In an endeavor to benefit others and self through this website, I would, first of all, like to request for the blessing of our root teacher H.H. the Twelfth Gyalwang Drukpa. Secondly, I apologize for my deficiency in spiritual wisdom and general ignorance. These reflections of mine are not for the eyes of the learned ones but for the low level and beginners to Dharm ...
In an endeavor to benefit others and self through this website, I would, first of all, like to request for the blessing of our root teacher H.H. the Twelfth Gyalwang Drukpa. Secondly, I apologize for my deficiency in spiritual wisdom and general ignorance. These reflections of mine are not for the eyes of the learned ones but for the low level and beginners to Dharma like me.
In this modern day and age, we have made great progress in technology and standard of living, though I do not unwelcome it. Nor do I think that standard of living or should I say the search of happiness outside of our self should be the main goal of our life. I have heard people say that “we should learn from history so that we do not repeat our mistakes".
I feel that we should also learn from the life of those, whom we consider to be the epitome of success and happiness. Whether they are Hollywood superstars or leaders of powerful nations….. How happy are they? Are they free from all the problems in life? Can they raise their powerful hands and avoid unhappiness from coming to them and others?
Are they happier than us? Rich people seem to have almost all the problems that we ordinary have, plus some extra ones too. Yet poor or should I say middle-class people too can't claim to be really happy, just because we are middle class or poor. Though we have our privacy and perceived freedom, which usually the rich and famous lack. While we might wish to be famous and recognized wherever we go, the famous usually seems to prefer privacy in their life.
It is said that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, so if happiness doesn't automatically come with wealth and power, how can we obtain it? Buddha taught that of all the wealth in the world "contentment" is the best of all wealth. Likewise, the famous Indian Buddhist master Nagarjuna said that ‘suffering for the accumulation of wealth, the worry of protecting it, the despair of losing it consumes those with strong attachment to wealth’. Therefore these people can never be free from suffering.
From these teachings, we can come to a conclusion that whether you are rich or relatively poor, you can be happy if you are content. Since both contentment, and discontentment, (which arises from attachment) comes from our mind, it is evident that the happiness and suffering has very much to do with our mind.
When we are happy, everything looks beautiful and nice, yet when we are gripped by negative emotions such as anger or despair the same thing appears to look unattractive and unpleasant. H.H. the Gyalwang Drukpa said in “My Crazy Tale” that pleasure and pains are created by attraction and aversion. For example in the hot plains of India during the monsoon when it rains people go out and dance with joy while in the hills of Darjeeling, where it rains quite consistently we say, will this rain never stop? :).
Since the mind is the main source or cause of happiness and suffering, we should look inside ourselves for solutions to our life. As the great Indian master, Shantideva said, complaining that one is getting pricked by thrones while walking barefooted and trying to cover the earth with leather is not the realistic solution but if one covers one's own feet with leather it is same as covering the entire earth!
Likewise, instead of covering the earth and sky, if one is content, that is it! You are happy! Isn't that the ultimate aim? Instead of trying to destroy all your enemies, isn't it better to destroy the anger inside us? Instead of trying to be number one in the world, if one is mentally humble, isn't that a better and more realistic way to be happy? What does it matter to you how much you are respected or not? The reason I say mentally humble is sometimes we can be humble by circumstance or just externally, which is not truly humble. It is again the mind or the mental attitude that is important.
In Tibetan language, the terminology for Buddhist is "Nangpa" which means someone who looks within themselves for the answers to external problems. Buddha taught that the main cause of the suffering is ‘ignorance’. However ignorance has quite a broad range of meaning, one can understand that in essence, it means not realizing the unfabricated nature of the mind which is the primordial and non-dualistic wisdom.
Never looking inward for an existence of self or ego but by the habit of countless past life or experience we have the strong grasping attitude to what we call "I " and "others", "me" and "mine", "my like and dislike". From these arises the attachment, anger, pride, jealousy, etc. These compel us to diverse karma or actions, which results in diverse reactions or results. Be it external flora and fauna of the world, or the different and diverse experience of the sentient beings.
Though we the unenlightened can't clearly define all the diverse effects of different Karmas and to understand subtle things such as non-dual nature of the mind, even philosophically it might take a lot of studies and deep reflections. Nevertheless, it is relatively easy to understand the negative impacts or unhappiness, the negative mind or emotions such as anger, grasping attachment, pride, etc can bring in our life. These emotions immensely influence our life and drive our life that they seem to enslave us completely.
That is why in the chapter of forbearance, in the practices of the heart sons of Buddha, by Shantideva, It is said that ”the beings controlled by the negative emotions often hurt even their own cherished self” (suicide and self-inflicted pains). so we should try to understand and forebear the pain they cause us, as they are totally controlled and helpless by these negative emotions.
So from the five poison and its consequences, we take refuge in Buddha, the compassionate and enlightened one, therefore free from the five poisons and consequently free from the suffering. Dharma or the path which he himself took, and practiced to enlighten himself.
Sangha, the spiritual community to support us on our path to enlightenment or Nirvana. (A lasting or true happiness, which comes from realizing the wisdom within us or the true state of things as they are). Since a mind of a qualified teacher can be the "Buddha", his teachings the "Dharma" and his support the "Sangha".
In Vajrayana, the teacher is understood as Buddha dharma and Sangha. This is the very basic understanding of three refuges. It is said that depending on your own realization, three refuges will have a broader and all encompassing meaning as you progress in your development of wisdom. Buddha's teaching is referred to as a universal truth, as his realization is the truth applicable to all phenomena. Therefore, the word "truth" is often used, such as four noble truths, relative and ultimate truth.
