Tibetan Buddhism     213 posts


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' Meditation '

ON EXTRAORDINARY EXPERIENCES

If we really want something spectacular, we will indeed have opportunities for that, in what is called the temporary meditation moods of bliss, clarity, and nonthought. These can occur, but such sensational experiences do not help to cut through thoughts. On the contrary, they generate even more fixation because we start to think, "Wow! What is that? This must be 'it'!" Many subsequent thoughts arise in response to the fascination with these experiences.

~ Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche

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THE WORST OBSTACLE

The worst obstacle for a practitioner is when crowds of followers begin to gather and say, "You are so wonderful, you're such a great practitioner, you are very special. Please give us teachings. Please guide us." Starting to have a great following causes the most difficult kind of obstacle because, unless one is the foremost type of practitioner, one will think, "Hey, maybe I am special. Maybe there is something to what they say." Only the foremost type of practitioner will not be carried away by such "positive" conditions.

~ Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche

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THE OBSTACLES OF TOO RELAXED AND TOO TENSE

There are two main obstacles to the tranquility of 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 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 Brahman. In India the Brahmans used to spin a lot of thread. If too much tension is put 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.

~ Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche

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STARTING, STOPPING, AND GIVING UP

These days people are doing many different kinds of meditation. They start one meditation , drop it, then start another one and drop that too. Pretty soon it doesn't matter what they are doing. They stop meditating. However, if we understand the basic purpose of meditation, we can say, "Yes, there are different techniques, and I can utilize them depending on where I am in my life."

What sometimes happens is that we stop meditating altogether because, fundamentally, we have lost the view. One day we say, "You know, I don't really need to meditate." Or we find ourselves not meditating because we would rather go to a movie or spend time with friends or do something else. It is not even a matter of a conscious decision. After a while, meditation is just not important to us. At other times we may say, "The meditation is too difficult, so I am going to stop doing it." We don't understand what is going on in the meditation. We don't understand the purpose of it, so it gets complicated for us.

~ Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

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THE MOST SUBTLE OBSTACLE OF ALL

The most subtle and the most difficult [obstacle] is the demon of seduction... It is the little voice that whispers to oneself and gives the wrong advice: "There is something more interesting than practicing. Why not do it later, like next month or next year - then you can really get into intensive practice. Right now, there is something more important."... It is by far the most difficult to notice, the most difficult to overcome.

~ Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche

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IF DISCIPLES DON'T PRACTICE

Great teachers appear, highly realized, amid the deluded people of this decadent age...[ They ] are extremely knowledgable; they have mastered all the sciences and bestowed teachings on fortunate disciples. However, if the disciples do not practice these teachings, they become superficially learned, which only increases their arrogance. They may develop some discipline, but it only increases their infatuation with their own virtue. They may reach a high position, but it only propagates greed, aggression, and laziness. These disciples have the same defects as ordinary people and so produce benefit neither for the Dharma nor for sentient beings.

~ Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

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TALK RATHER THAN PRACTICE

Instead of really practicing Dharma, we often only talk about practicing Dharma. The more we talk without practicing, the more we lose our energy in words and so the more our point of view is lost.

~ Thinley Norbu Rinpoche

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MEDITATE ON IMPERMANENCE, COMPASSION, AND EMPTINESS

Think about death and impermanence for a long time. Once you are certain that you are going to die, you will no longer find it hard to put aside harmful actions nor difficult to do what is right.
After that meditate for a long time on love and compassion. Once love fills your heart, you will no longer find it hard to dispel all your delusions. Then meditate for a longer time on emptiness, the natural state. Once you fully understand emptiness, you will no longer find it hard to dispel all your delusions.

~ Geshe Potowa

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HOW TO MEDITATE WHILE LIVING "IN THE WORLD"

The most important aspect is to cultivate a good motivation and t o carry out your daily program within it. Early in the morning as well as late in the night, you can spend at least half an hour in practice - meditation, recitation, daily yoga, or the like. Then, while working during the day, you should remember the motivation.

~ His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama

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SOME TIPS FOR MEDITATION PRACTICE

If your practice is weak at the beginning of a meditation session but becomes better later on, you need a little more discipline at the outset to focus the mind. If, by tightening up the mind in this way, it becomes taxed or rebellious, you have been too forceful and must loosen the mind a bit. Also, eat as your meditation requires; don't overdo it. Watch the amount and type of food. Moderation is the watchword. Don't sleep during the daytime. Take good care of your body. Maintain your health and apply yourself diligently in practice.

