Meditation on Loving-Kindness
Meditation on Loving-Kindness (Metta)--- By Bhante Henepola Gunaratana
Sometimes the practice of Insight meditation may be interpreted to be a kind of practice which makes the meditator a heartless or indifferent being, like a vegetable without any love and compassion for other living beings. We must remember, however, that the Buddha has strongly advised us to cultivate four sublime states of mind: loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy and equanimity. The first of these four is so important that the Buddha said that one who depends entirely upon people for oneís living (i.e. a monk or nun) can repay oneís indebtedness to lay supporters if one practices loving kindness towards all living beings, even for such a short time as a fraction of a second each day. Karaniyametta Sutta says "One should develop this mindfulness which is called divine behavior here" Mindfulness is one of the most important factors in the entire teaching of the Buddha. From the day he attained enlightenment till he passed away at the age of 80, in almost every Dhamma talk he stressed mindfulness. When he equates the practice of loving-kindness with that of mindfulness, we can understand the significance of the practice of loving-kindness in the Buddha's teaching. The Buddha perfected it for the attainment of Enlightenment and balanced it with wisdom. Even after the attainment of Enlightenment, the very first thing he did every day, was to enter into the attainment of Great Compassion, which is an outcome of the practice of loving-kindness. Then he surveyed the world to see if there were any beings whom he could help to understand Dhamma. These four sublime states of mind are called Brahma Vihara, best behavior or best attitude. The first three of these are strong enough to attain the first three Jhanas and the last to attain the fourth jhana. They are so important in the practice of Vipassana meditation that they are included in the second step of the Noble Eightfold Path. In fact, no concentration is possible without these sublime states of mind because in their absence the mind would be filled with hatred, rigidity, worry, fear, tension and restlessness.
Preliminary to the practice of these noble states of mind is overcoming our hatred, which is a thoughtless way of wasting one's energy. Hate is compared to boiling water when it is active or jaundice when it is unexpressed. It can destroy your meditation practice and moral training. The hateful person is compared to a half burned log of wood left in a funeral pyre. Both ends of this log are burned and turned to charcoal and the middle is covered with filth. Nobody would like to pick it up for firewood or for any other purpose because it can dirty the hand of the person who handles it. Similarly the hateful person will be avoided by all means, if possible, by everybody.
We must start the practice of loving-kindness with ourselves first. Sometimes some of you may wonder why we have to love ourselves first. Wouldn't that amount to self love and lead to selfishness? When you investigate your own mind very carefully, however, you will be convinced that there is no one in the whole universe that you love more than yourself. The Buddha said, "Investigating the whole world with my mind never did I find anyone dearer than oneself. Since oneself is dearer than others, one who loves oneself should never harm others" One who does not love oneself can never love another at all. By the same token one who loves oneself will feel the impact of loving-kindness and then can understand how beautiful it is if every heart in the whole world is filled with the same feeling of loving-kindness.
The loving-kindness that we want to cultivate is not an ordinary love as it is understood in everyday application. When you say, "I love such-and-such a person" or "such-and-such a thing", for instance, what you really mean is that you desire that particular person's appearance, behavior, ideas, voice, or overall attitude; either towards you in particular or towards life in general. If that person changes the things you like very much in him or her you may decide that you do not love him or her. When your tastes, whims and fancies or that of the other person change, then you would not say "I love so-and-so". In this love-hate duality you love one and hate another. You love now and hate later. You love when you wish and hate when you wish. You love when everything is smooth and rosy and hate when anything goes wrong with the relationship between you and the other person or thing. If your love changes from time to time, place to place and situation to situation in this fashion then what you call "love" is not true loving-kindness but lust, greed, or desire--not love by any means.
The kind of loving-kindness that we want to cultivate through meditation does not have its opposite or an ulterior motive. Therefore, the love-hate dichotomy does not apply to loving-kindness cultivated through wisdom or mindfulness, for it will never change into hate, as circumstantial changes take place. True loving-kindness is a natural faculty concealed under the heap of greed, hatred and ignorance. Nobody can give it to us. We must find it out within ourselves and cultivate it mindfully. Mindfulness discovers it, cultivates it and maintains it. "I" consciousness [ahankara] dissolves in mindfulness and its place will be taken by loving-kindness free from selfishness.
Because of our selfishness we hate some people. We want to live in certain ways, do certain things in certain ways, perceive things in certain ways; not in any other way. If others do not agree with our views, our ways and our styles, we not only hate them but become entirely so irrational and blind with unmindfulness that we might even deprive them of their right to live.
When you practice loving-kindness you do not get angry if you do not receive any form of favor in return from persons and beings to whom you radiate your loving-kindness, because you have no ulterior motive when you radiate loving-kindness towards them. In this net of loving-kindness not only do you include all beings as they are, but you wish all of them, without any discrimination, to be happy minded. You continue to behave gently and kindly towards all beings, speaking gently and kindly about them in their presence as well as in their absence.
When we meditate, our minds and bodies become naturally, relaxed. Our hindrances dissolve. Our sleepiness and drowsiness, for instance, are replaced by alertness. Doubt is replaced by confidence, hatred by joy, restlessness and worry by happiness. As our resentment is replaced by joy, loving-kindness hidden in our subconscious mind expresses itself, making us more peaceful and happy. In this state of meditation we gain concentration and overcome our greed. We can see how meditation destroys hatred and cultivates loving-kindness, which in turn supports our practice of meditation. Together these two operate in unison, culminating in concentration and insightfulness. Therefore, to pick up one's own mind wave of loving-kindness one must fine tune oneself through the practice of mindfulness meditation.
Mindful observation of our own individual mental states can make us aware of how some thought waves are harmful, destructive and painful. Others are peaceful and joyful. Then our mind rejects that which is harmful and cultivates that which is peaceful and joyful. We don't learn this from books or teachers or friends or enemies, but from our own practice and experience. When harmful thoughts arise we learn not to entertain them and when peaceful thoughts arise we let them grow and stay in the mind much longer. This way we learn from our own experience how to think more healthily. This practice conditions our minds to grow loving-kindness. This means that peaceful thought waves appearing in our mind by themselves can be generated at will later on. This practice helps us to comprehend that loving-kindness does grow in the backyard of our own mind. Environmental or circumstantial factors play an important role to cultivate it. No human being could be totally devoid of loving-kindness, no matter how cruel he or she may appear to us. The loving-kindness, concealed in each personís subconscious mind, should be brought out through the skill of mindfulness.
"Mitra" in Vedic literature and "Mitta" in Pali literature means the sun. The nature of the sun can be called "Maitri" or "Metta". Maitri or Metta also means friendliness or loving-kindness. Perhaps the reason why loving-kindness is called so is that it generates very warm feeling towards all beings. Like warmth comes from the sun, one who has loving-kindness has a warm heart towards others. Just as the sun shines indiscriminately on any object in the world, "Metta" or "Maitri" pervades all beings without any discrimination. Just as the sun dispels darkness, loving-kindness destroys the darkness of hatred. Just like some objects absorbs sun more than others , some living beings absorb loving-kindness better than others. Those beings who absorb more loving-kindness are the ones who learn to relax because of their Kamma.
The Buddha had cultivated such a powerful loving-kindness that he loved his bitterest enemy, Devadatta, who tried many times to kill him. He loved the highway robber and murderer, Angulimala, who also came to kill him. He loved Dhanapala, an elephant that came to kill him. He loved all of them just the same way he loved his own son, Rahula. When Devadatta died on the way going to see the Buddha, monks asked the Buddha what his future would be. The Buddha said that he would become a silent Buddha in future. That is the kind of loving-kindness, guided by mindfulness, that allows us to live in peace and harmony.
Loving-kindness or Metta cannot be cultivated by mere repetition of words of loving-kindness. Repetition of such a formula is very much like repeating a prescription to a patient in a hospital or a menu to a hungry person in a restaurant. Repeating a list of things will never produce the tangible result of the words in the list. Loving-kindness is something we have to cultivate intentionally in our own minds by ourselves.
Loving-kindness develops through meditation. When the mind is relaxed the meditator is able to forgive and forget any offense committed against him. One can practice Metta through tranquillity (Samatha) meditation. But that is not perpetual because tranquillity achievement can be only temporary. Friendliness cultivated through Vipassana, on the other hand, is perpetual because the effect of Vipassana meditation takes deep root in oneís mind. Vipassana meditation softens the mind, and friendliness, cultivated along with the softening of the mind, will take deep root in the mind.
Vipassana meditators see the impermanence in their forms, feelings, perceptions, mental formations and consciousness. They can compare the changes of these aggregates with those of others. Then they do not see any person or thing to hate. If they ask themselves whom they hate, they may not find any individual to hate. By the same token they may not find any being towards whom they can cultivate loving-kindness, too. All they perceive is the phenomena of continuous flux of events that take place every moment in their own states of affairs and that of others. This enables them to forgive and forget the offenses that other aggregates have committed against them or their friends or relatives. Loving-kindness meditation is the real thing that genuinely develops our noble qualities which can promote peace and happiness. We cannot inculcate loving-kindness in others' minds. Nor can others give theirs to us. You cannot inculcate loving-kindness in me by force if my Kamma prevents my mind from accepting it. Each one of us must prepare the ground for loving-kindness to grow within our own minds.
In the final analysis the practice of loving-kindness depends on an individual's spiritual development and Kamma. Some people's minds are Kammically so unfortunate that they find it almost impossible even to dream of the effectiveness of loving-kindness let alone practicing it, for their Kamma prevents them from seeing the benefit of loving-kindness. If you teach a class you will notice that each and every student's performance is not equal. Even identical twins have different performances in a class taught by you. Individuality is the way of expressing one's own emotional, intellectual, physical and spiritual development conditioned by one's own Kamma. Not even the Buddha can intervene in some bodyís Kamma. We are not created equal, but born different from one another according to our own Kamma which divides beings into superior or inferior qualities. If you do some good Kamma and enjoy its result I cannot steal or take it away from you by force or by friendly means. If I practice loving-kindness for all beings I can clear my mind from hatred. Thus my practice of loving-kindness manifests in my behavior.Beginning the practice of loving-kindness is the beginning of practice of good Kamma, for no good Kamma can be practiced without loving-kindness. Introducing the four Foundations of Mindfulness, therefore, the Buddha asked meditators to overcome covetousness and hatred for the reason that during the practice of mindfulness the meditator will encounter many problems with both covetousness and hatred.More often than not, people ask, "Can we eliminate other people's pain, suffering and hatred by cultivating loving-kindness within ourselves?" Even the Buddha is unable to eradicate other people's pain and suffering by wishing peace and happiness. The Buddha said: "You must work out your own salvation. The Buddhas are teachers." As individuals have their share of Kamma, each and everyone has to work for their own salvation. If we can eliminate others' suffering by wishing them to be free from their pain and suffering, then bringing peace and happiness to the whole world is very easy. If this is possible, by the same token, it should also be possible for a vindictive person to destroy all their enemies by wishing them: "Let them be ugly, let them lie in pain, let them have no prosperity, let them not be rich, let them not be famous, let them have no friends and let them, after death, be born in woeful states of existence". In reality those who make these types of unwholesome wishes themselves can be ugly, in pain, have no prosperity, not be rich, not be famous, have no friends and after death be born in woeful state of existence, because they commit evil Kamma in their own minds by making a wish full of hatred. Evil thoughts have the power of making others ill and good thoughts have the power of making others well. You may wonder, "If there are no beings in the ultimate sense or no self in any sense or if there are beings in conditional sense and if my practice of loving-kindness does not annihilate their pain and suffering because of their own Kamma, why should I cultivate loving-kindness?"You should remember that when your mind is full of evil thoughts or angry thoughts, for instance, you speak very roughly in filthy language, cursing language, slanderous language and falsehood. You talk maliciously. When your mind is full of hatred whatever you see brings you pain; whatever you hear is painful; whatever you smell is unpleasant to you; whatever you eat makes you sick, whatever you touch is unpleasant to your body; and whatever you think is painful. You become vindictive. You always speak ill of others, never see any good in others. You become very critical. You always find faults in others. You never appreciate any good things others do. You can be very jealous all the time. You become very arrogant, ungrateful, mean, very wicked minded. You always think of doing harm to others. You enjoy seeing others in pain, in trouble, in difficulties. You will be very happy to see others fail in their lives. Then your behavior is very offensive to others. You can easily make others sick. Your behavior will be very unpleasant to others. All who are around you will feel sick in their stomach to work with you. They get headaches and stomachaches. They become very nervous to be around you. This is how your unwholesome thought affects others.
If your mind is full of loving-kindness, on the other hand, you will speak gently, kindly, in friendly language. Whatever you see will be a source of happiness to you; whatever you hear is pleasing to your ears. You can taste your food better. Whatever you touch makes you glad. Whatever you smell will be pleasing to your nose. Whatever you think will be very pleasant and peaceful. You would go out of your way to be very helpful to people. You would become very considerate and understanding. You would have great patience. You would be accommodating. You would always speak the truth. You would always wish to please others. You would be ready to forget and forgive people who wronged you. You would always be relaxed. You would not have an unnecessary and nervous giggle, but would have a friendly smile on your face. Then people would love to work with you. They would feel comfortable around you. Their minds also would be very soft and gentle towards you. They would be protective of you. They would not speak ill of you behind your back, but would speak well of you. Their productivity level would increase. Your reputation would increase.
Moreover, you may ask "What is the use of practicing loving-kindness for all living beings by saying: 'May all beings be happy and secure! May all beings have happy minds! Whatever living beings there may be without exception, weak or strong, long, large, middling, short, subtle, or gross, visible or invisible, living near or far, born or coming to birth--may all beings have happy minds!í Why should one wish, ĎLet no one deceive another nor despise anyone anywhere. Neither in anger nor ill-will should anyone wish harm to another. As a mother would risk her own life to protect her only child even so towards all living beings one should cultivate a boundless heartí. Why should Ďone cultivate for all the world a heart of boundless loving-kindness, above, below, and across, unobstructed, without hate or enmity. Whether standing, sitting, walking or lying down one should cultivate this mindfulness?í "
Also sometimes people wonder how can we wish our enemies "May my enemy be well, happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them; may no difficulty come to them; may no problem come to them; may they always meet with success. May they also have patience, courage, understanding and determination to meet and overcome inevitable difficulties, problems and failures in life?"
We must remember that we practice loving-kindness for the purification of our own minds, just as we practice meditation for our own attainment of enlightenment. As I practice loving-kindness within myself I can behave in a most friendly manner without biases, prejudices, discrimination or hate. My noble behavior helps me to help the other conditional beings in a most practical manner to reduce their pain and suffering. It is the compassionate people who behave very gently and kindly to make people around them feel comfortable. Compassion is a manifestation of loving-kindness in action, for one who does not have loving-kindness cannot help others. Noble behavior means behaving in a most friendly and most cordial manner. Behavior includes our thought, speech and action. If this triple mode of expression of our behavior is contradictory, then something is wrong in our behavior. Contradictory behavior cannot be noble behavior. If someone speaks of loving-kindness and behaves in a most unkind manner, he/she is hypocritical, not honest.
On the other hand, pragmatically speaking, it is much better to cultivate the noble thought, "May all beings be happy minded" than the thought "I hate him". The noble thought will definitely express itself in our noble behavior and our spiteful thought will express itself in our evil behavior.
We must remember our thoughts are transformed into speech and action in order to bring the expected result. Intention or thought translated into action is capable of producing a positive hormone in our brain. This positive hormone acts as a nutrient and nourishes and strengthens our nerves. When our nerves are positively charged with this positive hormone they become strong. This positive hormone will also be transported throughout our bodies by blood circulation, making our cells very healthy. All healthy nerve cells and blood cells make our body and mind strong and very healthy.
We should always speak and do things with mindfulness of loving-kindness. While speaking of loving-kindness, if you act or speak in a diametrically opposite way you will be reproached by the wise. As mindfulness of loving-kindness develops, our thoughts, words and deeds become gentle, pleasant, meaningful, truthful and beneficial to us as well to others. If our thoughts, words or deeds cause harm to us, to others or to both, then we must ask ourselves whether we are really mindful of loving-kindness.
For all practical purposes, if all of your enemies are well, happy and peaceful, they would not be your enemies. If they are free from problems, pain, suffering, affliction, neurosis, psychosis, psychosomatic, paranoia, fear, tension, anxiety, etc., they would not be your enemies any more. Your practical solution to them being your enemies is to help them to overcome their problems, so you can live in peace and happiness. In fact, if you can, you should fill the minds of all your enemies with loving-kindness and make all of them realize Nibbana, so you can live in peace and happiness. The more they are in neurosis, psychosis, fear, tension, anxiety, etc. the more trouble, pain and suffering they can bring to the world. If you can convert a vicious and wicked person into a holy and saintly person then you perform a miracle that the Buddha permitted us to perform. Let us cultivate adequate wisdom and loving-kindness within ourselves to convert evil minds to saintly minds.
Practicing Loving-Kindness II
Practicing Loving-kindness --- by Dr. Henepola Gunaratana Nayaka Thera
One should spend some time every day to practice loving-kindness. We recommend that you repeat the following outline every time you practice loving-kindness meditation. If you know a better structure other than this you may follow it. Read each paragraph once and then close your eyes and reflect upon the meaning of that paragraph for ten seconds. Open your eyes and read the next paragraph. You might take more than an hour to read these passages and feel loving-kindness in your entire mind and body. Do it every day. This alone is a wonderful meditation to overcome resentment that has been troubling you for a long time.
1. May I be well, happy and peaceful. May no harm come to me. May no difficulties come to me. May no problems come to me. May I always meet with success. May I also have patience, courage, understanding, and determination to meet and overcome inevitable difficulties, problems, and failures in life.
2. May my parents be well, happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them. May no difficulties come to them. May no problems come to them. May they always meet with success. May they also have patience, courage, understanding, and determination to meet and overcome inevitable difficulties, problems, and failures in life.
3. May my teachers be well, happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them. May no difficulties come to them. May no problems come to them. May they always meet with success. May they also have patience, courage, understanding, and determination to meet and overcome inevitable difficulties, problems, and failures in life.
4. May my relatives be well, happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them. May no difficulties come to them, May no problems come to them. May they always meet with success. May they also have patience, courage, understanding, and determination to meet and overcome inevitable difficulties, problems, and failures in life.
5. May my friends be well, happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them. May no difficulties come to them. May no problems come to them. May they always meet with success. May they also have patience, courage, understanding, and determination to meet and overcome inevitable difficulties, problems, and failures in life.
6. May all indifferent persons be well, happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them. May no difficulties come to them. May no problems come to them. May they always meet with success.
May they also have patience, courage, understanding, and determination to meet and overcome inevitable difficulties, problems, and failures in life.
7. May all unfriendly persons be well, happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them. May no difficulties come to them. May no problems come to them. May they always meet with success. May they also have patience, courage, understanding, and determination to meet and overcome inevitable difficulties, problems, and failures in life.
8. May all living beings be well, happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them. May no difficulties come to them. May no problems come to them. May they always meet with success.
May they also have patience, courage, understanding, and determination to meet and overcome inevitable difficulties, problems, and failures in life.
1. May I be happy, and free from suffering!
And, always, like my self
may my friends, neutral persons,
and the hostile be happy too.
2. May all beings in this village,
in this state, in other countries,
and in the world systems
be ever happy.
3. May all persons, individuals,
in all world systems
be ever happy.
4. So too, may all women, men,
noble ones, non-noble ones,
gods, humans, and beings
in the lower worlds be happy.
May all beings in the ten directions be happy.
May I be free from hatred! May I be free from affliction! May I be free from worry! May I live happily! As I am, so also may my parents, teachers, preceptors, friendly, indifferent, and hostile beings, be free from hatred! May they be free from affliction! May they be free from worry! May they live happily! May they be released from suffering! May they not be deprived of their fortune, duly acquired! All of us have Kamma as our own possession.
May all beings... all living things... all creatures... all persons...all those who have arrived at a state of individuality, all women... all men...all noble ones... all non-noble ones...all gods...all humans...all non-humans...all those who are in the hell, and in this home, village, town, this country, in this world, in this galaxy, may all of them without any exception be free from worry! May they live happily! May they be released from suffering! May they not be deprived of their fortune, duly acquired! All have Kamma as their own possession. May all beings be happy and secure!
May all beings have happy minds!
Whatever living beings there may be
without exception, weak or strong,
long, large, middling
short, subtle, or gross,
visible or invisible,
living near or far,
born or coming to birth
may all beings have happy minds!
Let no one deceive another
nor despise anyone anywhere.
Neither in anger nor enmity
should anyone wish harm to another.
As a mother would risk her own life
to protect her only child,
even so towards all living beings
one should cultivate a boundless heart.
One should cultivate for all the world
a heart of boundless loving-kindness
above, below, and all around,
unobstructed, without hate or enmity.
Whether standing, walking or sitting,
lying down or whenever awake,
one should develop this mindfulness;
this is called divinely dwelling here.
May those with no feet receive my love;
May those with two feet receive my love;
May those with four feet receive my love;
May those with many feet receive my love;
May those with no feet not hurt me
May those with two feet not hurt me
May those with four feet not hurt me
May those with many feet not hurt me
May all beings, all those with life,
May all who have become, all in their entirety,
May all see what is good
May suffering not come to anyone.
May the suffering be free from suffering.
May the fear-struck be free from fear.
May the grieving be free from grief.
so too may all beings be.
From the highest realm of existence to the lowest,
may all beings arisen in these realms
with form and without form,
with perception and without perception
be released from all suffering
and attain to perfect peace.
May my mind be filled with the thought of loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy, equanimity! May I be generous! May I be gentle! May I be relaxed! May I be happy and peaceful! May I be healthy! May my heart become soft! May my words be pleasing to others!
1 May all that I see, hear, smell, taste, touch and think help me to cultivate loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy, equanimity! May all of them help me to cultivate the thought of generosity and gentleness! May all of them help me to relax and activate my friendly behavior! May all of them be a source of peace and happiness. May they help my personality! May they help me to be healthy! May all of them help me to be free from fear, tension, anxiety, worry, and restlessness!
Whether I walk to the east, southeast, south, southwest, west, northwest, north and northeast, no matter where they go in the world may I meet people with happiness, peace and friendliness. May I be protected in all directions from greed, anger, aversion, hatred, jealousy, and fear!
2 May the minds of my parents be filled with the thought of loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy, equanimity! May they be generous! May they be gentle! May they be relaxed! May they be happy and peaceful! May they be healthy! May their hearts become soft! May their words be pleasing to others!
May all that my parents see, hear, smell, taste, touch and think help them to cultivate loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy, equanimity! May all of them help them to cultivate the thought of generosity and gentleness! May all of them help them to relax and activate their friendly behavior! May all of them be a source of peace and happiness. May they help their personalities! May they help them to be healthy! May all of them help them to be free from fear, tension, anxiety, worry, and restlessness!
Whether they walk to the east, southeast, south, southwest, west, northwest, north and northeast, no matter where they go in the world may they meet people with happiness, peace and friendliness. May they be protected in all directions from greed, anger, aversion, hatred, jealousy, and fear!
4. May the minds of my relatives be filled with the thought of loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy, equanimity! May they be generous! May they be gentle! May they be relaxed! May they be happy and peaceful! May they be healthy! May their hearts become soft! May their words be pleasing to others!
May all that my relatives see, hear, smell, taste, touch and think see help them to cultivate loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy, equanimity! May all of them help them to cultivate the thought of generosity and gentleness! May all of them help them to relax and activate their friendly behavior! May all of them be a source of peace and happiness. May they help their personalities! May they help them to be healthy! May all of them help them to be free from fear, tension, anxiety, worry, and restlessness!
Whether they walk to the east, southeast, south, southwest, west, northwest, north and northeast, no matter where they go in the world may they meet people with happiness, peace and friendliness. May they be protected in all directions from greed, anger, aversion, hatred, jealousy, and fear!
5. May the minds of my friends be filled with the thought of loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy, equanimity! May they be generous! May they be gentle! May they be relaxed! May they be happy and peaceful! May they be healthy! May their hearts become soft! May their words be pleasing to others!
May all that my friends see, hear, smell, taste, touch and think help them to cultivate loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy, equanimity! May all of them help them to cultivate the thought of generosity and gentleness! May all of them help them to relax and activate their friendly behavior! May all of them be a source of peace and happiness. May they help their personalities! May they help them to be healthy! May all of them help them to be free from fear, tension, anxiety, worry, and restlessness!
Whether they walk to the east, southeast, south, southwest, west, northwest, north and northeast, no matter where they go in the world may they meet people with happiness, peace and friendliness. May they be protected in all directions from greed, anger, aversion, hatred, jealousy, and fear!
6. May the minds of all indifferent persons be filled with the thought of loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy, equanimity! May they be generous! May they be gentle! May they be relaxed! May they be happy and peaceful! May they be healthy! May their hearts become soft! May their words be pleasing to others!
May all that all indifferent persons see, hear, smell, taste, touch and think help them to cultivate loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy, equanimity! May all of them help them to cultivate the thought of generosity and gentleness! May all of them help them to relax and activate their friendly behavior! May all of them be a source of peace and happiness. May they help their personalities! May they help them to be healthy! May all of them help them to be free from fear, tension, anxiety, worry, and restlessness!
Whether they walk to the east, southeast, south, southwest, west, northwest, north and northeast, no matter where they go in the world may they meet people with happiness, peace and friendliness. May they be protected in all directions from greed, anger, aversion, hatred, jealousy, and fear!
7. May the minds of all unfriendly persons be filled with the thought of loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy, equanimity! May they be generous! May they be gentle! May they be relaxed! May they be happy and peaceful! May they be healthy! May their hearts become soft! May their words be pleasing to others!
May all that all unfriendly persons see, hear, smell, taste, touch and think help them to cultivate loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy, equanimity! May all of them help them to cultivate the thought of generosity and gentleness! May all of them help them to relax and activate their friendly behavior! May all of them be a source of peace and happiness. May they help their personalities! May they help them to be healthy! May all of them help them to be free from fear, tension, anxiety, worry, and restlessness!
Whether they walk to the east, southeast, south, southwest, west, northwest, north and northeast, no matter where they go in the world may they meet people with happiness, peace and friendliness. May they be protected in all directions from greed, anger, aversion, hatred, jealousy, and fear!
8. May the minds of all living beings be filled with the thought of loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy, equanimity! May they be generous! May they be gentle! May they be relaxed! May they be happy and peaceful! May they be healthy! May their hearts become soft! May their words be pleasing to others!
May all that all living beings see, hear, smell, taste, touch and think help them to cultivate loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy, equanimity! May all of them help them to cultivate the thought of generosity and gentleness! May all of them help them to relax and activate their friendly behavior! May all of them be a source of peace and happiness. May they help their personalities! May they help them to be healthy! May all of them help them to be free from fear, tension, anxiety, worry, and restlessness!
Whether they walk to the east, southeast, south, southwest, west, northwest, north and northeast, no matter where they go in the world may they meet people with happiness, peace and friendliness. May they be protected in all directions from greed, anger, aversion, hatred, jealousy, and fear!