Since enlightenment is referred as Buddha, the path is referred as Buddha's Dharma. For example, Newton discovered the law of gravity, so it is referred as Newton's law. However, that doesn't mean that there was no gravity before he discovered it, or there won't be gravity after the discovery. Similarly, Buddha too discovered or realized the truth which has always been there primordially.
Since truth is no one's property and truth is applicable to all, whether we call our self Buddhist or not, anyone is welcome to his teaching of 'path to happiness or enlightenment'. Regardless of whether we call our self-spiritual or materialistic, all sentient beings do desire happiness and wish to avoid unhappiness. Generally speaking, won't we enjoy our material wealth more, with less grasping or attachment?
Usually when we own something precious, don't we spend more time worrying about it than enjoying it? Won't we be a better person, a better friend, better husband, wife, or generally a happier person if we can at least minimize our anger, our pride, our grasping attachment which leads to selfishness, or jealousy? If one is able to minimize these things then, one is really practicing.
In essence, that is all Dharma is all about. When we do things which look very nice and holy yet done with negative motivation and thoughts you are not practicing Dharma but samsara. (Samsara means the ceaseless cyclic activities without essence due to the influence of ignorance and other negative emotions). So I feel that practicing Dharma in its essence will enable us to enjoy life more, with more relaxed and unbiased attitude to ups and downs of life.
Being a practitioner doesn't necessarily mean leaving your job, family, and going to the caves, rather it means that through means of different practices you improve your mind slowly. Devoting even a short period of time from our busy schedule of modern day life to develop our mind can have great and positive effects in our life. Therefore, I sincerely pray that we all remember the great need for Dharma in our life, and practice it.
Especially when we are so fortunate to have an Enlightened, Compassionate, and qualified master such as H.H. the 12th Gyalwang Drukpa. These are some reflections of mind that I just jotted down. They are not teachings for I am just a beginner to dharma and lack either wisdom or knowledge. Yet if there is anything in my reflections which are of benefit to others, then they are due to the kindness of my enlightened teachers such as H.H the12th Gyalwang Drukpa and others.
His Eminence started with the introduction that Buddhism is not a religion but a philosophy of life for attaining happiness. The Buddha had only one wish and that was for all sentient b ...
His Eminence started with the introduction that Buddhism is not a religion but a philosophy of life for attaining happiness. The Buddha had only one wish and that was for all sentient beings to be happy, it was with that motivation that he taught Dharma to us. He never wished to establish a religion that would spread the world over and make him renowned. If his desire was to achieve fame then he could have easily achieved that because he was a prince and foretold to become the king of earth if he remained as a royalty.
He realized that all sentient beings aspire for happiness but people always search externally for happiness. But external happiness is very much conditional, therefore impermanent. Though you have all the external or material happiness, without some understanding of spiritual or mental happiness I truly doubt we can be really happy. After all happy or unhappy is decided by mind isn’t it? The Buddha realized that true happiness must come from within and not in the physical form or substance. If you have that inner happiness or wisdom the external or material happiness can compliment your inner joy. But if your mind is unhappy, I doubt that we can be happy no matter how rich the surrounding is!
We all experience or perceive world differently depending on our state of mind. For example when we are in angry state of mind everything can look very negative, likewise positive when in positive mood. Another E.g. is sometimes you might feel you are well-off as compared to some of the people in Africa. Yet sometimes you might feel very dissatisfied when you again look at some rich and Prosperous people. The world is as you perceive it! That is why when we change within or our mind the world outside too will begin to change. Thus, it is one’s own mind that needs to be tamed in order to achieve true happiness. The essence of Dharma or Nangpa (the insider) comes from the fact that Buddha always taught to look inside the mind for the solution to all external problems.
The five negative thoughts which are the source of suffering are; Anger, Pride, Jealousy, Attachment and Ignorance.
Anger destroys the state of mind. When one is angry, one loses the power to reason. If two people who are arguing become angry, soon they will forget what they have started arguing about in the first place. The antidote for anger is Compassion and Forbearance. It is impossible to kill all the people you hate or subdue all of one’s enemies but it is easier and possible to subdue that anger within one’s mind. You will not become ugly if someone tells you so nor will you become a thief if someone accuses you of stealing. One should practice compassion by understanding that the other person who is angry is not in a state of mind to reason and by adhering to what he says and does, you will also be doing the same to your own state of mind.
Pride leads to unhappiness due to the fact that there will always be someone who will be better than you. When you realize that there is someone who is richer than you, better-looking than you, more popular than you, etc. your pride is hurt and you become unhappy. You cannot become the best in everything so it is easier to be humble. Humbleness is the antidote for pride. In the long run, it is the humble person who gains more respect and recognition.
Jealousy is the thought which forbids us from enjoying what we have. We want more than the other person. In the process of worrying and trying to achieve what others have, we cannot relish what we already possess. Doing dharma or should I say positive actions out of jealousy turns the Dharma or the positive actions in negative thing. Because whether something is positive or negative depends not on how it looks but the good or bad Intention behind it!
So When we do something positive, especially In the name of Dharma, to do it with the motivation of benefiting others or at least with the thought of accumulating merit for oneself is important. And not for the sake of outdoing someone. To Rejoice in happiness and good qualities of others is the antidote to jealousy and doing so will allow our mind to relax and enjoy what we have!
Attachment comes from “Me and Mine” or egoistic state of mind. My house, my family, my friend, my lover, my this, my that. The false sense of permanence is very strong behind the feeling of attachment. Also, we are attached to the concept of how we want things to be. When a person or things depart from that ideal or personality which you have perceived as a friend/father/lover, Then suffering comes but one has to understand that all the compounded things are impermanent every second. Though it may appear as permanent. The rivers and waterfalls appear as if it is the same one as what we have seen a moment ago. But each second the water is flowing down and is different. So the river is also impermanent each second. Likewise, all the phenomena are impermanent and in constant flux. What seems unchanging is actually the continuation or the link. Reflect on your body, emotions, relationships, opinions, Status, weather, time, standards, you will realize that all are impermanent. By understanding the impermanent nature of everything, one can minimize the strong expectation from impermanent phenomena’s and develop a sense of contentment.
