Practical Meditation Aid

The Dzogchen Instructions of Aro Yeshe Jungne – The Nature of Mind

These instructions are similar to great Koans and also of Paul Brunton and Ramana Maharishi and Bodhi Dharma, essence is to enquire “Who am I” which is elucidated in a clear and lucid manner.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR LESSER CAPABILITY PRACTITIONERS OF THE HIGHEST CALIBER, AND THE FIVE STAGES OF MEDITATION

MASTER PAT RUL RINPOCHE says here that lesser capability practitioners may not understand the meaning of vipashyana at all, They might not have faith and trust in vipashyana. In some way, they might be uncomfortable and unfamiliar with the teaching. At the same time, their stability in shamatha practice is not strong. Even when they are sitting in good posture, their minds are easily scattered with conceptions and become dull, weak, and confused. In other words, for lesser capability practitioners, meditation—whether vipashyana or shamatha—does not come easily. Whenever this happens to you, ignite the skillful means or “appearance” practices, such as loving-kindness and compassion, joy, and appreciation. In other words, cultivate something positive and substantial that can be held in mind. Invoke these thoughts vigorously, and then sit down on your meditation cushion. Even if you are already sitting, renew the clarity of your body, speech, and mind. You can do this by reviewing and reapplying the seven postures of the Buddha Vairochana. These are as follows:

1. Sit cross-legged in the “vajra posture,” or if you prefer, sit on a
chair.
Sit up straight, with your neck bent slightly forward, so your entire
spine is aligned.
3. Place your hands in the equanimity mudra, or place them palms-
down on your knees.
4. Let the tip of your tongue gently touch the upper palate.
5. Keep your arms relaxed, with the elbows off the ribs.
6. Open your eyes and gaze toward the tip of your nose, or if you
prefer, close your eyes.
7. Breathe naturally.

In this posture spend a minute or two clearing your mind—try to Jet of your conceptions simmer down. Then do the breath purification excercise we do every morning. This exercise cleanses the three impure winds associated with attachment, anger, and ignorance, After that, relax. Abide in the nature of mind without conceptions for a minute two. Then in the sky in front of you—or if you prefer, above your head—- feel the presence of your teacher in the form of Guru Guru Padmasambhava is the embodiment of all buddhas and teachers of •the three times and ten directions. Feel strong devotion to him and recite the seven-line prayer as well as the prayers to the lineage masters and toot teacher. Tnen, after praying, visualize that blessing lights come from Guru Padmasambhava, cleansing and purifying all your negativities, obscurations, and habitual patterns. Doubt, hesitation, dullness, weakness in meditation—these and all other hindrances to your realization are completely removed. Feel this very vividly. Then Guru Padmasambhava dissolves into light. This light enters your crown chakra, moves down your central channel, and enters your heart center where it merges with your awareness. At that moment let your mind look at your mind. What happens ? The watcher and the watched merge, and there is no longer any subject and object, Now release your muscles and nervous system. Let everything go, Abide in the inexpressible nature of the mind, beyond categories and characteristics.

As you are relaxing in this state, suddenly thoughts will come up, As we said before, in the Dzogchen teachings thoughts are known as the display of the mind; they are the expressive energy of awareness. Do not regard thoughts as being bad. Do not prevent them, and also do not follow them, Let them come, be, and go. With regard to meditation experience, do not get excited over what might seem to be achievement, and do not despair over what might seem to be poor progress. These are just more thoughts. Instead of adding more thoughts, relax in the natural state, Do not expect good meditation; do not fear bad meditation. If dullness comes, reconnect to the energy of your awareness—re-invoke the clarity aspect of your mind. Let that power and its qualities arise anew, supported and checked by mindfulness. Employ any of these techniques as needed, with joy and devotion.

