MEDITATION By Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
Meditation (Kuantan 2012) by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche – transcribed from audio Podcast.
Okay, don’t bother; don’t bother to switch off your mobile phone. Don’t worry about it. But if it rings, don‟t answer also. Also if it rings, try not to switch it off. Let it ring, okay.
Ah, there are a few things you must do or you are allowed to do; and that is breathe in and out. You have no choice. And you can swallow saliva if it is necessary. Then, other than that, you are not – from the time we start the meditation – you are not allowed to stretch, you are not allowed to yawn, cough; you know like move, you are not allowed until we stop.
Try not to cough also. Because you have a habit of coughing and doing things, you may end up coughing and scratching. Then just continue and you have to sit straight, that’s important. With your mind I am not going to ask to visualize anything. All I am asking you is to sit straight and don’t do those things that I have just listed. Okay, so before we begin, please cough, scratch, yawn, do whatever. Now is the time to cough and do (audience starts coughing, etc)
Okay, since you are ready, we’ll start very soon, so sit straight. You can your hands like this, like Amitabha, or you put your hands on your knees. It’s up to you. Okay so we will start very soon. You ready? Okay we start.
What you just did is a technique of contemplation. There are many ways to practice the dharma and the quintessence of practising the buddhadharma is to work with our mind. And because it is a path working, it’s a path to work with your mind, even though there are many techniques and methods, meditation is probably the most effective. Meditation probably has the lesser loopholes or sidetracks. And meditation begins with contemplation.
You may be, some of you may be seasoned Buddhists; it doesn’t matter whether you have been Buddhist for a day or a month or forty years. But it’s really advisable to come back to this contemplation again and again even you have been practising for a long time. In fact one of the downfalls of seasoned, so-called seasoned practitioners, one of the biggest downfalls is not coming back to the contemplation.
If you are lost in a place like a city, what do we do? We try to go back to Point One and then retrace it. Likewise coming back to the contemplation again and again is symbolic. Also the world in general, especially the modern world suffers because of
lack of contemplation. We do have contemplation but it’s all designed to contemplate on distractions. So we don’t really contemplate inwards.
We just did mere fifteen minutes, and even those fifteen minutes, I bet many of you at the least come back to yourself. I am not saying in a very blissful and very magical way – many of you may have been bored, many of you – when is this going to end? And many of you suddenly noticed the hardness of the floor, the smell of the person next door, everything. And some of you even begin to fall asleep; and some of you, you know, try not to fall asleep because you don’t want to lose your face.
All of those actually are signs of contemplating to yourself. If and then, that took, that felt very long especially for the beginners. Now if we are contemplating on search machines such as Google or Yahoo, fifteen minutes would have gone (Rinpoche snapped his fingers). And when you contemplate on those search machines, what, you get distracted? And in a very big way, you get distracted. You end up buying things. You end up replying things. You end up responding to things, click, clicking on the things, such striking things. So then you end up spending money, so on and so forth. So we became dependent on external stuff.
So the modern world especially, suffers a lot because of lack of contemplation. Do you want to be successful? Do you want to be a good husband, wife, lover, boyfriend, girlfriend, all of that? Do you want to be a good boss, good colleague, good leader, ALL OF THESE – bottom line, you need contemplation. When you have contemplation, you can do all of that or at least better. This is very important and I would highly recommend all of you to invest your time and energy in contemplating.
When you contemplate like this, Buddha himself said in the sutras – whoever contemplates this way, they are prostrating to the buddhas, they are making offerings to the buddhas, they are remembering the truth, the truth or at least getting closer to the truth. Now for those who are, those who are following the spiritual path aiming to achieve enlightenment – if enlightenment is your aim, then contemplation is indispensable.
I will now briefly explain to you why contemplation is indispensable. Root of the suffering in our life is, to put it very simply, the root of the cause of the problem and suffering that we have – is looking at something completely not true and mistaking it as true and thinking that, thinking it is true and clinging to that. Because even in our common sense you can tell when you begin to think something not true as true, you have already asked for trouble. Sooner or later, you are going to get disappointed.
But this is easier said than done. And the reason is we have built strong habit to think something fake as truth. I mean there are so many obvious and blatant and unmistaken things on this earth but strong, due to the strong habit, we just refuse to see it. You know many of us, we know each other. You know many of us; we have reached to a point where we will now climb down the hill. There is already a luxury; who knows we may even not climb down the hill – maybe the end.
