The 12th Kenting Tai Situ Rinpoche:

Teachings on Meditation

New Delhi 19. - 20.4.2003


1st day: Life, Death and Bardo

2nd day: Basic Teachings on Meditation


Life, Death and Bardo


Today and tomorrow it was specially requested by all of you to meditate and to get more insight into meditation, in which I will do my best. Doing all the practices we do and learning all the Dharma we learn, it is very important to always remember, what is going on. If I put it simply: living is preparation for dying and dying is preparation for living. You die to be born and you are born to die. Each life is maybe 100 or 200 years, maybe only 50 years. If it is lived meaningfully, when the threshold between this and the next life happens, which is inevitable, you don’t have to say to yourself “Wait a minute, what did I do?” You have to be able to say to yourself: “Ok, fine. I’ve done my very best, I have nothing to worry.” That is a sign of a meaningful life.


In Vajrayana teachings there is one very important aspect of teaching, which involves antidote for all fear, anxiety, all regrets that might happen, when our doctor tells us “I’m sorry, we have done our best, but this is it.” When that happens, we should not be overwhelmed by it. We should be able to say “Yes, all right.”


You should be able to pull yourselves together and finish the half-done things. Because we go, and everybody is left behind; it’s pretty bad. We should be able to take care as well. In Tibetan that is nyenpo toknga. Nyenpo means antidote, tok means strength, nga is five. Five understandings, five confirmations or practices will help us to overcome our shortcomings in everything, but specifically when the end of this and the beginning of that takes place.. So, end of this life and beginning of that life takes place.


Number one, it’s described as a seed. It’s also described as fearlessness. Number one, if we know what is our seed, if we are sure of our essence, then there is no fear, because this life, that life, previous or future life is the same, continuation of the same thing. We are not afraid to go to bed tonight because we know tomorrow we will wake up. The same way when the doctor tells us, “Okay, I’m sorry,” then we know it’s time to go to sleep and we know tomorrow we will wake up nicely, because we have done our best with today.


The seed means: everybody’s basic essence has no limitation. It cannot be contaminated by anything, it cannot be influenced by anything. You can never lose it. No matter what happens; thousand atom bombs drop on you, your ultimate essence will not burst. You could be buried 2000 ft (600 meters) under ground, under a mountain, but your ultimate essence cannot be trapped. You can be shot into sun with speed of light, but your ultimate essence will not get lost. It has no limitation of any kind.


Therefore ultimately nobody dies, nobody is born, and ultimately everything is as it is all the time. Therefore knowing the seed you overcome basic fear of everything and in this case fear of death. When we say: somebody died, what does it mean to us? We see somebody, their nose, eyes, ears, shoulders, hair. We hear the voice and remember the movements and we somehow project the personality, which we cannot see, but have a projection in our mind. When we cannot encounter that identity anymore in this world, we cannot find that person anymore on this Earth and what we can find is the cocoon or the print of that person lying there we say the person is dead. That’s what death means to us.


What does death mean to the dying person? For that person it has nothing to do with what is there. His or her mind is not in that anymore, it’s wandering somewhere riding on thought, emotions and memories. Pushed by karma it is like a feather flying in a storm. It is taken from here to there by force of his or her own doing.


So that is death. By recognizing this we truly understand what death is and what is life. Death is life itself. You live after you’re dead, so death means the death of the body. Separation of body and mind, that is the death.


Now, who is being separated? – That s your mind. Separation from what? – Your body. And who is afraid? – Your mind, not your body. Therefore, your mind never dies. Because of that we don’t have fear when the death itself occurs to us. That is the first thing. The second thing is the strength of aspiration. Once we technically conquer the fear of death by knowing what is there, then we should see the second side of that: what happens after death. There is a very good reason to be afraid to die based on what happens after we die.


Death itself we learn is no big deal, not something we should be scared of, but what happens after it, if we haven’t done the good things, the right thing. Especially if we are leading wrong kind of life – then we should be afraid to die and hold on to this dear life as long as we can. Because now I have a reference: I know how I look, sound and feel, I know where I stay, who is my friend, my relatives; in my case I know who are my disciples and who are my teachers; I know to whom I can rely on and who I should keep away from, whom I should be dealing with. I know, I have all the reference. I am quite secure here, I have been learning about this over past 15 years, so I know quite a bit and I want to hold onto this as long as I can.


But one day inevitably there is a question mark, whether we like it or not. So, when that happens it is totally according to our aspiration. Simply speaking: as you wish. If you ask somebody, “How will my next life be?” In this part of the text it says: sincerely as you always have wished and done. If you wish to have a happy compassionate, peaceful life, then you should live a happy, compassionate and peaceful life. And if we wanted to have next life with lots of chaos, confusion and neurosis, then we should live a confused, neurotic life. This way the aspiration is very important.


Now, what is the aspiration? In Vajrayana the aspiration is the Mahayana aspect: I wish to attain Buddhahood for all sentient beings to attain Buddhahood. Bodhicitta. That is the aspiration, and if that is our sincere wish and we live according to that, then our next life will be closer to that and the life after two times closer. This way we can reach towards our goal as we wish. Aspiration bodhicitta means sincere confirmation of our wish. That is the second strength. The third strength is described as a magnitude of power, strength, which can overcome anything. A magnitude of perception for example, which can overcome all perception, all perceivable shortcomings. For example, if there was let’s say a wolf bothering your herds, if you have a mighty lion coming to help you – the lion king – as soon as the lion climbs on a rock and roars towards the direction where the wolves are, the wolves don’t have much to do, they just be there. It is the magnitude of strength of your understanding, your perception, that can overcome any shortcoming of all the perceptions.


That is simply the understanding of sunyata, prajnaparamita. Once one understands sunyata, translated as emptiness, life after life translated as reincarnation, which in my opinion is a poor translation, but I don’t have a better one, so understanding of emptiness. How this works is very simple. The relative truth about everything is: everything is interdependent with everything else. Nothing will be there if it’s not for everything else. The foundation, walls, pillars, beams, roof, window frames, glass. Everything stands for that, if it’s not for that there will be no house. Same thing with everything, ourselves and everybody else, everything from heaven to hell. From god to ignorant me, everybody exists because of everybody else. If it’s not for everything else, nothing is there. Knowing this is very practical common sense. But by knowing this truly, then you can understand and there is nothing that you can’t understand. Because anything is possible. There won’t be any of this: it’s too big, it’s too complicated, too frightening, too good, too bad, I can’t understand, I can’t believe. That won’t be there because you know: anything is possible.


This way your ability to comprehend any aspect of relative truth, how wonderful/terrible it may be, how complicated or simple it may be, you will be able to comprehend it, if you have the understanding of emptiness, sunyata, the interdependency of everything else. That is the third strength, I give you an example of it. If something you think really unbearable happened to you, you would think, “This is unbearable.” If you have a clear understanding of emptiness, it still means its not pleasant, but it will not be unbearable, it will not drive you crazy or destroy you. It actually can make you even stronger, better and clearer, it might make you to become more mature. But if we don’t have the understanding of emptiness, that will destroy us temporarily. Nothing can destroy us permanently of course, but temporarily. One life will be destroyed. This life might become ruined and the scar of that shock and the effect of that trauma can last as long as we live. This is because we hold onto one thing as the truth, the reality, the everything, and we don’t know it’s related to everything else.


So by holding to it like this artificially, what happens, its result will be artificial. Artificial result is more harmful than the true result, because artificial is like a lie. In order to maintain a lie you have to lie again. After some time you forget what kind of lie you have said to cover your first lie. You get exposed and then it becomes even worse. The misunderstanding of reality happens and the only antidote for that is the true understanding of reality. True understanding of reality is interdependency of everything. That is emptiness, sunyata, and the only effective true antidote for misunderstanding is true understanding. This way the third strength is the strength that will overwhelm any kind of shortcoming, sunyata, emptiness.


The fourth strength is like strength of destination, a determining strength. It is like if you are an archer, it is the bow, it is the arrow. The length of the arrow and bow and the velocity of the material of the bow, according to that the arrow will go certain distance. The destination of an arrow shot by 500 pound bow will reach maybe half a kilometre. That is what will determine where this arrow will reach. Here, no matter what we are doing: positive or negative things, religious or worldly things, what will determine the outcome of it, its destination, is your dedication.


