If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything. In the beginners mind there are many possibilities, in the experts mind there are few.
The power of the warrior mind is its ability to act from a state of "No Mind", with technique arising effortlessly out of emptiness. As a mirror reflects objects without clinging to the images, the "Warrior Mind" is free to flow from one object to the next without impediment. From this state arises instinctive wisdom, the power that allows ordinary people to perform extraordinary feats.
The no-mind not-thinks no-thoughts about no-things - The Buddah
The undisturbed mind is like the calm body water reflecting the brilliance of the moon.
Empty the mind and you will realize the undisturbed mind. - Yagyu Jubei
"The river has no shape, but it takes on the boundaries which it carves out for itself,
so is the mind boundless, until it creates a prison for its own thoughts."
To the mind that is still the whole universe surrenders - Lao Tzu
People the world over are always seeking secret or mystical spiritual techniques, hoping they will provide a short cut to enlightenment. There are no special techniques other than the basic principles revealed here. If you turn to the Chrisitian contemplation practices espoused by St Augustine you'll find cessation and contemplation. If you turn to the Jewish Kabbalah, or the self-remembering techniques of Gurdjeff, or even the practices for moral self-improvement advocated by Benjamin Franklin, you'll find cessation / contemplation practices once again. Most of the spiritual practices are based on the principles of stopping (samadhi) and observation (prajna), so if you really wish to master the road of spiritual cultivation, there's no way you can accomplish this feat without understanding the priciples of cessation and contemplation, and applying these in your spiritual sadhana (practice).
The samadhi of mental quiet marks just the very beginning stages of spiritual cultivation, for the ultimate attainment of self-realization requires that we develop transcendental wisdom as well. Transcendental wisdom, or prajna, is that discriminative but completely nonintellectual awareness that empowers us to perceive the true nature of mind.....But ultimately, prajna-transcendental wisdom is the factor we must rely upon for identuifying and learning the enlightenment way. Without prajna-wisdom, you cannot awaken to enlightenment. Prajna Wisdom enables you to recognize the true mind.
Twenty Five Doors to Meditation, A Handbook for Entering Samadhi, William Bodri & Lee Shu-Mei
The Infinite Power of the Self
Mother Amma once said,
'Once you are established in the state of no-mind, no one can do anything to you, unless you consciously let them do it. You can allow something to happen or not to happen. Whether it happens or not, you remain a witness - completely untouched and unpeturbed, ever established in the state of supreme detachment.
Suppose someone wants to harm you or even kill you. They cannot lift a finger against you if you do not permit it. As long as your sankalpa (resolve) is there, nothing they do can affect you. They will in some mysterious way always fail. Finally they might reach the conclusion that something, some divine power, is protecting you. But this power is the infinite power of the Self, it is not some power that comes from outside. The source of this power is within you. You become that infinite power.
When you are egoless you are everything. The entire universe is with an enlightened being. Even the animals, trees, mountains and rivers, and the sun and the moon and the stars are on the side of the Self-Realized soul - because in that state you are ego less. When you bow down before all existence, in utter humility, the universe (existence) bows doen to you and serves you. But remember that you can also command them to turn against you, because, either way you are not affected."
Awaken Children Volume VII
"Whoever, whatever, whenever you are, tread the divine water cleanliness which is detachment. I have not come to teach you anything new. Be honest to yourself, sincere to yourself, and be detached.
This method is so simple, so sweet, it is free from religions, ideologies, politics. It makes one experience who one is. Fulfil your role, yet be free.
(Share International, June 1992)
"Let the water settle; you will see the moon and stars mirrored in your being." --Jelaluddin Rumi
"Out beyond the ideas of right-doing or wrong-doing there is a field - I'll meet you there." --Jelaluddin Rumi
OSHO: The Book of Secrets -
"85 - think nothing"
"Thinking no thing will limited-self unlimit"
"That's what I was saying. If there is no object to your attention, you are nowhere; or you are everywhere, you are free. You have become freedom. This second sutra says: Thinking no thing - or thinking nothing - will self unlimit."
"If you are not thinking you are unlimited. Thinking gives you limit, and there are many types of limit."
Conscious thought, at least the way we usually do it, is the manifestation of ego, the you that you usually think that you are. Conscious thought is tightly connected with self-concept. The self-concept or ego is nothing more than a set of reactions and mental images which are artificially pasted to the flowing process of pure awareness.
"When you meditate, breathe naturally, just as you always do. Focus your awareness lightly on the outbreath. When you breathe out, just flow out with the outbreath. Each time you breathe out, you are letting go and releasing all your grasping. Imagine your breath dissolving into the all-pervading expanse of truth.
Each time you breathe out, and before you breathe in again, you will find that there is a natural gap, as your grasping dissolves.