You know you are going to die. Many of you will die this year, I tell you. And I, I am not saying as a soothsayer, as a predictor. WHO has not died up to this hour from the beginning God created the world? (Laughter) Yes, many of us are going to die this year I tell you. Many of us are going to fall apart. Our friendships are going to fall apart. We will get fired from a job.
And in seemingly innocent and mundane things that we do such as eating at Banana Leaf Restaurant tonight just before we came here, applied it in our body a thing that cannot be cured. And not just that, every day we are slating all kinds of things, all the so-called hearing systems, medicines, all of that – they are all just a wild guess job. And this truth is blatantly there but strong habit prevents us to see and accept this truth.
So seeing the truth is so important in the Buddhist path. Seeing the fake as fake is very important. That is the quintessence and this is what meant by weak bastion. Seeing inside or in the Tibetan, we call it (Tibetan phrase) meaning seeing something extra. Right now what we see, we see the one that you know all the painted version, you know the camouflage, the window dressing – one that sooner or later is going to disappoint you.
So what we need to do is to SEE THE TRUTH. Seeing the truth is what we call wisdom. And THAT is the most important blessing of the Buddha. Seeing the truth is also none other than so-called mahakaruna, compassion, sort of loosely. Seeing the truth is also itself the power. Lying, all this kind of things, you now, they, they, they, you know like clairvoyance, all those eh, not really a power. Real power is seeing the truth. And that seeing the truth is what 84000 Buddha teachings are trying to achieve. And that is what Buddha try to lure people, 84000 and more ways. For some, he leads, he points to the truth nakedly. For others, he brings them close, he brings them close to the truth, points to another direction, and makes sure that he ends up seeing the truth.
But okay; so now you know that seeing the truth is crucial to get rid of fundamental root of suffering. Remember I said earlier our habit does not allow us to do that. Our habit has made our mind so numb, so rigid, and stupid. And just, our habit has made our mind just ridiculously always looking for trouble. It’s like mind just can’t stay out of trouble, it’s like lots of trouble, it’s like magnet to the troubles.
And on top of that, we have lost control over the mind. Our mind actually slaves us around. Remember this idiot, this rigid, this narrow mind; narrow-minded mind is driving us like a slave. Of course, we are like mistreated slaves; we know that the boss is not treating us well, not all the time, sometimes. But we are, we can’t do anything. Many times we even begin to do something, sometimes we begin to do something even our boss, our boss, the mind is idiot, narrow-minded and rigid.
But mind is very cunning and smart enough to deceive us; and sometimes we begin to rebel a little bit towards our boss, our boss gives a lollipop and that’s the end. So therefore we need shamatha.
What shamatha does is shamatha makes the mind more able. Remember earlier when you set fifteen minutes, you already did a little bit of shamatha. When you were doing fifteen minutes of just sitting, nothing else; when your mind is getting bored – that‟s like the „boss‟ is whining and your „boss‟, your boss is saying all kinds of things. You know, like sleepy, all kinds of things. So this is why shamatha is important also.
Shamatha makes your mind workable. Shamatha makes you „boss‟. Shamatha makes you have control over the mind. Once you have that, kind of, then next is you ask the mind – okay I want to see the truth. Easily mind will find the truth. Right now your mind will not find the truth; right now your mind will not find the truth. Because as soon as, the moment you get a little close to the truth, he gives you a lollipop. And then you do it, you turn, you drive very DEEP, DEEP, DEEP backwards. And then again you know, something you know like unpleasant happens, the parents dead, I don‟t know something that depresses you and then you feel like you are going, going bad. So now you realize questioning is important, shamatha is important.
That‟s not enough. One more and is THE MOST important; without that there is no shamatha; and without shamatha there is no vipassana. So what is this third thing? Is it a mantra? Is it a deity? Is it a string to put on your neck? None of that; so what is it? It is an attitude. Attitude is you have to decide, you have to come to the conclusion TONIGHT that our problem in this life cannot be solved, CANNOT.
Your samsaric work never; it‟s a bit like scotch-taping a bathroom eh, pipe, you know pipe, you know pipe with water; scotch tape it, temporarily it works, all the matter temporarily it works but permanently you cannot fix ANY OF YOUR PROBLEMS,
NONE OF THEM. You just, you better decide this tonight. Prayers, mantras, mudras, initiations – none of them will help; none of them, I guarantee this (laughter).