Let each and every one of us think that our minds are free from greed, anger, aversion, hatred, jealousy, and fear. Let the thought of loving-kindness embrace us, envelope us. Let every cell, every drop of blood, every atom, every molecule of our entire bodies and minds be charged with the thought of friendliness. Let us relax the body. Let us relax the mind. Let our body and mind be filled with the thought of loving-kindness. Let the peace and tranquillity of loving-kindness pervade our entire bodies and minds.
Let us expand the area of our thought of friendship to the entire room that you are sitting in and wish that each and everyone in this room be free from greed, anger, aversion, hatred, jealousy, and fear. Let these thoughts of loving-kindness embrace all of them, envelope them. Let every cell, every drop of blood, every atom, every molecule of their entire bodies and minds be charged with these thoughts of friendliness. Let them relax their bodies. Let them relax their minds. Let their bodies and minds be filled with the thought of loving-kindness. Let the peace and tranquillity of loving-kindness pervade their entire bodies and minds.
Let us direct our minds in the eastern direction and wish all living beings in that direction be free from greed, anger, aversion, hatred, jealousy, and fear. Let these thoughts of loving-kindness embrace all of them, envelope them. Let every cell, every drop of blood, every atom, every molecule of their entire bodies and minds be charged with these thoughts of friendliness. Let them relax their bodies. Let them relax their minds. Let their bodies and minds be filled with the thought of loving-kindness. Let the peace and tranquillity of loving-kindness pervade their entire bodies and minds.
Let us direct our minds to the south-eastern direction and wish all living beings in that direction be free from greed, anger, aversion, hatred, jealousy, and fear. Let these thoughts of loving-kindness embrace all of them, envelope them. Let every cell, every drop of blood, every atom, every molecule of their entire bodies and minds be charged with these thoughts of friendliness. Let them relax their bodies. Let them relax their minds. Let their bodies and minds be filled with the thought of loving-kindness. Let the peace and tranquillity of loving-kindness pervade their entire bodies and minds.
Let us direct our minds to the southern direction and wish all living beings in that direction be free from greed, anger, aversion, hatred, jealousy, and fear. Let these thoughts of loving-kindness embrace all of them, envelope them. Let every cell, every drop of blood, every atom, every molecule of their entire bodies and minds be charged with these thoughts of friendliness. Let them relax their bodies. Let them relax their minds. Let their bodies and minds be filled with the thought of loving-kindness. Let the peace and tranquillity of loving-kindness pervade their entire bodies and minds.
Let us direct our minds to the south-western direction and wish all living beings in that direction be free from greed, anger, aversion, hatred, jealousy, and fear. Let these thoughts of loving-kindness embrace all of them, envelope them. Let every cell, every drop of blood, every atom, every molecule of their entire bodies and minds be charged with these thoughts of friendliness. Let them relax their bodies. Let them relax their minds. Let their bodies and minds be filled with the thought of loving-kindness. Let the peace and tranquillity of loving-kindness pervade their entire bodies and minds.
Let us direct our minds to the western direction and wish all living beings in that direction be free from greed, anger, aversion, hatred, jealousy, and fear. Let these thoughts of loving-kindness embrace all of them, envelope them. Let every cell, every drop of blood, every atom, every molecule of their entire bodies and minds be charged with these thoughts of friendliness. Let them relax their bodies. Let them relax their minds. Let their bodies and minds be filled with the thought of loving-kindness. Let the peace and tranquillity of loving-kindness pervade their entire bodies and minds.
Let us direct our minds to the north-western direction and wish all living beings in that direction be free from greed, anger, aversion, hatred, jealousy, and fear. Let these thoughts of loving-kindness embrace all of them, envelope them. Let every cell, every drop of blood, every atom, every molecule of their entire bodies and minds be charged with these thoughts of friendliness. Let them relax their bodies. Let them relax their minds. Let their bodies and minds be filled with the thought of loving-kindness. Let the peace and tranquillity of loving-kindness pervade their entire bodies and minds.
Let us direct our minds to the northern direction and wish all living beings in that direction be free from greed, anger, aversion, hatred, jealousy, and fear. Let these thoughts of loving-kindness embrace all of them, envelope them. Let every cell, every drop of blood, every atom, every molecule of their entire bodies and minds be charged with these thoughts of friendliness. Let them relax their bodies. Let them relax their minds. Let their bodies and minds be filled with the thought of loving-kindness. Let the peace and tranquillity of loving-kindness pervade their entire bodies and minds.
Let us direct our minds to the north-eastern direction and wish all living beings in that direction be free from greed, anger, aversion, hatred, jealousy, and fear. Let these thoughts of loving-kindness embrace all of them, envelope them. Let every cell, every drop of blood, every atom, every molecule of their entire bodies and minds be charged with these thoughts of friendliness. Let them relax their bodies. Let them relax their minds. Let their bodies and minds be filled with the thought of loving-kindness. Let the peace and tranquillity of loving-kindness pervade their entire bodies and minds.
Let us direct our minds to the celestial direction and wish all living beings in that direction be free from greed, anger, aversion, hatred, jealousy, and fear. Let these thoughts of loving-kindness embrace all of them, envelope them. Let every cell, every drop of blood, every atom, every molecule of their entire bodies and minds be charged with these thoughts of friendliness. Let them relax their bodies. Let them relax their minds. Let their bodies and minds be filled with the thought of loving-kindness. Let the peace and tranquillity of loving-kindness pervade their entire bodies and minds.
Let us direct our minds to the terrestrial direction and wish all living beings in that direction be free from greed, anger, aversion, hatred, jealousy, and fear. Let these thoughts of loving-kindness embrace all of them, envelope them. Let every cell, every drop of blood, every atom, every molecule of their entire bodies and minds be charged with these thoughts of friendliness. Let them relax their bodies. Let them relax their minds. Let their bodies and minds be filled with the thought of loving-kindness. Let the peace and tranquillity of loving-kindness pervade their entire bodies and minds.
May all beings in all directions, all around the universe be beautiful; let them be happy; let them have good fortune; let them be wealthy; let them be famous; let them have good friends; let them after death be reborn in heavens.
May all beings everywhere be filled with the feeling of loving-kindness, abundant, exalted, measureless, free from enmity, free from affliction and anxiety. May they live happily.
May all those who are imprisoned legally or illegally, all who are in police custody anywhere in the world waiting trials meet with peace and happiness. May they be free from greed, anger, aversion, hatred, jealousy, and fear. Let these thoughts of loving-kindness embrace all of them, envelope them. Let every cell, every drop of blood, every atom, every molecule of their entire bodies and minds be charged with these thoughts of friendliness. Let them relax their bodies. Let them relax their minds. Let their bodies and minds be filled with the thought of loving-kindness. Let the peace and tranquillity of loving-kindness pervade their entire bodies and minds.
May all of them in all directions, all around the universe be beautiful; let them be happy; let them have good fortune; let them be wealthy; let them be famous; let them have good friends; let them after death be reborn in heavens.
May all who are in hospitals suffering from numerous sicknesses meet with peace and happiness. May they be free from pain, afflictions, depression, disappointment, dissatisfaction, anxiety and fear. Let these thoughts of loving-kindness embrace all of them, envelope them. Let every cell, every drop of blood, every atom, every molecule of their entire bodies and minds be charged with these thoughts of friendliness. Let them relax their bodies. Let them relax their minds. Let their bodies and minds be filled with the thought of loving-kindness. Let the peace and tranquillity of loving-kindness pervade their entire bodies and minds.
May all of them in all directions, all around the universe be beautiful; let them be happy; let them have good fortune; let them be wealthy; let them be famous; let them have good friends; let them after death be reborn in heavens.
May all mothers who are in pain in delivering babies meet with peace and happiness. May they be free from pain, afflictions, depression, disappointment, dissatisfaction, anxiety and fear. Let these thoughts of loving-kindness embrace all of them, envelope them. Let every cell, every drop of blood, every atom, every molecule of their entire bodies and minds be charged with these thoughts of friendliness. Let them relax their bodies. Let them relax their minds. Let their bodies and minds be filled with the thought of loving-kindness. Let the peace and tranquillity of loving-kindness pervade their entire bodies and minds.
May all of them in all directions, all around the universe be beautiful; let them be happy; let them have good fortune; let them be wealthy; let them be famous; let them have good friends; let them after death be reborn in heavens.
May all single parents taking care of their children meet with peace and happiness. May they be free from pain, afflictions, depression, disappointment, dissatisfaction, anxiety and fear. Let these thoughts of loving-kindness embrace all of them, envelope them. Let every cell, every drop of blood, every atom, every molecule of their entire bodies and minds be charged with these thoughts of friendliness. Let them relax their bodies. Let them relax their minds. Let their bodies and minds be filled with the thought of loving-kindness. Let the peace and tranquillity of loving-kindness pervade their entire bodies and minds.
May all of them in all directions, all around the universe be beautiful; let them be happy; let them have good fortune; let them be wealthy; let them be famous; let them have good friends; let them after death be reborn in heavens.
May all children abused by adults in numerous ways meet with peace and happiness. May they be free from pain, afflictions, depression, disappointment, dissatisfaction, anxiety and fear. Let these thoughts of loving-kindness embrace all of them, envelope them. Let every cell, every drop of blood, every atom, every molecule of their entire bodies and minds be charged with these thoughts of friendliness. Let them relax their bodies. Let them relax their minds. Let their bodies and minds be filled with the thought of loving-kindness. Let the peace and tranquillity of loving-kindness pervade their entire bodies and minds.
May all of them in all directions, all around the universe be beautiful; let them be happy; let them have good fortune; let them be wealthy; let them be famous; let them have good friends; let them after death be reborn in heavens.
May all rulers be gentle, kind, generous, compassionate, considerate and have best understanding of the oppressed, underprivileged, discriminated and the poverty-stricken.
May their hearts melt at the suffering of the unfortunate citizens. May they be free from pain, afflictions, depression, free from disappointment, dissatisfaction, anxiety and fear. Let these thoughts of loving-kindness embrace all of them, envelope them. Let every cell, every drop of blood, every atom, every molecule of their entire bodies and minds be charged with these thoughts of friendliness. Let them relax their bodies. Let them relax their minds. Let their bodies and minds be filled with the thought of loving-kindness. Let the peace and tranquillity of loving-kindness pervade their entire bodies and minds.
May the oppressed, underprivileged, discriminated and the poverty-stricken meet with peace and happiness. May they be free from pain, afflictions, depression, free from disappointment, dissatisfaction, anxiety and fear. Let these thoughts of loving-kindness embrace all of them, envelope them. Let every cell, every drop of blood, every atom, every molecule of their entire bodies and minds be charged with these thoughts of friendliness. Let them relax their bodies. Let them relax their minds. Let their bodies and minds be filled with the thought of loving-kindness. Let the peace and tranquillity of loving-kindness pervade their entire bodies and minds.
May all of them in all directions, all around the universe be beautiful; let them be happy; let them have good fortune; let them be wealthy; let them be famous; let them have good friends; let them after death be reborn in heavens.
The Four Sublime States
Contemplations on Love, Compassion, Sympathetic Joy and Equanimity /
by Nyanaponika Thera
Four sublime states of mind have been taught by the Buddha:
Love or Loving-kindness ( metta )
Compassion ( karuna )
Sympathetic Joy ( mudita )
Equanimity ( upekkha ) .......
In Pali, the language of the Buddhist scriptures, these four are known under the name of Brahma-vihara. This term may be rendered by: excellent, lofty or sublime states of mind; or alternatively, by: Brahma-like, god-like or divine abodes. These four attitudes are said to be excellent or sublime because they are the right or ideal way of conduct towards living beings ( sattesu samma patipatti ). ......
They provide, in fact, the answer to all situations arising from social contact. They are the great removers of tension, the great peace-makers in social conflict, and the great healers of wounds suffered in the struggle of existence. They level social barriers, build harmonious communities, awaken slumbering magnanimity long forgotten, revive joy and hope long abandoned, and promote human brotherhood against the forces of egotism. ......
The Brahma-viharas are incompatible with a hating state of mind, and in that they are akin to Brahma, the divine but transient ruler of the higher heavens in the traditional Buddhist picture of the universe. In contrast to many other conceptions of deities, East and West, who by their own devotees are said to show anger, wrath, jealousy and "righteous indignation,"
Brahma is free from hate; and one who assiduously develops these four sublime states, by conduct and meditation, is said to become an equal of Brahma ( brahma-samo ). If they become the dominant influence in his mind, he will be reborn in congenial worlds, the realms of Brahma. Therefore, these states of mind are called God-like , Brahma-like . ......
They are called abodes ( vihara ) because they should become the mind's constant dwelling-places where we feel "at home"; they should not remain merely places of rare and short visits, soon forgotten. In other words, our minds should become thoroughly saturated by them. They should become our inseparable companions, and we should be mindful of them in all our common activities.
As the Metta Sutta, the Song of Loving-kindness, says: When standing, walking, sitting, lying down, Whenever he feels free of tiredness Let him establish well this mindfulness -- This, it is said, is the Divine Abode. These four -- love , compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity -- are also known as the boundless states ( appamanna ), because, in their perfection and their true nature, they should not be narrowed by any limitation as to the range of beings towards whom they are extended. ......
They should be non-exclusive and impartial, not bound by selective preferences or prejudices. A mind that has attained to that boundlessness of the Brahma-viharas will not harbor any national, racial, religious or class hatred. But unless rooted in a strong natural affinity with such a mental attitude, it will certainly not be easy for us to effect that boundless application by a deliberate effort of will and to avoid consistently any kind or degree of partiality.
To achieve that, in most cases, we shall have to use these four qualities not only as principles of conduct and objects of reflection, but also as subjects of methodical meditation. That meditation is called Brahma-vihara-bhavana , the meditative development of the sublime states. The practical aim is to achieve, with the help of these sublime states, those high stages of mental concentration called jhana , "meditative absorption." .......
The meditations on love, compassion and sympathetic joy may each produce the attainment of the first three absorptions, while the meditation on equanimity will lead to the fourth jhana only, in which equanimity is the most significant factor. ......
Generally speaking, persistent meditative practice will have two crowning effects: first, it will make these four qualities sink deep into the heart so that they become spontaneous attitudes not easily overthrown; second, it will bring out and secure their boundless extension, the unfolding of their all-embracing range. ......
In fact, the detailed instructions given in the Buddhist scriptures for the practice of these four meditations are clearly intended to unfold gradually the boundlessness of the sublime states. They systematically break down all barriers restricting their application to particular individuals or places.
In the meditative exercises, the selection of people to whom the thought of love, compassion or sympathetic joy is directed, proceeds from the easier to the more difficult. For instance, when meditating on loving-kindness, one starts with an aspiration for one's own well-being, using it as a point of reference for gradual extension: "Just as I wish to be happy and free from suffering, so may that being, may all beings be happy and free from suffering!" .......
Then one extends the thought of loving-kindness to a person for whom one has a loving respect, as, for instance, a teacher; then to dearly beloved people, to indifferent ones, and finally to enemies, if any, or those disliked. Since this meditation is concerned with the welfare of the living, one should not choose people who have died; one should also avoid choosing people towards whom one may have feelings of sexual attraction. ......
After one has been able to cope with the hardest task, to direct one's thoughts of loving-kindness to disagreeable people, one should now "break down the barriers"( sima-sambheda ). Without making any discrimination between those four types of people, one should extend one's loving-kindness to them equally. ......
At that point of the practice one will have come to the higher stages of concentration: with the appearance of the mental reflex-image ( patibhaganimitta ), "access concentration" ( upacara samadhi ) will have been reached, and further progress will lead to the full concentration ( appana ) of the first jhana, then the higher jhanas. For spatial expansion, the practice starts with those in one's immediate environment such as one's family, then extends to the neighboring houses, to the whole street, the town, country, other countries and the entire world. .....
In "pervasion of the directions," one's thought of loving-kindness is directed first to the east, then to the west, north, south, the intermediate directions, the zenith and nadir. The same principles of practice apply to the meditative development of compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity, with due variations in the selection of people. .....
Details of the practice will be found in the texts (see Visuddhimagga , Chapter IX). The ultimate aim of attaining these Brahma-vihara-jhanas is to produce a state of mind that can serve as a firm basis for the liberating insight into the true nature of all phenomena, as being impermanent, liable to suffering and unsubstantial. .....
A mind that has achieved meditative absorption induced by the sublime states will be pure, tranquil, firm, collected and free of coarse selfishness. It will thus be well prepared for the final work of deliverance which can be completed only by insight. The preceding remarks show that there are two ways of developing the sublime states: first by practical conduct and an appropriate direction of thought; and second by methodical meditation aiming at the absorptions. .....
Each will prove helpful to the other. Methodical meditative practice will help love, compassion, joy and equanimity to become spontaneous. It will help make the mind firmer and calmer in withstanding the numerous irritations in life that challenge us to maintain these four qualities in thoughts, words and deeds. .....
On the other hand, if one's practical conduct is increasingly governed by these sublime states, the mind will harbor less resentment, tension and irritability, the reverberations of which often subtly intrude into the hours of meditation, forming there the "hindrance of restlessness." Our everyday life and thought has a strong influence on the meditative mind; only if the gap between them is persistently narrowed will there be a chance for steady meditative progress and for achieving the highest aim of our practice. .....
Meditative development of the sublime states will be aided by repeated reflection upon their qualities, the benefits they bestow and the dangers from their opposites. As the Buddha says, "What a person considers and reflects upon for a long time, to that his mind will bend and incline."
The Basic Passage on the Four Sublime States
from the Discourses of the Buddha ...
I. Here, monks, a disciple dwells pervading one direction with his heart filled with loving-kindness, likewise the second, the third, and the fourth direction; so above, below and around; he dwells pervading the entire world everywhere and equally with his heart filled with loving-kindness, abundant, grown great, measureless, free from enmity and free from distress. ...
II. Here, monks, a disciple dwells pervading one direction with his heart filled with compassion, likewise the second, the third and the fourth direction; so above, below and around; he dwells pervading the entire world everywhere and equally with his heart filled with compassion, abundant, grown great, measureless, free from enmity and free from distress....
III. Here, monks, a disciple dwells pervading one direction with his heart filled with sympathetic joy, likewise the second, the third and the fourth direction; so above, below and around; he dwells pervading the entire world everywhere and equally with his heart filled with sympathetic joy, abundant, grown great, measureless, free from enmity and free from distress. ...
IV. Here, monks, a disciple dwells pervading one direction with his heart filled with equanimity, likewise the second, the third and the fourth direction; so above, below and around; he dwells pervading the entire world everywhere and equally with his heart filled with equanimity, abundant, grown great, measureless, free from enmity and free from distress.
Digha Nikaya 13
Contemplations on the Four Sublime States --- Love
I. LOVE (Metta)
Love , without desire to possess, knowing well that in the ultimate sense there is no possession and no possessor: this is the highest love . .....
Love , without speaking and thinking of "I," knowing well that this so-called "I" is a mere delusion. .....
Love , without selecting and excluding, knowing well that to do so means to create love's own contrasts: dislike, aversion and hatred. .....
Love , embracing all beings: small and great, far and near, be it on earth, in the water or in the air......
Love , embracing impartially all sentient beings, and not only those who are useful, pleasing or amusing to us. .....
Love , embracing all beings, be they noble-minded or low-minded, good or evil. The noble and the good are embraced because love is flowing to them spontaneously. .....
The low-minded and evil-minded are included because they are those who are most in need of love. In many of them the seed of goodness may have died merely because warmth was lacking for its growth, because it perished from cold in a loveless world. .....
Love , embracing all beings, knowing well that we all are fellow wayfarers through this round of existence -- that we all are overcome by the same law of suffering. .....
Love , but not the sensuous fire that burns, scorches and tortures, that inflicts more wounds than it cures -- flaring up now, at the next moment being extinguished, leaving behind more coldness and loneliness than was felt before. Rather, love that lies like a soft but firm hand on the ailing beings, ever unchanged in its sympathy, without wavering, unconcerned with any response it meets. .....
Love that is comforting coolness to those who burn with the fire of suffering and passion; that is life-giving warmth to those abandoned in the cold desert of loneliness, to those who are shivering in the frost of a loveless world; to those whose hearts have become as if empty and dry by the repeated calls for help, by deepest despair. .....
Love , that is a sublime nobility of heart and intellect which knows, understands and is ready to help.
Love , that is strength and gives strength: this is the highest love . .....
Love , which by the Enlightened One was named "the liberation of the heart," "the most sublime beauty": this is the highest love . And what is the highest manifestation of love ? To show to the world the path leading to the end of suffering, the path pointed out, trodden, and realized to perfection by Him, the Exalted One, the Buddha.
II. COMPASSION (Karuna)
The world suffers. But most men have their eyes and ears closed. They do not see the unbroken stream of tears flowing through life; they do not hear the cry of distress continually pervading the world. Their own little grief or joy bars their sight, deafens their ears. .....
Bound by selfishness, their hearts turn stiff and narrow. Being stiff and narrow, how should they be able to strive for any higher goal, to realize that only release from selfish craving will effect their own freedom from suffering? It is compassion that removes the heavy bar, opens the door to freedom, makes the narrow heart as wide as the world. .....
Compassion takes away from the heart the inert weight, the paralyzing heaviness; it gives wings to those who cling to the lowlands of self. Through compassion the fact of suffering remains vividly present to our mind, even at times when we personally are free from it. It gives us the rich experience of suffering, thus strengthening us to meet it prepared, when it does befall us. .....
Compassion reconciles us to our own destiny by showing us the life of others, often much harder than ours. Behold the endless caravan of beings, men and beasts, burdened with sorrow and pain! The burden of every one of them, we also have carried in bygone times during the unfathomable sequence of repeated births.
Behold this, and open your heart to compassion ! And this misery may well be our own destiny again! He who is without compassion now, will one day cry for it. If sympathy with others is lacking, it will have to be acquired through one's own long and painful experience. This is the great law of life. .....
Knowing this, keep guard over yourself! Beings, sunk in ignorance, lost in delusion, hasten from one state of suffering to another, not knowing the real cause, not knowing the escape from it. This insight into the general law of suffering is the real foundation of our compassion , not any isolated fact of suffering.
Hence our compassion will also include those who at the moment may be happy, but act with an evil and deluded mind. In their present deeds we shall foresee their future state of distress, and compassion will arise. The compassion of the wise man does not render him a victim of suffering......
His thoughts, words and deeds are full of pity. But his heart does not waver; unchanged it remains, serene and calm. How else should he be able to help? May such compassion arise in our hearts!.......
Compassion that is sublime nobility of heart and intellect which knows, understands and is ready to help. Compassion that is strength and gives strength: this is highest compassion . And what is the highest manifestation of compassion ? To show to the world the path leading to the end of suffering, the path pointed out, trodden and realized to perfection by Him, the Exalted One, the Buddha.
--- Sympathetic Joy
III. SYMPATHETIC JOY (Mudita) ...
Not only to compassion, but also to joy with others open your heart! Small, indeed, is the share of happiness and joy allotted to beings! Whenever a little happiness comes to them, then you may rejoice that at least one ray of joy has pierced through the darkness of their lives, and dispelled the gray and gloomy mist that enwraps their hearts. ......
Your life will gain in joy by sharing the happiness of others as if it were yours. Did you never observe how in moments of happiness men's features change and become bright with joy? Did you never notice how joy rouses men to noble aspirations and deeds, exceeding their normal capacity? .......
Did not such experience fill your own heart with joyful bliss? It is in your power to increase such experience of sympathetic joy , by producing happiness in others, by bringing them joy and solace. Let us teach real joy to men! Many have unlearned it. Life, though full of woe, holds also sources of happiness and joy, unknown to most. ......
Let us teach people to seek and to find real joy within themselves and to rejoice with the joy of others! Let us teach them to unfold their joy to ever sublimer heights! Noble and sublime joy is not foreign to the Teaching of the Enlightened One. Wrongly the Buddha's Teaching is sometimes considered to be a doctrine diffusing melancholy.......
Far from it: the Dhamma leads step by step to an ever purer and loftier happiness. Noble and sublime joy is a helper on the path to the extinction of suffering. Not he who is depressed by grief, but one possessed of joy finds that serene calmness leading to a contemplative state of mind. And only a mind serene and collected is able to gain the liberating wisdom. ......
The more sublime and noble the joy of others is, the more justified will be our own sympathetic joy . A cause for our joy with others is their noble life securing them happiness here and in lives hereafter. A still nobler cause for our joy with others is their faith in the Dhamma, their understanding of the Dhamma, their following the Dhamma. ......
Let us give them the help of the Dhamma! Let us strive to become more and more able ourselves to render such help! Sympathetic joy means a sublime nobility of heart and intellect which knows, understands and is ready to help.......
Sympathetic joy that is strength and gives strength: this is the highest joy. And what is the highest manifestation of sympathetic joy ? To show to the world the path leading to the end of suffering, the path pointed out, trodden, and realized to perfection by Him, the Exalted One, the Buddha.
IV. EQUANIMITY (Upekkha) ...
Equanimity is a perfect, unshakable balance of mind, rooted in insight. Looking at the world around us, and looking into our own heart, we see clearly how difficult it is to attain and maintain balance of mind. Looking into life we notice how it continually moves between contrasts: rise and fall, success and failure, loss and gain, honor and blame. ......
We feel how our heart responds to all this with happiness and sorrow, delight and despair, disappointment and satisfaction, hope and fear. These waves of emotion carry us up and fling us down; and no sooner do we find rest, than we are in the power of a new wave again. How can we expect to get a footing on the crest of the waves? How can we erect the building of our lives in the midst of this ever restless ocean of existence, if not on the Island of Equanimity. ......
A world where that little share of happiness allotted to beings is mostly secured after many disappointments, failures and defeats; a world where only the courage to start anew, again and again, promises success; a world where scanty joy grows amidst sickness, separation and death; a world where beings who were a short while ago connected with us by sympathetic joy , are at the next moment in want of our compassion -- such a world needs equanimity. ......
But the kind of equanimity required has to be based on vigilant presence of mind, not on indifferent dullness. It has to be the result of hard, deliberate training, not the casual outcome of a passing mood. But equanimity would not deserve its name if it had to be produced by exertion again and again. ......
In such a case it would surely be weakened and finally defeated by the vicissitudes of life. True equanimity, however, should be able to meet all these severe tests and to regenerate its strength from sources within. It will possess this power of resistance and self-renewal only if it is rooted in insight. ......
What, now, is the nature of that insight? It is the clear understanding of how all these vicissitudes of life originate, and of our own true nature. We have to understand that the various experiences we undergo result from our kamma -- our actions in thought, word and deed -- performed in this life and in earlier lives. ......
Kamma is the womb from which we spring ( kamma-yoni ), and whether we like it or not, we are the inalienable "owners" of our deeds ( kamma-ssaka ). But as soon as we have performed any action, our control over it is lost: it forever remains with us and inevitably returns to us as our due heritage ( kamma-dayada ). ......