Rest in that gap, in that open space. And when, naturally, you breathe in, dont focus especially on the inbreath but go on resting your mind in the gap that has opened up." Sogyal Rinpoche
"Realizing the View subtly but completely transforms your vision of everything. More and more, I have come to realize how thoughts and concepts are all that block us from always being, quite simply, in the absolute. Now I see clearly why the masters so often say: Try hard not to create too much hope and fear, for they only engender more mental gossip. When the View is there, thoughts are seen for what they truly are: fleeting and transparent, and only relative. You see through everything directly, as if you had X-ray eyes. You do not cling to thoughts and emotions or reject them; you welcome them all within the vast embrace of Rigpa. The things you took so seriously beforeambitions, plans, expectations, doubts, and passionsno longer have any deep and anxious hold on you, for the View has helped you to see the futility and pointlessness of them all, and born in you a spirit of true renunciation."Sogyal Rinpoche
The beginners mind is an open mind, an empty mind, a ready mind, and if we really listen with a beginners mind, we might really begin to hear. For if we listen with a silent mind, as free as possible from the clamor of preconceived ideas, a possibility will be created for the truth of the teachings to pierce us, and for the meaning of life and death to become increasingly and startlingly clear.
My master Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche said: The more and more you listen, the more and more you hear; the more and more you hear, the deeper and deeper your understanding becomes.
Friendship with God by Donald Neale Walsch
How can I stop thinking?
First be quiet. By the way, notice that I said be quiet, I did not say think quiet.
Oh that's good. That's very good.
Okay. Now after being quiet for a while, you will notice that your thinking at least slows down a bit. It starts to simmer down. Now start thinking about what you're thinking about.
You heard Me. Start thinking about where your thoughts are going. Then, stop your thoughts from going there. Focus your thoughts. Think about what you're thinking about. This is the first step towards mastery.
Whao. This is blowing my mind.
No, that's not what I meant...
Yes it is. You just didn't know it. This really is blowing your mind. What is that you humans say? Let's blow this joint? Well now, when people see you in this state of mindlessness, they may very well ask, "Have you taken leave of your senses?" And you can answer "Yes! Isn't it great?" Because your mind is your sensory input analyzer, and you've stopped thinking about what you're thinking about. You're beginning to focus your thoughts, and soo, you will focus your thoughts on nothing at all.
How can you focus on nothing?
First focus on something in particular. You can't focus on nothing until you first focus on something. Part of the problem here is that the mind is almost always focused on many things. It is receiving input data from a hundred difference sources at all times, and it is analyzing this data faster than the speed of light, sending you information about yourself and what is happening to you and around you.
To focus on nothing, you have to stop all this mental noise. You have to control it, limit it, and, ultimately, elimiate it. You want to focus on nothing, but first you have everything to focus on something in particular, rather than everthing at once.
So make it something simple. You can start with the flickering of the candle. Look at the candle, look at the flame, see what you notice about it stare deeply into it. Be with the flame. Don't think about it. Be with it.
After a bit your eyes will want to close. They will become heavy, fuzzy.
[Ob-servation: When we observe, we serve outside of ourselves. We forget our ego and leave thoughts behind.
Meditation is a translation from a Tibetan word meaning 'get familiar with it']
Is this self -hypnosis?
Try to avoid labels. You see? You're doing it again. You're thinking about this. You're analyzing it and wanting to give it a name. Thinking about something stops you from just being with it. When we do this. don't think about it. Just be with the experience.
...Focus on breath. Especially listen to breathing in, Listening to your Self stops you from listening to everything else. This is when great ideas come. When you listen to you in-breath, you are listening to your in-spiration.
..Now focus on your inner vision. For once you have inspiration, it will bring you with great "in-sight". Focus this insight on the space in the middle of your forehead, just above your eyes.
The so-called Third-Eye?
Yes. Place your attention there. Look deeply there. Don't expect to see something. Look at the nothing, the no-thing. Be with the darkness. Do not strive to see anything. Relax, and be content with the peace of emptiness. Empty is good. Creation cannot create except into the void. Enjoy, then, the emptiness. Expect nothing more, want nothing more.
What do we do with all the thoughts popping up? Most people are lucky to get three seconds of emptiness. Could You address the issue of all the constant thoughts that keep popping up - especially for the beginner? Beginners are very frustrated over why they can't silence the mind and get to the nothingness You are talking about. This may be a piece of cake for You, but it sure isnt for most of us.
You're thinking about this again. I invite you to stop thinking about this.
If your mind keeps filling with thoughts, just watch that, make that okay. As the thoughts pop in, just step back and observe that this is happening. Do not think about it. Just notice it. Don't judge it. Don't get frustrated by it. Don't start talking to yourself about it, like, "Well, here we go again! All I get is thoughts! When do I get the nothingness?"
You can't get to the nothingness by continually complaining that you are not there. When a thought pops in - some extraneous thought about nothing in particular, having nothing to do with the moment - just notice that. Notice that bless it, and make it part of the experience. Don't dwell on it. It's part of the passing parade. Let it pass.
Do the same thing with sounds or feelings. You may notice that you never hear as many sounds as when you are trying to experience total stillness. You may notice that you never have as much trouble feeling comfortable as when you are trying to sit comfortably. Just notice this. Step back one level and watch yourself noticing this. Include all of this as part of your experience. But don't dwell on it. It's part of the passing parade. Let it pass.
