Gelong Dre-may

An introduction to meditation

Tampere 16.4. Kotipehkun yhteistalo, oral translation Tuula Saarikoski. Teachings at Turku and Helsinki. (Edited.)


Anne-Maj Nordström: Rokpa Finland welcomes you to this occasion.


Gelong Dre-may: Good afternoon, first of all, thank you for having invited me to Finland. It is a beautiful country, all I had known of Finland before was from books and from what I had seen on the television, so it is a new experience, it gave a completely different perspective travelling from Helsinki to Tampere by train, clean air, snow, trees, ice, space, space, space, lots of space… nice.   Thank you. I don't know if everybody here is involved in Buddhism, but as I am a Buddhist monk then it is usual at the outset of, well, anything really, to start off with a good wish, a good intention, a good motivation.  


It is the motivation, good in the beginning, good in the middle and good in the end. So to start off, we will say a brief four line motivation prayer, I don't know what's going to be in the middle, but anyway, at the end any merit that we have accrued, that we have gained, we will dedicate it for the benefit of all sentient beings. The four lines are a wish for compassion and understanding and that wherever it has arisen may it not diminish but increase more and more.


Chang-chub sem ni rin-po-che            

ma che-pa nam che jur chik

che-pa njam-pa mepa dang               

gong ne gong-du phel-var sho.


So first we will sit quietly for a while and think on this motivation and why we are here................................


These days Buddhism is becoming acceptable, a much more acceptable notion, it is popular, nearly everybody knows of and respects His Holiness The Dalai Lama who is being like an ambassador for world peace, for human kindness, and for the cause of Tibet and has helped introduced Buddhism to the western world as something that  can be a living experience.  


But I think that it's not just the Buddhism label, it seems more to be that the lineage of human kindness, of just being a human being, of humanity that is looking at itself. People got lost seeking happiness in the material aspect of life, this seeking happiness outside of ourselves, now more and more people are realising that we have the answer within us, that this potential for happiness, this inner stability, that this peace is in us, but they don't know how to tap into it, we don’t know how to find it, we don’t where to look. There are many alternatives offered, but most people it seems want we something that makes some sense, just some down to earth, common sense.  We are looking for some honesty, some truth in our lives. That is what meditation is about.


Actually, that's what Buddhism is about, it's just common sense. We need something, some way that we can do something ourselves. There is nothing out there which can transform our problems on a lasting basis, nothing out there that will give us some lasting peace or a lasting happiness, it is inside us, it is with ourselves that we have to work.


But before we go any further I would very much like to thank the people who have kindly offered and prepared this building for today’s talk. They are mainly students of the Nyingmapa School, primarily my Teachers are of the Kagyu School, but I have received teachings from Nyingmapa  and Gelugpa Lamas as well, so I feel quite at home here. A good connection - thank you for your hospitality and warm welcome. (Nyingma, Gelugpa, Kagyu are three of the traditions in Tibet, there are two others, Sakyapa and Bon.)


So what is meditation, maybe it’s not such a bad idea to know why to do it, what it’s about and how do we do it? We shall cover very briefly these topics before explaining the different techniques of shinay, shamatha meditation. This talk is not about trying to convert anyone to Buddhism, or to do a Buddhist thing okay!!!    It is about our mind, it is about how to live on an ever, seemingly increasingly chaotic planet in at sane, humane manner.


It is this mind of ours that experiences the happy or unhappy states, whether one is a Buddhist, Christian,  Jewish,  Moslem,  Hindu , etc,. It is the mind that experiences different states, so that is what we will try to talk about. But I am a monk and my teachers are from Tibet and are Buddhist so the methods that we will discuss today are from that tradition, that part of the world.


As most of us are beginners then we will start at the beginning... so why to meditate, what is our mind, where it is, what is meditation? Meditating is not about sitting in rainbows or flying, maybe beautiful, maybe save some airfares, but meditation is about something else. It's about living in a sane way in daily life, about being able to cope with all the different situations we are presented with, about having a clear mind, about being able to cope with everyday problems in a sane, sensible and peaceful manner. It’s about getting to the cause of our problems, this attachment to ’I’; the ego, and our ignorance about the way thing’s really are concerning it.


(I feel a little embarrassed, and also honoured, because the lady who has very kindly accepted to do the translating here today used to be translator for Kalu Rinpoche, so she is very knowledgeable, we are very fortunate to have her here today.)


Anyway, the mind and our confusion, our attachment to this ego, to ‘I’, that is what causes us problems. We have thought patterns, in Tibetan the term for these patterns are called ba-chak. A nice word, it means habitual pattern. In our daily life we get involved with our patterns, it’s like a film in our mind, like a movie, we make up our movie, we write the story, we direct it, we act in it and then get supporting actors, we get other people involved in the plot as well. It’s a habit and it is very difficult to change.

[Some new people enter the room.]


Hello, we are talking about mind and that most of the problems of the world today are coming from the way we see things and that the cause is the attachment to ‘I’,  to ego and we are discussing why to meditate and how to do it. In our daily life we make decisions, like today, we decided to come here, but it wasn’t that we got up put our clothes on and came and then our mind followed, it was our  mind that decided which clothes we would wear and our mind that decided how we came. It is so simple, but, in a way, maybe it’s too simple; our ego, it can’t accept that it can be so simple; otherwise ‘I’ would know it, wouldn’t I?       


There is a quote by the Buddha: "Don't do any harm, do only that which is good and tame your mind," because it is the mind that decides, what we do, if we do any harm or not.


Question: What is the size of the mind?

Gelong Dremay: I think my mind must be a bit small compared to yours.

Q:   That's not true.

GD: There doesn’t seem to be a size that we can put on it, if we think about the Eiffel tower, it's enormous yet we can see it in our mind. And we can think about a fly, which is quite small. We can put these things in the mind, so there is no limit to it. How about a little story, but it is a true one.


My retreat master is Lama Yeshe Rinpoche and his retreat master was a very famous, very venerated Lama from Tibet known as Kalu Rinpoche. Lama Yeshe was, for many years in retreat in America, but then he came to stay in retreat at Samye Ling in Scotland and I had the fortunate possibility to attend him, to take care of his needs.  


One day I took him his breakfast and he wasn’t his usual happy self, he said: "I have a problem with my practice, a big obstacle.’ Now usually Lama Yeshe is a joyful person, he laughs a lot, he is a person with a lot of humour, but that day he was not his usual self, really not too happy. Then later on, when I took him his lunch it was quite different, he was all smiles and happy, his normal self and I thought, "how nice, that's better."  


Lama Yeshe said he had been praying to Kalu Rinpoche. Now at this time Lama Yeshe was in a solitary retreat situation at Samye Ling in Scotland and Kalu Rinpoche was in his monastery at Sonada in India.     Lama Yeshe said "Kalu Rinpoche came and talked to me for a long time, we talked about my practice and now I know what's the matter, so everything is okay, it’s fine."


Just before Kalu Rinpoche died he said: "A lot of my students, they think that now I'm an old man and am maybe a bit past it, but they don’t understand.  They don’t understand the mind and they don't understand the way things are at all.” So when we talk about the size of our mind, then maybe there is no limit.   There is no difference between being her or there or wherever the true masters want to be, it doesn't make any difference to them. Sometimes maybe these masters will show something to a student, to help them, or to make them have an understanding, not to get lot's of student's, more problem's then - eh! And definitely not for prestige or money or anything like that, but solely to help their students progress in their practice, in their meditation, in their understanding.


Today, it is me that has to do talking but maybe next life it will be you who is sitting here and me that is listening, the lady in front may be sitting here next time we are reborn so then the position’s will be reversed, so I don't want to give any false information, because then in a future life I will get false information won’t I, that's karma, isn’t it.


So meditation - I ask you to think about a big yellow banana, now think a clock, now a strawberry. So where did the banana go, and clock and the strawberry? And where did they come from? It’s our mind, so mind has different facets.


Now try to imagine this room as a big glass aquarium, full of clear water. The sunlight shines through clouds into the aquarium, the clouds move and the sunlight moves across, through the water, from one side of the aquarium to the other side, but the water, this doesn't moves, does it? The sunlight moves but the water through which the sunlight is passing that doesn't move at all, does it? It's just the sunlight that is moving.    This sunlight is like our thoughts which we experience in our daily waking hours and in our dreams when we sleep, these thought patterns which we hook onto in our daily life.   


The water is like the essence of our mind, it's always there, the natural pure state. Buddhanature, it is there in all sentient beings. In Tibetan this is called the Dharmakaya, the pure essence of our mind, this vastness, this potential to be a Kalu Rinpoche maybe. We all have mind, you, me, every sentient being has mind, men, women, black, brown, yellow, white, fat, thin, animals, we all have mind; there is no difference between us concerning this. This pure Buddhanature, this awareness is there all the time, it was never not there.   


But back to the aquarium, the still water, even if we are resting in the stillness, aware of the stillness and looking at the sunrays, there is still something that is looking at the sunshine, looking at the object, so there still is a duality. Our objective, or the fruit of our practice, is to be beyond this duality, this being aware of the stillness, to be beyond even that. It is just to be, to re-discover what is the there all the time but is hidden by these habitual patterns that we have, this habit of getting involved in this thinking, the confusion. Maybe it’s a bit like the mind is basically still, clear water but we stir the mud at the bottom and the water becomes cloudy, cloudy with our thoughts, our movies, so when we stop stirring the water it will settle and become clear again, and we can rest, we can just be this awareness.


But first we have to see the thoughts, this sunlight in the aquarium, and then move onto seeing the essence of the thoughts, of the sunlight in the aquarium, the stillness, the water in the tank. But to do this takes some time, we have to practise and we have to learn how to let go, to relax, more, and more... It is said when we reach the state of this awareness, this essence, not with just our intellectual knowing, the intellectual understanding but with our heart, when we taste it, then it’s a different knowing.


It may be like knowing intellectually how to make a cup of tea, then someone asks, “but what does it taste like?” we can answer: “Oh! hot, and if you add sugar then it is sweet,” etc. but we haven’t experienced the true taste, so we don’t know it at that level, but when we drink the tea then we know it in a different way, it's a different knowing, and we can’t explain it, people have to taste it, to taste that knowing for themselves, it’s impossible to explain that knowing.     


So when we have tasted this experience, this emptiness, then we won't have to fabricate kindness or compassion. It is said, that when we taste it, experience it,  then this knowing will never leave us, we will know that other people don’t know this simple thing, this pure mind, they don't know, otherwise, they wouldn't act the way they do, causing more problems and suffering for themselves and others.   


So when we understand that, then maybe it's a bit of a tricky one, because the sadness is there to see the others being involved in this ignorance, in the suffering, which is a totally unnecessary part of life. They are involved in all the senseless activities and if they understood this simple thing, then no more suffering. But at the same time there is a most natural compassion, knowing that the friend-enemy thing is a confusion also, so there is an equanimity....not a feeling of compassion for this one, but not for that one, it is the non-separateness of this understanding of emptiness and compassion which can give our minds a more open, bigger mind, not our usual small mind. This is the goal of our meditation.


When we see the Buddha, Dorje Chang, he is the colour blue, this blue represents the Dharmakaya, this naturally pure state of our mind and he is sitting with his arms crossed, holding a bell in his left hand and a dorje in his right hand. The dorje and bell are symbolising skilful means (compassion) and wisdom (the understanding of emptiness) respectively and the crossed arms symbolise the inseparability of these two. In the Nyingma tradition this is represented by a Buddha with a consort, symbolising the same thing. The bell is the wisdom aspect, so sorry guys but this is the female aspect, it is the understanding of emptiness, the wisdom aspect. The dorje represents skilful means, that is the compassion aspect and this is the male side.  


As a representation of the inseparability of these two, the wisdom and compassion then in the Nyingma tradition they have the Buddha with a consort which you may have seen on thangkas or statues.    We monks and nuns have to visualise the bell and dorje! (laughter) So what it means, this symbolism, the wisdom, the understanding of emptiness, the pure nature of our minds, when we realise it, experience it, when we taste it, when we know it, then it is not a blankness and it is inseparable from compassion, it can never be separate,  it's impossible to separate these two aspects...


If we have the idea that maybe we have understood, experienced this emptiness and yet we don’t know this compassion, then maybe there is still some more to do, maybe we are not quite there yet!!!  Apparently it is like that! So we have to sit, to meditate, to make the time to practise if we really want to know.


In Tibet there was a famous yogi, his name was Milarepa, maybe we can call him a Saint, he was, in his lifetime and still is, very famous and revered in Tibet. He is famous because he achieved liberation, enlightenment in one lifetime. He had a disciple whose name was Gampopa. Milarepa gave all the different practices and meditation techniques to Gampopa, then when Gampopa was leaving, going away, Milarepa called him back and said “There is one teaching that I didn’t give to you, it is very  secret, the deepest”… then he turned around, pulled up his robe and showed his bottom to Gampopa. Milarepa’s backside had hard skin, sores and scars. “That's it” said Milarepa, "You have to sit and meditate to realise these teachings, to actualise them, to know." So we can understand the teachings intellectually, but the only way to understand, to really know them is to meditate. We have to sit and tame our minds in order to be mindful in our daily lives, so as not to be a cause of more suffering for ourselves and others.


