Meditation Made Simple by Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche
Track 1: Intro Prayers
Track 2: Meditation Made Simple
Track 3: Questions and Answers
Track 4: Meditation Instructions on Keeping in the Present
Track 5: Practice Session and Dedication
Track 6: Meditation Made Simple
Track 7: Meditation Instructions on Breathing
Track 8: Practice Session and Dedication
Track 9: Meditation Made Simple
Track 10: Meditation Instructions on how to Focus on Pure and Impure Object
Track 11: Practice Session and Dedication
Track 1: Intro Prayers
Short Vajradhara Prayer
Prayer to the Root Guru
Track 2: Meditation Made Simple
Good morning, welcome to Samye Ling. I hope you will have a wonderful holiday here. We are not going to stress life in the name of meditation.
I think this century, especially this year, has been very challenging for you. You who were brought up in this part of the world are taught completely differently from what I was told as Buddhist. If I say some things, please don’t get hurt. I’m just warning you, because one is called a worldly path and the other is called a spiritual path. They are completely opposite.
For example, in your way of upbringing, if you are a politician, you have to win, otherwise you are a loser. If you are shopkeeper and do business, you want to make profit; always aiming to gain something from other people. Buddha’s teaching is about unconditional behavior and if you learned Buddhist way of thinking, you wouldn’t be making profit or winning votes. Voters want to vote for someone who can promise everything, but who is going to pay for it? It is you who will pay for it. The politicians themselves are not going to finance what they promise. To survive in this world they promise everything without being able to deliver it. That is why we get lost.
Sometimes we feel let down by even our own parents. But when I look at the challenge and suffering almost every part of the world is going through, I feel so sorry. We have a world where on one side people die of starvation year after year. There are parts where people kill each other nonstop year after year. They never saw peace or had full stomach in their life. Here in Europe there are choices and freedom. Sometimes I wonder are they suitable for you, when you make wrong choices and get messed up.
Buddha understood this long time ago and said there is no absolute achievement in samsara. When you pursue something, the minute you get it, you think you need more or you think it’s not enough. I am talking about this, because your state of mind has everything to do with meditation.
The beginning prayers we did remind us that we practice meditation for the benefit of all humanity. That is the goal, and to achieve it we need a stable and wise mind. We are asking for blessing [of the lineage], so that we are not tortured during our meditation session by our mental activities. We are asking for some relief from the tormenting mind, freedom.
When I see so many ups and downs and insecurity you have, I remember it took me 40 years to realize the impermanence of the western world. When I first came here 1968, Buddhists were not appreciated. Lamas could not shave their head, because people thought they had escaped from prison. Now it’s a fashion from top to bottom in society.
Buddhism is unique, because Buddha never said his path is the only path. Buddha had everything, a kingdom, but he noticed that everything is impermanent. He saw aging and dying people, he saw suffering. He gave up what he had to find a solution, an answer to the problem. We as intelligent and clever 21st century people get satisfaction as long as our merit, job etc. goes well. You don’t think you need to practice meditation. But how long are you going to be all right? It doesn’t last for long. That is the reason to meditate. All samsaric things you have been taught promising they are going to fulfill you, have never fulfilled anyone, young or old.
I can say that through my practice I am absolutely fulfilled human being. My happiness is not based on having a relationship. We have been told that if we don’t have a partner, we are going to be miserable and lonely. That is not true. We could think that if we don’t have a partner, we won’t have to work so hard and we will have time to meditate. Being in relationship is why you can’t meditate: you don’t have peace of mind.
How difficult it is to keep a relationship going? And the only method you are taught to preserve the relationship is the worst of all poisons, jealousy. With that you ruin everything. That is why I’m saying I will be talking the opposite of what you are taught: if your boy- or girlfriend dumps you, rejoice. Tell them you are so happy they found someone better that you. Your friend might stop dumping you. But if you plea them to stay with you: “I need you and want you” – this person will do everything to leave you.
Not only that, you are so emotional you don’t manage to listen your parent or friend saying: “Look, you are really making a big mistake.” You cannot hear them, because you think you are losing someone. You lose your friends and job and end up going to therapist and psychiatrist. Many years get wasted. So stop doing this, I am not teaching you anything that doesn’t work.
It is an opportunity, you are free. Rejoice, do not suffer mentally. Chewing things again and again makes people suffer mentally. Many of you went through some problem in the past and you got very hurt by parents, partner etc. That emotional entanglement comes to your life and you become mentally sick. If you want to be free of mental sickness, you have to let go of this.
“Letting go” in Buddhism means being wise. Earlier on you were suffering, because you could not find ways to forgive to your parents and beloved ones. Finding no way of forgiving is suffering. You can free yourself by forgiving. Find a reason for forgiveness: if you find every reason to forgive, you will be freed. If you keep on holding grudges, you are the one who is suffering. Meanwhile your girl- or boyfriend will be enjoying their life. Forgiveness is the key to everything you go through.
Once you learn to forgive and let go, you will be released from this so called mental sickness. If you have to go through some experience and cannot think of letting it go, that we call mental sickness. Don’t carry loads like a donkey. You are an intelligent person, cut it off, don’t carry!
If the past doesn’t come to your present head, you don’t have a mental problem. This technique could save you ten years of hard work of meditation. If you don’t know how to meditate, it’s wastage. You need to know how to meditate properly, and then it is meaningful. Otherwise, if you think your meditation is simply for calming your mind and relaxing your body, it has very little ambition. For calming your mind and relaxing your body you can jog, take tranquillizers and drink alcohol. It’s much more effective and easier.
As Buddhists we meditate in order to be released from all this entanglement. We will have overwarming wisdom. We will never become intolerant. Most of you who can’t meditate, are constantly judging yourself, your thoughts and feelings. Stop judging. And stop judging other people. In the modern civilization people are very good in judging others without seeing themselves.
So, learn to stop judging other people and then perhaps engage yourself in meditation properly. Don’t run away from yourself. People, who have disturbances in their mind or neuroses, feel an urge to change their location constantly. They move to different places, different parts of world. If you don’t deal with your inner problem, you can move every corner of the world; within week the old “friend”, the problem, is back. In the beginning the view is wonderful, sightseeing, new friends, new everything. As soon as this old problem catches you up, the things you were told will bring you full satisfaction or benefit – I don’t need to tell you.
You all have experience of this world: friendship never lasts, the western friendship is like a napkin; there is even less value. Therefore you can’t trust anybody. You should not change friendship like a napkin where you blow your nose and throw away. The ancient custom is that when you learn to trust and you have a friendship, you never dump them. That is stability.
In UK people used to say, if they can educate their children, they will have a job and security. It is not true anymore and some people have two or three qualifications and degrees. But if your mind is not stable, if you are not happy in your life, who is going to give you a job? Paper is just paper for convenience, so that someone says: “Oh, you have the degree; therefore we can give you a job.” But nowadays, unless you can show that you have the wisdom, calmness and stability, no job is a fixed job.
People save for pension, but the money is no longer there. We have tried to secure things by great hardship, but all is uncertain. That brings up all the different emotions. We cannot rely on anybody ultimately, even in our own government. The security gained by saving money bit by bit is no longer there. Life is very challenging and means a big change. Buddhists suggest that you work with your own mind; the mind belongs to nobody, except for you. Enrich the mind and improve the quality of mind; that is never going to let you down. Working with the mind is the solution, not job, profession or relationship, which are so unpredictable.
Especially when the world is changing rapidly, people are sometimes very shallow, nervous or projecting onto others. But external things never give you absolute satisfaction. Buddhism is special in not criticizing other religions, faith groups or human beings for no good reason. The western idea: “mind your own business” is the Buddhist answer.
You think that you have to engage in everything and everywhere. But your contribution to world is neurosis, anger and projection. Instead of messing up with the world, if you really want to do something substantial, change your own life, so that you have meaning in your life. There is improvement in your life, if people see that through your meditation you are always taking responsibility of what you are thinking. According to Buddhism thinking matters everything.
You have to apply awareness or mindfulness 24 hours a day: you have to catch your thinking, so that if you think that your thinking is positive or beneficial, increase that. If your thoughts are selfish, useless neuroses, stop increasing that.
Many people tell me that they have strong feelings. But which start first, feelings or thoughts? To my limited opinion thinking starts first and through that feelings arise. “I don’t like this person. I can’t work with this person.” Then you think: “Yes, it’s true. He or she looks badly at me.” Then you feel: “I can’t move, I can’t do anything.”
If you want to be free, stop having the wrong view that everybody has to be like you. We are not alike and have different truths. Leave others alone and work with your own judgmental mind. Education increases the way of thinking that others are not good. Teachers judge students. Then gradually teachers and parents are judged. Many people grow up thinking they are not good.
If you have that problem, you should take refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, because Buddha teaches equality based on buddhanature. Self-respect first, trust in yourself, otherwise you can’t achieve what you want to achieve. People have different talents; find your own talents. Everybody has something to offer. So don’t allow others to put you down. Think you are whoever you want to be, you have buddhanature and you will achieve your goal. Most people think: I haven’t got, I can’t do. But you have and you can.