If we wholeheartedly begin, continue and finish something, if it’s a good thing, the result will be really good. If it’s a bad thing, the result will be really bad. Us, the Mahayana and Vajrayana practitioners have the bodhicitta in the beginning, right? And constantly we should dedicate. Dedication is bodhicitta in action. Whatever we do, any kind of things that we involve, we do our best with it and after doing and involving in whatever we involve, if it’s a good thing, we dedicate it for enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings. The dedication is the fourth strength.


The fifth strength is described as the strength of practice, strength of continuous effort. That is based on diligence, patience etc., but it is the continuation. The main practice of that is mindfulness and awareness. Both are very simple but important.


Mindfulness means always to be mindful and in itself it is a very important practice. When you are talking, resting, eating, praying, meditating, reading, working, all the time have mindfulness. That is very important basic mechanism or path for progress. If you are mindful, then even you have ordinary job, it becomes very much like meditation, because you are mindful.


And the other one is awareness, which means to remember your motivation always, keep in mind your basic inspiration and aspiration all the time. Whatever you do is blessed by it. For example a good parent, father or mother always remember their responsibility as father or mother to make their children to grow up to be good, mature, happy and able adults.


So the mindfulness and awareness. First is very basic: always be mindful and the other to have the motivation, always to remember the principle. Then one does not get lost. Even very good people get lost many times. It is a powerful thing, because getting lost doesn’t mean we lost something but it means if we don’t have mindfulness and awareness, we get lost. Sometimes we can be very mindful, still we get lost, because we forget why we are being mindful! It’s like doing pujas and rituals and forgetting why we are doing them. Then we get lost in pujas and rituals. Of course we can get lost in bad things but even in good things we can get lost.


The humanity is becoming little bit strange these days and I think it has a lot to do with this. We originally, in the beginning, know why we want to do something, but then, once we get involved in it, day by day, month by month we get lost. We keep doing what we have started but then the purpose and motivation, the real life of that becomes weaker. So mindfulness and awareness are very important. In Tibetan this is called tenpa sheshen. Tenpa means remembering, that is what I call awareness. Sheshen is knowingly, that is what I call mindfulness. So you think and I talk knowingly. You do whatever you do knowingly, mindfully, that is the fifth strength.


This way then whenever we encounter any extreme situations in life we are able to handle it because we know we are not going to die ultimately. Our mind never dies. Secondly we have good sincere motivation and dedication. Third, we have the understanding of emptiness. Birth is totally interrelated with death, death is totally interrelated with birth. You can’t die if you are not born. So we are glad to be born and terrified to die. Once we know it is interrelated then it is not that much of a tragedy. If we are born naturally it is okay, and causing death to oneself or others is a negative thing. It is absolutely neurotic to cause death to anybody including yourself, because sooner or later you will die. So just by taking it easy it will happen. Your worst enemy does not have to cause you anything, you just wish them well and are kind and compassionate and they will be dead! Then they will be born again somewhere, but maybe as your friend. Your enemy may become your best friend next time because you have been positive to your enemy. You are an old person and this little fellow is very nice, maybe incarnation of your enemy.


Anyway, this understanding of emptiness, dedication and always being mindful and aware, if we lived our life based on this, then no problem. Of course our great masters, sometimes their words are little bit hard to swallow, because a person like me can’t say I’m terrified of thinking of dying, but I definitely like to hold on to this dear life as much as I can. But I will not be neurotic about it, I don’t think so. Anyway it’s a good thing that I can live.


But in one of Milarepa’s songs he says, “Death is not a death, it’s a little end for the yogis.” For him it’s enlightenment, because the moment he dies, of course naturally, his mind and body, this dualistic connection, even this will be liberated. So he will recognise the essence of his mind as it is. And it is quite inspiring for me to have witnessed quite few great masters or even good lamas of our lineage. I see them dying, I saw many of them dying while sitting and meditating. Really, meditating sitting with no support, and they stay like that for 2 – 3 days, and then they are dead. The mind and body get separated and at that moment they recognise the nature of mind, we call it tukdam. In sanskrit they call it samadhi.


One master whom I knew, he told his attendant to bring his robes and Gampopa hat. He put it on his head, then meditated and died. This can only happen when you have full confidence that everything is okay, then you can go like that. And if you can go like that, then you also will come like that. So I think the greatest test of life is at the time of death. Because in life we somehow can play all kinds of games, we can put all kinds of faces, but when the inevitable comes, we show our true face, we can’t pretend in that situation. Do you have questions?


Question: [inaudible]

Rinpoche: Body, speech and mind, this is only relevant to human beings of Planet Earth. When we are conceived… [inaudible] … so you are angry, you have attachment or you are shouting and going crazy; that is emotion, that is the most dualistic manifestation of mind. Now, the interdependence of mind and matter is just mind’s own manifestation, it’s matter. There is no such thing as matter separated from mind in Vajrayana. Scientists might say they are different. They say there will be matter even there is no mind, but scientists with mind have to go and see! Anyway, it is noting more, nothing less than [inaudible]. Whether it is there when I am not there or it is there when I am there doesn’t make any difference.


So now, in this context the manifestation of karma: mind, emotions, dualism; the base of all reality is five elements (earth, water, fire, wind and space). The base of five elements is of course space, but beside that… [inaudible] …because there is no such thing as wind. It is the pressure up or down. Other than that there is no wind. Wind is not stored somewhere and then coming out and going somewhere. It just comes, is created and then it disappears. So the most dualistic manifestation of the mind: the emotion, and the most subtle base of reality: the wind – these get together. The mind is riding on the horse of the wind. In Tibetan namshe lung tawa shen, consciousness, mind, is riding on the wind.


The consciousness is together with the wind and then that enters into our mother, into the most subtle physical reality, manifestation of our mother and father. The liquid form is the most subtle aspect of the physical, the wind is the most subtle aspect of the universal base, and the emotion is the most dualistic manifestation of mind; these three merge and within 29 days all of that wind will form a tube in the middle, because the liquid form becomes solidified in 29 days. So it becomes a tube. We call it central channel, which later develops physically into backbone together with the subtle aspect of the backbone, which is always there.


So now, that wind is in the middle, in the middle here, that is why they say mind is here. As a result of that if we are injured anywhere in the middle, we die. If we are anywhere else we might survive. But middle, doesn’t matter where, from here all the way down any place, if we are injured, we can die. The backbone is very important. Life becomes very serious. Because of that we have body, speech and mind. Body, because the most important thing of the whole body is here. To eat, to see, all is concentrated to this little thing here. And most important aspect of communication is here, the voice, speech, and the central of the nirmanadi is here, that is the mind. It has nothing to do with the heart.


Q: What increases awareness and mindfulness?


Rinpoche: When your ego is less dominating, then everything becomes better. The bigger your ego is, the worse everything else becomes. Anything that will make your ego transform – “try to get ego,” there is no such thing, but you have to transform your ego. For example compassion makes your ego less, and devotion makes your ego even more transformed. Compassion is more ego-friendly that devotion. Therefore compassion comes first. Once you develop true, genuine compassion, then you try to develop true genuine devotion. Once you have compassion and devotion, mindfulness, awareness and all the other aspects of practice are much easier, because if the ocean doesn’t have a strong current, you just swim easier. The kind of power of your ego becomes transformed. Your ego’s negative power becomes transformed into mindfulness and awareness. That way your ego’s basic foundation is transformed into primordial wisdom. That is the base of the ego itself. When we don’t understand our primordial wisdom, it becomes ego and self.


Q: [inaudible]

Rinpoche: The third Karmapa’s Mahamudra prayer has four sentences: “The outer objects never existed, but they are your own manifestations, your own projections that you mistake as an object.” So, your own manifestation, your own karma, your own perception – that you mistake as an object. You always recognise your ultimate limitless essence, primordial wisdom, you always recognise that, that always manifests. But that manifestation you misunderstood as “I”. You know, self-realisation, self-recognition. Recognizing the primordial wisdom by primordial wisdom itself, that self-realisation, self-recognition happens all the time, but it is continually mistaken as I.


