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One of the Best Teachings About Meditation

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    MEDITATION BY HIS HOLINESS THE DALAI LAMA Would you like to participate in an experiment in meditation? First, look to your posture: arrange the legs in the
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 2, 2011

      Would you like to participate in an experiment
      in meditation? First, look to your posture:
      arrange the legs in the most comfortable position;
      set the backbone straight as an arrow. Place
      your hands in the position of meditative
      equipoise, four finger widths below your navel,
      with the left hand on the bottom, right hand
      on top, and your thumbs touching to form a
      triangle. This placement of the hands has
      connection with the place inside the body
      where inner heat is generated. Bending the
      neck down slightly, allow the mouth and teeth
      to be as usual, with the top of the tongue
      touching the roof of the mouth near the top
      teeth. Let the eyes gaze downwards loosely --
      it is not necessary that they be directed to
      the end of the nose; they can be pointed
      toward the floor in front of you if that seems
      more natural. Do not open the eyes too wide
      nor forcefully close them; leave them open a
      little. Sometimes they will close of their
      own accord; that is all right. Even if your
      eyes are open, when your mental consciousness
      becomes steady upon its object, these appearances
      to the eye consciousness will not disturb you.

      For those of you who wear eye glasses, have you
      noticed that when you take off your glasses,
      because of the unclarity there is less danger
      from the generation of excitement and more
      danger of laxity? Do you find that there is
      a difference between facing and not facing
      the wall? When you face the wall, you may find
      that there is less danger of excitement of
      scattering. These kinds of things can be determined
      through your own experience.

      Within meditations that have an object of
      observation, there can be two types of objects:
      external or internal. Now, instead of meditating
      on the mind itself, let us meditate on
      an external object of observation -- for
      instance, the body of a Buddha for those who
      like to look at a Buddha or a cross for those
      who like that, or whatever symbol is suitable
      for you. Mentally visualize that the object
      is about four feet in front of you, at the
      same height as the eyebrows. The object should
      be approximately two inches high and emanating
      light. Try to conceive of it as being heavy,
      for this will prevent excitement. Its brilliance
      will prevent laxity. As you concentrate, you
      must strive for two factors: first, to make the
      object of observation clear, and second, to make it steady.

      Has something appeared to your mind? Are the
      sense objects in front of your eyes bothering
      you? If that is the case, it is all right to
      close them, but with the eyes closed, do you
      see a reddish appearance? If you see red with
      the eyes closed or if you are bothered by what
      you see when your eyes are open, you are too
      involved with the eye consciousness and thus
      should try to withdraw attention from the eye
      consciousness and put it with the mental consciousness.

      That which interferes with the steadiness of
      the object of observation and causes it to
      fluctuate is excitement or, in a more general
      way, scattering. To stop that, withdraw your
      mind more strongly inside so that the intensity
      of the mode of apprehension begins to lower.
      To withdraw the mind, it helps to think about
      something that makes you more sober, a little
      sad. These thoughts can cause your heightened
      mode of apprehension of the object, the mind's
      being too tight, to lower or loosen somewhat whereby
      you are better able to stay on the object of observation.

      It is not sufficient just to have stability.
      It is necessary also to have clarity. That which
      prevents clarity is laxity, and what causes
      laxity is an over-withdrawal, excessive declination,
      of the mind. First of all, the mind becomes
      lax; this can lead to lethargy in which, losing
      the object of observation, you have as if fallen
      into darkness. This can lead even to sleep.
      When this occurs, it is necessary to raise or
      heighten the mode of apprehension. As a technique
      for that, think of something that you like,
      something that makes you joyous, or go to a
      high place or where there is a vast view. This
      technique causes the deflated mind to heighten
      in its mode of apprehension.

      It is necessary within your own experience to
      recognize when the mode of apprehension has
      become too excited or too lax and determine the
      best practice for lowering or heightening it.

