On Meditation: Time, Teachings, and Motivation

A message from Phakchok Rinpoche on Guru Rinpoche day:

It is evening here in Boudhanath, Kathmandu and I’m sitting on my bed, drinking tea and watching the World Cup, the 1st Half of Chile Vs. Switzerland. Deliciously lost in time and deeply embedded in the samsaric way of life! At a time like this, if I try to recall the Buddha’s teaching on how one should spend their time, I am reminded of the “three different chakras”:

1. Allocating time for meditation
2. Listening, reading and reflecting on teachings
3. Engaging in actions based on good motivation

If possible, your meditation should be continuous and on a daily basis. The duration doesn’t matter; it can be for few seconds, minutes and later hours. When you make it a habit to meditate continuously, you’ll have fever problems with your mind and the emotions that follow. So for instance, while watching the World Cup and in the moment of jubilation/grievance for your team, you can meditate for few seconds and try to be mindful of those very feelings at that very moment. Isn’t that quite simple? Meditation, a term with ten letters, can sometimes bear a certain weight because of it’s length and meaning and thus people tend to be too careful with it. To a point where we build a complete new environment for it: the right place to meditate, the right time to meditate, and the right circumstance to mediate. And in the process of planning, we loose out on time and hence a day skips by followed by a week and then loose the entire momentum of wanting to meditate. So before you get entrapped in this repeated cycle, try not to plan too much and just meditate.

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Have the Right View

But before you engage in your meditation, you should have a good understanding of the meaning of the “right view”. The view of emptiness, the empty nature of all phenomena. Many of us engaged in our different stages and types of mediation are sometimes completely lost in the method and while doing so we truly forget the ground. Therefore, we should constantly reflect on the right view, emptiness. The great master Tilopa when instructing his heart student Naropa states that, “If you don’t understand the right view then your meditation and conduct will not be right”. It is like for instance, when someone is meditating, he/she saying, “I am meditating”. The very fact that the word “I” is mentioned, and the attachment to the word “I”, your meditation is not right.

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Be Like a Lion, Not a Dog

For the means for understanding and training in the right view and to understand emptiness, it is helpful to use Atisha’s technique of Burjom, getting rid of thoughts as they arise. And while investigating your thoughts, it is mentioned that one should be like a lion and not like a dog. No matter what kind of feelings, thoughts, and emotions arise, don’t chase after them like a dog. Instead, think of where theses feelings, thoughts and emotions are arising from and like a lion jump on the person throwing the stick rather than chasing after the stick.

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Check Your Emotions

In any kind of samsaric activities you are engaged in, try to do them with a good motivation and constantly check your emotions. My root teachers constantly states that if a person don’t have mindfulness, then that person is like a dead man. So while listening, reading, and reflecting on teachings constantly check what kind of emotion is present and be mindful.

Finally on this precious Guru Rinpoche Day, I want to advice you all to be calm while practicing and try to reflect on Atisha’s pith instruction and constantly look at your mind.

Keeping you all in my mind and my prayers.

Sarva Mangalam,

Phakchok Rinpoche

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