Practice of Tranquility and Insight: A Guide to Tibetan Buddhist Meditation

Practice of Tranquility and Insight: A Guide to Tibetan Buddhist Meditation

by Khenchen Trangu Rinpoche, Thrangu, Thrangu Rinpoche
     
 

The two types of meditation that form the core of Buddhist spiritual practice are: tranquillity (samatha) meditation aims at stilling the mind, while insight (vipasyana) meditation produces clear vision or insight into the nature of all phenomena. With masterful scholarship, Rinpoche explains this unified system of meditation—what to do, what to avoid,

Overview

The two types of meditation that form the core of Buddhist spiritual practice are: tranquillity (samatha) meditation aims at stilling the mind, while insight (vipasyana) meditation produces clear vision or insight into the nature of all phenomena. With masterful scholarship, Rinpoche explains this unified system of meditation—what to do, what to avoid, and the stages of deepening meditation—so the practitioner can gauge progress. His teaching is a commentary on the eighth chapter of the Treasury of Knowledge by Jamgon Kongtrul.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"With masterful scholarship and the ability to make subtle ideas easy to understand and apply in practice, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche explains this unified system of meditation for students both beginning and advanced."—The Indian International Journal of Buddhist Studies

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781559391061
Publisher:
Shambhala Publications, Inc.
Publication date:
01/28/1998
Pages:
170
Product dimensions:
5.52(w) x 8.49(h) x 0.54(d)

Read an Excerpt




Chapter One


Samatha: Tranquillity Meditation


The Prerequisites for Practicing Samatha


There are favorable conditions for meditation, and if these are present, samatha will develop. If they are absent, no samatha will develop.

    When the dharma was first introduced into Tibet in the seventh century, there was a good understanding and practice of the dharma. Later Langdarma, a king of Tibet, suppressed the dharma in the tenth century and destroyed much of the Buddhist teachings. After this destruction, some of the dharma was preserved, but some of the preserved teachings were incorrectly practiced. As a result the Tibetans were no longer sure who was giving the correct teachings. So in 1042 Atisa was invited to Tibet from India because he was believed to be the most qualified person to teach the correct way of practicing. Atisa also received a revelation and prophecy from Tara saying that if he went to Tibet, this would be of great benefit to the dharma.

    Upon arriving in Tibet, Atisa gave teachings on the methods of samatha and vipasyana meditation. These teachings can be found in his book Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment. In this text he says that to do samatha meditation one needs to have favorable conditions. Even if one is diligent and applies oneself for many years to samatha meditation, if these favorable conditions are lacking, one will fail to develop real samatha meditation. However, he also says that if all the favorable conditions are present and one concentrates the mind on something good andpositive, then one will be able to accomplish samatha meditation and be able to develop clairvoyant powers.

    In his second volume of the Stages of Meditation Kamalasila says that (1) one should reside in a favorable place—a place where one can obtain the materials one needs. In terms of mind, (2) one shouldn't have a great deal of desire, thinking, "Oh, I need this to meditate; no, I need two or three things to meditate," and so on. This kind of thinking will only create an obstacle. (3) One must also be content, which means whatever one has is fine and all right. (4) One should also give up activities such as business or buying and selling so that (5) one can have pure, good conduct. So, (6) when one stays and meditates in this place, it is completely correct. (7) One should also avoid any distractions or desires that appear as well as ideas and concepts. This, then, is a list of seven conditions necessary for the development of samatha.