If you are never content with what you have, then you are like the king who was never satisfied, so Buddha referred to him as the poorest man in the kingdom! The antidotes we discussed can minimize the negative in us but if we want to root it out completely then we have to go little deeper.
Let’s ask our self why do we have the five poisons? Buddha taught that the main cause of all suffering is Ignorance. Because we are ignorant, We think that everything exists as they appear to be. Good and bad are reflections of our own perception. Rich and poor is also relative. Someone who is a good friend and good person to you will be a bad person and enemy to someone else. Understanding of nature devoid of our own perception will lead us away from ignorance.
Looking at a piece of shit in front of you without your projection of clean or unclean of good or bad, will lead you to understand that it is by itself. Neither good or clean nor bad and dirty. That shit is dirty and bad is your reality, from the point of view of dog or his reality it is a delicacy! Ignorance of this understanding leads to grasping all phenomena as truly existing, as long as you have that grasping, everything will be existing as real and solid for you! When you are dreaming, the things that you experience are real to you at that time, isn’t it?
When you have this mirror of grasping everything as existing, then reflections or experiences of like or attachment and dislike or anger,jealousy etc arise. It is like seeing a rope in the dark and believing that it is a snake so you will experience fear, anxiety, even though it is just a rope!
By understanding everything to be a reflection of one's own mind and becoming less fanatic about everything is one of the key points. Right now we are all fanatics, we are fanatics about our concept of beauty and ugliness, good and bad, long and short, happiness and suffering, rich and poor, religion etc. So to change the five negatives in our mind, the first step is to take refuge in the Triple gem.
Buddha simply means awakened from ignorance and therefore free from the Five Poisons. It can also mean someone in particular like Buddha Shakyamuni who has realized the universal truth and has an unlimited compassion to all the ignorant beings.
But Buddha by itself means not a person with a saffron robe or a radiating face or a statue, but a state of mind which is free from the ignorance therefore free from the five poisons. The Dharma is a process of developing one’s mind towards the Buddha. Thus Dharma also is within oneself.
The Sangha or Gendun is the wish to do positive things or the wish to develop one’s own mind.
The external Buddha is like Buddha Shakyamuni, Guru Rinpoche, Lama, Buddha statues and external Dharma is like a textbook, recitation, prostrations, meditation and external Sangha is like monks, nuns, group of practitioners, all three are the method or ways to support a development of the three inner refuge-objects.
Buddha can also be understood as The Universal Truth because what he realized is the state of things as they are, as they have been, as they will always be! So as long as our minds are controlled by five poisons, we can never attain true happiness. We’ve to at least minimize our negative thoughts and actions so that we can clear our minds to have a greater understanding of life or the reality without our fabrications. To act as an antidote to negative thoughts we need to develop positive thoughts, one of the strongest positive thought is love and compassion for all sentient beings. This can be an antidote to all the negative thoughts, the Ego or Self-attachment will also be minimized.
As negative thoughts and action can be a cause of the suffering so can the positive thoughts and the positive actions that be the cause of happiness. That is Why Buddha said (1) refraining from Digpa or negative, (2) accomplishing positive, (3) Then subduing this untamed mind is the essence of my Dharma and my path. Anything done with the genuine thought of selflessness will always make you happy emotionally and will also be an accumulation of positive karma.
For example, when you love someone, you think less of yourself and you become a little selfless as you wish to give happiness to the other person. And as long as that thought last one does feel happy!
If you can extend the same love to all sentient beings then your negative thoughts and feelings will be easily lessened. We have to appreciate our parents for the love and kindness of bearing us and bringing us up in this world and develop a strong wish to give them inner and external happiness. This same understanding can be applied to all sentient beings who have been our parents in one life or the other. When we respect our parents, elders, and teachers we are creating a society where we will also be respected and loved in return, now and in future.
In conclusion, developing your mind towards the practice of joy, love and compassion etc and Minimizing five poisons will enable you to see that life is truly beautiful if you are! That is the essence of Buddha’s teaching.
Q1. If Buddhism is not a religion, why the notion/concept of Hell, which is pessimistic?
H.E.: Firstly there is no such thing as God or creator in Buddha’s teachings He taught that we are the creator or should I say our actions or Karmas of body speech and mind, create the reactions of so called Heaven or Hell, happiness, and unhappiness. Buddha did not say “if you follow me, I’ll send you to heaven and if you don’t I’ll send you to hell” he just taught the universal truth that he realized. Even if you are a very bad person Buddha will never get angry with you or judge you! Buddha is beyond all that. Secondly, negative Karmas can be purified. Thirdly the hell or suffering is also impermanent! When the force of our action is spent the experience will end.
Q2. In Buddhism, when does the world start? Is there a Beginning?
H.E.: Buddha taught that this world doesn’t exist as it appears to be! It is like an illusion. How can one say the beginning of illusion or end of the illusion as it is not real! When you get enlightened or awakened to the nature of illusion that is the end.
Q3. Buddhism teaches selflessness, compassion and tolerance. Why does the Dalai Lama fight against China to Free Tibet?
H.E.: Firstly I always look to him as a spiritual master and not a political leader. As a compassionate spiritual person, I don’t think he differentiates between Chinese and Tibetans, it is just that at present the Tibetan people are going through difficulties and he is in a position to help them in a non-violent way. If tomorrow the Chinese or any other nationalities are going through difficulties and if he is in a position to benefit, I am sure that he will definitely help them too.
