Showing posts from October 4, 2009

The Path of Meditation (ninth and last in series)

Rinpoche: After meditating and sitting daily for some time, the body might begin to complain of new aches and pains from sitting. Beginning meditators often see meditation as a struggle with the body to hold a posture that seems more like a pretzel than a human should endure. Other meditators try one cushion after another to find comfort, while still others might look for sacred symbols on a Tibetan carpet to help them, perhaps magically, overcome the sense of having a body at all! Maybe the problem is poor posture, so it is good to review the traditional advice for meditation position, adapted to a Western body. Of course, there are flexible and athletic people everywhere, but in general, Western people are raised sitting in chairs with their legs hanging over rather that cross-legged as it is done in the Orient. That means that young bones are formed and feel comfortable in very different styles. Eastern meditation posture is based on what is most comfortable and is not conside

The Path of Meditation (part eight)

An amazing factor of the human realm is the perception that private thought is normal. This illusion regarding private thought has interesting ramifications. For example, if people really knew what you thought, if you could not hide your thoughts from them, would you change the way you think? It is likely that we would make more effort to control dysfunctional thinking and increase quality thoughts in order to keep friends and dear ones as dear and friendly. If we were forced to wear our thoughts like a moving banner across the forehead, we would probably try much harder. So, let us practice working on motivation as though other people could tell what we were thinking. I suppose we would start by trying not to have funny thoughts about other people, however, if they are behaving badly, then I personally do not believe that I have an obligation to pretend. This is a damaging kind of practice, knowing that someone is doing something incorrectly or harmful, and yet pretend to yoursel

The Path of Meditation (part seven)

Buddhism has some wonderful meditation techniques and is very open to sharing them with anyone who is interested in learning. Along the way, information about the wonderful state of enlightenment is also shared and many people read books and get teachings online or by recordings to hear more. Eventually, you might even want to become enlightened and have confidence that meditation is the way to get there! However, so many good and kind people begin a meditation practice with high motivation but soon give it up in disgust. For a number of reasons, they are unable to overcome the obstacles to maintaining a steady daily practice that brings the many benefits described in books or by friends who meditate. By examining meditation and its inner process, which is the Vast Path to the perfected state, the exploration and many levels of self-assessment will cause us to recognize problems. One of the problems that many find to haunt them in meditation is not any terrible delusion, but just

The Path of Meditation (part six)

Formal sitting meditation is not a good time to reflect on the day’s events or who was right or wrong about something that happened earlier. If we enter into another kind of inner dialogue when we should be learning concentration or other states of mind, we are doing it wrong. That is because it arouses negative states of mind when we should be cultivating positive states. For example: Let us say that, unfortunately, you have a big woodchuck asleep on your lap while trying to meditate. You know, alert and awake woodchucks will bite you, as they can be fairly vicious creatures if they are aroused, but right now, luckily it is asleep. This is like your primary delusion, for example, anger, which is not activated while meditating correctly. Now all you have to do is meditate without waking the woodchuck causing it to start biting you all over! Meditate carefully, especially while the woodchuck remains with you. Meanwhile, work on that problem such as anger, at other times to red

The Path of Meditation (part five)

This is a well-crafted question…. Student: We take vows before sitting for meditation to practice the six perfections of a Bodhisattva. The sixth of those is called wisdom. In meditation, in the context of karma or cause and effect, an effect of meditation would be the attainment of wisdom, is that correct? If it is, how do we differentiate between true wisdom and, to use your analogy, spam wisdom? Rinpoche: Because all untransformed beings are working with an unreliable operating system, you have a challenge to remain as objective as possible with higher motivation while meditating. That means a certain part of the mind monitors what you are doing so that you can apply remedies as you find the problem. The problem with this is that many people have this observer already alive in them, but it is being employed for other functions. This is the one that chatters to them about trivial matters, blames them for every little error, or can even make meditation unbearable by discontent fo

The Path of Meditation (part four)

There are interesting transformative analogies found in the relationship between a cocoon and the butterfly. If we think about it, ordinary mind is held tight in an almost impenetrable web, like a cocoon. In order to get out of this web, once nurturing, but now unendurable cocoon, the mind, like the butterfly is going to need a lot of strength. It must be another kind of strength because in human terms, how much strength does a delicate butterfly actually possess? It could not punch its way out of a paper bag, as they say, and yet I have seen photos of the tremendous exertion the butterfly expends in order to free itself. This is like the tremendous energetic effort that you will need to make at the time of your enlightenment. There is continuous inner effort begun at the time of initiation or inner activation of spiritual connection with the Buddha. I suppose we actually do not need to worry about making too much effort at this stage because people are usually not capable of ma