    In the Ornament of the Mahayana Sutras, Maitreya says that we should practice where we can easily obtain the necessities such as clothing, food, and so on. The place where we stay should be free from thieves or any fear of danger. We should be in a healthy place that is not extremely cold or hot or damp and will not impair our health. We also need good companions who have the same view and behavior as ourselves. If they have a different view or way of life, they will prevent us from gaining stability of mind. The place where we stay should also be free from a lot of activity and a large number of people. These are the outer conditions of where we should stay. This sutra also describes the inner conditions of mind, namely, lack of desire, contentment, and reducing involvement in too many activities. Finally, it describes the point between mind and the outer world, which is our conduct or behavior. We should have peaceful and gentle conduct in accordance with the pratimoksa vows or the bodhisattva vow. The pratimoksa vows are prohibitions against such acts as killing, stealing, and adultery. The main idea is that if we do any of these negative actions, our mind will not be able to rest in a natural peaceful state. In terms of the bodhisattva vow, if we have anger, jealousy, aversion, and so on, then our mind will not be able to rest in a peaceful state. Instead, we need to develop love and compassion for all sentient beings. So if this interface between inner and outer leads to benefiting other beings, then favorable conditions for samatha will develop.


Categories of Samatha


There are four kinds of samatha meditation. The first is called desire realm samatha. One makes the mind so relaxed that it becomes completely stable and peaceful. Next is dhyana samatha, or samatha of mental stability of the form realm. One has an intense experience of joy or bliss with this kind of meditation. The third kind is formless realm samatha, in which everything disappears. The fourth kind is the cessation samatha, which isn't practiced very much today, but in previous times some sravakas of the hinayana used to do this practice and reach a state where mind ceases and mental continuity stops.

    More precisely, there are nine stages of samatha. First, in the desire realm, there is the one-pointed samatha, which means that one does not have complete mental stability, but one has a certain amount of mental stability so that one is not distracted by external objects.

    Next, in the form realm, there are four successive levels of samatha meditation. The first is samatha with examination and analysis. The second is samatha with joy and bliss. The third is samatha with inhalation and exhalation. And the fourth level is samatha that is free from the eight defects. The first two defects are (1) the physical suffering of the desire realm and (2) the mental suffering of the desire realm. The remaining six are defects of the previous three levels of samatha in the form realm: (3) analysis, (4) examination, (5) joy, (6) bliss, (7) inhalation, and (8) exhalation. Freedom from inhalation and exhalation means that in that state one is completely still without any breathing. So there are these four levels of samatha meditation in the form realm.

    There are four states of meditation that belong to the formless realm, which is a state like that of emptiness, but not the emptiness (sunyata) of the Madhyamaka. It is just a void or blank in which nothing is perceived or focused on. There are four stages of samatha in this formless realm. These are the samatha of infinite space, the samatha of infinite consciousness, the samatha of neither existence nor nonexistence, and the samatha of nothing whatsoever. All together, then, there are nine stages of samatha meditation: one in the desire realm, four in the form realm, and four in the formless realm.


Posture


There are two ways to describe posture during meditation: the seven aspects of posture of Vairocana and the five aspects of dhyana meditation. In this section I shall describe the seven aspects of Vairocana. Vairocana means "what illuminates, what makes clear." So Vairocana is the physical posture of sitting that helps one develop a meditative state and makes the mind stable and clear. Whether the mind becomes unstable depends on what are called the airs or subtle winds (Skt. vayu, Tib. lung) There is the gross air, which is the breath one inhales and exhales. But there is also a subtle air, which is involved with the movements of the body and the movement of thoughts. Body and mind are related, so when these subtle airs become still in the body, the mind also becomes still. One makes these subtle airs stable by working on the inner channels (Skt. nadi, Tib. tsa) through which the airs move. If these channels are straight and stable, the subtle airs will become stable, and then the mind will become stable. To make these channels straight and stable, one must have proper posture during meditation.

    There are several different kinds of subtle airs, or vayus. The subtle air that makes the body stable and firm is the subtle air of earth. The subtle air that keeps the body warm is the subtle air of fire. The subtle air that keeps the body from drying up is the subtle air of water. The subtle air that spreads warmth throughout the whole body and causes physical movement is called the subtle air of air (the lung of lung in Tibetan). So one has a subtle air for each of the four elements. There is also a fifth, downward-eliminating air, which transforms the food in the stomach, separates the waste matter from the food, and expels the waste through the anus.