Q4. Many young generations of Buddhist look at Buddhism as a culture and tradition and do not understand its true essence. This is compounded by the fact that most scriptures are in Choekey and hard to understand. How do the younger generation’s needs for understanding Buddhism be met?
H.E.: His Holiness the Je Khenpo is doing a lot in this area to make lay people understand the Dharma. For modern educated youth, many renowned Masters are residing in Bhutan who can be approached to give sermons and discourses of today’s’ kind. Books in English are also available which can be accessed from libraries.
BY HIS EMINENCE GYALWA DOKHAMPA IN LONDON, UK
This evening, I would like to approach this subject (Restful Mind) as a person who is a Buddhist practitioner and received Buddhist trainings on meditation, especially the tradition of the Drukpa order ...
BY HIS EMINENCE GYALWA DOKHAMPA IN LONDON, UK
This evening, I would like to approach this subject (Restful Mind) as a person who is a Buddhist practitioner and received Buddhist trainings on meditation, especially the tradition of the Drukpa order. I will talk on how myself and the monastic orders do our daily meditations and what does meditation mean to us because it might be slightly different from what it means to the modern world. Nowadays, the modern world needs meditation because of stress from jobs, relationships, etc. If that is the only reason why meditation is done, then many of us who are not working in a big company do not have that kind of stress. Stress release is only a part of the result of meditation.
I think it is mentioned in the book that “You become what you think and you are what you think”, as said by the Buddha. As the doctor says, “You are what you eat”. So our different personalities, different experiences that we go through, basically all these are very much coming into fruition in our mind. Therefore, meditation from the Buddhist point of view, is firstly about stilling your mind and relaxing your mind which is I think common and which everybody is familiar with.
Then, the second part of the meditation is not only about stilling your mind but once you have stilled your mind, the second step is to understand the mind itself - what is the mind, how does it work and what can I do to transform my mind so that I can transform my life? This is important because every action we do is initiated by the mind – whether you are walking or talking, everything starts with the mind. For example, there is a pond of water which is very still, with no waves, no current and no movement, and then you can see the depth of the pond. Then you can see what is in that pond of water, it’s colour and so on.
The first part of the meditation that we do in our daily lives which is very much covered in the book is called the breathing meditation. In another word, it is called the concentration meditation. In this meditation, the focus is very much to bring your mind to the present and to focus on certain things. The point of focus can be an object or anything including your own body.
For example, there are certain meditations during which you focus on your toes, on different parts of your body and today in this book we are talking about breathing meditation which is focusing on the breath. This is something which I thought we will do in this session. The first step is very much about bringing your mind to the present and then developing a sense of focus. This is something that is very much needed in the beginning and this is something that I think that the modern world generally talk about as per what I read – stilling the mind, resting the mind and de-stressing the mind. It works very well and I will later explain to you why it works from my experience point of view and from my understanding.
If our meditation is only about resting our mind and if we stop there, then there is not much of transformation that is going to happen in our life. When we are doing the stilling meditation, you will feel a sense of peace but then once you get up from the meditation, then the same problems are still very much there. You are the same person, the same situation is there - so not much has changed.
In a way, meditation is also a way of escaping from our problems. For example, when we have lots of problems, sometimes we go to a bar and have a nice drink, we get knocked out and of course for a while, we have escaped from our problem. But in the morning, all the problems are still there, plus hangover. So we have not really solved anything.
Therefore, from the Buddhist point of view, stilling the mind is a very good beginning and it gives you a sense of peace but it is not good enough. It needs to become deeper. Deeper here means to understand the mind, to transform the mind and understand how our mind interacts with the world and how we react with each other.
So, the second part of the meditation actually has a lot to do with thoughts and reflections. These reflections should not be judgmental – neither from your point of view nor from other’s point of view. It is to understand the mind as it is, to understand how the mind works so that the way we think can be transformed, the way we look at the world can be transformed. So this is the second part of the meditation.
Why does concentration meditation work (first part)?
The first part of the meditation which is to still the mind with techniques like the breathing meditation and there are many other forms of meditation like focusing on your body as I mentioned earlier - when you do this, why does it work? Why does meditation work? What is the logic behind it? I guess you know that from the scientific point of view, they say that if you do meditation, it develops a certain connection between the body and the mind which associates with happiness, peace and compassion.
Anyway, I don’t think I am the right person to speak from the scientific point of view because I am not a scientist. So I shall speak from my personal understanding of the Buddhist point of view. The reason why this stilling meditation gives a sense of peace is because when you are doing the concentration meditation like the breathing meditation, your mind is very much in the present. There are a few reasons for this.
(i) Firstly, our mind is very much in the present. So why our mind being in the present gives us a sense of restfulness? It is because most of us are usually either recollecting a lot about past experiences – not only recollecting in the sense watching old movies but these recollections are having effect on our mind.
For example, if some wonderful things had happened, then a sense of loneliness and sense of longing develops and if some terrible things had happened, replaying it in the mind refreshes the hurtful feelings. This is going on because of too much reflection on the past even though past is gone and it cannot be gotten back and future is very uncertain. I think, if we look back, none of us would have thought how our lives will be in 10 to 15 years. Our lives have never gone the way we dreamed when we were a child or teenager, definitely not mine. Yet, we hold on to our past which sometimes gives us a lot of pain. For example, let’s say somebody said hurtful words to us in the morning and we can still feel the pain.
So, from the emotional point of view, we can go on about it. If you go about it from the restful mind point of view, that incident which happened only when the person was saying hurtful words to you, would probably be only about 3 minutes if you clock it. No Boss can abuse us for one hour continuously unless that person is really kookoo or something you know. Then in that case, you don’t need to care. But we replay that incident which happened for 2 to 5 minutes in our mind for hours and sometimes weeks, months and even years and we still feel the pain. So that time, the pain is not coming from the person because by now the person may be dead also. But we still feel the pain because we cannot let go and we are very much in the past. Similarly, sometimes we are very much in the future, so very much in the future that we are imagining so many terrible things that may or may not happen giving rise to hope and fear.
