. I've never been treated that way before. Also thank you to everyone who works at this center. I greatly appreciate the stages that have been laid forth by Trungpa Rinpoche - how to practice and study on the path. They are very good stages, and it makes me very happy that you are all practicing them. Richard John [Director of Halifax Shambhala Center]: Rinpoche, you know by now how we all feel about you. We have benefited tremendously from your wisdom and clarity. It is extraordinary how you have been able to inspire all of us from beginners to dinosaurs, so we are tremendously grateful and very moved to be able to study with you. I would like to offer a token of our appreciation to you. There is an extra little package for you - a copy of Shambhala: Sacred Path of the Warrior [by Chögyam Trungpa], which is one of our very favorite books. Tyler, Rinpoche wants you to read this book to him. 119
Rinpoche: Thank you. RJ: Lama Chhewang, it has been delightful to have you with us here. Tyler, thank you again. Superb translator. You're getting more creative too. Are you really from Truro [a small town near Halifax]? [Laughter and applause]. Rinpoche [in English]: Thank you very much, Translator! RJ: Many many people have made the obvious request for Rinpoche to come back to Halifax often. I presented this request to him formally before the talk tonight, and I am very pleased, with your permission Rinpoche, to tell everyone that you will be back next year and the year after that.
[Dedications of Merit and singing of the Shambhala Anthem.]
Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche was born in 1975 in a small Himalayan village near the border of Nepal and Tibet. Son of the renowned meditation master Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, Mingyur Rinpoche was drawn to a life of contemplation from an early age and would often run away to meditate in the caves that surrounded his village. In these early childhood years, however, he suffered from debilitating panic attacks that crippled his ability to interact with others and enjoy his idyllic surroundings. At the age of nine, Rinpoche left to study meditation with his father at Nagi Gonpa, a small hermitage on the outskirts of Kathmandu valley. For nearly three years, Tulku Urgyen guided him experientially through the profound Buddhist practices of Mahamudra and Dzogchen, teachings that are typically considered highly secret and only taught to advanced meditators. Throughout this time, his father would impart pithy instructions to his young son and then send him to meditate until he had achieved a direct experience of the teachings. When he was eleven years old, Mingyur Rinpoche was requested to reside at Sherab Ling Monastery in Northern India, the seat of Tai Situ Rinpoche and one of the most important monasteries in the Kagyu lineage. While there, he studied the teachings that had been brought to Tibet by the great translator Marpa, as well as the rituals of the Karma Kagyu lineage, with the retreat master of the monastery, Lama Tsultrim. He was formally enthroned as the 7th incarnation of Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche by Tai Situ Rinpoche when he was twelve years old. Three Year Retreat When Mingyur Rinpoche turned thirteen, he begged both his father and Tai Situ Rinpoche for special permission to enter the traditional three-year retreat that was set to begin at Sherab Ling Monastery. It was highly unusual for someone so young to make such a request, but they both consented and soon Mingyur Rinpoche began his retreat under the guidance of Saljey Rinpoche, a learned and experienced meditation master who had spent half of his life in strict retreat. During the next three years, Mingyur Rinpoche practiced the preliminaries, which prepare the meditator for advanced contemplative practice; the development stage, which uses visualization and sacred sounds to transform the processes of ordinary perception; the completion stage, which involves working with the subtle energies of the body; and Mahamudra, a form of practice that allows the meditator to directly experience the luminous clarity of the mind’s true nature. The great diligence that Mingyur Rinpoche demonstrated throughout the retreat resulted in his attaining an extraordinary level of mastery over the mind and emotions. At this time, he completely overcame the panic attacks that had troubled him as a child, discovering first-hand how meditation can be used 122
to deal with challenging emotional problems. When Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche completed his three-year retreat, his beloved teacher Saljey Rinpoche passed away, leaving vacant his key position at Sherab Ling monastery. To replace him, Tai Situ Rinpoche appointed Mingyur Rinpoche as the monastery’s next retreat master, making him responsible for guiding senior monks and nuns through the intricacies of Buddhist meditation practice in the next three-year retreat. The seventeenyear old Mingyur Rinpoche was one of the youngest lamas to ever hold this position. Overseeing Sherab Ling Monastery Mingyur Rinpoche continued to receive important transmissions from his father and Khenchen Thrangu, an important Kagyu lama. When he was nineteen, he enrolled at Dzongsar Monastic College, where, under the tutelage of the renowned Khenpo Kunga Wangchuk, he studied the primary topics of the Buddhist academic tradition, including Middle Way philosophy and Buddhist logic. When he was twenty years old, he was appointed by