Samsaric life, samsaric aggregate – its nature is to fall apart. It is falling apart. It cannot be fixed. It‟s like THE AIDS, the disease or the cancer. Some people, they can feel this; you know their life problem cannot be solved, so therefore what do they do? They you know, they try to hang themselves. Not too bad idea EXCEPT, except they have forgotten there‟s something worse than that.
If with all these problems, we can hang ourselves or overdose ourselves and that is the end of the trouble, wow – I have to say I will be the first one to do it (laughter). But problem doesn‟t end. You will get something worse than death. You may think there is nothing worse than death but there is one. It‟s called birth. Nagarjuna said to his friend – “Make sure, no matter what happens, make sure you don‟t reborn again.” (Laughter)
So you have to come to the conclusion that samsaric problem cannot be fixed. Only then you would begin to have some taste in shamatha and especially vipassana. Especially vipassana; shamatha, you know if you‟re, just the shamatha without vipassana, even in „Four Seasons‟ they teach you. Any kind of resorts, they teach you meditation; you know to, you know like, you know to cool down their stress. These days meditation is trendy but what makes us so stressed is our own ego.
So this is why what we did earlier fifteen minutes – very important. And there is nothing in it. There‟s nothing to it. There‟s no ritual. There‟s, you know, surely you know how to put your butt on the cushion. Surely you know how to sit straight. And with all the gadgets, you must have a timer.
How to sit? Should I open my eyes or close my eyes? All of these – no need to ask. You can open your eyes, close your eyes. For that matter, why not block your nose; block your ears if you want to. Main thing is sitting straight. That should be BASE of all your spiritual path. Take a ten minutes break. After we come back I will talk about a different kind of vipassana; something that people who don‟t have inclination on sitting and meditation; something that a mother, husband, wife, who are busy, not so much time to do this stuff, even fifteen minutes stuff like that, you know, for them…okay.
So we were talking about contemplation. Someone who wishes to contemplate is someone we assume, we assume that this person is smart enough to know the benefit of contemplation. So we are assuming that. Someone who wants to meditate – they have time and will to contemplate and also hear and study the dharma. And that‟s one way. But there is another way. And we don‟t know what type you belong to. And these two types, not necessarily one is better than the other.
You know, we can say – I have no time to sit; definitely I have no time to read books, hear teaching and contemplate teaching. I have no time; maybe once in a blue moon I have time but not every day. So for this kind of person, what do we do? How do we do the vipassana?
Okay, for someone who can‟t meditate, who can‟t sit, how do we do the vipassana? Is it possible to do vipassana? Yes, very much. For that kind of person, you need power of belief. You may easily, you may, you know, you might quickly – oh no, no, I have no problem; I do believe. But don‟t be too quick. Belief, trust, devotion is not so easy. On top of that, many people laugh at those who blindly believe in things, which is, in a way, understandable. On the other hand, those who laugh at people who blindly believe – they don‟t know that they themselves are also blind believer. They blindly believe in a reason why they don‟t believe in things.
Someone who doesn‟t wish to meditate, study sutras, read sutras but someone who still wants to see the truth – is it possible? Yes, how? – STRONG belief to the Buddha, dharma and sangha. Complete belief; not you know, Sunday belief, Monday not belief; not that kind of thing.
In, in your society, in Chinese society there is you know practice, such as Amitabha, you know Pure Realm, Pure Realm belief. They are priceless path, you get it. Mediocre belief, probably some of us we have. Temperamental belief, temperamental like when good time happens – forgetting the Buddha, dharma, sangha; when bad time happens – praying to Buddha, dharma and sangha; that kind of belief we have. And sometimes when the bad thing happens, even doubting Buddha, dharma and sangha – why they are not helping us; that kind of theistic belief we might have.
But wholeheartedly believing at all times – if you can practice that – no need to meditate. That‟s all you need. I mean if you want to have some kind of ritual, ritual to enhance that, why not remember the Buddha, dharma and sangha three times a day, three times a night. And when I say remember does not mean to chant something. Remember every aspect; remember the Buddha, his name or his colour, his father, his son, his horse, his disciples; or maybe one small finger or his begging bowl – six times a day. Or five times, three times – doesn‟t matter, those times doesn‟t matter.
And that remembering the Dharma – if you are more sophisticated, the actual teachings of the Buddha but that‟s a little sophisticated already – such as impermanence, compassion. Or if you are not that literate – blindly believing WHATEVER comes from his mouth, even a cough is dharma – that kind of belief. Sangha, his disciples – even the colour of a robe of a nun or a monk; and to enhance this belief, if you chant „Namo Buddha, Namo Dharma‟ or any of this refuge prayer, that’s also good. It‟s an extra.