      The object of observation that you are visualizing
      has to be held with mindfulness. Then, along
      with this, you inspect, as if from a corner,
      to see whether the object is clear and stable;
      the faculty that engages in this inspection is
      called introspection. When powerful steady
      mindfulness is achieved, introspection is
      generated, but the uncommon function of introspection
      is to inspect from time to time to see whether
      the mind has come under the influence of excitement
      or laxity. When you develop mindfulness and
      introspection well, you are able to catch laxity
      and excitement just before they arise and prevent
      their arising.

      Briefly, that is how to sustain meditation with
      an external object of observation.

      Another type of meditation involves looking at
      the mind itself. Try to leave your mind vividly
      in a natural state, without thinking of what
      happened in the past or of what you are planning
      for the future, without generating any conceptuality.
      Where does it seem that your consciousness is?
      Is it with the eyes or where is it? Most likely
      you have a sense that it is associated with the
      eyes since we derive most of our awareness of
      the world through vision. This is due to having
      relied too much on our sense consciousness.
      However the existence of a separate mental
      consciousness can be ascertained; for example,
      when attention is diverted by sound, that which
      appears to the eye consciousness is not noticed.
      This indicates that a separate mental consciousness
      is paying more attention to sound heard by the
      ear consciousness than to the perceptions of the
      eye consciousness.

      With persistent practice, consciousness may
      eventually be perceived or felt as an entity
      of mere luminosity and knowing, to which anything
      is capable of appearing and which, when appropriate
      conditions arise, can be generated in the image
      of whatsoever object. As long as the mind does
      not encounter the external circumstance of
      conceptuality, it will abide empty without
      anything appearing in it, like clear water.
      Its very entity is that of mere experience.
      Let the mind flow of its own accord without
      conceptual overlay. Let the mind rest in its
      natural state, and observe it. In the beginning,
      when you are not used to this practice, it is
      quite difficult, but in time the mind appears
      like clear water. Then, stay with the unfabricated
      mind without allowing conceptions to be generated.
      In realizing this nature of the mind, we have
      for the first time located the object of observation
      of this internal type of meditation.

      The best time for practicing this form of
      meditation is in the morning, in a quiet place,
      when the mind is very clear and alert. It helps
      not to have eaten to much the night before nor
      to sleep too much; this makes the mind lighter
      and sharper the next morning. Gradually the mind
      will become more and more stable; mindfulness and
      memory will become clearer.

      See if this practice makes your mind more alert
      throughout the day. As a temporary benefit your
      thoughts will be tranquil. As your memory improves,
      gradually you can develop a kind of special
      perception and understanding, which is due to
      an increase of mindfulness. As a long term benefit,
      because your mind has become more alert and sharp,
      you can utilize it in whatever field you want.

      If you are able to do a little meditation daily,
      withdrawing this scattered mind on one object
      inside, it is very helpful. The conceptuality that
      runs on thinking of good things, bad things, and
      so forth and so on will get a rest. It provides a
      little vacation just to set a bit in non- conceptuality
      and have a rest.

      There is yet another method of meditation which
      enables on to discern the ultimate natural of
      phenomena. This type of mediation involves analytical
      introspection. Generally, phenomena are divided
      into two types: the mental and physical aggregates
      -- or phenomena that are used by the I -- and the
      I that uses them. To determine the nature of this
      I, let us use an example. When we say John is
      coming, there is some person who is the one designated
      by the name John. Is this name designated to his
      body? It is not. Is it designated to his mind? If
      it were designated to his mind, we could not speak
      of John's mind. Mind and body are things used by
      the person. It almost seems that there is an I
      separate from mind and body. For instance, when
      we think, "Oh, my lousy body!" or "My lousy mind!",
      to our own innate mode of appearance the mind itself
      is not the I, right? Now, what John is there who
      is not his mind or body? You also should apply this
      to yourself, to your own sense of I -- where is
      this I in terms of mind and body?