Tai Situ Rinpoche to be the functioning abbot of Sherab Ling. In his new role, he was instrumental in establishing a new monastic college at the monastery, where he worked as an assistant professor while simultaneously carrying out his duties as retreat master for a third three year retreat. Throughout this period, which lasted until he was twenty-five, Rinpoche often stayed in retreat for periods of one to three months while continuing to oversee the activities of Sherab Ling Monastery. When he was twenty-three years old, he received full monastic ordination from Tai Situ Rinpoche. Important Transmissions During this period, Mingyur Rinpoche received an important Dzogchen transmission from the great Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche, a renowned teacher from the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism. For a total of one hundred days, spread over a number of years, this great meditation master transmitted the “oral lineage” of the Heart Essence of the Great Perfection. These teachings on the breakthrough (trekchö) and direct leap (tögal) of the Dzogchen lineage are extremely secret and may only be transmitted to one person at a time. Much like he had studied with his father years before, Mingyur Rinpoche received a pithy meditation instruction and returned for more teachings only once he had directly experienced what was taught. This rare form of teaching is known as “experiential guidance.” In the years that followed, Mingyur Rinpoche continued to study the five traditional subjects of the Buddhist tradition (Madhyamaka, Prajnaparamita, Abhidharma, Pramana, and Vinaya), in addition to other important topics. He also continued to refine his meditative realization through daily practice and periodic solitary retreats. To this day, Mingyur Rinpoche continues his own study and meditation. More recently, he received important Dzogchen transmissions from Kyabjé Trulshik Rinpoche, including the Transmitted Teachings of the Nyingma School (Nyingma Kama) and Fourfold Heart Essence (Nyingtik Yabshi). He also participated in transmissions of Jamgon Kongtrul’s Treasury of Precious Treasures (Rinchen Terdzö) and Treasury of Instructions (Damngak Dzö), which took place at Sherab Ling Monastery.
Buddhism and Science In addition to his extensive background in meditation and Buddhist philosophy, Mingyur Rinpoche has held a lifelong interest in psychology, physics, and neurology. At an early age, he began a series of informal discussions with the famed neuroscientist Francisco Varela, who came to Nepal to learn meditation from his father, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche. Many years later, in 2002, Mingyur Rinpoche and a handful of other long-term meditators were invited to the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior at the University of Wisconsin at the request of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. There, Richard Davidson, Antoine Lutz, and other scientists examined the effects of meditation on the brains of advanced meditators. The results of this groundbreaking research were reported in many of the world’s most widely read publications, including National Geographic and Time. Follow-up studies were carried out at Harvard University, MIT, and other important research centers. Rinpoche continues his involvement with this research and contributes actively to the vibrant dialogue between Western science and Buddhism. He is an advisor to the Mind and Life Institute and participates as a research subject in the ongoing studies of the neural and physiological effects of meditation. Rinpoche’s teaching style has been deeply influenced by his knowledge of science. He is especially well-known for his ability to enrich his presentation of the ancient insights and practices of Tibetan Buddhism with the findings of modern science. It is his hope that the emerging relationship between these seemingly disparate fields will yield key insights to help us realize our full human potential. Activities In addition to his responsibilities at Sherab Ling Monastery, Mingyur Rinpoche is the abbot of Tergar Osel Ling Monastery in Kathmandu, Nepal, and Tergar Rigzin Khachö Targyé Ling Monastery in Bodhgaya, India. He also teaches regularly throughout Europe, North and South America, and Asia, where he leads a growing number of Tergar Meditation Centers and Meditation Groups. Rinpoche is an internationally-acclaimed author. His first book, The Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness , debuted on the New York Times bestseller list and has been translated into over twenty languages. His second book, Joyful Wisdom: Embracing Change and Finding Freedom , explores how difficult emotions and challenging life situations can be used as stepping stones to discover joy and freedom. Mingyur Rinpoche’s newest book is an illustrated children’s book, entitled Ziji: The Puppy that Learned to Meditate . One of Mingyur Rinpoche’s greatest passions is bringing the practice of meditation to people from all walks of life. He is working with professionals from a wide range of disciplines to adapt his Joy of Living retreats for use in different contexts, including hospitals, schools, prisons, and leadership training. As part of this effort, he is developing programs to train facilitators and instructors to teach the practice of meditation in these varied settings. In early June, 2011, Mingyur Rinpoche left his monastery in Bodhgaya, India to begin a period of extended solitary retreat.