Nothing that happens to us comes from an "outer" hostile world foreign to ourselves; everything is the outcome of our own mind and deeds. Because this knowledge frees us from fear, it is the first basis of equanimity. When, in everything that befalls us we only meet ourselves, why should we fear? If, however, fear or uncertainty should arise, we know the refuge where it can be allayed: our good deeds ( kamma-patisarana ).
By taking this refuge, confidence and courage will grow within us -- confidence in the protecting power of our good deeds done in the past; courage to perform more good deeds right now, despite the discouraging hardships of our present life. For we know that noble and selfless deeds provide the best defense against the hard blows of destiny, that it is never too late but always the right time for good actions. ......
If that refuge, in doing good and avoiding evil, becomes firmly established within us, one day we shall feel assured: "More and more ceases the misery and evil rooted in the past. And this present life -- I try to make it spotless and pure. ......
What else can the future bring than increase of the good?" And from that certainty our minds will become serene, and we shall gain the strength of patience and equanimity to bear with all our present adversities. Then our deeds will be our friends (kamma-bandhu). ......
Likewise, all the various events of our lives, being the result of our deeds, will also be our friends, even if they bring us sorrow and pain. Our deeds return to us in a guise that often makes them unrecognizable. Sometimes our actions return to us in the way that others treat us, sometimes as a thorough upheaval in our lives; often the results are against our expectations or contrary to our wills.
Such experiences point out to us consequences of our deeds we did not foresee; they render visible half-conscious motives of our former actions which we tried to hide even from ourselves, covering them up with various pretexts. If we learn to see things from this angle, and to read the message conveyed by our own experience, then suffering, too, will be our friend. ......
It will be a stern friend, but a truthful and well-meaning one who teaches us the most difficult subject, knowledge about ourselves, and warns us against abysses towards which we are moving blindly. By looking at suffering as our teacher and friend, we shall better succeed in enduring it with equanimity. ......
Consequently, the teaching of kamma will give us a powerful impulse for freeing ourselves from kamma, from those deeds which again and again throw us into the suffering of repeated births. Disgust will arise at our own craving, at our own delusion, at our own propensity to create situations which try our strength, our resistance and our equanimity. ......
The second insight on which equanimity should be based is the Buddha's teaching of no-self ( anatta ). This doctrine shows that in the ultimate sense deeds are not performed by any self, nor do their results affect any self. Further, it shows that if there is no self, we cannot speak of "my own." ......
It is the delusion of a self that creates suffering and hinders or disturbs equanimity. If this or that quality of ours is blamed, one thinks: " I am blamed" and equanimity is shaken. If this or that work does not succeed, one thinks: " My work has failed" and equanimity is shaken. ......
If wealth or loved ones are lost, one thinks: "What is mine has gone" and equanimity is shaken. To establish equanimity as an unshakable state of mind, one has to give up all possessive thoughts of "mine" , beginning with little things from which it is easy to detach oneself, and gradually working up to possessions and aims to which one's whole heart clings.
One also has to give up the counterpart to such thoughts, all egoistic thoughts of "self ", beginning with a small section of one's personality, with qualities of minor importance, with small weaknesses one clearly sees, and gradually working up to those emotions and aversions which one regards as the center of one's being. ......
Thus detachment should be practiced. To the degree we forsake thoughts of "mine" or "self" equanimity will enter our hearts. For how can anything we realize to be foreign and void of a self cause us agitation due to lust, hatred or grief? Thus the teaching of no-self will be our guide on the path to deliverance, to perfect equanimity. ......
Equanimity is the crown and culmination of the four sublime states. But this should not be understood to mean that equanimity is the negation of love, compassion and sympathetic joy, or that it leaves them behind as inferior. Far from that, equanimity includes and pervades them fully, just as they fully pervade perfect equanimity.
The Inter-Relations of the Four Sublime States
How, then, do these four sublime states pervade and suffuse each other? Unbounded love guards compassion against turning into partiality, prevents it from making discriminations by selecting and excluding and thus protects it from falling into partiality or aversion against the excluded side. ......
Love imparts to equanimity its selflessness, its boundless nature and even its fervor. For fervor, too, transformed and controlled, is part of perfect equanimity , strengthening its power of keen penetration and wise restraint. ......
Compassion prevents love and sympathetic joy from forgetting that, while both are enjoying or giving temporary and limited happiness, there still exist at that time most dreadful states of suffering in the world. It reminds them that their happiness coexists with measureless misery, perhaps at the next doorstep. ......
It is a reminder to love and sympathetic joy that there is more suffering in the world than they are able to mitigate; that, after the effect of such mitigation has vanished, sorrow and pain are sure to arise anew until suffering is uprooted entirely at the attainment of Nibbana. Compassion does not allow that love and sympathetic joy shut themselves up against the wide world by confining themselves to a narrow sector of it. ......
Compassion prevents love and sympathetic joy from turning into states of self-satisfied complacency within a jealously-guarded petty happiness. Compassion stirs and urges love to widen its sphere; it stirs and urges sympathetic joy to search for fresh nourishment. Thus it helps both of them to grow into truly boundless states ( appamanna ). ......
Compassion guards equanimity from falling into a cold indifference, and keeps it from indolent or selfish isolation. Until equanimity has reached perfection, compassion urges it to enter again and again the battle of the world, in order to be able to stand the test, by hardening and strengthening itself. ......
Sympathetic joy holds compassion back from becoming overwhelmed by the sight of the world's suffering, from being absorbed by it to the exclusion of everything else. Sympathetic joy relieves the tension of mind, soothes the painful burning of the compassionate heart. It keeps compassion away from melancholic brooding without purpose, from a futile sentimentality that merely weakens and consumes the strength of mind and heart. ......
Sympathetic joy develops compassion into active sympathy. Sympathetic joy gives to equanimity the mild serenity that softens its stern appearance. It is the divine smile on the face of the Enlightened One, a smile that persists in spite of his deep knowledge of the world's suffering, a smile that gives solace and hope, fearlessness and confidence: "Wide open are the doors to deliverance," thus it speaks. ......
Equanimity rooted in insight is the guiding and restraining power for the other three sublime states. It points out to them the direction they have to take, and sees to it that this direction is followed. Equanimity guards love and compassion from being dissipated in vain quests and from going astray in the labyrinths of uncontrolled emotion. ......
Equanimity , being a vigilant self-control for the sake of the final goal, does not allow sympathetic joy to rest content with humble results, forgetting the real aims we have to strive for. Equanimity , which means "even-mindedness," gives to love an even, unchanging firmness and loyalty. It endows it with the great virtue of patience. ......
Equanimity furnishes compassion with an even, unwavering courage and fearlessness, enabling it to face the awesome abyss of misery and despair which confront boundless compassion again and again. To the active side of compassion , equanimity is the calm and firm hand led by wisdom -- indispensable to those who want to practice the difficult art of helping others. ......
And here again equanimity means patience, the patient devotion to the work of compassion . In these and other ways equanimity may be said to be the crown and culmination of the other three sublime states. The first three, if unconnected with equanimity and insight, may dwindle away due to the lack of a stabilizing factor.
Isolated virtues, if unsupported by other qualities which give them either the needed firmness or pliancy, often deteriorate into their own characteristic defects. For instance, loving-kindness, without energy and insight, may easily decline to a mere sentimental goodness of weak and unreliable nature. ......
Moreover, such isolated virtues may often carry us in a direction contrary to our original aims and contrary to the welfare of others, too. It is the firm and balanced character of a person that knits isolated virtues into an organic and harmonious whole, within which the single qualities exhibit their best manifestations and avoid the pitfalls of their respective weaknesses. And this is the very function of equanimity, the way it contributes to an ideal relationship between all four sublime states. ......
Equanimity is a perfect, unshakable balance of mind, rooted in insight. But in its perfection and unshakable nature equanimity is not dull, heartless and frigid. Its perfection is not due to an emotional "emptiness," but to a "fullness" of understanding, to its being complete in itself. Its unshakable nature is not the immovability of a dead, cold stone, but the manifestation of the highest strength. ......
In what way, now, is equanimity perfect and unshakable? Whatever causes stagnation is here destroyed, what dams up is removed, what obstructs is destroyed. Vanished are the whirls of emotion and the meanderings of intellect. Unhindered goes the calm and majestic stream of consciousness, pure and radiant.
Watchful mindfulness ( sati ) has harmonized the warmth of faith ( saddha ) with the penetrative keenness of wisdom ( panna ); it has balanced strength of will ( viriya ) with calmness of mind ( samadhi ); and these five inner faculties ( indriya ) have grown into inner forces ( bala ) that cannot be lost again. ......
They cannot be lost because they do not lose themselves any more in the labyrinths of the world ( samsara ), in the endless diffuseness of life ( papanca ). These inner forces emanate from the mind and act upon the world, but being guarded by mindfulness, they nowhere bind themselves, and they return unchanged. ......
Love, compassion and sympathetic joy continue to emanate from the mind and act upon the world, but being guarded by equanimity , they cling nowhere, and return unweakened and unsullied. Thus within the Arahat, the Liberated One, nothing is lessened by giving, and he does not become poorer by bestowing upon others the riches of his heart and mind. ......
The Arahat is like the clear, well-cut crystal which, being without stains, fully absorbs all the rays of light and sends them out again, intensified by its concentrative power. The rays cannot stain the crystal with their various colors. They cannot pierce its hardness, nor disturb its harmonious structure. ......
In its genuine purity and strength, the crystal remains unchanged. "Just as all the streams of the world enter the great ocean, and all the waters of the sky rain into it, but no increase or decrease of the great ocean is to be seen" -- even so is the nature of holy equanimity. .......
Holy equanimity, or -- as we may likewise express it -- the Arahat endowed with holy equanimity, is the inner center of the world. But this inner center should be well distinguished from the numberless apparent centers of limited spheres; that is, their so-called "personalities," governing laws, and so on.
All of these are only apparent centers, because they cease to be centers whenever their spheres, obeying the laws of impermanence, undergo a total change of their structure; and consequently the center of their gravity, material or mental, will shift. But the inner center of the Arahat's equanimity is unshakable, because it is immutable. It is immutable because it clings to nothing. ......
Says the Master:
For one who clings, motion exists; but for one who clings not, there is no motion. Where no motion is, there is stillness. Where stillness is, there is no craving. Where no craving is, there is neither coming nor going. Where no coming nor going is, there is neither arising nor passing away. Where neither arising nor passing away is, there is neither this world nor a world beyond, nor a state between. This, verily, is the end of suffering.
Discourse on the Mindfulness of Breathing /
(exerpts translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu)
Now in what way does the monk develop and frequently practice mindfulness of in-and-out breathing so that it bears great fruit and great benefits?
There is the case of a monk who, having gone to a forest, to the shade of a tree or to an empty building, sits down folding his legs crosswise, holding his body erect and keeping mindfulness to the fore. Always mindful, he breathes in; mindful he breathes out.
1. Breathing in long, he discerns that he is breathing in long; or breathing out long, he discerns that he is breathing out long.......
2. Or breathing in short, he discerns that he is breathing in short; or breathing out short, he discerns that he is breathing out short.......
3. He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to the entire body, and to breathe out sensitive to the entire body.......
4. He trains himself to breathe in calming the bodily processes, and to breathe out calming the bodily processes.......
5. He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to rapture, and to breathe out sensitive to rapture.......
6. He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to pleasure and breathe out sensitive to pleasure.......
7. He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to mental processes, and to breathe out sensitive to mental processes.......
8. He trains himself to breathe in calming mental processes, and to breathe out calming mental processes.......
9. He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to the mind, and to breathe out sensitive to the mind.......
10. He trains himself to breathe in satisfying the mind, and to breathe out satisfying the mind.......
11. He trains himself to breathe in steadying the mind, and to breathe out steadying the mind.......
12. He trains himself to breathe in releasing the mind, and to breathe out releasing the mind.......
13. He trains himself to breathe in focusing on inconstancy, and to breathe out focusing on inconstancy.......
14. He trains himself to breathe in focusing on dispassion (literally, fading), and to breathe out focusing on dispassion.......
15. He trains himself to breathe in focusing on stopping, and to breathe out focusing on stopping.......
16. He trains himself to breathe in focusing on relinquishment, and to breathe out focusing on relinquishment.......
It is through developing and frequently practicing mindfulness of in-and-out breathing in this way that it bears great fruit and great benefits.
Sending and Taking
Tonglen - 'Sending and Taking' / by Thrangu Rinpoche
TongLen is a meditation done in conjunction with one's breathing, and in relation to one's parents, friends and enemies, to all beings gathered around oneself. As one breathes out, imagine that with the exhalation out goes all one's happiness and all the causes of happiness, all the good karma that one has, in the form of white light rays. These light rays go out to all beings to touch them, so that they obtain present temporary happiness and the cause for the ultimate happiness of buddhahood.......
With inhalation one imagines that all the suffering, the causes of suffering and the bad karma that beings have are drawn into oneself with the incoming breath, in the form of black light rays. These black rays enter and merge into oneself, so one thinks that one has taken on the suffering of all other beings. Thus this Sending & Taking meditation involves giving away happiness and taking on suffering, in combination with one's breathing.......
What does this meditation accomplish? Generally, happiness & suffering occur as a result of karma, one's good or bad actions. If someone has done a good action, then naturally from that there will come a result of happiness. That person will receive the result of happiness that cannot be denied him or her. Likewise, suffering occurs as the result of bad actions. If someone has done a bad action then the only result that can be obtained from that is suffering, which cannot be avoided.......
In doing this meditation one changes the attitude of seeing oneself as more important than other beings; one will come to consider others as more important than oneself. The normal attitude that people have is to think that it does not matter if other beings are not happy, it does not matter if others are suffering, but it is important that oneself is happy & free from suffering. One normally considers oneself, takes care of oneself first, regarding oneself as more important than others. Through doing this sending & taking practice it is possible to change one's attitude so that it does not matter if oneself is unhappy or suffering, but it does matter that others are happy & free from suffering. Thus one develops the attitude that one is able to take on the suffering of other beings.
Some people new to this practice get worried because they think that by doing the practice they will have to lose happiness and experience suffering, which makes them fearful. However, there is no need for this anxiety because whatever happens to oneself is solely a result of one's karma. Doing this practice does not bring suffering.
Other people do the practice with great expectation, with great hope. They think of a friend who is ill, unhappy or otherwise suffering and they visualise this friend during the meditation in the hope that they will remove the suffering. When they find it does not work they lose hope and become disillusioned. This also is not what the practice is about. The point is to cherish other beings as important, rather than regarding oneself as important. So there is no need to have worry, fear or expectation.
However, it is not true to say there is no result from the practice. In the immediate present one is not able to bring happiness or remove suffering, but by doing this practice one will gradually cease to cherish oneself over others....... Instead, one will develop the wish to practise in order to benefit other beings, eventually leading to the ability to help beings, teach and train them in the Dharma, and so forth. Consequently, one will be able to give them happiness and relieve them of suffering, and offer them whatever qualities and abilities that one has. This is the relative bodhicitta.......
The ultimate bodhicitta is approached by pacifying concepts and dualism: all one's thoughts are calmed; one's clinging to dualism assuaged; one just rests in the state of peace, of meditation. One dissolves into emptiness and just rests in the true nature of the mind. This is the ultimate bodhicitta.
Satipatthana Sutra /
Discourse on The Four Foundations of Mindfulness /
(excerpts translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu)
And in what way does the monk develop and frequently practice mindfulness of in-and-out breathing so that the four foundations of mindfulness come to completion?
On whatever occasion a monk breathing in long discerns that he is breathing in long; or breathing out long, discerns that he is breathing out long; or breathing in short discerns that he is breathing in short; or breathing out short, discerns that he is breathing out short; trains himself to breathe in... and... out sensitive to the entire body; trains himself to breathe in... and... out calming the bodily processes: On that occasion, monks, the monk remains focused on the body in and of itself -- ardent, aware and mindful -- subduing greed and sorrow with reference to the world. I tell you, monks, that this -- the in-and-out breath -- is classed as a body among bodies, which is why the monk on that occasion remains focused on the body in and of itself -- ardent, aware and mindful -- subduing greed and sorrow with reference to the world.
On whatever occasion a monk trains himself to breathe in... and... out sensitive to rapture; trains himself to breathe in... and... out sensitive to pleasure; trains himself to breathe in... and... out sensitive to mental processes; trains himself to breathe in... and... out calming mental processes: On that occasion the monk remains focused on feelings in and of themselves -- ardent, aware and mindful -- subduing greed and sorrow with reference to the world. I tell you, monks, that this -- careful attention to in-and-out breaths -- is classed as a feeling among feelings, which is why the monk on that occasion remains focused on feelings in and of themselves -- ardent, aware and mindful -- subduing greed and sorrow with reference to the world.
On whatever occasion a monk trains himself to breathe in... and... out sensitive to the mind; trains himself to breathe in... and... out satisfying the mind; trains himself to breathe in... and... out steadying the mind; trains himself to breathe in... and... out releasing the mind: On that occasion the monk remains focused on the mind in and of itself -- ardent, aware and mindful -- subduing greed and sorrow with reference to the world. I don't say that there is mindfulness of in-and-out breathing in one of confused mindfulness and no presence of mind, which is why the monk on that occasion remains focused on the mind in and of itself -- ardent, aware and mindful -- subduing greed and sorrow with reference to the world.
On whatever occasion a monk trains himself to breathe in... and... out focusing on inconstancy; trains himself to breathe in... and... out focusing on dispassion; trains himself to breathe in... and... out focusing on stopping; trains himself to breathe in... and... out focusing on relinquishment: On that occasion the monk remains focused on mental qualities in and of themselves -- ardent, aware and mindful -- subduing greed and sorrow with reference to the world. He who sees clearly with discernment the abandoning of greed and sorrow is one who oversees with equanimity, which is why the monk on that occasion remains focused on mental qualities in and of themselves -- ardent, aware and mindful -- subduing greed and sorrow with reference to the world.
It is through developing and frequently practicing mindfulness of in-and-out breathing in this way that the four foundations of mindfulness come to completion.
The Seven Factors of Awakening
And in what way does the monk develop and frequently practice the four foundations of mindfulness so that the seven factors of awakening come to completion?
1. On whatever occasion the monk remains focused on the body in and of itself -- ardent, aware and mindful -- subduing greed and sorrow with reference to the world, on that occasion his mindfulness is ready and without lapse. When his mindfulness is ready and without lapse, then mindfulness as a factor of awakening becomes aroused, he develops it and through development it comes to completion...
2. Remaining mindful in this way, he examines, analyzes and comes to a comprehension of that phenomenon with discernment. When he remains mindful in this way, examining analyzing and coming to a comprehension of that phenomenon with discernment, then investigation of phenomena as a factor of awakening becomes aroused, he develops it and through development it comes to completion...
3. In one who examines, analyzes and comes to a comprehension of that phenomenon with discernment, unflagging persistence is aroused. When unflagging persistence is aroused in one who examines, analyzes and comes to a comprehension of that phenomenon with discernment, then persistence as a factor of awakening becomes aroused, he develops it and through development it comes to completion...
4. In one whose persistence is aroused, a rapture not of-the-flesh arises. When a rapture not-of-the-flesh arises in one whose persistence is aroused, then rapture as a factor of awakening becomes aroused, he develops it and through development it comes to completion...
5. For one who is enraptured, the body grows calm and the mind grows calm. When the body and mind of an enraptured monk grow calm, then tranquility as a factor of awakening becomes aroused, he develops it and through development it comes to completion...
6. For one who is at ease -- his body calmed -- the mind becomes concentrated. When the mind of one who is at ease -- his body calmed -- becomes concentrated, then concentration as a factor of awakening becomes aroused, he develops it and through development it comes to completion...
7. He oversees the mind thus concentrated with complete equanimity. When he oversees the mind thus concentrated with complete equanimity, equanimity as a factor of awakening becomes aroused, he develops it and through development it comes to completion...
(Similarly with the other three foundations of mindfulness: feelings, mind and mental qualities.)
It is through developing and frequently practicing the four foundations of mindfulness in this way that the seven factors of awakening come to completion.
Knowledge and release.
And in what way does the monk develop and frequently practice the seven factors of awakening so that knowledge and release come to completion?
There is the case of a monk who develops mindfulness as a factor of awakening dependent on seclusion, dispassion, cessation, resulting in relinquishment.
(Similarly with the remaining factors of awakening.)
It is through developing and frequently practicing the seven factors of awakening in this way that knowledge and release come to completion.
That is what the Blessed One said. Glad at heart, the monks delighted at his words.
The Eight Verses on Training of the Mind
The Eight Verses on the Training of the Mind /
By Geshe Langri Thangpa
With a determination to accomplish
The highest welfare for all sentient beings
Who surpass even a wish-granting jewel
I will learn to hold them supremely dear.......
Whenever I associate with others I will learn
To think of myself as the lowest among all
And respectfully hold others to be supreme
From the very depths of my heart.......
In all actions I will learn to search into my mind
And as soon as an afflictive emotion arises
Endangering myself and others
Will firmly face and avert it.......
I will learn to cherish beings of bad nature
And those oppressed by strong sins and suffering
As if I had found a precious
Treasure very difficult to find.......
When others out of jealousy treat me badly
With abuse, slander, and so on,
I will learn to take on all loss,
And offer victory to them.......
When one whom I have benefitted with great hope
Unreasonably hurts me very badly,
I will learn to view that person
As an excellent spiritual guide.......
In short, I will learn to offer to everyone without exception
All help and happiness directly and indirectly
And respectfully take upon myself
All harm and suffering of my mothers.......
I will learn to keep all these practices
Undefiled by the stains of the eight worldly conceptions
And by understanding all phenomena as like illusions
Be released from the bondage of attachment.
Mahamudra --- Meditation
First I will explain the foundation of Mahamudra and then actual meditation on Mahamudra according to the teaching or text called Nye Don Donme.......
Today I am giving Mahamudra Teaching this is the first time I am giving Mahamudra in Nelson last time Zasep Rinpoche asked me to give some teachings on Mahamudra but we didnít have the time.......
And I have received the Mahamudra teachings from various lamas traditions and this particular Mahamudra teaching I am giving to you this lineage I have received from Kalu Rinpoche the great Kargyu lama from one of the main lineage holder of the chungpa Kargyu tradition. Also I have received this teaching from the 16 Gyalwa Karmapa.......
Iím not a great teacher and I donít consider myself as an expert on Mahamudra but I like to give some teachings on Mahamudra to you to repay their kindness of all my teachers specially the lamas like the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa and Kalu Rinpoche. To repay their kindness.......
So in the past the Buddhadharma flourished and so long and we have been very fortunate and we have many traditions and lineages different lineages. Altogether there were 8 different lineages or traditions in Tibet or part of Tibetan Buddhism.......
As I said there are 8 different traditions and the Kargyu tradition Mahamudra is one the most important practice or meditation and also particularly Karma Kargyu tradition or what we call Kamsang tradition. Mahamudra is most important part of the teaching.......
According to the Kargyu tradition they also have different lineages they have 4 what we call Chezi the great lineages and 4 chugzi lesser or smaller lineage so all together there was 8 of the Kargyu tradition and basically its the same. But they have a little different tradition the way they explain the teachings the way they practice they way they taught the teachings they have a different style.
So this particular Mahamudra teaching I am giving to you today I received this teaching from Kalu Rinpoche. The name of this text is called Ne Don Donme This teaching comes from Lodre Thai Jamgon Kongtrul.......
According to Jamgon Kongtrul teaching on Mahamudra he put emphasis on foundation practice a lot. It is very important to practice the foundation before actually we engage ourselves into the Mahamudra meditation.......
And I am very happy to say to express that so many of you are interested in the Buddhadharma and Sangha and also generally people in the west there is lots of interest in Dharma and Buddhism and interest in meditation is always increasing.......
A long time ago the Buddha Sakyamuni gave a prediction and he said that Dharma would flourish in the land of people with the red face, redmen. Long time ago many Indians and Tibetans interpreted/thought that this land is perhaps Mongolian or Siberia because Dharma was spreading towards that direction. But now many thinkers believe this land is North America.......
Also we do have a prediction given by the Buddha his teaching of the Dharma will travel from India to the north then he said from north towards to the north. We know that Dharma has flourished to the north in Mongolia and all the way to Siberia.
So all of you are very interested in Buddhadharma and meditation sincere I am very happy to teach. And also I would like to say that when you practice Dharma it is very important to practice according to the lineage and also step by step not to confuse the order and go step by step.
It is easy to talk about Dharma and it easy to listen to dharma but it isnít easy to practice. So if we donít practice Dharma and mediation properly then things can go wrong with oneís own practice if things go wrong then things can be harmful to oneís self and also to others.
So when we practice Dharma and meditation we need to think about how to focus the mind on Dharma, the essence of Dharma practice is to cultivate peace, to cultivate inner peace, to subdue our mind. We need to know that the purpose of Dharma teaching is to subdue our mind to cultivate inner peace.......
Many great teachers said in the past, see you are studying the great teaching of Mahayana and you could say of yourself that I am a Mahayanist but that's not good enough. You have to actually integrate these teachings deep into your heart it has to kind of soak into your heart in your mind. It has to be absorbed into system, mind system.
See many people when the come to Dharma first people have eagerness and excitement but also many people have a very simple mind kind of black and white mind and donít even realise they have become a little bit sectarian or discriminating. "I am Gelugpa", "I am Nyingmapa" "I am this pa that pa" and not realising that the essence of all these teachings is the same. We should think that we are doing the same practice for the same purpose. We have to realise that all these teachings have to be respected and we need to know that they are the same thing.
The very first founder is the Buddha, Sakyamuni Buddha. The Buddha gave three teachings on the 3 Yanas. The gradual path to enlightenment, Sutrayana and Tantrayana and so forth. The essence of these teachings is to cultivate wisdom and compassion and lightened mind Clear light and bliss and so on and enlightenment for all sentient beings. So when people are not knowing these teachings and people cultivating narrow minded and discriminating the teachings and then they sometimes they use the teachings in the wrong way. Instead of purifying the mind we might be diluting our mind.......
Now when we read the history of Tibetan Buddhism each tradition of the four traditions or four lineages have great founders. For instance according to the Sakyapa tradition they have five great Lamas as founders. What they call three white lamas and two red lamas. And according to the Kargyu tradition the great Marpa and Milarepa and Gampopa and so forth many great teachers they were the founders. And according to the Nyingma they have great lamas like Mipam Rinpoche and many other teachers. In the Gelug tradition Lama Tsongkapa and his disciples Kaedrub and Gyaeltsab and so forth. And so if you have the time to study, if you have wisdom you find the essence of all these teachings are one and go back to the same source.......
So it is very important to have an open mind and great interest in all the great traditions not only Tibetan tradition but other traditions as well.
The great fifth Dalai Lama, one of his teacher was called First Panchen Lama. He wrote a famous text which explains how all these practices have the same essence. He explained about how the Mahamudra DzogChen and Madhyamika or what we call the middle path he explained that all these three have the same essence.......
The first Panchen Lama was called Losang Chogen he wrote the root text of Mahamudra according to the Gelugpa tradition. He explained that Mahamudra DzogChen and Madhyamika and suche all these traditions had the same essence. The same taste. He gave an example if you look at one big chunk of sugar if you bite into this sugar doesnít matter which side you find the same taste of sugar. Doesnít matter which way you bite. So its like this Mahamudra DzogChen and Madhyamika all have the same taste when we know how to bite it. And if you know how to taste you find the same taste.......
