First I will explain the foundation of Mahamudra and then actual meditation on Mahamudra according to the teaching or text called Nye Don Donme
Today I am giving Mahamudra Teaching this is the first time I am giving Mahamudra in Nelson last time Zasep Rinpoche asked me to give some teachings on Mahamudra but we didn’t have the time.
And I have received the Mahamudra teachings from various lamas traditions and this particular Mahamudra teaching I am giving to you this lineage I have received from Kalu Rinpoche the great Kargyu lama from one of the main lineage holder of the chungpa Kargyu tradition. Also I have received this teaching from the 16 Gyalwa Karmapa.
I’m not a great teacher and I don’t consider myself as an expert on Mahamudra but I like to give some teachings on Mahamudra to you to repay their kindness of all my teachers specially the lamas like the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa and Kalu Rinpoche. To repay their kindness.
So in the past the Buddhadharma flourished and so long and we have been very fortunate and we have many traditions and lineages different lineages. Altogether there were 8 different lineages or traditions in Tibet or part of Tibetan Buddhism.
As I said there are 8 different traditions and the Kargyu tradition Mahamudra is one the most important practice or meditation and also particularly Karma Kargyu tradition or what we call Kamsang tradition. Mahamudra is most important part of the teaching.
According to the Kargyu tradition they also have different lineages they have 4 what we call Chezi the great lineages and 4 chugzi lesser or smaller lineage so all together there was 8 of the Kargyu tradition and basically its the same. But they have a little different tradition the way they explain the teachings the way they practice they way they taught the teachings they have a different style.
So this particular Mahamudra teaching I am giving to you today I received this teaching from Kalu Rinpoche. The name of this text is called Ne Don Donme This teaching comes from Lodre Thai Jamgon Kongtrul.
According to Jamgon Kongtrul teaching on Mahamudra he put emphasis on foundation practice a lot. It is very important to practice the foundation before actually we engage ourselves into the Mahamudra meditation.
And I am very happy to say to express that so many of you are interested in the Buddhadharma and Sangha and also generally people in the west there is lots of interest in Dharma and Buddhism and interest in meditation is always increasing.
A long time ago the Buddha Sakyamuni gave a prediction and he said that Dharma would flourish in the land of people with the red face, redmen. Long time ago many Indians and Tibetans interpreted/thought that this land is perhaps Mongolian or Siberia because Dharma was spreading towards that direction. But now many thinkers believe this land is North America.
Also we do have a prediction given by the Buddha his teaching of the Dharma will travel from India to the north then he said from north towards to the north. We know that Dharma has flourished to the north in Mongolia and all the way to Siberia.
So all of you are very interested in Buddhadharma and meditation sincere I am very happy to teach. And also I would like to say that when you practice Dharma it is very important to practice according to the lineage and also step by step not to confuse the order and go step by step.
It is easy to talk about Dharma and it easy to listen to dharma but it isn’t easy to practice. So if we don’t practice Dharma and mediation properly then things can go wrong with one’s own practice if things go wrong then things can be harmful to one’s self and also to others.
So when we practice Dharma and meditation we need to think about how to focus the mind on Dharma, the essence of Dharma practice is to cultivate peace, to cultivate inner peace, to subdue our mind. We need to know that the purpose of Dharma teaching is to subdue our mind to cultivate inner peace.
Many great teachers said in the past, see you are studying the great teaching of Mahayana and you could say of yourself that I am a Mahayanist but that's not good enough. You have to actually integrate these teachings deep into your heart it has to kind of soak into your heart in your mind. It has to be absorbed into system, mind system.
See many people when the come to Dharma first people have eagerness and excitement but also many people have a very simple mind kind of black and white mind and don’t even realise they have become a little bit sectarian or discriminating. "I am Gelugpa", "I am Nyingmapa" "I am this pa that pa" and not realising that the essence of all these teachings is the same. We should think that we are doing the same practice for the same purpose. We have to realise that all these teachings have to be respected and we need to know that they are the same thing.
The very first founder is the Buddha, Sakyamuni Buddha. The Buddha gave three teachings on the 3 Yanas. The gradual path to enlightenment, Sutrayana and Tantrayana and so forth. The essence of these teachings is to cultivate wisdom and compassion and lightened mind Clear light and bliss and so on and enlightenment for all sentient beings. So when people are not knowing these teachings and people cultivating narrow minded and discriminating the teachings and then they sometimes they use the teachings in the wrong way. Instead of purifying the mind we might be diluting our mind
Now when we read the history of Tibetan Buddhism each tradition of the four traditions or four lineages have great founders. For instance according to the Sakyapa tradition they have five great Lamas as founders. What they call three white lamas and two red lamas. And according to the Kargyu tradition the great Marpa and Milarepa and Gampopa and so forth many great teachers they were the founders. And according to the Nyingma they have great lamas like Mipam Rinpoche and many other teachers. In the Gelug tradition Lama Tsongkapa and his disciples Kaedrub and Gyaeltsab and so forth. And so if you have the time to study, if you have wisdom you find the essence of all these teachings are one and go back to the same source.
So it is very important to have an open mind and great interest in all the great traditions not only Tibetan tradition but other traditions as well.
The great fifth Dalai Lama, one of his teacher was called First Panchen Lama. He wrote a famous text which explains how all these practices have the same essence. He explained about how the Mahamudra DzogChen and Madhyamika or what we call the middle path he explained that all these three have the same essence.
The first Panchen Lama was called Losang Chogen he wrote the root text of Mahamudra according to the Gelugpa tradition. He explained that Mahamudra DzogChen and Madhyamika and suche all these traditions had the same essence. The same taste. He gave an example if you look at one big chunk of sugar if you bite into this sugar doesn’t matter which side you find the same taste of sugar. Doesn’t matter which way you bite. So its like this Mahamudra DzogChen and Madhyamika all have the same taste when we know how to bite it. And if you know how to taste you find the same taste.
All these traditions have a final kind of view on voidness in other words emptiness clear light. According to the Nyingma tradition it explains voidness the clear light to Dzogchen way. According to the Kargyu tradition it explains the clear light and voidness the Mahamudra way and according to the Gelugpa it explains the voidness and clear light the ultimate view of Sunyata through the system called the Madhyamika or middle path.
According to all those traditions or lineages the emphasis is on foundation practice especially in the Mahamudra tradition we have know the foundation practice, it explains a lot about the foundation practice. The actual practice of Mahamudra is to actually observe the mind and recognizing the nature of mind and meditating on the nature of the mind, trying to realise the nature of the mind.
So as I said before the essence of Dharma is to cultivate peaceful mind enlightened mind so therefore the foundation practice is the way to cultivate the mind, peaceful mind subdue our minds.
Subduing the mind is important one, cultivating Dharma in our mind to integrate into our mind is very important otherwise no matter what kind of profound advanced practice we do or you go into long retreat say you do a three year retreat or even a longer retreat you do lots of practice and repetition so many hours. If the Dharma practice isn’t implemented into your mind so when you come out of the retreat your mind is still the same. Nothing has really changed. So then means that the Dharma is not really absorbed into your mental continuum.
The Buddha himself also said in the sutra, the essence of Dharma is to cultivate inner peace and purify defilements or delusion and to cherish others. This is the essence of the Dharma this is my teaching.
It is important for us to analyse from time to time to inspect our Dharma practice to see how much change has happened, how much progress is made since we started meditation some time ago, some years ago , many years ago, look back. So when you see the progress has been made you can rejoice yourself.
When we say that we are going to practice Dharma which actually means I am going to purify the mind, purify my ego. When you inspect your Dharma practice or yourself and when you see your defilements are becoming less and less. For example anger aggression passion attachment ignorance all those defilements become lesser become subsided then you can say, yes my Dharma practice is good.
When we study Dharma a lot . Many people read books and take teachings here and there, take initiations and we search the path we do lots of study and meditation learn so much. There is one danger we need to know, that people have lots of intellectual understanding becomes many people read intellectually read so much and talk lots and have lots of discussion and so forth. Attend many teachings and initiations and study we are unable to cultivate the Dharma in our heart we fail to cultivating the Dharma then what happens is we think to ourselves in kind of subconscious way we think we know the Dharma ‘Oh I know Dharma ‘ You think you know Dharma and you think you have the realisations just because you know in you head. But its not really absorbed into your heart. So its like when the Dharma comes in it bounces off like throwing water on canvas and doesn’t soak into it. When that happens when you get into that kind of habit then its difficult. Then every time you receive teachings it never goes in, never soaks in to the mind then that's the danger to be aware.
There is a Tibetan word cho means Dharma and cho med means kind of a hard hearted dharmic person you call yourself dharma person but your heart has become very hard, not very soft and the Dharma is not being absorbed into the heart and then that's difficult that's a problem.
We practice for the Dharma we meditate we choose the Dharma path by ourselves
voluntarily nobody forces us and nobody tries to manipulate us nobody tries to
brainwash us we choose the Dharma through our own choice.
Whenever we practice Dharma the most important thing is that you practice, what ever you do for practice you try to do it properly and purely. Quality is the most important, quantity is not important.
There are different ways you can study and also different ways you can practice Mahamudra. According to the Kargyu tradition or Gelug tradition if you are committed yourself to practice Mahamudra like step by step especially if you wish to practice the Tantric aspect of Mahamudra then you need to receive initiation, not only lower Tantric initiation of one of the Tantric deity according to the Annutara yoga Tantra. For example according to the Kargyu tradition you have to receive Vajravarahi/Vajrayogini initiation or Heruka Chakrasamvara. According to the Gelug tradition you also have to receive Vajrayogini Heruka, Yamantaka, and so forth. But those of you who haven’t received all these or any kind of initiation like that you could do the Mahamudra practice according to the Sutra or general.
As I said before if you are interested to practice Mahamudra and especially the higher form of Tantric aspect of Mahamudra then it is important for you to work towards it and prepare yourself to qualify to receive one of those higher Tantric empowerments.
In order to receive initiations of the Annutara yoga Tantra one of the deities like Vajravarahi or Chakrasamvara you have first to accomplish the four foundations and specially one has to practice the Guru Yoga.
I am going to go through this text called Nyg Don Donme. It is quite a long text so we don’t have time to go through everything word by word because we only have two days therefore some parts I am going to read it this means you are listening and receiving the transmission the Lung in the Tibetan tradition. When you are listening to the words while I am reading you are receiving the transmission or Lung. Although you don’t know what I am reading exactly every word you don’t know what is happening but then I will read and from time to time I will explain the main point.
More than half of this text is actually explaining the foundation of Mahamudra. Then the actual Mahamudra practice comes later on. First I go through the foundation.
The root of this text there is a Mahamudra text called Dani Osel which means the moonlight.
According to the different lineages of the Kargyu tradition they also have different labels of Mahamudra. For instance according to Digong Kargyu tradition they have a label for Mahamudra a name for their system of Mahamudra its called Chag Chen Nga Zen. Five foundations for the Mahamudra. According to Shangpa tradition the name for Mahamudra is called Gauma. It is charm box or blessing box. So the red Shangpa Kargyu lama travelled to India he received the teaching and returned to Tibet he kept this sacred text in a little charm box. So this is how the name for this tradition of Mahamudra started according to the Shangpa Kargyu tradition.
When you do the Mahamudra meditation you have to have a good understanding of the view of Sunyata. The purpose of Mahamudra practice is you study Mahamudra, you practice Mahamudra then later on you are going to practice the Six Yoga’s of Naropa. This is very profound and therefore in order to cultivate realisations of the Six Yoga’s of Naropa you have to have realisation of Mahamudra you have to have a good understanding of voidness. It says that when you accomplish the realisations of voidness or Mahamudra when you meditate on Mahamudra you have to experience the voidness of self and the meditator As well as the voidness of the object of meditation and you have to experience the voidness of the action of the meditation, all three simultaneously. When you meditate you actually have to experience there is no me, and there is no object of mediation as well inherently, independently existing me or object of meditation. You have to experience that.
When we talk about Samatha Vipassana we talk about meditation. Meditation doesn’t mean you sit somewhere and you be quiet. Just sit and be quiet. That's not meditation. When you practice Samatha Vipassana you have to cultivate calm abiding mind therefore you can achieve calm abiding body as well. You can achieve the realisation of the suppleness of the mind and suppleness of the body together. And one can also have concentration and single pointedness concentration without obstacles such as wandering mind and dullness mind and sinking mind.
When you begin the Mahamudra meditation first you have to do the foundation. One of the most important foundation practices is the Guruyoga. According to the different lineages they have different Guruyogas and the have different Guru mantras. For example in the Kargyu tradition particularly Karma Kargyu tradition you say the mantra of Karmapa or you pray to Karmapa. In Tibetan we say KARMAPA CHENNO. Chenno means please pay attention to me. Guru Karmapa please pay attention to me. So we repeat this over and over. According to the Gelugpa tradition or the Sakya they have their own guru mantras. You say that mantra and visualize the Guru in front of you or on your crown and say the mantras and this is how you begin the meditation. First you do the Guruyoga. According to Gelugpa tradition recite Lama Tsong Khapa mantra OM GURU VAJRA DHARA SUMATI KIRTI SIDHI HUNG.
Usually if you do a meditation retreat on Mahamudra you must start in the early morning. The morning is the best time. You start with the Guruyoga and then you meditate on Mahamudra. This time I would like to explain the meditation.
When we meditate on Mahamudra it is very important for us to follow the discipline we have to follow the explanation on how to sit properly. We have to follow seven postures of Varirochana Buddha style.
First we sit on a comfortable and firm cushion. If you can sit with cross legs or what we call lotus posture or Vajra asana. If you can’t do that then you could do half lotus posture. Keep your hands together in the mudra of meditative equipoise.
Keep your back or spine straight like a bamboo arrow.
Keep your shoulders balanced like an eagle, a great eagle when its flying his wings are straight and balanced. Keep your shoulders in the same line.
Also keep your head straight with a slight bend at the neck.
Close your mouth, touch the tip of your tongue on the back of the upper teeth.
Don’t close your eyes and gaze in front of you so that you see the tip of your nose as you are sitting straight.
There are different ways of keeping the hands together. Sometimes you put your hands on your knees or you practice the mudra of meditative equipoise. When you do the Mahamudra meditation keep your hands together with the right hand on top of the left hand and touching the tips of your thumbs together. The first mudra with the hands on the knees is done with the higher form of Mahamudra or meditating on Vase Breathing Meditation or Tumo Meditation and so forth controlling the breath in the central channel. That time you keep the hands on the knees.
After you are sitting properly practicing the right posture then we have to begin the mindfulness of breathe. There are different types of mindfulness of breathing meditation. Nine point breathing meditation and another kind of breathing meditation.
As a novice, if you are a beginner when you do Mahamudra meditation it is necessary to sit properly on a cushion. It is important, if you are advanced Mahamudra practitioner then you don’t always have to sit. If you have great awareness and mindfulness accomplished mindfulness awareness of Mahamudra you could actually do Mahamudra meditation while you are walking or chopping vegetables, etc.
If we know how to practice Mahamudra properly, diligently and you have all the teachings on Mahamudra then the Mahamudra meditation isn’t a very complicated one, you don’t have to do lots of study. In other words you don’t have to do lots of reading sutras preparation you don’t have to have a great intellectual mind. The most important thing is to know the main points and focus your mind, dedicating yourself, concentrating on that and also its important to develop devotion, admiration to the Guru. Through the kindness of the Guru, blessing of the Guru, then you can actually accomplish and do this meditation.
The lessons of the guru are very powerful. As human beings we can receive the blessings of the Guru because we know in our minds, we know the kindness of the Guru and how powerful it is and so forth. Even animals can receive the blessing of Guru.
I have met the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa and many Tibetans have had the fortune to receive blessings from him. He was known as a great teacher, meditator and enlightened being. According to his life story nobody talks about how much study he did and how many retreats he did and so forth. We don’t know. It doesn’t matter because he’s already an enlightened being anyways. He loves meditation and he meditates spontaneously and especially he loved birds, he was a bird lover or birder. He had many birds in behind his temple. Some of the birds were blessed so much by him (they were blessed out) some of the birds meditate spontaneously when they see him they just sit there.
We are going to meditate now. I would like to ask sit properly, crossing your legs, and if you can practice the half lotus posture whatever. Or you can sit comfortably and keep your back straight.
You sit straight and close your mouth and focus your meditation or intention inside of nostrils, then you watch the breathe. You breathe in and out 1, breathe in - out 2, etc. count your breathe up to 21. After you have finished counting to 21 then you stop counting and just focus your mind on the breathe.
Generally there are four times during the day or night when one must not meditate. For example when the sun is just rising, coming up from the horizon, the midday, when the sun is about to set, and the middle of the night is not a good time to meditate. What we are saying is that the exact time of sunrise, midday, before sunset and midnight otherwise any time is good to meditate.
Generally while we are meditating on Mahamudra or Samatha Vipassana we need to meditate with a single pointedness mind and that meditation on single pointedness mind is called Space like meditation, you are dwelling in the meditative state with a single mind, not dwelling in the past and not in the future. Right here. After the meditation and the formal meditation is ended and we are in post period meditation. Once you have finished the formal meditation you still have to keep your mind in a kind of state of meditation what we call illusion like meditation. So you don’t just sort of go into worldly thought right away and still try to keep that energy of meditation and what happened during the meditation when you cultivated calm abiding mind. Try to keep that energy in your mind while you are walking around or drinking tea or doing whatever you are doing. Not to sort of cut off.
After the formal meditation we do what we call post period meditation or illusion like meditation. You practice mindfulness of mind. Watch the nature of your mind as much as you can. Observe your mind the activity of your mind. You should become the witness of your own thoughts arising and coming and going.
The Tibetan word for this is Rangsem Soma. Rangsem means my mind, soma new mind beginning mind. When ever the new thought or the new mind arises you observe this and keep observing this. Not to judge not to sort of eradicate and grasping at the same time. Observing the new mind whenever they arise. So keep doing this and eventually when you accomplish the realisation and every thought then occurs in the mind can actually become part of Dharmakaya. Dharmakaya mind. It soon becomes a Buddha mind. Gradually you see that there is no difference between our mind and Buddha mind in the ultimate sense.
When we do Mahamudra meditation we need to work with a teacher, guru, lama or meditation instructor. The meditation instructor or lama has to explain it with a pure heart. With loving kindness and compassion. At the same time the disciple or the student has to give up all the doubts, give up all the hesitation or cynical skepticism all those things. You have to just do it. With single pointed mind, you have to jump in.
At this time I will read the foundation path and give you the Lung or transmission this is part of the tradition. So I cannot just skip this. Although it would be easy to just skip it. It is important so that it gives you, although I don’t have time to go through this foundation teaching many already have the foundation teaching. You have done it. So those of you who haven’t received this at least today you will have received the Lung or transmission. So this is very important, then later you study the translations of Mahamudra and foundation of the Mahamudra. I would like you to meditate and study on this. At this time I will give the Lung and read while I am reading I would like to ask you to sit and meditate so that you don’t have to think about the words or wonder what they are. Hear the sound and sit and meditate on the breathe or you can observe the mind whatever thought comes and goes.
There are two main obstacles for meditation: Wandering mind and dullness mind.
Dullness mind means your mind feels like a sinking in the water, feels dull and sleepy and you no longer can concentrate on object of meditation or being the meditator. Your mind is kind of falling into a kind of sleep. First occurs the subtle dullness then coarse dullness occurs. This is the obstacle. You have keep your mind clear as much as possible. The other obstacle or hindrance is wandering mind. Your mind is going into different places judging different things concerned with worldly things daily activities business and so forth mind is going away and distracted somewhere. That’s called wandering mind. When you notice that mind is gone make a note and return immediately to the object of meditation or to the meditation.
As I mentioned before the foundation practice is very important especially the Guruyoga is very important. Also if you are a Tantric practitioner or yogi or Yogini then you have a Yidam or deity. Then you have to think that the Yidam and the guru are one. Same essence same entity no difference between these two. Let’s say if you have a guru like Karmapa and your Yidam is Chakrasamvara / Heruka then these two are the one thing there is no difference and so you have to cultivate that mind while you are doing Guruyoga.
As a Tibetan person or Tibetan Dharma student we say Karmapa Chenno. This is not a Sanskrit word this is not a Sanskrit mantra this is a Tibetan word. While you are practicing Guruyoga you say that and think about the blessing of Karmapa and you make requests to him and to the lineage in order to achieve the realisation of Mahamudra successfully.
According to the Sutra there are four foundation practices. The first
foundation practice according to the Sutra is to meditate on
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Beginning Tape #2
According to the Sutra there are two types of meditation: Analytical meditation and one pointedness mind meditation. Analytical is also necessary in order to do one pointed meditation successfully because in order to have the confidence and discipline to meditate on certain objects with single pointed mind first you have to know what you are meditating on what kind of meditation you are doing. Therefore first you have to do analytical meditation. For example when we meditate on precious human rebirth the subject we have to study the Sutra or Lam Rim the gradual path to enlightenment and explanations on the precious human rebirth
We have to know what that means. Freedoms and 10 enjoyments and so forth why do we call our lives as precious. We meditate on that and it leads us to feel that life is so precious, so meaningful. We can make our lives very meaningful. We can do so much to benefit sentient beings so it makes you feel that every single moment of your life is so precious you don’t want to waste. It gives you lots of hope and encouragement so this kind of thinking cultivating this mind is called analytical meditation. According to the Tibetan tradition we have foundation teachings called Lam Rim or the Gradual Path to Enlightenment according to the Gelugpa teaching this is called Lam Rim. In the Kargyu tradition there is a great text written by Gampopa ‘The Jewel Ornament of Liberation’. This text is the foundation practice for Mahamudra and Tantra as well.
Some of you I am sure have read the life story of Gampopa, before he met Milarepa he followed the Kadampa tradition. He practiced Lam Rim according to the Kadampa tradition. And then when he met Milarepa he received Vajrayana teachings and initiations on Mahamudra according to the Varjrayana tradition. Mahamudra according to the Vajrayana and Kadampa tradition of the sutra all merged together to become the Mahamudra system according to Gampopa, its called merging the Kadam tradition and Mahamudra tradition together.
Gampopa real name is Lhargy. Lhargy means doctor or physician he was a doctor as well, medicine man.
As a dharma practitioner it is very important for us to develop realisation of renunciation. We have to develop true renunciation, cultivate the mind of true renunciation which means non clinging non attachment. This is very important. Once we have cultivated that then the other realisations will happen. For example, cultivating renunciation and non-attachment is like you are creating good farm land or soil. First you have to have good soil and then you can cultivate and plant vegetables or whatever. So renunciation is very important. For example, Gampopa when he was young he was a layman, married and a doctor physician then unfortunately his wife died. When she was dying she was clinging to Gampopa and since Gampopa was a very handsome man she was wondering who was going to be his next wife. So she didn’t have much peace of mind. Gampopa knew by his clairvoyance and said to her don’t worry I am not going to marry again. You are the only one my wife and when you go I will become a monk. So he became a monk and stayed as one for the rest of his life. He renounced attachment to worldly life.
So the passing away of his wife was very hard for Gampopa because they both loved each other so much and then she died so also received realisation of renunciation due to this condition. He dedicated his entire life to propagating the tradition of Milarepa and Marpa’s teachings. He became the greatest disciple of Milarepa. We say in Tibetan that he was like the sun. When a teacher has a great disciple we say they are like the sun or the moon, they are so bright, so powerful. So he was like the sun.