[Release your thoughts, stop clinging to thoughts, stop grasping]
Like the question you asked just now. It's just a question you had. It's a thought that popped in. It's part of the passing parade. Let it pass. Don't try to answer it, don't try to solve it, don't try to figure it out. Just let it be there. Let it be part of the passing parade. Then let it pass. Notice there's nothing you have to do about it.
In this you will find great peace. What a relief. Nothing to want, nothing to do, nothing to be, except exactly what you are being right now.
Let go. Let it be.
But keep looking. Not anxiously, not expectantly. Just...keeping a gentle watch. Needing to see nothing....ready to see anything.
Now, the first time you do this, or the tenth time, or maybe the hundreth or the thousandth time you do this, you may see what will look like a flickering blue flame, or a dancing light. It may appear in flashes at first, then steady itself in your sight. Stay with it. Move into it. If you feel your Self merging with it let it happen. If that happens, nothing more will have to be said to you.
What is this blue flame?
It is you. It is the centre of your soul. It is that which surrounds you, moves through you, moves through you, is you. Say hello to your soul. You've just found it, at last. You've just experienced it, at last.
If you merge with it, if you become One with it, you will know a sublime fullness of joy that you will call bliss. You will discover that the essence of your soul is the essence of Me (GOD). You will have become one with Me. For only a nanosecond. But that will be enough. After that, nothing else will matter, nothing will ever be the same again, and nothing in your physical world will match it. And this is when you will discover that you need nothing and no one outside of yourself.
Excerpt from Friendship with God, Neale Donald Walsch, pp 198 - 206
A common misunderstanding is that the meditative state of mind has to be captured and then nursed and cherished. That is definitely the wrong approach. If you try to domesticate your mind through meditation-try to possess it by holding onto the meditative state-the clear result will be regression on the path, with a loss of freshness and spontaneity. If you try to hold on without lapse all the time, then maintaining your awareness will begin to become a domestic hassle. It will become like painfully going through housework. There will be an underlying sense of resentment, and the practice of meditation will become confusing. You will begin to develop a love-hate relationship toward your practice, in which your concept of it seems good, but, at the same time, the demand this rigid concept makes on you is too painful.
So the technique of the mindfulness of life is based on touch-and-go. You focus your attention on the object of awareness, but then, in the same moment, you disown that awareness and go on. What is needed here is some sense of confidence-confidence that you do not have to securely own your mind, but that you can tune into its process spontaneously.
by Chogyam Trunpa Rinponche, Four Foundations of Mindfulness Practice
Observer Consciousness and Activity Mind
The essence of meditation is training in mindfulness. This is done by resting the attention on an external meditation support, and returning to it every time it drifts away into thought. This action is possible because one part of the mind observes and identifies with thoughts and feelings as they arise. If we did not have this capacity for self-reflective awareness we would not know or realize we were thinking when thinking happens.
We call the part of mind that observes "observer consciousness," and the part that thinks and gets observed "activity mind". When we talk of the "thought", the word includes feelings and emotions.
Diamond Mind, A Psychology of Meditation by Rob Nairn (Kagyu Lineage)
Full concentration 2 on page - qi
HOW DO WE ENTER MEDITATIVE STABILIZATION?
Dharma Talk by Living Buddha Lian Sheng on 09/07/96 (Page 53-58)
Speaking of meditative stabilization, we must know how to stop our improper thoughts. The way to stop our thoughts is known as "Trekcho" in Tantrayana. There are many ways to stop our thoughts. In short, we have to use "thought to curtail thoughts"; we substitute bad thoughts with good thought. In Tantrayana, we visualize so that all our improper thoughts do not arise. We must have made great progress in this aspect if we are in meditative stabilization. As our mind is focused and undivided, we should be able to enter into Samadhi. After which, we can cultivate rainbow light-part of great perfection Dharma, and brightness in meditative stabilization known as "Togal". Many people have taken my photographs. And they found round shapes of light surrounding me. The lights that appear initially can be called "bright spots". Those who are able to cultivate lights in their meditative stabilization can see many tiny bright spots, circulating and gyrating around their bodies. The bright spots will grow slowly and form a Vajra-necklace known as Vajra-chain in Tantrayana. Sometimes, our personal deity, Buddha, or Bodhisattva will appear in these bright spots. All the Dharma realms can also appear in the bright spots if our spiritual level is very high. In future, I shall talk more about "Togal". We shall now go back to talk about Trekcho "Stop our thoughts". As I said before, we can't be too uptight when we attempt to enter meditative stabilization. If we try too hard, thinking that "I want to enter meditative stabilization", then we can never succeed. On the other hand, we cannot be too relaxed. If we have no thoughts, we may fall asleep and enter into dreamland. We have to strike a balance between tension and relaxation; and stay in a stage between staying awake and sleeping. When improper thoughts arise, we must visualize, so as to use one thought to stop all thoughts. Logically speaking, we must use our minds to think of the most beautiful thoughts, such as carry out "Buddha in me, me in Buddha" visualization as follows: A Buddha appears in the space. He sits on our head. He changes into a bright pearl and enters into the blossom flower that lies in our heart through our central channel. Then he enlarges his size and we morph ourselves into Buddhas. To me, this is a good way, a holy and perfect way of visualization. It can be used to moderate our thoughts and achieve the so-called "using one thought to curtail many thoughts". Tantrayana uses Mantra, Mudra and visualization. Mantra is closely related to breathing and rhythm. Our breathing must be very subtle and our mantra must be immersed with the sound of universe. By means of visualization, if our body, speech and mind are purified, we can enter into cosmos consciousness, and let it enter into our body in return. This is a union. This is how we should enter into Samadhi (meditative stabilization).