Tibetan techniques are manifold and colourful, and your mind is not better than that. Do not criticize the colourful temple. Mere watching a blank wall as the only meditation technique would be difficult. You can’t sit there even five seconds without having some kind or thought, emotion or entanglement. Most westerners follow Tibetan Buddhism, instead of Zen or Theravada Buddhism, why? If the Zen technique is to sit for hours watching a blank wall, how many people can do that? Some people complain they have a hole in their head having done that.
Your mind is like a monkey. Entertain it wisely, or it destroys everything. That is the Tibetan technique, Vajrayana technique. When you sit and start thinking of your girlfriend or boyfriend – that is what you have been doing all your life. In meditation you need to get rid of it, so we give you visualization technique beyond your judgment, for example Tara and Chenrezig.
Buddhism is special because of planting the seeds of loving-kindness and compassion. Without them there is no self-liberation. Kindness to someone you like is not enough. Unconditional loving-kindness and compassion means feeling for someone who is angry and upset, someone going through difficulties and challenging. Feel sorry for those beings instead of getting angry and upset. Think ways to help. If everybody were perfect, loving-kindness and compassion would have no place. Imperfect world involves loving-kindness and compassion.
Give up major poisons. Why we can’t meditate or make progress is because of ignorance. Ignorance is responsible for all wrongdoings. It means we don’t have wisdom to see the consequences of our actions. We are doing everything in darkness. In the dark you do more harm than benefit.
Ignorance brings anger and that doesn’t do any good. All this is caused by attachment or desire. Without these three poisons: attachment, anger, and ignorance, we will be free. In the Western society some consider it to be good to be angry and have attachment and desire, otherwise how can we function? Buddha is not asking us to chuck out everything we have, but Buddha is teaching us to give up whatever is letting us down. Whatever causes you pain and suffering, learn to let go of it. Suffering is not given by others; we are responsible for our own suffering by not letting go.
Whether it’s a friend, relationship, job or profession; when it doesn’t work, learn to let go with ease. Then there won’t be any emotional effect on your life. If you don’t deal with this, you will never learn to meditate. Either you will have very drowsy dullness, some kind of calm, like a cow taking refuge under tree’s shade. People who don’t know how to meditate, use every possible method to escape their tormenting mind and drowse off. Meditating in that way causes you to be reborn as an animal without human intelligence. This happens, if you don’t use your intelligence in this life, but shelter in sleepiness and dullness.
Engage the monkey of the tormented mind with sharp, clear faculties. When the obstacles to meditation keep on coming, you get easily annoyed. That is when you need patience and tolerance.
Many people ask me if they have to suppress something, when they learn to meditate. If you feel you are suppressing something, I’ll ask you: “What are you suppressing?” This energy has no form or shape or colour. If feelings and thoughts were tangible and solid like a rubber cushion, you could suppress them. But they are a mind manifestation and it’s the mind which says: “I have a problem and I need to suppress it.”
So you are still working with that mind. Mind says: “I am happy / not happy.” All your emotions, hundreds of different things going through your head, go back to one thing, mind. Everything goes back to mind. If you can’t find the mind, you can and you should be able to say: “All things I am chasing are as if the mind was manifesting a rainbow.” Then you try to chase this rainbow all your life, and you never manage to actually catch it. The minute you think you caught it, you lose it. That is why it’s called uncertainty, impermanence.
Everything comes back to the mind. When you are going to learn meditation properly, you need to have foundation. As a foundation, one first needs to be able to sit there without much physical pain. Yoga, taiji, karate, kung fu and other forms of physical exercise help joints, muscles and hips. But do not use extreme yoga postures out of ego and pride. It can dislocate your joints and hurt you. Yoga is meant to work with prana and nadi trying to do what the physical form is capable of doing. Yoga is meant to bring joy in life and flexibility of joints, you don’t need to do weird postures for being a most famous yoga teacher. Especially if you start as an adult, be careful not to ruin your joints and bones. So many people have got hurt by extreme forms of yoga and there will be even law suits. Any extreme form is not useful.
Physical exercises like yoga, taiji, karate and kung fu can help flexibility of body but they do not touch the mind. Only meditation does. In yoga classes meditation is encouraged. But they don’t tell you what meditation is, they don’t have methods. Buddhism is specialized in meditation for 2600 years. Especially our Kagyu tradition is taming the mind and following the path of Mahamudra. Mahamudra means a highway, no boundary, no toll, a free path.
While busy gaining money for building houses for ourselves, we have been working hard with our mind. But the monkey mind is out of control. On the contrary, as a monk my happiness is not based on having a family. I feel part of the civilization wherever I go. I don’t need to look for Tibetans especially. As Milarepa says, all sentient beings are our mother sentient beings. Learn the culture and tradition of the part of the world where you are staying. Personally I did not just sit, but from 1968 to 1980 I managed to do even more western things than you ever manage. You don’t have the excuse of being different from the Lama here. I learned everything to do with samsara…
All I found here in Samye Ling for five years from 1968 onwards was filthy hippies, and some famous movie actors etc. There was a lot of work and people asking us foreigners to get lost. For five years I didn’t go to shrine room even once, I thought it’s for crazy people and there is nothing I can learn from there. Some high Lamas came, I never took teachings. In London I was called Jimmy Hendrix because of my hair; I thought I am that person ;)
I thought if this is what makes Europeans happy, I’ve got to learn it. A wealthy businessman in Scotland taught me whisky is the only way to move forward. So I drank it, but it was not happy to wake up in the morning. I did smoke and rode a motorbike. I was afraid of nothing and crashed two motorbikes and two cars. Then I searched the paradise of western civilization from New York City. There was no paradise but I finally learned to drive car. So I competed with NY taxi drivers willing to challenge.
In spite of having all that I did not find satisfaction. Therefore I gave up western lifestyle in 1980. I took full ordination as a monk and went to solitary retreat. From there onwards I did not touch cars. Instead I had to drive my mind. That is more difficult than driving car. Mind is like a monkey or like a slippery fish, which you lose all the time. Finally after 22 years I think I have the upper hand. It was a full time job. Not like you people practicing just one day for few hours, then 5-10 minutes looking for change. No pain, no gain.
So you have to be committed to learn meditation. First learn to deal with the physical pain, because everybody has physical problems, when you learn to meditate. Gradually help your mind to become more positive towards meditation and engaging more in what you are doing. There is instant coffee, but no instant enlightenment.
Self-liberation means you need to free yourself from whatever is taking away from you the freedom. If your attachment or desire is wrapping you up, renounce attachment and desire. If anger or ignorance is tying you up, transform your anger into loving-kindness and compassion and ignorance into wisdom.
You have to transform these mind poisons in order to be self-liberating. Otherwise no government, no human being can ever give you this total freedom. Accept yourself. Look into what area in your life makes you experience so much pain and suffering. What area of your life makes you a failure? That is where you have to deal.
You cannot meditate hoping for progress in meditation, if you have so many things going on in your head: past, present, future. It’s over-crowding your head. If your mind is much tormented, sitting and meditating for one hour is like torturing yourself. To overcome this we learn how to meditate. How to not be afraid of yourself? How to meditate without needing so many methods? Do not shop methods. If you use a meditation technique, you need to give time to get the result. By changing method all the time you do not get the fullest result.
During next sessions I will give you proper Tibetan methods. I’m not asking you to change anything as far as renunciation or application are concerned, but I teach you a method, which is very good for beginners and advanced practitioners alike. Whatever category you are in, this method requires your mind to be absolutely free from ‘glue’. If you have glue, you are not able to do what I am suggesting, no matter how easy it is.
That’s why, if you are Buddhist, you do purification to lessen this glue. Then you don’t get stuck. If your mind says: “Don’t hold onto that”, but you still keep on holding onto that, that I call glue. If your mind says: “Don’t do that”’ but you keep on doing that – that is glue, superglue. If you want freedom by practicing a Buddhist method, you only need to give up your neuroses, your mind poisons. I’m quite sure most of you want to do that, if your neuroses or poisons make your life a failure.
Say, you are very angry person and you don’t get along with people. An angry person with unpredictable mind is disaster. One moment you think someone as your friend, next as your enemy, and shout them. This is unpredictable. A moment of anger can destroy friendship, which was built up over many years.
If you want to learn proper meditation and get some sense of fulfillment, you need to learn to renounce all the poisons responsible for the upheavals, ups and downs in your life. It’s nobody’s fault, except your own.
During next session we will do some meditation and there is time for questions. If you ask me anything to do with how to relieve yourself from physical pain and mental difficulties, I am the expert. I have dedicated 32 years of my life for meditation; even now I do seven hours of meditation every day. I get up 3.30 every morning and start with two hours of meditation. Why? Because this is my wealth and this I have to offer to you. No wealth is equal to skill which can free people from their mental torment. This is because physical wealth is of no use, if you are not mentally happy. Riches can even give you ways to destroy yourself and also involve others in it. Wealth isn’t everything, mind is everything.