All these traditions have a final kind of view on voidness in other words emptiness clear light. According to the Nyingma tradition it explains voidness the clear light to Dzogchen way. According to the Kargyu tradition it explains the clear light and voidness the Mahamudra way and according to the Gelugpa it explains the voidness and clear light the ultimate view of Sunyata through the system called the Madhyamika or middle path.......
According to all those traditions or lineages the emphasis is on foundation practice especially in the Mahamudra tradition we have know the foundation practice, it explains a lot about the foundation practice. The actual practice of Mahamudra is to actually observe the mind and recognizing the nature of mind and meditating on the nature of the mind, trying to realise the nature of the mind.
So as I said before the essence of Dharma is to cultivate peaceful mind enlightened mind so therefore the foundation practice is the way to cultivate the mind, peaceful mind subdue our minds.......
Subduing the mind is important one, cultivating Dharma in our mind to integrate into our mind is very important otherwise no matter what kind of profound advanced practice we do or you go into long retreat say you do a three year retreat or even a longer retreat you do lots of practice and repetition so many hours. If the Dharma practice isnít implemented into your mind so when you come out of the retreat your mind is still the same. Nothing has really changed. So then means that the Dharma is not really absorbed into your mental continuum.......
The Buddha himself also said in the sutra, the essence of Dharma is to cultivate inner peace and purify defilements or delusion and to cherish others. This is the essence of the Dharma this is my teaching.......
It is important for us to analyse from time to time to inspect our Dharma practice to see how much change has happened, how much progress is made since we started meditation some time ago, some years ago , many years ago, look back. So when you see the progress has been made you can rejoice yourself.
When we say that we are going to practice Dharma which actually means I am going to purify the mind, purify my ego. When you inspect your Dharma practice or yourself and when you see your defilements are becoming less and less. For example anger aggression passion attachment ignorance all those defilements become lesser become subsided then you can say, yes my Dharma practice is good.......
When we study Dharma a lot . Many people read books and take teachings here and there, take initiations and we search the path we do lots of study and meditation learn so much. There is one danger we need to know, that people have lots of intellectual understanding becomes many people read intellectually read so much and talk lots and have lots of discussion and so forth. Attend many teachings and initiations and study we are unable to cultivate the Dharma in our heart we fail to cultivating the Dharma then what happens is we think to ourselves in kind of subconscious way we think we know the Dharma ĎOh I know Dharma Ď You think you know Dharma and you think you have the realisations just because you know in you head. But its not really absorbed into your heart. So its like when the Dharma comes in it bounces off like throwing water on canvas and doesnít soak into it. When that happens when you get into that kind of habit then its difficult. Then every time you receive teachings it never goes in, never soaks in to the mind then that's the danger to be aware.
There is a Tibetan word cho means Dharma and cho med means kind of a hard hearted dharmic person you call yourself dharma person but your heart has become very hard, not very soft and the Dharma is not being absorbed into the heart and then that's difficult that's a problem.......
We practice for the Dharma we meditate we choose the Dharma path by ourselves voluntarily nobody forces us and nobody tries to manipulate us nobody tries to brainwash us we choose the Dharma through our own choice.......
Whenever we practice Dharma the most important thing is that you practice, what ever you do for practice you try to do it properly and purely. Quality is the most important, quantity is not important.
There are different ways you can study and also different ways you can practice Mahamudra. According to the Kargyu tradition or Gelug tradition if you are committed yourself to practice Mahamudra like step by step especially if you wish to practice the Tantric aspect of Mahamudra then you need to receive initiation, not only lower Tantric initiation of one of the Tantric deity according to the Annutara yoga Tantra. For example according to the Kargyu tradition you have to receive Vajravarahi/Vajrayogini initiation or Heruka Chakrasamvara. According to the Gelug tradition you also have to receive Vajrayogini Heruka, Yamantaka, and so forth. But those of you who havenít received all these or any kind of initiation like that you could do the Mahamudra practice according to the Sutra or general.......
As I said before if you are interested to practice Mahamudra and especially the higher form of Tantric aspect of Mahamudra then it is important for you to work towards it and prepare yourself to qualify to receive one of those higher Tantric empowerments.......
In order to receive initiations of the Annutara yoga Tantra one of the deities like Vajravarahi or Chakrasamvara you have first to accomplish the four foundations and specially one has to practice the Guru Yoga.
I am going to go through this text called Nyg Don Donme. It is quite a long text so we donít have time to go through everything word by word because we only have two days therefore some parts I am going to read it this means you are listening and receiving the transmission the Lung in the Tibetan tradition. When you are listening to the words while I am reading you are receiving the transmission or Lung. Although you donít know what I am reading exactly every word you donít know what is happening but then I will read and from time to time I will explain the main point.
More than half of this text is actually explaining the foundation of Mahamudra. Then the actual Mahamudra practice comes later on. First I go through the foundation.
The root of this text there is a Mahamudra text called Dani Osel which means the moonlight.
According to the different lineages of the Kargyu tradition they also have different labels of Mahamudra. For instance according to Digong Kargyu tradition they have a label for Mahamudra a name for their system of Mahamudra its called Chag Chen Nga Zen. Five foundations for the Mahamudra. According to Shangpa tradition the name for Mahamudra is called Gauma. It is charm box or blessing box. So the red Shangpa Kargyu lama travelled to India he received the teaching and returned to Tibet he kept this sacred text in a little charm box. So this is how the name for this tradition of Mahamudra started according to the Shangpa Kargyu tradition.
When you do the Mahamudra meditation you have to have a good understanding of the view of Sunyata. The purpose of Mahamudra practice is you study Mahamudra, you practice Mahamudra then later on you are going to practice the Six Yogaís of Naropa. This is very profound and therefore in order to cultivate realisations of the Six Yogaís of Naropa you have to have realisation of Mahamudra you have to have a good understanding of voidness. It says that when you accomplish the realisations of voidness or Mahamudra when you meditate on Mahamudra you have to experience the voidness of self and the meditator As well as the voidness of the object of meditation and you have to experience the voidness of the action of the meditation, all three simultaneously. When you meditate you actually have to experience there is no me, and there is no object of mediation as well inherently, independently existing me or object of meditation. You have to experience that.
When we talk about Samatha Vipassana we talk about meditation. Meditation doesnít mean you sit somewhere and you be quiet. Just sit and be quiet. That's not meditation. When you practice Samatha Vipassana you have to cultivate calm abiding mind therefore you can achieve calm abiding body as well. You can achieve the realisation of the suppleness of the mind and suppleness of the body together. And one can also have concentration and single pointedness concentration without obstacles such as wandering mind and dullness mind and sinking mind.
When you begin the Mahamudra meditation first you have to do the foundation. One of the most important foundation practices is the Guruyoga. According to the different lineages they have different Guruyogas and the have different Guru mantras. For example in the Kargyu tradition particularly Karma Kargyu tradition you say the mantra of Karmapa or you pray to Karmapa. In Tibetan we say KARMAPA CHENNO. Chenno means please pay attention to me. Guru Karmapa please pay attention to me. So we repeat this over and over. According to the Gelugpa tradition or the Sakya they have their own guru mantras. You say that mantra and visualize the Guru in front of you or on your crown and say the mantras and this is how you begin the meditation. First you do the Guruyoga. According to Gelugpa tradition recite Lama Tsong Khapa mantra OM GURU VAJRA DHARA SUMATI KIRTI SIDHI HUNG.
Usually if you do a meditation retreat on Mahamudra you must start in the early morning. The morning is the best time. You start with the Guruyoga and then you meditate on Mahamudra. This time I would like to explain the meditation.......
When we meditate on Mahamudra it is very important for us to follow the discipline we have to follow the explanation on how to sit properly. We have to follow seven postures of Varirochana Buddha style.
First we sit on a comfortable and firm cushion. If you can sit with cross legs or what we call lotus posture or Vajra asana. If you canít do that then you could do half lotus posture. Keep your hands together in the mudra of meditative equipoise...
Keep your back or spine straight like a bamboo arrow...
Keep your shoulders balanced like an eagle, a great eagle when its flying his wings are straight and balanced. Keep your shoulders in the same line...
Also keep your head straight with a slight bend at the neck...
Close your mouth, touch the tip of your tongue on the back of the upper teeth...
Donít close your eyes and gaze in front of you so that you see the tip of your nose as you are sitting straight...
There are different ways of keeping the hands together... Sometimes you put your hands on your knees or you practice the mudra of meditative equipoise. When you do the Mahamudra meditation keep your hands together with the right hand on top of the left hand and touching the tips of your thumbs together. The first mudra with the hands on the knees is done with the higher form of Mahamudra or meditating on Vase Breathing Meditation or Tumo Meditation and so forth controlling the breath in the central channel. That time you keep the hands on the knees...
After you are sitting properly practicing the right posture then we have to begin the mindfulness of breathe. There are different types of mindfulness of breathing meditation... Nine point breathing meditation and another kind of breathing meditation.
Necessity of Meditating in the City
The Necessity of Meditating in the City /
by His Holiness Sakya Trizin
We humans require many things, have many things to accomplish,
and so forth. But it is clear no matter how much we have or
wherever we are, there is not enough; always there is some more
requirement, always dissatisfaction. Through our experience the
truth is very clear in what Lord Buddha said about samsara's
entirety being nothing but suffering nature.
So what we can do? The one thing common to all is everyone wishes
to be free from suffering and wishes to have happiness. And for
the sake of this everyone is making effort in worldly spiritual
or other ways. But no matter what we do there is no end to
suffering and no gain of the happiness we seek.......
So how can we get this? Lord Buddha teaches that every sentient
being possesses buddha-nature. The true nature of our mind is
pure. Right from the beginning it is never stained with
obscurations of any form. Therefore if we try we can attain
At the moment we do not see this buddha-nature, being completely
covered with obscurations. But the obscurations are not within
the nature of the mind. If they were they could never be
eliminated. For example the nature of coal is black, so no matter
how much you wash it, coal will never become white. Due to dirt
the whiteness of a white cloth is not seen, but with correct
methods we can wash then see the actual colour. Similarly the
obscurations in our minds are only at the outer level and with
the right methods, could be eliminated. Therefore if we work hard
following the Dharma path we can become fully enlightened
For these reasons, the most important thing is spiritual
practice, because all other things such as material wealth or
power are only beneficial within this lifespan. The day we
leave this world we have to leave everything behind - our
wealth, friends, even our precious body. Only consciousness is
left, and when it leaves all we can rely on is spiritual
When we face major problems, there is a vast difference between
the person who has spiritual ideas and the one who does not. When
the person without any spiritual assistance faces such
sufferings they are in a desperate situation and have to rely on
other very wrong methods, perhaps having to take extreme
measures. One of the basic teachings of Buddha is that everything
created by cause and conditions is impermanent. And any actions
connected with defilements are sufferings. So when we face such
problems it is obvious it is not something just happening to us,
but impermanence and suffering are the nature of existence
When one understands that, even though the problem may be the
same, the person who has spiritual assistance is ready to face
it because he knows it's the nature. Due to this it lessens the
mental burden. And when one's mental burden is lessened outer
physical suffering is also, because mind is the boss and the
body like a servant. If the mind is happy, even one could be in
the poorest conditions but still be happy. And if the mind is not
happy even one has the best facilities still one has a lot of
misery. So since the mind is the most important, to give us
strength to face the challenges of suffering even for this life,
the most important thing is Dharma practice.......
Although we are all human beings, each one has a different mind,
different defilements and so forth. In order to suit every level
of our minds the Buddha bestowed an enormous amount of teachings.
One kind of teaching is not enough. Just as we require many medi-
cines in order to cure the different types of disease, similarly
in order to help the limitless sentient beings, the Buddha also
gave many many teachings.......
Generally speaking there are two different types of followers -
the followers who wish to follow the smaller goal, and the
followers who wish to follow the greater goal. That is why we
have the two yanas of hinayana and mahayana. Although the
hinayana path has many teachings, what in essence is most
important is not to harm any sentient being. If one harms any
sentient being physically or mentally, it is not right.......
The mahayana path is not only non-harming but also benefitting
as much as one can, because each and every sentient being is like
ourself. From our own experience we can learn how much we wish to
be free from suffering and wish to have happiness. From tiny
insects to the most intelligent humans up to the deva realms,
every sentient being has the same feeling: all wish to be free
from suffering and to have happiness. Therefore it is not proper
just to think of oneself, because oneself is one person and
others are countless. Between one and many which is more
important? The many is more important. Besides that, on selfish
thoughts good things never arise - only sufferings arise.......
Shantideva said, "All sufferings in this universe came from
caring for oneself." If we think of ourself we have jealousy,
pride, stinginess, desire, hatred etc. All impure thoughts
arise, and any actions created with these impure thoughts create
only sufferings. Just as from a poisonous root anything that
grows is poison, similarly any actions created from these de-
filements are only suffering. So when we think of ourselves only,
all we can achieve is more suffering.......
Shantideva also said that all the happiness in this universe came
from wanting others to be happy. If we wish others to be happy
then all the good things, all the qualities come, just as if a
root is medicinal, anything that grows from it is medicine.
Similarly on the basis of loving-kindness and compassion,
wanting to help other sentient beings, any actions that are
created are happiness. That is why the root of the mahayana
teachings is loving kindness and the compassion. Therefore we
must try in every way to cultivate loving-kindness and
However merely having compassion is not enough, we must rescue
sentient beings from suffering and put them onto the path of
happiness. But at the moment we ourselves are not free, we do not
have full knowledge or full power. We are completely bound by our
karma and defilements. So how can we help? The sole most effec-
tive way to help sentient beings is to attain perfect
enlightenment, because having attained perfect enlightenment then
even during a single moment we can rescue countless sentient
This perfect enlightenment does not arise without proper cause
and conditions, and that is following the mahayana path. First
is to have a very sincere wish to attain the perfect
enlightenment, then one practises, the main thing being method
and wisdom. In order to fly one needs two wings. Similarly in
order to attain enlightenment one needs two: the method to
realise the wisdom, and the wisdom itself. And they depend on
each other. Method means to accumulate merit like generosity,
moral conduct, patience, endeavour, and concentration. Loving-
kindness and compassion will only suppress faults because the
main fault is self-clinging, and these method practices only
supress self-clinging. In order to completely dig out the root of
self-clinging we require the wisdom that completely eliminates
it, and for this we must have concentration. With these two
together we will be able to attain perfect enlightenment.......
Many people say it's very difficult to practise Dharma
particularly in big cities where there is so much distraction
and busyness. However, Lord Buddha gave many teachings, the
purpose of which was to tame our wild minds. It is due to our
wild mind being so involved with defilements, that from the
begining we have been caught in the realm of existence and
suffer. We've already suffered so much in the past, are still
suffering and furthermore if we do not work now we will
continuously experience suffering. So therefore the Buddha gave
teachings involving many different forms of practising, but all
these are to tame our minds.......
The sanskrit word "dharma" has many different meanings but the
word generally means to change, to change our impure or wild
mind that is so involved with the defilements, to change it to
the right path. So every practice we do if it doesn't change,
(although of course even just doing the practice has benefit), it
is not so effective. In order to be effective, we must see
whether the practice we are doing really makes a difference in
our mind or not.......
If it changes our mind, then if we use it in the right way we
could be the busiest person in the busiest city but still be a
very good Dharma practitioner because everything we see and do,
everyone we associate with, gives us a chance to practise Dharma.......
For example when travelling in cities and noticing many changes,
that is impermanence. When we see so much suffering, we are
experiencing the Dharma that Buddha tells us, ie that
everything is suffering. The fact we actually see it with our own
naked eyes, means we also learn from that. When we associate
with people we have a chance to help, to practise compassion.
When people disturb or are angry with us, it gives a chance to
practise patience. So if we could utilize our everyday life, then
everywhere when we are travelling, at work or at home, we could
use it in practising Dharma.......
From these different experiences it will help us to understand
deeper, and how important it is to practise Dharma. Higher
meditations like concentration and insight are very important.
But in order to reach that level, the basic foundations such as
the difficulty of obtaining the precious human birth,
impermanence and death, the cause of karma, and the suffering of
samsara - ie the four common foundations - are very important.
These you can learn from a teacher and read in books.......
However to gain knowledge is not enough. If we have known it
for a long time but it hasn't made any change in us, we still
remain the same person. We still have anger, we still cannot
practise Dharma. Although we must have heard the difficulties
of obtaining the precious human birth a hundred times, if it
hasn't made any change - we are still in the same level, we still
have the defilements, we still are not practising. Why? Because
we do not experience it.......
So, knowing it and through contemplation having the experience,
are two different things. One may know many teachings but if one
doesn't practise, if one doesn't use it in one's daily life, then
it is not right. For example the purpose of making delicious food
is to eat it. If you make but don't eat it there is no point!
Similarly knowing Dharma is to utilize it in our daily life. To
do this we have to use many different methods including our daily
With these basic foundations, if we could not only understand
everything we see as a teaching but have an inner feeling, inner
urge, then we would not waste our time. We would definitely make
every effort, just as people in prison have constantly only one
thought, "when can I get out of this? " When you have this real
sincere desire to practise Dharma your inner higher meditations
will generally arise.......
First to have the basic foundations depends on our merit. In
past lives due to accumulating merit, we are born in this life
as human beings, have the good fortune to hear the Dharma, and a
chance to practise. Similarly in order to have real inner
feeling about spiritual practice depends on the merit we have. So
at the same time we must accumulate merit through prayers,
devotion to the Guru and to the Buddha Dharma Sangha, and through
practising loving-kindness and compassion to all sentient
beings. In this way when our merit increases also our wisdom
increases, and these two go together. When the merit is fully
built up the wisdom will also come, and with the merit and wisdom
together one will be able to succeed in the path.
Following the Path --- Reading the Signs
Following the Path, Reading the Signs /
Teachings given by H.H. Sakya Trizin in Bristol October 1991
Lord Buddha has given many teachings for the benefit of all sentient beings. Since all sentient beings have differing mentalities, propensities and defilements they need very many different types of teaching just as different types of medicine are needed to treat different diseases. Thus in Tibetan Buddhism we have four major schools, which are all a reflection of Buddha's activity.......
Every sentient being possesses Buddha Nature and it is for this reason that everyone, (if they work hard) can become a Buddha. At the moment we cannot recognize our Buddha Nature because it is all covered up with defilements and illusions. These defilements and illusions are not in the nature of mind, they are outside it and only temporary. Therefore, by using the right method we can eliminate them and thus become enlightened.......
In our human life we have many requirements: a place to live, food to ear, clothes to wear, medical care. However the most important thing in our lives is our Dharma practice because whatever worldly power or worth that we have, it is only beneficial until we die. The longest life lasts for a 100 years at the very most and after that we lose everything, including our precious body: the body for which we care so much, which we have had with us from our first day on earth. Many people think that after death there is nothing. However those people don't have logic on their side. They deny the existence of anything after death because they cannot see it as present. Indeed there are many logical reasons for believing in rebirth. Mind is not a thing which could disappear, be burned, thrown away, or smashed. The mind is something you cannot hold on to. You cannot destroy it. So when we leave this body it is not going to be burnt, buried, thrown in the ocean or eaten by animals. Although the body itself will be dismantled one day consciousness, the mind, since it is not a substance will not disappear. It has to continue so there is a life after death and at the time of death the only thing that helps you, is the Dharma practice you have done previously.......
Even in this life there is a vast difference between those people who practice dharms and those who do not. People who do not believe in anything more than this physical world appear to be happy but when they face tragedy they cannot cope with it. However the spiritual person when beset by tragedy and sufferings will remember the basic teachings which are known as the "four seals". Firstly that all compounds-anything that is created through a cause and conditions-are impermanent. Thus the powerful person will become weak, healthy people one day become sick, and rich people one day become poor. Everything is impermanent. So when Buddhist people come into contact with such situations they recognize them as a sign of impermanence, and that is faith.......
Secondly Buddha said that everything which posses defilements is suffering so when Buddhist people are faced with tragedy they know that the nature of samsara is suffering just as the nature of fire is hot whether it be a small fire or a big fire. The different realms: the hell realms, the hungry ghost realm, the animal realm, the human realm, the asura realm all have different types of suffering. Some of course have more visible suffering and some have subtle suffering-but it is all suffering. We can learn this from the scriptures and we can also experience this very clearly in our own human life. No matter where you are - whether you are in a developed or an underdeveloped country, there is not real satisfaction no real happiness. There is always some kind of problem and there is always suffering.......
Especially when facing tragedy, the person who has spiritual practice will realize that suffering is inevitable and so will have a readiness to face such a situation. This readiness lessens the burden on the mind and when the burden on the mind lessens then of course physical suffering is naturally less because in body and mind, mind is like a boss, and the body is like a servant. So when the mind is happy, even when you are in the poorest country, or in very poor conditions then you are happy. However if your mind is not happy, even if you are in the heavenly realms you are not happy.......
The third thing Buddhas has said is that all phenomena are selfless. In other words although we all cling to a self actually there is no personal self there. We always say 'my body', 'my mind' but where is the mind itself? It has to be either in the body or mind, or in between, or somewhere external, but you cannot find it. So in all beings there is no personal self. Similarly with external phenomena like table and flowers. If you take these to pieces you cannot find any part which is inherently the thing itself. Thus all phenomena are selfless.......
Fourthly Buddha says Nirvana is peace. Nirvana is where all suffering is completely exhausted. The special characteristic of a Buddhist is that he assents to these four basic teachings: 1. Everything is impermanent. 2. Everything is suffering. 3. Everything is selfless. 4. Nirvana is peace.......
In addition of course to be a Buddhist one must have taken refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. This is so because in order to cross the ocean of suffering to get to Nirvana, or the enlightened state you need to take refuge just as, if you go to an unknown country, you need a guide to show you the path, you need the path, and to accomplish a long and difficult journey you require companions. Similarly when traveling the Buddhist path the guide is the Buddha and the Dharma is the path you need to follow to reach the destination. However you cannot just have someone tell you how to get there, you have to actually travel there yourself. That is why it says in Buddha's teachings that you yourself are your own saviour because you have to practice the Dharma yourself to reach the goal. The Sangha are the companions who are travelling along the same path to the same destination and who can help you reach the goal.......
It is not enough just to know Dharma intellectually since to know it and experience it are two different things. In order to experience Dharma from the inside you have to study and think about it all the time. Many people say it is difficult to practice Dharma in modern society because life is very busy and there are so many disturbances. However Dharma does not mean just reciting mantras and meditating alone. The most important sense of the word 'Dharma' is to change our present worldly mind into a spiritual mind. You can do this while you are traveling, while you are working, talking with your friends. Once you gain a little experience of Dharma then everything you do actually becomes a teaching. For example when you are travelling, you see so many people, you see things changing, you see suffering. That is already an experience of Dharma because when things are changing that is the teaching of impermanence. When you see suffering you realize that the whole of samsara is suffering. In this way dharms is actually something to be practiced by mind wherever you go, or whatever you do. Everything can be turned to Dharma practice. For example, a rule associated with refuge is that wherever you go, you should think of the Buddha of that particular direction. So that means that wherever you go you think about Buddha. Further when you see people suffering you can practice compassion. If you meet people who make you angry or who disturb you then you have the chance to practice patience. So even the busiest man in the busiest city can turn every day, every moment into Dharma practice.......
For example in ancient India and Tibet the Dharma kings were all householders and undertook many worldly activities but at the same time they were all very great Dharma practitioners. However if your mind does not change, even if you stay in a very secluded place, then you cannot become a good Dharma practitioner. The main thing to remember is that everything is mind. To have a kind mind is the root of all Dharma particularly the Mahayana path. After taking refuge in Dharma you should not harm any sentient beings intentionally. In the Mahayana you should not only refrain from harming beings but you should try to benefit sentient beings and this comes from a good mind. So a kind mind, kind heart is the root of the Mahayana path. Every sentient being, from the most intelligent human being down to tiny insects, has the wish to be free from suffering and to have happiness. Therefore just to think of oneself is wrong because oneself is just one person and the other sentient beings are many. So when there is one and many, many is more important. If you consider only yourself alone you will not obtain happiness because when you are selfish there is always jealousy and competitiveness. All kinds of impure thoughts arise which bring suffering in this life and in future lives. However people who do not care about themselves but only about others experience happiness. Throughout history even on a worldly level good or great people have obtained their good name through caring for others.......
In the same way if you wish to have happiness you must make other people happy and thus the root of all Mahayana teaching is loving kindness and compassion. When you have these two you have the seed from which enlightenment will grow. However just to have compassion and loving kindness is not enough to become enlightened. One must actually generate the aspiration to become a Buddha in order to rescue sentient beings from suffering. Yet at present we ourselves are not free, we are caught up in the defilements and illusions. With such a mind we cannot help people. We must therefore become enlightened because even a single moment of enlightenment can clam sentient beings.......
Of course to become enlightened you need to enter the Dharma path. Although the Dharma path includes many different teachings we can divide these teachings into the Hinayana and Mahayana. The Mahayana is for those who follow the greater goal and the Hinayana for those who follow the lesser goal. Within the Mahayana also we have the causally-oriented Mahayana and the result-oriented Mantrayana. The Mantrayana is the highest of Buddha's teachings. To enter it we need to receive initiations. There are different types of initiations for the various deities set forth in the tantras. Generally speaking there are two types of deity. Deities such as Hevajra and Cakrasamvara enables us to accomplish excellent siddhis which means ultimate enlightenment. Minor deities provide common siddhis such as purifying negativity, purifying obstacles and increasing life, wisdom and merit, as well as finally providing excellent siddhis.......
The main purpose of practising meditation on the deities through which one can accomplish excellent siddhis is to become enlightened. With the deities through which one can accomplish common siddhis the purpose is to overcome obstacles and difficult challenges.......
The most important common siddhi is to increase our life because if we do not have a long life then we cannot accomplish our practice. It is therefore very important to practice the long-life deities. There are outer, inner and secret methods of achieving longevity. The outer method is to do good activities, to rescue beings who are going to be killed. Inner practices are taking the medicine and so forth and the secret methods are meditation on long life deities. The most well-known of long-life deities is Buddha Amitayus.
A Short Dharma Teaching
A Short Dharma Teaching by His Holiness Sakya Trizin /
Given on Monday, September 24th, 1984. Bristol, England.
Tibetan Buddhism is one of the richest traditions as it contains all the different levels of teaching give by Lord Buddha: Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana. The teachings have now spread to many countries and many people are practicing them, which is good as they are the only source of benefit and happiness. Through the Buddhas great activity many different schools arose. In Tibet there are four major schools, They are like one family which has 4 jewels, if one jewel is lost, it is a great loss. Therefore it is important that all 4 traditions are preserved and continued.......
Lord Buddha resolved to attain enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings. He had accumulated a tremendous amount of merit and wisdom over 3 countless aeons. He then appeared in India as a son of the Shakya kingdom and performed the 72 great deeds. He set an example by showing that enlightenment can be attained by an ordinary person through following the noble path.......