Today, I have briefly explained to you my cultivation experiences accumulated over the years. I believe the best way to enter Samadhi is: Use the subtlest way to breathe, Assimilate the frequency of Mantra to that of the universe, Visualize the minute details, Then enter the most magnificent stage of meditative stabilization. Of course our hands must form a Mudra. We must also chant the Mantra so that its frequency will resonant with that of the universe. Then we use the most beautiful and dignified visualization to cultivate "Trekcho"- meditative stabilization.
In the meditative stabilization, we can cultivate Togal - light. Remember that we must cultivate for a while before we can see lights in our meditative stabilization. It is just like when we first switch on our TV set. The screen will not be clear immediately. Instead, we will see a lot of white dots. And slowly pictures appear. By changing the focal points to the right places, we can see the sacred shrine, personal deity and Vajra-chain appear in front of us. When our bodies are full of brightness, and can change into light instantly, we have achieved the "Rainbow Light Great Attainment".
By cultivating, we will have Prajna and Vijnana. The purpose of Tantric cultivation is to maneuver them so as to enter into Vairocana Buddha's great ocean of brilliance as mentioned in the Hua Yan Sutra. That is all for today. Om Mani Padme Hum
HOW TO ENTER INTO SAMADHI
Dharma Talk by Living Buddha Lian Sheng on 26/6/90 (Page 24-29 Achievement of Rainbow Light Body volume one) Translated by Yuan Zheng Tang
Three factors affect the way of entering Samadhi.
They are: the way of breathing, rhythm of breathing and accompanying visualization . In fact we have to combine these three factors into one. Sometimes if we try too hard, the result will be counter-productive; we might not be able to cease all our distracting thoughts, and we are unable to enter into Samadhi. The distracting thoughts just remain where they are and refuse to go away. If we try too hard, our breathing will be too heavy (coarse) for us to enter into Samadhi. On the other hand, if we are too relaxed, thinking of nothing and can't be bothered with anything, we will feel drowsy, and fall asleep easily.
Therefore to enter into Samadhi is an art of balancing these two opposite forces . I have been experimenting the balancing art since I moved to Ballard. Over ten years of painstaking efforts, I have come to realize that by moderating the force and laxity correctly, I am able to enter into Samadhi, i.e. to reach meditative stabilization easily. Since the days at Ballard, I have been practising this skill, which requires time-consuming practices. If you force yourself to try hard, your breathing will be heavy, there will be many distracting thoughts to prevent you from entering into Samadhi.
If your breathing is too light, your body is too relaxed, you may go to sleep in no time. Therefore, those who fall asleep must be more forceful, and those who try too hard must learn to relax a little more.
The art of balancing these two forces is known as the "middle path." It is the same in our daily life. If we try too hard to observe the precepts, i.e. not to transgress the precepts we may end up being too obstinate in this aspect. On the other hand, if we are too lax, too unrestrained, we may end up being unbearably vulgar. Somewhere in between these two extremes is known as "middle path."
For those who are too undisciplined , we must ask them not to transgress precepts. And for those who are too insistent on observing the precepts, we must advise them to relax. Buddhas and Bodhisattvas taught us to adopt a middle path in dealing with all the worldly affairs. This is how we can enter into Samadhi. After mastering the balancing art, I have always remained peaceful. I can enter into Samadhi without meditation now. I am able to do so while chanting mantras and counting the beads. Even after I come out of the meditation and shake the vajra bell to transfer the merits, I am still in a stage of meditative stabilization. In short, I am able to enter into Samadhi and remain in a stage of meditative stabilization anywhere and anytime.
All I have to do is concentrating on my breathing, to ensure it is smooth and enters into my body lightly. Then I change all the distracting thoughts into one single thought and finally I reduce it to nothing. I begin to observe the color flowing into my body. Amid the colors and breathing, I am able to enter into Samadhi. When my heart gyrates, there are flows of bright Dharma streams enter into my body through the crown chakra and they leave through my feet. This is known as "turning the Dharma wheel."
A lot of requests can be accomplished when I turn the Dharma wheel. You need not make a special effort to ask Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to help you. It is redundant! Once you are able to turn the Dharma wheel, your mystic powers will emerge. You can remain in your meditative stabilisation, and do nothing. Once you are able to have a union with the cosmic power, you are able to turn the Dharma wheel and all your wishes will be fulfilled. Therefore, I wonder whether mystic powers really exist .
