Easter Retreat 2015 - Talk 3
Good afternoon everybody.
I’m extremely pleased to see our collective good karma today has shown us that the sky is as blue as you could ever see. Yes, and an environment like Scotland, seeing such a blue sky is a very precious moment, because it’s supposed to be one of the wettest and dampest places in Scotland. People used to say to us, ‘why did you Lamas specifically choose such a horrible place?’ But then we say, it was not our choice, it was karma that brought us here. But when you are positive, although it’s true that 15 years ago, if in Lockerbie the sun was shining, if you came here it was raining. You don’t normally see much blue sky, only rain. But lately, because I always think positively, we have many months of sunny summer. When the sun is shining here, you start to see it in Lockerbie.
And you came here to this environment, to learn meditation from Lama Yeshe, and you are very fortunate because if you went on holiday you would be taking a lot of drinks, that just give you a headache. Then you go home with a lot of pollution in your head, a lot of traffic noise, a lot of drinking, a lot of partying, a lot of gossip, and you spent a lot of money. So you come back with not enough energy and no positive mind. But here there’s no more pollution. You have come into a good clean environment.
Now I said to you at the very beginning I am going to make you all very confident meditators. A lot of people somehow are very much afraid of meditating. That’s because when you sit, all you want is a tranquil mind, but all you get is tormented mind. So you get put off, not wanting to meditate. There are three schools of Buddhism and all of them teach meditation. In Zen, or Mahayana Buddhism, it is called Zazen and you just focus your mind on the wall, and meditate as long as you can. Also, in Theravada Buddhism it’s called Vipasana and they use a lot of methods. In Tibetan Buddhism it’s called Shi-ney. The aim of all three is to get into the state of mind where there is no chattering, where you have a space. Like today’s clear weather. But when our brain is so overloaded with information then it is very difficult to find that place.
What is good about Buddhism is that we don’t just sit to find a tranquil mind, we meditate because we want to find this very fulfilled or fulfilling mind. Many people say, I have everything but something is missing, or I have everything but I feel hollow. That missing part, that hollow part, you can’t fill it with money or anything else, except through feeding yourself with positive information. Because I have been meditating for so long, the method I have given you is in one way one of the most advanced methods you could ever get. Saying, ‘not in the past, not in the future, be in the present moment,’ is very, very advanced. In a way it’s also beginner’s meditation, because all beginners want is a tranquil mind. As soon as you sit down, thinking you need to use a method, then you are busy. It’s like, instead of leaving your mind tranquil, you start to create more busyness, thinking, analysing.
But then, do not misunderstand me. When you are trying to think that you have to be doing something with this busy mind, you just keep getting worse and worse. But if you stop trying to tell yourself that, it’s like with a very, very, naughty child – if you stop playing, the child will gradually leave you alone. If you start to play with that naughty child, you make that child very unhappy and miserable, and also it will start to cry. Yes. You can never make that child happy, because you are just engaging so they get excited, overwhelmed, and then they do many things wrong. You get upset, the child gets upset. Just like this, mind should not be played with, when you are learning to meditate. So, when you start your meditation, you always have to think that just simply sitting here with a tranquil mind, doesn’t have a big value. You are going to find clarity in your mind, so that everything you do in your life will benefit all mother sentient beings. For the good of all humanity you learn to meditate. That is very important, see?
Number one, we learn to meditate, because we want to bring change in our life, and we will share whatever we manage to change to the world. So, you do it for the benefit of all humanity. Buddha says we do it for our kind mother sentient beings, but in Europe not everyone feels that their mother is kind! But in Tibet and in Buddhism, mothers are considered the most precious human beings: our mother, who gives us life. So, we say to be able to repay our mother we must engage in this tranquil mind. Unless we get our mind where we want, we can’t achieve what we want to do because it keeps on going in the wrong direction all the time.
We never manage to bring it round to the right direction because our mindfulness is not sharp enough to catch it at the very beginning. That’s why we learn to meditate. I ask all of you to think that meditation is important. Meditation is the foundation of my life. As well as the foundation of all humanity, because a good human being can do many good things. And messed up human beings also can do many bad things. You want to be that good human being who can change the world for better.
So, always think meditation actually means doing nothing, thinking nothing. Yes, so you can’t just complain saying I can’t meditate. Because of what? You are not asked to do anything. Thinking nothing, doing nothing, being able to learn how to sit, physically relaxed, mentally relaxed. Then as I said, this method is the best form I have ever seen, and also many great teachers say that this is the best method of coming into being in the present moment, again and again.
Most of you will never be able to stay in that form for more than 5 seconds. Your mind is going to get funny. It needs something to do. So, then I say you should use a method to anchor it, to anchor the jumping mind.
In the dedication it says that samsara is like an ocean in a hurricane, stirred up with huge waves. So, what you have to do is to catch your shark in the waves. The shark escapes into the ocean with the big waves, so you anchor it. So, you manage to catch your big shark. And now you are not going to let it go, it is anchored.
Visualisation is nothing more than anchoring the mind or giving the opportunity for mind to engage in something. Some people like a very simple method, they don’t like complicated methods. Because, if you use complicated methods to anchor your mind, you can’t figure it out. It just makes you very unhappy. Some people like a very complicated visualisation because simple visualisation does not satisfy them enough.