Therefore dualism is maintained and we are wandering in samsara. Samsara is the cause, condition and result of dualism. As long as I and other – this subject and object dualism is there, there will be attachment, liking, disliking, aggression, jealousy, hatred, greed, everything. That is the samsara, and samsara means circle, never ending circle. Like if you are running in a circle you will never get anywhere but you get tired and can spend many lifetimes running around.


In samsara we are serving our attachment, anger, jealousy, fear, greed, hatred, doing our best to serve it like a slave. But it will never be satisfied. There will be no fulfilment, no ultimate fulfilment of anger. If you kill an enemy, you have to kill enemy’s relatives and friends and it will go back all the way to you. At the end you have to destroy everybody except for yourself. The whole living world. Until that happens, your enemies will never be finished. That’s how it is. Anger can’t be fulfilled like that, you will end up being the only one in the world, just one person. After some time you will hate yourself and jump off a cliff. That will happen


 For example attachment is just like anger. If we go after one thing, over there you find something more interesting, more desirable, and you go after that; we’ll find something else, if we don’t stop somewhere. If we serve our desire, it is same as serving our anger. It will go on forever. If we serve our jealousy, first we will be jealous about something, of somebody, but if we go on, we will be jealous of ourselves. So it will go on forever and we will go crazy. First we are jealous of our strangers, ten with our friends, then with family members, then what happens? – No end, it will go on forever. Same thing with pride and all other defilements. That is samsara. Defilement can never be fulfilled no matter how hard we work.


So we have to do other things to transform them. Gyalwa Karmapa’s four sentences say, “Everything is happening right now: object and subject, everything is baseless right now but it is maintained all the time, so we wander in samsara.”


Q: We feel that we also have our worldly activities and professions, we sometimes think it’s because of my job that I’m having all these problems.  If I was a monk or nun it would be different, because people would treat me differently. Being an ordinary layperson – you were saying that whatever we do, if we do it with correct intention, that’s good enough. But I know many people who say it would be much different if they were a monk or a nun.


Rinpoche: I can tell you one thing: It will be different, yes! But it will be different in many millions of ways. So I think being a monk, nun or an ordinary person is just a different way of being. But depends on what kind of ordinary person, monk or nun, where, when and why. It depends on so many things.


For example myself, the whole thing was designated to me when I was 18 months old. Do you think that is easy?? I am supposed to be Lord Maitripa, Guru Rinpoche, Marpa Lotsawa, all the eleven Tai Situs and I have to maintain practically what they have done. Not just theoretically. I have so many things to do, and just to learn what I have to do, takes many years. It is definitely not easier to be a monk or nun of that kind.


But of course, if you are a monk, nun or a yogi simply practising meditation and have no other responsibility, purely practising and doing retreats month after month, year after year, then of course it will be different. But then also one has to have conditions, because if you keep on doing retreat year after year, if you don’t have means to do that, your life can be very difficult. After some time you may find lots of reasons to make yourself unhappy, because “I have done 20 years of retreat, now I have nothing, nobody cares for me, serves me, and I have done 20 years of retreat.”


That can happen and it is also not very healthy. So, I think, as you are, whatever you are doing right now, and the first thing is to implement the dharma we have learnt up today. All the dharma we have learned and already have in the life. Then we learn more, deepen it and enrich it. Then whatever other kind of dharma-life that you might follow or worldly life blessed by dharma, it should evolve. It will evolve, because good things will always become better. Better doesn’t mean more comfortable or easier, but everything will be more meaningful. And so, I think everybody is doing wonderfully. But you should not have misgivings that monks and nuns have no problem. They have also problems. Not all of them, but different monks and different monks have different problems. My kind of monk and nun has too many responsibilities, sometimes I have to really think very clearly and track back for 200 years, to find out why something happens now and why I’m doing something now. Not a chance of a boring moment, white samsara.


Q: Next life… [inaudible]

Rinpoche: I will definitely not worry. But what will happen will happen and what happened, happened. And I wanted to do my best with my conscience and effort and I will not worry. I agree with you 100% about worrying. Worrying of any kind is extra suffering. No worry. Good and bad things happen, if we want, we can worry all the time. The whole world could be given to you today, you became the empress of the world today. If you want, you can worry, you have the whole world to worry about. Tomorrow they take away everything and you have nothing. This way, if we want to worry, we can worry all the time. Of course people worry about some things, I think they need to. Otherwise they find it very boring. But more that a reasonable dose of worry… we should not get lost to the worry. Worry does not help.


If you have a problem and worry about it, you become disabled. Your ability to handle your problem will be lessened by your worrying, and your mind becomes affected by it. So, try not to worry. I don’t remember my past lives. All those past great incarnations, if I remembered I would be very delighted. But then, thousands of lifetimes, millions of lifetimes, each one of us has been everything. If I remembered even ten percent, I would go crazy. So I think ignorance is a pleasure, a joy!


Q: When you die, wrathful deities come?

Rinpoche: Tibetan Book of Death, a bardo text, Bardo Todrol, a very sacred text. For you to understand relations between living and dying I think you should understand the basic definition: everything is interrelated. If you understand that it will take care of that, because whatever happens to you will have everything to do with whatever happened to you. Something that has nothing to do with you will never happen. That way what is going to happen in your bardo in the future and what happened in your bardo in the past, what is happening in your life right now. Life is also a bardo according to six aspects of bardo. Bardo Todrol is a complete text, in which bardo is taught in six aspects. Only three of them relate to death. There are six aspects, and life is also a bardo. In that way everything has to do with everything.


Now the wrathful and peaceful deities. Actually there are a hundred deities representing the hundred sacred important aspects of our body. This involves 42 peaceful deities and 86 wrathful deities, and the main deity Shinchok (male and female), the king and queen together. Altogether it’s hundred deities.


But these hundred deities represent all aspects of new age technologies, energies, you know. Energies sometimes sounds little trendy. It really means sacred physical aspect of human being of Planet Earth. Our body, it relates to us. This might answer your question about wind and mind entering the body. That’s the way the body and mind are connected. In that the hundred aspects are described in the bardo teaching.


In the bardo practice we have the practice of the brain and we call that the pure white mandala of the brain; like conch shell palace of the brain. East petal, west, south, north and central petal. Each one has a deity, which represents one of each of the wisdoms. Each wisdom is the transformation of each defilement. It’s a complete practice. It is absolutely full complete elaboration practice of bardo in the ritual mandala, visualisation etc.  A complete tantra by itself. It is in there.


Q: You were talking about the liquid as the most subtle state of the body?


Rinpoche: Of the body of our father and mother, yes. It takes 29 days to form the central channel. Because the egg becomes hardened and in the middle the wind, the air element and mind are manifesting in a form of emotions, and consciousness relatively trapped there forms a tube, that is the beginning of central channel. From there it is like branches, flowers, fruits, everything grows to all directions: lings, liver, eyes, ears, nose, all the other things grow from there.


It is as if there was one big bush here and another bush there. Three rabbits live here and two rabbits live there, and there is a vegetable garden over there with carrots. So the rabbits go there and there will be a vague path over there and a good path here. The way the winds spread and function: we have five fingers here and five toes there, two legs, two hands, up the hair, everything develops out of that. That is natural, almost primordial genetic engineering. That takes place naturally.


Q: In the union of wind and liquid?


Rinpoche: First union of mind (emotion) and consciousness and wind. Then emotion attracts that, then it… you call union, merges into, then our mind becomes unconscious. When we die it’s a separation of body and mind, unconsciousness. When we are conceived there is another unconscious period, because mind and body, two totally separate entities merge. It’s a shock.


Q: [inaudible]

Rinpoche: Human life is very precious; defined by 18 definitions. First we contemplate 18 aspects and if we have those 18 aspects in our life, then our life is precious. We appreciate those things that are already there, we uphold and cherish it. Those things that are not quite there; we contemplate on them and acquire them. So we develop and make our life precious. Of course human life is precious, we are human beings and human life is precious. But saying human life is precious is different from precious human life. Precious human life means human life with 18 conditions, because that way you can progress and you can help others to progress as well. If you don’t have any intention to benefit anybody, then you will not benefit anybody, because you have no intention, no wish. So you have to have the intention to benefit, and then your life becomes precious.