      When my body is sick, though my body is not I,
      due to the body's being sick it can be posited
      that I am sick. In fact, for the sake of the
      well-being and pleasure of the I, it sometimes
      even becomes necessary to cut off part of the
      body. Although the body is not the I, there is
      a relationship between the two: the pain of the
      body can serve as the pain of the I. Similarly,
      when the eye consciousness sees something it
      appears to the mind that the I perceives it.

      What is the nature of the I? How does it appear
      to you? When you do not fabricate or create any
      artificial concept in your mind, does it seem
      that your I has an identity separate from your
      mind and body? But if you search for it, can
      you find it? For instances, someone accuses you,
      "You stole this." or "You ruined such and such,"
      and you feel, "I didn't do that." At that time,
      how does the I appear? Does it appear as if
      solid? Does some solid, steady, and strong thing
      appear to your mind when you think or say,
      "I didn't do that?"

      This seemingly solid, concrete, independent,
      self-instituting I under its own power that
      appears at such a time actually does not exist
      at all, and this specific non-existence is what
      is meant by selflessness. In the absence of
      analysis and investigation, a mere I as in,
      "I want such and such," or "I am going to do
      such and such," is asserted as valid, but the
      non-existence of an independent or self-powered
      I constitutes the selflessness of the person.
      This selflessness is that is found when one
      searches analytically to try to find the I.

      Such non-inherent existence of the I is an
      ultimate truth, a final truth. The I that appears
      to a non-analytical conventional awareness is
      the dependently arisen I that serves as the
      basis of the conventions of action, agent and
      so forth; it is a conventional truth. In
      analyzing the mode of subsistence or that
      status of the I, it is clear that although
      it appears to exist inherently, it does not,
      much like an illusion.

      That is how the ultimate nature of the I --
      emptiness -- is analyzed. Just as the I has
      this nature, so all other phenomena that are
      used by the I are empty of inherent existence.
      When analyzed, they cannot be found at all, but
      without analysis and investigation, they do exist.
      Their nature is the same as the I.

      The conventional existence of the I as well as
      of pleasure and pain make it necessary to
      generate compassion and altruism, and because
      the ultimate nature of all phenomena is this
      emptiness of inherent existence, it is also
      necessary to cultivate wisdom. When these two
      aspects -- compassion and wisdom -- are practiced
      in union, wisdom grows more profound, and the
      sense of duality diminishes. Due to the mind's
      dwelling in the meaning of emptiness, dualistic
      appearance becomes lighter, and at the same time
      the mind itself becomes more subtle. As the mind
      grows even more subtle, reaching the subtlest
      level, it is eventually transformed into the most
      basic mind, the fundamental innate mind of clear
      light, which at once realizes and is of one taste
      with emptiness in meditative equipoise without
      any dualistic appearance at all, mixed with
      emptiness. Within all having this one taste,
      anything and everything can appear; this is
      known as "All in one taste, one taste in all."

      These are a few of the types of meditation practiced
      in the Tibetan tradition. Of course there are
      many other techniques such as mantra and so forth.
      Perhaps now we could have some discussion.


      Question: Why is it better to meditate in the morning?

      DL: There are two main reasons. Physically,
      in the early morning -- once you are used to
      it -- all the nerve centers are fresh, and this
      is beneficial. Also, there is a difference just
      in terms of the time. Further, if you have slept
      well, you are more fresh and alert in the morning;
      this we can see in our own experience. At night
      I reach a point where I cannot think properly;
      however, after sleeping and the waking in the
      early morning, that thing, which yesterday I
      could not properly think through, automatically
      appears more clearly. This shows that mental power
      is much sharper in the morning.


      Question: What is the most expedient means for
      overcoming resistance to meditation?

