Easter Retreat 2015 – Questions & Answers following Talk 2

Q. You talk about slippery mind.  And, I recognise that sort of feeling.  If I practise meditation will the mind get less slippery? 

A. First, if you are good Buddhist you have to think, mind cannot be slippery because mind does not exist.  So, if there is no mind, it can’t be slippery.  So, we have to think slippery is just a habit.  Just a habit, so none of you should ever think, ‘I have a big problem.’  None of you came to this world with a big problem.  It took a long time to grow.  If you have the wrong type of family for example, then you pick up their problem.  Or if you have wrong types of friends, you pick up that problem.  So, it’s a gradual growth.  I don’t think you come with bad qualities.  You need to remember never to think, ‘I am a bad human being.’  Instead you should always remember that whatever we go through we pick up habits.

So, if you really follow Buddhism, the number one thing they suggest is to give up your country.  For myself I am very happy because we didn’t need to do this, our friends helped us do it!  So, I am very grateful, I didn’t need to put much effort in giving up my country!

Then Buddhism says to give up our bad company.  Bad company means you lack good friends, like when you socialise they say, ‘have some drink, it doesn’t matter.’  Even If you are not a drinker, when they say to have something, you are frightened to say no, so then you learn to drink, and then eventually you learn to drink by yourself.  Bad friends help you to have a bad habit.  But then they don’t help you to maintain that, so if you don’t smoke, first they encourage you to smoke.  If you don’t take the drugs, they say take it, it’s exciting.  In the beginning they are willing to share it.  But then you feel the taste, then you feel you need it and that’s when you have to get it for yourself.  Nobody give you.  These are called bad company. 

Buddhism says, if we are wise enough, we must learn to renounce those friends.  Also those who just like to socialise talking nothing but gossip.  This is called wastage of your talk.  Many of my students say, ‘Lama Yeshe, we have no time for practice, we are so busy.’  Then when you are gossiping, after one hour you are still talking, two hours and still talking. 

But if you look into this then, it looks like your gossip is rejoicing in other, people’s failure.  Gossip means you are talking about what is going wrong with your friends, and who is falling apart, who’s having success.  What benefit do you gain out of it?  None.  Except total waste.  So Buddha’s teaching says, if you really want to find time, number one you can see how much time you waste with socialising or networking or whatever you want to call it.  Talking and gossiping.  Nobody benefits from that.  So you create time by not doing so much networking and gossiping. 

That’s why in Buddhism we say we must never gossip.  Because that loses the value of your speech.  We all talk, isn’t it?  We talk because we want people to listen to our talk.  We want other people to trust our talk.  If whatever you are saying has value, whatever you are saying is truth, then people learn to give you the respect you want.  But if in the name of wanting to gain certain respect we talk negativities and gossip, it is a total wastage.  So, one must not waste time, talking gossip.  And one should never rejoice in other people’s failure.  There is no benefit.  How we can learn to have a calmer state of mind, all time basis means, we don’t rejoice in other, people’s suffering.  We don’t rejoice in other people’s failure. 

We should rejoice in other people’s success.  We should rejoice in other people’s achievement.  And in that way, you can keep a proper state of mind.  Good state of mind. 

Q.2  How do you know you are meditating correctly?

A.  As I said from the very beginning, our wish for our mind is to be in a very tranquil state of mind.  We, don’t want to be busy with all the thoughts and emotions.  So, if you start to use methods, you are busying it up.  That is why I said to you, the best method is not to follow the past.  If you say thoughts about the past must stop, that means resistance.  Then you won’t succeed. 

But if you say to yourself, ‘not to follow the past,’ means there is no resistance.  You just say, ‘I’m not going to follow you.’  So then, no resistance means it’s easier for you to come back to the present moment.  So then, because your mind has never, never been in the position of not thinking anything, ever since you were a child, everyone is encouraged to think as much as you can.  All, of a sudden, you can’t stop thinking.  So, as soon as you succeed, not following the past, the future comes in faster.  If then you say, I don’t want to have anything to do with the future, that is resistance.  So, if you say, I’m not going to lead into the future, that means you are in charge.  So that means without you fighting anything, so you don’t get involved in mental busyness. 

If you succeed in that state of mind, when you are not thinking about past, not planning about future, if you are in present moment.  Then it should be 99% of your mind is calm.  There is nothing to do with the past.  Nothing to do with the future.  That is where we want to be.  But then I know it is more or less impossible for many of you, so then it just becomes impossible. 

That’s when using a form of visualising or focusing your mind on an object, or counting your breathing, is like anchoring.  You are like a fish in a big ocean.  It’s going everywhere.  So, you need to anchor that fish.  So, you let it sort of feel free to run in the ocean, but it has to be anchored so it cannot escape anymore.  That means, when you focus your mind onto any object or non-object, like counting your breathing, doesn’t matter whatever method you use, that should help you to anchor that mind.  So then, even though you are busy, you are busy with oneness.  You are chasing your slippery fish and nothing else.  You’re not in the past, not in the future. 