This afternoon we can discuss this and then I lead a simple meditation. By the time you go home, you feel meditation is so easy and simple. You feel: I can do meditation. This is what I shall teach to you.
Track 3: Questions and Answers
Good afternoon, I hope you are not stressing yourself but enjoying your life. We did one hour of meditation this morning. If you have questions about physical pain or mental difficulties during meditation, please ask. I might be able to help you to improve your ability to meditate.
We are also going to meditate and I’ll give you a specific technique, so people learn to know how easy it is. Meditation is not as difficult as you think. If Lama or somebody is talking for 2–3 hours, many people don’t feel pain. You are very well entertained. When you start to meditate, even 20–30 minutes becomes painful.
If you think sitting is painful or meditation is no longer interesting, it puts you off. Unless you learn to meditate by working with your mind, no matter how many teachers you meet, how many texts you read and study, nothing changes your situation. If you really want to change something tangibly, you need to meditate.
So I could help you, because I’m not talking about how things happened thousands or even hundred years ago. I’m talking about my own situation, how meditation has changed me completely,
[Question: A problem with saliva.]
Answer: There are techniques, but it’s best you don’t allow this to bother you. While sitting, if you feel you need to swallow, you do it. Normally they say putting your tongue against the palate will stop it, but unless you are very relaxed it doesn’t seem to work. I have tried everything and once you are relaxed, then everything becomes possible.
When you are stressed, it doesn’t matter, whichever method you use, it’s tense and stressful. When you meditate together, many people become very sensitive. You are quite aware of what other people are doing: breathing or moving, and you feel that everything affects you. So, when you learn to meditate in a group like this, you have to ignore everybody else and just come back to your mind saying: relax, not a big deal.
So, if you have to swallow, do it gently, nobody will notice. It solves the problem. We must not complicate our meditation. Being uptight, sometimes even thinking that you can sense other people’s feelings, is a reason some people cannot learn to meditate in a group. But then you are not able to learn to meditate by yourself, either.
For example, if you start learning meditation at home, in few minutes time you start remembering all sorts of things you had forgotten to do. And you start to clean the house, wash dishes, write things down etc. If you are a beginner and your mind is very active, you will not be able to learn proper meditation at home. Group meditation has one advantage: people have pride and ego and they will be watching who will work out first. Even if you feel physical pain and mental torture, you will just sit and put up with it, thinking you need to stay there as long as you can and waiting for someone else to exhaust themselves first. Group meditation is very good for our pride.
It seems many people on this course are not Buddhist. When we Buddhists come in the temple, we do three prostrations to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, to subdue our pride and ego. This is what we do, the pride and ego are very tricky, you see. People, who don’t have a good self-esteem, feel very vulnerable. The only way to compensate it is with pride.
It’s like a donkey wearing tiger’s skin. You show your power, but it doesn’t work. If you are not self-confident or have low self-esteem, remember what the Buddha said: you are as good as everybody else. You have to think this a hundred times a day. Just hearing this doesn’t help, because you won’t remember it. When you want a change to take place, you need to remember every moment what kind of change you want.
Right now mindfulness is very popular, isn’t it? Around the world mindfulness is everything. Why do people say it has nothing to do with religion? You must be forgiven, it is coming from Buddhist teachings. People who practice mindfulness still haven’t got it right. When you come to a mindfulness course and go to a class for an hour or two, you talk about all the theories. Then you come out and find your shoes out of order. As soon as you walk out from the classroom door, you have stopped being mindful. Learning to practice mindfulness means that all day you have to be very mindful of what you are thinking, saying and doing.
According to some Buddhist teachings as soon as you eat, you are mindful of eating by eating slowly and not with much noise. When you walk, it is very gentle walk, not just running about banging doors, or talking nonsense. If you only manage to have mindfulness in the classroom and not before or after, how is it going to change you?
Buddhists go to retreat for many years to meditate and be aware or mindful of everything we think, say and do all the time. So our old habits have no chance taking over. The habit of mindfulness must follow you where-ever you go. If you are not able to achieve this, you will never be free. You came here for simple meditation, but your job is not just sitting here for one hour meditations or listening to me, you need to remember the changes I was asking you to make, all the time, all the time. And if you are able to do that, you won’t be disappointed. You will have the absolute feeling of fulfillment.
Why is it that you Europeans have everything, but there is no satisfaction? That is because you haven’t learned to appreciate what you have. You can have everything, still you are chasing after something. That is why there is disillusion. Because you are unsatisfied, you are unhappy. The mind does not say: “How fortunate I am to have everything.” Take for example Milarepa. I am a follower of Milarepa. I am always learning to appreciate what I have. First thing in the morning I say to myself: “Lama Yeshe, you are so fortunate you are not dead.”
Most of you who have a job have little sleep, consume alcohol, and as soon as you get up, headache is there. “What a horrible day today.” And you make sure the whole day is going to be horrible, because you do not appreciate the fortune of having a job to go. Think of the millions of people without job. It is a fortune to have a job. We have so many reasons to celebrate and rejoice our life. Why don’t we actually recognize and appreciate this? In Tibetan there is a saying: animals which dig for food from under the ground, when they catch some, they throw it behind and look for the second one, and throw it behind. They only get maybe the very last one and then they run away. Just like this the accumulation of wealth is piled up never thinking “I am wealthy, I have everything”.
So, always teach your mind to have appreciation in life. I’m so joyful I’m not sick. I’m so joyful I live in a world without killing and fighting. I’m so joyful we are not dying of starvation. People in developed countries don’t need to die of starvation, unless you like doing it. Many people are starving themselves, because they want to be like skeletons – people, who have anorexia. All in the name of wanting to be beautiful. Sometimes when I see this I feel so sorry. They are like ghosts. There is no flesh on the bone, and still thinking: “I’m so fat, I can’t eat.”
So, when you have the wrong kind of ideas in your head, you suffer for it. In India, where there is food scarcity, if you are fat, people think it’s very good, you have plenty to eat. Few generations back in Europe, when people didn’t have much to eat, if you were fat and choppy, they considered it very well off people with plenty to eat. Now you have everything, so you want to starve yourself to death.
Not only that, everything is upside down. You work so hard to have nice, neat and clean clothes. Nowadays people wear clothes with patches all over. And young people have trousers falling down showing their bottom. I wonder how they can even walk. The civilization is going upside down. Why do you bother to make money if you wear patched clothes? This is a sign of what is about to come: your abundance of wealth and the sources of wealth will go down, because you create such a bad cause. When you have everything you do everything wrong. That is because of how our state of mind is now: never able to appreciate the good things in life. Something weird, funny and strange is beautiful.
People put their hair in funny ways and needles through their tongue and nose. Is it beautiful? How much suffering you have to go through to make all these holes everywhere? Many people take tattoos. Some people put a fortune in taking them. And when you try to get rid of them, it’s both expensive and painful. We think we have so many choices and decide: if I take tattoos or put rings everywhere, maybe people like me better. If I put my hair in this way or shave it, maybe people like me better. All these ideas, and everything is based on thinking somebody could like you better.
You want to be the very best and liked person. But according to Lamas’ wisdom you need to have a kind and warm heart. It is a better quality than making many holes. If you want to be liked by other people, you should want to have enough peace. Consume less, create peace and calmness. But this requires meditation. You can read a lot about what the Buddha said, what the Christ said and what different philosophers have said. Yet nothing is making a change in you.
In Buddhism we apply theory in practice, because we think that our experience after death is more difficult and painful than the present experience. The only way is to develop a change in our own mind. You cannot ask death to wait until you go and get your books, and you can’t say to the Master of Death, “I forgot what I have studied.” Mental experience is what you need, and to achieve it you need to learn to meditate.
I forgot you had a chance to ask questions. When I start talking I can’t stop. I don’t plan or premeditate or write down what the audience might like to hear or appreciate. It has to come from my heart. I cannot write down any of my talk. Whatever I am saying I talk from my heart with experience. Not from books, not from Tibetan cultural tradition. Many people complain Lamas don’t understand western culture. I think I know much better than you are giving me credit, because I spent so many years learning your cultural tradition. And I’ve been dealing with young people around the world, some of them most unworkable ones. So how can you say I don’t know enough? I think I know more than enough.
So, if you have anything to ask, you can ask.
Answer: Buddhism is very liberal belief; we say you should never force people to learn meditation, especially children. But nowadays children are introduced to it for example for five minutes saying: “Look, we have to physically relax, mentally relax, and calm down.” It does seem to help, and there are many groups now round the world introducing simple meditation techniques to classes. I even have some teachers, who teach children with learning difficulties. They say they have been introducing these simple techniques to their classes, and the children have completely changed, behaving and learning much better than before.
I work with the Scottish Interfaith Council called Head of World Religions. Each time we met for two or three years they kept on saying: “Why is it that nobody shows interest in what we are doing?” I told to them that there isn’t anything we have been doing, because all of you are saying that “Our belief is perfect and better than others”. We are not doing anything to actually show people that our belief is working or beneficial to others. I asked why the Heads of Religion wouldn’t introduce meditation to school classes. If they did not like the name ‘meditation’, and think it has something to do with Buddhism, we could have called it anything.