    The first aspect of the Vairocana posture is (1) keeping the spine straight so that the central energy channel is straight. The life-force vayu is called prana (Tib. soklung) and flows in the central channel. Prana makes one's body stable and firm. It is also called the earth vayu because it gives stability and endurance to the body. If the body is bent forward in meditation, or leaning to the left, right, or backward, then this central channel is going to be bent and the prana flowing within it will be constricted. Therefore if one keeps the spine straight, the earth vayu will flow straight, and this will result in endurance and stability.

    The water vayu permeates the body and keeps it moist. If these water vayus flow in the central channel, they will naturally be stable. In order to cause the water vayu to flow in the central channel, (2) one places the hands in a meditative posture (3) with the elbows slightly sticking out. The fire vayu naturally goes upward, while the earth and water vayu naturally go downward. For the fire vayu to enter the central channel, (4) one lowers the chin slightly, which has the effect of preventing the fire vayu from rising upward.

    To introduce the air vayu into the central channel, (5) one's eyes should be unwavering. The air vayu is connected with movement of the body, and the eyes naturally have a great deal of movement associated with them. The moving of the eyes will cause the mind to move. So one keeps the eyes still, focused on the space beyond the tip of the nose. This will cause the mind to become still and the air vayu to enter the central channel. (6) The lips are also left to rest quite naturally, with the tongue resting against the palate. To stabilize the downward-eliminating vayu, (7) one sits with one's legs in the vajra (full-lotus) posture.

    The first five aspects of posture relate to the five vayus, but the air vayu has two aspects, the eyes and the lips. The water vayu also has two aspects, with the hands in the meditation posture and the upper arms being extended, totaling seven aspects of meditation posture. Many instructions say that one should expel the dead air three times before beginning meditation because with normal breathing, one's body accumulates impure or negative air. To get rid of this, one exhales with more force than usual, but not with a great deal of force. While doing this, one thinks that all the mental negativities, the klesas, are being exhaled with the breath, and one inhales in a very relaxed way. This is done three times: first with slightly greater strength than normal, second with still greater strength, and third with even more strength. After this one breathes normally, very relaxed, thinking that one has expelled all the negativities.

    The hands in meditation should be resting in the meditation posture or literally "resting in the equality posture." You can rest the right hand on top of the left hand because "resting equally" means your hands are at the same level, so that if one hand is on the knee, then the other should be on the other knee at the same level. It doesn't make any difference; use whichever one you find comfortable.

    In the mahamudra tradition of the vajrayana, the seven aspects of the posture of Vairocana just discussed are usually given. But Jamgön Kongtrül uses the eight aspects of posture given by Kamalasila in his Stages of Meditation. To begin with, you should sit comfortably and follow these eight points.

    First, your legs should be fully crossed in the vajra posture or in the semi-crossed (half-lotus) posture. You should be relaxed; you don't have to force yourself into the vajra posture. In the West not everyone can sit cross-legged. Some people sit with the knees sticking up, but eventually the knees will come down. This is accomplished with the achievement of suppleness of body. It is better to sit comfortably than to sit in pain.

    Second, your eyes should be half-closed, which means they should be neither wide open and staring ahead nor fully closed so that everything is dark. They are kept half-closed without any effort or tension so that they are completely relaxed and you don't have to think about them.

    Third, the upper body should be straight. Since the body and mind are interconnected, if the body is straight, these channels are straight, the subtle energies will flow smoothly in them, and the mind will become still and stable. If the body is bent, the channels become blocked and the mind is adversely affected because some channels will have little energy moving in them and other channels will have rapidly moving energy, which results in a host of thoughts arising in the mind.

    Fourth, the shoulders should be level and the body upright, and you should not lean to the left or right.

    Fifth, you should be looking downward toward the nose. Your gaze should be toward the nose so that you are aware of your nose. The classical description is that the gaze should be four finger-widths beyond the nose.

    Sixth, there should be a slight gap between the lips and teeth because if the teeth are held against one another, they can create grinding sounds.

    Seventh, the tongue should be against the palate. Otherwise, saliva will accumulate in the mouth and you will be distracted by swallowing.

    Finally, the breathing should be effortless and natural. You should not try to suppress the breath or force deep breaths.