I’m thinking it’s like when cowboys throw their lasso to catch wild horses.  Then the wild horse, if you are trying to bring it close, to tame it as soon as you catch it, you never succeed.  Both become unworkable.  That’s why we say without tolerance, compassion, patience you will not tame the mind so, you give enough space, but it cannot escape completely.  That is the very best method of taming the mind. 

So, if you are in that state of mind, your mind is absolutely, impartial.  Not engaging in anything to do with the past or future, nothing of your experience is disturbing you.  And you have no wish to get into any further difficulties, good or bad.  If there is none of this it means you are where you should be. 

This is very important.  We call it Shi – Ne, and that means trying to remain in the peaceful state of mind.  We can only do this without what I call shadow boxing.  Shadow boxing means we get a little bit of a hallucination in our mind.  When our thoughts are having bad hallucinations, you think that there is someone attacking you, so you are so busy fighting your war in your meditation that you can’t manage to meditate.  You are there fighting, trying to stop your negative thoughts, to stop your negative emotional thoughts.  But if you don’t do this and instead there is no judgement, no good, no bad, and you just say, ‘I’m not going to follow you’ or, ‘I’m not going to lead you.’  Then if you are remembering, then you succeed.  You have unloaded everything that you need to get rid of. 

Q.3  What types of visualisations do you recommend, other than mountains and skies, and that sort of thing?

A.   Some of you are very, very creative.  Creative means, you want to paint a beautiful something with your mind.  If you are creative and have a very, very busy mind, it needs a very complicated visualisation, because your mind is a not going to be able to be tamed by just simple methods.

 So, I can see why Vajrayana, or Tibetan Buddhism is now so popular.  Many people say, ‘we don’t appreciate Tibetan methods because they are so chaotic.’  But I say to you, is your mind any better than our chaotic methods? 

And then some of you come here and you sit and instead of helping yourself to have a calm mind, you start to look round (the colourful temple) and say, ‘I don’t like this drawing, I don’t like that colour, it bothers me.’  You haven’t come here to get into problems. 

Buddhism has three schools.  So if you have a calm mind that doesn’t need any methods, you go to Zen meditation.  You will look at the wall and nothing else.  Sometimes, 7 days a week, and all night they look at the wall.  I met somebody who is following Zen diligently, and after 20 years they thought they had hole in their head!  Because teacher didn’t explain anything.  They said, OK we do zazen, sit at the wall.  Look this way.  Then one day you think you have a hole there.  Yes. 

Then we have the Theravada tradition.  They give you a wonderful teaching, ‘Oh, you can do a body scan,’   So then you will be sitting there going, ‘what is my taste?’  ‘Is my taste a sour or bitter?’  This looks like very good for all of you.  That’s what you can do very well.  Your body’s feelings, what you hear - you know, you can tune into what the sound is like.  But that is keeping on busy, busy, busy, busy. 

So, you have a choice: if you have a very chaotic or creative mind, think that you are a good artist, and while you are sitting there, you want to look there saying, ‘I want to draw just like that.’  Yes, then you will be busy with that one.  So, it depends on how creative your mind is.

In the Vajrayana tradition we have visualisation. Visualising normally means, while you are sitting there, you can visualise a single Buddha statue, it’s like mental imagery.  Visualisation is a mental image and gradually you make it perfect.  So, it becomes very, very, clear.  Very, very, precise.  Very, very, perfect.  That’s how precise your mind is.  So, if you just manage to do that, you have already perfected your mind, see?  So, visualisation, has a place. 

Whether you have a very workable mind, or if you don’t have that, a very complicated visualisation is very good for you.  The Tibetans found ways and means for keeping our mind warm.  In Tibet we don’t have much population, and it’s not so green like here, so, we have a very cheerful colourful temple, and that keeps us happy in the temple, see?  Oh, it is wonderful, cosy, beautiful colour.  But if you have too many colours then it bothers you.  So, in which ever way. 

Q.4  In meditation posture, what is the best way to keep the hips upright?  And the back straight?  Because I find that my hips slip backwards during meditation.

A. Even at my age, I am always willing to try whatever is good for my back.  Because I don’t have a strong healthy back.  Recently, I managed to get this actual, Japanese meditation kind of bench with two levels, one is higher, one is lower.  One is for your bottom, one is for your two knees.  But when I tried to meditate, it’s completely torturing to me.  I was thinking how can I meditate, because my ankles got hurt.  I thought, ok, I need to sit up in meditation posture, so I went back to a cross legged way.  Then I don’t even think of moving or that I’ll wobble or fall down. 

