Presented by Jhampa Shaneman
These lectures were transcribed by T Vd Broek. Heartfelt gratitude is offered for all the hours of work spent on this Dharma activity. These talks are offered free of charge. They have been slightly edited.
Aug 20 1991
The most important thing for meditation is not comparisons or something external to oneself, it is one's own conscious awareness and ones own capacity to make decisions based on whom and what one is. That is the most important thing for ones spirituality. If one makes comparisons to another, or we think we only meditate this much everyday and the other meditates more, when we make comparisons, it is not beneficial for us. If we feel inspired because someone else practices quite well and then we practice more, that is beneficial, abut to live a life thinking of other people, we are always caught up with dual mind and are not benefitting ourselves in any way.
It is important that we cultivate that my mind, my conscious awareness is an important thing and that things outside of that are not important. My practice, how I cultivate my awareness, how I work with myself is the most important thing. In that way, things become very clear for ourselves. We do not have confusion because we can always come back to the essential question as to what is happening to me here and now. And we are not caught up with all sorts of extraneous things to that.
For example, we have the ideal that we should become some paragon of virtue. Or someone who is quite together. Or something like that. We have expectation out there saying this is what I should be. And back here we have confusion, emotions, and unhappiness, certain amount of laziness and such things we have to live with in the immediate consciousness. But we aspire to some sort of goal which is greater.
If we live in that sort of thought pattern, we end up being a little unhappy with ourselves and certainly miss the immediate moment of conscious awareness where we actually could do something about ourselves. Make ourselves a paragon of virtue. In one's meditation one should always try to be conscious of the here and now and the immediate moment of conscious awareness. It is the most wonderful thing. It is the me, and in that, if one could grab the moment, there is no limitations for the good feelings, the warmth, the love, the open mindedness that one can generate. And it is very confident. Because it has awareness, clarity of this is all that I have got. This immediate moment of consciousness is all that I have got. And there is a natural withdrawal from externals. From reliance on externals.
That is something which is very important within different faith traditions even within Buddhism. There can be a certain amount of prayer and meditation technique and such which are beneficial if presented well, and one has good understanding they are a terrific asset to one's practice. But, if one looses sight of what the real focus of everything is, then one becomes confused. So the vision or sight that you want to have is the here and now. My mind in the immediate moment is the thing that I am, what is being worked on. And it is not the intellectual mind of right now, not the ego personality position of right now, it is conscious awareness of right now. There is a definite distinction between those two in the sense that the personality, and is a very real thing to reckon with, it demands a great deal of us, it consumes a great deal of our time. But we need to become conscious of that personality is a temporal experience. The personality of this moment is based on a few things that I have experienced today, the food I have had, how much I have been able to sleep that past few days, things like that.
So you might say personality is a real thing. It is. It is experiencing this present moment because of various things which have gone on in the previous moments of today, and maybe even the last few days which have brought your mind to this particular viewpoint. But that is not like it is ultimate reality because given changes and circumstances, you will find personality perspective will change totally. Another whole different situation will arise. And so to put a lot of emphasis to personalities position is in many ways a waste of time. It's easy to say when you are in a good mood.
The main point is to try to cultivate within the three perspective of openness, stability and depth. And the mind, when you allow yourself to settle and just become more stable, that moment of conscious awareness can be cultivated into clarity as in the mind as clear and open. Doesn't have preconceptions, prejudice and expectation there. It is merely open mind. Second, the stability is the mind to be able to stay there. When fleeting thoughts come through, the mind does not follow or get caught up in them, but rather returns to the focus with clarity. Depth is the capacity for the mind to be deeper as in when particular thoughts arise, one can maybe understand why those thoughts came because of certain things appearing to my mind, almost invoked within my mind and when they are invoked, then I can get caught up in them. Depth would be able to understand that obviously when this object appears, my mind takes this position. And so when you understand that, then maybe you don't buy into the fact that this one image appeared and brought this particular response. Rather your depth of being allows you to dissolve that polarization and say, that is one option, but it is not all the options in the world. And so you allow yourself to dissolve that.
And this particularly applies when a person comes and you have had a bad experience with that person and so you feel a little anxiety. Alright. In that moment, you have object appears, a certain anxiety takes you over. With a little more depth on one's own individual part, one allows the feeling of anxiety to go through, secondly one immediately appreciates that well it is acceptable because I had a bad feeling, a bad experience with this person. That is why I am holding that energy right now. But it is not the one I would like to be, so you allow it to let go. Because there is depth. The mind is deeper. It understands what it is about.
In contrast to that, if you are superficial, object appears, you get apprehensive and uptight, maybe turn around and do something to avoid meeting with that person. That would be a point where there is no depth. Where there is merely a superficial response to a particular stimulation. So what you want is more depth to being where you maybe understand that particular emotional response invoked. You understand it is relative to what I have been given from previous experiences. From also the fact that maybe I have certain anxieties or inabilities or insecurities. So as soon as you understand those, you don't worry about it, you let go a little more. So being able to let go is from depth. Depth is also from insight, being able to understand one's mind.
So how do we understand our mind better? It comes back to trying to be open minded, clear awareness, and try to allow oneself to have stability. So when thoughts come through, we don't cling to them, and from there we cultivate depth where we have better understanding of our self and our emotional response. Because the objective really, is that we gain realization. Realization is conscious experience realization. Where our mind becomes more stable, more understanding of our own individual reality.
Our individual reality is all we have. If there was an external reality, we could all hang ourself up and say yes, we are just going to coast because we could hitch a ride on that. Well, that is not the case. That is what drugs and intoxication is all about. Trying to hang oneself onto an external support system, where one feels this will support me or give me comfort. In that way, if there is a misunderstanding there, and possibly not a real support which we can rely on, the best reliance is internal which is what we have within ourself within the proper understanding.
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