    Each of these eight aspects of posture, such as keeping the eyes half-closed, may individually seem rather unimportant, but to develop complete clarity and stability of mind, all these aspects of posture are actually important because each has a special purpose in bringing about stability and clarity.


Four Objects of Meditation


There are two explanations of how to hold the mind in meditation. The first is a general description, and the second is a specific set of stages of meditation.

    In the general explanation, the Buddha taught that there are four classes of objects of meditation. The first is the all-pervasive object of meditation. It is so called because it applies to all phenomena. This object can be focused on without analysis, with the mind simply resting, or with analysis, where one is looking at either the actual nature of phenomena or their relative multiplicity.

    The second class of objects of meditation is the pacification of behavior. This is meditation that purifies faults. Where do these negative patterns come from? In the Buddhist teaching, our present life originates from a previous life. That previous life came from a life before that, and so on. During our present life, we can experience physical pain and mental suffering, or we can experience happiness and bliss. These experiences come from our actions in a previous life. They are the result of karma. However, not everything is due to karma. Some people have great desire or great anger, and this might come from the power of habituation in a previous life and not as a result of karma. One might have become habituated to desire or anger, and these emotions become greater and greater, so that in the next life there will be great desire or great anger. Or in one lifetime we may encounter a remedy for this desire or anger, and this will lessen our faults, which may continue to lessen through successive lifetimes. So if we were accustomed to a lot of desire in our previous lives, then there will be a lot of desire in our present life. If we were accustomed to a lot of anger in our previous lives, we will experience a lot of anger in this lifetime. If we were accustomed to having many thoughts in our previous lives, our present mind will not be able to remain stable; thoughts will take over our mind, and we will be under their power. Finally, if we had strong ignorance in our previous lifetime, we will have become accustomed to this, and our present mind will contain a lot of ignorance. So these patterns describe the five types of persons (those with great attachment, anger, ignorance, jealousy, and pride), and meditation is done to remedy these five kinds of mentality.

    If we have strong desire and attachment to our own body or to external things, we can practice meditation on ugliness. We normally see our body as solid, lasting, and important; but the Buddha taught that we have a precious human existence, which allows us to practice the dharma and benefit other beings. It is a precious human existence, but the body itself is not precious. We meditate on the object of our attachment, seeing that it is not beautiful, solid, or lasting. This lessens our attachment.

    If we have a great deal of anger, we meditate on love or compassion, which will lessen our anger. Anger normally is the desire to harm someone else. Instead we do the meditation of taking our own body as an example for all other beings. Normally, if we experience the slightest amount of pain, it is undesirable, and if we experience the slightest pleasure or comfort, it is desired. So, in this meditation we should think that all other beings are like our own body: disliking suffering and desiring the experience of pleasure and happiness. There isn't anyone who likes to experience suffering. So thinking of the sameness of other beings to our own body, we will develop love for beings, and lose the wish to cause harm or pain to others, which will lessen our anger.

    There are two kinds of ignorance: distinct and indistinct ignorance. Indistinct ignorance is always there and present with other mental events. It accompanies the arising of all the negativity of mind such as anger, pride, attachment, and so on. Being ignorant, one is not aware of what is good and what is harmful. As these different mind poisons arise, their nature is not understood, and one doesn't know if they are good or bad. As a result they are ever-present, but they are not distinct from ignorance itself The second kind of ignorance, distinct ignorance, is an isolated ignorance, an ignorance resulting from not having received or contemplated the Buddhist teachings. Through learning and contemplation, gradually this ignorance can be removed. If one has a great deal of ignorance, the remedy in terms of samatha meditation is contemplation on the twelve links of dependent origination. One contemplates how all things arise and depend on something else. For example, by being accustomed to doing good actions and having good thoughts, the power of habit will cause good thoughts and actions to occur. Similarly, when the mind is accustomed to negativity and bad things, through the power of that habit negative thoughts and actions occur. So all things are interdependent and contemplation on dependent origination is the remedy for ignorance.