Each of the deeds performed by Buddha have great meaning, the greatest being the activity of voice. Through His great realization Buddha gave teachings to save sentient beings from the suffering of samsara. Since there is no limit to the number of sentient beings and they all have different minds, different tastes, different propensities and different situations, so one kind of Dharma is insufficient. As one medicine is required for each disease so Buddha through his infinite wisdom, compassion, power and skillful means, taught to suit every mind, and for every defilement. Our defilements are like a disease, the Dharma is the medicine. There are many different kinds of defilement, but the root of them all comes from three: ignorance, desire and hatred. The medicine or antidotes for these are known as the Tripitaka. For desire the antidote is the Vinaya or moral conduct, which describes the way to practice virtue, for lay people, monks and nuns. The antidote for hatred is the sutra in which meditation to overcome anger and related thoughts are explained. The antidote for ignorance is the Abhidharma, the teaching on wisdom, wisdom to see the truth of reality.......
All Buddhas teaching can be divided into 2 main schools or traditions for two types of followers: Hinayana and Mahayana. The Mahayana is the greater, which is shown through the cause point of view and the result point view. In Mahayana the aim is greater. The Hinayana only accomplishes self liberation, whereas the Mahayana also accomplishes the purpose of all sentient beings. Through wisdom one realises the selflessness of an individual and the selflessness of the factors of existence. To attain enlightenment great effort must be maintained for 3 countless aeons for the sake of all sentient beings, and then through developing great realisation of wisdom one is completely free from all the impurities of samsara. These are the cause points of view.......
The result is the final achievement of Buddhahood which has many great qualities, far beyond that of the Sravakas and Pratyckabuddhas. Not only can one obtain the great qualities, but one can then show other sentient beings the path which leads to ultimate enlightenment.......
Within Mahayana there is the general cause Mahayana and the result Mahayana, or the Vajrayana. One can also say there are three yanas: Sravakayana, Pratyekayana and the Bodhisattvayana, which is the Mahayana. The Mahayana and Mantrayana share the first intention or the motivation - The bodhicitta or the enlightenment thought, and the realisation of absolute truth, the view away from all extremes. The final attainment, the final goal, the ultimate enlightenment are all the same, but the difference lies in the method. Mantrayana is greater than the general Mahayana as it has more advanced methods. The body, speech and the mind are used in visualizations, recitation of mantra and physical yogas. Mantrayana also has more methods, and it is also easier to practice as every action in daily life is part of the path. It is meant for intelligent people who understand the deep, more advanced methods. The general Mahayana is called the cause yana because it creates the cause for ultimate enlightenment. One practices the 6 perfections: giving, moral conduct, patience etc. and accumulates a tremendous amount of merit and wisdom. This requires great effort. The result is the Dharmakaya and the rupakaya with the great activities and qualities of voice, body and transcendental wisdom. Mantrayana or Vajrayana is called the result yana because firstly the result is very easy to obtain. Those who have good karma and make great efforts can attain enlightenment even in one life-time. Therefore it is a much more preferable way to achieve the result.......
Secondly in Vajrayana the result and cause are the same, because right from the beqinning of practice one visualises oneself in the form of a deity, like a form of the Buddha. So whilst one is creating the cause for enlightenment one is in the form of the result, thus it is called the result yana.......
At present we have this birth as a human being, free from all unrestful places. We have the right conditions - externally and from ones own side. We have a great opportunity, so it is very important to practice Dharma for 2 reasons: we all possess the seed of the Buddha - the true nature of our mind is pure right from the beginning. All sentient beings have this seed. Secondly although we have this seed we do not realise it, because it is completely covered with defilements, which creates an illusory vision. The defilements and illusory vision are not the nature of mind, they are only temporal; if they were the nature of mind we could never become enlightened, just like the nature of coal is black, so whatever method you use the coal never becomes white. Therefore since the defilements are not the nature of mind, they are only temporal, the nature of mind is pure.......
So when we have this great opportunity to practice Dharma, the possibility to become enlightened, it is very important that we work hard. We do not know when we will have a human life again with such conditions to practice. We have got the essence of the Buddhas teachings, the Vajrayana teaching through which countless masters in all the 4 major schools in Tibet, the 84 mahasiddhas in India and in other countries in Asia, all attained enlightenment.......
It is the same teaching that we practice today which has been passed down from Buddha Vajradhara to ones own root guru. The unbroken lineage still continues. So if we make enough effort there is every reason why we can become like the great masters and attain ultimate enlightened.......
So therefore everyone must practice. I wish everybody a very successful spiritual path. May the blessings of the Lord Buddha and all the lineage gurus be with you. Thank you.
Meditation Instruction /
by Zasep Tulku Rinpoche
Before you meditate it is necessary to know how to meditate and to have the correct
motivation and the correct position. You must not have too many expectations.......
One should begin meditation with the pure motivation of the Bodhisattva. You wish to
practice for the benefit of yourself and all sentient beings. In order to help other sentient
beings you must first have realizations; you must have compassion, wisdom and power.......
You should decide for the sake of all sentient beings that you want to become an
enlightened Buddha, and for this reason you are going to meditate.......
Before you meditate it is necessary to know the seven positions of Vairochana. These are
1) One should sit on a comfortable cushion with the back slightly higher that than the front...
2) One should sit with the legs folded in the full lotus position if possible or the half lotus
position or just cross your legs. This is called sitting in the meditation position... This way of
sitting is ancient and is a position used to develop meditation. It is good for meditation
because you can not topple over as you can when sitting on a chair or couch. The spine
should be straight. When your back is straight your breathing and your circulation will be
smooth and even. Do not sit leaning forward, as it is incorrect...
3) The hands should be in your lap with the left hand cupping your right hand the thumbs
touching each other at the level of your navel. The hands describe a circle. The touching
thumbs symbolize the union of wisdom and method and thus form the mudra for sunyata or
emptiness. In the Tantric practice joining the thumbs at the level of the navel helps to
generate heat which arises from the navel sunyata...
4) Holding the arms close to the body can result in their getting warm, especially in
summer and can lead to dull or sleepy mind. Therefore, your arms should be held out to
5) The head should be bent slightly forward...
6) The eyes can be kept open or closed. If your mind becomes dull or sleepy you should
open your eyes and look around or look at a window or wherever there is bright light...
Then when you are no longer sleepy you should half-close your eyes. Closing your eyes
completely may result in your becoming sleepy again...
7) The lips and jaw should be held in their natural position and the tongue should gently
touch the gum behind the upper front teeth. This helps keep the mouth moist while
preventing excessive saliva production during long periods of meditation...
Sitting Meditation Instruction
Now it is time to meditate. According to tradition you should first clean up your room,
make offerings, such as flowers, candles, incense or water filled offering bowls on your
alter and then do a minimum of three prostrations to your Gurus, to Buddha, to the
Dharma and the Sangha before you actually sit and meditate.......
To meditate one must have a clear mind without either doubts or expectations regarding
your meditation. You should then regard your breath. Observe with your mind the breath
coming in and the breath going out. This is called "following the breath" and is the first
stage of mindfulness of breathing......
While following the breath one should stop excessive thinking about where the breath is
going to or coming from. Just follow the breath. The manner of your breathing is
dependant on your mind and on your mood. If your mood changes to one of anger, or if
you become agitated then your breathing becomes short and rapid. If your mood is good,
if you are at peace inside then your breathing pattern is slow and even. This is the first
stage of mindfulness of breathing.......
The second stage is to watch your breath. This means that you concentrate on a point of
contact between your breath and your nostrils. The most appropriate point is inside your
nostrils. Try to develop a sensitivity for the point of contact. Watching the contact of your
breath with your nostrils is many times more difficult than following the breath coming in
and going out. The mind can easily wander from the contact point.......
If your mind wanders from its object you should breath more heavily while concentrating
on the breath as it touches the nostrils or tip of the nose. Continue to watch this point until
your mind stops wandering. Then just focus on the contact between the breath and
If your mind becomes dull and you feel sleepy then you should look at a bright window or
wherever is light or just look around you. Another method is to gently rub the muscles of
the sides and back of your neck. This will help you to wake up. If you are sleepy take a
break or do walking meditation for five to ten minutes. Walking meditation is very helpful if
you are doing a long sitting meditation.......
Walking Meditation Instruction
The method of walking meditation is as follows: First you should stand. Just stand and
observe with your mind and your breath. Then begin to focus your mind on the soles of
your feet. Think that you wish to walk, then lift up your right foot. Move it slowly and let is
slowly touch the ground in front of you. As you lift up your foot be aware of the sensation
of movement of the foot, particularly of the sole of the foot as it moves and touches the
ground. Then lift up your left foot, move it and touch the ground ahead of your. Then again
with your right foot - lift up, move, and touch - slowly and gently. Not too slowly and of
course not too quickly. Walk straight to the end of the room, or wherever your are
walking then turn around slowly and come back.......
You can walk around your room or in your hose, wherever you choose to practice
walking meditation. It is better not to wear shoes during walking meditation, unless you are
doing it outside.......
After walking meditation you should sit down and continue to meditate. If your mind
wanders or too many thoughts arise you should try to follow your breath. You can also
count your breath as it comes in and goes out of the nostrils. Count each breath in from
one up to ten and then again count from ten down to one. Repeat this counting five to
seven times. Now stop counting the breath and watch it. See if your mind still wanders or
not. If your mind no longer wanders keep concentrating on the point of contact of the
breath with your nostrils.......
If your mind continues to wander after counting your breath, if doubts, fears or delusions
arise such that you feel that you cannot meditate or concentrate then you should stop
sitting. If your mind constantly wanders while you are sitting it is not one pointedness
meditation. Instead study and read Dharma books, especially Lam Rim books on
impermanence, death, dying and the value of a precious human rebirth. This will help stop
a wandering mind. You should also read biographies and accounts of great yogis,
meditators, Bodhisattvas, and Lamas such as Milarepa.......
It is very important to have complete and proper instructions before one starts any type of
meditation. A lack of such instruction is regarded to be one of the hindrances of meditation.......
Without instruction from qualified and experienced teachers it is difficult to progress in
ones own meditation. It is like being a blind man walking though the city streets without a
guide. Such people do not know where they are going. They can spend hours walking in
the wrong direction or even in a circle, ending in the same place from which they started.
Such persons cannot find their way. Meditation without proper instruction has also been
compared to a one-armed man trying to climb a mountain.......
For this reason Lama Tsong Khapa said that every practitioner must study the three
pitika's - the Sutrapitika, the Abidharmapitika, and the Vinayapitika - in order to practice
Bodhicitta [method], Sunyata [wisdom], and Vinaya [discipline].......
When you practice Dharma it is very important to meditate in the right environment. There
are many conditions necessary for samadhi [one pointed concentration], and also for
meditation in general. In the Sutras it says that you should choose the best place to
meditate. If you can find a calm quiet place in a forest, stay there and meditate. If that is
not possible stay at home and select a comparatively calm and quiet room or corner and
be satisfied with it. If you cannot find a quiet room or corner you should practice or sit
wherever you stay. Maybe your room or place is not always noisy or busy and at certain
times it is quieter or more peaceful than at others. So whenever there is comparative calm
and quiet try to arrange your schedule to meditate at that time. If that is not possible you
should sit and meditate in your room regardless of how busy or noisy it is.......
It is very important for you to learn how to meditate and practice in all environments. If
you feel that you will not meditate until you have a lot of time and find a calm and peaceful
place you may never find either the time or the place to meditate. This means that you may
never meditate or practice. So it is very necessary to decide to meditate wherever you are
and to learn how to meditate in all places.......
I think that the problem of finding the right place can be solved by being indifferent. Do not
think "this place is terrible, I cannot meditate". Do not complain that a calm or quiet place
is not available. If on the other hand you can find a place to suit your needs, in a jungle or
cave or somewhere else, that is good. A good place, however, does not guarantee good
meditation. Sometimes you may find, as it says in Sutras, a "perfect place"; that is not too
hot or too cold, a place with no distractions and where there are all the necessities, even a
good spiritual companion such as your teacher living at the same place. In spite of this
though you may not have a good meditation due to your own mind. Due to desire,
ignorance and discontent your mind keeps wandering or becomes muddy so that your
meditation cannot be very good.
Generally it is good to meditate in the morning. In the morning the mind is fresher and there
are fewer distracting thoughts....... Meditation at the beginning of the day helps to generate
energy and inner peace so that your day will be peaceful and productive. After you
awaken; wash or bathe and the perhaps have a cup of tea, prepare your room and altar as
mentioned earlier, make your prostrations and then meditate. For some individuals the
evening is a better time to meditate if they are not too tired or full from a large dinner....... It
depends on the person and their lifestyle. In general it is not good to meditate right after
you eat. Of course you could try and watch your own mind after you eat to see if you can
meditate or not. That itself can be meditation.......
There are numerous benefits that mindfulness of breathing meditation can have. The
ultimate benefit is enlightenment and perfect samadhi. There are also many temporary
benefits. You will have proper breathing patterns, better health and you will begin to be
more mindful, have more energy and inner peace.
by Ven Sujiva
6 November 1994
It is not an task easy to approach on such a profound topic as Insight
Meditation in simple terms. But we have got to start somewhere. After
some years of introducing this type of meditation, I still find a lack
of introductory booklets for those without knowledge of Buddhism. Many
of them are extremely technical loaded with ancient Indian terminology
which words in the English vocabulary can never hope to substitute
perfectly. As such I have tried to come up with something easier to
read and make out. Even in this booklet I have used some English words
such as "conditioned" and "suffering" which needs special explanation
when it is used in a "Buddhist" sense.......
What I have offered here would give you an idea as to what to do when
one decides to take the first step. Even for those who go for a
retreat, the initial instructions have to be repeated several times
before they get it right. As for a better grasp of the techniques and
ideas, it will be best to consult a meditation teacher.......
See what you can make out of it. If you go one step further in trying
to practise for yourself this Insight Meditation after reading it, then
I have succeeded....... /
Santisukharama, Kota Tinggi 6 Nov 1994
If a person is energetic, mindful,
pure in his thought, word and deed,
and if he does everything with care and consideration
in senses restrain,
he earns his living according to the Truth.
And if the person is not unheedful,
the fame and fortune of that mindful person
I think that great Indian Sage would have, if there were volcanoes
where he lived, used them in his teachings as he did it with the lofty
Not until recently, did I have an opportunity to behold these
fascinating spouts for the boiling bowels of the earth except in
geographical magazines and television screens. The craters that I
visited on my trip to Indonesia were not the most spectacular ones, but
they were enough to give me the idea that those people who devote their
entire lives studying this area of science concerning volcanic activity
may not be just for the sake of concern for human safety.......
We live quite indifferent and unaware of many things around us. Coming
face to face with a volcanic crater jolted me to sudden awareness of
the superficial stability of the very earth we are standing on. Where
we live in Malaysia, just outside the ring of fiery volcanic regions,
tremors once in a blue moon do occur but earthquakes and volcanic
eruptions are generally regarded as something not part of our world.
People living on its slopes, should be more aware of the dangers but
this is not always so, for people often prefer to be like an ostrich -
remain blind to the dangers. Warnings will be issued, but still there
will be casualties. The fertile soil for one promises abundant harvests
and people grow attached to their homes. The earth, the blood and
emotions soon become quite inseparable.......
There are many types of volcanoes, our guide informed us: Live
volcanoes, sleeping volcanoes and dead volcanoes.......
Living volcanoes which are active as can be seen by its still fuming
crater, can blow up anytime although modern science has instruments
that can forewarn us to some degree.......
Sleeping volcanoes are dormant because they have for some time not
shown any activity. But it can still "wake up" when the conditions play
up again. Pinatubo of Philippines which blew up in 1991 had been
sleeping for about 600 years.......
When they are more sure of the extinction, the mounts which were once
active volcanoes are now considered dead. But then we can never be
truly sure unless we know what's going on underneath.......
Think of the hot molten rocks called lava cascading at great speed down
those steep slopes and burning everything on its way although it's
other things such as pyroclastic flows that kill people. It doesn't
need much to kill man or inflict more suffering than man can bear, but
Nature's moods are impersonal and so when they blow their top, it's
'run for your lives'.......
Java is the most volcanic riddled region in the world. Two of the most
disastrous, Tambora and Krakatau which claimed many thousands of lives
not to mention property loss, exist here.......
People can also be seen in the same way - active volcanoes, dormant
volcanoes and dead volcanoes.......
When you are in a fit of anger, consumed by lust or buried by delusion,
you are undergoing an eruption. It strikes terror in and around you and
you may lose some good things in life. Although it may not take lives,
it can and may even be more lethal than the actual volcano. How about
the atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki as an example. The Japanese
themselves killed some millions of Chinese in World War Two. Atrocities
by Man on himself can do more than Natural Disasters.......
Therefore, if I may add, there are three types of eruptions - minor,
major and catastrophic:
Minor eruptions cause minor damage such as loss of wealth and "face".......
Major eruptions cause more permanent losses such as loss of body parts,
permanent separation from loved ones and even loss of one's own life.......
Catastrophic eruptions cause large scale wars, massacres and other
forms of unimaginable sufferings.......
You may survive many minor eruptions but one major one is enough to
drive quite a few people off the rockers. Hope (against all odds) that
such unfortunate happenings will not come nigh unto you but tragedies
eventually will play its part. Look deep into your heart and you will
know what I mean. Look at all the other walking volcanoes around you
and at the instability of the world and you will be convinced. The
fires of greed, hatred and delusion run deep in everyone's veins. A
dormant volcano can sleep through centuries but these defilements spew
out dirt everyday.......
What is it that can quell these fires? The answer is found where the
problem began - hidden underground where there are veins of hot molten
lava, there can also be the cool refreshing springs of life, that is in
the Mind itself - The cooling waters of mindfulness!......
Resting for a minute on the largest stupa in the world, I could see the
distant volcano Merapi mixing its fumes with the clouds. Borobudur,
sometimes referred to as the Mountain of Buddhas, may have actually
been inspired by the presence of volcanoes.......
Whilst watching the magnificent statues of our Lord serenely seated
with various hand gestures, it occurred to me that this is a genuinely
dead volcano, the fires of defilements which have long been extinct.
How marvelous it is to be part of the picture with this symbol of
Chapter Two: Magic of the Mind
Magic can be broadly classified into two types: White and Black. We are
not talking about skin color but on mental states. Mental states are
called dark or black when they are enshrouded by delusion with regards
to reality. For example, one in a fit of temper is oblivious to the
goodness of the other party just as one obsessed by craving is blind to
the faults of the thing he wishes to possess. Such states as you can
see, finally will lead to no good.......
Mental states on the other hand are described as bright or white when
they are pure and clear. You can experience its freshness and radiance
when you are mindful and at peace. It is not difficult to understand
why happiness follows such people like a shadow that never seems to
The mind is indeed a magician's box. Out from it come things beyond
your comprehension. You may liken it to a television set, a computer, a
transistor radio and more, all in one. When every thing is in order
then you can have all the fun you want, but if it gets out of hand,
then it's the gates of Hell opened wide.......
You may be acquainted with what kids play with nowadays - video games.
They put you into all sorts of situations ranging from participating in
the World's Grand Prix, fighting aliens to saving damsels in distress.
You are even given a choice of vehicle, lethal weapon and who you want
to be. The idea is to overcome all obstacles, shoot down all alien
ships and collect the most points. However, if you do not happen to be
like one of those whiz kids who have spent hours without end fiddling
those buttons with nimble fingers, then you are more like a born loser.
But it's all right, it's all in a game and with some practice you'll
acquire the skill. It also won't be long before they come up with 3-D
Life is something like that, with the mind creating situations, but the
trouble here is that you can't switch it off whenever you are tired.
You can't consider getting cancer a nice game to play can you? Nor is
becoming a schizophrenic or neurotic much fun.......
Even suicide will not be an answer to it all. The mind, we are told,
will lead you to a worse nightmare...
How, you may ask, does this happen?...
The Mind is a complex of forces, or some may prefer to call it
energies. Try to sit quietly and watch your thoughts and you will see
them at work. It is endlessly trying to create new situations, real and
otherwise and responding to them. It is unfortunate many don't bother
to take a good look at the machinery and hence all those problems,
problems, problems! It is there that you have all those power, answers
and the fountain of joy.......
Although the whole thing can be complicated, it is not too difficult
with some useful tips on the main points of control, to make this magic
box work for you.
Chapter Three: The Main Control
The main controlling faculty of the mind is mindfulness. Remember the
moments you were calm and composed? The awareness that comes with them
are also bright and clear. As a direct opposite of it are those times
you were panic stricken or completely confused. Therefore with
mindfulness you can do any job as well as you possibly can, be it drive
a car, cook a meal or answer some examination questions. But this
potential is not as recognized as other things like faith and
concentration and so not emphasized. If we are to develop it until it
is really strong, lasting and revealing, then life will breeze by if
not ecstatically, then at least smoothly.
Benefits of Mindfulness - Worlds of Difference
Sometimes people say it is a thin line between sanity and insanity. The
mad genius, for example, is not far from a maniac. That's why
Frankenstein was invented and so was the Terminator. In any case, bombs
of all sort is bad . But no matter how thin a line it is, it is still a
line and even if it is real thick, if you are confused, you will still
Mindfulness actually is the line. When you are un-mindful, such as when
you are in a rage, you are indeed not different from a madman. It is
only a matter of degree. When you have zero mindfulness over an
extended period, then one can safely conclude that you are crazy. So if
you don't want to go mad then hang on to your dear mindfulness, for on
the other side, that is at the bottom, is living hell. Sanity indeed is
a thin line. It really does not need much, so to speak, to break a
person. Lock him up without contact for a few days or weeks and there
you are, someone fit for the mental ward.......
If you are a meditator, you'll have some fighting chance and may be
even end up saner than anyone else. But they may still call you mad
because you are different. I remember how some people considered a
friend mad because he was not his usual excitable and irritable self
after a retreat. They were satisfied only when they managed to
infuriate him. Can you imagine how this can be so when they themselves
are supposed to be regular meditators? Who then is mad? But if you're
really mindful then you know for yourself without doubt that your mind
is clear and thinking rationally. It is they who are confused.......
If it goes to say that with mindfulness, the mind is pure of
defilements such as greed, anger and delusion, then it will also mean
that it draws the line between genuine happiness and suffering. We can
understand why anger and delusion are suffering but not greed,
especially when it comes with joy. That is because joy tends to muffle
up the real state of mind. Take away the joy and what do you have left?
There will be a really restless state of craving and tenacious
clinging. It is like someone who is hungry. Therefore if you will have
real happiness, then look for peace of mind that is born of purity and
It is a kind of happiness that is truly satisfying, strenghtened by
noble purpose. No sensual pleasure can be equal to it. Besides, it can
be freely obtain at hand (as long as you practice) and you don't have
to pay anything to acquire it.......
Mindfulness can also be the deciding factor whether it will be life or
death. A lot of careless mistakes and overlooking end up in death. It
may be just a slip from the stairs, ladder or along the road. Traffic
accidents claim lives daily. Then there are electrical short circuits,
or even choking through unmindful eating. It means not only your life,
but also others. What happens after that? If you are mindful at the
moment of death, it can mean a happy rebirth. If not it can mean hell.
Buddhists believe in the Law of Kamma (Law of Retribution). Mindfulness
means meritorious kamma and defilements mean unwholesome kamma. All
these done throughout one's life also add to the store of forces that
decide what will happen next - heaven or hell.......
Last but not least, Mindfulness is also the factor that differentiates
between Nibbana and Samsara (Cycle of birth and death, suffering). In
the Noble Eightfold Path, the fulfilment of morality, concentration and
understanding depends on the build up of mindfulness. Without
mind-fulness, there cannot even be any moral base. Finally the
culmination of insight is that extremely strong and sharp mindfulness
that penetrates through the thick veil of ignorance to realize that
everlasting Peace, Nibbana. So until then please try to be as mindful
as possible to get out of the cycle of birth and death, suffering,
Gaining Hold on the Main Controls
Now that you realize (I hope) how important it is to have mindfulness,
you may perhaps be interested to know how to go about cultivating it to
make all the difference.......
The main idea is to develop this awareness until it becomes habitual
and continuous, and then apply it for more specialized purposes such as
gaining knowledge and skills.......
To begin with, let me offer you certain suggestions which will be
definitely be helpful in some way. These are simple exercises which you
can safely try out. They come under three sub-headings:
* Walking Meditation
* Sitting Meditation
* Mindfulness of Daily Activities.
Can you imagine the extent of things involved with walking? You walk to
the office, walk for exercise, sight-seeing, to the dinner table, to
ease yourself and many other wonderful as well as unmentionable things.......
But one can feel and think quite differently when taking a casual walk
along an isolated beach in the light of dawn from a walk heading for
the dentist's chair. It's all in the state of mind. And mind you, that
state of mind can determine where you will end up and how you fare. If
you walk so unmindfully, you may end up either in the hospital or
grave. Of course many people nowadays cut down on the walking, they go
on wheels. At such speed that modern technology provides, you may have
to come out with even more mindfulness to ensure safety.
Let me offer you a few tips to start off your walking meditation:
To learn walking mindfully, you have to find a quiet spot with a fair
distance, say at least, about thirty feet. Preferably it is a straight
clean and level path without anyone around staring at what you are
about to do. Failing this, any distance of up to ten steps will also
First, you must try to bring to mind the clear awareness of your own
standing posture. It's not visualization, but feeling one's body as it
is - the tension, firmness and maybe a bit of swaying. Make sure you
are relaxed with a straight posture. Hold or fold your hands together
to help keep the composure. You may close your eyes and make the mind
free, calm, relaxed and happy. Learnt to let go of all your problems
and thoughts. They are not worth clinging on to all the time. Give your
mind a break. Just be with the present moment and be aware.......
Now, after having gathered your calm composure, start walking,
keeping the attention at the lower part of the moving foot, below the
calves. Walk freely (with eyes opened) at a pace you feel most
comfortable and relaxed. To help keep the mind at the feet you may
mentally say right, left or walking, walking or whichever word you
prefer. And remember, don't think, just keep the mind to the present
When it's time to turn, be aware of the turning action.
Whenever the attention runs to thoughts, you will then have to
recall your awareness, noting mindfully thinking, thinking and then
return to the footsteps. If tension or boredom creeps up, you will
again have to stop walking to bring back your awareness in the way you
did.While standing, note tension or boredom mindfully, before resuming
the walking meditation.......
I would advise to walk at a certain rhythm which the mind can
catch on to. Once caught on, it will tend to flow along. Then maintain
that rhythm for the time being........
When you feel much calmer or somewhat tired, then you can slow
down your pace, at the same time be even more relaxed mentally and
physically. People who have gained concentration in this way can walk
for an hour or more and yet feel as if only a minute has passed. They
feel weightless and seem to be walking on clouds. You can end up very
There is however, one thing to add. When you feel really
relaxed, keep your mind keenly aware as it flows along with the
footsteps. Try to feel or sense the sensations that flow along - the
tension, pulling and pushing forces, the lightness or weight and
finally the contact of the soles on the ground.......