~ Deshung Rinpoche

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AWARENESS OR VIPASHYANA/VIPASSANA

Meditation does not consist only of Shamatha. The other aspect is Vipashyana, or insight, which in Tibetan is called 'Ihagthong'. The term 'Ihagthong' literally means "superior seeing." This can be interpreted as 'seeing that which is the essential nature.' It's nature is a lucidity, a clarity of mind, based on the foregoing Shamatha, which enables one to determine the characteristics and ultimate nature of all things unmistakenly, without confusion or mix-up of any kind. Fundamentally, it consists of a recognition of the abiding or basic nature of everything, in an unmistaken manner. For this reason, Vipashyana meditation is referred to as Superior Seeing or Superior Vision, Ihagthong.

~ The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche

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MINDFULNESS AND AWARENESS

Mindfulness is taking an interest in precision of all kinds, in the simplicity of the breath, of walking, of the sensations of the body, of the experiences of the mind - of the thought process and memories of all kinds. Awareness is acknowledging the totality of the whole thing.

~ Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

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THE ATTAINMENT OF SHAMATHA

Upon attainment of Shamatha, the object appears neither separate nor identical with the subject. It is just like looking at something with eyes. You don't have any conceptual program indicating that it's different, or any kind of identification that it is the same. It is just there.

~ Gen Lamrimpa Rinpoche

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WHAT IS SHAMATHA?

The word Shamatha in Sanskrit, or 'shi-ne' in Tibetan, means "peacefully, harmoniously being." Both 'shama' and 'shi' mean "peace" and 'tha' and 'ne' mean "to abide," "to reside." Another way of saying it is "calmly being." The mind is settled. This does not mean that we are just peacefully ignoring things. What it means is that the mind is able to be in itself without constantly leaving. Peace means not struggling. If there is peace, things work. If there is war, there is struggle, fighting, discomfort, pain. When there is conflict, there is agitation and irritation, and the energy is very scattered. With peace, that does not happen.

We might ask if that peaceful mind is a natural state of being or an unnatural state. In other words, are we falsely creating this state of mind when we sit there ? This would be impossible because if the mind were not fundamentally at peace, then no matter how much meditation we did, the mind would always revert to a state that is not at peace. That would not be 'shi-ne, abiding peacefully or calmly. So we have to realize that shi-ne, calmly abiding, is a descriptive term of the mind as its basis, as it is. The mind is intristically and naturally in harmony. So we are not 'creating' a peaceful state - our mind is that way to begin with...Shi-ne and Shamatha describe how our mind actually is naturally - if it is worked with.

~ Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

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THE IMPORTANCE OF SHAMATHA

It is of primary importance in meditation practice to develop a quality of knowing oneself. Initally, this can occur through the practice of Shamatha meditation. We can develop a tremendous communication with mind, surpassing anything in our past experience. We can also discover profoundly rich and powerful qualities of mind, which we have yet to experience and know. This fundamental sense of getting to know our mind develops within the practice of Shamatha meditation.

~ The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche

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SHAMATHA

Shamatha means "development of peace." In this case, peace refers to the harmony connected with accuracy rather than to peace from the point of view of pleasure rather than pain. We have experienced pain, discomfort, because we have failed to relate to the harmony of things as they are. We haven't seen things as they are precisely, directly, properly... When we talk about peace, we mean that for the first time we are able to see ourselves completely, perfectly, beautifully as 'what we are'.

~ Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

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SHAMATHA AND VIPASHYANA/VIPASSANA STRENGTHEN THE MIND

While we are meditating, we are strengthening our mind. We know that we can fundamentally train our body, and we know that we can train our behaviour. however in modern culture the feeling is that we cannot train the mind, at least not directly. Nonetheless, the approach of shamatha and of meditation in general is that we can train the mind. We can work with it and we can strengthen it.

~ Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

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SHAMATHA AND VIPASHYANA

When we begin to practice the basic meditation of tranquility meditation [shamatha], we may find that our mind won't stay still for a moment. But this condition is not permanent and will change as we practice. Eventually we will be able to place our mind at rest at will, at which point we will have successfully alleviated the manifest disturbance of the disturbing emotions. After developing tranquility meditation, we can apply the second technique , of insight meditation [vipashnyana], which consists of learning to recognize and directly experience the nature of our own mind. This nature is referred to as emptiness. When we recognize this nature and rest in it, then all of the disturbing emotions that arise dissolve into this emptiness and are no longer afflictions. [This is] the freedom, which is called Buddhahood.

~ Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche

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THE NEED FOR UNDERSTANDING

We may think that meditation is simply sitting down and then something happens - but that is not how meditation works. Of course, sometimes it feels good just to come in and sit down, and whatever happens, happens. There's no problem with that. But in the long run, is that the point of meditation? No. If meditation makes us feel good, that's great; but actually, there is a bigger picture in terms of understanding the overall direction of the practice.

~ Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

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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 rapid growth of our meditation.

~ Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche

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MEDITATION DOES NOT INVOLVE "REFORMING" ONESELF

The practice of meditation does not involve discontinuing one's relationship with oneself and looking for a better person or searching for possibilities of reforming oneself....The practice of meditation is a way of continuing one's confusion, chaos, aggression, and passion - but working with it.

~ Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

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CONFIDENCE IN OUR BASIC NATURE AS BUDDHA'S WISDOM

The ultimate or fundamental, nature of our mind in Buddhism is the Buddha's wisdom, the Buddha's heart. The nature of our mind is always Enlightened, always Awakened. It is vital point in our meditation practice to have strong confidence in our own basic nature of mind as the Buddha's wisdom. With that discovery, we meditate on the nature of our mind, just to discover that wisdom.

~ The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche

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BECOMING FAMILIAR WITH MEDITATION

It is important to become familiar with meditation. Once we've become familiar with it, we can use it however we want. To understand this more clearly, let's look at the word for meditation in Tibetan. In English, although we have different words for it, usually we simply use the word 'meditation'. In Tibetan, the word is 'gom', which means "getting accustomed to," " getting used to," "getting familiar with." When we meditate, we're becoming familiar with something. What we're getting used to is the view of the meditation practice we're doing. As we get more and more used to it, the level of profundity deepens. The meditation penetrates deeper and deeper. This applies to all the different kinds of meditation we do.

~ Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

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AS OUR FIXED IDEAS ABOUT EXPERIENCE CHANGE...

As our fixed ideas about experience change, we see that up to now we have scarcely appreciated our immediate experience. This lack of attention has reinforced our tendency to live in the past or to seek new experience in the future. We can change this around [ through practice ] ... As our experience opens to wider perspectives, our senses, our body, and our consciousness become vibrantly alive. Patterns of craving and frustration give way to the flowing interaction with the process of living. All imbalances drop away, and whatever satisfaction or healing we need is provided naturally. This protection, this balance, this genuine self-sufficiency allows us to open to the endless possibility of each moment and to discover the richness and depth of all experience.

~ Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche

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MEDITATION IS WORKING WUTH NEUROTIC STATES


The neurotic state of mind is not difficult or impossible to deal with. It has energy, speed, and a certain pattern. The practice of meditation involves 'letting be' - trying to go with the pattern, trying to go with the energy and the speed. In this way, we learn how to deal with these factors, how to relate with them, not in the sense of causing them to mature in the way we would like, but in the sense of knowing them for what they are and working with their pattern.

~ Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

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MEDITATION ADDRESSES OUR EXPERIENCE OF SUFFERING

The need for meditation practice, the benefits of it, and the defects of the absence of meditation practice can only be understood by realizing that all of our samsaric experiences of pain, suffering, and attachment arise from our own mind. The appearances of various objects, particularly our fixation or attachment to these various appearances, and the various sufferings and the forms of obscuration that are produced by this, all arise from our minds. It is like throwing a ball very hard at a wall. It is not the wall's fault, and it is not because of any intention on the wall's part, that the ball bounces back at you. It is not that the wall is aggressive. As hard as you throw the ball, it will bounce back on you to the same degree.
The way in which we experience the world depends on how we feel. If we are full of energy and feeling happy, the world is a wonderful place. However, if we feel sad and depressed, the same world, the same place, and indeed even the same people, are horrid. It all depends on our own feelings. There is nothing external that says, "Today I'm a good world." And tomorrow, manifesting in a bad way, it says, "Today I'm a horrible world." It is all a reflection of our mind. When we meditate and work with out mind, we are working with these basic feelings. When we have the opportunity to receive the instructions and practice them properly, then we can work with this constantly changing basic mind; we can stabilize it and develop peace and wisdom.

~ The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche

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