We think of so many things that we are get worried and tense about things that actually may never happen. So what is wrong with that? What is wrong about thinking about future and dreaming about it? I would not say right or wrong – it is not my judgment to say right or wrong. But one of the losses of being too much into the future is that it creates a lot of anxiety and more importantly you forget the present. We are talking about enjoying life and happiness in life. Life does not start tomorrow. Right now, right this moment is also life. So at this moment also whatever we have – good health, family and whatever joy, we should be able to draw happiness from these? So when we do the breathing meditation, at that moment when you are doing the focusing meditation, the mind has to automatically come to the present.
When you are doing the breathing meditation, it is not only breathing in and out but your mind has to be focused on it, not like what we usually do. For example, if we ask how many times did you breathe? I think none of us would know because we are totally unaware. So awareness by bringing the mind to the present and concentrating on the breathing brings the mind to the point where it is not about the past and not about future but very much in the present moment.
Then awareness of the present life comes. I am not sure exactly but one of the Masters was asked by somebody – “what do you find most confusing in this world?” He said, “Human beings confuse me most. Human beings sacrifice their health in order to gain wealth and they spend their wealth to regain their health. And they live like they are never going to die and they die having never lived”. So when you say that they lived like they are never going to die, actually what he is saying is that we are so busy imagining about the future that we forget to live the present – to see the joy in our children, family, friends and our health but rather we are busy imagining about the future. So that is I think what he meant.
(ii) Now the second reason of why you feel sense of peace when you do the meditation mainly awareness and concentration meditation, is because when we do the breathing meditation, the mind automatically comes to a neutral point- neutral state of the mind. The neutral state of the mind is the state of mind devoid of emotions and thoughts such as hope and fear which can translate into jealousy, anger.
Usually it is impossible to be happy and angry at the same time, jealous and angry at the same time - so you know these emotions does not go with each other. So this meditation which is part of Buddhist meditation is also about firstly bringing your mind to the neutral state where it is free of such afflictive emotions. This is actually one of the reasons why I, myself is interested in Buddhist teachings and that is why I practice it. For myself, even though I am born in a very conservative and Buddhist tradition, the simple reason why I am a Buddhist practitioner is because the entire Buddhist teachings – which sometimes looks very complicated is all for taming the mind.
Entire Buddhist practice starting from Srilankan Theravada to Tibetan Vajrayana is to tame the mind, transform the mind and understand the mind. The reason why I found it attractive is because for example, when I feel upset and angry, I always tell myself, “This anger is causing me unhappiness. Then why am I making myself unhappy? I don’t want unhappiness and I don’t want anger.” If somebody is creating a situation like this, you can create a situation to be distant from such situation because sense of anger and hatred does not make any sense and any logic.
So, the entire Buddha dharma is about diminishing or transforming anger, hatred, jealousy and the sense of joy comes automatically. So I am interested in Buddhism because I want to be happy. I can’t be happy and angry at the same time, happy and jealous at the same time.
Dharma teaching is about taming the mind and that gives me sense of happiness. That is the reason why I am a Buddhist practitioner. So when we do the breathing meditation, the mind automatically comes to its neutral state where you are neither angry nor jealous nor are you caught up in hope and fear. We are usually always caught up in hope and fear and that is the reason why our mind never gets rest. For example, when we come back from office, we are lying on the bed. Our physical body is getting rest but our mind is never getting rest.
So many thoughts are going on - will it go like this, will it not happen like this? Even when we go for a holiday – will we reach the airport on time, will I get a good hotel service, will I get the room with the ocean view, and will the weather be nice? So there are lots of hope and fear. Not just little bit but all the time. So, the mind never gets rest.
So when you do the breathing meditation, for the first time and perhaps I think unless we are unconscious, mind comes to a stand point where it is neutral and where it is rested. So this is the reason that when you do the breathing and the stillness meditation, you feel a sense of rest and the sense of de-stressing, mostly a sense of peace.
That is the first meditation which is called the breathing meditation. And the purpose of that is to bring your mind to the present and bring the mind to a neutral state of mind.
For this part of the meditation, first step is to ask ourselves what is happiness, satisfaction and appreciation? Understanding and contemplating on these 3 things. This meditation is not only about stilling your mind but actually reflecting on your own life. You can reflect according to your own experiences in your life. For myself, when I was about 25 years old, I think I was in South America with my teacher, His Holiness Gyalwang Drukpa.
So I asked my teacher what is happiness in this world. Please note that I was not talking about happiness in the sense of enlightenment or the great bliss. I was not talking about that. I am just saying generally in this world – what is the greatest happiness in this world? I thought at that time that His Holiness will say that to be in love is to be happy.
The greatest happiness is the feeling of being in love because when I watched movies and saw people in love, everything looked perfect. But His Holiness said that the greatest happiness in the world is satisfaction. When I thought about it, I thought that is very true. Yes, it is true that when you are in love, you are very happy but as long as you are satisfied with the person you are in love with.
It is true that a great job and great success is happiness as long as we are satisfied with that. The moment we are dissatisfied, it does not matter even if the world thinks you have a great life. What a wonderful family you have, what a wonderful job you have, it does not matter – we no longer feel happy. So satisfaction is the key to happiness. Then, it is logical to pursue the satisfaction which is key to happiness.
When we are pursuing happiness, there are two ways: (i) the usual way of how we pursue and (ii) the meditation way. Again I should say that I am not here to say what is right and what is wrong. I am just pointing out the options.