Q: It is said that only in human life you can get enlightened.


Rinpoche: On Planet Earth Buddha Shakyamuni and the three Buddhas before him, and all the over 900 to come are going to be humans. But it doesn’t mean there is no animal buddha, because in the bardo teaching we have animal buddha, asura buddha, buddha of gods, buddha of hell. Six realms have six buddhas in the bardo ritual practice. It doesn’t mean only humans will attain buddhahood. But there are thousand prophesied buddhas of human realm. A dog to become buddha might be easier than scorpion – for me, because I’m really scared of scorpions. But actually I have learned it is a hand, I thought it was mouth. Having two mouths would be frightening.


Q: What is the difference if the mind is talking or consciousness?


Rinpoche: Don’t worry about that. If you think to much like that you will be confused for nothing. Mind is mind and consciousnesses are all interdependent like waves and ocean. How can you truly differentiate between the ocean and wave? Wave is ocean, ocean is wave. That way don’t worry about it. But I think there is something else in it. So, when something tells you something, sometimes you should take it seriously and sometimes you shouldn’t.


Q: [inaudible]

Rinpoche: First of all we should have very clear purpose, intention, motivation and aspiration for our life. That is the most important first thing. Our life is not just for whatever. We wanted to make the best usage of this life, to benefit ourselves and everybody the best possible way. That motivation should be there. Once that motivation is there, then you have a guideline. On what base, with what kind of guideline you should think and make a decision. So that way some good percentage is done already once you have your motivation and purpose in this life clearly decided.


In that process I use a very simple method: what I want, what I need, what I have. These three things are a convenient way to conduct yourself. What I want – maybe this much, but I might have 50% of what I need to achieve what I want. But maybe I have more than enough to achieve what I need already. In this simple way, what I want, need and have, it becomes more clear. Then anything extra is a bonus. You know your limitations and potential are limitless, of course, you have to know that, but also know your limitations right now, then I think life is much easier. You don’t have to worry too much about listening to your mind or heart, thoughts. If you are very clear and sincere already with your motivation, then your heart can tell you certain things. But if we don’t have good heart and clear mind, then I don’t think our heart tells us much, because there isn’t somebody living there, it is not awake, it is sleeping. So when you call, will not answer! In order to have somebody to listen to, you have to develop a good heart first.


Q: Earlier you mentioned our basic essence as our seed. I was wondering if this is buddhanature or primordial wisdom?

Rinpoche: It is. Primordial wisdom, buddhanature, ultimate bodhicitta, ultimate emptiness; same thing.


Q: [inaudible]

Rinpoche: Dewashepa nyingpo means Tathagatagarbha.


Q: Tenpa?

Rinpoche: Tenpa has nothing to do with buddhanature. Of course everything has to do with buddhanature, tenpa she shen. Tenpa means to remember. You have to have something to remember. So, remember your motivation, your bodhicitta, that is tenpa. I call that awareness. She shen means whatever you do, do it knowingly. When you have don things and don’t really know you’ve done them, that is mindless. So mindful, do things mindfully.


Q: [inaudible]

Rinpoche: We will say all of them, including form. Form has everything to do with mind, because how forms exist, how we effect form and how forms effect us, all is manifestation of our karma. From that point of vie it has everything to do with mind, but why they separate it is because as it manifests, it animates object, the form.


Q: [inaudible]

Rinpoche: This happens when you learn so much dialectics, logic, when you have to exercise your dialectic principles to debate. Otherwise you get caught very easily. Therefore you separate form and awareness etc. Truly you can’t separate anything from anything, but then there is nothing to debate. When you are debating you are using dialectic logic, which is very sophisticated. It is like a lawyer. Lawyer is doing the case and you have to separate things from each other. Lawyer is arguing the case in the court. Debating is like that. In order to follow those logics you have to separate things quite superficially. Otherwise you cannot say anything. Even the best debate technique does not work when it goes beyond the dualistic, you know.


Some Milarepa’s teachings may contradict dialectic norms, but they can’t get him, because he is above and beyond. It is within the realm of our dualism, within the realm of rules of logic, These things have to be done. There are so many things like that, like: mind doesn’t have any entity. It’s empty by itself. It in one aspect of logic and very sophisticated in itself. But I will never agree. Because if mind is nothing, you are finished! So, mind is everything for us. It is quite an exercise, very good!


Q: …Heart sutra: “Form is emptiness, emptiness is form.”

Rinpoche: “Emptiness is not other than form. Form is not other than emptiness.” If you want to have a very safe conclusion, you say: The essence of everything is limitless, there is no limitation. You don’t have to go back and forth, that takes care of everything, limitless. It is not limited as something and it is not limited as nothing.


Question [inaudible]

Rinpoche: If it is really cold, outside zero degrees and you are getting up in the morning taking hot shower makes it worse. So you have to spread the splendour of zero degrees coldness outside by the splendour of the very cold bucket of ice water, which you just pull on you three times while holding your breath. The put on your nice clothes and go out and it’s very warm. It will hold you warm whole day. That is like suppressing the splendour of the external cold by the splendour of ice cold bucket of water. It is suppressing, because the antidote has more power than what you need to cure. The power of the antidote suppresses the power of the defect.


Because you understand sunyata, then the magnitude of that understanding is so comprehensive and complete, that any kind of little thing becomes manageable. So you can handle and relate to anything, if you understand, you take dependent nature of everything else.


Q: When somebody dies, we don’t know what to do. We don’t have practices, such as powa.


Rinpoche: You can do anything you feel you are able to do, because anything will be better than nothing. So you send positive dedication to the person as she or he is dying and make sure the person hears about positive things. Tell the person: we all  care for you, we are all praying for you, you’ll be happy, everything is all right, don’t worry. You know how the person thinks, because worry you know and hear. You do all things to make it as positive as possible, because the last moment of thought is very powerful, nobody fools around at that time. It is very serious time. Then you pray, you say mantras, prayers, quietly or with some sound, doesn’t matter, and make it positive. Up to three days it is very beneficial to say these around the body. Because the mind of a human being can remain in diseased body for up to three days. It maybe gone right away or after one hour, two hours, one day, two days, but up to three days it can still be in the body. We call that first clear light and second clear light. These two clear lights of the first bardo, sipa bardo.


One of the six bardo is sipa bardo; that is about death. In the sipa bardo only there are three states of bardo. In this the first bardo has two stages: first clear light and second clear light. They are maybe one moment, maybe three days. The first clear light is the moment you die and the second is when your mind exits the body. In between that there are up to three days. So we keep the deceased body untouched and undisturbed for three days. Maybe the person is gone already and we are keeping it for three days for nothing. But maybe the person is still in there. So we pray right in there, in the presence of the body. Very relevant.


Q: If he is gone already?


Rinpoche: Doesn’t matter, it is still better than if we were not doing it. How much it will effect depends on the person, on you, on the relationship; on many things. But it will be better than not doing it. Therefore we should spend time and thought.


Q: [inaudible]

Rinpoche: It might effect on the person. If my mother had died when I was 1 – 2 months old, my dead mother might have reincarnated as one of you. It [praying for the deceased] would benefit the person definitely, nothing is wasted. Good or bad, everything we do; nothing is wasted. But if the person is reincarnated as a ghost, it will effect the person directly. The person may be wandering as a ghost and not reincarnated in other realms. The ghost realm is one of the six realms. That particular realm stays very much similar to the dead person, and the person is born in that realm.


There are pujas, in which you call the consciousness of the person, you give empowerments and teach. It directly helps and communicates to the person, when the consciousness is called by the power of the one who does the puja. I depends on the person’s ability to do the puja.


Q: Are the ghosts very unhappy?


Rinpoche: Not necessarily unhappy, but if somebody committed suicide or things like that. Most are born as ghost many times, that’s what the texts say. Negative way.


Q: If one is stuck in a place, can one be born as a ghost also?