Once you can enter into Samadhi, that is the sea of Vairocana Buddha, everything will be accomplished. This is the course that nature takes, I do not do anything in particular. Really I never did anything else. I told all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas my problems, and I went into Samadhi. In my meditative stabilization, the Dharma wheel takes its own course, and keeps on gyrating. I am able to enter into Samadhi in a flash now. I count the breaths I take, the colors of my breaths, and my breathing becomes lighter and lighter, and soon I am on my way into Samadhi. I am able to balance it so I can enter and get out of Samadhi in seconds. I was unable to do these feats when I was staying at Ballard. This is the skill that will lead you from first stage to the fourth stage of Zen, formless realm and eventually to Buddhahood.
You must over-learn the art of balancing. By adopting a middle path , you are suppressing all your thoughts, until there is no more thought. Then you assimilate yourself into the sea of brightness . There is no door to it. Everything is extra fine, and when it reaches oneness., it will disperse near the sea of brightness . I am confident that :
"When I am about to die, I shall close my eyes, then amid the fine and light breathing, I can concentrate and enter into meditative stabilization. This is how I can transcend this world ." But if your are in pain, then it will become even more difficult. Those who are sick will feel terrible before they die. If your unwholesome karma is eradicated just before you die, you can ask for the empowerment of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Helped by your daily hard work on meditative stabilization, you will have a transmigration to Western Pure Land in no time. And I am very sure about this.
The worse scenario is that your death is so sudden that you have no time to count your breaths and enter into Samadhi. Or worse still, you feel so painful, as if your body is going to break into pieces, then it is difficult to enter into Samadhi under such circumstances. The most important lesson here is during our normal cultivation, we must learn to enter into the sea of Vailocana, and remain in meditative stabilization so as to reach the first, second , third, fourth Zen levels, better still if we can attain the level of arhat, Bodhisattvas and even Buddha !
The method I use is very simple. Concentrating on the art of breathing, visualizing the colors of inhales and exhales- inhale is white and exhale is black, I maintain a certain rhythm and do my visualization. Previously I had to follow the procedures closely.
First I shrink the body of the Bodhisattva, move him to my crown chakra. Let him enter into my heart through the middle meridian. When the heart chakra blossoms, the seed syllable "hum" appears. The deity sits on the lotus flower in my heart and enlarges himself and within a flash, I become my personal deity. And I remain in the meditative stabilization as long as I can. Now I don't even have to go through the whole procedure. All I have to do is concentrate on my breathing. Visualize the air inhaled to be white, and the air exhaled to be black. Then my breathing becomes thinner and thinner, and I use the rhythm to vibrate and begin to focus on one-pointedness and enter into the sea of Vailocana. Try it, it is not very difficult! This is how I have tried and experienced for the last ten over years.
Once in a meditative stabilization, I am filled with Dharma stream. Like an empty bottle, I am absorbing all the energized power. In fact, just now, I could feel a fire burning sensation. It started from my Dan Tian (three inches below the navel ) , burn off my head, my hands, and my legs. My whole body was inside the flame, I was burned to ashes. And I entered into the sea of Vailocana. This is the art that I have studied for the last ten over years. We were taught by Tantrayana before.
When Amitabha Buddha arrives, he changes into a small bright spot. Move the tiny spot to you head and let it flow into your heart chakra. When your heart chakra opens, the seed syllable "sie" appears. Your heart's shape is the same as a parasol, Amitabha Buddha sits on top of the seed syllable which is at the center of the heart. The body of Amitabha is very small, slowly it enlarges and in no time he is as big as you are. Then you visualize yourself changing into Amitabha Buddha ! This is the right visualization. After which, you radiate light and assimilate into the brightness. This is how visualization, breathing and rhythm are harmonised in order to enter into Samadhi. I have taught you an important oral tradition today.
Om Mani Padme Hum
HOW TO GET RID OF IMPROPER THOUGHTS
(1) Dharma Talk by Living Buddha Lian Sheng on 11/07/96
Sakyamuni Buddha taught many important visualization methods to his disciples so that they could get rid of their improper thoughts during meditation. Today, I want to talk about these methods.
To get rid of improper thoughts, Sakyamuni Buddha first taught "Breath-counting method".
We are told to focus our attention on the number of times we inhale and exhale. By so doing, improper thoughts will not arise in our minds. After inhaling and exhaling, we count it as one. Then we repeat the process and count it as two. If we focus on this counting exercise, our minds will be fully occupied, and no other thoughts will arise. In fact, Sakyamuni Buddha taught us a wonderful way to get rid of our improper thoughts. I have personally learned this method and practised it for a long time now. For those who had high sex drives, Sakyamuni taught them a method known as "White skeleton visualization".
How do we practise this method? We have to contemplate the sexual object transforming into a heap of white bones. If we are able to view the sex symbol as a white skeleton, I am sure all of you will agree that she is no longer attractive anymore. When I first came to the U.S. I was shocked to see many kissing scenes on TV and English movies. They were so obscene - yak! All of us feel marvelous, when we see things of beauty. How do we feel when we are in the company of a heap of white bones? Look at their eerie teeth, two hollows in their eyes and the triangles at their noses, we will definitely feel uncomfortable.