    The remedy for pride is to meditate on the elements that make up a being. With pride one thinks of oneself as superior or special. The remedy is to meditate on the five aggregates (Skt. skandhas). By thinking of oneself as special or superior, one sees oneself as solid and definite. If one examines the aggregates, one discovers that things are not solid, but always changing. One is just an aggregation of different elements. For example, a person is made up of the five aggregates collected together or just an aggregation of different parts. So, being aware of the five aggregates will diminish one's pride.

    The remedy for having too many thoughts is to meditate on one's breath. By meditating on the breath, which is quite subtle and changing all the time with the in-and-out movements, one's thoughts become less and less strong. So this is the remedy for too many thoughts.

    The third class of objects of meditation is the objects of the learned and is the understanding of the five aggregates. For example, one learns that the body is a mass of parts; it is made up of the five aggregates of form, sensation, identification, mental activity, and consciousness. One learns that the mind is not just a single indivisible unit, but a composite. There are the eighteen elements that have to do with its organization. For example, the eye originates from the eye of a previous moment. Then there is the understanding of the twelve ayatanas that are involved in organization and development. For example, one learns how the eye and visual consciousness connect with some external object and how visual perception occurs through this connection. So the sense organ, the object, and the consciousness must come together for perception to occur. One then learns how the twelve steps of dependence origination work. Finally, one learns the study of the appropriate and the inappropriate, which is a list of things that could and could not happen due to certain causes. So the contemplation of these things is called the contemplation of the learned.

    The fourth class of objects of meditation is the purification of the klesas. One contemplates the peaceful state in which samatha is present and the opposite state in which samatha is absent. Through vipasyana there is the understanding of the causes of samsara and the causes of nirvana. All together there are sixteen aspects related to the four noble truths.


Four Obstacles to Meditation


There are four kinds of thoughts that cause obstacles to one's meditation. These are malicious thoughts, which are the wish to harm someone, thoughts of jealousy, thoughts of doubt and uncertainty, and thoughts of attachment and craving. For example, if thoughts of aggression come up, one needs to recognize them because they will return continuously in one's meditation. One must recognize that aggression, when one becomes attached to it, is causing harm to one's meditation. The main thing is that one should not be involved in or attached to the thoughts. If one is not attached to the thoughts, it will be easy to get rid of them. But if one is attached to these thoughts, it will be very difficult to get rid of them.

    There are two different kinds of thoughts: gross and subtle. When gross thoughts arise in meditation, one forgets that one is meditating and loses one's mindfulness and awareness. Then one remembers, "Oh, I am meditating" and returns to meditating. These gross thoughts are called an actual distraction. The way to prevent these gross thoughts is to retain mindfulness and awareness. The second kind are subtle thoughts, called thoughts that come from below. With these one does not forget that one is meditating, but remains there thinking, "These little thoughts are occurring." These thoughts are so small that one cannot usually do very much about them and they are very difficult to get rid of. These thoughts don't particularly harm meditation; they just come up in one's awareness and one just leaves them as they are and eventually one will be able to eliminate them. These little thoughts, however, can sometimes gradually grow larger and larger, and one's meditation is lost. So, first one is aware of these little thoughts, then one gets distracted by them and one's mindfulness is lost. One should try to prevent this from happening by having a very stable and enduring mindfulness and awareness because this awareness is necessary with each successive instant. If one can do that, one will not be distracted.


The Specific Stages of Meditation


There are three basic kinds of samatha meditation in relation to the object of meditation. First is meditation with an external object, second is meditation without an external object, and third is meditation on the essential nature of things.

