Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche
the transcript of "Tranquility And Insight Meditation" (Texas
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The Seven Dharmas of Vairochana
next step is to train in the correct physical posture for
meditation. The most common name for this is "The Seven Dharmas of
Vairochana," which simply is a name for the sevenfold (seven points
of) physical posture. Sometimes it is enumerated as eight or
other numbers, but it is the same posture in any case; it can just
be divided in different ways. The reason for emphasis on
posture is that the position of one's body has a very direct and
powerful effect on the state of one's mind. It is said that if
the body is straight or erect, the channels are straight; and if the
channels are straight, then the mind is upright. What this
means is that assuming a correct and upright posture causes one's
mind naturally to come to rest in a state of tranquillity or
With regard to the posture, the first thing that one
has to prepare is a comfortable seat. The seat should consist
of a mat (or a cushion of some kind) that is soft enough. One
needs in addition a small cushion to go under one's backside.
The actual size of these two cushions, the materials and so forth,
and the design is not definite. The deciding factor is what is
comfortable for your particular body; in any case, it is of extreme
1. Following that is the actual delineation of the
eight point posture (otherwise known as the seven point posture, and
so forth, but in this case we will be dividing it into eight).
The first thing discussed is the position of the legs.
Preferred are either one of two postures. The more stringent
is the vajra posture, often referred to as the lotus posture in the
west, where the feet are placed on the opposite thigh. If that
is uncomfortable, then an alternate posture is sitting with one foot
just in front of the other, in what is called a semi-posture, or
sometimes referred to as a bodhisattva's posture. It is like
Tara; the vajra posture is lake Vajradhara, or like the
Buddha. So the first point is the legs.
2. The second point in this description is the gaze or
the eyes. The eyes are neither made to gape open, nor are they
closed. Their lids are half-lowered, and the gaze is slightly
downward in the direction of the tip of one's nose. The reason
for this is that if one's eyes are gaping wide open, and one is
looking outward, then one's mind will tend to follow visual
perception. On the other hand, if one's eyes are closed, one
tends to become torpid. This is a happy medium between the two
extremes of gaze.
3. The third point is the back or spine. It is
straight, and one sits upright.
4. The fourth point is that the shoulders are even and
relaxed. This means that one is not sitting with one shoulder
higher than the other, but that they are at the same height.
5. The fifth point is that the throat is slightly
hooked or bent, which actually straightens it out in the back.
Not to an excessive degree, but the chin is brought in
6. The sixth point is that there is a slight space
between one's lips, and between one's upper and lower sets of
teeth--enough that, if one had to, one could breath through the
mouth. The mouth is not clamped shut.
7. The seventh point is that the tongue is touching
the palate. This refers not to the entire tongue, but the tip
or front of the tongue.
8. The eighth and final point is that the breathing is
even and relaxed. There is no exertion or exertive control of
You will notice that in this description there is no
mention made of what to do with the hands. There are a few
alternatives. There is what is called the "gesture of
meditation," where one hand is placed palm upright in the other one,
which is also palm upright. Then an alternative is the hands
being placed palm downward on the thighs, just behind the
knees. There is also the posture which is called that "of a
vulture's wings." It is recommended in cases where it is
comfortable or possible, where the elbows are straightened
completely with the hands in vajra fists (this consists of bringing
the thumb inward) and placed at the root of the thighs. It is
difficult, and it really wakes you up!
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