Cleaning up Samye Ling 1995 - Part Two
I will talk a little and then we will discuss things. Concerning the weekend course of meditation, it’s called “Cleaning up Samye Ling”. I already talked a little what cleaning up means. Of course the obvious thing is to try to improve the environment, to be environment-friendly. Through this whoever is taking part in the cleaning up, you can also improve your own home life, once you go there, so that we don’t damage this precious Earth, this precious planet, which we all have to maintain. Not only our lives, but our children’s and their children’s life, many future generations all depend on us and this planet.
This can only improve by our awareness, not by demonstrations. There are so many people who want to improve, one can call them environment-friendly, but their way of improvement is to demonstrate, to change the government’s ideas. But when they are at home by themselves, they do entirely opposite; there is no awareness of what their own actions are. They are using chemicals and buying or selling environmentally unfriendly products. So that is looking far away but not closely at what you yourself do. If we don’t change ourselves, educate ourselves, the whole environment cannot improve, because the improvement is based on each human’s education and each human individual’s awareness.
Recently we saw many demonstrations against moving animals from England to other countries. I think it’s very good to have public demonstrations, yet when those who do demonstrate come home, they don’t treat their own children and pets nicely. Although they are jumping and shouting outside, within themselves they are somehow not concerned. Many of us we do many things for other people, but then constantly punish ourselves. Either we take ourselves too seriously, or punish ourselves too much.
So, I think in the Buddhist way, or in a human way the most important thing is that we are responsible for ourselves first. It would be wrong to try to educate the whole world, if the purpose is just for them to accept our personal idea. It’s most important to educate ourselves and be mindful of our own actions. We should be mindful that whatever we do ourselves affects other people’s lives. This is demonstrated very clearly and simply in the environment. Whatever each of us does wrong, this will contribute to the whole world. We are part of that, so the first thing is to educate ourselves. Not to educate others. Once we, each of us, are responsible, the positive actions and awareness of all we are doing helps to make it easier for everybody. Then we don’t have to educate anybody. To give an example is the best kind of education. Not to do all the bad things while writing so many books, giving so many lectures, yet being oneself the worst one. That is not solving anything.
Similarly there are so many meditation instructors everywhere, and people feel this is necessary. I think it is very useful, yet meditation instructors themselves, including myself, many of us, we don’t know what we are talking about. We may just read a book and hope this is the right one, and pretend we know all the answers. That damages so many people’s minds. This is also very dangerous. But if there is a very great teacher, those who really know meditation, they don’t have to fly around the whole world organizing courses. They don’t have to; everybody goes to see them, because they are like sunshine or magnetic power. All the people who need it are drawn towards them, so the teacher doesn’t have to go around. And for those people who really pray and need their help, the distance is no longer a problem. People go to stay with them for one or two years, because he or she has developed a special magnetic power out of loving kindness and compassion and out of meditation.
So, I think that we in the west are too much concerned with courses and quick solution. We are too much concerned with the solution having to be expensive, because we are used to buying and selling. Money is the only answer and rich people can buy anything: happiness, wealth. Whatever you want to achieve you can achieve with money. Similarly quite often when you want to achieve something immediately: happiness or development in meditation, you ask how much it will cost. There cannot be any price for an achievement in meditation. Meditation is within our understanding and cannot be bought with money. Meditation is achieved by diligence by whoever has diligence, whoever has a right frame of mind, and whoever has a right teacher. Without those three things you can’t achieve anything.
The teacher is most important. Meditation cannot be learned from books or made up like a recipe mixing things you buy from supermarket or grocery shop next to you, thinking, ”I must experience this.” You may experiment with one thing from here and another thing from there. Experiments don’t take you anywhere, but you need a technique, a method. Whoever achieves anything through meditation their achievement doesn’t come from books. From books you can get advice for your mind, what it means to be a good and honest person and what bad motivation means. But to develop your meditation through books, there is no way.
Meditation depends totally on each individual. If you make effort, then you may have some benefit. It’s like food: if you want to be fat, you are the one who has to eat. There is no use paying someone to eat for you and wishing that you would be fat! You can’t buy gaining or losing weight with money, it’s you who has to work. So you have to give up the idea of buying meditation, or that you could achieve something on that system.
Some people complain that they have done ten years of meditation and they haven’t achieved anything. When you ask them how often they meditate, they may say once a week. Now, meditation is like food. Would you be able to maintain your body by eating one meal once a week? I doubt it. You have to eat three meals a day. And then you have to drink, in between you have coffee breaks and tea breaks. After eating and drinking six or seven times during the day you may still feel hungry. Same way meditation is something you have to apply every hour, not just once a year, month or week. One can do many things once a week, for example go to church once week. You do all the bad things for six days and on the seventh you wash it off. You could be working in a factory for six days and have a shower on the seventh. Then you are clean. You may say: “I’ve been in church on Sunday, now I’m clean and my mind is very positive.” I’m afraid meditation is not like that. Whenever you touch dust you always get dirty. Whenever you wash you always became clean. You cannot wash only once a week. Similarly we have to apply meditation to ourselves every moment.
Very lazy people always say as the first thing that Buddhism means the middle way and going to so many sessions is too rigid. Why not have an easy come, easy go approach? It’s not very useful; unless you are naturally an easy come, easy go kind of person you can’t make only meditation to be that way. It’s part of your mind, what you inherited. So a very easy person may meditate with a simple technique, but if you are a complicated person, meditation has to be complicated, too. It’s important that meditation is applied every day through your life, and not just once a day but at least four, five or ten times a day. You have to apply it every five or ten minutes or every half an hour, if you want to get some benefit. But there is no benefit going to meditate just once a year or one weekend here and there.