    You begin samatha meditation by trying to make your mind stable and clear. But you are not accustomed to meditation, so you lose the meditation. Therefore in the beginning you need an object to meditate on. In the same way that a child needs to learn the alphabet before reading a book, so in the beginning you meditate with an object and gradually move on to meditate without an object. The first meditation is on an object: place in front of you a piece of wood or stone that is small and focus your mind on it. In doing this meditation, you should have the proper tension, that is, the proper amount of focusing. It should not be too tense or too loose. As Saraha says, meditation should be like a Brahmin's thread. In the past it was the Brahmin caste's job to make thread. To make the thread properly, one had to have the proper tension. If the tension was too tight, the thread would knot up; if it was too loose, it would easily break. To develop mental stability you begin with your attention on an object—first an impure object, and later you introduce a pure object such as a statue of the Buddha or a deity's insignia or a special syllable. The purpose of meditation on a pure object is not to develop devotion or compassion; you just rest your mind on it to develop concentration. You should also not think about the faults or the good qualities of the object you are focusing on. You begin with a stone or piece of wood because it does not have any features. A Buddha image, however, has many different features-eyes, ears, and so on-to distract you.

    The second type of samatha meditation is meditation without an external object. The mind turns inward and focuses on a mental image of the Buddha in the form of a yidam deity such as Avalokitesvara (Tib. Chenrezi) You either place the image mentally above your head, visualize it in front of you, or visualize that your own body is the deity. Because you are unable to imagine the entire form at first, you first imagine the deity's hand, then the eyes, then the clothes, and so on. Imagining just the parts is called "partial meditation without an object." By doing this again and again you eventually become familiar with the visualization and eventually you are able to imagine the entire form of the deity. Next you see all parts of the deity in a general way so you have a general picture of the entire body. This is called "having visualization of the complete object. Some individuals expect to get a very clear image of the deity in their meditation, and when this does not occur, they become disappointed. The eye or visual faculty has the visual consciousness that "sees" things extremely clearly. However, in meditation you use the mental consciousness, which has a general impression of things or a general idea or meaning of things so you don't get as clear a perception as with visual consciousness. So you shouldn't have the expectation of visualizing the deity as clearly as if you were actually looking at a picture of the deity. You should not be concerned with the clearness of the image because the purpose of meditation is not to get a clear image, but to focus the mind on the image so the mind will become still and stable.

    The master Bodhibhadra says there are two kinds of samatha: samatha that is focused externally and samatha that is focused internally. The externally focused samatha is the ordinary kind that focuses on a stone or other object, and the special kind of samatha is the kind that focuses on a statue or image of the Buddha. The internally focused samatha has two kinds—visualization of the body and visualization based on the body. Visualization of the body is like focusing on something in the body such as the breath or the subtle channels or light rays within the body or the feeling of bliss. There are many types of meditation instruction given by the masters, but one can classify them into either meditation with external objects or meditation without external objects.

    The third kind of samatha meditation is resting in the essence. After meditating on an external object, then an internal object, we meditate by just resting in the essence. The mind is not focused on anything, but rests in a completely stable and unwavering state. When we say "mind" we think of it as being just one thing, but the Buddha described mind as being a collection of six or sometimes eight different kinds of consciousness. However, the five sense consciousnesses consist of: visual consciousness, which perceives and experiences visual forms; auditory consciousness, which perceives sounds based on the ear; olfactory consciousness, which perceives smells and is based on the nose; taste consciousness, for taste based on the tongue; and bodily consciousness, which perceives touch and physical sensations.

    These five sense consciousnesses are said to be nonconceptual. They just see, hear, smell, taste, and feel and are not involved with thoughts such as "This is good or bad." Tilopa, in his instructions to Naropa, said that appearances do no harm, but attachment to them causes problems. The actual seeing and hearing of things does not harm meditation in any way because these consciousnesses are nonconceptual. What causes an obstacle to meditation is developing attachment to a form, sound, etc. So there is no need to eliminate these sensations in one's meditation.

    In India before the Buddha it was taught that there was just one consciousness. The example for how this one consciousness works is an example of a house with five or six windows and a monkey inside. The monkey would sometimes look out one window, then look out another window, so that on the outside it would appear as if there were different monkeys at different windows. But all the time it was just one monkey. The philosophers said that the house was like the mind and the windows were like the different sensory consciousnesses, and there was just one consciousness just as there was just one monkey. But the Buddha said there wasn't just one consciousness because if there were, then when one was seeing something, one wouldn't be able to hear a sound, or if one heard a sound, one wouldn't be able to smell, and so on. But in fact, one can see, hear, taste, smell, and feel physical sensations at the same time. So there are five distinct consciousnesses, not just one.