At times when you are practicing in this way, the surface of your mind may seem calm enough, but just below the surface, barely noticeable, are undercurrents of thought. Patrul Rinpoche here uses the metaphor U Underneath the hay there is running water.” If the water is left unattended, eventually it will soak all the hay, at which point the hay will be useless. “This is a metaphor for what can happen with the subtle, undercurrent thoughts. At first they might seem harmless, but if we do not attend to then) they will grow stronger and disrupt—and possibly even ruin—our meditation. therefore, when you notice undercurrent thoughts, you must increase your mindfulness. Meditation, from the top to the bottom, should bc beautiful, clear, and calm. Bring up the clarity aspect of your mind and recognize the undercurrent thoughts. The moment you recognize them they arc liberated. Once again, do not analyze or follow these thoughts. Just let them go.

There are times when you are meditating nicely, and suddenly your mind becomes busy and unstable. Your mind was peaceful and now it is wild. You might get upset with yourself and think, “Oh, I cannot meditate.” When this occurs do not be discouraged. When you notice your thoughts increase and intensify, this is generally a sign of progress. The Dzogchen teachings say that there are five different experiences in meditation that signal development, and this is the first one. Your mind is like a stream running down a mountain. When a stream runs down a mountain, it moves swiftly. But even though your mind seems to be running very fast, actually below the surface it is slowing down. Your mind is actually calmer than it was before you started meditating, even if for the moment it may not seem so. How is this? Your mind has to become calmer to notice what it is doing. In the past, your mind moved all the time and you never even noticed; now you do notice. This is why you should not see this experience as failure but rather as something positive. You are more aware of your mind than before; this means you are improving.

Continue to apply the skillful means techniques of joy, devotion, and bodhichitta without boredom or fatigue, and with courage and commitment continue to meditate on the true nature. If you maintain your practice in this way with perseverance, you will reach the second stage of meditation experience: alternating stable and unstable experiences. Great masters compare this second stage of meditation experience to a water bird. This creature dives into the water and then after a few moments resurfaces to rest on a rock or a log. Then it dives back into the water and comes up again. It does this continuously.

At this time the training remains the same. Continue with the skillful means practices and meditate on the true nature. In time your mind will become more stable. It will occasionally move, but mostly when you meditate, the mind will stay in its own natural state. Patrul Rinpoche uses the analogy of an old man. An old man stays seated most of the time. Once in a while he gets up for a cup of coffee or tea, or maybe even to play golf, but otherwise he sits comfortably. There is not too much activity. By now your mind is like an old man. It does not move much, nor does it need to. is the third stage of meditation experience.

Keep practicing as before. By now the surface of your mind is very smooth. Perhaps underneath the mind’s surface there is slight movement, but otherwise you have attained good stability. Patrul Rinpoche uses the analogy of an underground river: the river still flows, but it is hardly noticeable. So what do you do now? You should invoke more mindfulness and energy. Why? By this time your mind has become very tame. It does what you want it to do; you have control and are not scattered at all. In the beginning, you had trouble with your restless mind—it was running wildly in every direction. It would not stay still for even a few seconds. But now you can rest. Yet there is still the possibility of mind’s becoming weak and dull. You can prevent this by invoking mindfulness and clarity. Apply the skillful means techniques and continue to meditate. Soon your mind will become very bright and stable, and you will maintain this state day and night with- out getting bored or tired. At this time, there is no particular desire for meditation, and no desire for belongings such as clothes. In the Dzogchen teachings this state is likened to a mountain. Your mind is unshakable—it cannot be moved by conceptions or perceptions. This is the fourth stage of meditation experience.

When you reach this stage you must continue to apply the skillful means practices and cultivate virtuous thoughts. Even though your mind has become very stable, do not ignore the power of loving-kindness and com- passion, as well as joy, devotion, and appreciation. If you do not reactivate these skillful means practices at this time, you can get carried away by a blank, vague, dull state of mind that has no energy whatsoever. Also, there is still some subtle grasping and clinging that can erupt and create massive disturbances. You must continue to practice skillful means, and keep invoking the energy of mindfulness and clarity. Mind is not only empty—it is filled with many wonderful qualities. Unite this with emptiness meditation. Bringing this practice to the final state of complete fulfillment is the fifth stage of meditation experience. These five different meditation experiences accurately describe the progress of most practitioners. People have varying abilities; they also have differences in the ways their channels are configured and how they perceive phenomena. This means that not everyone proceeds in exactly the same way. But most people will experience these stages pretty much in the way and order they have been explained.

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