To help the beginner gain a keener perception of this, teachers
have devised a method breaking each step to various phases starting
from two to six. Although three phases is sufficient for most people,
it can be increased progressively but only when one is ready for it.
During an intensive retreat or formal meditation exercise, the
standard procedure is to do one hour walking meditation, dividing it
into three periods - the first twenty minutes for one phase walking,
second twenty minutes for two phase walking and final twenty minutes
(adding up to one hour) for three phase walking.......
The principle behind this is to gradually bring the mind to a
more concentrated awareness which can come about with slowing down and
a more thorough observation. As to the most suitable type of walking,
it will be the type that arouses the most mindfulness.......
The phases of the steps from one to six are:
2. lifting, stepping
3. lifting, pushing, stepping
4. (heels) raising, lifting, pushing, stepping
5. raising, lifting, pushing, lowering, stepping
6. raising, lifting, pushing, lowering, treading, pressing.
(Refer DIAGRAM A on various phases of walking)......
At each phase of a step, when observing closely, one will be
able to perceive the sensations or forces that can be felt along with
it. One can actually experience it as a flow of tension, thrusting
forces or a spread of hardness when stepping.......
To make the picture complete, the intentions that arise prior
to each length of walking, the intentions to stop, turn, are also
If you can do this, you may actually arrive at a point where
you completely forget about yourself and what is left is the process of
awareness with its objects. Then you have begun the journey within, the
path to realize the Nature of Who and What we really are. Then all
conflicts with Reality, due to ignorance, which is the root problem of
suffering may finally see the end.
The same principle used in walking meditation is appli-cable to sitting
meditation only with a difference of basic objects. What principle?
The principle of three steps in mindful observation:
1. To be mindful
2. To follow or attend to the object of observation mindfully.
3. To observe into the Nature of the object without thinking and
This Nature here refers to the process of sensations which goes to make
up the object which we are observing.......
While one is walking, one mindfully follows the footsteps and observes
the process of sensations that make it up. Sitting meditation makes use
of the sensations of the abdomen as one breathes. Some, however, use
the sensation of the breath at the nose tip.......
Usually people who meditate will sit cross-legged with their
back straight (eyes closed) when they intend to meditate. Those with
stiff knees can sit on chairs. Do not lean back as that will not be too
helpful for keeping up the awareness although it will do very well if
you intend to relax completely into sleep, in which case you might as
well lie down.......
Breathe normally, and as one does, keep the mindful attention
on the sensations of the movement as the abdomen rises up and down.......
Mentally say rising and falling in conjunction with the
To help beginners keep track of the sensations of motion, one
may rest one's palm lightly at that area until one becomes familiar
with the object.......
When the mind wanders off to other objects such as thoughts,
sounds, itches and so forth, recall one's awareness as soon as one
realizes, noting mentally thinking, hearing, etc. and then return to
one's original object.......
You will notice that when you try to do this, how intractable
and slippery the mind is. Well, at least you are getting to know
yourself better and doing something about it!......
With practice the mind will wander less and stay with the
rising and falling movements. Then one can proceed to the next step of
thorough observation. At first one can only perceive up and down
move-ments. With effort one can notice much more. The movements vary
greatly from time to time. They can be long or short, fast or slow,
smooth or jerky and so on. Even within the rising movement there can be
many various sensations arising and passing away. Again it finally ends
up as mere processes of the mind and its object.......
Finally, pain is often the last to call before you give up. Try
to ignore it if it is minor, but if it stands out and grabs your
attention, then you will have to make it as your main subject of
The idea is to make use of it to train up mindfulness (and in
this case also patience). The three point observation principle also
holds water here. You first has to watch pain with mindfulness. Then
watch it for sometime without being irritated by it.......
If you can do that, then you can observe into the Nature of the
pain, whether it is hard, hot or numb. It could also be pulling,
twisting or cutting. There are more types than you can imagine and it
can be very interesting.......
After that you can proceed to discover about its process - how
it arises, changes and break up. It is possible to gain deeper
understanding of your own Nature through observation of pain. Pain is
part of your individual set up. When you cannot bear it any longer,
then it's time to get up.
One of the first things to learn is about mindfulness itself. We read
about it, hear about it, now it's getting to know it through direct
experience. It's not just knowing some-thing. It's knowing it with a
clear, steady mind. In that way you can't be wrong. Besides there
cannot be any defilements - attachment, anger, delusion, sloth,
restles-sness, skeptical doubts, jealousy, and so on. Once you can
define it, it is not difficult to call it up. It's just a matter of
will. How wonderful it is to be mindful all the time! But before that
can be so, you will have to be able to distinguish clearly between the
states of mindfulness and non-mindfulness. After that it is up to you
to practise, practise and practise.......
In a way, maintaining mindfulness is comparable to making a journey.
There you are on your bicycle going along the rough roads and crossing
torrential streams. You need to keep an eye on the road, balance your
bicycle and keep on paddling. It needs considerable trials and errors
before you acquire the skill. Similarly, in life or in meditation one
needs to have the experience in handling various situations and objects
that one comes across. And when something particularly trying comes
along, one can become bogged down for quite a while until he has
learned to get over it. Pain is an example. It is also an unescapable
feature in life.......
Once one is able to know what this mindfulness and maintenance of it
are all about, then one may go on to be mindful of all own activities
as best as one can and as often as it is practical. It will begin from
the moment one wakes up from slumber, one notes mindfully the opening
of the eyes. In the same way one maintains mindfulness when gets up,
washes up, eats, drinks and so on through-out the day until finally
lies down to sleep again at the end of the day.......
During eating, for example, one will have to mindfully note the actions
involved step by step. Firstly, the intention to eat, then the looking
at the food, the stretching of the hands, the scooping of the food, the
bringing to the mouth, the opening of the mouth, chewing, biting,
swallowing and all other steps. During a meditation retreat, one can
afford to slow down one's actions to help concentrate the awareness as
much as possible. In fact one can be quite oblivious to the
surroundings. Finally one will, as in sitting and walking, be left with
However, at home or at work one will not be able to practise
mindfulness in this concentrated manner. Usually one will be able to do
so only at a general level. Only when one is free can one resume one's
mindfulness during the formal exercises with the desired intensity.
Chapter Four: Insight and Concentration
The next thing that one needs is to be able to differentiate between
concentration and mindfulness. It will determine the direction you are
heading - whether you are on the path to tranquility or insight
Most meditation methods emphasize on concentration. They bring the mind
to focus on one point or object thereby achieving strength of
concentration. The results are very peaceful states and in extreme
cases give rise to supernormal powers. Isn't this what people are
hoping to achieve? No wonder most head towards that direction!
For Buddhists, that way does not lead us completely away from all our
sufferings although it can lighten it considerably for a period of
time. The answer to the predicament is Insight, which is the
realization of the real Nature of the world as it is, freed from
concepts. In simple words, all mental and material processes that make
up this world is really impermanent, unsatisfactory and non-self.
Seeing thus one turns away from them and finds refuge in the
unconditioned state, the everlasting peace of the absolute reality,
Nibbana. Without realizing the unsatisfactory state of conditioned
existence, one is greatly attached to it, and therefore emancipation is
To develop this Insight, mindfulness is emphasized as the main feature
and concentration steps down to second place as another necessary
To differentiate between mindfulness and concen-tration we can quote
Concentration holds on to and fixes the mind to the object. It
is like when you are holding tightly to something and not letting go.
It is also like you are staring at the television screen unable to tear
yourself away from it.......
Mindfulness however is like making a careful observation of
what is happening on the tele-vision screen.......
In other words, concentration pins the mind to its object while it is
mindfulness that carefully and thoroughly gets a good look at it. When
you have found out what that thing really is, then you have developed
From here we can conclude that concentration can come without
mindfulness but when mindfulness is present, to some degree, there is
Normally in tranquillity practice, although concen-tration is the main
objective, there must also be mind-fulness to bring it about. But that
mindfulness is not as thorough as you would achieve in Insight
meditation. Besides, its objects differ i.e. a conceptual one with
If one's aim is to really look within to discover who and what one
really is, then mindful observation must be borne in mind as the main
factor. Then one is like a scientist making a close and thorough
observation of his subject. Once there is enough, one gets the full
picture with all its details. That is when mindfulness is transformed
into insight. So in insight meditation, one observes with concentrated
awareness on the objects eg. rising/falling of the abdomen,
sitting/touching, pain, thinking, right foot/left foot, etc. and will
soon discover that all these (including the observing mind) are just
processes that arises and passes away so rapidly. The meditator then
realises that all these processes are changing (impermanent), beyond
individual control and unsatisfactory. In insight meditation this also
means the abandoning of the clinging to the false self and there is a
return of original natures.......
The abolishing of the "I am" - that is truly supreme bliss.
Welcome to my favorite world. This world with nobody around, just
mental and material processes going on. This is what I find most
meaningful. This is where the real meaning of life is! When you are
really aware of these things, there's no place for attachment, anger,
hallucinations and all those negative qualities. They just don't fit in
when one is really aware of these things. There you are - the peace and
meaning to live by and that is to discover the final journey within, to
be home with the absolute.......
Unfortunately, the scope of this little booklet has it that, I can only
give as much as an introduction to what Insight meditation is and the
basic exercises. There are definitely much more steps to be taken and
it will be best that you approach the people who have done it before
and is able to give you suitable advice. For this purpose there is an
attached reference to the various Vipassana (Insight meditation)
centers in Malaysia. It is of course preferred that you attend a more
complete course under a qualified instructor on a part time basis or at
an intensive retreat.......
For those who are daring enough to try even with whatever they have in
this pamphlet, I have one or two more things to say.
Firstly, these minimal instructions are meant only for those without
any serious psychological problems. If one under medication or
treatment for mental abnormalities, it is stressed further that this
pamphlet is insufficient. They has to get in touch with a qualified
Secondly, if one gains concentration, one may meet with various
experiences. There may be joyful feelings, visions, voices, or even
fear. The simplest step is to note them mindfully. They should
eventually subside and pass away within a minute. Do not be attached or
panic if they don't. Worse comes to worse, just open your eyes and get
up. Do this also if the mind goes into worse states of restlessness
when the sitting progresses after half an hour. This can happen when
your mind is burdened by tons of problems or unresolved issues. Do
quick walking instead. The principle is to be MINDFUL. If mindfulness
does not increase, but worsen instead, something is wrong.......
Last but not least, seize an opportunity to attend an intensive course
or retreat on Insight (Vipassana) med-itation. Please enquire from the
list of contacts given at the end of this booklet. The progress and
understanding of the practice in a retreat of about ten days can be
better than that achieved in a period of one year done by oneself on a
Chapter Five: Our Path is a Waterway
Water is an element that we are all quite familiar with. Especially for
us in the hot climate, it brings a thrill even when we touch it. When
it comes in a pure form in nature, it's even more exciting. This
element has a strong similarity to the universal processes in Nature in
that it "flows". In Nature, it flows from the future to the present and
into the past. Each event is like a wave, and strong these waves can
be. Whether we sink or swim will depend very much on a number of
things. Beings who are infatuated and intoxicated by sensual pleasures
are described as those swept away by floods. They may think how
blissful it is at first, but the wise with far-sightedness will think
To remain afloat we must have mindfulness. It keeps our head above the
waters and with energy work towards safer shores. If mindfulness is
well developed, we are as if on a boat, riding along the waves to
Nibbana which is described as the Safe Island.......
Insight Meditation is itself a process of processes. At first we try to
keep ourselves afloat with strong continuous mindfulness. After that,
the practice becomes a journey of discovery. Every experience we come
across undergo minute scrutiny. Our mind like a microscope of ever
increasing power of magnification, we discover the secrets of existence
which we have misunderstood for so long. With each realization we move
closer and closer where the waves break and cease altogether - that
absolute reality, the utter end of all Suffering. Is that not the
noblest aim for which man may live for? Wonderful knowledge like this
should not be postponed. Hop on board the ship of mindfulness!
MEDITATION / KHENCHEN KONCHOG GYALTSHEN RINPOCHE
by Venerable Khenchen Konchog Gyaltshen Rinpoche /
August 21, 1997 /
at Ratnashri Meditation Center, Sweden
There are many different understandings of the subject meditation. Some people think that to meditate is simply to close the eyes, think of nothing and totally empty the mind in order to have some mental relief from their problems. Of course, unless one is totally enlightened, everybody, even the most successful businessman or politician has some problems or negative thoughts in the mind. Buddhist meditation practice is a special technique to eliminate negative thoughts or confusion in the mind -- not just a temporary relief. Meditation practice needs not to be religious, nor to be confined to sitting meditation. In fact, you can meditate anywhere, any time, or all the time. The great yogi Milarepa said, "I meditate while I am walking. I meditate while I am eating. I mediate while I am sitting. I wish every sentient being can do this." Meditation means to be here and now with your mind. Most of the energies or thoughts are spent on what we have done in the past and what we shall do in the future. As a result, we cannot concentrate on whatever we are doing at that single moment, whether reading a book or saying prayers.*****
When we meditate, be here with our mind. Body should be where the seat is and mind should be where the body is. The mind should be relaxed. Relax means to be here at this moment. When the mind is in the present moment, it is very effective. No matter whether we are reading or planning, we will be able to understand or organize everything very precisely. In Buddhist philosophy, the ultimate goal of meditation is to totally free ourselves from the suffering of samsara and to attain enlightenment. Great mental capacity and confidence are needed in order to achieve that. Analytical meditation and mind-stabilizing meditation (samatha meditation) are two very fundamental and helpful meditation methods that can be practiced by anybody.*****
To do analytical meditation is to analyze and to investigate how things function universally. First, meditate on the precious human life. It is precious because it has every possibility and opportunity to transcend and purify all the negative thoughts, delusion and to attain the complete quality of enlightenment. There are individuals who feel so depressed and hopeless that they cannot do anything. Depression creates great obstacles for our well being and happiness. In order to overcome that we look at the supreme qualities and possibilities of the human brain and human life. The presence of the Buddha nature and the seed of enlightenment pervade every single sentient being, in particular human beings. Since this seed of great quality is within us, if we make enough effort, have great dedication and patience, we can definitely be able to totally free ourselves from the suffering of samsara and attain enlightenment. It is just a matter of time. So rejoice and appreciate such an opportunity. The precious human life is the vehicle, the primary cause for attaining Buddhahood. The contributory cause to achieve this excellent quality is having the spiritual master to help us to understand and guide us along the path.*****
Second, meditate on the impermanent nature of all phenomena. We need to make great effort ourselves. Revealing from within us, the impermanent, transitory and momentary nature of all phenomena. On the one hand, it may seem depressing since we are constantly aging. When we are especially attached to something, we do not want it to change, but things change anyway without our choice, so it seems depressing. On the other hand, it provides such a great positive opportunity. Just because everything can be changed, every negative thought can be purified, every bad habit can be removed. When we are depressed, we feel that things are so concrete and cannot be changed so there is not much hope left. At this moment, just think of impermanence, things are subject to change. It is just a matter of time. We are all living within impermanence whether we are aware of it or not. Therefore, do not attach to the past, or anticipate the future. Past is past, everything is transitory and momentary in nature. Grasping and craving for the past would not bring benefit at this moment. Similarly, future has not come yet so there is no need to anticipate. Here, right at this moment, work as sincerely and diligently as we can. Whether we are experiencing happiness or suffering, it is just at this moment. At the next moment, it becomes just a recollection of the past or a memory. The clock is ticking every moment, and even our grasping and attachment to the past itself are also passing away. Not a single moment can stay in one single moment so just see that nature and meditate in this way.*****
Milarepa, a great Tibetan yogi, always meditated on impermanence. This great yogi had to often move from place to place and at that time his only food was nettles. Since he needed a clay pot to cook the nettle, he carried a clay pot with him wherever he went. One day, he walked from one place to another and on the way, he tripped over a rock and the pot broke. He was then totally awoken by the power of impermanence. The pot was the only thing he had and it broke there. It symbolizes that every composite phenomenon is transitory in nature and anything can happen at any moment. He related particularly to this precious human life which is so fragile. The life force of sentient beings is impermanent like a bubble. No one knows when one will die. So he said to himself, "If I work for meaningless worldly things or activities for this lifetime, I will be unable to pass beyond the causes for suffering. Now I must make greater effort to practice the Dharma." The breaking of the pot gave him such a powerful teaching and reinforced his practice on impermanence greatly.*****
There was once a great master who did his meditation in a cave. In front of the cave grew a big bush that caused him great difficulty to walk in and out of the cave. "It is so difficult to get out, maybe I should cut the bush," he thought. "But I am already out so why cut the brush? After all, I may not have time to get in, so what is the use of cutting the bush?" When he came into the cave, he said to himself, "This bush caused me great difficulty to get in, may be I should cut the bush. But now I am already in, I may not have time to go out so what is the use of cutting the bush?" So he meditated in this way. By the time when he achieved enlightenment, the bush was still there. Other people may think that he was so lazy, he could not take care of the bush which caused him great difficulty, but for him the bush provided him great opportunity to practice mindfulness and impermanence.*****
Third, meditate on the interdependent nature of every phenomenon. Everything is constituted as a result of causes and conditions. Because of that, every phenomenon arises in the relative state, conventional state. Let us look into our mind and see how we perceive a person. When you have a wonderful friend, even if he / she makes a substantial mistake, you do not mind. You would say, "That is okay. It happens to everybody." You still think that that person is wonderful. However, suppose you have changed the perception and he /she becomes your enemy, now no matter what that person does, you would not like it at all. Even if that person does wonderful things, you would still not accept it. The relative or conventional state of an outer phenomenon does not exist independently. Rather it is just the projection of our mind. Everything is momentary, insubstantial with no essence. Thus believing that the outside object is something real and concrete, and attaching to it lead us to suffering. In fact, it is just a label that we put on it in order to relate to it conveniently. There is nothing to attach to or hate. Since everything is in a relative and interdependent state, friend or enemy arises when certain causes and conditions are present. Therefore, there is no absolute friend or absolute enemy. The projections of our mind, the habitual attachment to such projections arise as the reactions (or the ripening of the fruits) of whatever actions we have done previously. Therefore, in order to free ourselves from suffering and break the streams of continuity of our habitual patterns, it is very important to eliminate all non-virtuous actions and perform as much virtuous actions as we can. On the basis of that, in order to purify the delusion of our mind and to bring out the seed of enlightenment, meditating on loving kindness and compassion to every sentient being, including small insects, is helpful. The altruistic thought, thought of enlightenment, the desire to attain complete enlightenment for the benefit of every sentient being is such a precious marvelous thought that it transcends every negative thought into the golden path of enlightenment. Gradually, we would see everyone as our friend or our close relative. Thus the causes of suffering due to anger and hatred would be reduced and are replaced by peace, joy and harmony.*****
Fourth, meditate on loving kindness and compassion. The meaning of practicing loving kindness and compassion to every other sentient being is the special thought, the mind that has the desire for everyone to have happiness and the causes of happiness. Just examine how we treat our best friend or our own child. We naturally would like them to have all the happiness. Therefore, we create the causes for bringing happiness to them. We would like to support them as much as we can. Just like parents send their children to school wanting them to have a good education and a good future. In the same way, look at all other sentient beings, they also desire to have happiness and the causes of happiness. There is no difference. Meditate on compassion means cultivating the genuine desire for every sentient being to be free from suffering and the causes of suffering. Examine how we treat our close friend. When that person suffers, we do everything to try to free that person from suffering. When that person is free from suffering, we feel so happy. In the same way, consider all other sentient beings, everyone would like to be free from suffering and the causes of suffering. So cultivate loving kindness and compassion to all sentient beings in this way. Some people think that love and compassion mean that we have to give away something immediately or we have to sacrifice yourself to every individual. It is not necessary. We can cultivate that in our mind wherever we are, at home or in the office. The moment we develop such thought, peace and harmony arise. So for your own benefit, that mind is crucial. In contrast, when we have hatred or anger, there is no peace, no harmony. At that time, forcefully cultivate loving kindness and compassion to the person who makes us miserable or who irritates us so much, and genuinely wish that person to have all the happiness and be free from all suffering. This is an effective method of uprooting our ignorance due to hatred or anger. Just change our attitude: instead of thinking that the person should have all bad things, wish that person to have all the happiness and be free from all suffering. The moment when we meditate sincerely in this way, there is great peace and joy. We can achieve this in our mind, it has nothing to do with Buddhist or non-Buddhist. There are many life stories of great masters who used this meditation method to transform all negative thoughts into positive thoughts. It is very precious. It is a source of wisdom, peace, happiness and confidence that arise within us. We may say that we cannot cultivate loving kindness, compassion to that person because we hate that person, however, there is no benefit of hating at all. Hating will not give any happiness and peace, rather, it destroys our appetite, health and well being. Therefore, until we can achieve this effortlessly, we have to make effort.*****
Another type of meditation is the calm-abiding, stabilizing meditation or the Shamata meditation. There are many ways of doing the calm-abiding meditation. One easy and effective way to calm the mind is to watch the breath. Sit on a cushion or chair, relax and breathe normally. It is easy because we have to breathe anyway so we just need to be aware of it. Our breath and mind become inseparable. When the mind is somewhere else, just simply bring it back to the breath and meditate. There is no need to push, chase or feel upset. It is important to relax and do it without expectations and worries. When we have high expectations wanting to achieve all the good qualities in one session, at the end of that session, we may feel depressed. There is nothing to achieve. There is no need to achieve anything. Just be yourself, relax and sit for half an hour or so. It is just a method to train to be with our mind. When thought arises, just look at it, let it go, and not attach to it. Thinking that you have no thought is itself a thought. Thought is something very subtle and can come at any time from any direction. So there is no need to cling to it or chase it. Just be aware of it. Place our mind, without consciously adopting or abandoning, in a fluid, natural state of being here and now. Be mindful in the ever-present moment and not to wander at all from this state. When we have a sinking mind during meditation, we need to uplift ourselves by, for example, moving the head more forward instead of downward, turn on some bright light or do some walking meditation. Shamata or the calm-abiding meditation is the cause as well as the result of analytical and insightful (vipasyana) meditation. It is so because without a calm mind, no matter how much we investigate, it may not do much. However, without careful investigation, doubt would arise and thus difficult to establish a peaceful mind. After practicing shamata and analytical meditation for some time, doubt or hesitation reduces. Certainty and confidence are important in order to stabilize the mind in the equipoise, meditative state during the vipasyana meditation. Without such clarity, peaceful and calm mind, there is no possibility of having a direct, intuitive realization of the nature of the mind and to enhance that realization.*****
On the basis of calm-abiding and analytical meditation, we expand our investigation. Gradually, our awareness increases. However, if one would like to purify all delusion, transform and purify all negative thoughts and to uproot our ignorance, it is necessary to train the mind more vigorously. In particular, we can engage in some Vajrayana Buddhist meditation practices, such as the preliminary practices (ngŲndro) under the guidance of a well-qualified spiritual master and to receive empowerment (transformation) from the master. Such training helps us to purify our gross and subtle obstacles and accumulate some merit so that we will have less hindrances and more chance of success. Only through exerting the right effort can we achieve effortlessness, the natural nature, the uncontrived state. Right now, we do not know how to exert effort in the right way, therefore we will feel exhausted easily. Vipasyana meditation (insight meditation) is a special method to uplift the mind. Special insight is needed in order to penetrate into the nature of your mind, to penetrate into the nature of the body self and the phenomenon self. Such direct insight can purify and eliminate the delusion and ignorance in our mind. The actualization and realization of special insight bring us to the first bhumi. From that point, there are ten levels of bhumis. After reaching the ten levels of bhumis, one becomes a Buddha, with the maximum ability to benefit others. The all prevailing mind, the uncontrived state cannot be perceived without meditation. It is inexpressible like the taste of honey. If you have no experience of the taste of honey at all, when you hear others talk about how sweet and delicious honey is, you would think that honey is something wonderful. When a spoon of honey is finally placed on your tongue then you can directly realize what honey is. Similarly, we can only perceive the pure mind through shamata and vipasyana meditation. Therefore, until we are free from all delusion, we have to make effort to practice and apply the practice diligently to our everyday lives. Since the habit of our laziness and delusion is so powerful, we must make extra effort to eliminate all non-virtuous actions, to increase all virtuous actions and to cultivate the enlightened mind, Boddhicitta, based on wisdom and compassion. --- Thank you and good evening.
GUIDE TO SHAMATHA MEDITATION
A Guide to Shamatha Meditation / by The Venerable Thrangu Rinpoche
The meditator eager to get exact instructions on meditating may be tempted to breeze through the sections on devotion, faith, the lineage prayer and focus on the very practical techniques such as how to hold one's posture in meditation, but this is to miss the whole essence of meditation, which is an all encompassing way of viewing the world, a method of developing one's individual relationship to self and others. To get the most out of these instructions is to read each sentence as if it were embossed on the page in gold, which is how some of the early sacred texts were done.***
Since everyone's mind is different, everyone's meditation is also different. This is why individual instruction is so necessary. It is extremely important that before one actually begins to practice meditation, one seeks advice from a qualified meditation instructor. Karma Triyana Dharmachakra (352 Meads Mountain Road, Woodstock, NY 12498) maintains a list of Tibetan meditation centers around the world if one is seeking instruction. For more detailed information on meditation, one can consult Thrangu Rinpoche's Shamatha and Vipashyana Meditation.
- - Clark Johnson, Ph. D
Studying the Dharma
We should begin by examining our mental disposition, which means turning our mind inwards and examining whether our attitude is pure or impure. Because we are just ordinary beings, sometimes our attitude will be pure and at other times it will be impure. There is nothing surprising about this. When we find our attitude is pure, we can rejoice and let it remain pure. When we find our attitude is impure, there's no reason to become disheartened, because we can change it. If we change it, again and again, little by little our negative attitude will naturally become pure. To develop this disposition for enlightenment, we should think that whatever we are doing, we are doing it to help all beings reach Buddhahood.
The Need for Meditation
When we do a physical action, this action can have either a positive or a negative result. When we say something, it can be either good or bad. So with words and actions we can see tangible results, but with thoughts there is no concrete action expressed. The mind, however, determines all of our physical and verbal actions because whatever we do, there is thought behind it. When that thought is positive, the actions that follow are good; when that thought is negative, the actions that follow are negative. The starting point of changing what we do is to change the way we think.***
When we try to change a mental disposition, we must modify our habits. We can do this though meditation, that is, using our mind in a more concentrated, controlled way. What is troubling the mind can be removed with meditation so our mind can exist in its purity. If our mind is distracted, we can change it into an undistracted mind through meditation. We can change bad habits into good habits through meditation. Then when we manage to change our mental habits, we can change our physical actions and verbal behavior. Once we have changed these, we can reach the ultimate goal of our practice, Buddhahood.
