Annual India Tours
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 22, 98
This evening we talk on the perfection of meditation. We are talking about the perfection of concentration, or meditative concentration. In each I have tried to give a definition or key word and then the mind can fill in the detail of it as the six perfections are the way that spirituality can happen. It is a way we have of appraising our spiritual practice. Meditation is the focus of the mind upon that which is virtuous. Think of meditation as to bring focus, focus to the mind, bring clarity to the mind, without distraction whether from intellectual thought processes or from. If you are in a concentration which is a thought process, to be focused on that without distracting thoughts. So you have two options in concentration. One is thinking with concentration which is being like an intellectual meditation. Or one is in a non intellectual meditation, a non conceptual meditation, a non analytical meditation where you just focus on the breath or with a feeling, so something like that. In that way you work at strengthening the mind, the consciousness. The conscious awareness of the mind.
The traditional teachings would be to teach the nine stages of mental concentration and what they are comprised of and such. But I think for us gaining concentration would be difficult, it is not an easy practice to develop, to develop high concentration. So rather than being involved with techniques which we might never be able to use, if we went off in a retreat for some period of time you might develop some awareness or higher concentrations.
I thought we would deal with it in a different way. And deal with what is the basis of concentration, irrespective of the object you concentrate on. Then how to develop it in a manner which is not too foreign or not to far advanced from ourselves. And then to finally deal a little with what the outcome would be if we were to develop higher concentration. And some of the more esoteric things which can come about from that.
The basis of concentration is your very mind. It is you. It's not like... if you think of it, you can be given objects of concentration like to focus on a Buddha, focus on your breathing, or whatever, but if we really talk about reality, like you and what is happening, the most important basis is your mind. You. And it's not that you are a dichotomy or dualistic approach which says I am going to concentrate on the Buddha or something, you should make it that my mind is becoming concentrated and in that whatever it is that I am aware with is becoming clarified. But the focus is one's own being. So when you do sit to meditate you don't have a schizophrenia saying well I am trying to meditate and I can't meditate, or nothing is happening, or I am always distracted or falling asleep. Which is what very much does happen when we really try to go into deep concentration because we have a lot of hindrances.
But rather than that, to just sort of say hey, when I sit to meditate, the very me that is sitting there, non dually, my mind sitting right now,like me, the consciousness, you should say maybe mind is sometimes like an object, like I am the possessor of my mind. So rather than , that saying.. my conscious awareness is the object of my concentration. And, whatever you focus on, whether it the breath, whether it's a concentrative object, it doesn't matter. Because when you sit to meditate you are hitting at the crux of the things which is you. You are not having something which is an object to be achieved outside of yourself. And that is so crucial because it makes your spirituality a part of you. And then you don't have to be concerned with how far you have attained or not attained. Because the object always is your mind in it's awareness. In it's conscious awareness.
When I deal with the objects and you think about concentration, and when you sit to meditate, very often we say, I am going to sit to meditate. You understand. And there is always that dualism. And then when I don't meditate well, that meditation wasn't any good. Again there is that duality that we set up. We always deal with things dualistically. Like I sit here and I think my body is uncomfortable, and I am with all of you, sort of all these dualities we always have.
And it means that we have set up that process where we have to attain something. And again the duality as in me here and my attainments somewhere else. For real meditation you don't want that process because it sets up that duality. Me as some potential me, a highly realized being, and me over here who is trying hard but not doing too well. But maybe doing alright. You know, and all these sorts of things.
The point is to avoid that. When you sit, whatever it is, you just sit. And you don't set up the dichotomy of I and my meditation. It is just I. And if you do that, if you establish that that is the real point of my spirituality, then you eliminate masses of garbage as in to be attained and not to be attained. Or did I do a good meditation or did I not do a good meditation. Because you said, alright, focus is my mind. And my mind right now in awareness. And by being in that awareness, immediately, whether you sit there and say now I am focused on the Buddha, and let's go with that and say, well in the technique that I try to work with you, is that you know, I am seated in temple or something, so you have yourself in that temple physically. And then in the space before me is the most resplendent Lord Buddha, radiating bliss and happiness. But I am part of that visualization. I am involved in it. So there is always a holistic involvement with your meditation.
But in doing that, you are there, and your mind is there. And so it is an inclusive process. Or instead of doing that one, if you are just going to sit there and be aware, you don't think of the Buddha or anything, it's too complicated, and sometimes maybe we don't understand what enlightenment or Buddha hood means, so We say we are just going to sit and be by myself. Then, by doing that, immediately it is just conscious awareness of me in this moment. And it depends on the depth of your meditation, you try to get in touch with how does my mind set itself up to create the concept of me sitting here? What I mean, is you sort of catch yourself, like I am sitting very properly and I am sure the Buddha loves me... you know. There are things we do! It is unconscious or low sort of series of thoughts, but you do when you sit there. You sit down and say well I should sit a little straighter because Jhampa would like that....things like that. You understand there is always that under current of duality. And can you really call that meditation. Can you call it concentration?
But that very point where all those thoughts are happening and all that is sort of the focal point of all of that, is what the meditation point is. That is the reality. That is the one to really go for. And I say, when you do concentrate,
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