If you pursue it outside, I don’t think it is completely bad but a lot of work is involved. For example, say you get a promotion today. I don’t think you will immediately get another promotion in the next 3 or 4 months right? So in between the first promotion and the next, what are we supposed to do? Do we just suffer? Or after we do get a promotion, you are no longer satisfied with that. You need something else. So again we are supposed to be suffering. Or if we are no longer happy with the relationship, what do we do? Do we change the person? I do not know how it is in the UK but from what I read in papers, in America, to get a divorce is very expensive. If you search too much for happiness in marriage, you may probably land up penniless.
Anyways, this is how we usually do - pursuing outside. We pursue thinking that the next person might make me happy, the next job might make me happy and so on. I am not saying that we should not be progressive especially in relationship, what I am saying is that I do not really think it is a good idea to pursue and change relationships so often. In general, progress is very good for your life and your career, to some extent. But my point is that, if we cannot find the way to enjoy what we have right now – say your first promotion, what is the guarantee that the second promotion will make you happy.
If the first marriage is not working out, what is the guarantee that the second will work out. Unless we do something differently and we create a different condition, there is no guarantee. We have to be able to find a sense of joy in the present with what we have. So the first is what is happiness, satisfaction and how do we pursue satisfaction – outside or inside.
(a) Appreciation Meditation: The meditation to pursue happiness inside is called appreciation meditation. In this meditation, basically we remember all the positive things that we have in our lives, such as good health, family, wealth, success, whatever we have – to remember them and to draw joy from them at this present moment rather than what we have lost in the past or what we might have in the future. That is actually very logical and very smart from my point of view.
Usually, people say that they do not like religion and spirituality because it is very illogical. From my point of view, I think we are very illogical. For example, let’s say, none of us here has a tooth ache. So does any of us feel happy that I don’t have a tooth ache and appreciate the fact that we have great teeth? I don’t think so.
Normally, to feel happy and appreciate, first we have to get a tooth ache, and then we have to go to a dentist and then he will give us a big injection, take out the tooth very painfully and then we have to pay him 100s or 1000s of dollars and then we feel so happy to have relieved the pain. How is that logical? In order to feel happiness that we do not have a tooth ache, we have to get tooth ache, pay the dentist and then feel happy. If there are dentist here, I am just giving an example.
The point of this appreciation meditation is that we should not pursue success but through appreciation meditation, whatever we have and not lost yet; whatever we have in our life, be it family, health, we should draw a sense of joy, sense of satisfaction from them by remembering them and by acknowledging them. That is the first step of meditation that we do in our daily life which is called the appreciation meditation.
(b) Meditation on the changing nature of the life: The second meditation is to remind us that everything in our life is like a river that is constantly flowing. It may look like it is not flowing and is still which is not the case.
If I say that are we getting old every second, we will say oh no not at all. Some kind people might say that you look same or you even look younger today but it is not true. Every second we are changing, we are getting older.
Even this building, I was told that it was built in the 18th century. So from 18th century to now, there may have been a lot of repainting and so on and I am sure many changes must have happened to this building. Every second it is changing.
This second part of meditation is about meditating on the changing nature of everything such as building, power, relationship, etc. For example, in a relationship, usually we see only big changes such as a divorce. They were together for 20 years and now they are divorced so it is a big change.
Actually, if we reflect on the changing nature of everything, even if we are together till death part us, every second the relationship is going through transformation. It is evolving. This is because relationship is emotions between two people and every second we are getting different emotions. In a positive scenario, we can say that relationship is getting deeper and deeper and more meaningful or we can go in the opposite way.
Whatever it is, where it is becoming meaningful or in the opposite way, it is going through a change. This house is going through constant change. If you are going to be the President for 10 years, every second, our term is changing. So what is the ultimate expected result of this meditation? If I go superficially, this meditation helps us to understand that there is no point in holding on to anything. Having a nice car or a house, is subject to change by nature. The point is not about how certain things will last but it is about during that time, how meaningful it is. How much joy and happiness we can give to each other.
The reason why I am saying that releasing the sense of clinginess helps is because when you are clinging onto something or someone a lot, with the sense of permanence that things are not changing, it creates a sense of extreme attachment and fear. That sense of fear makes you jealous, weak, suspicious and insecure. If everything, including oneself or living being is subject to change, then the question is what I can do to maximize what I have now to its fullest.
One more thing that I would like to share from my experience is that quite recently in my life, a daughter came to see me and she said that her mother is in a mental hospital because she lost her daughter two years ago in a very big accident/medical emergency. Even though she has 2 other children, she was very depressed and feels that she cannot do anything. What will you advise as a Buddhist Master?
So, I told her that in our tradition, as a Buddhist practitioner, even before we lose somebody, we always remind ourselves that we are going to lose each other one day. We are going to lose the people we love, our family, and loved ones.
From our point of view, the regret mostly comes not when we lose the people we love but from the realization that we could not love each other enough when we were together and could not give happiness to the people we love. It is when we could not thank them enough or loved them enough when we were together, then we have a sense of regret and pain when our loved ones die.
We understand from the beginning that everything and everybody is impermanent by nature. Every second, we are getting older, every second we are nearing impermanence. Of course we feel pain but it is not something that is shocking and unbearably so. And we also know that this kind of pain is not something that only we are going through but everybody in this world is going through the same even at this very moment. What is important is not how long something last or how long people live in our lives, but when people are in our lives, we should be able to relate to others in a very positive, loving and meaningful way. In another way, this meditation on the changing nature creates a little sense of detachment and reduces the sense of extreme attachment.