But some of the group said that they don’t have that tradition, or they don’t want to be part of it. Working with different faith groups never achieved anything. We are now using mindfulness as a term while working with school teachers. Even in prison they are introducing a simple form of meditation. It makes a big difference.
[Question about monkey mind]
Answer: Before you start to learn meditation, there is no checking and coming back to the present moment. So you don’t know how bad it is. The minute you start learning meditation, first time in our life we start to see, how chaotic our monkey mind is. So when we teach meditation, we say in the beginning your mind is like a big waterfall, so busy and chaotic. Gradually, when you keep on meditating, it becomes like a shallow river flowing very gently. If you keep on doing meditation more and more, then it becomes like an ocean without any waves.
It has to go stage by stage. It has not gone worse, but you are recognizing, seeing your state of mind first time in your life through meditation.
[Question: While meditating earlier on my mind seemed calmer than before, but since the time here my mind seems busier and busier.]
Answer: If you have a method, which works for you, Buddhists do not suggest you have to change it. If you think that you previously had some sort of meditation method, you don’t have to give it up. Why would you give it up if it works for you? But I wouldn’t know if with your previous method you were kidding yourself.
For example, some famous Hindu teachers give you mantras to recite. And Father Lawrence Freeman, head of 100,000 Benedictine meditators, told me in London he is using Sanskrit marataka-mantra. He is Catholic, but met with many faith groups and also with His Holiness Dalai Lama. Some of his meditators use mantra, some use visualization or engage their mind with some object.
There are so many methods, but your motivation has to be pure. If you meditate in order to have calmness, stability, positivity, and quality of loving-kindness and forgiveness, then it doesn’t matter whatever the method you use. But if you don’t have any of these qualities, you are wasting your time, because without those qualities there is no way you can move forward.
[Question: The children seem to enjoy meditation and ask many questions; to my experience they are more open than the teachers.]
Answer: That is true. Once I was talking to 400–500 small children. They had more to ask than anybody manages to answer. Some of them were so interested and moving next to me more and more, so that the teacher had to push them back. They just kept on coming more near to me making questions. Actually children are wiser than many grown-ups and want to know why is it that their parents or family are telling them what to do, when the grown-ups themselves have not found out what to do and ending up as a failure. I remember many young children saying they are very afraid of growing up. You can see samsara is frightening nowadays, because there is no certainty whatsoever.
We human beings are told that we can plan everything. But who manages to do that? If we could do that, the world would be a perfect place. We think we can plan everything, but somehow it never works.
Whatever you are meant to be doing, works, planning doesn’t. Like me for instance, I have no wish to be talking and sitting up here. I would like to be elsewhere, but what choice do I have? Many people would like to sit on my throne, but never succeed getting here. Many of you and humans in general wish to have perfect marriage, but not many succeed. Many of my young monks and nuns complain about rules they must obey, but while lay couples fall apart, something could have gone right in their ordained lives and they are the lucky ones.
Mostly we cannot plan our entire life, because of cause and effect. Whatever is happening to us now, the seed has been planted in previous lives already. Nobody wants to be sick, but many people can’t help themselves not to be sick. Nobody wants to be a failure, but sometimes some people do nothing to manage not to be failure. So many things happen in our lives, because of what we did in previous lives. Some people seem to have all the luck in the world: healthy body and mind, everything goes well.
There was no way for you to plan ahead you would be one day going to a Buddhist temple to listen to an ugly-looking Lama. You ended up here, nevertheless, why? It did happen. Some people say, it’s karma, but that is a very bad excuse. When people say, “It’s karma”, it means they don’t want to be responsible. Better not to blame the karma, but cause and effect happens every second, every moment. Always there, just like as long as your body is there, there is shadow.
Simply put cause and effect means, if you punch someone, they will punch you back. If you talk badly about somebody, they will talk about you even worse than that, sooner or later. If we don’t help our mind to think positively; if you allow your mind to think negatively, you become just a negative human being. So, cause and effect in Buddhism means that what we do comes back to us. So we need to learn that cause and effect must be respected. In Christianity the path to escape is just to rely on God and He will fix up everything. But then, most of you are not in His favour, because you all make mistakes. God doesn’t seem to judge properly, for what reason you did a wrong thing. You are punished the same way whether you did something deliberately or because you were unable to do the right thing. There is one sort of flat judgment.
And the Buddhist excuse is karma. “It is our karma…” That is just as bad, you don’t want to do anything to improve. Many people don’t like to hear the word karma. We have to dismiss the karma business and introduce cause and effect. That is absolutely clear, whether you have a belief or don’t have a belief or you are Buddhist or non-Buddhist. You really need to rely on cause and effect.
Track 4: Meditation Instructions on Keeping in the Present
I promised to teach you a profound method of meditation. This is a Mahamudra technique of beginner’s meditation called shine. If you are an advanced practitioner, this is on the top of the range of methods, which you can use without a Lama, in an environment where the prevailing culture has a strong impact on you.
First of all you should sit upright the way you like, on a chair, on floor etc. Just feel very ease, physically absolutely relaxed. You need to be relaxed, otherwise you cannot meditate. Once you are physically relaxed, you need to relax mentally. When you are relaxed, think: here I am in the temple; I came here deliberately from home to learn meditation. This is a purpose built meditation hall, so you are in the right place and your body is here. Once your body is here, your mind should be with the body, so that prana and mind are inseparable. In this sense Hindu yoga and Tibetan Buddhism are similar here: prana and mind are inseparable, your mind and body should not be separate.
When your monkey mind jumps out of the body, you have to kindly bring it to the present moment. This is really the best of methods, be in the present moment. When you meditate, first thought that might come up is about the past, things which have been bothering you. When you sit here, whatever comes from the past, don’t get upset or annoyed, just say: “Don’t follow the past.” As soon as you see you are in the past, come back to the present.
If you are a beginner, whose mind is very busy, you may not be able to sit for ten seconds without thinking something. So your mind leads the future thinking: “When Lama Yeshe finishes talking, where am I going to go, perhaps to the coffee shop or sightseeing?” If you think that way, the whole meditation session will be just busy thinking about what you are going to do in the future. During these 10–15 minutes of meditation remember, it’s not thinking time. This engages you from inviting the future. As if you didn’t have enough suffering in the past, why to invite future suffering?
So the idea is: come back to the present moment. If we are not in the past or future, if we are in the present, how could there be any chaos in the mind? There shouldn’t be any disturbance. Present moment is present moment. This is simple, so easy. I am not asking you to give up anything, but at the same time you are asked not to add anything. All we are saying: be at the present moment. Now you can experiment whether you can be at the present moment for ten minutes. Or is your mind going to cause problem by jumping out there hundred times to past and future during the ten minutes? Bring it back again and again without losing tolerance, without impatience.
Impatience destroys everything, because when you think you want to be in the present moment and the mind doesn’t allow you, gradually you get annoyed. Then you lose whole the purpose. Never lose patience and tolerance. Do not judge yourself thinking “Am I good or bad, right or wrong, present or not?” Just be in the present moment, bring the mind back to the present moment, and stay there.
Tomorrow I shall ask you, if you have the ability to meditate, or if you need to use some purification method. Is the glue in your mind so strong you get stuck in the past and future and you can’t pull yourself out? If so, sitting alone is not going to improve you and you may have to engage in purification. In the Vajrayana path there are different ways and methods to enable the sticky mind to be free. With this meditation we examine ourselves, how sticky our mind is. See if you can be at the present without judging, without becoming impatient with absolutely relaxed, calm mind.
So, physically relax, mentally relax. Always bring the mind back to the present moment. If you are an advanced meditator, you don’t need to think this wouldn’t be good enough. This is the best method. And if you are beginner, this is also best; we are not asking you to do anything, more than to be in the present moment.
Track 5: Practice Session and Dedication
[Meditation & Dedication]
Track 6: Meditation Made Simple
Good afternoon, yesterday we did the meditation of being in the present. How many of you were able to do that? My goodness, where were you? If you were able to do that, it would be the best method to free you completely from stress. It releases you from all the things people normally get stuck with in the past. It shows you your monkey mind has been so busy, it doesn’t even know how to be in the present for ten seconds. You really need to examine what on earth you have been doing. Thinking consciously and unconsciously the mind is always roaming everywhere.
We have a saying “be mindful”. Do you know what you were thinking ten minutes ago? Not many people have recollection of where their mind has been. That is why, if you have absolute mindfulness at the present, you cannot do anything wrong. We make mistakes, because we are not mindful in the present. This is so important.
If you wish to make progress in finding inner fulfillment or satisfaction, you must have this mindfulness or awareness in the present. Because that way, if neuroses that bothered you in the past come up, you can switch it off instantly. It is as if you were standing at the door, if something comes up, you can shut the door and they will never get into the room. If you leave the door open, the thief gets inside and takes everything. Then you feel sorry, because you didn’t close the door. Something like this.