Rinpoche: Possible. We call it traumatic, traumatized death. It makes the person very afraid and very negative. Then the bardo is same but one takes another rebirth. That rebirth is most of the time what the definition of the ghost realm is.


Q: That takes three days?


Rinpoche: For human being on Planet Earth the longest period of bardo: sipa bardo and chönyi bardo, this aspect of bardo is not more than 49 days.


If you are died as a human you can be conceived as animal, ghost, god, asura, human etc. The period between death and conception is called bardo, “in between”. Those two bardos, sipa bardo and chönyi bardo are not more than 49 days for our physical body. It can be shorter, it can be a moment, from moment to 49 days maximum. Mind leaves the body in two or three days. In this condition the mind cannot live in the body on Earth more than three days after death, impossible. Maximum is three days, minimum one moment.


Then there are different stages. So if your bardo is two weeks, the first week you will think and feel and manifest as you are. At the end of the first week you will be nothing. Then in the beginning of your second week you will feel like your next life. You will manifest as your next life, so if you are going to be a dog or a cat or human etc., it will manifest that way. In between, exactly in the middle is something like neither this nor that.  That is also an important stage of the bardo. Then you slowly become manifest and at the end you are conceived. It is according to the bardo teaching.


Q: [inaudible]

Rinpoche: Samadhi. That can be any time. After years some people can forget. You are supposed to keep it for three days, but you get carried away. It’s not, this kind of condition.


Q: If I pray, will it be helpful?


Rinpoche:  Of course it will be helpful, definitively, but how much it helps, it depends. Your karma, her karma and your karma with her, everything is interconnected. Some strangers praying for her or you praying for her will make a big difference.


Q: We will be conceived in whatever realm within 49 days Does that happen to everyone?


Rinpoche: Yes.


Q: There was something about spirits wandering around?


Rinpoche: That’s the consciousness of the person wandering.


Q: It’s a very busy place, the bardo, lots of traffic, but everyone there goes somewhere in 49 days?


Rinpoche: Yes, but think about the whole universe, how many sentient beings are dying? All have bardo. At that stage there is no speed limit. Really. From this galaxy to that galaxy wouldn’t even take a second. It has nothing to do with speed of light etc. Mind has no limitations.


Q: Can your prayers reach someone in another realm?


Rinpoche: Of course, everywhere, at that stage there is no distance. But your ability to perform it efficiently, consciously, depends on your realisation. First level bodhisattva can manifest a hundred manifestations at the same time in a certain distance of space. I don’t remember exactly, but I think in one galaxy or something. The second level can manifest hundred times more, and third level hundred times more than the second. So, how effective is your prayer towards some other living being in a form somewhere else, physically being really effective, it depends, but in a bardo state the mind of a being… some of your relative died and then that person is in the bardo. That mind is wandering maybe a hundred galaxies away, and you are praying for that person. So there is a difference.


Q: When mind doesn’t leave the body at that time, can mind [inaudible]?


Rinpoche: Sometimes yes. Mind is normally in the body for that period of time, because it goes unconscious, so ordinary person, without realisation, when the separation of mind and body happens, the person goes unconscious. Samadhi means, when the separation happens, then mind becomes free from the body, and the person has the realisation of the mind, which is not influenced by the limitation of the body. So the person is in samadhi. But when the person is not in samadhi, then he/she is unconscious. That unconscious period lasts from one moment to three days.


When the person is coming out from that unconscious state, any time, the person goes out of the body straight away. Then the body is like a mountain. The person’s consciousness has to come out, because it is trapped in the karmic physical connection. Our body is our karmic fruit. You are in it still and you have to come out. There are nine exits.


As it exits out, it is like a tunnel, because the body is like a mountain and all these exits are like tunnels. That goes out of it, that is the second clear light. Then into the openness. Once there, one sees and hears everything, it is not limited to one form and one sound. Right now our ear cannot hear every sound, our eye cannot see everything, only in front, not at the back of your head. So it is like you had a round eye, sees everything. And you have round ear, which hears everything. It is very frightening, if you don’t have maturity. But if you have maturity, you are one with everything. That is the practice and realisation chance of the second clear light.


Q: Atma leaves the body?


Rinpoche: It sounds like the same thing, but I can’t say for sure, because atma is… Of course when Buddhist philosophers debate with Hindus, they debate on atma a lot, but I have very little problem with atma, personally. For me buddhanature is limitless. But it is the limitlessness of the nature of buddhanature. So I cannot say buddhanature is nothing or something, but I have to say buddhanature is everything. It is not nothing and not something – then what? – Everything. It sounds very much like – if you are little bit open ad not too much worried about dogmas, ten it sounds like a deeper way and more non-dualistic aspect of atma. But if atma is perceived as dualistic, solid existence, as the “I,” that I always hold onto, then of course, that is ignorance. But if the atma is limitless potential, then that is buddhanature, same as shentong. Buddhanature is limitless, primordial and incorruptible.




Basic Teaching on Meditation


Yesterday I was talking about particulars, which might help us to live this life as a preparation for next life. Today we shall concentrate on meditation. Meditation is very simple natural common sense practice. In order to have clear mind you have to have calm mind. If your mind is not calm, it will not be clear. If you want a clear mirror to see an image clearly, you have to have it cleaned and you have to have a mirror which is not distorted. So mind, which is calm, is clear. Mind which is not clam, is not clear.


The basic definition of meditation is to practise those methods, which will make your mind calm, so that you see things more clearly, and instead of doing hundred different things to achieve one thing, you will be able to do one thing to achieve maybe hundred things. So that is possible, if you have a clear mind. When our mind is not clear, we think we are going to south extension, but actually we are going to north extension. With unclear mind we hope for one thing and pursue another, and when we get the wan we pursued we are unhappy. That’s how it is. For example we want to enjoy one dose of an expensive drug, go and steal somebody’s money and end up in jail for five years.


That’s how samsara works. To achieve one little thing we do things that will have the consequence of suffering of one kind or another for many lifetimes and that is the purpose why we do meditation: to have calm mind. Why do we need a calm mind? The benefit of clear mind is really the base of everything.


Sometimes there seems to be misunderstandings about meditation. One day I was invited for a luncheon and there was a lady sitting at my table. She seemed to be very educated, very good background, very mature, but she asked me a question and said, “I never managed to meditate. It is so difficult.” She just brought it up and I asked, “Why?” She said, “I’m not supposed to think, I’m not supposed to have any thoughts in mind. It’s impossible.” This is an example, how seriously she really learned to meditate. From whom, I don’t know. Or maybe it was just conversation in a social occasion, I’m a lama and she thought to find out. But if that was true, then it was a very serious misunderstanding, because meditation does not mean you are not supposed to think. You will say: “I have to meditate and I’m not supposed to think.” That is also very serious thinking. And so, there is no meaning. It’s total confusion.


Meditation methods you are focusing on, those methods occupy your mind so that there is no room for other thoughts. As you become more and more calm, we will be able to have a calm state of mind with less neurotic thoughts. You might have thoughts, but still steady, clear thoughts. Once you are able to go deeper than that, then you can reach a state which is of samadhi, a non-dualistic state of mind. These kinds of different levels of result you achieve.


Once you start to meditate, if you are not supposed to think, it will drive you mad, definitely. Some people who come to meditate, go crazy. You are playing with your mind. So, if something goes wrong with your mind, it is very difficult to detect by yourself, very difficult to accept by yourself, and therefore very difficult to fix. All the crazy people think they are the smartest, and everybody else is crazy. No crazy person thinks, “I am crazy.” If the person thinks “I am crazy,” then the person got cured. But normally it is the other way round: “I am the smartest, I am doing exactly the right thing. Here is the voice, I am hearing the message, I have the vision…” who knows what, everything.


Nothing can persuade them that maybe it is true, maybe it is not. You’d better sit down and think and find out for sure, is it you talking to yourself or somebody else talking to you. They are totally two different things, and if I don’t eat and drink for long time, then I will hear things, it’s quite normal, because of wind [element], because of senses, because we are sensitive, we receive things and hear things, this is very common. With a shock the computer has gone out of order. It is like somebody had put a virus in the computer, so it does all kind of things. If something goes wrong in our mental system, it does all kind of things. This can happen.