Mingyur Rinpoche’s Parting Letter to the Tibetan Sangha when Entering Retreat
In early June, 2011, Mingyur Rinpoche left his monastery in Bodhgaya, India to begin a period of extended solitary retreat. He departed in the middle of the night without telling anyone. He did not take any money or belongings, just the clothes he was wearing. The day after he left, his close friend and attendant, Lama Soto, found this letter in Mingyur Rinpoche’s room.
I write this letter to all the wise and pure-intentioned individuals who rely on me, both the monastic communities and lay practitioners throughout India, Nepal, and Tibet. From a young age, I have harbored the wish to stay in retreat and practice, wandering from place to place without any fixed location. I also received an ocean of instructions from my glorious and kind root gurus. Though I have attempted to stay in retreat and practice, I have passed the rest of my time in laziness and diversions, letting my life come to nothing more than a distraction. I have made a firm decision, based on the advice of the great masters of times past and my own heart’s desire, to, as the example goes, take the reins into my own hands. Our lives are as fragile as a bubble and the activities of this life are as endless as the waves of the ocean. Yet whatever we do, we should rely upon and place our hopes in the Buddha’s sacred and divine teachings. It is the Dharma that will benefit both us and other sentient beings. For this and other reasons, I have become disillusioned with the experiences of this life. With genuine conviction in the lineage and instructions I have received, along with a motivation to be of benefit to others, various causes and conditions have prompted me to make the decision to wander alone, without fixed location, in remote mountain ranges. Though I do not claim to be like the great masters of times past, I am now embarking on this journey as a mere reflection of these teachers, as a faithful imitation of the example they set. For a number of years, my training will consist of simply leaving behind my connections, so please do not be upset with my decision. As I have recommended before, throughout this period it is important to study, contemplate, and meditate. With a sense of harmony and pure discipline as a basis, it is important to study and contemplate the traditional scriptures of the Buddhist tradition, and [to learn] the traditions, practices, fields of knowledge, and other disciplines [taught in our lineage]. It is especially important to not always focus your attention outward, but to apply the teachings to your own mind. You should calm and pacify your own mindstream. It is important to bring benefit to the Buddha’s teachings and to your fellow sentient beings. There is no need to worry about me. After a few years, we will meet again and, as before, gather together as teacher and student to enjoy a feast of the Dharma. Until that time, I will continually pray to the Three Jewels and make aspirations on your behalf. Tulku Mingyur
Written on the 3rd day of the 4th month of the Tibetan calendar in the year 2011
Mingyur Rinpoche’s Farewell Letter to the Tergar Community When Entering Retreat
In early June, 2011, Mingyur Rinpoche left his monastery in Bodhgaya, India to begin a period of extended solitary retreat. He departed in the middle of the night without telling anyone. He did not take any money or belongings, just the clothes he was wearing. Mingyur Rinpoche wrote this letter to his students around the world shortly before he left for retreat.