A big fault that many people make is that they practise for half an hour or whatever and then think "That's finished, now I can get up and enjoy myself." But if we do that then we lose the benefit of our practise, we lose the awareness.


What we have to do is to try to carry the awareness, our experience, into our daily life; this aspect of the meditation is called 'post meditation'. So, sitting meditation and post meditation. But this post meditation is not easy, in fact it is quite difficult to do, to carry any awareness we have gained into our daily lives even for a few minutes, so we have to be patient and not expect immediate results.     


I was fortunate, really very lucky, I had the opportunity to participate in lengthy retreats under the guidance of great meditation masters. In retreat one has had the opportunity to practise with little distractions. I had no real idea what it would be like, I thought maybe I would have hard time in retreat. Well, the first year apparently can be a bit difficult for everyone, but as westerners we had no idea of what to expect because it’s a completely new tradition in the western world. Actually the first year was quite difficult, but it was such a privileged position, which as time passes, I appreciate more and more.  


Towards the end of the retreat Akong Rinpoche visited us and said that we would each separately have some time with him and that he would ask us some questions. When my turn came, Rinpoche asked what I had learnt from the retreat. I said that I had learnt that I was a beginner, an absolute total beginner...  Rinpoche answered “Always keep beginner’s mind...and if you think of it, if we have beginner's mind then we are open, always ready to learn, maybe not have such big egos and maybe we can learn to be more a bit humble, but that’s a difficult one, eh?!


A couple of years ago I went to stay at the Buddhist centre in Brussels and there I meet people with families, jobs, there are students, all sort of situations, all sorts of problems, even people with the problem of not having a job. There is so much hassle just being in a city and trying to live the worldly life but the people I meet still find time, still make the effort to arrange it, so that they can practise, meditate, fifteen minutes, half an hour, one hour every day, I really take my hat off to them because it's not easy to do that.   


What I'm trying to say is, that to practise we have to make an effort, we have to have some sort of  discipline in our lives because there is always something to do, somewhere to go and it’s always so very  necessary, just so important !!!.    


In the West we want everything not even now, but before now, we want results, we want signs and usually we are not very kind to ourselves, we are too demanding and if we make mistakes, ego doesn’t like it, ego doesn't like not to be perfect, not to be the best and so we are sometimes not kind to ourselves, and not kind to others either.


A sad situation I found very strong in Europe is guilt; we did something a long time ago and still feel guilty, it is quite, I think a sick situation, not healthy. There is a Tibetan Master his name is His Eminence Tai Situpa, he was giving a course at Samye Ling, Monastery in Scotland and he was asked about this subject, guilt, what he felt about it. He said that he understood the concept of guilt, but for him, he thought it was perhaps not such a healthy situation to have to live with, like a big load to carry. When he was young and did something wrong, his parents or teacher would say: "Don't do that it's stealing," for example. "What is stealing?" "When you take something which is not given to you, which is not yours."...  "Oh!  I see, I didn’t know, then I really regret it, I won’t ever do that again.".... Finished!!!


If it comes up again then one remembers, and one says to oneself: "No, no, don't do that." It's like that. Of course we will make mistakes, we are humans aren't we, so we must learn, we must try to be aware of being here now, of being aware of our actions, of what we say, of what we do and of what we think, otherwise we are still in our movie from the past or the future and that can affect us very deeply.    


Something happened to us in the past when we were young, many people had bad experiences, then we say "Oh, I do this because of that" so we are not only hanging onto an unhappy situation, we are living it now, someone gave us a hard time and so whatever occurs, then we can refer it to that happening in the past movie and  in a way it’s a bit like an excuse as well,  we can blame every  mistake, every bad mood, experience on this past movie. The experience in the past may not have been very pleasant, but it is a knowable thing, this memory, this movie from the past, it is familiar, so maybe it is easier to indulge this comfy knowable even though it is not such a nice knowable instead of getting into something that is unknown, that can be scary.  


It is not so easy just to be here now, well it is, but the habitual thoughts and the mind’s activity won’t let us just be, it’s difficult just to be here now. Now is very fast, isn't it, there, its gone already ! We have to learn to relax, to be in the present and to learn to relax actually takes some sort of effort, strange isn’t it, but we have to make this effort in order to learn, to be able to relax. (Break)




There was a question during the break about meditation in our daily life. Actions which are seemingly meditative, like chopping wood. I think if you are on a certain level, then you are never separate from that awareness. I will tell another story in order to explain that we don't understand the vastness of mind, the extent to which our awareness can be.


Rinpoche is a term and it means "precious one". One Rinpoche, his name is Gyaltsab Rinpoche, he is the 12th incarnation. One of the, maybe we can say function of a bodhisattva is, that they come back to shows us, just like an example, so some Rinpoches do that, they keep coming back to help us, to show us the way out of confusion, our suffering.   


That's what they are here for, to show us the way out of confusion, they are not here to become famous, or to make money. Actually maybe some of them do that, you have to be careful, even with  someone who calls himself  Rinpoche, anyone can say that they are a Rinpoche, so we should check things out, not be so naive and even if they are a Rinpoche then they have a human body so they can get involved in ego. Just because someone is a Tibetan or a Rinpoche you don't have to believe them, you should check them out, and if you have a connection and they really are a good teacher, then they will check you out as well, and it may be many years before you are have a real connection, when your trust is there.


Anyway, Gyaltsab Rinpoche was teaching in Samye Ling Monastery which is in Scotland. At that time I wasn't a monk but a hippie veteran and living at Samye Ling and was working in the vegetable garden. I usually was late for the teachings because we had to arrange things for the visitors and so by the time I arrived, the shrine room was full and I usually ended up sitting in the corridor. This particular day I was once again sitting in the corridor. I hadn't been staying at Samye Ling that long and I didn't know anything about dharma (the teachings of Buddha), but the way Gyaltsap Rinpoche explained things, it seemed so clear, so very easy, just common sense, of course that's the way it is!  But he made it so easy, it was so clear I couldn't believe what I was hearing.        


Then it was time for him to leave the shrine-room. Everybody stood up to show respect and as he left the shrine room and walked into the corridor I thought "What can I offer, how can I say my thank yous?" So where he would be walking, along the corridor, I imagined peacock feathers and flowers on the floor as a path with beautiful girls, offering goddesses offering flowers and incense, songs etc., with Bob Marley playing nice music, (that's what I was into at that time in space ) ...honey suckle and jasmine smells... as he walked by me he turned his head and faced towards me and said... "Thank you!"...of course I lost this visualisation immediately...           


So next time you are in front of Gyaltsap Rinpoche, be careful of what you are thinking (laughter). But these teachers will only do it to show us something to open our small minds, or to try to make us be aware of our thoughts, to help us to see through the confusion that we are usually caught up in, involved with in our daily lives.


So if you can find that chopping wood helps you to do that, great! Whatever works, we all have different capacities and who knows what we did in past life. It’s said that we can't go back, that if we reached a certain stage in meditation in a previous life, then that is where we will be next life, maybe it's not straight away but maybe we practise and then something clicks and we come back to where we were in a previous life. 


Meditation is not about a religion, not about Christianity or Buddhism or any of the other religions, it is just about human kindness, this human lineage of kindness, compassion, and just being aware, it is simple. Personally I think that if Buddhism is classed as a religion then it is the religion of this human kindness, compassion that this label refers to.


There is a tradition that is used in Tibet, it is called vajrayana. The vajra or dorje is indestructible and yana is the way, the path. The practise of vajrayana uses methods of visualisation to tame our mind. Maybe we could be visualising ourselves to be someone, a Saint, a Deity. In Buddhism we could maybe visualise ourselves as Guru Rinpoche or Tara, Chenrezig or Buddha himself. The reason for visualisation is, that this ego is so tricky, so sneaky,  that we have to be a little more trickier - so what we do is to put something in our mind space.  We are thinking!  But we are doing it in a controlled way, thinking what we want to think of.


I don't know if you have seen Buddhist rituals, pujas they are called, with recitations and music. There are offerings made, mentally, verbally, physically. For the verbal part one says offering mantras like.... Om benza argham ah hung,... om benza padham ah hung,  but one could think, what are they doing, these silly people? Moving their hands around saying strange things. What it is going on is that one is using the body, the hands to make mudras, the speech to recite, to chant or say mantras and the mind is engaged in visualisations. Whilst saying the offering prayer, benza argham ah hung, we are visualising ourselves to be a Buddha or a Deity and we are emanating offering goddesses.


We are offering all these offering goddesses who are offering water to the Buddhas whom we are also visualising, we offer water for drinking, water for washing and then there are goddesses offering flowers. etc., We are trying to tame this wild mind, this wild horse. So in vajrayana we use visualisations and when making the offerings we are using body, speech and mind together, one pointedly, body speech and mind working together, so maybe it’s not so silly. We see people in the shrine room prostrating and wonder why they are doing this? What they are doing, paying homage to is the Buddha who is symbolic of this pure nature, this potential, which is there, inherently in all sentient beings, this compassionate, naturally pure state of mind.    


When prostrating we put the hands in a certain position, it is called a mudra and we visualise that there is a jewel held between the palms of the hands, the little fingers are close together, lengthwise, this blocks of samsara, the middle fingers are slightly open giving a gap at the finger tips, this symbolises being open to enlightenment, the thumbs are slightly apart from other fingers, not close to the index fingers but a little back from them, the two thumbs gently touching each other, this space between index fingers and the thumbs  symbolises being open to the dharma teachings, the teachings of Buddha.   


When we place our hands in this mudra to our  forehead,  (some people put their hands on top of the head, some place them at the forehead ).....we are purifying all our bodily actions and offering all our body actions for the benefit of all sentient beings, when we place our hands at the throat then we are purifying our speech and offering all of our speech be of benefit for all sentient beings, when we place the hands at our heart, that's where our mind aspect is represented, we are purifying all our thoughts and offering  all our thoughts to of be of benefit for all sentient beings.  


When we go down to the ground to prostrate, we think that our body covers the whole of the universe.... when we come up, we think that we have liberated all the beings in the universe from the realms of suffering, from the oceans of suffering. So the practice of prostrations is a practice to train in bodhicitta, to train and purify the mind and to lessen pride, to be more humble.  It is a very deep and meaningful practice.


It is very beautiful, because each time we go up and down, for me it symbolises each separate moment in our life, each separate lifetime, then we can think... "Well, maybe this lifetime I didn't liberate anyone! But I will try again next lifetime,” and the next, and the next , so it is like an endless homage to humanity itself. If one can't do it physically, this going down to the floor, then you can use your hands and say the prayers and do the visualisations and bow your head. A friend in Samye Ling did it this way, one time she used to climb and had a bad fall and injured her spine so that now she has to sit in a wheelchair but she finished her ngöndro section of prostrations using this method and completed one hundred and eleven hundred thousand prostrations, a lot of courage!


All these methods may seem simple, but it's the body, speech and mind that we are training. Of the three then it is the mind which is the most important. Are there any more questions?


Question: What gives this mudra the power to purify?

Gelong Dre-may: Maybe the mudra itself, maybe the pure wish, the motivation, maybe the blessing of having being performed endless time by pure beings, for pure reasons, maybe your faith, maybe you would be better, well for sure you would be better asking Akong Rinpoche or Lama Yeshe Rinpoche about this.    Do you know the quote, “faith can move mountains “? If we can have faith it does work, but this is difficult because we get ‘ripped off’ in so many ways that we lose the confidence to trust our own feelings.   


Another story, well this is a long time to talk, five hours listening to me blab on, so maybe not so boring with a little story here and there. Two friends of mine live in Dover in England, one of them sometimes she has a little bit pink hair and she wears glasses, you know like some MMMMmm middle-aged ladies do. She is a practising Christian, many people tell me she is a  (what’s  the word ? ) ...a medium, she prays to Virgin Mary and people say that she sees the Virgin Mary and that she talks with her.  


The Virgin Mary apparently told her she had to go to Rumania and help the gypsy people, so she takes medical supplies, clothes etc,. to the  Rumanian gypsies, this started a few years ago. When it first started she asked "How can I, I don't have anything?" But she had faith and trust in the Virgin Mary. People started to turn up at her house offering hospital supplies and clothes and money etc. Then a man came and said, "I hear  you need a lorry driver, I am driving a big empty lorry to Rumania."   


This is how things happen. I had lived in Samye Ling for many years working voluntarily, so when I was in retreat I had no money, one day a bill for ninety pounds arrived, the second letter was from this lady friend from Dover and inside was a cheque for one hundred pounds with the message: "Maybe you will need this."        She is a Christian and I am a Buddhist, so I think there isn’t any difference between all these different religions, maybe different names, but the essence of them all is compassion, this human kindness.   


It is sectarianism which causes the problems. If we have faith, if we believe, if one has right motivation, if we are kind, if one has this love for others, this caring for others, then that is it, if you are kind, then you are a Buddhist, but it is sometimes difficult to be kind when someone is giving you a hard time, when we are getting our buttons pushed, then maybe not so easy......!!!


Question: Yes, what about then?

GD: Yes, then it is different isn’t it!!!! 