When we do this appreciation meditation and the changing nature meditation together, I always give the example of going to a 5 star hotel. When you go to a 5 star hotel, you enjoy the luxurious bed, the nice restaurant but at the back of your mind you know that you are going to check out tomorrow. Nobody cries when they check out of the hotel. It seems like people enjoy more when they are in a hotel. When they are at home, they look at the ceiling, then they think like ‘oh the ceiling needs a bit of repainting, I think I need to arrange the chairs a little bit differently or the gardening needs little bit weeding’.
So, instead of just sitting down and relaxing, and enjoying the things we have, we are constantly worrying because of too much attachment. But when you go to a 5 star hotel, it is the opposite. Similarly, if you have a sense of appreciation, then we will be able to love the people in our life, appreciate them and draw joy from them. Yet, at the same time we should know that every second is changing and it is the nature of life. There is no point in holding on to things fanatically. That is a part of your life and you may need to adapt to it. From this point of view, sometimes, when I see some movies, young girls complain to their husbands after one or two years of marriage. They say that before you used to be very romantic and loving but now you are not. I would say that is because she did not meditate on the impermanence of the relationship which is changing every second. Even if the poor husband puts his effort, and tries to recreate it, it is not the same but it is trying to create similar conditions.
(c) Interaction with the world: Now the third meditation is called interaction with the world - How do we interact with the world? This meditation is quite crucial because in the Buddhist philosophy, it says that whatever is happening in our life is not pre-determined. It is not something like a destiny that you can do nothing about. But everything in our life is created by us.
The various causes and conditions creates our life. Every time when we are talking, when we are thinking, we are affecting our life all the time. So we have the ability to affect our life. If there is nothing we can do to affect our life, then basically doing this and that - nothing makes sense. Then, there is no point in meditating, no point in working if nothing affects our life. In a way, I guess this is in line with the modern thought. Change our future by changing ourselves and changing our present.
This meditation is about reflecting on how we interact with others; when I am interacting with others, what kind of world am I creating for myself and for my future? What kind of life and what kind of environment am I creating? In this meditation, the steps involved are:
Second step: Remove the labelling of these people such as my boss, my wife, my husband, etc. We are always saying that we should be understanding with each other, loving to each other but you know the fact is that labelling automatically prevents us from understanding each other. Label creates a sense of entitlement, projection. In Asia, sometimes I jokingly say to the parents that they should remove the labeling of their children so that they will not always demand obedience and the children should remove the labelling of their parents so that they can stop from always asking for pocket money as if it is their right. Labelling traps you into a certain kind of automatic emotional reaction. In this meditation, firstly you recollect people in your life and then secondly you remove the labels and just simply see them as yourself - how you see yourself. Like I am a person who wants happiness, who doesn’t want suffering and the other person, be it my boss, be it my father, be it my wife, is simply a person who wants happiness the way I want happiness, who does not want suffering the way I do not want suffering. He/she is first that (who also wants happiness and doesn’t want suffering) and then only my wife /husband or boss.
Third step - Understand how I interact with them. For example, I wish for love, forgiveness, and understanding but when I interact with these people in my life, am I forgiving and understanding and am I creating the conditions for myself to receive these things from them. Now how does that affect our life and our future? It is because whenever situations have happened in our life, certain painful situations, usually we know very well what wrong other people have done. We are very crystal clear on that. But we are not that clear or we really don’t want to look into what was my part in creating this condition. I have two hands to clap. I know my left hand but what did my right hand do to create this condition.
If we do not understand how we interact with others, how we behave and how others will perceive, then even if you change the person or change the situation or even change the country which are all external conditions, the same situation might get repeated again and again. I don’t know but some people describe that as always making the same mistake again and again. This is because you might change the outer conditions but the condition from yourself which perpetuated the situation is very much there.
Therefore, if we do not change that there is not much logical reason why the next situation will be very different. So the third meditation is very much about checking ourselves. One more thing that I want to mention is that when you reflect on our interaction with others - how am I behaving with others, do I give love to others, am I understanding, forgiving - if we feel that we have not been so perfect, that is ok. That is why we are not Buddha. If we are perfect, then we are all Buddhas and we will not be in this situation.
This is not about self-judgment but it is about understanding the conditions and headaches which we are creating for our future. If we feel that we have been creating negative conditions, the point is not about guilt, the point is not about regret, but the point is about “What can I do to change my future?” Shantideva very clearly said that, “if there is something that you can do about it, then you should do but if there is nothing you can do about it, then don’t worry about it. There is no point”. So it is about what I can do to change the conditions in my life. It is not about blaming.
(d) Reflection in the mirror: The fourth meditation which is done daily is called reflection in the mirror and not making a big fuss. It is called reflection in the mirror because when you look in the mirror and see your reflection, the reflection is very detailed. You can see the details such as your skin colour, eyes, and smallest bit of changes in yourself like new wrinkles and pimples. Yet, we will never say that reflection is real. We will say that it is the reflection of my body. When we see a pimple, we are worried because that is on our body not in the mirror.
The reflection is not real yet how this reflection is there because of the lighting, the mirror and our body - all these conditions come together. Then something called reflection has come about. We use this example to understand that everything in our life is also like a reflection in the mirror.
For example, when I was in Monaco a few days back, when we were flying, we could see that there is only a few kilometers from France to Italy and Monaco. They are just like 10 to 15 minute drive to each other. So why is it that as soon as you cross from France and enter into Monaco, immediately the land price becomes so expensive, apartments are so expensive, and as soon as you cross back to France, it is cheaper and Italy is even cheaper. Why is it like that? Isn’t that similar to the reflection in the mirror.
For the reflection to appear, there needs to be a lot of conditions. Similarly, in our life, we need a lot of conditions to experience something, to understand something as expensive or cheap but the most important condition is our concept - our conceptual mind. It is our conceptual mind that says that to be in Monaco by condition, it is very expensive. If expensive is not something that is conceptual and conditional but it is real, how is it possible that something that may not have much value may become very expensive next year. What has changed? Has gold and oil been discovered? It is because of the various causes and conditions, most important conceptually, it is called as high end area so it has become expensive.