Therefore, I think to understand before you do meditation, to understand what it is and what it is for; we are meditating in order to have a calm mind. Why do we want a calm mind? – In order to have a clear mind. Why we want a to have a clear mind I don’t have to explain, I think. You want to be more accurate and less stressful. If you can achieve hundred things by doing one thing, then you will have zero stress. If you have to undo hundred things to achieve one little thing, it’s very stressful. Therefore, we want happiness, peace, comfortable life. If there is a way, definitely we will appreciate that, and on top we have a greater goal that manifests out of primordial wisdom. That is our ultimate goal. By the full manifestation of our primordial wisdom we become Buddha. Knowing this I think then we meditate and it will be healthy.


I did not see this very much in India, but I encounter it a lot in the Far East. There are many people who meditate in order to have some kind of magical power. That is also wrong, magical power will be there if you transcend dualism. Before that, whether you walk or fly doesn’t make any difference. Milarepa did not fly because he had learned some magical trick, but for him there was no difference between walking and flying. Once you reach non-duality, develop realisation, everything can manifest. That is miracle, not magic.


In the Occidental countries many people meditate very much like stress management. That is also okay, but not complete. We wish to attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings. There has to be the motivation, then it is really a Vajrayana meditation. Otherwise it is Vajrayana method, but another nice worldly activity. Just like having a sauna or a nice holiday in the Bahamas, or having two hours of meditation with the same purpose, to overcome stress. It is good, much better than taking heroine; doing one hour meditation every day. You can say goodbye to cigarettes, drinks and drugs. That would be fantastic, but still it is not the Vajrayana meditation, if it is not aimed for the limitless motivation.


Now the particular meditation teaching that I will give you, is very much continuation of what you have already learned. Before I taught you awareness enhancement, lhaktong enhancement etc. It is continuation of that, but many of you were not there. So I have to give you a base for this practice. This teaching is from the ninth Karmapa’s teaching text on mahamudra, the 35th teaching chapter and the 31st meditation practice chapter. (This chpter is 35th as far as the teaching is concerned, but as far as the practice steps are concerned, it is 31st.)


Before going through it you have to have a base for that. I presume all of you have done some shine, so we do that kind of basic practice for about five minutes to calm down. You have some very basic lhaktong, which is the ability to maintain the awareness of that stable state of mind, which you reach through your shine practice. This is the base. Sit on the floor, just flat. Do not particularly think about anything, but we are not trying to stop the thoughts that come, just don’t follow that, like sitting in your garden and hearing birds and insects making lots of noise. You hear that but are not paying attention to them. They shout as much as they like and let’s come and let’s go. Whatever thoughts there are in your mind, you are not following them, you are not doing anything. They just manifest and dissolve. Just like looking at the ocean: the thought arises and thought dissolves. We relax, physically and mentally. [Meditation.]


Okay. Now we concentrate on our breathing. So you breathe out slowly and as completely as possible. Then have very comfortable thoughts. Then we breathe in slowly and as completely as possible. We have thoughts and we count that in our mind as one. We are counting and focusing on our breathing gently 21 times. [Meditation.]


Now we temporarily reach stability and calmness, of course physically as well. We maintain that state knowingly, or being mindful or aware of that state. You can open your eyes, if you were closing them, but maintain that state. Now as I am going through these nine steps of meditation method, this is to enhance this state of – I don’t know if this is exactly the correct word, but samadhi. You maintain your samadhi. Try to maintain this state as I am talking and you are listening. This is actually a very important mahamudra meditation method, but it is from the sutra as well. It is known as nine methods to stabilise the mind. Any particular method we practise to have a focused mind.


Right now be mindful to use the first method while you are maintaining your state of calmness. Visualise in between your eyebrows a bone triangle. You have bone inside {[your forehead], so be focused on the bone and imagine a triangle here. It is pointing upwards. Focus on here, very small bone. In the middle of the triangle we visualise a white light, which is like a pearl. The source of the light is the size of a green pea. Right here in the middle of the triangle bone, shining like a pearl. All the colours are all in one and we focus on it.


If you closed your eyes, open them slowly and maintain the visualisation. Look around maintaining the visualisation; it is very easy, isn’t it. Maintain the visualisation here. What’s the difference between visualising with closed eyes and open eyes? Can you manage? Okay. Visualising, focusing with that particular technique is the first of nine techniques. Maintaining the awareness is the second.


The third is the following. When a thought of anything appears, when any kind of thing, which is other than meditation, appears, then you recognize that knowingly. Knowing means knowing this is happening, and keep on maintaining the awareness and focus of that particular meditation. So it’s a very simple technique. I see each of you and I remember the names of some of you. I’m very bad actually in remembering names. I know something about each of you, at least have some perception about each of you, but maintaining thee awareness of the visualisation. This is the third stage.


Now the fourth stage is – still maintaining the awareness – in this case a visualisation, and merge between past, present and future. The dualism of how I saw my visualisation and how I have this thought about my visualisation, disturbs the focus. How I get aware of that thought maintaining the visualisation, that all should be as non-dualistic as possible. This is a continuation, it is not one thing against another thing against another thing. It is merging of the past, present and future in a simple manner. By simply maintaining the awareness we try to achieve this.


Now we still continue this awareness and at the same time having a clear mind by remembering and feeling the appreciation of the calm state of mind. It is beautiful. When our mind is calm, physically we feel so comfortable from on top of our head to the bottom of our soul. We feel all of our body just like a perfect harmony and no discomfort of any kind. Temporarily. Besides that our primordial wisdom manifests within it. It is becoming more clear to us; easy to comprehend things that are not so easy to comprehend otherwise, and accompanied with devotion, love and kindness more naturally. Jealousy, hatred, greed, those things temporarily subside. So, perceiving this I still maintain the awareness. This is the fifth.


Number six is seeing very clearly what happens, noticing absence of awareness and absence of calmness. Since the beginning of history whatever disharmony, suffering, war, famine, anything bad that happened has one way or another everything to do with unclear mind. When the mind is not calm, when the mind is enraged, greed, hatred, jealousy, pride, these things dominate our mind, it can only happen when our mind is not calm. When that happens, all the suffering for ourselves and others is included. By knowing that we establish and conform the shortcomings of the absence of calm abiding state of mind. Knowing this, seeing this clearly we still maintain the awareness. We are still focusing – in this case in our visualisation on our forehead. The light keep on shining. That is the sixth.


Why our mind wanders is because of our ego. The bigger our ego the more dominating it becomes. Attachment and hatred become automatic, and when the attachment and hatred are more dominating, then jealousy and pride and everything else outcomes, such as fear, greed, all become more dominating. This is the cause and results. Karma cause is attachment. Karma result is jealousy, for example. Karma cause is attachment, karma result is anger. Because I will be envious to someone, who is obstacle for my achieving what I desire. So I am angry to that person. This way everything is cause and result. Seeing all these aspects one by one contemplate on them, holding that one by one, still maintaining the awareness of your meditation. That is the seventh.


The eight is: from one to seventh it is quite a natural process, all of them naturally follow one after another. Follow the process naturally without much effort and maintain the awareness at all stages.


The ninth stage is: try to maintain the awareness in such a way that it reaches the maturity of your awareness, in this case that particular method of shamatha meditation through visualisation. Then maintain that in such a way that it becomes a natural spontaneous thing. Without so much effort you are able to maintain that awareness and visualisation.


Today I taught you these nine stages based on a very simple visualisation. Visualisation, which is not complicated with any deity, just a triangle bone here, which we all have, and visualise a white pearl-like white light, water-coloured white light here. Very small and very gentle, focusing on that. I used this method, which is also a mahamudra teaching.


To end this, because we used a physical visualisation method, we have to let go of this visualisation and maintain the awareness, so try to remain in a state of awareness only, without visualisation. Try to maintain that throughout the day as much as possible.