Q: Yes.

GD    Well why do we react? Maybe because we have a button that can get pushed, so in a way these button pushers are our best friends, our teachers aren't, they? If our buttons get pushed, then the button pushers are showing us we have buttons that can be pushed. It’s our ego that got hurt, and we react in this habitual manner, it's because of our habitual patterns...  Ba-chaks, they are so strong, from many lifetimes. We react in a certain way, we don't know why, but it's like that.


One thing that we all have to learn is to laugh to ourselves. If we can't laugh to ourselves then we do have a problem, ego doesn’t like to be laughed at, but if you are like me, you have to laugh a lot, I am endlessly it seems making mistakes, so I have to laugh to myself all the time, of course ego doesn't like it! Actually it can be a big step this learning how to laugh at ourselves.   


In the modern world we have this achievement thing and we don't want to make mistakes, but that's one of the ways we learn, isn't it! We have to overcome this thought pattern, this habit, when we can see it and have done some work on lessening the ego, then maybe we won't act in such a confused way, a way that creates even more confusion when someone pushes our button!!! Not easy eh!!! But no one said it was easy. Are there more questions?


Question: We began talking about bananas and clocks, things that we see, which are our thoughts, and they were compared to sun and us being the water. Then we started to talk about an essential vajrayana teaching, that when we have objects of thoughts we replace them with a Chenrezig visualization for example, we give some other toys for the mind to play with. While these toys have a value which takes us more near the buddhanature, they take us towards the inner being, do other toys like a banana, have a value? Can a banana have a buddhanature?


GD: Well, personally I have never seen a banana Buddha, but its all pure, isn't it? Once the Dalai Lama was asked about being what was needed for the benefit of beings and he answered that if people needed a bridge to cross a river then he would be a bridge, so if a banana was needed to help you, then maybe the banana is a bodhisattva offering himself as your food, who knows what is real. But if we are visualising, then we are using our mind which is pure in essence, the object in daily life, the banana is a fruit, but I am not sure whether a banana has awareness.  


With worldly objects then possibility is there, that we can have attachments etc., so maybe a little bit impure.   That is why we use pure objects to look at or to visualise. But the essence of mind, the essence of our visualisation, that is pure, it’s the mind isn’t it, so whatever we use then, the essence will be pure, isn’t it?  Okay! Anyway, we can carry on with visualisation, maybe we are visualising ourselves as a Buddha, looking at the head and then moving down the body, the robes, the legs, the lotus and  then we are off, in a movie, we are thinking: "What was going on in the office today? I should not have said that" etc., then we remember.... "Oh, I should not be thinking this I should be visualising…"


You know that one! (Laughter)... yes, we all know that one, so then we just return to the visualisation, no problem! That's fine, that’s okay, we recognised, we saw that we were in a movie, on a vacation, then we come back. Then, ten seconds later: "Cup of coffee…" let it go and come back to the visualisation. But sometimes we think: "I really need coffee." Next thing is we get up from our cushion (or chair) and we are in the kitchen making a coffee, and before we know it we are drinking the coffee, but then we  really  got involved in the movie didn’t we? (More laughter.) Yes...we all know that one as well, eh! Yes, it's like that.


So that’s what we are practising for, in order to recognize this confusion we are usually involved with, to not be in it! We started, that's important. Once we start to see it, to see the pattern, after a while, depends on the individual of course, we get the thoughts coming, well, they seem to be coming in an endless stream, like an express train that has no end, we can't stop it.      


In Tibet it is said this experience is like a waterfall, they didn't have express trains in Tibet centuries ago.   When this happens you may think that you are becoming crazy, maybe you will think "this meditation isn’t working at all, in fact it is getting worse, it's making me think more". It’s not that way at all, it’s just that we are seeing, most probably for the first time, we are seeing the confusion that we are usually involved in, but don’t know, it's like that! We are seeing the movies, the turmoil we are usually embroiled in and when this experience occurs then all we can do is to have lots, lots of patience and keep on with the practise and slowly, slowly, because we are not making the movies any more, or becoming less involved in them maybe it will slow down this waterfall, this express train.  


We are not giving the movies more actors etc., so the stream of thoughts lose their strength and slowly it is getting weaker, gaps appear in the stream. But at this stage one really needs patience. It will slow down, the waterfall becomes like a river, not so fast. The river flows into a beautiful calm lake, nice and calm, peaceful, then a thought can appear, it comes like a wave, you can watch it, that's the first thing we are talking about, watching the banana or the sunlight, so then we see this movement, this movie thought, this pattern that we are usually we are involved in. We learn to see it, the confusion, so that we are not involved in it, or less anyway. 


But the habit is there, if we think of a croissant, "Oh yes, I need a croissant!" We are in it again, involved in it, it's like that, another thought, an other involvement, it's like the croissant.... Translator: “ The what?..”    . GD: Croissant, a pastry, something you eat... Translator: ”Oh, that's what I get involved with, food thoughts, and croissants, I really like croissants.“ GD: But if you are sitting and you see it in your mind and say, "Let it go." That's it, otherwise next thing is we are walking into the baker shop buying a croissant.... really got involved, again.


So shinay is very useful in our daily life and very useful for when we die, because then we really need to have a calm mind. But actually it’s no big deal, we are born, so we will die isn’t it, voila! But when we die, if we don't a have a peaceful mind, if we are involved with all the thoughts, fear and attachment, frightening visions etc., then there will be much confusion, I think it must be a bit fearful anyway, but it can also be a time for liberation, that’s what the texts say.  


If we have a calm mind we can watch the dying process and as Tai Situpa says "We don't want to miss it, do we, because it only happens once in a lifetime" (laughter). So we are not only practising just for now, but we are also preparing for our death and for future lives. If we can understand that what we are watching all day long is just a vision in our mind, a movie, then when we die maybe this clarity, this peaceful mind, this awareness will help us at that time.


Meditation is really simple, but like all simple things it’s not so easy. Sometimes it is difficult to be simple! If we can just sit and look at our mind, that's fine, but most of us can't, we don't know where our mind is, is it in our foot, arm nose, is it a colour, is it blue red, yellow, is it square, round?  So we have to find it, this wild horse, our mind before we can tame it, to do this we have to calm the mind, so we will go through some exercises to do this.  


There are practices of using our breathing or looking at an object outside our body or looking at something inside our body, or visualising a something to put our attention on. What we need is something to concentrate on and one of the things we do each day is we are breathing. It's there all the time, so we can learn how to concentrate on our breathing using our breathing process as a support for our meditation.   


We are westerners, we were not brought up to sit in the cross-legged position, but if you can sit on a cushion with your legs crossed that’s fine. Most of us were brought up to sit on chairs, so if you can’t sit on a cushion then use a chair, no problem.   


But it is important to have straight back. The hands can be held in two ways, one is to put the hands on the knees [palms downwards], arms can be straightened a little, maybe not too bent at the elbows and the shoulders kept back a little, it can help also to keep the back straight. The other method is to place the left hand down in the lap and the right hand is placed top of it [palms upwards], thumbs just gently touching, the thumbs forming an inverted triangle, the hands not held up or out but resting below the navel gently close to the body, if the hands are held out in front of you this can tend to make the shoulders hunch round. If you are in a public place and you don't want others to know you are practising then you can just sit as normal, no need to be strange and then no one will know.


In our daily life we are continually getting confronted with situations and if we react, then we are involved.     We might answer angrily to an insult. There is a little trick that may be of use to you, how not to get involved in these everyday situations. When a confrontation happens, just become aware of the breath, the going in and out of the breath at the nostrils. If we can just focus on this, watch it, to concentrate on this breath as it goes in and out of the nostrils just three times, it may be of help in these awkward situations. It can give us some space so that we are not so involved in the argument, the confrontation movie, then maybe we see the situation in a different way.  


We are there looking at this person freaking out and not getting involved in it, otherwise that person is making a movie and we are his supporting act, but if we can just have some space from this involvement then maybe we can be able to see the other persons confusion. If they are angry then they aren’t really in a happy state of mind, they are suffering, so why be a cause of more suffering for them! So if we don’t react to the insults or shouting or whatever, then maybe we will see the suffering that this person is in, and if we do not act in the, well, the sometimes, self-preservation of ego manner, maybe we will be able to act a little bit more kindly, a little bit more humanely to this unhappy, suffering person.


So !!!......... hands on the knees, or in your lap. Then just become aware of the breath at the nostrils going in and out, eyes are gently looking down, some people like to close their eyes but then one has to be careful, because it is easy fall asleep, it's okay to close eyes  when we begin to learn  but later maybe better to keep them open. The mouth should be a little open, relaxed naturally, head, well like it is being pulled up a little by the hair, little difficult for some people, (laughter ) ..yes,  me also... then the head is bent slightly at the neck, looking down a bit, this help to keep the spine straight, okay.


Just become aware of the sensation of the breath going in and out in the nostrils, nothing else, if you hear noise outside or someone moves and you get distracted it's okay just come back to watching the breath the awareness of the breath, let’s try. [Meditation.]


Little sessions like that, it's good to do lots of short sessions because it's tiring trying to hold our wild horse. If we are beginners and we have set aside half on hour or whatever time to practise then break this time up into shorter periods one minute two, three, four, five ten, etc,. Slowly increasing the time, then one hour, two hours, no problem!


We will go through a couple of more methods of using the breath, some people like different methods. But give each one a fair trial, a few weeks or months because this mental activity is not always the same, one day mind is busy, next day peaceful, so we have to give each method a fair trial. Maybe you will find that one method suits you more than the others, maybe you like all of them, we have to find out for ourselves.


The next method is an extension of the first one. This is just looking at the sensation of the breath. But now when we breathe in, we follow the breath going in the chest to the heart area and when it goes out, when it is expelled, it is said traditionally that the breath goes out to four finger widths in front of the nostrils. So it's a cycle: in to the heart area and out to approximately four finger widths in front of the nostrils. We are going to watch this movement with our mind.    


This method is called ‘riding the breath’; we are breathing normally with this exercise. Sometimes when we start to watch our breath, we can get a little panic, but it’s just because usually we don’t focus on the breathing process, we don't watch our breath.  If this panic occurs, it's okay, just relax and slowly start again, just relax and breath normally.


Q: Do we breathe through the nose?

GD: Well if you can, usually these practises are explained that way, of breathing through the nose, but if you have a difficulty to breathe through the nose, then it is better to breath through your mouth, I don’t want you to faint!  But if you can, then it’s through the nose.    


So just place your awareness to the breath going in and out at the nostrils and relax and in your own time start the cycle of breathing, in to the heart area and out to a little distance in front of our nostrils, just following this cycle. We will give it a try. [Meditation.]


The next method is just an extension of the previous one, but with a little difference. When the breath goes in and out, that cycle is counted as one, so in and out one, then in and out again two, etc. This time we are following our breath in and out and we are counting. The mind has different levels of thoughts, it's a bit like an onion with different layers, when we count we will have thoughts, we will see them but we can’t stop them, don’t even try to stop them, that’s not the object of the meditation, just let them go, and as long as you don’t lose the count then that’s fine. The thoughts that we are noticing in this practice are the outer layer of the onion and if the thoughts come: "Did I park the car right?" or whatever, then if that happens and you don't lose the count then that's okay, but if you lose the count: "What number was it, three or four?" then go back to number one.   


Some days we can do many sets of completing sevens or can get to twenty-one or one hundred and some days we can’t get past three or four. It’s just that some days we have a calm mind and other days we have busy mind, that’s all. It's good to start with cycles of seven, we do sevens, then twenty-ones, fifties, hundreds. So if the thoughts come, but you don't lose your count, that's okay. [Meditation.]


When I started to practise this meditation, Akong Rinpoche said: “If you can sit and count to five hundred it’s okay." So of course I had to try, I got to four hundred and ninety something and then thought... “Great! I’m almost there... what number was I at?” I lost it, I totally lost it! Of course then I had to go back to number one and start all over again…laughter!!!


If possible it’s good to give yourself a little space that is private, a place you can use just for your practice.    One thing that invariably happens, you are meditating and an itch comes - maybe on the nose, or some other place, difficult not to have a scratch but don’t, just don’t react, don’t scratch it, otherwise, you will never stop chasing these itches and if you are sitting with other people then it will disturb them as well. 


 Today we are in a peaceful place …but there is so much going on in the world, aggression, famine, wars.  When we hear about these situations it gets inside us like pollution. Body and mind are connected, so the tension we experience in our mind spreads to the body. In our body we have channels and sub-channels called nadis and these can become clogged up, rather like a busy roundabout in a traffic jam. 


When we begin to sit and meditate we start to relax, we start to let go of this tension we have collected in our physical body is released and the body begins to move, and sometimes this can cause little reactions, but don't worry. Maybe when sitting the body can shake or jump a little, but it’s okay, it's just the body letting go of this pollution, it's learning to relax and open, so don't worry, it can be a little frightening if you don't know, but it’s okay, it’s just the mind and body learning to relax together again, sort of a healing maybe.


Question: My legs hurt and become numb. Should I do something about it or just let it be?