What is the purpose of advertisements on television channels? It is to change our mind, change our concept. If our concept can be changed to say that such a thing is fashionable, such a thing is expensive, then it is expensive. In the west, when you get engaged, the diamond ring is very valuable. I was told that bigger the diamond means more the love. But from the meditation point of view, the question is who says diamond is expensive. Did the diamond say I am expensive? Or we collectively said that it is expensive and diamond is very valuable. Similarly what is rich and what is poor? About a year ago, I was in a school in Singapore for a talk on different religions and their relationship to wealth. How do Buddhist view wealth? So, I was telling them that from a Buddhist point of view, the most important point is whether you have it or don’t have it, not to take it too seriously. How do you not take it too seriously? Imagine that few hundred years ago, if you were a very rich man, how would you travel in the streets of London? Probably in a carriage and the Arabian horse. And everybody will say wow he must be a very rich man, look at his horse. But in this 21st century, if a successful man goes on the streets on a horse, everybody will laugh at him. What has changed during this time? Concept has changed. So like the reflection in the mirror, the conditions have changed, what was considered nice or wealthy has changed.
Now, forget about the external things, let’s look deeply into ourselves, our own idea of what is happiness and what is pain. Even these ideas of happiness and pain are also very much like a reflection in the mirror. For example, you can reflect on yourself. There are certain times in our lives when we want privacy. May be during teenage time or whatever, at any time in our lives, we want to be alone and at that time, if people are bothering us, we get very upset and we feel very unhappy. Then people stop bothering you. One month is very great and peaceful, two months is ok you know, nothing great. By three or four months, you start to feel lonely. And at that time, if someone calls you to ask how you are, you feel very happy. So, don’t you think the other people will also be very confused? They are also confused about whether you want company or don’t want company. What will make that person happy? So during this time, what has changed? At a certain point in our life, we had a concept that I want peace and sense of happiness is freedom and sense of being unchained. At that time, happiness is no-call, no one bothering us. And then after few months, conditions have changed and especially concepts have changed and you start thinking - do I not matter, am I no body, do people even care whether I am alive or not.
So, when you have that concept to be loved and to be wanted, to be popular is happiness, at that time, if people call you, you feel so happy. The joke I share is that, there is a place called Tiger’s nest in Bhutan which is high in the mountains and a very holy place of Guru Padmasambhava from the Buddhist point of view.
So, usually, when people reach the top at the Tiger’s nest, they feel really happy because they have climbed for two hours and feel sense of joy with beautiful view. But just next to them is a tour guide who has been there like 100 times and feeling bored and thinking when will this foreigner go back. So, how come that two people standing next to each other is entirely having different experiences or idea based on the causes and conditions especially the concept.
Whenever I was in my school in Bhutan, for me it is a school, for Bhutanese it is a pilgrimage place and for foreigners, it is a touristic site - how three different experiences were all going through. In Monaco and Paris, there is a Buddha bar which has a nice two storeyed Buddha Shakyamuni statue and I was saying that is also a reflection in the mirror. For me, the Buddha is a very holy person, full of blessings, when I saw it, it inspired me and reminded me of Buddha’s teachings and I felt peaceful because of the conditions. For everyone who go to the Buddha bar, I don’t think everyone would feel that way. So if you look at it like that, everything in our life, say fashion – it changes every year.
So, the idea of this meditation is - since everything is very much conceptual and conditional, there is no point being very fanatic about it. If you want to put it into practice, I usually tell the Buddhist that there is a saying that the truth of reflection like mirror is everyday life that you don’t realize. I usually tell that as a Buddhist, if you are having a discussion with your wife or husband and you know that you are right and you have done your research and you know how right you are. No matter how much logical argument you give, your partner cannot see how right you are.
I tell them that as a Buddhist, the greatest opportunity for you is to understand the mirror like nature of the life. For you because of your conditions and concepts, this is right and it is right for you. But for him/her because of their own conditions, it is not right. So, ultimately who is right? You are both right and you are both wrong. So there is no point in being fanatic about our point. This is the idea of our daily meditation.
If I talk about the book, basically, you will be reading the book. So, the reason why I wanted to share with you is that from my point of view, the book will be with you but I may not be meeting you guys again, my intention is not to sell the books, you can also borrow them. My intention is to share and give a sense of happiness.
Once you know the thinking and the contemplative meditation, the thought process which comes in the book will come naturally. And, next year if all of you are busy writing The Restful Mind, that is my success. It is not the amount of books that are sold. That is why I wanted to share - where did the book spun-off from, what kind of meditation it started from. In the breathing meditation, to be aware of ones breathing and to be present, that is the same in any other tradition.
The difference in the Drukpa tradition is that whenever you breathe out, we visualize or imagine black smoke or energy coming out of our body. That energy is our anger, frustration, sadness. Whenever we breathe in, we breathe in the blessings of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and the positive things in this world like compassion. This is the skillful method addition of Vajrayana.
For all meditations, the first step is always the concentration meditation. The second is analytical meditation which is the four things that we went through. And the last meditation which is done for little bit advanced meditators is to remain aware in the spaciousness of your mind without labelling. This is the kind of sequence.
Firstly the concentration meditation is like a focus torch light. With that focus light, you turn the light into your mind – how you react, how you think, is it true that life is like a reflection of a mirror or does something external exist as we label it. We label happiness, sadness, big, small, does label really exist? When this meditation is done, it helps us to remain aware and in the spaciousness of our mind without labeling. Be aware of every emotion without labeling them as positive or negative. These three meditations support each other.