That will straighten you up, see?  Because when we get very relaxed, what we do is lose the proper body posture.  When we lose the body posture, your back and your two hips start to give pain.  But if you are able to pull your body up like this, with your head like a cobra’s head, that could actually help those of you who don’t have a good back bone.  If you pull it up like this, it will straighten up your back bones.  If you do like this, is it (the vertebrae) rubbing each other?  Cause you more pain and also damage, so, you need to do this every 5 minutes, remembering if you have a pain here, just remember to pull up.  Completely, at that very moment, it will relieve you from that pain. 

As far as sitting cross-legged or sitting on the floor, I absolutely understand why all of you have a problem, because as a child you always sat in a nice chair.  So you never sat on the floor, so you find it is very difficult.  But we Tibetans or Asians, we are used to sitting on the floor.  So for us it is much more easier.  But it doesn’t say that for meditation you can only sit cross-legged.  For meditation you really have to sit properly upright. 

Then also there are two types of energy.  We call them increasing energy and decreasing energy, so, one is going up energy and one is going down energy.  So, in our 6 Yogas of Naropa, we sit cross-legged and put cushions, so, something like this, so that, no energy is lost downwards.  I can actually see we lose a lot of warm energy downwards.  I used to sit in a meditation box.  Then after years, I lifted up my cushion and it was all rotten down there.  It was wet.  The dampness goes down.  So, we have a cushion, we close the gap, so no energy is lost downward.  We lose a lot of energy by not closing your lower door.  I assure you if you sit in one place a long time, it really wets everything, because energy is lost.  So, sitting cross-legged is to help us to close the lower door or gap, so no energy goes down. 

Arising energy means literally from early morning to lunchtime.  That is called arising energy.  So, if you want to engage in spirituality, Dharma practice, you learn to practice in the mornings. 

The downward energy in the afternoon means the sun goes down, birds stop singing, people start sleeping and also thieves come out in the night, people who do many things, they all come out in the night and not in the morning.  So, to make all of you good meditators means, you get up one hour earlier in the morning, you sleep one hour earlier in the night.  Yes. Yes.  And I am trying to get all these nuns to get up at 3.30am but I don’t know how much success I’m having.  I’m trying to listen to them, watching their lights and saying, it’s 3.30, 3.30, get up.

It’s wonderful to get up early.  You feel the light coming through.  And nowadays at 4 or 5, birds start to sing.  You feel so refreshed.  You feel so fresh and new.  If you go to sleep so late and in the morning can’t get up, and it’s like struggling, that means a bad, bad, habit.  Yes. 

Good habit, good practitioner, taming your mind means get up earlier.  Do jogging.  Yes.  If you care about the environment, you care about your physical and mental well-being.  I can see clearly that some of you have been jogging around the Stupa.  That’s what I do, I don’t jog, but I walk fast there.  Every morning with help from the Anis.  So, get up earlier and go to sleep earlier. 

Don’t just wait up all night and then can’t sleep.  Then morning, all of you become so negative, see?  Then even if you have to say, ‘Oh, it’s awful I have to get up.’  You want to be dead?  No!  You should be thinking, how fortunate I am, I’m alive.  Then those of you who say, ‘Oh, it’s bad, I have to go to my job.’  Why you don’t want a job?  You should be thinking; how fortunate I have a job to go.  Feed the right information.  That is why sleeping early is very good, see?  So, you wake up with very fresh mind, ‘Oh, I’m very fortunate, I have a job to go.’ 

Even if you have someone who is a very unworkable human being in your job, you should say, ‘today I am going to test my ability.’  How am I going to work with this unworkable human being?  Instead of going in with so much fearful thinking.  How am I going to cope with this?  Then you will go in feeling nervous, so as soon as you see your boss you will be all over the place.  Then you will make more mistakes than you have ever made.  And then you will get a problem. 

But if you go there with a very cheerful mind, ‘would you like to have a cup of coffee or a cup of tea?  How can I help you?’  It’s going to cheer up everybody.  That’s the Buddhist way of taming the mind.  It means you are working at it 24 hours, where ever you are.  So, even if you have a job problem, you need to find a solution.  How are you going to create this positive environment?  By becoming a kinder and nicer human being.  Not becoming too timid, too frightened human being, that doesn’t do you any good, because you can make more mistakes than ever you made. 

So I suggest, always remember increasing energy is day-break till lunchtime.  Decreasing energy is from lunchtime onwards, downwards.  So, practice in the mornings.  Always feed the right information.  Then the meditation or the practice you’re doing is going to bring you the right result.  So, one day you will find you have no reason to be feeling sorry for yourself.  You will find that you can get along with any human being, because you didn’t mind, you’re so tolerant.  That is the benefit of meditation or practice.  If you didn’t achieve this you are wasting time, see? 