      DL: Five faults are explained as obstacles to
      meditation. The first is laziness; second is
      to forget the advice on the object, that is, to
      forget the object; next are laxity and excitement;
      then failure to apply an antidote when laxity
      or excitement are present, and the last is to
      continue applying the antidotes when laxity or
      excitement have already been overcome. These
      are called the five faults. Eight antidotes are
      explained for them. The antidotes to laziness
      are, first of all, the faith that intelligently
      sees the value of meditative stabilization, the
      prime value being that without it the higher
      paths cannot be generated. In dependence upon
      ascertaining the good qualities of meditative
      stabilization, the aspiration which seeks to
      attain those qualities is induced. By means of
      that, exertion comes whereby you eventually
      attain pliancy causing body and mind to be free
      from unfavorable states and to be serviceable
      in a virtuous direction such that whatever virtue
      is done is powerful. These four are the antidotes
      to the first fault, laziness.

      It is helpful not to practice too long in the
      beginning; do not over- extend yourself; the
      maximum period is around fifteen minutes. The
      important thing is not the length of the session
      but the quality of it. If you meditate too long,
      you can become sleepy, and then your meditation
      will become a matter to becoming accustomed to
      this state. This is not only a waste of time but
      also a habit that is difficult to eliminate in
      the future. In the beginning, start with many
      short sessions -- even eight or sixteen sessions
      in a day -- and then as you get used to the
      process of meditation, the quality will improve,
      and the session will naturally become longer.

      A sign that your meditative stabilization is
      progressing well is that even though your meditative
      session may be long, it will feel as though only
      a short time has passed. If it seems that you have
      spent a long time in meditation even though you
      have spent only a little, this is a sign that you
      should shorted the length of the session. This can
      be very important at the beginning.


      Question: Could you say something about effort?
      Isn't a great deal of effort necessary?

      DL: Effort is crucial in the beginning for
      generating a strong will. We all have the
      Buddha nature and thus already have within
      us the substances through which, when we meet
      with the proper conditions, we can turn into a
      fully enlightened being having all beneficial
      attributes and devoid of all faults. The very
      root of failure in our lives is to think, "Oh,
      how useless and powerless I am!" It is important
      to have a strong force of mind thinking, "I can
      do it," this not being mixed with pride or any
      other afflictive emotions.

      Moderate effort over a long period of time is
      important, no matter what you are trying to do.
      One brings failure on oneself by working extremely
      hard at the beginning, attempting to do too much
      and then giving it all up after a short time. A
      constant stream of moderate effort is needed.
      Similarly, when meditating, you need to be skillful
      by having frequent, short sessions; it is more
      important that the session be good quality than
      it be long.

      When you have such effort, you have the necessary
      "substances" for developing concentration. Concentration
      is a matter channelizing this mind which is presently
      distracted in a great many directions. A scattered
      mind does not have much power. When channelized, no
      matter what the object of observation is, the mind
      is very powerful.

      There is no external way to channelize the mind,
      as by a surgical operation; it must be done by
      withdrawing it inside. Withdrawal of the mind
      also occurs in deep sleep in which the factor of
      alertness has become unclear; therefore, here the
      withdrawal of the mind is to be accompanied by
      very strong clarity of alertness. In brief, the
      mind must have stability staying firmly on its
      object, great clarity of the object, and alert,
      clear, sharp tautness.


      Question: What is the relationship of the mind
      and afflictive emotions?

      DL: The very entity of the mind, its nature of
      mere luminosity and knowing, is not polluted by
      defilements; they do not abide in the entity of
      the mind. Even when we generate afflictive emotions,
      the very entity or nature of the mind is still
      mere luminosity and knowing, and because of this
      we are able to remove the afflictive emotions. If
      you agitate the water in a pond, it becomes cloudy
      with mud; yet the very nature of the water itself
      is not dirty. When you allow it to become still
      again, the mud will settle leaving the water pure.