When Sakyamuni Buddha taught us this method, he wanted us to transcend and detach ourselves from all our sex drives and material gains completely. There was another method taught by Sakyamuni Buddha in the Perfect enlightenment Sutra known as "Zhi Guan Shuang Yun" (Alternate use of stoppage and visualization). Zhi is interpreted by Zen Buddhism as "Stopping our improper thoughts". In this respect, a Tantric cultivator will shout a Mantra "Pan" - a sound of destruction - loudly so that his improper thoughts and unwholesome karma will be eradicated.
After shouting the word, a Tantric cultivator will be able to enter into meditative stabilization. All the methods mentioned above serve the same purpose, which is to stop our minds from having any thoughts. If we have any improper thoughts, we must use one of the methods to get rid of them. After focusing on "oneness" for a while, we must stop the contemplation, and ensure that no thoughts arise from our minds. We stop when thoughts arise, and visualize "oneness" again. Once our visualization is stable, we stop our thoughts again. Hence this method is known as "Zhi Guan Shuan Yun". It's also an effective visualization method.
In short, our spiritual cultivation will lead us to a stage where our thoughts do not arise -- an undivided mind. As human beings are full of wild and fanciful thoughts, we must focus on one thought, and get rid of the rest first. Then we must also get rid of our last thought. By so doing, we are in a stage of purification.
During Sakyamuni's time, his ten chief disciples, many great Arhats and other cultivators spent considerable time practising these methods daily, with a view of getting rid of their improper thoughts and residing in thoughtless stage of mind (Samadhi). This is the way to reach purification and meditative stabilization. In my series of talks on "Rainbow Light Great Attainment", I mentioned about purification of our body, speech and mind so that these can be as pure as that of Buddhas. If we are able to transform our unwholesome karma into mystic, we are able to purify ourselves; this is the sole purpose of spiritual cultivation.
When we are able to focus on one thought, and get rid of other thoughts, and eventually become oblivious to the last thought, our body, speech and mind are purified at once - this is in a stage of three mystics. On the other hand, when our body, speech and mind are filthy, we will face karmic hindrances. Spiritual cultivation therefore seeks to transform karmic hindrances and improper thoughts to purification and "thoughtless mind". My purpose of citing Sakyamuni Buddha and the various ways of contemplation such as "Breath counting", "White skeleton" and "Zhi Guan Shuan Yun" is to teach you the way to focus on "oneness" so that you will have undivided mind. Of course, they are many other ways of contemplation towards the same ends. Many of my disciples have asked me to teach them the best way to cultivate.
My reply to them is: "A focusing mind is the key to success!" In other words, when we are able to focus on "oneness", we will be able to enter into Samadhi.
That's all for today. Om Mani Padme Hum
by Lama Gelek Rinpoche
Lama Gelek Rinpoche studied at Drepung Monastery in Tibet and later in India, where he gained the geshe degree. He has held several teaching and other positions in India and has also taught abroad several times. He has been the most regular teacher at Tushita, and we are most grateful for his kindness. The following has been edited from his discourse of April 25, 1980 one of the many lam-rim teachings he has given us.
From Teachings at Tushita,
edited by Nicholas Ribush with Glenn H. Mullin, Mahayana Publications, New
Delhi, 1981. A new edition of this book is in preparation. Tushita Mahayana
Meditation Centre is the FPMT centre in New Delhi, India.
Lama Tsong Khapa (1357-1419) taught that we should practice both contemplative meditation and concentration meditation. In the former of these we investigate the object of meditation by means of contemplating it in all its details, whereas in the latter we focus single-pointedly on one aspect of the object and hold the mind there without movement.
Samadhi is a meditative power that is useful in general application to either of these two types of meditation. However, in order to develop samadhi itself we must cultivate principally concentration meditation. In terms of practice this means that we must choose an object of concentration and then meditate single-pointedly on it every day until the power of samadhi is attained.
The five great obstacles to samadhi are laziness, forgetfulness, wandering mind or depression, not correcting any of the above problems when they arise, and applying meditative opponents to problems when in fact the problems are not there, that is they are purely imaginary.
The actual antidote to laziness is an initial experience of the pleasure and harmony of body and mind that arise from meditation. Once we experience this joy, meditation automatically becomes one of our favorite activities. However, until we get to this point we must settle for a lesser antidote to laziness. We require something to counteract our laziness and to encourage us in practice until the experience of meditative ecstasy comes to us. This lesser antidote is contemplation of the benefits of having the power of samadhi, by hard work and by desire.
What are the benefits of having samadhi? One can attain the siddhis very quickly, one is able to read others' minds, one can see into the future, one can remember one's own past incarnations, and one is able to perform magical acts such as flying and levitating: these are some of the advantages gained. Another important benefit is that one's sleep is transformed into profound meditation. By contemplating these benefits, laziness disappears.
The second obstacle to samadhi is forgetfulness. One simply loses awareness of the object of meditation. When this happens, concentration is no longer present. Nagarjuna gave an illustration of the samadhi process in which the mind is likened to an elephant to be tied by the rope of memory to the pillar of the object of meditation. The meditator also carries the iron hook of wisdom with which to spur on the lazy elephant.