Dear friends, students, and fellow meditators, By the time you read this letter, I will have begun the long retreat that I announced last year. As you may know, I have felt a very strong connection with the tradition of retreat since I was a young boy growing up in the Himalayas. Even though I didn’t really know how to meditate, I would often run away from home to a cave nearby, where I would sit quietly and chant the mantra “om mani peme hung” over and over again in my mind. My love of the mountains and the simple life of a wandering meditator called to me even then. It wasn’t until I was in my early teens that I got my first chance to do a formal retreat. Until that time, I lived at Nagi Gompa, a small hermitage on the outskirts of Kathmandu. It was there that my father, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, first taught me how to meditate. After training with him for a number of years, I heard that a traditional three-year retreat was scheduled to begin at Sherab Ling, Kenting Tai Situ Rinpoche’s monastery in India. Though I was still only eleven years old, I begged my father to let me go. He was happy to see my enthusiasm, since he himself had stayed in retreat for more than twenty years over the course of his life. When we talked about the idea of me going into a strict, traditional retreat, he told me about the great yogi Milarepa and how important his example has been to generations of Tibetan Buddhist meditators. Milarepa’s early life was filled with misery and hardship. Despite all the bad karma he created as a young man, he eventually overcame his dark past and attained complete enlightenment while living in isolated caves deep in the mountains. Once he was enlightened, Milarepa thought that there was no longer any need for him to stay in the mountains. He made up his mind to go down to more populated areas where he could directly help alleviate the suffering of others. One night, not too long after he decided to depart, Milarepa had a dream about his teacher Marpa. In the dream, Marpa encouraged him to stay in retreat, telling him that through his example he would touch the lives of countless people. After telling me about Milarepa’s remarkable life, my father said, “Marpa’s prophesy came to pass. Even though Milarepa spent most of his life living in remote caves, millions of people have been inspired by his example over the centuries. By demonstrating the importance of practicing in retreat, he influenced the entire tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Thousands and thousands of meditators have manifested the qualities of enlightenment because of his dedication.” A few years later, during my first three-year retreat, I had the good fortune to study with another great master, Saljey Rinpoche. In the middle of the third year, I and a few of my fellow retreatants approached Rinpoche to ask his advice. We had derived tremendous benefit from the retreat and asked him how we could help uphold this precious lineage. “Practice!” Saljey Rinpoche responded, “I’ve been in retreat almost half my life. This is a genuine way to help others. If you want to preserve the lineage, transform your minds. You 126
won’t find the true lineage anywhere else.” The teachings and example of both my father and Saljey Rinpoche deeply inspired me. This inspiration, coupled with my own natural desire to practice in retreat, has been a guiding light throughout my life. When my first formal retreat ended, Saljey Rinpoche passed away and Tai Situ Rinpoche asked me to take his place as retreat master. I accepted my new role and have now been leading retreats and teaching meditation for twenty years. In particular, the last ten years I have spent a great deal of time teaching around the world. I’ve been to more than thirty countries, sharing my experience of overcoming the panic attacks I experienced as a child and passing on the teachings that my masters entrusted to me. Over the years, I’ve come to see the truth of the words of my father and Saljey Rinpoche. As they both taught me, the experience gained in retreat can be a powerful tool in helping others. In my early years, I trained in a number of different ways. The time I spent with my father involved rigorous meditation training, but I was not in strict retreat, in the sense that I met other people and could come and go freely. My three-year retreat at Sherab Ling Monastery, on the other hand, was held in complete isolation. A small group of us lived in an enclosed compound and didn’t have any contact with the outside world until the retreat ended. These are two forms of practice, but they are not the only ways. As demonstrated by the great yogi Milarepa, there is also a tradition of wandering from place to place, staying in remote caves and sacred sites with no plans or fixed agenda, just an unswerving commitment to the path of awakening. This is the type of retreat that I will be practicing over the coming years. This tradition isn’t very common these days. My third main teacher, the great Dzogchen yogi Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche, was one of the few recent masters to practice in this way. Khen Rinpoche practiced in closed retreats when he was younger, but later he took up the life of a wandering yogi. He completely dropped his normal life and activities. Nobody knew where he was or what he was doing. He spent time meditating in isolated caves and other places where the great masters of times past, such as Milarepa and Longchenpa practiced, and at one point he even lived among the Hindu sadhus of India. His story is a perfect example of a modern, carefree yogi. More recently, Tai Situ Rinpoche, the last of my four main teachers, talked about meditating in mountain retreats during a teaching he gave in 2009. Over four months, Rinpoche passed on the lineage of an important meditation text called The Ocean of the Definitive Meaning. This