When people are interested in meditation, they usually attend many weekend courses in different places. Each teacher may say something slightly differently and they end up more confused than before they attended those six or seven sessions of a weekend course. One teacher may recommend you not to do very strict meditation, another one will recommend very strict meditation. One says you only need to apply it once a month and another says meditate every day. Then you end up with much confusion. It’s sure each of them in their own way has the truth, but since there are so many techniques of meditation, the best thing is not to let confusion into your life. Find one excellent teacher and stay with that teacher until you stabilize your meditation. Once you stabilize it you can go anywhere, wherever you like. It’s important to stay with one teacher and one technique, but as I said, the most important thing is a good teacher.
In Tibetan meditation is called shiné. Once you apply it a long time, it becomes lhaktong. Normally there are these two stages. Shi means ‘peace’ and ne means ‘state’ (of peace). Our life is very busy and especially our mind is busy constantly. When we become very busy we cannot get to sleep, we become as if addicted or paranoid. We can’t get to sleep when we have so many thoughts arising, and we tell ourselves: “I should not think this way.” That is another chain of thought, which makes us even busier. “I don’t want to think, thinking is wrong.” Yet we don’t know how to overcome that and how to think less. So we think more and panic more, and become more paranoid. If we realize that the chain of thoughts or too much thinking is wrong, in order to overcome this we should give freedom to our thinking. Many people, when they do meditation they say: “I had a very bad experience.” You ask: “What happened?” and they answer: “I am constantly thinking, I am not able to stop during meditation, but keep on thinking all kind of things.” If you keep thinking all kind of things and if you fight that thinking saying: “I want to stop thinking, I want to meditate, I should not think, thinking is bad, I thought I am quite honest, I am not honest...” you are creating thinking and not helping to stop it.
How to stop thinking? You tell yourself you can’t stop. It is you who tell yourself what you want to think. Let’s think more! It’s like chaining a child. You put many toys in front of a child and tell them not to play with them. The child will want to play more since they are a child and all children do is play games with toys. The more you deny, the more the child’s desire to play will grow. The situation will get worked up and the child will explode, jumping, and you become angry towards their action. So, give freedom: “Okay, you play the game.” And the child will only play, they don’t get mad and there is no desire to play jumping and hurting. As soon as you give full freedom, by giving freedom the child will stop automatically.
Similarly give freedom to your mind and say: “Okay, you think what you want, I will watch you.” As soon as you say that there is no more desire to think, thinking is no longer effective. Most important in meditation is to give freedom to your thoughts. In meditation, during that process of meditation you don’t think: this is right thinking and this is wrong thinking. There should not be any difference. All thoughts are equal; there are no first and second category thoughts. “I should think this and not that during the meditation,” is not a useful attitude. You accept every thought. In the meditation texts it is said: you should not cling to whatever thoughts are arising just like you do not have clinging to someone’s corpse when they die. When somebody is alive you may have clinging to them as beautiful or ugly, nice body, nice shirt, but when the person dies, you don’t have clinging to someone dead. Whether the corpse is beautiful or ugly, young or old, it’s the same, still a corpse. There is no more clinging. Similarly, when the thoughts appear during the meditation, there is no clinging to them.
It is important to give freedom, and on top of that you have to be mindful all the time. Mindfulness is the key to meditation. Whatever is happening when you stay in meditation posture, when you walk out afterwards, be mindful always. Mindfulness is like driving a car. You have to be mindful and not shortsighted. You cannot only look at the landscape and you cannot only look at the car next to you, but you should see the birds, insects, anything moving as well as the road. You are being mindful so that you don’t cause injury. The meditation is very much like that, you must be mindful all the time. When you drive a car you are not concerned about good and bad. You may have some kind of belief in images, but it is your responsibility to be mindful all the time.
In meditation many people try not to have any thoughts. If you have no thoughts in this body, you will be dead. It’s not meditation. So, you cannot do without thinking. Thoughts depend on the body and the body depends on the thought process. Don’t create a state of no thoughts, and don’t create hallucinations. It is not meditation to create hallucinations, but meditation means to remain as it is. Not as it was or as it will be, but living in the present. Not in the past, not in the future, but in the present. Whatever is the present moment at this particular second, you are living that particular second.
Living in this particular second − whenever you are able to apply that in any place, then that is meditation. Then you will improve that understanding. This is the key or foundation of meditation. How to improve in this is through your diligence with the guidance of a good teacher. The teacher will guide you, because there will be many obstacles, problems. Sometimes there are appreciations and sometimes problems. These problems cannot be solved by the individuals themselves.
Before we do a short session if you have any questions, we’ll try to deal with that first. We will not succeed to clean up Samye Ling from the outside today, but whoever wishes to do some jobs, find some inside jobs and if there isn’t any, then clean up your rubbish in yourself, maybe that’s the best way. Rather than cleaning up, my idea is composting, because compost is very useful. Something you want to get rid of becomes very valuable in the end. Whatever there is in ourselves, all the negative thoughts, if we don’t have them, then there are no positive thoughts, either. Negative depends on the positive and vice versa. So I wouldn’t say to get rid of, but to use it in the right way, so it becomes useful. And as far as the meditation technique goes, it’s said when you have much pain, wherever it is, meditate on the pain itself.