And then you discipline yourself like the moment you open your eyes in the morning, try to remember the Triple Gem – first thought of the day. Try last thought of the day as you sleep – Buddha, dharma, sangha as before you eat something or wear
something. If you discipline like that, the last thought of the, the last thought of you as you die will be also Buddha, dharma and sangha. Good times, bad times, scary times, hopeful times, at all times all you will remember is Buddha, dharma and sangha. And that is good enough. If I were you, I will opt for this.
This meditation is difficult. This really is very impressive when you talk. It’s kind of nice looking when you sit straight. You will also feel that you have done something, but if you are blessed with the power of devotion – that is good enough.
I would say among these two, with, with these two, ratio in this degenerated time – the believing-practitioner ratio is small. We have very little practitioners who have whole-hearted belief. We have slightly more practitioners who are critical, criticallyminded and contemplated. And we have a little more of those who jump, move around between two camps. Sometimes they believe, sometimes they are critical, sometimes, you know a little more of that. And then we have all a lot who think they are in one of those two camps but they are not.
Belief is important but having said this, in this time, an age of critical-minded time, believing is difficult. And on top of this, there are so many ‘blind’ beings who believe in the wrong path blindly. So please you have to pray that you will have the right kind of belief. Because you know, like many North Koreans, they really believe that whole America is starving to death when many Americans, they are the biggest waster of food. So belief – as much as it is such a blessing, it could be also such a curse.
If you do have the right kind of belief, in fact it would save you from wasting time. It’s like cooking, making a toast, I guess. You can contemplate hours whether the toaster just toasts a bread but that kind of time many people don’t have. Every morning when we slot in a bread in a toaster, we do it blindly that it’s going to work. That’s it. That is for those who can’t do standard meditation, contemplation, all of that. Go home now because your own house, bed, and…okay.
And nice to see lots of old friends and new friends, and I’ll be here tomorrow morning. If the rain does not continue, we are going to make some fire and we are going to do offering of smoke, and we are going to make offerings to the Buddha, buddhas, bodhisattvas, anyway the usual guests. And we are also making offerings to spirits and those whom we have karmic debts. And if you can, during those times, if you’re coming and if you can during those times, your aim should be that one
hundred things that you wish for will never come true. And one thousand things that you dare not wish, they, they come true (laughter). And no matter what, eventually you will not try to fix these unfixable things.
And I have a personal request. Those who have children, I can understand if you want them to grow up as bankers, business men, I don’t know, accountants, all of that. But if you, I’m asking a lot by the way; but if you can, be brave enough to spare time of your children, I hope that, I am requesting you to teach them English or Tibetan or Sanskrit. Because what I, I have a project of translating the words of the Buddha and it is not a project I will finish in my life. But because it is a very big project and we have no translators, no translators. And I have to plan ahead; so in the manner of planning ahead, if you can spare your children’s time…
And any, anyway, children’s education, generally many in the world, especially in Asia, and especially in the Chinese society – I feel that they pressurize their kids too much and they really want to do this examination, that examination; that parents expect them to do well A+, so on and so forth, universities. But I just want to remember I have just listed ten most successful men and women in the world. They are all school dropouts (laughter). You know like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, they’re all school dropouts. They never, some of them never even finish their high school, forget college.
So maybe your plan maybe not really wise also. So if you think like that, probably teaching them English or Tibetan or Sanskrit is not a bad idea. Of course I tell you one thing – Tibetan language studies and Sanskrit language studies for your kids, within fifty years, within this fifty years, guaranteed you will never get a good job (laughter). They’re useless. But to translate the word of Buddha, we need this. Oh, actually I forgot. In addition, Chinese also; because we have project of translating the word of the Buddha in Chinese into other languages also. So please keep this in your head. In any case, if you feel like wanting to do something with this translating the words of the Buddha, you know please contact Chin Wee and many others here. Eh, by the way, it’s actually not my personal project. I got kind of cornered into this. And of course, I feel very fortunate. That’s it; go home with today’s instructions. (Applause)
Dedication of Merit
ge war di yi nyur du dak
Through this merit, may I quickly
orgyen lama drub gyur ne
Accomplish the level of the Oddiyana Lama and through that
dro wa chik kyang ma lü pa
May all beings, without exception,
de yi sa la gö par shok
Be established at that level.