is one of the main instruction manuals used by meditators in the Kagyu lineage. I mention my teachers here because their wisdom and compassion has nurtured my desire to make retreat a focal point of my life. My father and Saljey Rinpoche encouraged and supported my first experiences in retreat, while Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche and Tai Situ Rinpoche inspired me to embark on the path of a wandering yogi. Like a tiny firefly in the midst of the sun’s radiance, I can never hope to compare to my precious teachers, but without their example and inspiration, I would not have followed this path. You might think that while I’m on retreat we won’t be able to stay connected to each other. Of course, we won’t be able to see each other for a few years, but don’t forget that our connection is through the Dharma. It isn’t simply seeing our teachers, or even hearing them, that creates a spiritual bond. It’s when we take the teachings we’ve received and bring them into our own experience that an unshakeable connection is formed. The more we practice, the stronger the bond with our teacher becomes. Three of my four teachers have long since passed away. At times, I remember what it was 127
like being with them and hearing them teach. I remember how joyful and light they were, and how they carried themselves with such dignity and freedom. These memories make me a little sad, but when I remember what they taught me and let their wisdom fill my being, I can feel their presence anywhere and anytime. So while you and I may be apart physically over the next few years, through our practice we will always be together. I feel a great sense of warmth and love when I think of all of you, like we’re one big family. So don’t worry, I’m not having a mid-life crisis. I’m not going on retreat because I’m sick of traveling, or sick of teaching students. In fact, it’s just the opposite. During this time our practice will bring us closer. There are times in our lives when we focus on learning and study, and others where we take what we’ve learned and bring it deeply into our experience. These are processes that each of us goes through individually, but having the support of a community can be a great help as we follow the path. It has been wonderful to see how many of you have come together in recent years to help form and shape our growing community. Though I’ve helped support the community through my teachings, the community itself is yours. It is there to support you on the path of awakening, and it will be your commitment and support that will allow for the flourishing of the community in years to come. Receiving support and guidance from the community, and giving back in whatever way we can, is an integral part of the journey. To help you continue along the path, I’ve prepared many teachings over the past few years that will be delivered by my emanations. These emanations can appear magically almost anywhere and will teach you just what you need to deepen your practice. What am I talking about? Modern technology, of course! We recorded hundreds of hours of teachings on a whole range of topics, and these teachings will be made available over the coming years. Some will be used for online courses and seminars, others will be shown at Tergar centers and groups, and some will be freely available online. In some ways, my video emanations are better than the real me. You won’t have to feed them or put them up in a hotel. They will wait patiently until you’re ready for them. And most importantly, they won’t feel bad if you get bored and turn them off! Don’t mistakenly think that your DVD player will be your new root guru. Recorded teachings can never take the place of a direct transmission from teacher to student. What I’m trying to say is that there will still be plenty of opportunities to study and practice, especially for those of you who are following the Joy of Living and Path of Liberation programs. There are also other wonderful lamas to study with, including His Holiness Karmapa, Orgyen Trinley Dorje, and my teacher Tai Situ Rinpoche. My brother, Tsoknyi Rinpoche, is also an excellent teacher and has agreed to guide the Tergar community while I’m away. Finally, we have our own Tergar lamas and instructors who will lead retreats and workshops all over the world. In fact, there will be so much happening, you may not even notice I’m gone! In parting, I would like to give you one small piece of advice to keep in your heart. You may have heard me say this before, but it is the key point of the entire path, so it bears repeating: All that we are looking for in life — all the happiness, contentment, and peace of mind — is right here in the present moment. Our very own awareness is itself fundamentally pure and good. The only problem is that we get so caught up in the ups and downs of life that we don’t take the time to pause and notice what we already have. Don’t forget to make space in your life to recognize the richness of your basic nature, to see the purity of your being and let its innate qualities of love, compassion, and wisdom naturally emerge. Nurture this recognition as you would a small seedling. Allow it to grow 128
and flourish. Many of you have generously asked how you can help support my retreat. My answer is simple: Keep this teaching at the heart of your practice. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, pause from time to time and relax your mind. You don’t have to change anything about your experience. You can let thoughts and feelings come and go freely, and leave your senses wide open. Make friends with your experience and see if you can notice the spacious awareness that is with you all the time. Everything you ever wanted is right here in this present moment of awareness. I will keep you in my heart and in my prayers. Yours in the Dharma, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche