Easter Retreat 2015 - Talk 4 Part B Q&A

OK, so, question and answer, you can ask me anything to do with body posture or mind, yes?


Q.  I find that my meditation is much calmer than it used to be, but the thoughts still come, and I still get lost.  I don’t know when it is ok to simply accept that it is calmer and when should I be strict with myself and say ’naughty girl’.

A.  Normally, you will never have a thought free mind, maybe we have to die for that to happen!  As long as we are alive there will be thought.  In Buddhism we talk about Dharmakaya and Nirmanakaya, thought is like Nirmanakaya, a manifestation.  So, actually, there is nothing wrong to have thoughts.  But when you are meditating, if you can give yourself the right information, you can easily help yourself by saying, thought is no problem in itself but during meditation, if I don’t judge the thought and don’t follow the thought, don’t play with the thought, then it will liberate itself. 

If you get that message, thought will dissolve like a bubble in the river, you know?  Where river flows the bubble forms, but after the bubble forms it breaks down quickly.  When you are not putting any resistance, when you are seeing that thoughts aren’t the enemy, then it can dissolve very fast.  If you think that thought is a problem, then it will get worse.  You must not resist it.  That is why, in Buddhism we say non-resistance, isn’t it?  Non-violent.  Non-resistant.  Even your own thoughts, you must not resist, but also don’t follow it.  The you will find it very easy to calm yourself down. 

But as you say you are getting better in the meditation means, in your everyday your life, don’t engage with anything that causes you too much stress and unhappiness, because then meditation will be much harder.  If you can help yourself to keep on doing the things that help you have less stress, less unhappiness, then come into meditation, it becomes easier, ok? 

Alright, anymore?

Q.  Could you give some techniques for us to practice in our working life?  I find in the morning, I feel ok for the morning time at work, but come afternoon I feel a lot more stressful.  I feel my mind can get angry or stressed in the afternoon as I haven’t had any time out for a long time.   How can you practice at work?

A.  So, number one, I’m going to give you all the same stuff.  That means, in the morning when you get up, you engage in a really positive 15-20 minutes of meditation, saying, ‘Today I will be very, very mindful.  Today, I want to remind myself not to get involved in stressful situations or argumental situations.’  I will engage with love and compassion, and tolerance.  Do 15 minutes or something of meditation. 

Then I already said to all of you if you can remember to recite a mantra in your head as soon as you go into the car or wherever you go.  This keeps your mind calm.  Then if you are working in the office or whatever situation you have, if there is something to remind you to be mindful and come back to the mantra, then remember during the day that you are not going to get involved in argumental, stressful situations.  

When you come home you also do 15 minutes of meditation, and examine yourself to see whether you have succeeded with what you wished, the things that you wanted to do during the day.  And then it is like you keep on repeating this again and again, then you will get used to this and you will make real good progress. 

One, in the morning, plant the right seeds.  Then during the day time, carry that, then before you go to bed or coming home, just sit down and see, have I been successful?  Did I manage to be mindful and do the things I wanted to do to change myself, to improve?  So, then if you have been successful, you should rejoice and then you should keep on doing it again and again.  If you haven’t been successful, maybe put more effort, ok? 

Alright, yes?

Q.  Sometimes when I meditate, I begin to feel disorientated.  Like I don’t know where I am.  And I wondered, is that because of too little awareness or is that ok, is that the result of becoming aware? 

A. We say a beginner’s meditation is like a big waterfall.  So, you will all have different experiences.  Some people can even start thinking that this meditation experience is making me worse than I was, or I’m having a different experience.  You don’t need to worry.  Just be aware of what is happening.  Then gradually, gradually, as you meditate, we say, the second stage comes.  That’s like River Thames, flowing but very, very smoothly, gently.  Then the third stage of meditation is like a big, big ocean without waves, shimmering and beautiful, with no more waves.  Just a big, big ocean.  So, we go through three different stages, so if you see yourself getting disorientated, just come back to the present, this will help you. 

Ok? Yes?

Q.  So, what is the useful age to start meditation for children?  And is there a good way to start? 

A.  For children?  I think you just have to be kind.  You can’t tame the children.  Many of my students have children, and I say to them the best thing you can do is let them to play and let them be happy and if you teach them calmness it is very good, if you teach happiness, it is very good. 

If you teach cause and effect the children can understand very well.  If they say what is cause and effect, you say if you punch someone, they are going to punch you twice!  You say that if you shout then they will shout back worse than you manage to shout.  This cause, and effect is very simple.  You teach that to the children and they will be much better off that way.  Yeah, we grown up people, we don’t like to think this, but cause and effect is 24 hours with us. 

Cause and effect means you allow your mind to get involved in a lot of negative thinking, then you get a negative result.  You help your mind to think positive, it will produce a positive result.  Cause and result means if you are nice to somebody, they will be nice to you.  Cause and effect means if you are nasty to somebody, they will be nasty to you.  Nowadays, our tolerance level is so bad, so low, you shout at somebody, they can shout back at you as fast as you shout at them. 

All the times we say someone’s tolerance level is high means, you shout at them, they’re thinking, ‘I don’t know why this person is shouting at me.’  ‘Is there something wrong with this person?’  They may not be thinking that shouting back is a solution so they may not shout.  That level of mind is much more stable and nicer, better.  

Now, our level of mind is so unstable that the only thing you can think is shouting means shouting back.  Hitting means hitting back.  Killing means killing back.  That’s what is happening. 


Q.  Do you have any advice for example, for when some days meditation is more easy and other days you have slept very badly for example and then it gets harder?  Do you have any advice for hard days in meditation?

A.  Normally if you examine yourself, that is almost the state of your mind level.  So, when you are good you succeed in the things that you want to succeed in.  You feel that everything is ok, so everything in meditation feels alright.  But when you are up and down, you are stressed, meditation also becomes much more difficult. 

We need to give enough time to stabilise.  So, when you meditate well, then you rejoice that I have been doing alright.  But if you don’t manage to meditate well because emotional levels are up and down, then maybe instead of thinking I want to find the calmness then you can look and see what is causing this up and down.  Have I been wrongly engaging in things that cause me a lot of upheaval and stress?  In the job or in the home?  You need to examine.  That is the time you investigate, when you are up and down. 

But it doesn’t matter because whatever happens some people have a very good experience, once.  Then you would like to have that very same experience again.  That means that you will completely ruin that.  If you have a good experience, never go and think you want that same experience.  Remember that you had this wonderful experience without thinking that you want to have it.  When you say that I want to have it, then you are destroying it.  But keep on meditating and you will be ok.  You can somehow stabilise. 

We must not give up meditation until we get absolutely, stable and ups and downs are part of meditation.  So, you just keep on trying meditation again and again, then examine what you have been doing in the day and what caused this up and down.  And then remember to not engage in such action in the future so you can become closer to the meditation level.

Ok?  Alright.  Anymore?

Q.  In the meditation that we did just now, and it was very helpful, thank you very much, I first noticed how much I am hiding, like ‘oh, why are you hiding?’ and wanting to run away, so, ok, just bring compassion to that.  That feels like something I can take from here and build on.  But then it changes like it becomes a feeling and then I got confused and thought I would just sit with that in my shoulder and it feels like something is trying to stop me meditating, just a physical feeling.  It didn’t feel so much like thought.  So, I got a bit lost about how I sit with the feeling of being distracted with a more physical feeling.  Is that also my mind?

A.  I’m very proud of you.  This morning you did one good hour of meditation.  So, if you think that there is some blockage, whether there is an inside blockage or some feeling or some outside obstacle pulling you, just come back to the present.  Don’t give the mind an opportunity to look for faults, to look for what is wrong and who is doing what.  That is you letting the mind engage in a wrong way.  As soon as you think of something it is holding you back.  Either you come back to the present moment or you go into a deeper level and see what is actually holding you back.

As far as your back is concerned, maybe it is just a good imagination because mind needs something to hold onto, so you just have to say, just come back to the present, it doesn’t matter because physically no one is pulling me.  So, there must be a mirage see?  So, this must be your mirage again. 

So, no worry.  Yes, if you do that joyfully then it becomes non-resistance.  Why this Lama keeps on talking again and again about joy is because without joy we can’t make progress, because then there is resistance see?  It’s like if you go to your job.  If you say, ‘oh I hate my job’, then the whole job becomes meaningless, so why are you going to the job?  If you were to say, ‘I’m fortunate, there seems to be so many people who have no job and I have a job to go to’, then it helps you go to the job much more meaningfully.  And, also you will get more benefit out of thinking that way, see?


Q.  So when I am meditating and I have some pain should I change my position?

A.  Pain in the hip?  That is very easy to release.  When you sit then you use your head.  You know cobra?  Snake?  Pull up your head like this, like a cobra, then it will lift up your whole hip part, and you can release that pain instantly.  You could be relaxing and leaning back a little, so the pain goes down to the hips.  So, as soon as you feel there is a pain in hip, just pulling up like this will completely release you from this. 

But then many people put so much effort you manage to stress yourself, then you can get back, neck, shoulder pain and it’s not so easy.  So when you see there is a pain, you calm down, you relax, don’t stress.  But when you feel that there is a pain, then you can use this pulling up.  And I absolutely assure you, it instantly releases the pain.  And if it is a pain in the joints, then it is easy for beginners to just extend your leg.  When you release the pain, you come back to sitting the way you want.  Learn to sit. 

Ok? Yes?

Q.  I know you said that when you start meditating you should focus on something.  Is it possible for you to focus on something then close your eyes, or should you have your eyes open all the time?