Not looking at how much study you have done, not look at how many books you have written, not looking at how many teachings you went through.  See the change in your life.  If there is no change, a tangible change, you really have to ask yourself, why I’m wasting so much time and energy for no good reason?  You want to have a change.  Change for better. 

That’s why I said, unconditional compassion, unconditional compassion.  And I said how tolerance works so well, especially people who are very angry, very upset, very difficult to work with, only way you can tame them is have a lot of patience, lot of tolerance, lot of compassion, and I assure you it is a matter of time, you can change.  I assure you, I know people, couples who are my students, even the husband and wife don’t get along, if I’m able to help one of them become a better person, it brings the family together.  Because they can see that Buddhist practice has brought people together.  Not separation.  Healing, healing practicing.  Buddha Dharma sees that separation, segregation, indifferences, will never benefit anybody. 

But time is gone so, you are very fortunate, I didn’t allow you to meditate.  So, when tomorrow comes there will be strong meditation!  I’m assuring you, you won’t miss it.  So, we will do a dedication.  I am very happy if you remember, ‘we want to change our thinking, we want to change our view’.  We need to bring this realisation or motivation, wherever we go or whatever we do.  And if you succeed then you have no choice but to change, see?  Change comes for better. 

We will do the dedication, and I wish all of you will enjoy Samye Ling, whatever we can offer you.  And I assure you, it is good fortune, our good quality of karma, it’s warm, I have never seen such warmth for this time of year.  That’s called quality of karma.  And if we all become a good human beings, how much benefit will it bring to other people?  If we can all say one-pointly, the solution to this world is not segregation; not killing or harming or trying to convert groups from one to another group.  The solution to our world is a united front.  With compassion.  Tolerance.  Forgiveness. 

Religion should never be the root of upheaval.  Religion should be the healer, the biggest healer of the world.  We should teach compassion, teach how to take care of each other.  If we were able to teach this, it’s much better than having to protect and promote our religion.  If a religion has to be protected with people’s lives, I consider that religion has nothing to offer us. 

Religion normally means there is something we all want badly.  Then it doesn’t need any promotion.  Yes, it is something you know what you want.  This is something you know you want to change yourself for the better, to make you a better person.  And I feel that it is silent people’s time to come forward to say the world will never have peace and harmony by killing each other.  There will never be peace in this modern world by saying that everything is based on our belief system. 

So please be kind and be nice to yourself.  Number one is be nice and kind to yourself.  And then everything changes.  And as I say, enjoy your short Easter Holiday. 

The saint from my Holy Isle was called St. Molaise.  He was the founder of the Easter Holiday, see? When I bought Holy Isle, St Molaise’s Cave was just ruined and filthy.  Now I am the caretaker of Holy Isle, I have a beautiful St. Molaise’s drawing in the Cave.  I have a beautiful St. Molaise’s drawing in the office.  I protect, I look after the island’s heritage.  I don’t destroy the heritage just because it is not the same school.  That is wrong!  Because whatever St. Molaise stands for is good. 

So, if you were to go there, you will see the beautiful drawing of St. Molaise in the Cave, and a beautiful drawing of him in my hall.  I want to think that I am one of the protectors of Holy Isle, I look after my ponies, I look after my goats and sheep.  All the beings, we have many refugees.  All the birds take refuge on Holy Isle, because we have 40,000 trees planted and all of them have fruits.  They have a lot of food to eat.  No one has been harming them there so it is a place of refuge. 

And many people say that Lama Yeshe never cares about ponies, but who need to be in charge?  They are in charge of themselves, they know how to look after themselves.  Freedom means there is a price you pay.  Once a woman from Arran caused me so much problem, she owns some horses, and she wrote to an animal welfare agency saying, Lama Yeshe is not looking after his ponies, saying he’s killing them.  They came once, and said this is ok, they came twice, they said it’s ok. 

Then the next time they thought something bad must be happening, so the big boss and everybody else came and they were not so friendly.  They couldn’t get to Holy Isle at first because of bad weather so they stayed overnight on Arran.  But they were determined to come, and then my ponies came down to the area near the jetty and on the day they came, one foal died right in front of them.  He died there, and I thought now it is really going to be a disaster. 

They came, not wanting to talk to anybody, they looked at the ponies, then they went all over the island.  Then the guy came and said to me, ‘Every animal on your island is on top form.  You don’t need to worry.’  I asked him, ‘Can you give me a letter so I can put it up, so this woman never bothers me again?’  See?  Ha-Ha!  So now nobody ever complains because I have this letter hanging there.  And also animal welfare agency will never listen to them because they are healthy ponies.  They wander all over the island as they please.  They are healthy in all aspects in life.  I know there is nothing wrong with them so I now have a peace in my head. 

So!  Say the dedication.       

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