    When one meditates, one does not use any of the five nonconceptual consciousnesses that are used to experience a sight, sound, smell, taste, or body sensation. In meditation only two mental consciousnesses are involved, and these are the unstable and stable mental consciousnesses. In the unstable consciousness (often called the mental consciousness) all kinds of thoughts arise and at times one feels attraction and happiness, other times dislike and unhappiness, and so on. This is our normal consciousness. Then there is the stable consciousness that remains completely unaffected by good or bad thoughts, pleasant or unpleasant experiences. The clarity of stable consciousness remains the same morning, noon, and night and is also called the ground consciousness, or alaya consciousness. There is a third mental consciousness called afflicted consciousness that has no clarity and is in the state of delusion of always having the thought or feeling of "I." This thought of ego is always present whether the mind is distracted or not. It is a very subtle clinging to the self and one has it all the time whether one is aware of it or not, even when one is sleeping. Whatever one is doing, this subtle ego-clinging is always present, this thought of a "me." If one hears a sound, there is the subtle reaction, "Oh, this is dangerous to me." So, it is present all the time and until the attainment of the state of an arhat or of Buddhahood, all beings have this subtle ego-clinging. It is therefore called the lasting consciousness because the five sensory consciousnesses change continually. In all there are five sensory consciousnesses and three mental consciousnesses to make a total of eight.

    One meditates with the sixth consciousness, called the mental consciousness because this consciousness deals with concepts. It is involved with the past, present, and future; good and bad; all the different klesas; and so on. The root of all these is mental consciousness, so this sixth consciousness is the root of all thoughts and concepts. In meditation one controls this consciousness that experiences all thoughts, delusions, and feelings. In meditation one controls it so that it stays still and these types of thoughts do not arise. This mental consciousness has two aspects: knowledge of other and knowledge of oneself. The knowledge of other occurs when the mind turns outward and thinks, "Oh, this is good or this is bad. I need this or I don't need this." Externally oriented knowledge is conceptual. The knowledge of oneself is very direct knowledge of what one is thinking. This self-awareness is nonconceptual; without this self-awareness, one wouldn't know what one is thinking about. It is a mindfulness that gives us clear knowledge of whether one is meditating or not. So in meditation there is this mindfulness and awareness.

    When one is meditating, the mind or the general mental consciousness is being absorbed into the ground consciousness. For example, if one thinks of waves as thoughts and ground consciousness as the ocean, then the waves originate from the ocean and then merge or disappear into the ocean. In the same way, thoughts arise from the unceasing, unimpaired clarity of ground consciousness and then merge and disappear into ground consciousness. Also, when it is windy, the waves in the ocean increase; when it is calm, the waves subside and the ocean becomes stable and calm. In the same way, thoughts appear in the mind that are like a wind coming from the ground consciousness. This causes all the movement of thoughts in the mind. So if this wind from the ground consciousness subsides and merges into itself, the thoughts subside and the mind

Self-Liberation Through Seeing with Naked Awareness
An Introduction to the Nature of One's Own Mind from The Profound Teaching of Self-Liberation in the Primordial State of the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities

By John Myrdhin Reynolds

Snow Lion Publications

Copyright © 2000 John Myrdhin Reynolds. All rights reserved.

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"With masterful scholarship and the ability to make subtle ideas easy to understand and apply in practice, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche explains this unified system of meditation for students both beginning and advanced."—The Indian International Journal of Buddhist Studies

Meet the Author

Khenchen Thrangu was born in Tibet in 1933. He has founded numerous monasteries and nunneries, schools for Tibetan children, and medical clinics. He has taught extensively throughout Europe, Asia, and the United States, and is the abbot of Gampo Abbey. He was appointed by the Dalai Lama to be the personal tutor for the Seventeenth Karmapa.

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