If we were to make such a change in our life, it requires some commitment. I think many of you have a wrong idea that simplicity means same as not being very knowledgeable or intelligent. And that intelligent means continuous thinking and busyness. That idea has no merit. Thinking, planning, getting lost. If a computer has too much information, it breaks down. Just like this so many people of this new civilization have so much stress, because we keep on picking useless garbage. You may think I’m very stupid, but I can’t remember even one telephone number. I find it very freeing. Because I want to be at the present in able to do what I’m doing.
But it doesn’t mean I’m stupid, I can talk for hours. It comes from my heart. I don’t have a mobile phone or camera. I accept my own mind, for me it is everything. I have time to meditate and practice, and when people really need, I have something to offer. Do not pile up so much garbage in your brain. Then you don’t find anything and search like searching for a needle in a hay stack. You cannot find what you need among too much useless information. If you are calm, stable, wise and kind, everything you ever want to do becomes so easy and simple.
Every morning when you get up, remember to say: “I am very fortunate.” Say and think that way. Say: “I have everything whatever I need.” This is essential. According to Buddha right livelihood means we do not need to hoard things, which are not going to be useful in our life. Just accumulating for the sake of accumulation is suffering. If we in Europe decided to simplify our needs, Europe would never need to suffer. There is enough of wealth. Right now is the time for all Europeans, young and old, help your minds, so that none of you become mentally sick.
I heard from news every fourth Scot is mentally sick. That is terrible. In the UK it could be even worse. What are we doing, do we lack intelligence? People are stressed and do not trust their governments. People do not trust even in their own judgment, it is so distorted. People working for the government normally have 100% certainty they can retire with a good pension at certain age. Now every government is saying people will have to work for extra years and your pension will be cut. There is no security in this part of the world, not even in relationship. I am not insulting; I am just trying to say that the things you or people in general pursue, do not deliver 100% fulfillment or satisfaction.
Many Europeans come from Christian background. When you take the wedding vow, you say “until death us apart”. Who keeps that promise? Nobody keeps it, because there are so many temptations. People start thinking that having just one good friend is not enough. If I try someone else, it could be better or more interesting. The result is marriage breakdown, unhappiness follows and children suffer.
The Buddhist message is: don’t be so selfish, think of all other beings. Every human being around the world wants to be happy, rich and successful. All the things we want, everybody wants. That is why Buddha’s teaching is so beautiful. If somebody is doing better than us, we should not become jealous. If you are wise, you rejoice in their doing better than you, and in the end you gain the same merit as someone doing better. As a very wise old Lama I can now sleep all day hoping that everybody is doing something good and I rejoice in whatever they are doing. I feel so fulfilled. Rejoicing in other people’s success is the path of peace.
Rejoicing in other people’ good look is also path of peace, because you don’t get jealous and you don’t feel unhappy. But you can only achieve this by having a stable mind, a mind, which is at present. Body and mind must be inseparable. Our mind is all over the place, and most people have no clue what they have been thinking. The minute you catch it: “Oh, I’m here,” there is a certain joy. In Tibetan Buddhism there is a saying: it is like mother and child meeting together. There is joy of you being aware of your mind. Oh, it’s here! There is absolutely joy. Otherwise every hour, every minute is lost, no productivity. Wandering around, not knowing the past, not knowing the future. Wherever the mind has been, there is no recollection.
Yesterday’s teaching was aimed to help those of you, who really have mental and emotional problems. You do not need to deny you have a mental problem. You don’t have to deny you didn’t have something happening to you previously. We are not even discussing it. We are just trying to bring the mind to the present moment. If you could be in the present, you wouldn’t have any of the mental difficulties, which are connecting you to the past. The best of all methods you can ever find.
You don’t have to fight. You are not feeding the energy connecting you to past. While thinking you have a mental problem related to parents or family or relationship, you are constantly feeding it, but with this method you don’t give even ten seconds for thinking about this. Day after day. If you are able to be in the present moment today, tomorrow there is much more chance you are able to do that, because you will be less stressed and less unhappy. The Lama is not denying that people have difficulties. Lama is telling you what will liberate you from whatever happened in the past. Even if something horrible happened to you when you were young, you are not young anymore, you are grown up. So why do you have to remain in same sort of thinking? Say, “I’m free, I’m no longer young, and I can help myself.” Move forward.
So, come back to the present moment. And then, you who are Buddhist now, do the specific practice called Dorje Sempa purification. Because, even you know that the answer to all your problems is to be in the present, your glue-like mind will not allow you to do it. Therefore you need to do lots of Dorje Sempa purification to cut this connection. I am not only talking this through teaching, I practice this. And I achieved something. That is why I have such 100% certainty, how all of you can achieve.
When the Chinese came to our country I was 14 years old. We escaped, fled and run for almost a year in winter and in most difficult circumstances. We had been caught by the Chinese at Brahmaputra River. They were shooting us from every direction, and I had to go into the river in freezing conditions. We were hiding on a hilltop in shadows for weeks with frozen clothes. We spent weeks with no food but eating shoe leather, which we cut, boiled and chewed. I went through lots of suffering and from there onwards I used to have a very horrible nightmare. They were chasing me and trying to kill me.
When I formally took up Buddhist teaching and path, there is certain practice we do, called ngondro. There we invite our father and mother sentient beings to each side, and especially whoever you consider is your worst enemy you try to bring them close, so you can guide them to the right path. I was thinking one can’t blame all the Chinese, they suffer just like Tibetans. It is a policy.
At that time Mao Tse-tung was the chairman of the Communist party. And there was a prime minister. I thought these two are responsible for all the things we had to go through. And I was practicing really diligently believing in this. One night after years of really serious practice – it wasn’t one or two hours a day practice, I was in five-year-long solitude retreat – one night I had most beautiful dream. That happened when I was in USA, Woodstock, New York. In the dream I had a small grocery shop and these two people were my assistants, assisting me in my business. From there onwards I had no more nightmares.
It does work, but you have to trust and believe. Most of you who have mental problem, you are not suffering for tomorrow. You don’t know what is waiting for you tomorrow. Everything is based on what you have gone through in the past. And the only way you can liberate yourself is learning to forgive. Find a reason why you must forgive. It’s a very important reason – you want to be free, happy and fulfilled human being. What is better reason than that? Find every ways and means learning to practice and forgive. Think of this hundred times, day or night, practice it. Then gradually your problem changes into a dream. Once you have managed to change it into a dream, it means finally you will be able to let go of everything you have been going through.
Sometimes some of you say: “Lama Yeshe, I thought I have forgiven.” But then it still comes back. That is very superfluous, you are not able to forgive properly. You only superfluously say “I forgive”, but nothing deeper than that. So, practice forgiveness again and again. That’s why Buddhism is so special and wonderful. You don’t have to sell yourself. Buddha’s teaching empowers you, so that you have everything to be a success.
When people say “I have everything but I feel hollow and lonely,” it means you have not appreciated what you have. You have to say “I really appreciate what I have.” If you think this many times, again and again, maybe hundred times a day, then the glue-like grasping mind won’t be chasing you anymore.
Then you practice meditation on loving-kindness and forgiveness. Gradually you become a very wholesome human being. Otherwise no outer or physical wealth will ever fulfill you. Even the wealthiest Europeans and Americans say, “I have everything I ever wish for, but I am not happy and fulfilled.” That is because you neglected your buddha mind. You just went out chasing a hallucination and you didn’t help the mind. Mind is the root or source of your failure and success. If you help enrich the mind, then you will have everything.
For example, I have practiced Buddhism now very seriously for 32 years. I don’t accumulate any money. If I accept money, it’s only to make a good connection. I use it for good purpose, sending it to Lamas or for making pujas. When we went to South-Africa and Zimbabwe with my Lama and nun, we never took even a penny from there. Everything received as offerings we put back to the project. So we feel already very wealthy and content in our life. If you think that unless you find a partner you will be miserable and lonely, look at me, am I miserable? I haven’t had a partner for almost 32 years. I am not lonely. I feel most free and fulfilled.
So, this should change your mind, when you think “I will be a lonely person, who needs a partner.” Think of the consequences and suffering you have to go through in a relationship. And you still will be lonely. Even if you manage to keep everything going together in this life, death separates you. There are very few unique couples in Europe, when husband and wife get along very well as real pals. When the husband dies, the wife dies soon after. She wants to die, because she thinks she wants to join her husband. Otherwise she is so lonely and miserable. But they were separated and there is no certainty that one will be part of the other person’s life once you are dead. There is no certainty.
When you think that to find a partner is solution to your loneliness, you are looking for nothing but suffering. That is my view. That is how difficult it is to have real meaningful relationship going. I follow my lineage teacher. When I think I need a partner not to be lonely, I meditate. Solution is meditation! If I feel I need something, I meditate. Meditation fulfills my life 110%. I don’t have weakness in my mind. If I sleep, I cannot think of anything badly, only positively. Wake up positively, whole day positively.
But I am able to manifest myself in whatever form or shape it takes to change my students’ mind. If you happen to see me wrathful and shouting, don’t get shocked, because if I turn my head I am still happy. I don’t bear grudges. I can shout to anyone to reach to them. I first use loving-kindness, talk kindly and nicely and do everything. If nothing reaches, I give the shock treatment. Sometimes I do succeed. I don’t do it because I enjoy doing it, but because I have 100% commitment to reach to these people, who are so drawn into their own stupid way of thinking. If shock is needed, I am happy to do that, I think it needs lot of courage.