What should we choose as the object of our meditation? One can select anythinga stone, fire, a piece of wood, a table, and so on. However, we should not choose an object which arouses delusions such as desire or aversion within us, or an object which has no qualities specifically significant to our spiritual path. Some teachers have said that one should begin with fire, then later change to swirling clouds and so forth. This is not an effective approach. We should choose one object and stick with it.
Many people choose the symbolic form of a buddha or a meditational deity as their object. The former has many benefits and is a great blessing; the latter provides a special preparation for higher tantric practice. In the beginning we can place a statue or painting of the object of meditation in front of us and look at it as we concentrate. But as it is our mind, not our eyes that we want to develop, this should be done only until familiarity with the object is gained. The most important point is to settle on one object and not change it. There are stories of great saints who chose the form of a yak as their object, but generally it is better to select an object of greater spiritual value. Then do not change until at least the first of the four levels of samadhi is attained.
Consistency in practice
is also important. Once you begin you should continue each day until the goal
is reached. If all conditions are perfect, this can be done in three months
or so. But to practice an hour a day for a month and then miss a day or two
will produce minimal progress. Constant steady effort is necessary. You have
to fix a daily schedule of meditation and then follow it.
Let's say our object of concentration is the symbolic form of Buddha. The first problem is that we cannot immediately visualize the form clearly. The advice is this: don't be concerned with details; just get a sort of yellow lump and hold it in mind. At this stage you can use an external image as an aid, alternating between looking at the object and then trying to hold it in mind for a few moments without looking. Forgetfulness, the second of the obstacles, is very strong at this point and you must struggle against it. Get a mental picture of the object and then hold it firmly. Whenever it fades away, bring it back as forcefully as a glass image held in the hand.
This forceful holding of the object gives rise to the third problem. When we try to hold the object in the mind, the tension of the effort produces either agitation or depression. The forced concentration produces a heaviness of mind, and this in turn leads to sleep. The sleep itself is a coarse form of depression. The subtle form of depression is experienced when one is able to hold the object in mind for a prolonged period of time, yet without any real clarity. Without this clarity the meditation lacks strength. To illustrate this with an example: when a man in love thinks of his beloved, her face immediately appears radiantly in his mind and effortlessly remains with clarity. A few months later, however, when they are in the middle of a fight, he has to strain to think of her in the same way. When he had the tightness of desire the image was easy to retain clearly. This tightness is called nye-shak in Tibetan, or "close placement" (Sanskrit: satipatana). When this close placement is lost, the image eventually disappears and subtle depression sets in. It is very difficult to distinguish between proper meditation and meditation characterized by subtle depression, and remaining absorbed in the latter can create many problems.
Secondly, mentally wandering away from the object of meditation must also be guarded against. Most people sit down to concentrate on an object, but their mind quickly drifts away to thoughts of the activities of the day, or to a movie or television program that recently was seen. Pabongka Rinpoche, root guru to both tutors of the present Dalai Lama, told a story of a very important Tibetan government official who would always put a pen and a notebook beside his meditation seat whenever he would do his daily practices. The official used to say that his best ideas came from mental wandering in meditation. The mind wanders off on some memory or plan and we don't even realize that it is happening; we think we are still meditating, but suddenly realize that for half an hour our mind has been elsewhere. This is the coarse level of the wandering mind. When it is overcome we still have to deal with subtle wandering: one factor of the mind holds the object clearly but another factor drifts away. We have to develop the ability to use the main part of our mind to concentrate on the object and another part to watch that the meditation is progressing correctly. This side part of the mind is like a secret agent. Without this secret agent we can become absorbed in incorrect meditation for hours without knowing what we are doing. The thief of mental wandering or depression comes into the house and steals away our meditation.
We have to watch, yet not over-watch. Over-watching can create another problem. It is like when we hold a glass of water: we have to hold it, hold it tightly, and also watch to see that we are holding it correctly and steadily, without allowing any water to spill out. Holding, holding tightly and watching: these are three keys in samadhi meditation. The fourth problem is failing to correct problems that arise. By not correcting any depression or wandering that arises, we fall under the fourth obstacle. How do we correct these two fundamental problems? The antidote to depression is tightening the concentration and the antidote to wandering is loosening the concentration.
When depression arises and you don't counteract it with tightness, the fourth obstacle is produced. On the other hand, too much tightness on the object created by a lack of natural desire to meditate is also to be avoided. We must balance tightness with relaxation. Sometimes when we try to counteract depression with tightness the mind gets too tight. When this happens, just relax within the meditation. If that does not work, forget the object for a while and concentrate on happy thoughts, such as the beneficial effects of bodhicitta, until the mind regains its composure. Then return to the object. This has an effect similar to washing the face in cold water. If even contemplating a happy subject does not pick you up, visualize that your mind takes the form of a tiny seed at your heart. Then visualize shooting the seed out of the crown of your head into the clouds above; leave it there for a few moments and then bring it back. Should even this not help, just take a break from the meditation for awhile.
Similarly, when mental wandering arises you can think of an unpleasant subject, such as the suffering nature of samsara. When the mind is low we change to a happy subject which brings it up again; for mental wandering we change to an unpleasant subject in order to bring the mind down out of the sky and back to earth.