GD: You have to find a balance. Your muscles and tendons are being a little stretched.  What you can do is that you look at the pain, where is it?  Usually if there is a tension and we become aware of it then we tighten up in our mind, so it's a double reaction and it makes things worse. If we look, where is it? Is it in the muscle, is it in the sinews etc., if we really look we get down  to atoms, and in between the atoms there is space so where is the pain? We rest in this space, we have to learn to relax. Don’t hurt yourself, have some tolerance. Otherwise we will never sit still, we will never stop moving. We have to be sensible; we don’t want to end up in a wheelchair! If you are sitting 5 - 10 minutes, that won't hurt you too much.


The next method is using colours, it's the same arrangement of breathing as before, in to the heart area and out to four fingers widths in front of the nose, some people like colours, they can concentrate more on colours. This time when we breathe in, think the breath is the colour white. When the breath is held naturally for a short time the colour becomes red and when the breath goes out it becomes the colour blue.  [Meditation.]                                                                                                        


From a westerner's point of view it's quite difficult sometimes to get the concepts from the Tibetan texts into western ideas, so if I have confused you, my apologies. But there are also different confusions, when people are trying to sort something out, trying to get through the undergrowth in a forest, and that seems to be a good confusion, because out of that confusion comes some understanding, some wisdom, so that's a positive confusion, not stupid confusion. Are there more questions?


Question: How long one should do these practices, two years?

GD: Did I say two years? I'm not saying there is a two year contract, these practises could be for all your life.


These practices are methods of shinay, they are the basis of our practice. If we have good shinay, then that is a good foundation, like a foundation for a house. So slowly, slowly because this mind is like a crazy wild horse, so we must tame it gently, we have to be very patient and gentle... Be kind to yourself, not too demanding.


Question: Can you meditate while you are sleeping, if you are aware that you are asleep?

GD: There are practices called dream yoga. If you go to sleep in your bed and you want to do that, then you lay on your right side, and you block your right nostril and in your heart, do you have a teacher. Then you can think of a brilliant white light or Buddha or Jesus or whatever is your pure idea, pure thought. You think this light fills your body and shines out from you, the bedroom becomes full of this pure light, very peaceful, very gentle, then it extends from your room throughout the whole world, the universe and this light dispels all the suffering in the world, so the whole world becomes a pure place, a pure realm, then the light comes back to this place in your heart from where it spread out in the first place.    


When you are going to sleep you say, repeating many times "Tonight I really want to dream and I really want to know my dreams to be dreams", over and over again.  The dreams we are involved in when we sleep are of the same nature as the ones we are involved in when we are awake, so if we can recognise them then it will be very useful, compassion will grow because we will understand that beings are suffering because of taking these mind movies to be real.


Question: Sometimes I fall asleep and then become conscious and then I wake up. Then I have to sit up and meditate.

GD: That's great. When you start to practice like that you don't need so much sleep.


You have to persist. Lama Yeshe told me a nice story one day, when I took him breakfast, he said: "In my dream last night I was flying over a sea, I knew it was a dream and that I was flying and there was a great mountain in front, so I just flew through the mountain and the next and then over the sea again, I really got it, it was great, and then this big monster appeared out of the sea and I lost it, I woke up." He was laughing, laughing... we laughed and laughed... just couldn’t stop, I had a stomach ache from laughing.


It's a good practice to do, also in the daily life to recognise this is illusion, this confusion, this dream to be a dream. So that seems to be it.


Thank you very much for inviting me, it has been really enjoyable, your company and this place. You are very fortunate you have Ani Sherab to seek advice from. If you have found anything useful today then please take it with you, but if you disagree with anything, then no problem, just leave it here. So now we will dedicate whatever understanding or merit we have gained, we will share it and dedicate it towards the release of suffering and for the happiness of all sentient beings. So it was good in the beginning, then something in the middle and now, good at the end.


Sönam deji tam-che zig-pa nyi

tob-ne nye-pei dra nam pam che ne

tse ga na chi palab drupa ji

sipe cho-le dro va drol-var sho.


Due to this good karma, may I achieve Omniscience,

Defeat the harmful enemies within me,

And free beings from the sea of existence

That is churned by the waves of birth, ageing, sickness and death.



Gelong Dre-may

Buddhist meditation

17.4.2004 Turku, Sisäisten taitojen studio, oral translation Soili Takkala. (Edited)


Good afternoon, thank you for your invitation and warm welcome. Today I think we have to talk on the subject of meditation. So what is meditation, why do we need to practise it and how do we do it?    Meditation is about our mind, that which decides what we do, what we say.   We will talk about training this wild mind, this cause of all the happiness and the cause of all the unhappiness.


Today, we put our clothes on and made our way to this house, but it was our mind that decided what clothes we put on and our mind that decided how we came. We have body, speech and mind, but it is our mind which is the most important.


My teachers are from Tibet and in Tibet they have wild horses so they liken this mind of ours to a wild horse: first we have to find it, then catch it and then try to tame it. The method of making the mind peace, of calming the mind is called Shinay, shi translates as peace, nay as to abide, so, to be peacefully here, to abide peacefully, in sanskrit it is called shamahta. We are going to talk about the method of shinay that involves using our breath.


In our daily life we get involved in thoughts, movies in our mind ..."I would like a banana.“ The next thing is that we go to the shop, we buy some banana’s and eat one. This happens all the time in our daily life, we get involved with our partners our neighbours etc. Someone pushes our buttons and we react and we are involved in the other person's movie but at the same time we have our own movie going on, it's like we are caught up in an endless cycle of this pattern and these habits, which have been going on for lifetimes, They are getting stronger and stronger because we write more movie scripts and the more we get involved the more the pattern gets stronger, and stronger.


When we are practising meditation, sitting still, watching these thoughts, trying not to get involved, trying to be aware, trying to let them go, then of course, sometimes we again get caught up in the movie. We may be watching our breath and then, for some minutes, five, ten, twenty! or whatever can pass, we are on a vacation, caught up in our movie. Usually it involves some event in the past or in the future, then we wake up, we notice we have lost our concentration, we become aware that we are in a movie, that's okay, that's fine, we have seen it, we have noticed.      


It’s a bit like: "Ooops! I should be concentrating on my breath!" It's okay, because we noticed, but it happens time and time again... and again.... so not to worry. When we start, we have to be a little strict, we have to have some discipline, when we sit we have to make an effort, its strange because we have to make an effort in order to learn how to relax. If we do sports only once a month, lifting weights maybe, you know, body building then you end up like me, but if you do it every day, then you get big muscles, so if we practise once a week or once a month then we are not going to get very far, we have to do it on a regular basis.    


When we start, we have to be gentle with ourselves as well, a bit strict but not to demanding, not too hard on ourselves, we have do lots of short periods. It is better to have short periods with awareness than deciding to do one hour and getting tired and bored, it’s boring enough anyway... just sitting and watching our breath or whatever. Would you like a "boring story"? 


When I first went to live at Samye Ling we were very fortunate, sometimes in the evening Akong Rinpoche did a puja (a puja is a buddhist ritual with chanting, visualisations, mantras etc.). I had no idea what was going on so usually I just sat at the back of the shrine room and soaked up the atmosphere, this time thought I got really bored!!!   Between the shrine and the front row of people there was a space, maybe two metres, so to amuse myself I imagined the fanfare that you hear at circuses and then I projected myself to the space in front of the shrine. I did somersaults and bowed and imagined everyone applauding, I was really enjoying myself doing all these different acrobatics when I sort of felt something, someone, getting my attention, so I turned my head and saw that Akong Rinpoche was looking at me, shaking his head very slowly, gently from side to side indicating no! So be careful what you think of, when you are around Akong Rinpoche!!!


So now, back to the meditation. These short periods, first maybe we do half a minute, then one minute then two minutes, five minutes, half an hour, one hour etc. Even start off doing ten seconds if that is all you can hold your concentration for, then twenty seconds, one minute, it is better to have short time lapse with concentration than one hour being in a movie.  So however long we decide to sit, then we break this time up into shorter periods.


One of the big mistakes is when we think: “Now I'm going to do some meditation.” We sit the time we have decided on and then we think: "Now I can get up and enjoy myself," but if we do that, then we have lost any qualities we may have gained, we have lost the benefit of our practice. Because the next time we sit we have to re-start again and again and again, over and over, every time it’s the same, we sit for one hour and the only calmness is perhaps five minutes at the end, it has taken all that time, almost the whole hour to have calm mind. 


So when we are meditating on our cushion that's one meditation, but the other meditation is when we get up from our cushion, or chair and try to carry any awareness that we have cultivated during the sitting part into our daily life, into our daily activities.   This getting up part, this trying to keep any awareness we may have cultivated is called post-meditation. We try to carry what we have gained through all our hardships, our sore bottoms, sore backs and sore leg’s etc,. into our daily life, but the thing is not to get disheartened if this doesn't happen straight away because the habits are very strong and it can take a long time to change them, so we must have great patience and diligence, make an effort.


Post meditation doesn't mean that when we get up from our session we are into some weird state, staring, not talking, or whatever, we just carry on our daily life in a normal way but trying to be more aware, trying to have more awareness in our daily activities, not to be strange, just be normal. Some people say I did this and that, I had this very deep insight, a vision etc., trying to impress, but it is said the sign of a good practitioner is when that person becomes more humble, more gentle, more kind, having a good heart and being honest.   Honest with themselves and honest with others.


When we start to meditate then lots of emotions will come to the surface, that’s what the practise is for, it’s not give us more problems but to bring the problems, this inner turmoil to the surface, to be able see this confusion that we experience but don’t know where it comes from or how to handle it, so then it can be like a big, big mirror, it can be a bit yucky!!! We see that we get upset or angry, we get our buttons pushed, but it's always the other persons fault isn’t it, a neighbour playing music too late, someone not washing their dirty plates or cup, someone always pushing our buttons... "Why are you always doing that, always driving me mad." But if we get angry, then we have the problem don’t we. Maybe the other person does have a problem but if we react to them pushing our buttons then we have buttons that can be pushed, so it’s our problem, it's our problem if we get angry, it's not the other persons fault, its our fault, no ones else’s. We always blame the other person, but we have the problem. It's up to us if we are happy or not, in fact our worst enemy is our best friend! They show us that we have these buttons that can get pushed, and we learn patience, aren't they kind, these button pushers.


Earlier we talked about bodhicitta. A person who practises bodhicitta is a bodhisattva, fortunately there are bodhisattvas who are like living Buddhas, they keep coming back lifetime after lifetime, they reincarnate to show us the way out of our confusion. It can’t be easy to knowingly to be born again and again, it means that one has to go through being in somebody's womb for nine months, then to be born, it must painful to come out of the womb, then once we are out someone welcomes us with a slap on the backside.


It’s said, the feeling, when we come out from the womb and are wrapped in a towel and rubbed, that this experience is terribly painful, like being rubbed with sandpaper.   On top of that one has to bear the suffering of growing, getting teeth, having sicknesses, dying etc. But they are willing to go all of this, not just to make lots of money or for fame but to try to show us the way out of our confusion, our suffering.  


But most of us are beginners, so we start by looking for this wild mind, this wild horse which we have to train.


How do we put all these words into practice? Many of you know anyway, but I will start as if we were all beginners, okay! We have body, speech and mind. Today we got up, put on our clothes and came here, but it was our mind which decided what clothes we would wear and our mind which decided how we came, the body didn't come here and the mind followed, it is the mind which is the most important. So we start by training the mind, usually meditation is practised sitting crossed legged, but for western people then we weren't brought up to sit cross-legged, we are not brought up that way, sometimes we manage to do it for a while but it can be painful, so don't force it, take it easy, so if you need to sit on a chair, no problem but if you want to try to sit cross legged then maybe it's good to sit on a cushion, or two, or three and as you get used to it, when the muscles and tendons have stretched a bit and we have learnt to relax then maybe we won’t need three cushions but two etc,.   


We need to learn how to relax, to let go of this tension that occurs in our daily lives, especially in the cities, this stress factor which is permeating society these days. As a little exercise to stretch you can press the knees gently downwards the floor, but gently, be gentle, don’t hurt yourself. Look at this cat as an example how relaxed we can be. (The cat lying on Dre-mays lap.) 


There are two large obstacles to meditation, one is a too active mind, the other is when we are slothful, when we have a heavy mind and then its easy to start to nod off, to fall asleep. We sit down, relax and try to let everything go, breath out, close our eyes and  ...fall asleep.  When we want to relax we have to let our mind relax and body relax at the same time but keep the mind aware, alert,     it's like playing the guitar, if the strings are too loose, plonk!!! If too tight, ping!!!  We have to find the middle way.   


Physically it helps to keep the back straight, try to have a straight spine, the spine is the central column of the body, the part where all the energy goes up and down. I don’t like talking  about chakras, because these days there are lots of silly talk about this subject and people can get the wrong ideas, ”Oh, I got my chakras opened!” But in our body we have three main channels, they go from just below our navel up to the crown of our head and at certain places in our body we have chakras, at the navel, heart, throat head, etc., and smaller branches called nadis.


When we are quite young, maybe even as early as three years old, these nadis, the smaller channels start to die from the extremities, the finger and toes etc. but  due to anger, pollution, smoke etc. these channels get blocked faster and so they die even quicker.