You also should be able to practice for example the third method in all situations. Whether you find yourself lost or you find that the awareness is not gone, then you somehow maintain the awareness. It is like out of focus and back into focus. At all times we should be able to practise the third method which is like auto-focus; focuses by itself on the awareness. Maintain the awareness. If you are not using the visualisation method, then right from the beginning, apply just the awareness. But I introduced it this way, because for the first time it’s easier to have something, like a visualisation. As I just said, maintain the awareness, get back to the awareness, get back to the visualisation as much as you can.


So these are the nine methods of maintaining a stable mind. In Tibetan it’s written sem nepa tap gu [sem=mind, nepa=stable, tap=method, gu=nine]. The order, the steps and their definitions are very subtle, but I hope I made it clear for you so you can practise this. Let us sit quietly and try to maintain the nine. [Meditation.] Okay. Let’s dedicate the merit of this meditation for the benefit of all sentient beings.


Question: Earlier you taught to visualise in another way.


Rinpoche: There are many visualisation methods. This one you have to visualise here. We cannot make up our own visualisations, it’s not wise. Do it exactly how it’s supposed to be.


Q: [inaudible]

Rinpoche: Just let go. You are visualising this for awareness, then maintain the awareness without the visualisation. It’s like I’m looking at here, focusing here. I see the letters here. Then I maintain the focus and take away the letters. So you are visualising your awareness here and you dissolve the visualisation and just maintain the awareness. Yes, it’s hard, I wouldn’t say harder, but you have to do it right; you can maintain awareness and still function. For us most of the time we maintain awareness because we have to be little slower, talk slower, but if we become more mature with the practice, we will be more normal.


Q: How long do you do this?


Rinpoche: For this kind of practice you can do each of the stages for many days. I’m teaching all of it in one session. The eight stage is going all the seven stages through in one go, so there, when you reach to that, you are doing all the seven stages in one session. But other than that you can do one of the stages for many days. Somehow you will be doing the first stage for many days, then first and second, then first, second and third. But the first doesn’t have to be attached to the second from the day one.


Q: [inaudible]

Rinpoche: Yes, that happens all the time. I would become very neurotic. Each time you feel you are not focusing there. For saying a mantra like om mani peme hung, use a small mala (rosary). I think big mala is not very natural for people like you going around, but a small mala it is reminding, so, whenever you feel you are distracted the mantra is quite essential.




Anybody who is trying to do something good will face lots of obstacles all the time. Here twelve kind of obstacles and twelve kind of remedies to those obstacles are taught. This is from the same text, teaching chapter 38. For a meditation practitioner the first thing that is taught in here is: too much hope or expectation is the obstacle number one. So the kind of way the teaching describes here is a “rainbow meditation”. If you are expecting too much from your meditation, it becomes itself an obstacle. So it becomes rainbow meditation: trying to be all so beautiful, so pretty and nice, this and that. I was born and grew up surrounded bit new age sort of things, but this is little bit too new age. Then it really does not progress. It becomes an obstacle, because you have to work very hard to keep it like that. Because in truth, in reality almost nothing is like that. Therefore you have always to look at the sky: is there a rainbow? So whenever we have a function, everybody is looking at the sky, expecting a rainbow. Most of the time it happens! But too much expectation is an obstacle.


The remedy for this is as follows: you should know that we are expecting things because of our attachment. Even for good things we have attachment. And of course we should have attachment to be good, beneficial and to have compassion. And we should not have attachment to cruelty etc. But if we have too much attachment for good things, then it becomes bad, negative. Therefore we have to have good balance there. Attachment is based on ego, and why our attachment to good becomes counterproductive is because there is bit too much of the ego. So therefore we try to have less ego, and we try to become less neurotic with our attachment on good things. That is one thing.


Another thing here is sem gom lhö [sem=mind, gom= space, lhö=relax]. I think the English slang for that is taking it easy. You should have openness, and be able to relax, take it easy. Don’t take things too seriously, so that you become neurotic. With devotion and compassion of course, but not too stiff, not too closed. That is one thing.


The second thing is continuation of a reaction to the first. Keep it balanced, take very little. If you just have one gram more on one side, it tilts. You try not to have too much attachment and you try to take it easy. As a result of that it can tilt, and then you become like namto gyayen. Namto means thought and gya means the facility of thought, yen means like anticipate, no wandering. It’s like if you put water on a completely flat plate. How much you put, it goes everywhere, because there is nothing around to contain. It becomes like that. This way it is also no good. So you have to put little bit of boundary, little bit of attachment back on it, which is necessary. So the outcome of this can be very wasteful. You can think, “Oh, everything is equal, equanimity, doesn’t matter, everything is Buddha’s realm, Buddha will take care of everything. I don’t have to do anything.” This sort of thing happens. When it happens, it is not very helpful. It’s quite different from genuine, healthy sincere faith or trust. It has it’s own misgivings.


That way practise diligently and have emphasis on basics all the time. Even you are practising for fifty years, but every day you say refuge and bodhicitta at the beginning of every single session of your practice. You might be doing retreat for ten years, but every session you begin with refuge and bodhicitta. At the end we dedicate. These are the basics. Always emphasize and practise the basics together with whatever advanced practice you might be doing. So this is the second thing.


Then the third thing is the experience emphasized, paying too much notice on experience. Because when you meditate, all kinds of things happen. For example if you are doing basic shine meditation, the whole room might disappear. You might see things, hear things, all kind of things happen. These are what we call nyam, experiences. It doesn’t mean anything, it’s nothing. It just means everything is non-dualistic, everything is emptiness, everything is interdependent, that’s all.


But whether we experience it or not, it’s the same thing. That way we are caught in this and take too much notice of our experience. Then we are satisfied with our experience and we take our experience as the outcome, as the result. It’s not the result. When you start your car, it goes wroom. It’s not the whole thing. The car has to go after that. The engine has to keep on saying wroom and then run and turn to left and right etc. That’s just the beginning. An experience is just a sign that something is working, that’s all. That way, when you have experience, you have to continue your effort with whatever you are practising as if nothing had happened. Don’t pay any attention to your experiences.


Experience is my translation of the Tibetan word nyam. Many teachings, many great masters describe nyam. They say, “Nyam is like mist, it will fade.” You cannot rely on nyam. Relying on nyam is like going to desert to look for a nice spot to build your house. Then you see a very nice shadow there and decide to build your palace there. It is a shadow of a cloud! Your relying on nyam is like that. It will be gone in five minutes, it will not stay. That way nyam is like mist or cloud, it will disappear. It’s not helpful for practitioners, nyam just let come and let go.


The fourth is, when we practise, when things are going well, we become happy – too happy. We things are not going well, we become too upset. That is another obstacle. Whether our practise is going well or not, it should not make any difference for our continuation of the method of our practice. When it goes well, we have to say to ourselves: of course it goes well, because I have buddhanature. I received the transmission of the lineage, I’m doing my best, it will go well. When it doesn’t go well, you can say very clearly and sincerely, “I have been in samsara for countless lifetimes, and I have the karma, obscurations that I have continued for so long, so of course it will not go well. Both reasons are correct, it is not an excuse. So, when the sun shines, you say, “Of course it is bright, because it’s sun.” But when sun is not shining you say, “Of course, because there is a cloud.” So it’s like that. By seeing the reasons very clearly you will not get proud, and when your practise is not going well, you will not get depressed. That is the fourth thing.


The fifth thing concerns another obstacle for practitioner we call tokpa wongju. It is like a thief that is hiding in the dark. We have thoughts like that and I used to describe this as an unidentified thought. These kinds of thoughts are very problematic for a practitioner. Like when you are meditation, if you have some difficulties to calm down, or maybe your family member is watching TV, or a child is running around, this kind of obstacles happen, then because of the discomfort that you feel, you have a thought, lots of thoughts develop from it. Then it becomes an obstacle.


When that happens, what we should do is to relax and be as natural as possible, machyopa means unaltered. Natural is very powerful. The ability to be natural is like the power of nature. Nothing can challenge it. If earth decides to make an earthquake there is nothing you can do. If storm decides to be active, there is nothing you can do. I’m not saying “deciding,” well, it happens, and there is nothing you can do to stop it. You have to wait. The world’s most powerful god waited at the gates of Baghdad two or three days because of a storm. And once when I was in Taiwan, the whole Taiwan had to stop functioning for about three days because they had taifuun, cyclone that covered the whole island. The whole thing: government, private business, everything had to be closed for some time. Very powerful, nothing you can do. That way, if you are able to be natural, you may have twenty kids running around your house, putting everything upside down, jumping all over you, and you can maintain your stability. Just be natural, machyopa, unfabricated, relax.