A.  Yes.  If you are a beginner, when you close your eyes, it is much easier than when you open your eyes because when you open your eyes you see things and then your mind start to get busy by following what you see visually.  So, if you are a beginner, you start with closing your eyes.  As you manage to feel confident in your meditation ability, then you really need to open up your mind.  Mind and eye, both.  So, when I meditate, normally I don’t close my eyes.  Then if I look this way, my mind never judges any of you.  My mind never judges what is there.  So, my mind never gets busy, see?  So, that is how we can really make good progress.  You can sit this way and then you can see everything, but you never judge, you never get busy with what you see, and then that is real, proper meditation. 

Ok?  Anymore?  Yes?

Q.  Do you have any suggestions for dealing with drowsiness or sleepiness during meditation?

A.  If are a Buddhist, we say dullness or sleepiness, in Tibetan we call it Ma-Rig-Pa.  Literally it means not seeing things clearly and if we use the proper English, ignorant.  So, then, what we have to do is what we call the 100 Syllable Mantra, a purification mantra.  We do a hundred thousand of this mantra, and that frees us from this dullness.  I remember in the retreat, many retreaters, when they meditate, gradually they fall into this sleepiness or dullness.  Then people use many methods to overcome it, like they put an object in front of you, so you if you fall asleep you bump your head.  It is very painful, so it will wake you up for many hours.  And then some people can be very creative so to stop falling asleep in the meditation box, they put drawing pins, so that if they fall pain will come. 

Some of us Tibetans are very extreme when we do meditation practice!  Ee have yogis, meditators who don’t cut their hair.  So, if you have this hair tied up, they have a hook there.  So, you can hook your hair up there and any time you go (gestures) (laughter).  That is one way of fixing up that.  Secondly, we have what we call a meditation stick with half moon shape on stick which goes straight with your body.  Tied to the body so the stick is like this (gestures).  So, it is really like a big bandage, then if you fall asleep you will be falling all over the place.  You can’t help yourself. 

In our long retreat we bought everyone one of them like that.  So, we use many methods. 

The proper purification is the 100 Syllable Mantra, but a temporary solution is if you are sitting and you feel yourself going to sleep then really pull up your body posture, very straight.  And then look upwards.  Then if you do that then it will wake you up. 

Q.  When you are doing the single pointed concentration, should you do it with 20% concentration or 100% ?

A.  You can not force mind to do something it is not willing to do.  So, if you are a beginner if you can even do it for 5 minutes, it is a very big change.  So, if you can do very concentrated focus on an object, then your mind gives you a sort of headache or it rebels.  It is like a very rebellious human being, so mind will rebel.  So as soon as mind gives you a problem, you release and have a dialogue.  Say, ‘I am not asking you to do anything, except being in the present moment’.  Then it start to mess around going everywhere, but gradually bring it back and use the very focused method.  Two methods: free; bring back.  Free, bring back.  These two methods.

Ok?  Yes?

Q.  We all have thoughts in our heads and sometimes we can see them to be judgements and perhaps it is an intuitive feeling.  Perhaps, for example, if there is a person you get a bad feeling from and you think no I’ve made a judgement and I shouldn’t trust that, but then I realise, well, actually, they are bad.  How do you distinguish between the judgement, and the thought, and the intuition?

A.  You need to use your wisdom.  If you say to somebody, I feel so sorry for you, that will be very arrogant, and it will never help the other person. You will make the other person more angry and upset.  But if in your own state of mind, you feel so sorry for somebody, if somebody is doing not so well, you can mentally say a prayer.  Saying, you have a problem, I feel sorry for you, is not the right method.  You can say prayer, deep in the mind. 

Unless the person comes to you, asks your help, I always tell our Buddhist friends or any human being, never force your ideas on anybody.  They have to come to you.  Unless someone actually wants it, you can never force.  Whether it is Dharma or anything.  If somebody wants, then you must do your very best to help that. 



The Buddhist principle is to be everybody's friend, not to have any enemy.
Choje Akong Tulku Rinpoche
Meditation means simple acceptance.
Choje Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche
Only the impossible is worth doing.
Choje Akong Tulku Rinpoche
Whenever we see something which could be done to bring benefit to others, no matter how small, we should do it.
Chamgon Khentin Tai Situ Rinpoche
Freedom is not something you look for outside of yourself. Freedom is within you.
Choje Akong Tulku Rinpoche
Hasten slowly, you will soon arrive.
Jetsun Milarepa
It doesn’t matter whatever comes, stop judging and it won’t bother you.
Choje Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche
Whatever obstacles arise, if you deal with them through kindness without trying to escape then you have real freedom.
Choje Akong Tulku Rinpoche
To tame ourselves is the only way we can change and improve the world.
Choje Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche
I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
In the practice of tolerance, one's enemy is the best teacher.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
Strive always to be as kind, gentle and caring as possible towards all forms of sentient life.
Choje Akong Tulku Rinpoche
Every sentient being is equal to the Buddha.
Chamgon Kentin Tai Situ Rinpoche
Wherever and whenever we can, we should develop compassion at once.
Choje Akong Tulku Rinpoche
Reminding ourselves of how others suffer and mentally putting ourselves in their place, will help awaken our compassion.
Choje Akong Tulku Rinpoche