      How are the defilements removed? They are not
      removed by outside action nor by leaving them as
      they are; they are removed by the power of
      antidotes, meditative antidotes. To understand
      this, take the example of anger. All anger is
      impelled and polluted by improper conceptuality.

      Both the object of our anger and subject, oneself,
      appear to exist concretely, as if established by
      way of their own character. Both seem forcefully
      to exist in their own right. But as I was saying
      earlier, things to not actually exist in this
      concrete way. As much as we are able to see an
      absence of independent self-existence, that much
      will our conception of over-reification and its
      assistance to anger be lessened.

      The sign that our perceptions are superimposing
      a goodness or badness beyond what is actually
      present is that while desirous or angry we feel
      that the object is terrifically good or bad but
      afterwards when we think about the experience,
      it is laughable that we viewed the object that
      way; we understand that our perception was not
      true. These afflicted states do not have any
      valid support. The mind which analytically
      searches for the independent self-existence of
      an object finds ascertainment of its lack of
      independent self-nature through valid reasoning,
      and thus this kind of understanding does have a
      valid foundation. Like a debate in court, one
      perception is based on reason and truth, while
      the other one is not. When the evidence is
      sufficient, in such a debate the true view eventually
      overpowers the other because it can withstand analysis.

      It is impossible for the mind simultaneously
      to apprehend one object in contradictory ways.
      With respect to one object, therefore, as you
      get used to understanding its non-inherent nature,
      not only is it impossible at that time to generate
      a conception of inherent nature but also as
      strong as the correct realization becomes, so
      much, in general, does conception of its opposite
      weaken in force.

      To generate such wisdom we engage in meditation
      because our minds, as they are now, are not very
      powerful. Our mind is presently scattered; its
      energies need to be channeled like the way water
      in a hydroelectric plant is channeled to create
      great force. We achieve this with the mind
      through meditation, channeling it such that it
      becomes very forceful, at which point it can be
      utilized in the direction of wisdom. Since all
      the substances for enlightenment exist within
      ourselves, we should not look for Buddahood somewhere else.


      Question: Does emptiness also mean fullness?

      DL: It seems so. Usually, I explain emptiness
      is like a zero. A zero itself is nothing, but
      without a zero you cannot count anything; therefore,
      a zero is something, yet zero.


      Question: Would you please say something about
      the nature of mandalas?

      DL:Mandala, in general, means that which extracts
      the essence. There are many usages of the term
      mandala according to context. One type of mandala
      is the offering of the entire world system, with
      the major and minor continents mentally constructed,
      to high beings. Also, there are painted
      mandalas, mandalas of concentration, those
      made out of colored sand, mandalas of the
      conventional mind of enlightenment, mandalas
      of the ultimate mind of enlightenment, and
      so forth. Because one can extract a meaning
      from each of these through practicing them,
      they are called mandalas. Although we might
      call these pictures and constructed depictions
      mandalas, the main meaning is for oneself to
      enter into the mandala and extract an essence
      in the sense of receiving blessing. It is a
      place of gaining magnificence. Because one is
      gaining a blessing and thereupon developing
      realizations it is called an extraction or
      assumption of something essential.


      Question: How does one choose a teacher of spiritual
      subjects or know a teacher to be reliable?

      DL: This should be done in accordance with
      your interest and disposition, but you should
      analyze well. You must investigate before
      accepting a lama or teacher to see whether that
      person is really qualified or not. It is said in
      a scripture that just as fish that are hidden
      under the water can be seen through the movement
      of the ripples from above, so also a teacher's
      inner qualities can, over time, be seen a little
      through that person's behavior. We need to look
      into the person's scholarship -- the ability to
      explain topics -- and whether the person implements
      those teachings in his or her conduct and experience.



      TITLE OF WORK: "Meditation" (from Chapter 8 of "The Dalai Lama: A Policy of Kindness")
      FILENAME: HHDLMEDT.ZIP AUTHOR: His Holiness the Dalai Lama; Sidney Piburn, ed.
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