Mainly because I believe and trust in my buddha mind, I don’t care what people think of me. That frees me. If someone thinks they see me Buddha, next time they might see me very evil. I am fine with both, it makes no difference. It’s all because of Buddha’s blessing. Nobody can imbalance my head, because I haven’t missed my priority. I am able to make sure of my buddha mind, just like Buddha and all the Lineage Holders have done. I’m most wholesome and rich human being.
In comparison to you, I have no old age pension, but no Buddhist has ever died of starvation. That is my belief: so long as you have this pure mind, you will never die of starvation. We can eat less. I will be very happy to pick up food from garbage bin. I am actually visualizing one day I would be left to be in somewhere like New York City or London and just helping myself from the garbage, it would be very interesting! Even very nice and liberating.
One should not get attached to power, possessions and comfort. One should be willing and happy to accept whatever the circumstances. I try to implement everything as the Buddha told. Sometimes my sponsors are very kind to me. This time they paid me business class to fly to Johannesburg. Fine, if they want to give me that. Sometimes they say: Lama Yeshe, we don’t have much money, can you come on the cheapest airline you can ever find. It’s fine with me. Sometimes people bring me a big limousine, sometimes they bring me a rusted car without even a proper seat. I’m happy with anything they can afford. I’m not stuck with one thing or another.
One should be rich in the mind, even food wise. My people try to cook different dishes, but I have a little wooden bowl and put all things together, mix it up and eat. What’s the big deal of cooking different things? So, if we don’t have to depend on food and comfort, life is so liberating. That’s what I’m going to teach to you: don’t chase things, which have no meaning. Don’t stress, if you stress your mind, it affects your body. That is why there are so many sick people around the world; because your mind is so stressed and you have no clue which direction you are going. It does affect your body. Please be more gentle and kind to yourself.
And be wiser, you don’t have to have everything you see in commercials. Get what you really need. In Samye Ling we have a junk box, which I call our treasury box. My monks and nuns mostly find what they need from the junk box. This is noble way, you don’t need to kill, kick or rob anybody. You don’t need to kill yourself to make all the money to buy design clothes. When you find what you need in the junk box, that’s very useful. Work less, but do a quality job. Bring some order in your life. Otherwise life just becomes meaningless and you are not better than a slave. I think Capitalism is nothing more but a clever way of slave work. It is like throwing a fish hook. This system says: if you do that, this is what you get. But they don’t tell you what the suffering consequences of such a greedy path are.
Be less greedy, and more kind and gentle. Be relaxed physically and mentally. I am going to teach another meditation method, because I want you to feel you can actually meditate properly. Yesterday I gave you this technique: not to be in the past or future but in the very present moment. If you succeed in that, it is the supreme path, even for people who have been meditating for a long time. That is what we have to achieve, so that the mind is never judging or saying “right” or “wrong”. Mind is impartial and all-pervading. This is called the supreme method.
Track 7: Meditation Instructions on Breathing
I am going to give you this second method, because I know most of you are not able to manage the first one. When you learn to meditate, it’s essential to sit up. It’s important that you are sitting the upper part of the body upright. If you are not upright, the prana and nadis are not stretched and things don’t go well.
Then always remember: physically relax, don’t do meditation and then stress and get tense. Any meditation must be done absolutely physically relaxed, then mentally relaxed. If you are a beginner, it’s all right to close your eyes once you are relaxed.
With this method you don’t need to seek anything from outside. This is used by many different Buddhist schools and also non-Buddhist schools, it’s a breathing exercise. Breathing is part of your life and existence, so you don’t need to search for a method from outside of yourself.
When you do this breathing exercise, it helps with scattered thoughts. Try to bring the mind into oneness. But if you put a strong effort into this for a long period of time, you get more tense and uptight with no benefit. So what you need to do is to start counting numbers up to seven. If there is any tension or stress, let go of this whole method and come back to the present moment. As soon as your monkey mind jumps out, come back to the breathing exercise.
If you close your eyes, breathe from navel in and out about ten times. In and out one, in and out two etc., concentrating as well as you can manage. There is no way you should allow your mind to mess around at that time. Be completely focused on the breathing exercise. Whenever you get tense (some people even start to get headache), gradually let go saying, “Okay, I’m not asking anything from the mind except to come back to the present moment.” It’s like a little dialogue between you and your mind, saying “I’m not asking you to do anything, so you could be in the present moment.”
As soon as your mind jumps, use the breathing exercise. Very concentrated, it’s called the prana mind. It is as if you were to put a thread through a small needle head, that much concentration is necessary. You have to have 100% concentration. If you achieve to count to seven, you can gradually increase the number to 21 or 25, whatever. Then, if you are able to count one mala (108) without any distraction, you have the foundation of shine.
Shi means pacifying your busy thinking. Ne means being able to remain in this peaceful state of mind. Before you move further to lhatong, foundation of your shine meditation is to be able to count 108 rosary beads without any interruption with a counting exercise. Then you have the absolute foundation of shine. Then lhatong.
Lhatong is involved when you have lots of things to ask, doubts and questions. Lhatong is a technique of investigation. For that you need this absolute foundation of shine. So you use the method of being in the present moment, if you are very uptight and tense. When the monkey mind jumps, use the concentration technique. Always feel completely focused breathing in and out, one; breathing in and out, two, etc., but very relaxed.
And remember, meditation is not a big deal, it’s simple. We can all do meditation. Most people can’t do meditation and they run away, because they allow their chatting mind to take over. You are afraid of sitting there, because the thoughts of past catch you from behind. This method of not being in the past stops this happening. It’s like not giving any oxygen for the lifeline for negativities. You could write down: don’t give oxygen to the neuroses of the past. Suffocate them. Come back to the present.
Then, because your mind has been so busy all your life, it’s not easy to be in the present. At that time you count and do the breathing exercise. It is like riding a horse. Riding the horse on the wind, very concentrated, close your eyes. Relax outwardly physically and inwardly mentally. In and out, one; in and out, two, etc. When you feel you are tense, tight or get headache, let go. Come back to the present moment.
This is the method we are going to use this evening, and still I have one more session to give you a third method tomorrow, so if you have questions, please ask. You will never need more than three methods. Each one of them is very different from each other. It doesn’t matter how many years you are going to do meditation, you should not need more that these three methods. They should provide you everything to do with how to meditate.
This doesn’t mean that each time you try to meditate for 10–20 minutes you change methods because they don’t work. If you do that, I have thousands of methods to give. But that’s useless. These three are absolutely selected for people who are like you, very busy, who don’t normally find time, or don’t have the right priority order in your life. Priority number one is meditation.
Always keep in mind and check: what is the most important thing in your life? Peace and harmony, inner fulfillment and joy are your priority number one. Those you will never get from the outside world, except from mind energy.
Track 8: Practice Session and Dedication
We do 10 minutes of meditation and hopefully when you go back home you all know how to meditate.
So you can see, 10 minutes go so fast. You are all good meditators, so we make sure you have a program. Whether you are staying here one, two or three nights, please stop worrying about tomorrow. Learn to enjoy life. Everybody deserves happiness. Since you are here, it’s useless to think what is waiting for you out there. Stop worrying for tomorrow!
Enjoy your staying here and hopefully you will get something out from coming to this place. I think if you learn to see that your mind is everything, with a proper way of meditation you will not feel sorry for yourself. Meantime we do dedication prayer.
Track 9: Meditation Made Simple
Good morning everybody, I really hope you have a wonderful time here. You have a choice to be happy or miserable. So make the right choice and be happy. I think there is rain coming, but it’s not as bad as one could think. Perhaps you cannot leave Samye Ling without some rain, otherwise we lose our reputation!
I’ve been teaching you how to meditate. Our lineage is this year 900 years old. The lineage is specialized in taming the mind. Personally I have spent 32 years working with mind. So when I teach something to all of you, I talk with confidence. If you are able to apply the technique I was teaching, it will work. But you really need to try.
If anyone of you has emotional or mental problems, and you are able to apply this technique being in the present, I assure you, your mind poisons and suffering disappear and you don’t need to go to therapists anymore. Sometimes you go back to the past out of boredom.
Why is it that in spite of asking Lama to help, people don’t seem to be able to be without some form of suffering? Are you identifying yourself with suffering and afraid of losing that identity? When suffering is all you know, you actually identify with it. You may wonder, what will happen to “me”, if there is no suffering. Not to worry, that is the beginning, the turning point of your life; beginning of what real life means. So please do not think you can learn something out of suffering.
I was told by many young people that we can learn something out of suffering. You know where the suffering comes from, very clearly. It comes through your own desire or attachment, wanting to hold onto things. When you don’t succeed, suffering follows.