In our daily life we are confronted with tense situations and we get upset, so when we start to relax, when we start to meditate, because we are letting go, not holding onto this tension, we relax mentally and the body will start to relax, the tension in our muscles loosens and the toxins in these areas start to be released.     What can happen at this time is that some people, not everyone but some may have a little reaction. The body can involuntarily give a few shakes or little jumps. From the relaxing in our mind then the bodily tensions also are relaxing and the toxins are starting to be eliminated,  the nadis are opening, maybe it's a bit like a sort of rejuvenation, so don’t worry, it’s okay.  Just think of it as a purification, a healing process, it’s fine, don’t worry.    


This modern world, this society is sometimes such a violent place, we have the news on television, radio, always bad news, we hear about riots and corruption and even though we may not recognise it, it does affect us. So when we are sitting peacefully all this subconscious pollution that we have collected we have to let go.


We can do meditation in different ways, we can do it like having a sauna, it's nice I know, I had sauna first time last night, apparently in Finland nearly everyone has sauna, I know why now.  But we have to keep going there again and again, so anyway, we can practise meditation like that, every evening, again and again, just to relax.


The other way is to get a bit deeper. So, it's good to sit with straight back. Concerning the hands, one way is to place to rest them in the lap just below the navel, close to and gently resting against the body, the left hand is underneath and the right hand on top, palms up, the thumbs are raised, like an inverted ' v ' gently touching each other, the hands are not kept too because otherwise we will bend our shoulders and slouch.


Also, you can put the hands on the knees, some people like this, it can be helpful if we are a bit tired, it can help to keep the body straight, to keep the body erect, it can also help to straighten the shoulders, to keep the shoulders from becoming hunched forward, so two ways for the hands. The head, well it is like you are being held up by your hair, pulled up a little but at the same time the head is slightly, very slightly bent forwards as this helps to keep the spine straight. The eyes, they are gently resting in a half closed position and looking approximately one, or one and a half meters in front of you at the ground level and the mouth is gently resting, a little bit open, just resting naturally, not too  tight, not too loose , not blab ,blab , just natural.


Usually people breathe through their nose but some people have a difficulty with this so if you have to breathe through your mouth then that is the way it is, it’s okay. If you like, as a beginner, then it’s okay maybe to close the eyes, some people like to do this if there are distractions, but maybe you will get involved with the thoughts, slip into a movie more easier than if they were open, it is also easier to fall asleep with the eyes closed, so if you can, then try to keep the eyes naturally resting, sort of half closed, just resting.


So this afternoon, we can maybe work through four or five methods of shinay. The first one is just to look at the mind. If one can do it that is good, but it is not so easy, as we may not know where to look, where our mind is, so then we can end up just sitting in a blank state!


Here in the city people have lots of activity to cope with, it is very busy and difficult to be in one place, body and mind well together, this is not easy anywhere but even more so in a busy environment. Usually we are involved in a movie, some event in the past or in the future, we all have this problem. There is a little exercise that may help before starting the breathing exercises to try to bring the body and mind to be at the same place at the same time.


We start by focussing our attention on top of the head, and then slowly we move the attention down the body, past the eyes, the nose, the chin and neck. Any tension that we come across, maybe in the shoulders or in the neck, look at this tightness and let it go, then work down the arms to the hands and fingers, if there is any tension in the hands, let it go, then down your spine and chest, waist and hips, continue towards the buttocks, thighs, legs, down to the feet. If this process of going down makes you feel sleepy, work your way up the body again. This can bring the energy up, but if you feel okay, just stop at the feet and carry on with the breathing exercises.


So now we focus on, put our awareness to the movement of the breath going in and out through nostrils, that’s all nothing else, just be aware of that. Just breathe normally and put the awareness to the movement of air going in and out of the nostrils, look at the sensations of this movement of air. If thoughts come let them go, don't try to stop them, that’s not the object of the practise and we can't stop them anyway, just let them come, let them go, of course, sometimes we will get caught up in the thought pattern, in the movie, but when the we notice it, then come back to watching the breath at the nostrils, it’s okay, no problem, we have noticed, that’s good. [Meditation.]


With each of these methods then give each one a fair trial, maybe one month or more because some days we have a busy mind and some days the mind is quiet, and we could think on the busy day: “Oh! This is rubbish, today it was useless”, but each time we sit it is good, every session is good, it is just the different activities of the mind, that’s all.


The next exercise is an extension of previous one, this just being aware of the breath at the nostrils, but this time when we breath in we watch the breath as it goes in to the chest down to the level of the heart and when out it goes out, then traditionally it is said to be four finger widths in front of the nose.     


These methods seem very simple, but they were good enough for Buddha, so, maybe they are good enough for us as well!!! So we watch the air going in through the nostrils the chest, to the level of the heart and when it goes out, it goes to four finger widths in front of our nose, it’s a cycle. This method is known as riding the breath.


It can happen, when we start to take notice of our breath, that we can have a little feeling of panic, if this does happen, just relax, take it easy, it’s okay, it’s just that usually we don't  take notice of our breath, that’s  all it is.


Also, when we are sitting there is something that is not good not do, because if you start, it is difficult to stop and it will disturb others if we are sitting with other people. You may get an itch, maybe an itchy nose, it’s drives us crazy, it won't stop and then we have to scratch, then it's the left ear, then somewhere else and we end up scratching all over but, if we don't give in first time it will pass, this urge to do something, of course this urge to scratch will become overwhelming, but if we just sit and carry on with the practice, whatever it is, then it will pass. It's a bit like the banana thought or the going to the kitchen for a coffee, little things like this are training the mind not to follow the usual habits. It's just a habit and sometimes you just have to say no!!!


Question: What does it mean four finger widths in front of your nose?

GD: If we hold the hand flat, extended in front of the nostrils, that’s it, we imagine that's where the breath goes out to and then it comes back into our nose, we are just breathing normally, not especially long breaths. But don’t get to fanatic about having the exact measurement, it’s just an approximation to give us a guideline.


So, no expectations, no hope, no fear, just do it, if we keep looking for something, some sign, whatever, then this is an obstacle, other people will notice the change in you if you are practising, usually we don’t notice the change, it’s other people who notice. So, now we do this exercise, this riding the breath. [Meditation.]


The next method is an extension of the previous one, it’s the same procedure, the same cycle, but this time we count. When we breath in and out, this  cycle is counted as one, so in and out is one, then in and out again two etc. It's good to start off with counting cycles of sevens, then twenty-ones, then maybe we can manage one hundred or five hundred, but better not to be too ambitious, we are not trying to achieve a number, it's just a number to help the concentration that's all.


When counting maybe you will notice the thought process, the patterns of thinking, that’s fine, we can’t stop thoughts, but as long as we don’t lose the count then that’s okay. If we lose the count, then back to number one. So we can do a few cycles of seven, later we can try to count to twenty-one or hundred.


This mind,  it’s sort of like an onion, it has many, many layers, so now we will see maybe the outer layer, we will try this practise of counting,  sevens to start with [Meditation.]

Did anybody lose their count?

Answer: Many times.


The last exercise that we will go through today is where we are using the same procedure as the previous method, this cycle of in and out, but this time we don’t count. We see the in breath as the colour white and when the in breath has reached the heart area and we naturally hold  the breath for a moment, then the  white changes to red, we naturally hold it for a little while, it’s not that we intentionally make an effort to hold it, it’s just the natural breathing process.   


When we expel, when the breath goes out, then the red turns to the colour blue. So in white, hold red, out blue. [Meditation.]


These methods are just to give us good shinay, a peaceful mind, these are not insight meditation methods which are another matter. Earlier we talked about the example of the aquarium, it was just an example to try to show that this mind of ours, this basic pure mind, is always there, the thoughts can’t pollute this pure essence of mind, the thoughts appear, but the pure mind essence is always there. It is like the water, always there, not moving, like pure pristine awareness, so this is like our pure nature. 


When we practise shinay, we are working to get a peaceful situation in our mind so as not to have the usual involvement with our chaotic thought patterns, then when we get a peaceful mind we can see the thoughts, like sun moving through the water, so we see the thoughts aren't separate from the mind.


The next step is when we become aware that our mind is also like the water through which the sunshine moves, the water doesn't move. But we need good shinay before we can move onto this step, in Tibetan the looking at the true nature of our thoughts is called Lhaktong. Lha is an honorific term and tong means to see, so to see in a superior way, in a superior manner, in Sanskrit this it is called vipashyana, but it may take some time before we can practise this exercise. 


 So really meditation is quite easy, but the difficulty is to do it on a regular basis. When we begin, it is better to start off doing short periods. If you are allowing fifteen or thirty minutes for your practice session then break this period into shorter sessions, one minute, two minutes , then build it up, five, ten, twenty, thirty, one hour, etc.


We have to learn also to be gentle with ourselves, not to put such demands on ourselves; we need to be more patient with ourselves. Sometimes when I'm meditating and lean to one side or the other, I then try to put this right, try to have a good straight posture, good posture is important. If we lean to the right we may get some clarity but then later anger will come, if we lean to the left we may experience bliss but then desire will come, leaning to the front maybe sleepy but also the idea that we have had some realisation and this will turn to ignorance, leaning backwards at first brings a sort of feeling of emptiness but then big pride will arise, so we have to be careful, to be aware of this, so try to sit straight eh! With this habit of leaning to one side or the other we may get some experiences at first and think we have had some insight etc. and we may want more of these experiences and then we will be looking for them, wanting more, but they will never come because we are grasping, not resting. So no hope, no fear. Are there any questions?


Question: Will the meditation be destroyed or can you use the anger as a part of the practice?

GD: The remedy for anger is compassion, although maybe if we get angry at ourselves for not practising it's a bit positive! Maybe we can use it in this way. It is said that one moment of anger will destroy lifetimes of merit. That is why it is best to dedicate all the merit from our practise as soon as we finish it, before we get angry and lose it. The remedy for anger is compassion.


Of course all the practices are about compassion, but the main aspect, the embodiment of compassion is the Buddha Chenrezig. When we do this practise we learn how to use this practice of compassion in our daily life, to change the anger which is a big negative into a positive, the compassion. So we do the sitting practice on our cushion, then the post meditation where we try to carry this awareness into our daily activities. Then in our daily life, when we are confronted with anger either in ourselves or by someone else, it is then that this practise comes into use, so that we don’t get involved in the confrontation, in the movie. It can help us to see the suffering of the other person and not be so involved in the usual self-centred movie, maybe we can recognise, that if they are angry, they really aren’t very happy, actually they are in a hell realm.   


It can happen, if you offer something nice to an angry person they will push your hand away and shout at you, they are not aware of what they are being offered, they don’t care, they are in a big suffering, so the object is not to multiply, not to add to their suffering but to have compassion for them. Then we are putting our practise to good use in our daily lives.     


It is good to do the practise of Chenrezig, who is the ultimate aspect of compassion and compassion is a medicine for anger, which can come from fear, a fear of ego becoming a lesser ego, of being a target, it is not that we are bad people with such nastiness inside all the way, it's more the ignorance, the attachment to ego, it’s the way we have been educated isn’t it, the way we have been brought up so don’t give yourself such a hard time.


Once someone was trying to harm Akong Rinpoche, I asked him, "What can I do?" Rinpoche replied, "You dedicate all the merit of your practice to this person."


So it seems that our meeting her today has come to an end. Anything that you way have found useful then please take it with you and anything you disagree with, then no problem, just leave it here. Thank you for coming, thank you for your patience kindness and hospitality. Today we started with the right motivation, then we talked about how to tame our mind and how to try to avoid being the cause of more suffering etc. Any merit that we have gained from contemplating this, from our understanding and the practice we have done here this afternoon, we dedicate all of this for the benefit of all sentient beings, this means friends and enemies, with impartiality, so we dedicate for the benefit of all sentient beings. So we will say a short dedication prayer.


Sönam deji tam-che zig-pa nyi

tob-ne nye-pei dra nam pam che ne

tse ga na chi palab drupa ji

sipe cho-le dro va drol-var sho.


Due to this good karma, may I achieve Omniscience,

Defeat the harmful enemies within me,

And free beings from the sea of existence

That is churned by the waves of birth, ageing, sickness and death.


Gelong Dre-may

Buddhist Meditation

Helsinki 18.4.2004, oral translation Soili Takkala. (Edited)


So today we are supposed to be discussing meditation. Maybe it’s a good to start off by talking about why to do it, then maybe how, then the aim, or result. Actually it is just about being a good, kind, sane human being.   The methods we will go through today are what I was taught by my teachers, who are Buddhists from Tibet, but it is not about trying to convert anyone to Buddhism or about sitting in rainbow's or how to read other peoples mind's, how to fly etc. It’s just about training our mind, so that's what we will talk about today.    


But as I am a monk, then there are three things I was taught to consider, they are: good in the beginning, good in the middle and good in the end, so, we start this afternoons meeting with a good motivation, then we will have something in the middle and at the end we will dedicate all the merit we have accumulated.


So first two a short motivation prayers:


Sem-chen tam-che de-wa dang

de-we gyu dang den-par gyur-chig

dugnal dang dugnal chi gyu dang dral-var gjur-tsig.

