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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Commitments for Mind Training–Meditation & Shine

These commitments not only apply to mind training but in general to life itself:

  1. Always abide by these 3 principles: keep you commitments and vows for mind training, don’t overindulge in anything including self-image, be patient with everything and it shouldn’t be selective
  2. Remain natural, transform in your attitude: essentially transform your selfishness to be caring attitude
  3. Do not talk about the defects of others: do not tease, make fun or bring attention of others physical and mental handicaps
  4. Whatever the faults of others may be, do not contemplate them
  5. Abandon poisonous food
  6. Helping others is not based on returning favors: doing good for others must not depend on how well or badly that person has treated you in the past
  7. Do not expose the faults of others to irritate them
  8. Do not wait in ambush: do not wait for opportunity to strike back at those against whom you hold a grudge, never seek revenge.
  9. Never strike at heart, never be sadistic or cruel to others
  10. Do not put an ox’s load on a cow
  11. Do not aim to be the best: do not try to get better deal for yourself at the expense of others
  12. Do not misuse remedy – merit gained from mind training is for good purpose and not for personal gain
  13. Do not use gods for evil: do not use religious pretexts for anything evil
  14. Be like a humble servant before all
  15. Do not delight in the suffering of others

Follow a single pointed dedication to this mind training goal and merit comes on its own – perhaps the duration is not known but surely it arrives to being peace and clarity and goodness for all.

Meditation and Shine Practices

Part 1

The Path to Awakening by Shamar Rinpoche is wonderful aid to novices to start on the great mindfulness journey to freedom. Some important snippets are captured here for aspiring meditators who want o earnestly start this skill:

Sitting Posture:

  1. You must it up straight when you meditate. Your legs can be fully crossed in the full lotus position, or alternatively they can be half crossed with the right leg out and left leg in. Generally, a person with longer legs sits on a higher cushion, but how high your seat is really depends on your physical proportions. It is important that your spine be completely straight. Your stomach is slightly drawn inward and back, while your abdomen is very slightly resting forward for balance. This keeps the central part of the body very straight ad it is the ideal posture for meditation
  2. To enhance a straight central torso, your shoulders should also be balanced and straight.
  3. As for your hands, yo can place them together in the posture of meditation. This means the palms of the hands face up, right hand on top of the left in your lap. Raise your shoulders slightly up and backward, such that the lengths of the arms are gently pressed against the sides of your body. This position further reinforces an upright and straight spine. Alternatively, you can rest your hands palms down on your knees, talking care to keep the shoulders straight.
  4. Your neck should be slightly curved so that your chin is slightly tucked in towards your chest.
  5. Your eyes are half open, looking ahead and cast slightly downward – In my experience, you can fully close your eyes!
  6. Your mouth should nether be open nor pressed firmly closed. Your lips should be relaxed in a very natural position
  7. Breathing is mainly through the nose and not the mouth

These are essential pints of a correct physical posture for meditation. Now you need to know how to focus your mind – rather un-focus the mind on anything. As you practice, you may notice once your mind calms down, your breath automatically calms down. So the option is before your and depending on your makeup, yo can either calm your mind or calm your breath to calm your mind – which is rather circuitous but both achieves same purpose – i.e. to calm mind and have no thoughts and if any thoughts pop up – mindfully watch it but not pursue it anymore of wandering with the thoughts.

Some remedies through Shine Practices:

Remedy of Desire: Concentrate on repulsiveness of the body

The most effective way to remedy the power of desire is to concentrate on the impermanence of the body. First visualize your body as clearly as you can. Try to really understand and know that it is a collection of parts that all depend on each other—the skeleton is a collection of bones joined by ligaments, it contains and protects many organs, it is covered by a network of muscles, there is flesh, fat, the circulatory system, the nervous system, etc. and wrapped around it like a bag is your skin. Now picture a spot of decay the size of the tip of your thumb on your forehead, between your eyes. That spot right there is rotting. What color is it? What colors will it become? Think of the progression of putrid colors a rotting corpse goes through. Now those colors are progressing on your own forehead. Then the decay starts to spread all over your body. Your whole body is rotting, putrefying, and actually starts falling apart. Your rotten flesh falls in pieces to the floor all around you. Your organs also rot, decay, and fall to pieces on the floor. Now only your skeleton is left whole, together with one tiny piece of fresh flesh on the top of each foot, close to your big toes. Those two tiny spots, each the size of the tip of your thumb, are all that remain untouched by decay. Now even your skeleton starts to disintegrate, falling in scattered pieces on the floor. That heap of bones that made up your skeleton now starts to expand and grow. It grows vastly, until it is almost inconceivably big. Wherever you live, whatever continent, picture your skeleton expanding to the very shores of the oceans on every side. East to West, North to South. Your bones are huge, a giant skull, giant spine, etc. Then slowly, ever so slowly, it begins to re-condense and reconstitute, slowly returning to its former size, slowly reforming itself back into your seated position. Then when your skeleton is completely back to its familiar state. those tiny pieces of fresh flesh close to your toes begin to spread. From these, everything regrows: your organs, muscles, tiny pieces of fresh flesh close to your toes begin to spread. From these, everything regrows: your organs, muscles, flesh and blood. In the end your face grows back. It all returns except for one small mark between your eyes, ready to decay again. Take a small break at this point, then begin the meditation again. After you have done this many times you will reach a point where your reaction towards your own body and the bodies of others is one of nausea and revulsion. When you have reached that point it is time to stop. When you have finished your meditation session, do not continue to picture that spot of decay there. As explained above, you must not cling to this as real in post-meditation.