If you are a serious meditator or Dharma practitioner and seeking enlightenment and Buddhahood then it is important to practice Dharma and dedicate your practice long term benefit. Not to seek short term benefits or realisation, because if you are seeking short term realisations then it becomes an obstacle. What happens if there are no short term realisations then you will be disappointed because the realisations just don’t come quickly, it doesn’t happen, there are no instant realisations. It happens gradually so we have to commit ourselves into Dharma for the sake of long term realisations and enlightenment for all beings. For example, when you think about life stories of Milarepa and you see he spent his entire life in meditation and teaching. Likewise there are many other great meditators according to other tradition like Gelugpa, Sakya, Nyingma and so forth. All these successful great meditators spent all their lives meditating and preserving the Dharma and teaching.
We are seeking happiness, there are different ways of cultivating happiness, physical comfort, pleasures. These do not give us real happiness. Real happiness has to happen within our mind and mental continuum. That’s why we practice Dharma and why it is so precious, because Dharma practice gives us mental happiness, great happiness. It will last for not only this life but life after life, many lives and many generations. It will sustain us and give us happiness. So therefore we practice Dharma not only for the benefit of this life but the next life and life after life continuously. You can continue to enjoy the Dharma and the benefit of Dharma practice.
So we cultivate this rich mind, we talk about rich people, wealthy, people cultivating wealth, people try to become successful. There are many people very successful and very wealthy and rich. If one doesn’t have real mental richness or peace and mental happiness material wealth doesn’t give us true happiness and contentment.
Before we have a lunch break we have time for questions now.
Since you aren’t a monk or a nun so perhaps you have family, a partner and children, adopted children you can cultivate the realisation. When you are cultivating realisation doesn’t mean you are evaluating and leave. This is not necessarily renunciation. Renunciation is cultivating the mind of non-clinging, non-attachment or non possessiveness. Not thinking this beautiful person is my possession. Belongs to me and you give up that kind of clinging you treat the other person as equal. At the same time renunciation means you meditate on general life situations, lives of ours and many others like all beings in the six realms the sufferings of human beings and animals. There is so much suffering in the world and you think about those sufferings. Not only thinking about yourself and your own sufferings. My own suffering is very small compared to how many sentient beings are suffering. We think about those things then try to do something furthermore to yourself. This is what we call renunciation.
What is the reason that you should not meditate on those particular 4 times ?
This is a very subtle thing and many people never notice the difference. Mind is already kind of wandering off sleepy, you can’t even meditate properly. For many people it doesn’t matter so much. Many people don’t even recognize this. This is a subtle thing when you are doing an intense retreat like deity yoga or trying to develop samadhi. At that particular exact time its called time of degenerating your samadhi. So its a very subtle thing due to the energy of the earth and the sun and energy so its very powerful at midday, sunrise, sunset and midnight. The energy level is very subtle effect on your mind.
Mahamudra meditation itself is meditation on Sunyata and because you are meditating on Emptiness of the mind, you are observing your mind and watching the thought process and being in the present moment so you gradually see the mind itself has no beginning no end and has no inherent existence. Mind itself is void and empty of inherent existence you see it gradually being there observing the mind. Like you question how do we know. The most important thing is you have to study the technique and you have to make sure you have go the right idea and ask the teacher and so on.
When you go into the retreat whatever retreat you are going to do your motivation is to benefit all sentient beings as a Mahayana or Tantric practitioner you have to have the motivation to say ‘I am going to do this practice for the benefit of all sentient beings’. This is very important. So then you go into retreat and whatever practice you are doing, mantra recitation or samatha or vipassana whatever practice you are doing it does benefit all sentient beings in the long run or indirectly. When you are going into retreat you are not saying ‘ I am going into retreat therefore I am going to solve everybody ‘s problems during this retreat. I can and I am going to’. You cannot solve everybody’s problems you can’t even solve your own problems. You are not going into it this kind of way. You know you can’t solve can’t solve everybody problems. Nobody can do that. In order to solve other people’s problems we have solve our own problems fix ourselves to accomplish these realizations. At the same time you can help many because part of the practice and part of the meditation you are working for others at the same time doing the mantras visualizations. It does benefit in this way.