Dugnal me-pei de-wa dam-pa dan min dral-var gyur-chig

nje ring cha dan dang dral-wei tan-njom chen-po la ne par gyur-chig.


May all beings be happy and create the causes of happiness.

May they all be free from suffering and creating the causes of suffering.

May they find that noble happiness which can never be tainted by suffering.

May they attain universal, impartial compassion, free of worldly bias towards friends and enemies.


Chang-chub sem ni rin-po-che            

ma che-pa nam che jur chik

che-pa njam-pa mepa dang               

gong ne gong-du phel-var sho.


Precious bodhicitta, may it arise in those, in whom it hasn't yet arisen,

Wherever it has arisen, may it not diminish but increase more and more.


Having been in a Buddhist centre in Brussels for a couple of years now and having met many people who want to learn about meditation then I wonder where these people get their ideas about meditation from, maybe it's from comics or the new age influence I don’t know, but  sometimes when they first come, they sit in strange positions and  say things like: "I want to fly, I need to read people's minds and see auras, how can I make my cup fly up onto the table." Lots of strange ideas about meditation. That's not what I learned, that’s not what it is for.  


The meditation that I was taught is about how to tame our mind.   It’s about common sense really, but these days we don't seem to use, to have much common sense. Maybe in Finland then one will have to use common sense because it's quite a harsh environment to live in, cold, quite harsh, so you have to know how to look after yourself in this sort of situation, you have  to build warm houses, houses that will keep the heat in etc., common sense isn’t it!


So first, what is meditation and why to do it?              


Well, in our daily life we are presented with all sorts of different situations, this modern world is quite crazy, lots of conflicts, pollution, pressure at work, at home, on families, big demands on students. We are told we have to do this and we have got to get that, demands and stress, the media telling us what we must have and wear, how we won’t be happy without this or that and if we don't travel here or there then how can we be happy. So on top of our own confused thoughts we have to cope with all the demands that are laid on us from the outside, the daily material world.   


Our buttons are continually getting pushed in, we lose our temper and we wonder why. When someone disagrees with us or does something we don’t like, we become angry. We always blame the other person, but if we get angry then we have the problem don’t we, it’s us who gets angry, the problem is ours, isn't it! It's not the other person's problem, the other person may have a problem, but if we get angry with them then it’s us who has a problem.   


Since childhood we are taught to make our ego stronger, you know, we have to be the best in school, we have to have the best looking girlfriend or boyfriend, we have to be the cleverest etc., there are so many demands put on us. Maybe we can see through it, that’s great, but it’s difficult to be calm all the time amidst all this daily activity and on top of all this we have the senses to cope with, we see, hear, smell, taste, touch something and make a judgement, either we like it and want more, or we don’t like it and don’t want any more. If we like it and want it and someone else gets it we get jealous or angry and if we get it we get proud because we got it, or whatever. So we have all these situations to cope with as well.


Meditation is about recognizing these processes as they occur, that's what it's for, to look at our guck that is our usual confusion. If we want to learn meditation then it’s useful to know why to meditate, what it is for and then when we are learning how to do it and all this stuff comes to the surface, when we start to see the mind habits, the complexities, the patterns, the confusion, then maybe we can accept and deal with it, having no illusions about the way things are, this is what meditation is for. So it’s not about having amazing experiences or flying or reading other peoples minds etc. It’s just about taming our mind so that we will be able to live in a humane, kind manner. If we don't know it and study meditation from books, we may get  angry when it's not working and give it up, some people look calm outside, but inside it can be a fire like hell, we have to work with what is inside us, then the outside will also work as well, isn’t it !


What is the cause of this turmoil, these problems, not just in us but other beings?  It’s the attachment to ‘I’, to this grasping of the ego, that is the big problem, this attachment to I. We see something  "That's nice, I like it, I want it I want more. "But it’s the 'I' that is grasping isn’t it, ...likewise "I don't like it, I don't want it."    Either way it is still the ‘I’ that wants or that doesn’t want isn’t it, it’s still this attachment to ‘I’. 


Some people think they are great, such a big ego, some people think they are useless, worthless, it’s also ego. It is a difficult thing to do, to be humble, it's not really our fault, it’s because we are educated to look after number one, it’s the way society functions, that’s the way it is.


There is a word, bodhicitta, it sort of means to put others before oneself, to think of others, to think what is good for others, to put others before oneself. Khentin Tai Situpa, one of the masters in our lineage said we have to be careful when talking about this subject to Western people because the way we are brought up in the west enforces the ‘I’, it makes our ego very solid, so we can end up having big ego, big problem. With this thinking of I, then it can become difficult to think of others, so to talk about doing that can sometimes be too much of a shock, too strange a thing to do.  


When looking for the cause of this problem we can make a start by taking a look in our body, searching for it with an analytical meditation. Find somewhere quiet, a quiet room, the seashore, the forest, somewhere quiet, and start to investigate: "Where is this I... is it in the nose, in the fingers, in the knee?" If we cut our leg and throw it away, we still have an I and when we look at the body, then there is the skin and blood, muscles, bones, the joints, marrow and shit and piss, if we look deeper, we come to atoms and in between the atoms there is a space, if there wasn't space, then nothing would ever move, but everything moves and changes.  First we were a tiny seed, something from our mother and father, we grew up and eventually, we will die. It's not a big deal, it happens every day. We are born, we will die, voila!!! So if we look at the atoms and then the space in between and if we rest there, then where is this ‘I’ that is causing us so much trouble?


The body is made up of elements: earth, air, fire, water, and space. Of course relatively we are here. When I say relatively, then it refers to the fact that there are two truths. Ultimate truth refers to the fact that ultimately we will never find ‘I’, there is nothing that is a separate entity that will last forever but relatively we are here in a human body but this body is impermanent and comes together due to causes and conditions, so relatively we are here. We are whoever our name happens to be now, but we could be called by a different name, it’s only a name, we recognise ourselves by it when someone says it and we recognize our face in a mirror, but no body which will stay forever, nothing lasts forever, everything that is compounded is subject to impermanence.   It is a matter of causes and conditions coming together that we have this body and if we look for the mind then where is it, is it in our nose, ear, stomach, knee, where is it, does it have a colour, is it blue, red, yellow, green, is it white, is it square or round?


But something is here isn’t it, a thing that knows! If we try now to think of a big yellow banana, and now an apple, and now an orange.......... so where did the banana go? And the apple and the orange? This mind has the capacity to think of things and these things are in something. The mind has the capacity to put thoughts in this space and also there is something that is thinking, so there is something seen, something seeing and something that they are in.


If we meet a friend and they don't smile or acknowledge our hello, we may start wondering what we have done, why aren’t they saying hello, why aren’t they talking to us, what did we do? Maybe that person was thinking about something else at that time or had a stomach ache, but we worry what we have done, don’t they like us, we make up some story in our mind.


We make up a movie, then we act in this movie, we write the story and now we project it out so that now we are the script writer the director and the actor and when we go and ask the person what is the matter and they answer: ”What are you talking about I have a stomach ache,” then we have a supporting act, supporting our movie, this how it is in our daily life, an endless succession of all these endless movies.   We produce movies and act in them endlessly. It happens so fast that we don't notice, it is happening all the time. On top of this we have the emotions, jealousy, anger, fear, greed and pride and we take them to be real, elation, happiness, depression, so a lot to contend with. In Tibet there is a term for this thought pattern, it is ba-chak, it means, habitual pattern. 


One movie pattern that seems to be very prevalent, especially in Europe is guilt, it isn’t a very healthy aspect of our life, I think in fact, maybe it's quite sick. We have been taught that we must feel guilty. Even some people tell me they have been in a situation where they have been the victim, then they have felt guilty for being there at the time, guilty for being the victim, that if they hadn’t been there then it wouldn’t have happened. Of course that is true, but to feel guilty about being harmed doesn’t seem right. Khentin Tai Situpa was questioned about this guilt thing, he said that he understood the concept of guilt, but that he didn’t really understand it. He said when he was a little boy and did something wrong he was told off, told why it was wrong and so he didn’t do it again,  he said that he regretted it, he had a big regret for having done something wrong or having harmed or hurt someone, and then - finished!!! Next time it occurred, it wouldn’t happen, that's it. There wasn’t this guilt, just the deed, regret and a decision not to repeat it again, the feeling of sorry, the regret was there, but this guilt thing, this continual whipping of ourselves, that it seemed a bit sick. We are humans and we make mistakes, we aren’t perfect, so we must learn through our mistakes; that’s one of the ways we learn.


Back to this ba-chak, the habitual pattern, usually we are thinking of something in the past, which has gone, or of something in the future, which hasn't happened yet. We direct our movies from somewhere which happened in the past or ponder, if I do this, will this or that happen; we are in a movie about what will happen in the future. We can make plans, that's okay, of course but who knows what will happen, so this just being here now is really difficult, even we are here now then now is in the past, now it’s gone.


Meditation is very simple, the pure nature of our mind is there all the time, but we don’t know this, so then it becomes quite complicated because we have all these senses to contend with and the past and the future and the 'I' thing. Not easy. The mind has different layers, like an onion. When we begin to practise meditation we start to see the thoughts, to know the outer skin, the big, heavy thoughts, then the more we relax and calm down, the more we practise, the deeper we get onto these layers.   


This mind, which we are trying to find, is like a wild horse, we have to be very gentle with it and we have to learn to be kind to ourselves as well, because as westerners, usually, we demand to much from ourselves, we are to hard on ourselves. If we can accept that we do make mistakes and learn to laugh at ourselves, then maybe when other people make mistakes, or cause us problems then maybe we can be kind to them as well. This horse, this wild horse, first we have to find it, then to get a little closer, then we can pat it, put a saddle on it’s back and eventually we ride it and make it turn to right and left,  make it to go where we want it to go.


Question: You said that the quilt is a habitual pattern and we were brought up with it. It doesn't quite explain it to me. Why is the quilt so much greater in the West than in the East?


GD: Sorry, excuse me for saying this, sorry if it upsets you, it is just my opinion. But through having talked with many people about these problems that we have in daily life, about coping with the problems of daily life, it seems that maybe some of this guilt comes from the Church, or rather the way it has been presented by some members of the church.   


In Brussels sometimes I am involved in inter-faith conferences and the majority of people, including Christian priests agree on this point about guilt. I also meet up with school children either at schools or at the centre, the children are great, they understand when we talk about this subject, they understand the meditation techniques and what they are for and can accept this idea of emptiness and compassion is a subject they eagerly want to know more about, but sometimes it is the teachers who have a problem with digesting these subjects, guilt, emptiness and compassion. 


There was a conference in Dublin that I was invited to attend. Ireland is a country with a large catholic community, attending this conference there were approximately 200 catholic missionaries from different countries, from all over the world. It was a forum where people from countries that had been 'Christianised' were being brought together under one roof. The building had a large hall with seats and a vast exhibition hall where the stands were erected.  Different religions were represented and they wanted a Buddhist monk, that’s why I was there.  


The event was for a week and every day 6000 to 7000 school children, as well as adults visited, so it was quite busy. On Sunday the archbishop of Ecuador was giving Communion and he asked me to join him on the stage. I had never been to a Communion so I didn't know what to expect.


There were maybe 2000 people in attending the service, many of them children and they were all going to receive Communion. Earlier the newspapers had come and asked me "What do you think about all these different religions?" I answered that I thought that all have same goal, just different ways of reaching there. Then they asked the archbishop the same question and he answered the same thing, almost word for word, but he also added that he thought that, "At this time the world needs the Buddhists."  I talked  with some of the priests, the missionaries and they said that they thought that maybe the forum, with all different countries and religions represented was, in a way the catholic church sort of saying an apology.   


This wasn’t my idea, but the catholic priests themselves, they said that with all the conversions and the way that the religion had been presented by some of the church and the not accepting that maybe the people in other lands also had some validity concerning their beliefs, concerning how they lived, that there had been no integration with those countries concerning these original beliefs, that maybe some of the problems that were occurring now may have been prevented if in hindsight things had been done a little differently.  So in a way, they said that maybe there was a feeling of guilt! But by asking me to participate in the Communion and the comment about Buddhism earlier the archbishop who was at that time one of the candidates to be the next Pope really didn’t do his candidacy any good at all. But the missionaries said that he won’t be chosen because he is too radical. It’s a shame because he is very open, very honest. He told me that already there had been two attempts on his life in Ecuador, because he was supporting environmental projects and was lobbying against the big companies who have no concern for the people or the country or the environment.    A very humane and very brave man.


So anyway, today we will go through some exercises, methods of this practise called Shinay, how to use these methods, to find the mind and to train it. These practices in themselves are very simple, but they are also very deep, the Buddha got enlightened by using them, so maybe they are good enough for us as well, we can make a start anyway.


Meditation is not about religion in the sense of a separate creed, it is just about becoming a good human being, learning how to be happy with ourselves, it is very simple really. Sometimes when I am asked to talk about meditation there can be people from all different faith’s: Muslims, Jewish, Hindu, Christians, black, brown and yellow, women, men, ministers of European Parliament, housewives, thieves, prostitutes, all sorts of people come to learn meditation.  