Faith and Devotion
The one thing common to all meditation practice is having the right motivation of wanting to benefit all persons, not just ourselves. Besides this, we also need to have very strong devotion to our guru and all the gurus of our lineage. If we pray to them with really sincere devotion, we can receive their blessings which lead to a very quick growth of our meditation. It is said that the source of the growth of the four main and eight lesser schools of the Kagyu lineage was the blessings created by these persons praying to their gurus with true devotion. They received the blessings and were able to develop their meditation and understanding quickly.***
With the practice of meditation, we can actually get the mind to rest on, what we want it to rest on and the mind becomes clearer and more peaceful. The Vajrayana tradition (footnote 1 - see below) has developed a practice that makes it possible to go through this process much more quickly than other meditation practices. In this practice one prays to one's guru and to all the gurus that have come before and develops a very strong devotion--an openness to receive their blessings. If one prays to the gurus, one receives the blessing, and through this blessing one's meditation progresses rapidly and naturally.***
How is it possible that blessings are not felt by some? It is not because the Buddhas and the gurus feel, "Well, he doesn't pray to me, so I'm not going to give him blessings." The Buddhas and gurus look upon all beings with the same kindness and love as a mother has for her only son, but only persons open to these blessings can feel them. For example, if we have a hook and try to catch an egg, we can't do it. However, if we try to catch a ring with a hook, it is easy. In the same way, the compassion and the blessings of the Buddhas are there constantly, but there has to be something in beings that is open to receive the blessings. Faith and devotion are like a ring for the hook of the Buddhas' compassion and blessings to pull us out of samsara. No matter how much compassion the Buddhas have, without devotion nothing will happen.
The Lineage Prayer
To develop devotion we imagine our guru as the embodiment of all the Buddhas in the form of Dorje Chang (Skt. Vajradhara).(fn 2) The prayer to Dorje Chang is of special value. It was composed by the guru of the seventh Karmapa. (fn 3) For 18 years he lived on a very small island in the middle of a lake in Tibet and meditated on the mahamudra. (fn4) He spent all that time just meditating until he reached full realization of the mahamudra. At this point he spontaneously composed the Dorje Chang prayer, and so this prayer has a great deal of blessing connected with it. When we say this prayer,(fn 5) we should be aware of the meaning of the words. We should do this prayer trying to really concentrate on what we're saying, to be very attentive, and not to let our mind wander to other things, all the time praying with sincere devotion to remember all the qualities of our guru.***
When we begin meditation, we should put our mind in the disposition of enlightenment so that the other conditions for true meditation will arise in us. In the vajrayana teachings, it is said real meditation will arise naturally if we receive the blessing of our guru and the gurus of the lineage. This is why we say the prayer to Dorje Chang, who is visualized in the space in front of us surrounded by the lamas of the lineage. If we cannot manage to visualize that many objects, we can just imagine the form of Dorje Chang, but think of him as a condensation of all the qualities and essence of the lamas of the lineage.***
The Dorje Chang prayer has four parts. The first part is to turn our mind away from samsara so that we can see its illusion and develop disgust with samsara and want to practice the dharma. The second part is to cultivate devotion towards the lama and the dharma so we will be able to receive the blessings of the lamas and develop true meditation. The third part is that we pray to achieve peace of mind and not be distracted so we will develop true meditation. The fourth part is trying to understand that the essence of our thoughts is the dharmakaya. When we have understood this, we actually become Dorje Chang. After that we just remain in meditation. Whatever thought comes up, we just rest within the essence of that thought.***
When we imagine Dorje Chang, we think of him as being blue in color, with one face and two arms, holding a dorje and a bell. He is sitting in the vajra posture. (fn 6) We can either think of him as being on top of our head or being in front of us in space. We usually visualize him in front of us and if possible with all the gurus of the lineage around him. We imagine that the lamas are not in their ordinary form with a solid body with flesh and blood, because if we did, they would arouse ordinary thoughts in our mind. Having ordinary thoughts during this meditation is a sign that we do not have much devotion. So we visualize our guru in the form of Dorje Chang to develop a pure vision in us and to see him not as ordinary flesh and blood, but in a pure way. We know that it is our guru, but in the form of Dorje Chang. If we cannot visualize all of these lamas, we simply imagine Dorje Chang and think that he represents all the aspects of the three jewels. (fn 7) While praying, we try to remember all the good qualities of our lama and the lamas of the Kagyu lineage and try to feel as genuine devotion as we can. We try to feel as much genuine faith from the bottom of our heart. Feeling this we say the lineage prayer. (fn 8) When this happens, we think, "I have received all the blessing of body, speech, and mind of all the Buddhas and the guru." At the end of the prayer, we imagine that our guru and all the other gurus melt into light and this light is absorbed through the top of our head and goes into our heart. At that particular moment we think we have received all the blessings of the body, speech, and mind of our guru and all the other gurus. We think we have received exactly the same qualities that they possess because our mind and their minds are now one. So all their qualities of complete freedom from obscurations and their complete realization are now ours; it is as if they had imprinted a picture of their enlightened qualities on us. We think we've obtained the full blessing and whatever realization is in the mind of our guru is now in our mind.
The Posture in Meditation
There are two important points in meditation--the body and the mind. As far as the body is concerned, it is important to keep the body straight so that the subtle channels (fn 9) of the body will be straight, too. If these subtle channels are straight, then the subtle energies within these channels will circulate freely. It is said that the mind is like a horse riding the circulation of the subtle energies of the body. When it is riding this energy freely, it is relaxed and peaceful.***
There are many descriptions of good meditation posture and we will use the fivepoint description. (fn 10) The first point is that the body should be straight and upright. It should be "as straight as an arrow" which means one's back should be straight and one shouldn't lean forwards, backwards, or to either side. The second point is that the throat should be slightly bent downwards like a hook. There are two subtle channels inside the throat, and if they are bent slightly forward, the energy will circulate in them reducing mental agitation in one's meditation. The third point is that the legs should be crossed in "patterns of latticework" which means that the legs should be kept in a crossed position. If one can put them in the full lotus posture, good. If not, simply cross them in the half lotus posture. The fourth point is the body should be "gathered together like chains." After straightening the body, lock it in that position as with iron shackles. The way to do this is to join the hands, placing them the width of four fingers below the navel. The fifth point is to keep one's mind and body reasonably tight exerting a certain amount of effort so the body and mind are composed and focused. This is compared to one's tongue when one, for example, pronounces the Tibetan letters "li" and "ri" which requires a certain amount of tension in the tongue. In the same way, one should always maintain a certain amount of effort and alertness in the body and mind.***
The great teacher, Marpa, said that there are many different instructions on meditation posture, but he preferred this fivepoint posture saying that if one could keep the body in this posture, the subtle energy circulating in the body would be ideal and would actually circulate though the central channel of the body.( fn 10)
The Mind in Meditation
When one meditates, do it for a short time; but do it again and again and again. The whole point is to develop a habit of meditation. If one meditates at first for too long, the mind just becomes more and more agitated and difficult to control. If one meditates for a short time and renews the session many times, then each time the mind will be fresh and clear and able to settle down more easily. So meditate again and again until the habit of meditation grows stronger.***
It is important to control the mind in meditation. The uncontrolled mind is very strong and dangerous like an angry elephant. Not only can it not be controlled, but the mind just goes its own way. If a very strong negative feeling of anger or desire arises, we are normally not able to control it. But it is our mind, so we can control it if we use the right tools of mindfulness and awareness. Awareness is knowing exactly what we are doing while we are doing it. Mindfulness is having control of our mind and not letting it run out of control.***
When meditating, we should not follow a thought about the past, we should not anticipate the future, and we should not be involved with thoughts of the present. Thoughts of the past are like what we did yesterday; thoughts of the future are like what we are planning to do tomorrow and thoughts of the present just pop up. In all cases we shouldn't follow the thread of these thoughts. We should just relax and leave them alone by not following them one way or another. For instance, in our meditation we may think of something that happened a month ago or think of a thought we just had and think, "I've been thinking about this." We then just end up following that thought. So we should not follow any of these thoughts. Similarly, we may be planning something for next week and immediately think, "I shouldn't be thinking of this!" We must avoid following thoughts in our meditation because meditation is simply leaving things just as they are without being too relaxed or too tense. If we manage to do this, we will find that the mind calms down quite naturally by itself.
General Obstacles to Meditation
During meditation the mind must have the right tension. For example, if we have a cat and we lock the cat up in a room, the cat will go crazy. Not finding a way to get out, it will start running up and down, mewing, and tearing things apart. But if we leave the door open, the cat will go out and take a little walk and then just come back in and fall asleep in the room. Similarly, if we begin our meditation thinking, "I really must stop thinking and keep my mind very concentrated and peaceful," we will constantly be worried and think, "Oh, I've had a thought!" or "Now I'm getting too tense." We will then work ourselves up so much that we can't stop thinking. So relax, just let the mind go and think, "Whatever comes, it just comes and goes." If we sit there very relaxed and let it all happen, we won't have very much trouble meditating.***
If we use mindfulness and awareness properly in our meditation, our mind will become tranquil. There are two main obstacles to the tranquility of the mind. One is becoming too relaxed and the other is becoming too tense. When we become too relaxed, we start to follow our thoughts and become absorbed in them. When we are too tense, we make too much effort focusing on the idea of concentrating and being tranquil so that in the end our mind cannot remain tranquil and we become distracted. We have to constantly try to find the balance between being too tense and too relaxed by finding just the right amount of effort to put into our meditation. Saraha, a great mahasiddha, said that when we meditate, the mind should be like a thread of the Brahmin. In India the Brahmins used to spin a lot of thread. If one puts too much tension on it, the thread breaks. If the thread is too loose, then it won't be strong enough. In the same way, when we meditate, the mind should maintain the right amount of alertness; neither too tight, nor too loose.
Meditating on an Outer Object
There are three main techniques of meditation: concentrating on an outer object, concentrating on an inner object, and concentrating on no object. The goal of meditation is to reach the point of not needing any object in meditation. But to prepare for this goal we need to gain familiarity with meditation using outer objects and then inner objects.***
In the beginning it is useful to meditate on an outer object such as a statue of the Buddha. Meditating on an outer object is not to examine or think about its shape or composition or color, but to simply remain aware of the statue in front of us and not become distracted by other thoughts. When looking at the statue, our eyes shouldn't strain and we should just register the picture of the Buddha in our mind. If other thoughts arise, we should try to become aware of these thoughts as quickly as possible and immediately drop them and return our awareness to the statue.***
For the beginner this meditation is difficult to do for a very long time because we become lost in our thoughts very easily. So we meditate for a brief time with good concentration so our meditation doesn't become entangled with thoughts all the time. We do it for a short time in the beginning, and when we find that it is becoming a little easier, we can extend the duration of the meditation session.***
Tilopa said that one should abandon all physical activity and just remain very quiet when meditating. One should stop talking and stop thinking; just leave the mind at rest. If we meditate on a buddha statue, we should not stare at it with a forced or fixed gaze because this will just give us a headache and eye strain. We must relax letting our eyes rest on the statue, merely registering the image. Whether our sight is sharp or blurred makes no difference. And when we look at it, we don't think, "Statue, statue, statue." We just look at it and try not to let the image drift out of our mind. If we start having an important thought that is taking us away from the statue, we just gently bring our attention back to the statue because if we follow the first thought, then another will come, then another and we will completely forget about the object of our meditation. When the thought comes, it is important to acknowledge its presence. If our mind starts to follow the thought, just recognize this fact and bring the mind back to the statue.***
We should always focus on what is called the "support" of the meditation which is the statue or other object we are focusing on. If we develop the habit of trying to avoid the two defects of being too tight or too loose in our meditation, our meditation will improve. If we practice this kind of meditation more and more, we will then gradually have more and more mental peace with the mind being able to concentrate and there will be increasing clarity of one's meditation.
In the practice of dharma, we have to work with our body, speech, and mind. The mind determines the quality of our physical and verbal activity. We are trying to free ourselves from problems and suffering and thus go beyond samsara. The root of samsaric existence is the defilements and as long as these are present, we cannot expect to have any lasting happiness.***
There are two ways through which we will be able to gain freedom from the defilements; both involve meditation. Through meditation we will first gain some mental tranquility which leads to having fewer thoughts. With fewer thoughts, we will have fewer negative thoughts leading to fewer defilements. But the seed of the defilements is still present, so we must develop an understanding of the nonexistence of "self." We therefore meditate on the actual nature of phenomena.***
The second aspect of meditation that can clear the defilements away is insight meditation (vipashyana meditation). But to develop strong insight meditation, we must first develop strong tranquility meditation. Without tranquility meditation the mind just goes everywhere and we are not able to control it. Once we have developed tranquility meditation, we are able to use the mind in a controlled way. So if we decide to let it be at rest, we can do that. If we decide to focus it on something, we can also do that. The ideal way to gain tranquility meditation is to just let the mind rest naturally without any thoughts. But this is extremely difficult to achieve because we have become so used to having thoughts and being involved with them. Because we have always turned our minds towards objects outside of us, it is easier to use an external object for our meditation when we first begin to meditate. So the first step is to meditate on an outer object such as a small Buddha statue.
Obstacles to Tranquility Meditation
In meditation there are two main obstacles to actual tranquility meditation. The first obstacle is "thinking" which means that when the mind starts thinking, it becomes heavy and lethargic and we start feeling sleepy. It's a feeling of apathy and wanting to sleep but we can't, so there's no clarity in the meditation. The other obstacle is agitation in which the mind becomes wild and one has many thoughts and follows these thoughts in all directions--into the future, the present, or the past--so that the mind cannot rest at all.***
The way to correct this dullness is to think of the qualities of the Buddha and the dharma and how much we can gain through meditation. Thinking this will create a feeling of happiness, and our inspiration and enthusiasm will be renewed so we will automatically correct our sinking mind. To do this, we think that through meditation we will become free from defilements and emotional difficulties and gain freedom. Even before achieving complete freedom, meditation will bring peace of mind, which will help us gain more happiness. Remember, we have so many difficulties and tension and frustrations because we have so many thoughts and are involved with these thoughts. If we start thinking, "I want this" or "I need this" our mind will expect these things and there will be a constant tension from this wanting. Then if we can't have or achieve what we want, there will be the constant pain and frustration of being trapped. If, however, we can pacify the mind, there will be fewer thoughts which means our craving will diminish and this constant thirst will be reduced. So meditation has the shortterm effect of creating tranquility and the longterm effect of making one free from the defilements, the cause of all unhappiness.***
Mental agitation is caused by distraction which can come from pride or desire. The remedy to this problem is to think of all the suffering that is inherent in conditioned existence (Skt. samsara) and to become aware of the drawbacks of being distracted. We've been wandering in samsara for a very long time because we have allowed our minds to be continually distracted and this generates only suffering. By allowing the mind to be distracted, we gain nothing. Also, if we are distracted in our daily life, we can't achieve very much. So when we think of the drawbacks of distraction and wandering in samsara, we will automatically work on calming the mental agitation in our meditation.***
The way to eliminate drowsiness in meditation is to imagine that there is an eightpetalled lotus in our heart which is facing upwards. Then we imagine there are very white, very bright little light dots on the lotus. We send these white dots up to the top of our head at about the level of the hair. We should also straighten our body a little more and generally make it move a little upwards. To eliminate agitation in meditation, we should imagine a black lotus which is turned upside down (facing downwards). In this lotus we imagine a black dot and send it downwards to the ground. At the same time we should relax our posture, letting the body stoop a little.
Developing Clarity in Meditation
If we want our meditation to be clear, we should cultivate a feeling of great joy towards the meditation. That feeling can be developed by thinking of all the qualities that come from meditation. The opposite of these qualities comes with distraction. What is the harm in distraction? The harm is that whatever we do is of poor quality when we are distracted and therefore is a waste of time. If we are distracted when we are meditating, or studying, or visualizing a deity, then that time is wasted. However, if we leave our mind in a natural state without following thoughts, then what we do is very precise, very clear, and very efficient. When distracted, we are wasting some of the time of our precious human existence which can never be recovered.***
We might think that it may be nice to let ourselves just follow our thoughts and this will bring about mental comfort. But if we fall under the influence of negative feelings such as passion, aggression, pride, or jealousy, it is not very pleasant. Once one of these emotions gets started, it is very hard to stop it and it only brings about suffering. For example, once we start feeling anger, it brings about a lot of mental discomfort and if that feeling remains for a long time, it can actually make us feel physically and mentally ill. Similarly, the negative feeling of desire is constant craving. We are always looking for something which we think is going to give us pleasure, satisfaction, or contentment. But somehow we never seem able to get this something, so we keep wanting constantly. It becomes very painful because we never seem to achieve what we are aiming for. So if we look carefully at these negative feelings and thoughts, we see that their nature is basically suffering.***
However, by practicing meditation, we can eliminate pain because our mind will be under control and peaceful. By developing concentration through our meditation, we can attain tranquility. It is taught that once one reaches a certain degree of mastery in meditation, it automatically brings great physical and mental comfort. This is because meditation reduces thoughts that are constantly distracting us and this reduces our negative feelings. Meditation will also bring a very great feeling of happiness because little by little, we will be able to gain control over our thoughts and feelings.
As our concentration gets better little by little through the power of meditation, we will be able to expand this natural concentration to the rest of our life. Whether we are walking, sitting, talking to other people, or working we can learn to stop our mind from wandering. If we are distracted while working, we can't do our work properly. If we can eliminate distractions and develop better mental concentration, our life will automatically be better, which will also improve our worldly and dharma practice. If we had to depend on other people to modify our state of mind, it might be a very involved process. Controlling our mind is entirely up to us. This is something we can do ourselves with a little mindfulness and awareness. Little by little as our concentration improves, we can turn our mind inwards more easily.
Sending and Taking Practice
Our goal is the birth of true meditation. So we have to try to arouse devotion in ourselves, which doesn't necessarily arise very naturally in most people. So we have to work on it by praying to Dorje Chang, the dharmakaya, who is the union of our guru and all the other gurus and all the aspects of refuge. If we want the blessing to come, our meditation has to be supported by the right kind of motivation. This motivation should be that of enlightenment, thinking that we are doing this for the sake of all beings; that we may reach Buddhahood in order to help all other beings. This motivation is known as "basic motivation," and we have this before we start to practice. There is also "immediate motivation" which is what we have from instant to instant when we are actually practicing.***
Normally, we are not very concerned about others. Because of this, we have developed this very strong belief in the "I." From this arises all our emotional negativity. To eliminate all our emotional negativity and thoughts of "I," we have to learn how to train our mind which can be done by sending and taking meditation. Sending and Taking (Tib. tong len) meditation is meant to help us develop a pure attitude by diminishing our involvement with ourselves and increasing our thoughts of others. Sending and taking meditation will help us develop bodhicitta, (fn 12) the aspiration to achieve Buddhahood for the sake of all beings. In this practice we exchange our happiness for the unhappiness and suffering of other beings. This meditation is also connected with breathing. When we exhale, we imagine that we send a very bright light which goes out to reach all beings. This white light represents all our happiness, everything that is good in our life. We also think that it contains the seeds of happiness, which are all our virtues. So this white light reaches all beings and as it reaches them, it brings them great happiness and joy. In return, when we inhale we imagine that we are taking in a very dark, black light which carries with it all the suffering, problems, difficulties and all the causes of those problems. We do this meditation just following the natural rhythm of breathing. We know we want happiness and with sending and taking practice we realize that others want this happiness also. So whatever we have, we offer it to them. Whatever unhappiness and suffering they do not want, we imagine taking it. So sending and taking meditation is an excellent tool to further the growth of bodhicitta, the motivation of enlightenment.***
It is a very good thing to think in terms of accepting our suffering and trying to really be open to others in a compassionate way. But to do it properly, we have to train our mind first. We try to think that we really want to give something to others and really want to take on and relieve their suffering. It is only through training ourselves that really pure motivation can be born in us. Once we have this pure motivation, then we can really help others. We can't change another person's karma, but we are able to change the immediate conditions that are affecting them. If we have true compassion, we will be able to do a great deal. What is most important is to have pure motivation. Once we have the genuine wish to help other beings, we will really be able to help them. We find that if we try to help others when we're not ready, we will regret it afterwards. For example, when Shariputra took the resolution to reach enlightenment for the sake of all beings, he decided to give anything that was asked of him. One day a demon wanted to make trouble so he came along and said, "Give me your hand." Because Shariputra didn't want to refuse, with much courage he cut off his right hand and gave it to the demon. The demon just laughed at him and said, "I didn't want your right hand. I wanted your left hand." Then, of course, Shariputra thought it was a bit too much and regretted it.***
When doing Sending and Taking practice, we shouldn't fear that we will receive the difficulties of others, because we are imagining that we are taking the troubles of everyone. But we shouldn't think that there is no point in doing the meditation because we are not really taking on any real suffering or sending any real happiness. This practice is important because while we are doing sending and taking meditation, we are training our mind to gradually change our very selfish attitude to a more open and loving relationship to others so we can develop the true disposition of enlightenment.
We begin meditation by stabilizing our mind with the help of an external support. When we become more proficient, we can concentrate the mind inwards. One practice of inner meditation is using breathing. The Buddha taught six different points of shamatha meditation. (fn 13) There are three main meditations based on breathing, such as counting the breath, following the breath, and so on.***
In the beginning our mind is not stable and this is why we can fall under the influence of our emotions so easily. With meditation we try to refocus the mind by focusing on something that is fairly small, but not too small. So we learn how to focus using a statue of the Buddha. Little by little our concentration improves, and we can then focus on a letter representing the Buddha's speech.(fn 14) Later on we concentrate on a symbol of the Buddha's mind which is a small dot. In the beginning our attention is scattered over hundreds of objects, then gradually it becomes centered on something much smaller such as a statue of the Buddha. The statue has a face, arms and hands, etc., and when we have developed more concentration, we focus on a single letter and still later a single dot. In all cases, the technique is the same with the object of our concentration becoming more and more focused producing a finer and finer type of concentration.***
The first method is counting the breath. We should, first of all, breathe quite naturally. When exhaling, we think, "Now the air is coming out, now I'm exhaling." When inhaling, we are aware of this air entering our body. Each time we are aware of the air going in and going out, we count this as one. We count it mentally. This becomes easier when we develop the habit of this meditation. Just keep a very clear count of how many times one is breathing.***
The second method of meditation is called "following the breath." We breathe normally, but when we are inhaling, we imagine the air that is being taken in fills up our whole body. When we are exhaling, we imagine all this air inside us goes out through the nose and dissolves in space. As we are doing this, we are following this movement with our mind so our mind and the air are connected continually during the meditation. This is a very good way to develop mental tranquility.***
The third method is to combine the counting of the breath and following the breath, so first we count our breath up to 21 with each inhalation and exhalation being counted as one. This keeps our mind concentrated on breathing and not forgetting to count. As soon as we finish counting up to 21, we begin doing the following breath meditation.***
When we practice breathing meditation, we should practice it in very short sessions, but multiply the sessions. While we actually meditate, we should do it with much care and with as much precision as possible.***
While meditating on the breath, we may find our mind has a tendency to grow a bit dark and not be very clear. When this happens, we should sharpen our attention. To make meditation clearer we can do "the three cycle meditation." First we take the air in (first cycle) and keep it inside us (the second cycle) and then exhale (third cycle). When we are inhaling we think of the sound OM. When the air is inside of the body think of an AH. And when the air is going out of the body think of HUM. All three cycles should be natural and not forced and one should try to make the three cycles equal. If we do this, we will find that we don't become too agitated or too drowsy. This meditation keeps the mind clear so when we find the mind becoming agitated or drowsy, we can just switch to the three cycles of breathing.
Receiving the blessings at the end of the Dorje Chang prayer is the way that true meditation will be born in us and we will achieve the realization of the true nature of phenomena. This true nature is both voidness and clarity. In an ordinary being this clarity is called buddha nature (Skt. Tathagatagarba). When Buddhahood is realized, this clarity is called the dharmakaya. On the path to Buddhahood, buddha nature is the gradual realization of all the good qualities and the gradual elimination of all the bad qualities. This is why it is so important to meditate on the true nature of phenomena and on the nature of the mind. First one gains a theoretical understanding of this through the great teaching such as the Uttara Tantra.(fn 14) Then through mahamudra meditation, one comes to the direct recognition of the true nature of phenomena by looking at the true nature of the mind.
1. There are three main traditions in Buddhism: the Hinayana, the Mahayana, and the Vajrayana. The Vajrayana is principally practiced in Tibet.
2. Dorje Chang is a sambhogakaya form of the Buddha.
3. The Karmapa is the head of the Kagyu Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism.
4. Mahamudra is the principal method of meditation of the Kagyu lineage.
5. This lineage prayer is given at the end of this text.
6. The vajra or full lotus posture is with both legs crossed.
7. The three jewels are the Buddha, the dharma (the teachings of the Buddha), and the sangha (the Buddhist practioners).
8. The lineage prayer to the Kagyu lineage is given at the end of this text. This prayer and the visualization is available from Namo Buddha Publications ($1.00).
9. These are channels (Skt. nadi, Tib. tsa) that carry subtle energies (Skt. bindu, Tib tiglee). These are not anatomical structures, but more like the meridians in acupuncture.
10. The seven point method of Vairocana is given in Thrangu Rinpoche's Shamatha and Vipashyana Meditation, Namo Buddha Publications.
11. There are three main channels that carry the subtle energy: the right, left, and central channel. The central channel runs roughly along the spinal cord.
12. Bodhicitta is the original Buddha Nature which all persons have.
13. These are (1) having correct posture, (2) holding the mind on any visual object, (3) cutting the stream of conceptual thoughts and mental chatter, (4) eliminating dullness and agitation in meditation, (5) not keeping the mind too tight or too loose, and (6) not breaking the continuity between meditation and non-meditation.