The fifth obstacle arises by applying antidotes to depression or wandering which in fact are not present, or by overly watching for problems. This obstructs the development of meditation.
In brief, these are problems to be overcome in the development of samadhi meditation. Next I'd like to speak of the meditation posture, or the seven-point posture of Buddha Vairochana. On a comfortable cushion sit in the vajra posture, with both feet crossed and the soles upturned. The Indians call this the lotus posture; we Tibetans translate it as the vajra posture. This sitting posture is the first of the seven characteristics of the Vairochana posture. If this or any other of the seven points are overly difficult for whatever reason, sit as is most convenient and comfortable. The seven-point posture is actually the most effective for meditation once one develops familiarity and comfort with it, but, until then, any of the points that are too difficult may be substituted by something more within one's reach. One should try to keep one's back straight and head leaning slightly forward with the eyes cast down along the line of the nose. If the eyes are cast too high, mental wandering is encouraged; if too low, depression easily sets in. The eyes should not be closed; they should be cast along the line of the nose to an imaginary point five feet or so in front. In order not to be distracted by environmental objects, many meditators sit facing a blank wall. The shoulders should be held level, the teeth lightly closed and the tip of the tongue placed against the hard palate. This latter point prevents thirst from developing when one engages in prolonged meditation.
We can open our meditation
sessions with a prayer to the lineage gurus in connection with a visualization.
Then go directly to concentrating on the chosen object, such as a buddha image.
At first the main difficulty is to get hold of the mental image. Even getting
a blurred image is difficult. You have to persist at trying to create the
image. Once this is accomplished you have to cultivate clarity and correct
tightness, while guarding against problems such as wandering, depression and
others. Just sit and pursue the meditation while watching for distortions.
Sometimes the object becomes too clear and we break into mental wandering,
or it becomes dull and we lose it to sleep or torpor. In this way, using the
six powers and the four connecting principles, we can overcome the five obstacles
and climb up the nine stages to shamatha, where we can meditate effortlessly
and ecstatically for as long as we want. In the beginning our main struggle
is against wandering and depression. Just look for the object and as soon
as a problem is noticed, correct it. On the ninth stage one can concentrate
effortlessly for a great length of time, but samadhi is not yet attained.
First one must also develop a certain sense of pleasure and harmony within
both the body and mind. One concentrates until a great pleasure begins to
arise within the head and spreads down, feeling like the gentle invigorating
warmth of a hot towel held against the face. The pleasure spreads throughout
the body until one feels as light as cotton. One meditates within this physical
pleasure, which gives birth to mental ecstasy. Then when you meditate you
have a sense of inseparability with the object. Your body seems to disappear
in meditation and you sort of become one with the object. You almost want
to fly away in your meditation. After this you can fix the mind on any object
of virtue for as long as desired. This is the preparatory stage or the first
level of samadhi. Meditation is light and free, like
a humming bird in mid-air drinking honey from a red flower.
Beyond this you can either remain in samadhi meditation and cultivate the four levels of samadhi or, as advised by Lama Tsong Khapa, turn to searching for the root of samsara. No matter how high one's samadhi, if the root of samsara is not cut one must eventually fall. Tsong Khapa likened samadhi to the horse ridden by a warrior, and the wisdom that cuts the root of samsara to the warrior's sword. When you gain the first level of samadhi you have found the horse and can then turn to the sword of wisdom. Unless you gain the sword of wisdom, your attainment of samadhi is prone to collapse. You can take rebirth in one of the seventeen realms of the gods of form, but eventually you will fall. On the other hand, if we develop basic samadhi and then apply it to the development of wisdom, we cut samsara's root as quickly as a crow knocks out the eyes of an enemy. Once this root is cut, we are beyond falling
It is thrilling to discover a reliable guide upon this path of meditation, Barry Long, a remarkable teacher whose words have the certainty of a deeply realised being.
MEDITATION MAGAZINE [USA]
Start Meditating Now, How to stop thinking, Audio by Barry Long
Meditation is the art of entering your own unconscious. Your unconscious is inside your body. It is a place of extraordinary stillness and creativity. When you reach it you will know that learning to meditate was the most important move you ever made.
Whether you are a complete beginner or have meditated before, Barry Longs spoken instruction takes you steadily into more and more stillness. This carries over into your daily life as a sense of greater well-being.
Tape One: Start Meditating Now ~ Why you should meditate and how: from the basic practice of sitting, breathing, and letting go, to the art of simply being now without problems.
Text included in The Way In
Tape Two: How
To Stop Thinking ~ Demonstrates that nearly all thinking is unnecessary;
enables you to separate from habitual thought and worry. The ten lessons
on this extraordinary tape undermine the thinker in you, to free your
The Way In, A Book of Self Discovery,
Meditation A Foundation
Course - A Book of Ten Lessons
Stillness is the Way,
An intensive Meditation Course
http://www.barrylong.org/stateindex.html Barry Long Quotes & Statements
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Power of Mind
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|For Contemplation -Why do we suffer? Who is it that suffers?||Understanding Emotions|
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