This searching for some inner peace, some inner contentment, lasting happiness is not a special thing for special people, everyone is special, it is there for everyone and it’s great to see these people of different mixtures of so-called social status sitting together, having a tea, talking about the practise, no social barriers, just human beings, it’s great. So meditation is about being calm, gentle human beings. Maybe when a religion started it is like that also, just that, but then it may get into a sidetrack.     


This explanation on meditation is not about making you Buddhists, it's not about doing special things or wearing different clothes, cutting your hair short or using rosaries, it’s just about becoming a kind human being, but that’s what you are anyway  isn’t it. You are fortunate in Finland to have Ani Sherab, she has done a long retreat, but it's not about becoming monks or nuns either, it's just about being a good happy human being, that’s all.


(Break, some of the teachings missed due to a gap on the tape.)


Answer to a question: The Dorje (vajra) is the compassionate aspect, the activity (skilful means) and the bell represents the wisdom aspect, the understanding of emptiness.  These two, the dorje and bell are two objects that make a one. It is said that when we experience emptiness, not blankness, but the true nature of our mind, then that experience cannot be separate from compassion, because at that time we will know that other beings don’t know that experience, otherwise they wouldn’t be acting as they do, being a cause of more suffering for themselves and others.  So there is this non-separateness of this experience, that is briefly what the dorje and bell represent.  


It is this coming to understand the true nature of our mind, the fruition of the practice. We have it already, it’s always there, it was never not there, but we coloured it over, we got involved with this confusion, this ego, with the five poisons, greed, desire, anger, jealousy, pride.   All the going out and coming back through our senses and then the way we are educated to be best etc. didn’t help.   


So it is difficult not to want to achieve something, but it really is necessary to let go of this grasping, this wanting to do something, to achieve. The great saint, the most famous yogi of Tibet, Milarepa  said: "Relax, relax, then more, then more  and more."


"Have no hope, no fear," because fear does come, fear comes from anger, ego is threatened, because we are cutting our ego off and ego doesn't like it, but even though it is a problem, it is something we are used to, something we know.  The more you cut it off, the more it tries to strengthen itself, through anger, desire pride etc. It doesn't want to let go and even though it causes us much unhappiness, even we suffer a lot, we can't let it go. Because actually, when we let it go, we are going somewhere we don't know, so it’s like flying into space, there is nothing to hold onto, there is nothing, it's a very strange and frightening experience. If we really let go, we will see there is nothing to be afraid of, but this ego is so sneaky, it doesn't want to let go.


So we have to learn to relax when the fear comes up. We have to learn to be kind to ourselves, not to be so judgmental, we have to learn to laugh at ourselves, because if we can't laugh to ourselves then we do have a problem, every situation becomes very heavy and we cannot be wrong in anything. Maybe we go to toilet, lock the door, look in the mirror and say: "You made a mistake." And we answer to ourselves: "Yes, but I it was because of such and such a reason." We always have to justify ourselves so that the ego isn’t punctured.  The ego doesn't like to be belittled, it’s painful.     


On one occasion I was in a retreat situation with twenty six men and during the session times it can be very still, very quiet when everybody is meditating. It was so quiet, so quiet, you could hear if anyone moved or sniffled or coughed. This day I was meditating on this subject and had this overpowering urge to laugh, maybe it was this fear, maybe it was just because the thought that came seemed so funny. I started to laugh, just quietly at first, but I couldn’t stop myself, my neighbour banged on the wall. "Be quiet!" A close friend, an American, he is a terrific giggler, Bruce is his name, a really beautiful human being. Afterwards he said he had heard me and was trying not to laugh. He started to giggle, when I heard this, it made it even more difficult to stop, then it spread until everybody was laughing.  


In retreat everyone takes a turn at being the discipline master, and the person who’s job it was that month was walking up and down the corridor, yelling,  "Shut up!" and banging people's doors, that made it even worse because he was laughing as well. It went on for a long time and every time it stopped then someone giggled and it started off again, it was a real good one, you know? With tears, stomach ache, a real good one. For few days the whole house was sort of a giggly house, it was great!! Life is too short to waste on silly things, I look at the younger people here, I'm sixty five, I know what I'm talking about, it’s short, so don’t waste it. Don’t waste your life on silly things. This “poor me,”... what poor me, if we look at what is going on in the world today, what do we have to complain about? 


There is a practice called the Four Foundations, it has been translated as ‘The Four Ways of Changing the Mind’, personally I don’t go with that translation because it can imply that something, someone, will take over our mind, of course we suffer because of the way we see things, so maybe we do need to change our mind, to see things a bit differently, anyway we will call them the Four Thoughts.   


The first one is called Precious Human Birth, this is where we look at all the freedoms and assets that we have being a human. We are not a pig or a flea, we could be, we have had lifetimes in the past, but in this lifetime we happen to be humans, but even as humans we could be born in a country with wars going on, or we could have aids, famine, even not being allowed to follow what religion we like. We all have a place to live, we can do what we want, wear what we want, we are not blind or deaf or lame or mentally sick, we are really lucky. We cannot appreciate how lucky we are, so very, very briefly this is the First Thought, Precious Human Birth.


The second thought is Impermanence. This is where we look at the impermanent nature of everything, nothing stays same forever, nothing.  Anything that is compounded is subject to change, the moment that was a moment ago, has gone, we get older all the time, people are born and people die, the whole time I have been in Finland the sun has shined and people got quite crazy. "Look at that flower, smell this!" It's nice, but everything changes all the time, nothing stays like it is forever. Yesterday you may have been sad about something, now it's okay, in daily life if there are problems in work or at home it will pass and if we really enjoy ourselves and would want it to last it will pass and we are unhappy, it will pass.


The Buddha said that among all the teachings impermanence is like the elephant's footprint because of all the animals in the jungle the elephant has the biggest footprint and like this impermanence is the most important.    If you are lucky you may meet Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso, I think he will visit Finland either later this year or next year, anyway he is one of the most learned Tibetan scholars of our time, he is also one of the teachers of the 17th Karmapa and he is also a practitioner, a real yogi. For many years he wandered around Tibet, meditating, practising in cemeteries and living in caves, I was very fortunate to meet him and to hear him teaching about this subject, the importance of the understanding of impermanence. He said if we really understand impermanence, (me-tak-pa in Tibetan) we will understand emptiness, we will know emptiness. 


So the first two thoughts are precious human birth and impermanence. The third is karma, this is a little bit difficult for us to understand because we can’t see the actions from our past lives and so how can we be sure that what is happening now is a result of what we did in the past. So a little difficult this one, but all it really means is cause and effect, the seed and what grows from the seed, if we put cabbage seeds in the ground then we can’t expect to produce oranges. This is what it is about. It is difficult to prove, but some people work all their lives, seven days a week, no time off and never getting anywhere, all the time in debt, then others, they just have a simple idea, how to make one simple article and sell millions of them all over the world and become a millionaire. So maybe that is because in a previous lifetime they were generous and maybe the other one was stingy or stole something and so they are reaping what they sewed. Some people are healthy, some aren't, it is karma. Some people seem to a have wrong idea about karma, if they see someone falling down and breaking a leg or hurt they walk away thinking, "It's his karma." Well maybe it is, but we can still be a kind human and help in whatever way we can. 


The fourth thought is called the Sufferings of Samsara. Samsara is really the involvement in the mind poisons we talked about earlier, anger, greed, ignorance, desire, jealousy and pride. If we understand that, then we don't need to go to somewhere else to be in nirvana. If we want to know about samsara and how to get out of it, then maybe the practise of Chenrezig will be good to practise, just to say the mantra once will be of great benefit.


Chenrezig is the Buddha of compassion, of course all the Buddhas are compassion but Chenrezig is like a symbol maybe, of all this compassion, the total compassion, the ultimate aspect of compassion. The mantra of Chenrezig is called the six-syllable mantra. Each syllable of the mantra relates to one of the six realms, the gods, jealous gods, humans, animals, pretas (hungry ghosts) and the hell beings. How do we free ourselves from these sufferings, these mental afflictions? It’s not just Buddhists that suffer, all beings suffer, people say that all Buddhists talk about is suffering, well maybe!  But it’s more how to be free of it, the way out of it.


The term Dharma has many meanings, but here it means the path, the way to end the suffering.  For one year I lived in Kathmandu, Nepal. Kathmandu is a very beautiful city situated in the Himalayas, amazing scenery, but still there is much suffering. Nepalese people suffer, Tibetans suffer, rich people, poor people, everybody suffers. Everybody can have a problem, everybody wants to be happy, but not everyone knows how to be happy. Are there any questions?


Q: The Om mani peme hung mantra helps beings who are suffering in six realms. Are the plants included in any of the realms?

GD: Plants? Do you want to put the nice smelling flowers in the hell realms?

Q: Yes.

GD: Nice, but they would most probably burn up or freeze in the hell realms.

Translator: Do you want to know if plants are suffering beings? Maybe this is the question. Can we free plants from suffering?

GD: Maybe. …I was born and grew up in London, some of my friends there were Rastafarians so I knew a little about herbs… but not much about plants out in the nature. Maybe Finnish people are closer to the nature. In Scotland, there is a place where people used to talk to plants, it is called Findhorn.


Earlier at Samye Ling we had started a garden, we had planted a large patch of cabbage which was to help us get through the winter and one time I was left by myself to tend this garden. I really hadn’t much experience with gardening. One day I saw some white butterflies and thought nice, butterflies, then someone told me that they were cabbage butterflies and that the butterflies have eggs and the eggs turn into caterpillars and the caterpillars are going to eat all the cabbages.    


I started to get worried because the cabbages were to help to sustain the kitchen through the winter months.  Early next morning I got and went through the entire patch of cabbages looking for caterpillars, it took all morning. I thought I can't do this every day, there was a lot of other garden work to do. There were some people around who smoked cigarettes, so I collected the butts because someone told me you could make a spray from them, but once I had made the concoction it occurred to me that it would kill all the caterpillars so that was no good !!!


Very early, I mean very early, so no one would see me, I went to the garden. I stood in the middle of the cabbage patch and talked to the garden, the animals, the butterflies, whoever would listen and made a plea: "Listen, I don't want to kill the caterpillars and I understand that you have to eat, so you have one end of the garden and leave the rest to us, okay, because Samye Ling needs the cabbages to help us over the winter period." Suddenly the cabbages started to shake, literally shake, it was a wee bit disconcerting! I walked out of the patch and went to go to breakfast, then it felt as if something, someone, pulled me, so I just followed and when it stopped pulling I looked down and there was a cabbage full of caterpillars. I took it and put into compost. Maybe in all we lost eight cabbages.


Now every year in August at Samye Ling we have an open day, so people come all over from Glasgow, Edinburgh and the surrounding towns to visit Samye Ling. We serve tea and biscuits and the visitors can look around, lots of farmers come. It so happened that it wasn’t only Samye Ling that had caterpillar problems that year, in Southern Scotland there was a plague of cabbage butterflies and nearly everybody lost their crops of cabbages, including the farmers. So when they came to the garden in Samye Ling and asked "How come you can have cabbages?" what could I tell them? So in answer to your question I don’t know, but I'm sure there is some awareness, but I don't know what it is, how it happened… maybe plants do have means to communicate, maybe it is a collective nature awareness, maybe local deities, garden spirits, I don’t really know, but it was a beautiful experience, so who knows, maybe plants can be liberated.


Question: In this everyday reality is there something which is not a projection?

GD: For you or for another person? Of course, if I say something to you and you make a judgement, it's a projection.

Q: But if I try to keep in the listening and hearing, not making any judgement?

GD:   Maybe if we can rest in our true nature, this emptiness, awareness, but that is difficult to do.  What we call projection is what goes on all the time isn’t it. We have opinions. You can disagree with me. I can disagree with you. I can say I don't like that building even though I know you like it, but I am projecting an opinion. If I say I know you like that building because you are Finnish, there is a judgement projection about you. It’s a projection. What normally happens is that we give our opinion and people project their judgement onto us. Then one has to be aware and mindful because it creates fighting. The one who is accused wants to protect themselves and it escalates. So in a way all this dualism, this I, is a projection, isn’t it. I am listening to you is a duality, so I am projecting.


Q: Earlier when I talked to Gelong Dre-may at Tampere, he said that when you are resting in the nature of your mind you are looking at your own soul. Perhaps the previous question was about dualism, projection in a way what is real, as everything that comes to us through our senses is a projection in a way of being an illusion. Is there something that isn't a projection?

GD: When we rest in our pure, our true nature, Dharmakaya. I seem to remember that I said that I didn’t know what was meant by the term “soul“, but that maybe this pure mind was the same. When we are resting in awareness, not even being aware of the awareness, just being, then there are no projections, because there is no duality.    


When the usual habitual patterns start to take over, when we can't stop the thinking but are involved with the continuous thought train, then there is something and someone so we are in dualism. Whilst sleeping we have dreams, we think the dreams are real, but it is just a movie in our mind, but at that time we don't have a body to relate to, we are in our mind. If we can be aware, if we realise that the dream is just a dream, we can change it to be whatever dream we want. So it’s the same in our daily life. In the same way when we meditate and if we realise, if we are aware that the thoughts are just thoughts and that those thoughts are of the same essence as the pure mind, the true nature of our mind, that this essence is the pure Buddha nature there is no dualism, then maybe this is the same as the term ‘soul’. I don't know if this answers your question, or whether or not this is the projection you were referring to. 