It’s little bit similar to one black guy in California singing a song. He came to one of my programs to sing a song. I don’t know if he wrote it or not, he called it “Don’t worry, be happy.” Little bit like that, not exactly. By not worrying and being happy you can get into big trouble as well sometimes, but when the really disturbing things happen around you, which disturb your meditation, then you just don’t worry about it. Just relax and be natural. In truth all of this is sambhogakaya manifestation of nirmanakaya and you are trying to realise the dharmakaya. So you cannot be bothered about the sambhogakaya and nirmanakaya. It’s nirmanakaya, all these little ones doing stupid things, that’s for sure, more nirmanakaya than grown ups doing stupid things. So that’s one example. This is number five.


Number six is as follows. When you are meditating, all the time it is following the techniques and methods, always. But techniques and methods are also a fabrication. They are fabricated. Of course they are techniques and methods of the lineage, not created by some psychologist or someone I California, they call them shrinks, because they shrink people’s head. They are not created by them, but still it’s a method, not more than a method, method with blessing. So it’s very important to remain in the rangpa sometimes. When you are practising the method and when the method did its job, then it is also good to let the natural state, which is the purpose of this method, supposed to help you enhance, then remain in that. It is also very important. That is little bit like the fifth, but slightly different. The fifth is because something disturbed. The sixth is itself a practice, a method. Therefore going little bit beyond that from time to time is to remain rangpa. Rang means natural and pa means to rest. Pakpa is like rain falls on earth, bird lands on tree – naturally. For a bird flying is hard, landing is easy. And for water running is natural. So it is continuation, natural, let it be in that state, this is number six.


Number seven is little bit specific for meditators, because sometimes when some conditions make our own thoughts and emotions arise, they become an obstacle, in this situation the best way is to relax. If you try so many things intellectually it can lead from one thing to another and you can be back to square one. So just relax. If you feel today, this session is not going so well, just relax.


If you have a daily commitment, it’s different. If you have taken a vow to say a prayer, do a meditation or ritual from today on as long as you live, that’s what you do, exactly. Sometimes the quality is good, sometimes not. My daily prayers take normally from one and half hours to two hours, but sometimes they are very bad quality, because I have many things to do. I’m flying, I go for lunch, give talks. This kind of talk is different, but there are other kinds of talks. My inspiration, the quality of practice is normally not that good, but I have a marathon recitation, marathon daily commitment. I can’t just stop and relax, because I have the vow to do those practices. But otherwise, yes. I have to do it everyday, because I said it. But if I’m just doing meditation from time to time, that kind of commitment, then it’s different.


So practice should not be like fisherman fishing. First he patiently waits, and once the fish is caught, then it’s done. Practitioner should not be like that. It’s said: water made for the fish should be continuation. It should not be like first we wait until our mind calms down. When it is calmed down, then stop. It should not be like that. It should be continuous, we should continue as long as we can, all of our session, outside of our session, try to maintain it as much as possible even in ordinary situations. Whenever we have awareness to do our best to keep it, whenever it’s lost, find it, focus it again. Continuation is number eight.


Number nine is that if you concentrate too much, it can become an obstacle. You should be able to concentrate, but relax at the same time. Nowadays I don’t see it so much but in earlier days when I was travelling and teaching meditation, lots of people had this thing about concentration: meditation means concentration. You have to concentrate. Not like that. You should be able to keep your concentration very relaxed. Concentration is very important thing, one has to rely on some effort, so that concentration is done, but it is natural, relaxed concentration. That is number nine.


Number ten is: if you have trouble during the good stage of meditation that you reached, if you have trouble by certain disturbances, somebody opens your door or slams a door, or telephone rings, that sort of thing disturbs you; or to some people other kinds of things happen, because they try to practise compassion, then all of a sudden a ghost starts crying, and they become dysfunctional. Or they try to have devotion, and the same thing happens. This kind of thing is sometimes positive, but not always. When it disturbs your practice, then it is not. So, in this kind of situation what you should do is: physical and mental whatever causes this, you should be able to self-liberate. Rang drol means self-liberate.


For example a snake. If you make a knot on a snake and put it down there, it will undo by itself. You don’t have to help it to undo it. So the snake should undo itself. Same way if you have this kind of difficulties, then number one is just to relax and observe these thoughts or things that disturb you. For example when somebody is banging the door, why should I be upset? Instead of shouting, “Hey, don’t do that!” you look: what is that – and maintain awareness of that. And it passes, it dissolves, no harm. With other things also, look at it and it dissolves by itself, because there is nothing that has true solid everlasting primordial dualistic reality. Therefore there is nothing which is undissolvable. Everything can be dissolved, that is number ten.


Number eleven is similar, but slightly different. It as to do with form, sound, taste, touch, or any kind of thing which makes you distracted. All of us have some kind of attachment and affection for something of the five senses. Some of us hate bad smells, others like certain taste more than other tastes. These things become an obstacle. If that is becoming an obstacle, then with that also you should use rang drol, let it liberate itself. You focus on that particular attachment or dislike and maintain your awareness, and that way it dissolves by itself. It is all baseless. It’s like a fashion for example. Some new fashion is very attractive, and you really think you have to go and buy the thing. You have to have it. But if you sit down and calm down to relax, it just dissolves and you are able to say to yourself: it’s no big deal. Any kind of liking or disliking we should deal with it this way. That is number eleven.


Number twelve. All sentient beings are wandering in samsara, because all sentient beings follow their thoughts and emotions. All sentient beings are enslaved by their thoughts and emotions. Their thoughts and emotions are mostly, 99 %, manifestations of their defilements, and suffering in samsara is the result of the service we provide for our thoughts and emotions. So we work very hard to fulfil our desire, anger, jealousy, fear, etc. Of course there are positive thoughts and when we work very hard they begin to manifest as happiness; that is there, too. But that happiness is not free from suffering, because when I get something wonderful, the I worry about keeping it, I worry about somebody else having better, somebody stealing it, damaging it, if I think too much I even worry about whether I deserve it. It’s all making things complicated and that is also suffering. These are too complicated, confusing and unnecessary thoughts. There are so many things right now, as according to what you are you have to have certain kind of thoughts, you have to do certain kind of things and follow certain kind of thoughts. I am what I am and I have to thing in a certain way, I have to achieve certain things, I have certain responsibilities. I have to do all of those things, follow them. But when we are meditating, when we are in our session, at least, when many thoughts arise, then they dissolve just like wave arises from the ocean and subsides into the ocean. The cloud fades into the sky, dissolves into the sky. Like that let it come, let it go. It is the same person following the thought and the person not meditating, therefore when you are not meditating, you are in fact continuously practising. So you are able to let go.


Our duties, responsibilities, life and lifestyle have all the emotions attached to it. But there are many things we do and involve, which have nothing to do with it. So they will be minimized spontaneously. A natural spontaneous correction. It happens by itself. For that reason, as a practitioner doing the practice, we practise this also.


These are the twelve aspects of method to help us overcome all the basic obstacles as a meditator. I thought this would be beneficial for all of us. I think this will directly contribute to your meditation very much. One last thing. It is always very important for all of us to have some prayer, recitation and visualisation related to a bodhisattva or deity. Some small ritual to go with it is very important. Because many times we like to meditate but we don’t involve with those things. Something is missing there. Next time I shall teach you that. Last time I taught Chenrezig, but not very much. Little bit of singing, not really singing, but the melody. That is also very important: you are expressing a sound. We practise with body, speech and mind. Body, speech and mind, that is what we have. That’s what I think will be added to our practice.


Let us dedicate the merit of yesterday’s and today’s teaching. Everybody who has organised it, all of you who participated it, I who taught it and you who listened to it, we dedicate the merit of all of us for the benefit of all sentient beings to attain buddhahood.