Your worst enemy cannot actually manage to give you mental suffering. They might shoot you or stab you – physical suffering. The ones, who manage to give you mental suffering, are your dearly beloved ones, your friends. That is why I am saying, please don’t get shocked when I am teaching you something completely different from what you were brought up to think. In Buddhism we say: if you examine yourself, any mental torment you are going through is not caused by your worst enemy. It is caused by someone you care and love so much, and now you can’t have your way, so you suffer from it.
Put lots and lots of effort in being at the very present. My good European friends complain I don’t know European psyche. Everything has to do with therapy and psychiatrists, thinking and analyzing. You open up such a complicated jigsaw puzzle, and you are not able to put it back together. That happens with many of you. Stop opening the puzzle and you have no headache. This is my solution to your problems, simplicity.
What is important in your life is inner fulfillment and joy, that’s what we all agree about. How do you achieve this? –Through regular meditation, because many of you have a very feverish lifestyle. Up and down, up and down. There is no steadiness. I see some people very inspired by my talk and feeling very good and motivated. They plan to do many hours of sitting meditation and brag about how many hours they have done in one day. Wonderful, but in few days’ time they forget about meditation. The mind which was so positive, could meditate, even learned to forgive and be tolerant.
If you are a deep thinker, when the neuroses take over, you check and see: there was that nice person, who was capable of doing everything, and now there is this neurotic person. Where is all this coming from? Their source is the same. So you need to help yourself. It doesn’t matter how difficult it is, as it’s said, no pain, no gain. Nothing is easy.
So learn to meditate being in the very present moment. If you are able to do that, it will take away all the stress. It will take away all the neuroses, because that is the most relaxing and freeing meditation you can never do. Doing it you are not stuck in the past, not inducing the future suffering.
Being at the present moment is not applied only when you are sitting. You take that present moment where-ever you go: into your kitchen, office, and while driving car. When you have this present moment, for the first time in your life you are wholesome. Otherwise the body is somewhere and the being who is supposed to be in the body is rampaging elsewhere. It is as if you had left your house empty. The roof is leaking and there is no light; it’s damp and cold.
You think you are very intelligent in thinking and planning, but you don’t know what you have been thinking about and planning! Everything we achieve is through wisdom. Wisdom means we are able to solve our own problems, and also are not creating problems for others.
Most western knowledge concerns about methods to kill people and how to gossip and manipulate. Everything is twisted; if you look at children – what do they see in the websites? Their games have everything to do with killing and hurting. All wrong information – that is why your civilization is going through a very massive change.
If you want to be a happy person, you must have a sound mind. When your mind is very emotional and all over the place, you won’t be healthy. Therefore it is worth to aspire to have a stable, calm and peaceful mind.
I’m in my 70’s and there are few ribs missing due to an operation done when I was young. So I have to hold myself upright with total mindfulness. I’m not meant to have only one lung either. I have diabetes and high blood pressure. That is because I come from Tibet, where there is hardly any oxygen. Coming down here makes Tibetans to have high blood pressure. In spite of all this I am energetic and positive. So what excuse do you have? You all think there is something big deal going on in your life. But you haven’t lost your family and country. You didn’t suffer the way I suffered. You don’t go through what I went through. You have problems at school, I never had a chance to go to school, yet I’m talking to thousands of people with broken English. You are very intelligent, but ashamed to speak out. Why is that, for what did you learn?
I was recently in Zimbabwe. The black people are very wonderful, they don’t care what kind of voice they have. They just shout and pray. You people are so mindful of what others think of you and your voice. You are your own problem, and it’s Lama’s duty to tell that to you. Did you ever think of sitting up and talking in front of many people with broken English? I can do that, I don’t care. I presume that with your wit you can figure out what I have been saying. Why to mind? Be more courageous for the right cause, not for wrongdoing.
I gave you the second method yesterday, a breathing exercise. In Tibetan Buddhism we have thousands of methods. I wasn’t going to give you so many types of methods; it is useless, like going in a supermarket, picking up everything and never appreciating. So I have chosen few specific methods, which are very effective and good. When you want to release tenseness, to find yourself, and free yourself from the past experience, go for the first method.
The second, breathing exercise is to bring this overly active, scattered mind into oneness. You close your eyes and really focus. Experience breathing in and out, in and out, with a feeling. Imagine you are really walking on a sharp edge of knife, that much concentration is necessary. Otherwise you are so clever, maybe you can do the breathing exercise, but another part will be thinking and planning something else. That won’t bring you any result.
I will give you one more method, so you will have three different types of methods. They are totally sufficient for anyone who wishes to learn meditation. Do not go around asking different Lamas for methods, everybody will say different things. When you already go through lot of changes, you don’t need to have so many ideas coming from different schools and beliefs, which only complicate things.
The specific reason for choosing the first method is that some of you may have strong resistance not wanting to have anything to do with spiritual or religious people. And you don’t want to be told what to do and what not to do. So how can you blame anybody in the first place? I’m not asking you to throw anything out or bring anything in. I have said nothing about Buddhism, mind is yours and time is yours. I am trying to show you absolutely total freedom, if you have wisdom to see. If you want total liberation, the first method is the one which will give you liberation. There is no other way. No government, no parents can give you freedom. You and you alone can help yourself.
So, the number one method is very good for people who have lot of mental torments and bad life experiences. Remember, you are not worse than what I went through. And then, if you put right effort for right cause, you can free yourself. There is no benefit in thinking that you can’t find any reason to forgive to a certain person. Ask yourself, if you want to be free or stay as a miserable failure. If you want to be a miserable failure, you can’t find any reason to forgive. But if you want to be free, the only way is to find every reason to forgive.
The first excellent reason is that you want to be happy and move forward. You don’t want to get stuck in the past. Whoever has bad experience in building a family, when you remain in this negative state of mind, you cannot trust anybody anymore. You are stuck with a partner and can’t move forward, because you feel so let down and hurt, and you are lacking wisdom and stability to move forward. If you really want to have a meaning in your life, I personally feel that westerners will be the very best Buddhist practitioners, because the Buddha has taught about all the things you have gone through.
The prevailing idea is: if we are very wealthy, we won’t have a problem. We can see it is not true. Very wealthy people have more mental problems that people who haven’t got anything. The people who haven’t got anything, all they can think is where their next meal is going to come from. People who have everything are paranoid, they don’t want to lose what they have and they are still aiming and planning to accumulate more. So, wealth hasn’t brought us permanent happiness. Temporary convenience, yes – you can fly long distances and have nice clothes or big cars. But it is temporary. Very wealthy people become poor and poor people become wealthy, that’s what Buddha says.
In today’s world there is a notion of total freedom and people are really educated, it should be a perfect place. But your civilization fails to teach you that freedom has prize. Whoever has freedom to choose their partner make bad choices. In Asia parents choose partners for their children, but there are also such things as shame and dignity. That keeps their marriages going, which is freedom. You have many choices, but fulfillment is not achieved by making wrong choices.
They don’t teach you that when things won’t go your way, you should let go. If you really want total freedom, when somebody wants to come to your life, fine. And when someone wants to leave your life, it’s also fine. There is mental freedom with no emotion. Then people ask, “If we have no emotion, how can we connect?” –With sensitivity of other people’s feelings. Trying to hold onto something like glue you can never succeed, but with wisdom you can.
You have everything you ever want: good education, choices, partners, yet the mindset here in the west is deteriorating. That is why I am saying you all could be best human beings by putting more emphasis on helping the source of your joy or fulfillment: the mind. Isn’t that the mind, which says “I am happy” and “I am not happy”? Whatever you are thinking or planning, mind is involved in everything. Through meditation plant the seeds of love, kindness, forgiveness, tolerance and most importantly non-judgmental attitude towards others. Also do not torture yourself by judging yourself too harshly.
These are the qualities. In Buddhism we talk about buddha field. Field means you have to cultivate it and plant the right seeds. You also have to weed all the strong weeds. For example we have something growing in our pond and we can’t get rid of it. Every year we have to clean the pond and the weed keeps on coming back.
On the buddha field your strongest weed is ignorance, because out of ignorance we do things wrong. Secondly there is desire and attachment and thirdly, there is anger. They are very strongly rooted and need no maintenance. They just keep on growing. And if you are a good Buddhist, you have to keep on weeding them every time you are able to come back to this present moment. It’s never ending so long as there is ego, I, me. They keep on mushrooming. You can’t say that you did some practice and hopefully the mind poisons have gone away now. The strong root grows without light – it likes darkness especially – so, dullness, unhappiness and neuroses grow in a big way. You need to shine light, inner light. Not outer light which can be switched off or lost. Inner light is joy.
Then, what do you plant on that buddha field? –Loving-kindness, forgiveness, non-judgmental attitude, not getting jealous, not getting distracted with other things. Keep planting all kinds of beautiful seeds. And keep weeding all the things mentioned. One day you will have joy as result of your hard work.
First gain some satisfaction in your life, some sort of fulfillment. Then gradually there is more openness, more happiness and sensitivity. I think your way of translating sensitivity and the Buddhist sensitivity are opposites. Your way of sensitivity means getting hurt very easily like a snake. Not that sensitivity. Instead of a snake become unshakeable and stable like a mountain. Sensitivity here means you really want to remember that you don’t want to hurt anybody. You are sensitive of other people’s feelings. That’s very beautiful. You are very concerned about other people’s well-being and their concerns. The change from “I” to “others” is very good. ”I” is the source of all our miseries and suffering.