When we understand the essence of our thoughts then the confusion is not there, then we are not confused anymore. But there are different sorts of confusion, there is a confusion when someone is really very mentally confused and another where we know and are confused, and confused as to how to get out of it and how to do it, but that is a good confusion because maybe out of that confusion will come some understanding, some wisdom. Most people here seem to be confused in the second way and I think that is healthy confusion. It is like trying to find our way out of a jungle, first we don't see anything but when we get out we will see clearly.


There was a question about dying. Well it happens to all of us but in the Western world it isn’t a subject that is very popular and most people don’t want to even talk about it, at least until death is near. It's a taboo subject, people don't want to get involved with it, maybe it's the fear of not knowing, maybe everyone in the western hemisphere should go to Asia, to India, where death is definitely not a hidden subject. I don't mean it's great, having dead bodies lying all around, but it makes us appreciate what we have, it is impermanence right in your face, no escape. Yes, maybe it should be compulsory for everyone on the west to visit India, then we would stop complaining about what we don’t have. Usually the culture shock hits people when they come back to Europe and see through the facade of what we are told is absolutely necessary for life. It’s when we come back to this worldly life, this materialistic orientated society and we see how unnecessary all these supposedly necessary things are, so a  different reality!


I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to listen to some teachings on death and Bardo, one of them was by Mingyur Rinpoche. Bardo is a Tibetan word, it translates as 'in between', so, in between when we die, when we are born etc. In between waking up and going to sleep etc. As a summary of the Bardo teachings Mingyur Rinpoche said that the best way to prepare for death is to develop good shinay meditation. Then if we have peaceful mind and if we are fortunate to die in a way where we can watch the elements dissolving, to watch this death process, then we know we are dying and we will not have so much fear. On dying Tai Situpa said: “It happens only once in a lifetime, so better not miss it! (laughter). So if we can watch the elements dissolving: fire, earth, air, water, maybe it’s a bit like going to a journey, we know what’s happening. For many people it is like going to an unknown land and they are frightened not knowing where they will go.


If you want to know more there are books. Thrangu Rinpoche has written one explaining the stages of death, the process of dying and the various stages of the Bardo. [Journey of the Mind]


It is sure that we will all die, it’s no big deal, it happens to everyone, so best to have good shinay. How do we shinay? We need two things for meditation, a body and a mind. As Westerners we were brought up to sit on chairs, not to sit cross-legged so don't worry if you can't sit with your legs crossed, it's not a big deal. If you can, good, but maybe sit on a cushion or two or three! The main thing is to have a straight back. The head is placed in a way as if someone was gently pulling you from your hair upwards, and it is slightly bent forwards at the neck, this gives a straightening to the spine and the eyes are looking at the floor about one, one and a half meter in front, the eyes are half closed, gently resting. Some people like to have the eyes closed, well maybe it’s okay to begin with but it is easier to get involved with the thought pattern, with the movies and it is definitely much easier to nod off, to fall asleep.


The hands, they can be placed, can be held in two ways. The first is to put the left hand in your lap and the right hand on top of the left, the hands are a little bit below the navel, but close to the body, not held away from the body as this can hunch the shoulders. The thumbs are touching each other, slightly raised up from the palms of the hands forming a sort of inverted triangle.   


The shoulders are pulled back a little bit and a down with the elbows close to the body, not too tightly, just gently, but not sticking out. A little tip, if it is a cold day then press your elbows towards your body, it will help to keep you warm, I learned this whilst in retreat from some Tibetan friends because every morning we had to do prayers for 30 minutes in the large shrine-room and in the winter it can be very cold in Scotland.   The second position is to put your hands on your knees, palms down. The hands can be either open palms, face down or gently closed, face down, it is good to keep the arms a little straight, so we don't bend the elbows, this straight armed position can help, if you are feeling a little tired as it keeps the shoulders in a good place.


The position may be a little awkward to begin with but it doesn’t take too long to get used to it. We are trying to find the mind. If one can just rest and look at it and see all the thoughts there and let them go, resting in that space, in that awareness, that is great, but this is difficult to do when we start. For most of us it is better to start by just becoming aware of our breath. There are different exercises on how to concentrate on the breath, so we will try to get through some of them today. The reason for giving more than one exercise is that westerners get bored easily and maybe one of them will suit more than the others.


Most people breathe through the nose but some people have a problem and have to breathe through their mouth, it’s okay, whichever suits, the mouth is a little bit open, don't press the lips together, just let the mouth rest loosely, naturally, then we just become aware of the breath going in and out of the nose at the nostrils, or the mouth of course, just focus the mind there.


If you are a beginner and you decide to sit, to meditate for fifteen minutes, then you can have shorter sessions during this time concentrating on the breath, let's say thirty seconds and lengthening it, one minute, two, five, ten etc. and then relax, since it can be tiring to hold the wild horse in one place.  The mind can get easily tired and bored, so better to have lots of short spells of being aware than longer periods just involved in some movie. So to keep the awareness, but not too tight and not too loose, it’s like the strings of a guitar, not too loose and not too tight and like with any new thing start slowly, gently, no rush, nothing to achieve, just relax and watch the movement of the breath, just be aware of it going in and out of the nostrils, or mouth. [Meditation.]


The next practice is just an extension of the previous exercise, but this time one thinks that when we breath in, it goes to the level of the heart and when breathing out, it goes to a point, traditionally it is said, four finger widths in front of our nose, so a cycle. In to the heart and out to four finger widths in front of our nose (don’t get too fanatic about the four fingers okay, it is just an approximation). This method is called riding on breath. If you loose your concentration and get caught up on a thought pattern, some movie, well it will happen, from time to time, it’s okay. When you notice that you have been away on a vacation, then just come back to watching breath again. We start to see how easy it is to get caught up with this mind meandering, no problem, just come back to the breathing exercise, to the following of the breath. [Meditation.]


For the next exercise we use the same cycle as before, but this time we will count the in breath and out breath as one, the next cycle, two and so on. So the same cycle, but counting each of these cycles, the in and out as one, two etc. To start it’s maybe good to do sevens, lot’s of sevens, but if you get to three, four whatever and you realise that you are somewhere else, on a vacation in the mind and can’t remember what number you were at, was it three, four, five, then you go back to one.    


This method may help to see the thoughts more clearly because we are actively using our mind, so when we lose the count we know we lost it. There may be thoughts that we see, but that’s okay, as long as we don't lose the count, it’s okay, we can’t stop the thoughts, that’s not the object of the meditation practise, we can’t stop them anyway, we are just learning how not to get caught up in them, so if you lose the count it’s okay, no problem, so we will try this exercise. [Meditation.]


For the next exercise it is the same cycle as before but this time we don’t count.  We are going to use colours, some people like to use colours, so when breathing in we think that the colour is white, when it is in, there is a short natural holding of the breath, nothing extra, at this time the white turns to the colour red, when being exhaled, when it is going out the red turns to the colour blue. Has everybody got that? Okay, when we breathe in the colour is white, when we hold then the colour is red and when we breathe out the colour is blue. [Meditation.]


You should give each of these methods a fair trial, you may like them all, or prefer one. But what can happen is, that one day the mind may be peaceful, and then we can have the idea the method we have used today is really suitable, then next day the mind has lot’s of activity and we think that this method is no good.  But it is just the different activities of the mind, one day busy next day quiet. Mind has these activities, it can differ from day to day, so may be wiser not to jump to conclusions too hastily and give each method a fair trial.  Then some days we may be able to count to one hundred and other days we may not get past six. And we might think that the six or whatever counting day was useless, but every day, every time we practise is good, every session is good. If we are sitting and thinking, how well this meditation is going, thinking that this is a really good meditation then we aren’t meditating are we, we are thinking.


Now we sit for twenty minutes and to begin with maybe we can meditate on  the subject of precious human birth to start with, how lucky  we are to have this precious human birth and all the freedoms that go with it. Then to think about impermanence, do you remember the Four Ordinary Foundations? Okay, good... so first precious human birth, then impermanence, then whichever shinay exercise you felt comfortable with. [Meditation.]


After practising for some time it can happen that, instead of experiencing the thoughts inside our head where we are the producer, actor, etc.,  we can start to be aware of our thoughts in a different perspective, maybe we see the movie as sort of outside, or apart,  separate, it may be like we can see the movie, see our thought patterns.    


It is the same movies, but when we are practising we are distancing, becoming less involved with this activity. When this happens, there may be a notion of some stillness, some peace, but then it can happen that a flow of thoughts starts, they can start to become faster and faster and we can’t stop them. Maybe we can think that we are going crazy or maybe that we are crazy, so maybe one should know this otherwise we may think that this meditation is not working, it is making me think even more, maybe I should give this  meditation up.  


But it is working, the reason for seeing these thoughts is that we are not so involved in the usual chaotic movies that we usually are caught up with. For the first time we are seeing the chaotic patterns, the confusion that we usually have going on in our mind but have never seen before, never been aware of before, that this chaos we are seeing is what we are usually involved in, no wonder we get tired eh!!!  


My teachers told explained that this experience is like a waterfall which cannot be stopped, but, after some time eventually the waterfall reaches the extent of it’s down flow, it reaches the earth and becomes a river and the river flows into a big beautiful calm lake. Then maybe the wind blows and waves appear on the lake's surface, but this time we don't get involved with the waves, we just watch them. Another wave comes, then we think, maybe, if you like bananas, "A banana. I would like a banana. I'm quite hungry." Then we are walking to the kitchen to get one, so now we have become an actor in our movie, we got caught. While you are eating the banana, if you remember: "Oh, I was supposed to be watching my breath," (or whatever practice it was) that's okay, just come back where you were and start doing your practice again.


So this waterfall process is, when we are seeing the pattern but not having the usual involvement with it, seeing it is weakening the usual habitual activity, we are not making the movies longer, not making the process stronger, we are not getting involved, we are letting the thoughts go so the process loses it’s strength, it starts to get weaker, the waterfall becomes the river, the thoughts are getting weaker. But during this process then we really need to have patience, really! Just to sit and let this waterfall run is difficult, nothing else to do but sit... patience my friends!


Also we can possibly have some physical reactions. In our daily life when we get involved in, well, sometimes unpleasant situations, even just with the just daily tribulations we can get tense and toxins accumulate in our body and on top of that, all that is going on in this world, all that happens, bad news etc. all this affects us. When we are sitting and are not so involved with these chaotic thought patterns, relaxed in meditation, our mind becomes calmer, more peaceful and the body also begins to let go. Maybe the shoulders start to lose this tightness, the muscles relax.


I don’t really like to talk about the chakras, people get easily enthusiastic about their chakras opening and so on, but anyway, according to the eastern medical traditions and the Tibetan meditation systems we have three main channels in our body and at different places on these channels and at different places in our body there are chakras and the chakras have branches called nadis. From when we are quite young, maybe three or four years old, the nadis in the extremities start to naturally die off, from fingers and toes. But because of pollution, smoking, anger etc., they can die off, deteriorate, and close up faster. Then when we start to relax, the blockages start to clear, the toxins start to move, the body relaxes and so the more we relax the better it is, when this happens, not everybody, but some people may have a reaction to this un-blocking. Their body may start to have little twitches or jump a little or shake, it’s okay, don’t worry, it’s just the body relaxing, maybe in a way rejuvenating and the energy is starting to flow, the toxins starting to move, mind is learning to relax, so the body follows, that’s all it is, it’s no big deal, so don’t worry.


A friend of mine who was for many years in Kathmandu, Nepal ,was fortunate to  study with a great Tibetan Lama, Tulku Urgyen, and he practised meditation with for many years, he experienced this body shaking on and off for ten, twelve years, but, he had been a really heavy long time smoker.


So don’t worry too much too much, just be gentle with yourself, don’t have too many fears or expectations, don’t expect too much, be happy, be kind to others and yourself. The real test of meditation is when we carry it into our daily lives, it’s not about being a big yogi, sitting on our cushion, then loosing it when we get up and move into daily life when we are confronted with a difficult situation. So, kind to others, kind to ourselves.


The sign of a good practitioner is not when someone tells how they have had this and that initiation, have done many years of meditation, etc. The sign of a good practitioner is when they become more humble, more honest, more kind, more generous, more happy, more compassionate, then it is working.


So thank you. Anything today that you may have found of use then please take it with you, anything that you find not so useful or disagree with, then just leave it here, no problem. Now we have come to the end of this talk, sorry if it was boring, it was a long time for you to have to sit and listen and for me it was a long time to talk, but now it is time to dedicate all the merit we may have accumulated for the benefit of all sentient beings.


Sönam deji tam-che zig-pa nyi

tob-ne nye-pei dra nam pam che ne

tse ga na chi palab drupa ji

sipe cho-le dro va drol-var sho.


Due to this good karma, may I achieve Omniscience,

Defeat the harmful enemies within me,

And free beings from the sea of existence

That is churned by the waves of birth, ageing, sickness and death.