14. These are usually seed syllables such as OM AH HUM.
15. Thrangu Rinpoche's The Uttara Tantra is available from Namo Buddha Publications.
REASON WE PRACTICE MEDITATION
The Reason We Practice Meditation / by The Venerable Thrangu Rinpoche
In the spread of Buddhism in America, the Kagyu lineage was in the forefront of the sending of lamas to America. Of these lamas, the three great progenitors of the dharma in America were His Holiness the Gyalwa Karmapa, His Eminence Kalu Rinpoche, and the Vidyadhara Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.*** It was very unfortunate that in the 1980s we lost all of these great beings, but in the aftermath, there were a number of remarkable lamas in the lineage who stepped forward to fill their places and to bring great benefit to sentient beings. Amongst these, in the forefront of them, was The Very Venerable Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, abbot by appointment of His Holiness Karmapa of Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim. He is also abbot of his own monasteries in Nepal and Tibet, and by appointment of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, of Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia. In addition he has been very generous and kind to Western students, teaching the dharma extensively in retreats and seminars throughout the world. Rinpoche taught in Seattle for the first time in May 1996. This transcript is from his teachings the evening of May 24.***
I'd like to begin by welcoming all of you here tonight. I recognize that you've come here out of your sincere interest in, and wish to practice, genuine dharma, and out of your respect for my teaching. And this is all delightful to me, and I thank you for it. I consider myself fortunate to have such an opportunity to form such a connection with you. To begin, I would like to recite a traditional supplication to the teachers of my lineage, and while doing so, I invite you to join me in an attitude of confidence and devotion. (Chants)***
The essence of the buddhadharma, the teachings of the Buddha, is practice. And when we say practice, we mean the practice of meditation, which can consist of either the meditation known as tranquillity or that known as insight. But in either case, it must be implemented in actual practice. The reason we practice meditation is to attain happiness. And this means states of happiness in both the short term and the long term. With regard to short-term happiness, when we speak of happiness, we usually mean either or both of two things, one of which is physical pleasure and the other of which is mental pleasure. But if you look at either of these pleasant experiences, the root of either one has to be a mind that is at peace, a mind that is free of suffering. Because as long as your mind is unhappy and without any kind of tranquillity or peace, then no matter how much physical pleasure you experience, it will not take the form of happiness per se. On the other hand, even if you lack the utmost ideal physical circumstances of wealth and so on, if your mind is at peace, you will be happy anyway.***
We practice meditation, therefore, in part in order to obtain the short-term benefit of a state of mental happiness and peace. Now, the reason why meditation helps with this is that, normally, we have a great deal of thought, or many different kinds of thoughts running through our minds. And some of these thoughts are pleasant, even delightful. Some of them however, are unpleasant, agitating, and worrisome. Now, if you examine the thoughts that are present in your mind from time to time, you will see that the pleasant thoughts are comparatively few, and the unpleasant thoughts are many - which means that as long as your mind is ruled or controlled by the thoughts that pass through it, you will be quite unhappy. In order to gain control over this process, therefore, we begin with the meditation practice of tranquillity, which produces a basic state of contentment and peace within the mind of the practitioner.***
An example of this is the great Tibetan yogi Jetsun Milarepa, who lived in conditions of the utmost austerity. He lived it utter solitude, in caves and isolated mountains. His clothes were very poor; he had no nice clothes. His food was neither rich nor tasty. In fact, [for a number of years] he lived on nettle soup alone, as a result of which he became physically very thin, almost emaciated. Now, if you consider his external circumstances alone, the isolation and poverty in which he lived, you would think he must have been miserable. And yet, as we can tell from the many songs he composed, because his mind was fundamentally at peace, his experience was one of constant unfolding delight. His songs are songs that express the utmost state of delight or rapture. He saw every place he went to, no matter how isolated and austere an environment it was, as beautiful, and he experienced his life of utmost austerity as extremely pleasant.***
In fact, the short-term benefits of meditation are more than merely peace of mind, because our physical health as well depends, to a great extent, upon our state of mind. And therefore, if you cultivate this state of mental contentment and peace, then you will tend not to become ill, and you will as well tend to heal easily if and when you do become ill. The reason for this is that one of the primary conditions which brings about states of illness is mental agitation, which produces a corresponding agitation or disturbance of the channels and the energies within your body. These generate new sicknesses, ones you have not yet experienced, and also prevent the healing of old sicknesses. This agitation of the channels and winds or energies also obstructs the benefit which could be derived from medical treatment. If you practice meditation, then as your mind settles down, the channels and energies moving through the channels return to their rightful functioning, as a result of which you tend not to become ill and you are able to heal any illnesses you already have. And we can see an illustration of this also in the life of Jetsun Milarepa, who engaged in the utmost austerities with regard to where he lived, the clothes he wore, the food he ate, and so on, throughout the early part of his life. And yet this did not harm his health, because he managed to have a very long life, was extremely vigorous and youthful to the end of his life, which indicates the fact that through the proper practice of meditation, the mental peace and contentment that is generated calms down or corrects the functioning of the channels and energies, allowing for the healing of sickness and the prevention of sickness.***
The ultimate or long-term benefit of the practice of meditation is becoming free of all suffering, which means no longer having to experience the sufferings of birth, aging, sickness and death. Now, this attainment of freedom is called, in the common language of all the Buddhist traditions, buddhahood, and in the particular terminology of the vajrayana, the supreme attainment, or supreme siddhi. In any case, the root or basic cause of this attainment is the practice of meditation. The reason for this is, again, that generally we have a lot of thoughts running through our minds, some of which are beneficial - thoughts of love, compassion, rejoicing in the happiness of others, and so on - and many of which are negative - thoughts of attachment, aversion, jealousy, competitiveness, and so on. Now, there are comparatively few of the former type of thought and comparatively many of the latter type of thought, because we have such strong habits that have been accumulating within us over a period of time without beginning. And it's only by removing these habits of negativity that we can free ourselves from suffering.***
You cannot simply remove these mental afflictions, or kleshas, by saying to yourself, "I will not generate any more mental affliction," because you do not have the necessary freedom of mind or control over the kleshas to do so. In order to relinquish these, you need to actually attain this freedom, which begins, according to the common path, with the cultivation of tranquillity. Now, when you begin to meditate, [when] you begin to practice the basic meditation of tranquillity meditation, you may find that your mind won't stay still for a moment. But this is not permanent. This will change as you practice, and you will eventually be able to place your mind at rest at will, at which point you have successfully alleviated the manifest disturbance of these mental afflictions or kleshas. On the basis of that, then you can apply the second technique, which is called insight, which consists of learning to recognize and directly experience the nature of your own mind. This nature is referred to as emptiness. When you recognize this nature and rest in it, then all of the kleshas, all of the mental afflictions that arise, dissolve into this emptiness, and are no longer afflictions. Therefore, the freedom, or result, which is called buddhahood, depends upon the eradication of these mental afflictions, and that depends upon the practice of meditation.***
The practice of tranquillity and insight is the general path which is common to both the paths of sutra and tantra. In the specific context which is particular to the vajrayana, the main techniques are called the generation stage and the completion stage. These two techniques are extremely powerful and effective. Generation stage refers to the visualization of, for example, the form of a lineage guru, the form of a deity or yidam, or the form of a dharma protector. Now, initially, when first encountering this technique, it's not uncommon for beginners to think, what is the point of this? Well, the point of this is that we support and confirm our ignorance and suffering and our kleshas through the constant generation of impure projections or impure appearances which make up our experience of samsara. And in order to transcend this process, we need to transcend these impure projections, together with the suffering that they bring about. A very effective way to do this is to replace these gradually, replace these projections of impurity with pure projections based on the iconography of the yidam, the dharmapala, and so on. By starting to experience the world as the mandala of the deity and all beings as the presence of that deity, then you gradually train yourself to let go of mental afflictions, let go of impure projections, and you create the environment for the natural manifestation of your own innate wisdom.***
Now, all of this occurs gradually through this practice of the generation stage. The actual deities who are used can vary in appearance. Some of them are peaceful and some of them are wrathful. In general, the iconography of the wrathful deities points out the innate power of wisdom, and that of the peaceful deities the qualities of loving-kindness and compassion. Also, there are male deities and female deities. The male deities embody the method or compassion, and the female deities embody intelligence or wisdom.***
For these reasons, it's appropriate to perform these practices of meditation upon deities. And because these practices are so prevalent in our tradition, if you go into a vajrayana practice place or temple, you will probably see lots of images of deities - peaceful deities, wrathful deities, and extraordinarily wrathful deities. And you'll see lots of shrines with some very eccentric offerings on them. Initially, if you're not used to all this, you might think, "What is all this?" And you might feel, "Well, the basic practices of tranquility and insight make a lot of sense, and are very interesting; and all these deities, all these rituals, and all these eccentric musical instruments are really not very interesting at all." However, each and every aspect of the iconography, and each and every implement you find in a shrine room, is there for a very specific reason. The reason in general is that we need to train ourselves to replace our projection of impurity or negativity with a projection or experience of purity. And you can't simply fake this, you can't simply talk yourself into this, because you're trying to replace something that is deeper than a concept. It's more like a feeling. So, therefore, in the technique by which you replace it, a great deal of feeling or experience of the energy of purity has to be actually generated, and in order to generate that, we use physical representations of offerings, we use musical instruments in order to inspire the feeling of purity, and so on. In short, all of these implements are useful in actually generating the experience of purity.***
That is the first of the two techniques of vajrayana practice, the generation stage. The second technique is called the completion stage, and it consists of a variety of related techniques, of which perhaps the most important and the best known are mahamudra and dzogchen or "The Great Perfection." Now, sometimes, it seems to be presented that dzogchen is more important, and at other times it seems to be presented that mahamudra is more important, and as a result people become a little bit confused about this and are unsure which tradition or which practice they should pursue. Ultimately, the practices in essence and in their result are the same. In fact, each of them has a variety of techniques within it. For example, within mahamudra practice alone, there are many methods which can be used, such as candali (see footnote) and so forth, and within the practice of dzogchen alone there are as well many methods, such as the cultivation of primordial purity, spontaneous presence, and so on. But ultimately, mahamudra practice is always presented as guidance on or an introduction to your mind, and dzogchen practice is always presented as guidance or introduction to your mind. Which means that the root of these is no different, and the practice of either mahamudra or dzogchen will generate a great benefit. Further, we find in The Aspiration of Mahamudra by the third Gyalwa Karmapa, Lord Rangjung Dorje, the following stanza:
It does not exist, and has not been seen, even by the Victors.*
It is not non-existent, it is the basis of all Samsara and Nirvana.*
This is not contradictory, but is the great Middle Way.*
May I come to see the nature which is beyond elaboration.*
And that is from the mahamudra tradition. Then, in The Aspiration for the Realization of the Nature of the Great Perfection by the omniscient Jigme Lingpa, an aspiration liturgy from the dzogchen tradition, we find the following stanza:
It does not exist, it has not been seen, even by the Victors.*
It is not non-existent, it is the basis of all Samsara and Nirvana.*
It is not contradictory, it is the great Middle Way.*
May I come to recognize dzogpa chenpo, the nature of the ground.*
In other words, these two traditions are concerned entirely with the recognition of the same nature.***
So both short-term and ultimate happiness depend on the cultivation of meditation, which from the common point of view of the sutras (the point of view held in common by all tradition of Buddhism) is tranquillity and insight, and from the uncommon point of view of the vajrayana is the generation and completion stages.***
Meditation, however, depends in part upon the generation of loving-kindness and compassion. And this is true of any meditation, but it is especially most true of vajrayana meditation. The reason is that the specific vajrayana practices - the visualization of deities or meditation upon mahamudra and so on - depend upon the presence of a pure motivation on the part of the practitioner from the very start. If this pure motivation or genuine motivation is not present - and, since we're ordinary people, its quite possible that it might not be present - not much benefit will really occur. For that reason, vajrayana practitioners always try to train their motivation, and try to develop the motivation that's known as the awakened mind, or bodhicitta.***
Now, as an indication of this, if you look at the liturgies used in vajrayana practice, you'll see that the long and extensive forms of vajrayana liturgies always begin with a clarification of, or meditation upon, bodhicitta, and that even the short and shortest liturgies always begin with a meditation upon bodhicitta, loving-kindness and compassion, the point of this being that this type of motivation is necessary for all meditation, but especially for vajrayana practice.***
The only real meaning that we can give to our being born on this planet - and in particular being born as human beings on this planet - and the only really meaningful result that we can show for our lives is to have helped the world: to have helped our friends, to have helped all the beings on this planet as much as we can. And if we devote our lives or any significant part of our lives to destroying others and harming others, then to the extent that we actually do so, our lives have been meaningless. So if you understand that the only real point of a human life is to help others, to benefit others, to improve the world, then you must understand that the basis of not harming others but benefiting others is having the intention not to harm others and the intention to benefit others.***
Now, the main cause of having such a stable intention or stable motivation is the actual cultivation of love and compassion for others. Which means, when you find yourself full of spite and viciousness - and it is not abnormal to be so - then you have to recognize it, and be aware of it as what it is, and let go of it. And then, even though you may be free of spite or viciousness, and you may have the wish to improve things, you may be thinking only of yourself; you may be thinking only of helping or benefiting yourself. When that's the case, then you have to recollect that the root of that type of mentality, which is quite petty and limited and tight, is desiring victory for yourself even at the expense of the suffering and loss experienced by others. And, in that case, you have to gradually expand your sympathy for others, and therefore this cultivation of bodhicitta or altruism in general as a motivation is an essential way of making your life meaningful.***
The importance of love and compassion is not an idea that is particular to Buddhism. Everyone throughout the world talks about the importance of love and compassion. There's no one who says love and compassion are bad and we should try and get rid of them. However, there is an uncommon element in the method or approach which is taken to these by Buddhism. In general, when we think of compassion, we think of a natural or spontaneous sympathy or empathy which we experience when we perceive the suffering of someone else. And we generally think of compassion as being a state of pain, of sadness, because you see the suffering of someone else and you see what's causing that suffering and you know you can't do anything to remove the cause of that suffering and therefore the suffering itself. So, whereas before you generated compassion, one person was miserable, and after you generate compassion, two people are miserable. And this actually happens.***
However, the approach (that the Buddhist tradition takes) to compassion is a little bit different, because it's founded on the recognition that, whether or not you can benefit that being or that person in their immediate situation and circumstances, you can generate the basis for their ultimate benefit. And the confidence in that removes the frustration or the misery which otherwise somehow afflicts ordinary compassion. So, when compassion is cultivated in that way, it is experienced as delightful rather than miserable.***
The way that we cultivate compassion is called immeasurable compassion. And, in fact, to be precise, there are four aspects of what we would, in general, call compassion, that are called, therefore, the four immeasurables. Now, normally, when we think of something that's called immeasurable, we mean immeasurably vast. Here, the primary connotation of the term is not vastness but impartiality. And the point of saying immeasurable compassion is compassion that is not going to help one person at the expense of hurting another. It is a compassion that is felt equally for all beings. The basis of the generation of such an impartial compassion is the recognition of the fact that all beings without exception really want and don't want the same things. All beings, without exception, want to be happy and want to avoid suffering. There is no being anywhere who really wants to suffer. And if you understand that, and to the extent that you understand that, you will have the intense wish that all beings be free from suffering. And there is no being anywhere who does not want to be happy; and if you understand that, and to the extent that you understand that, you will have the intense wish that all beings actually achieve the happiness that they wish to achieve. Now, because the experience of happiness and freedom from suffering depend upon the generation of the causes of these, then the actual form your aspiration takes is that all beings possess not only happiness but the causes of happiness, that they not only be free of suffering but of the causes of suffering.***
The causes of suffering are fundamentally the presence in our minds of mental afflictions - ignorance, attachment, aversion, jealousy, arrogance, and so on - and it is through the existence of these that we come to suffer. Now, through recognizing that there is a way to transcend these causes of suffering - fundamentally, through the eradication of these causes through practicing meditation, which may or may not happen immediately but is a definite and workable process - through this confidence, then this love - wishing beings to be happy - and the compassion of wishing beings to be free from suffering, is not hopeless or frustrated at all. And, therefore, the boundless love and boundless compassion generate a boundless joy that is based on the confidence that you can actually help beings free themselves.***
So boundless love is the aspiration that beings possess happiness and the causes of happiness. Boundless compassion or immeasurable compassion is the aspiration that beings be free of suffering and the causes of suffering. And the actual confidence and the delight you take in the confidence that you can actually bring these about is boundless joy. Now, because all of these are boundless or immeasurable or impartial, then they all have a quality, which is equanimity. Which is to say that if these are cultivated properly, you don't have compassion for one being but none for another , and so on. Now, normally, when we experience these qualities, of course, they are partial; they are anything but impartial. In order to eradicate the fixation that causes us to experience compassion only for some and not for others, then you can actually train yourself in cultivating equanimity for beings through recognizing that they all wish for the same thing and wish to avoid the same thing, and through doing so you can greatly increase or enhance your loving-kindness and compassion.***
This has been a brief introduction to the practice of meditation, and how to train in and generate compassion. If you have any questions, please ask them.
Question and Answer
Question: Rinpoche, can you speak a little bit about the difference between pure projection and impure projection, and in particular, where do pure projections actually come from?**
Rinpoche: First of all, impure projections are how we experience because of the presence in our minds of kleshas or mental afflictions. Because we have kleshas, then we experience friend and enemy - that to which we are attached and that towards which we have aversion - we experience delight and disgust and so on. And all of these ways we experience the world - all these ways we experience are fundamentally tinged with, at least tinged with unpleasantness.**
Now, what is called pure appearance or pure projection is based on the experience of the true nature or essential purity of what, in confusion, we experience to be five types of mental affliction, or the five kleshas. The true nature of these five kleshas is what are called the five wisdoms. For example, when you let go of fixation or obsession on a self, or with yourself, then the fundamental nature of the way you experience is a sameness, a lack of preference or partiality, which is called the wisdom of sameness. And, when you recognize the nature of all things, then that recognition which pervades or fills all of your experience is called the wisdom of the dharmadhatu. And so on.**
Now, when you experience the five wisdoms rather than the five kleshas or five mental afflictions, then instead of projecting all of the impurity which you project on the basis of experiencing the kleshas, you project purity, or you experience purity, which is the actual manifestation of these five wisdoms as realms, as forms of buddhas, and these are what are called the pure appearances which are experienced by bodhisattvas and so forth. Now, in order to approach this, in order to cultivate the experience of these wisdoms and the external experiences which go along with the experience of these wisdoms, we meditate upon the bodies of these buddhas, the realms, palaces and so on. By generating clarity of these visualized appearances and stabilizing that, then gradually we transform how we experience the world.
Question: In practicing compassion, there's the practice of tonglen, which is the sending and receiving, taking the suffering from all sentient beings and giving them the happiness and merit that we have. And, in this practice, I've practiced it before, and it seems to go well for a while, but then there's a subtle sense of "I" that creeps in that says, "I don't really want to take the suffering," or its, "I can't deal with too many people having cancer, I just can't take it all on myself," and so one kind of loses a little courage in the practice. So, could you illuminate us on this practice, and how to overcome these obstacles and really develop heroic mind?**
Rinpoche: What you say is very true, especially in the beginning of undertaking this practice. And, in fact, its okay that it be experienced that way. Even though there is a quality of faking it about the degree to which you actually really are ready to take on the suffering of others in the beginning, there's still benefit in doing the practice, because up until you begin this practice, you've probably been entirely selfish. And, to even attempt to fake altruism is a tremendous improvement. But it doesn't remain insincere like that, because eventually the habit starts to deepen and starts to counteract the habit of selfishness.**
Now if, when you began practicing tonglen, you already had one hundred per cent concern with the welfare of others and no concern for your own welfare, then you wouldn't need to practice tonglen in the first place. So, it is designed to work for a practitioner who's starting from a place of selfishness and to lead them into this place of concern for others. And, gradually, by using the practice, you will actually cultivate the sincere desire to take suffering away from others and experience it yourself; you will cultivate real love and compassion for others. But on the other hand, you don't really do the practice in order to be able to, at that moment, take on the suffering of others and experience it yourself; you're really doing it in order to train the mind. And by training your mind and developing the motivation and the actual wish to free others from suffering, then the long-term result is that you have the ability to directly dispel the suffering of others.
Question: Rinpoche, you said that we may not be able to - one person may not be able to directly affect or remove short-term unhappiness or suffering of another person, but that we can learn to generate the basis of another's happiness, ultimate happiness. So could you say more, please, about how one person can generate the basis of ultimate happiness for another person?**
Rinpoche: Well, the direct basis of establishing another being in a state of freedom or happiness, long-term or ultimate happiness, is being able to show them how to get rid of their mental afflictions and to teach them how to recognize and therefore abandon causes of suffering. And, through doing so in that way, then you can establish them gradually in ultimate happiness. But even in cases where you can't, for whatever reason, do that, by having the intention to benefit that being, then when you yourself become fully free, then you will be able to actually help them and gradually free and protect them as well.
Question: Rinpoche, can you say a little more about the practice of letting go when the mind is agitated, as you described, as used in mahamudra and dzogchen? I experience my mind when I sit as being agitated. And there's the practice of letting go. And I'm wondering if you can just say more about that in a practical way?**
Rinpoche: In general, the main approach that is taken in the mahamudra and dzogchen traditions is applied when you are looking at the nature of your mind. Now, kleshas or mental afflictions are thoughts, and thoughts are the natural display of the mind. Thoughts may be pleasant, neutral, or unpleasant, they may be positive or negative, but in any case, whatever type of thought arises, you deal with it in exactly the same way. You simply look directly at it.**
Now, looking at the thought, or looking into the thought, or looking at the nature of the thought, is quite different from analyzing it. You don't attempt to analyze the contents of the thought, nor do you attempt to think about the thought. You just simply look directly at it. And when you look directly at a thought, you don't find anything. Now, you may think that you don't find anything because you don't know how to look or you don't know where to look, but in fact, that's not the reason. The reason, according to Buddha, is that thoughts are empty. And this is the basic meaning of all the various teachings on emptiness he gave, such as the sixteen emptinesses and so on.**
Now, to use anger as an example of this, if you become angry, and then you look directly at the anger - which doesn't mean analyze the contents of the thoughts of anger, but you look directly at that specific thought of anger - then you won't find anything. And, in that moment of not finding anything, the poisonous quality of the anger will somehow vanish or dissolve. Your mind will relax, and you will, at least to some extent, be free of anger.**
Now, you may or may not, at this point, understand this, but in any case, you'll have opportunity to work with this approach tomorrow and the next day, and over the next couple of days you may come to have some experience of this.**
So, we're going to conclude now with a brief dedication. But I would also like to thank you for demonstrating your great interest in dharma, and listening and asking questions.
COMMENTARIES ON SAMADHI
Commentaries on Samadhi / by The Venerable Thrangu Rinpoche
In the instructions of the mahasiddhas of the past, there are basically two approaches to samadhi or meditation. They are called taking inferential valid cognition as the path and taking direct valid cognition as the path.***
The first of these, taking inferential valid cognition as the path, is making use of logical reasoning in order to determine the actual nature of things. It is using your intelligence, using your capacity to reason clearly, with guidance, in order to correctly determine that things are not what they appear to be. The practice basically consists of thinking very, very carefully. To give a brief example, if you were to consider the nature of appearances, you might say, "well, what is the actual nature of what appears?" Then through detailed analysis, you would determine that the coarse substance that appear to you are really composed of particles and have no existence whatsoever as what they appear to be. You would determine that what appear to be (shoes and ships and sealing wax, cabbages and kings) are merely mental impositions or imputations. Then you would determine that the particles that make up these objects themselves in turn have no substantial or material existence, and that any such material existence is also simply a mental imputation. Then you would turn and examine the status of your cognition, or mind, and determine that it is a series of discrete instants, which have no duration. This type of analysis is the basis of arriving at the understanding expressed in the Heart Sutra, for example, where it says, "No eyes, no ears, no mouth, no noseÖ" and so on.***
The basic approach is to break things down further and further and further. You use analysis in this way to the point of resolving, in decisive way, the actual nature of things, and then you meditate within the confidence of understanding that nature. That, essentially is the first approach, which is taking inference, or inferential valid cognition, as the path.***
Now, when this type of analysis is conducted in a thorough way, it resolves two things, which are called the selflessness of person or individuals and the selflessness of things or phenomena in general. The selflessness of person is the lack of inherent existence of person or individuals, and the selflessness of phenomena or dharmas is the lack of inherent existence of dharmas in general. The basic format of this type of meditation and study has been laid down very clearly.***
Generally speaking, it comes from the instructions of Lord Nagarjuna and passed down and introduced in Tibet by Lord Atisha. These instructions exist, and we use them, but we do not use them as our main technique of meditation. The reason being, first of all, in the application of this approach to meditation, a great deal of rigorous study is necessary, and only after that study has been engaged in can you begin the process of an equally rigorous scrutiny, applying what has been learned in study. And through that scrutiny and analysis you gradually develop certainty as to the nature of things as they have been analyzed. But at that point, when you begin to apply this analysis and the certainty arising from it as a basis for meditation practice, it seems that it takes a very long time to actually develop a meditative realization. So, according to the lineage of common instructions (Vajrayana), it is to use this type of analytical reasoning as a mode of study and reflection, but not as the primary technique of meditation.***
When it comes to the actual practice of meditation, we emphasize the other approach, which is taking direct valid cognition as the path.***
According to this approach, in which we use direct experience as the basis of meditation technique, we do not worry too much about the existential status of external things. If external things that appear to us are empty, that is fine: if they are not empty, that is fine too. Because our problem, our situation, is really caused by and determined by our mind, therefore, from this point of view we would say that which is most important as an object of scrutiny is the mind itself. We experience happiness and sadness, we experience attachment and aversion, we experience faith and devotion, and all of these experiences are thoughts or styles of thought that arise in our mind. External objects do not produce them. Therefore, it is our minds themselves that must be scrutinized and it is the true nature of our minds that must be recognized.***
Now, we generally never look at our minds. We never examine our minds to see what they really consist of. We have an ongoing and underlying assumption that our minds exist, and we tend to assume that they must have some substantial existence and characteristics. But we have never actually checked to see; we have never actually looked at our minds to see whether or not they really do exist.***
Now, when you look at your mind directly, which you may never have done before, what you discover is that your mind is the nature of things, that your mind is dharmata itself. The mind's obvious and fully manifest characteristics are the characteristics of the ultimate nature. And this can be seen and is seen directly by you as an individual, and seeing has nothing whatsoever to do with logical reasoning or the drawing of inference of any kind. Because it is your mind, you are the only person who can directly experience your mind. And it is the easiest thing for you to look at and the easiest thing for you to experience directly as an individual.
No one else knows your mind, but you know your mind.***
Now, how do you look at the mind? You could begin by looking to see where the mind is. Is it inside your body or outside the body? Certainly you might say it is not outside the body, but if it is inside your body, exactly where is it? Can you pinpoint it? And, if you find where it is, exactly how much space does it occupy? How big is your mind? Is it big or is it small? And what substantial characteristics, such as color and shape and so forth, does it have? When you try to track down and scrutinize the mind, asking these various questions and coming to the answers not through reasoning but through what you experience as you look at and look for the mind, you gradually discover that there is nothing to find. The mind seems not to be anywhere. In fact, the mind seems to be utterly nonexistent. You discover that, in fact, we have just had this assumption all along that the mind existed, and yet there does not seem to be anything there whatsoever.***
Now, you might think at this point that you are not finding the mind because you are not looking in the right way, that you do not know how to look, but that is not the case. Or you might think that you do not find the mind because the mind is too small or because the mind is too subtle or because the mind is too transparent, too diaphanous to be seen. But in fact it is not for any of these reasons that you cannot find your mind. The reason that you cannot find anything when you look for your mind is that the mind is not a self. The mind has no true or inherent existence, which is what the Buddha meant when he talked about selflessness and when he talked about emptiness; this is it, exactly. And when you have seen that your mind has no existence, then you have no need whatsoever to ask anyone about what this nature is - what emptiness is, and so on. This is something that we can each, as individuals, experience for ourselves within our own minds. This is very important. And the first thing you need to understand about this is that this is not some kind of doctrine or belief; it is not something you should take on faith or on authority.
You should not have the attitude, "Well, the lama said there is no mind, so that must be how it is; there must be no mind there." Or, "I've heard that there is no mind, that the mind does not exist; okay, it must be true." This has nothing whatsoever to do with what you have been told about the mind, because this is something that you can see as an individual for yourself. And it is not something that is in any way difficult to discover. Any time you care to look at your mind, you will see this right away. Not only is it easy to see it is impossible for you to look at your mind and not see that there is nothing to see. So please look at your mind.***
If you have any questions you would like to ask, please go ahead.