When you are able to rejoice and engage in helping other people, it nourishes you. It gives you feeling that you are actually doing something meaningful and useful. When you have that kind of mind, you can succeed. For example, my brother started Samye Ling with £50 in his pocket, because it benefits people who come here.
People ask us, “Why do Buddhists need money?” –There are bills to pay. Our treasurer can tell you, nobody gets paid in here, but visitors need comfortable beds and heating. In the beginning we had only two hours of heating daily in the Johnstone House during winter. Now we have managed to transform many things, so you are all sitting in a beautiful, dry and warm place no matter the weather. People demand good food and hygiene according to all standards. So many rules have caused us a fortune! We are also asked not to pollute the river and had to build advanced solutions for managing sewage. We are being pressurized from every angle. For health and safety reasons we just had to buy new fire extension, both for Samye Ling and for Holy Isle.
That is why we are asking people to pay for their stay; even bigger donations are welcome to finish the building. Then next time you come it will really be like a Pure Land: landscape, garden, beautiful road with no holes. And we can have a beautiful lecture hall and library for world religions. We have thousands of donated books stored in the attic. That is where our money goes.
So, if people ask why Buddhists need money, we don’t, but these are the requirements: health and safety, insurances, electricity, oil, gas, heating. Our electricity and heating bill is around £100,000 a year. It’s not easy to run. That is why we ask people to pay. You should never need to worry, because no one person is benefiting. Everybody is going to benefit. There is no place like this to be found in the country. At least after 40–50 years stay we have really good reputation.
Our door is open to everybody. We don’t ask them whether they have Buddhist belief or not. We don’t discriminate them on basis of colour, race or religion. Everybody has been welcomed. Many non-Buddhist people stay here without attending pujas, nobody is forced. In the name of openness in all its aspects we introduce different courses, whatever we think is going to help to generate healthy mind and body. We give many courses.
Me and my brother, we have no attachment to our house, we already lost a country and we know what it means. This is our gift to west. We introduce a civilization by which all humanity can benefit learning to work with our own mind. That is why we have been very successful and appreciated. I have friends in priests, cardinals and bishops. I work with all other faith groups. I learned to work with them and studied their belief systems.
The one message for all of you is: you have a choice, you have buddha mind. And you could be whoever you want to be, if you do the right thing. Your lifestyle is trying to hold a rainbow. That won’t succeed. To begin with, you cannot catch one. Even if you were to catch a rainbow, you wouldn’t be able to hold it. The Buddhist lifestyle is to learn to work with one’s mind. Mind is yours, time is yours. Not only in this body, but when you leave this body, mind is the one which goes beyond this body. Mind is a continuum.
Why are there so many people with so many difficulties? Others may see those problems small, but for those who experience the difficulties, they are massive. Since you all came here, I now wish that you start 30 minutes of meditation every morning. Do the first alternative and be in the present. When the mind jumps, use the breathing exercise. And I will give you one more method.
At home you may sit in front of a mirror, because most people don’t actually sit upright properly. If you sit in front of a mirror, you can adjust your cushion, and it helps you to straighten up your shoulders. And hold your head in “cobra’s head” position, which stretches up the backbone making you stronger and healthier. There are many reasons why you should put up some effort to sit up properly.
Some meditators have problems with their hips. This is because you are too relaxed and all the weight goes down to the hips. If necessary, let the head to pull you up, it lifts both the hips and backbone. Then there will be no pain on the hips and no damage to the back. These are essential methods.
When learning to meditate people have two major obstacles, which come up almost every session. Sometimes you feel so dull and sleepy and can’t meditate. It’s almost like “sleeping meditation”. If you feel like that while you are learning to meditate, take the proper body posture, look upwards and try to wake yourself up. So you can free yourself from dullness.
Some people, when they come to meditation, they can’t settle and they are so irritated. They can’t meditate properly. In that case lose the body posture and try feeling very heavy, just like when you go to sleep, look down to the vajra ground, earth. Looking down and feeling heavy you will come down to a state where a manageable meditation can go on.
These two methods need to be used regularly, because you don’t know which state of mind or what kind of energy you have. One is increasing and the other decreasing.
Learning to meditate early in the morning is very important, because all kinds of energies rise: sun rises, birds start to sing, and flowers open up. Morning has increasing energy, but most of you have turned your life upside down. You sleep very late and cannot get up earlier. You need to go to bed thirty minutes earlier in the evening. If you develop the habit of waking up early, your mind is fresh, body is fresh, you can see the birds singing, lot of fresh air, it’s most beautiful time of the day. So, change your routine and remember to get up early to do the 30 minutes meditation. Continue that for six months, then extend it to 45 minutes, and then to one hour.
Roughly, if you manage to meditate two solid hours in one go, you will survive in the samsara properly. A passport to samsara! Two solid hours in one go is the aim.
Track 10: Meditation Instructions on how to Focus on Pure and Impure Object
The third instruction has to do with visual faculty. People get very busy with it. There are two alternatives of concentration: pure object and impure object. For those who are Buddhist and do not have a problem with Buddha statues up there, you should focus your mind on Buddha’s lotus seat. Investigate thoroughly how the lotus is built. Examine the statue thoroughly up to Buddha’s crown. Then descend back down. While doing this your mind is totally occupied with the structure of the Buddha statue.
If you are Buddhist, this is supposed to help to tie the monkey or wild horse of your mind into a pole with a rope. It is also purification, because the essence of Buddha is pure. So this method accomplishes two goals: firstly, it stations your mind in one place and secondly it cleanses and purifies.
Those of you who are not Buddhist, you can use any small object, a pebble for instance. Put it down in front of you, in a distance where you can see it well. Use your nose for focusing and let it guide you to the object in front of you. Without having anything to do with Buddhism it helps you to tie or station your mind to an object. Look down, but don’t focus for very long, because your eyes start playing games and you see visual distortions, colours etc. So, if your eyes do that, let the focus go. When you are relaxed, come back to the object.
Firstly, come back to the present moment always. Then, either use the breathing exercise, or focus on an object. Breathing is part of your life and existence, therefore it is easy, but if you feel better focusing your mind on an object, Buddhist use Buddha statue, because it has blessing while helping to focus, non-Buddhists use a tiny object. You can have it in your pocket where-ever you go. Even in your office you may bring it out and station your mind to the object for five seconds.
It will absolutely change you. But some people go back to their old habits once they get better and give up practicing. If you feel better and life is more meaningful, why should you give up something that brings meaning in your life? Assure yourself most important thing in your life is to meditate and practice loving-kindness. Then you will be able to do the things you want to do meaningfully, successfully and joyfully.
I want all of you to remember every day even hundred times: appreciation. Always appreciate what you have. Without that you feel hollow, as if you had nothing. So teach your mind to have appreciation; even a cup of tea is a cause of appreciation.
Use these three methods: if you like an object, use an object. If you like the breathing exercise, that is to bring the scattered mind into one-ness. And then come back to the present moment again and again to truly free yourself from all entanglement.
Hopefully you can take some wisdom home from here, no more booze and headache. And if we don’t meet again I wish you very meaningful life. “I can help myself” is your motto. I wanted to give you some method, a technique and a feeling of capability. Why do they say we have and we can? It’s the motto you have to take home. What do you have? –Buddha mind, perfect pure mind. What can you do? –You can practice. Don’t be afraid of the chattering mind, it doesn’t actually exist. You are afraid of your shadow. When you find stability, calmness and joy, go back to see where the happiness comes from. It comes from mind.
If you feel strong enough at times when all the neuroses take over, say: “Let’s sit down and see where you come from.” They all come from the same source. Buddha mind is pure. If you had some hard experiences in the past, you cannot experience them many times over. It is like tasting a chili soup. You cannot re-taste the same soup over years. If you had some hard experiences in the past, you don’t have to experience them again and again. Let go of experiences, free yourself. Come back to the practice of mindfulness or being in the present moment.
Let’s do five minutes of meditation, so that we don’t lose the whole purpose of meditation technique!
Track 11: Practice Session and Dedication
[Meditation & Dedication]
I want to thank all of you coming here and whatever part of world you are coming from, go home with peace. And you can actually investigate if these teachings are true. If you can be in the present, you don’t have suffering. When you forget to be in the present and go to the past, then you have suffering. You can examine this, and if it works, then why not put effort doing hours of meditation rather than going to psychiatrists and therapists spending a fortune? Psychiatrists and therapists should not get upset; people have so much glue therapists won’t lose their job! This is because even if I tell you these things, not many people will be able to do it. They get hooked up again and again.
Reading texts and studying will not change you. You get more information than you can cope with. But if you remember to practice, being in the present moment can absolutely liberate you. And meditation is most important thing you can ever do in your life. So I want you to put meditation as your first priority. It’s helping your mind to become wholesome and rich, fulfilled. That’s why it’s so important.