But, which ever way, you are responsible for yourself, whichever method works for you. Do not keep on changing methods again, and again. If now you want this tea, then this coffee, now tea, now coffee, you will never have satisfaction. You will never get into learning to meditate properly by changing, changing, changing. In the end you have changed everything, but it doesn’t work. You don’t give enough time so, method should be tried for up to six months or one year.
So, if you are very diligent, like I remember when I really wanted to anchor my mind. I did it so vigorously, really looking into objects like this, so the eyes start to see colour or rainbows. They start to appear like a hallucination. If you are meditating and focusing your mind like this and you start to see colour, form or shapes, it means you are putting in too much effort. That means you have to pull it back, you have to relax.
But if your mind is still managing to mess around, then you are not putting in enough effort. That’s when you really need to put in more effort to use the visualisation or whatever method works for you. The purpose is nothing more than just holding your concentration one-pointedly in one object. Either a simple object or something very busy, it will be your choice.
Then remember, do not allow your mind to judge you. Most of you have this so-called judgemental mind, so when your emotional thoughts or whatever arise, you have to judge, see? So, either you feel good or you think, ‘Oh it’s bad, I don’t like that.’ None of this should happen. In meditation we must let go of everything, that means you just focus on whatever object that you are focusing on, but no judgement is involved.
We say in Buddhism that the nature of everything is emptiness. This is very useful to remember. Nothing in this universe started from this beginning-less time and nothing will ever be endless. It starts from somewhere and it’s going to end somewhere. As soon as something comes, it starts to disappear. People are born, people die.
There is no single object which has been there from the very beginning. There will never be a single object that will be endless. So it is easy to think this because we’re not saying that this column, pillar, doesn’t exist, just that they were not there before. This place was just empty space. And this is a mental creation, all composed of bricks and blocks and everything. But even if these houses are left for 100 years, there will be nothing left but dust. So, that is why nothing is solid.
So, if your so-called self has a real, solid problem, you say it’s a problem. But if you really engage properly, first I want you to ask, where is this solid object now? Can you please tell me what colour your solid object of emotion is? You know emotion. ‘It’s real for me, it’s real for me.’ How real is it? Has it got shape, has it got form? Size, colour, is it outside of your body? If it’s inside your body, where is this object that bothers you so much? You will never find it. If you really reflect you see that you created it.
What you do is, if you didn’t feel so good today because someone made you a little bit upset, you think I will be a good person, I will tolerate it. In a few days’ time it will bother you again, then a little more, you’ll feel angry and then you still say ‘I’m a good Buddhist, I’m going to tolerate it.’ Then the third time, then you say, ‘Aaaeeeuugghhh! I’ve tolerated enough.’ This is how things start, see?
But when you see that none of those things are true then they don’t come as such a powerful surge of energy. You see it starts from very small, then gradually, gradually it grows. Even my good Buddhists, I teach them to be tolerant and kind and compassionate people. They think they are going to do it but then some people have not really seen this, they see this as their weakness.
So, I always say to my good Buddhists, number one, you must have intelligence, you don’t let anyone use you like a door mat. When we say that we will have tolerance, that means we forgive and if we forgive, we have tolerance and it helps other people, so then it should be our joy. If we tolerate, if we forgive, we are trying to be nice person.
The other person never knows that you are doing it for his pleasure or her pleasure, but they see it as your weakness and some see you as being very stupid. So, you should never allow anybody to make you like a door mat. You only give in if it benefits others. But it is not benefitting others if you are empowering other people to bully others. There is no benefit for giving into such a thing.
Now we will definitely meditate so you will all be going home saying, ‘it is very good, meditation is simple. I don’t have to think anything, I don’t have to do anything. All I need to do is not to follow, not to lead.’ Then if you think ‘I need something to hold on to’, then visualise.
A simple person is forever happy with a simple object. That means you can have something in front of you and just focus your mind on this, so it’s really anchored there. We say, it’s like concentration on that. It’s like you know, a needle has a head where you put thread. You have to concentrate like this otherwise, you hold the needle and thread and you will never be able to put the thread in the needle head. You will never be able to perfect your mind by putting the needle and thread here, up there, what are people doing, what are people thinking out there. You will never succeed. If you want to succeed, you have to think it is like this (showing something visually) that’s called effort. Because if you don’t put any effort how are you going to tame such a scattered mind?
If you believe in Buddhism, it’s eons, many lifetime’s habit, this lifetime’s habit. You can’t just get rid of them as soon as you want. It has a strong hold over you. The only way you can now help yourself is use methods to focus your mind. Whatever object you are choosing, if this simple object is not satisfactory for you because your mind needs more than just a simple object, then just pick up whatever is very chaotic, very busy in your mind, and just engage with that. It still has meaning.
Your chaotic, busy mind is still occupied, thinking, visualising. This is a very good method for gradually, gradually, taming your mind. So, if you succeed in this then everything becomes easy. In the beginning, when we are learning something, if it is something important, always it is very difficult, isn’t it? You really need to put in effort. Sometimes, it’s a lot of effort.
But when you reach a certain level, you don’t need to put in effort it just rolls on itself. It just becomes simply habit, simply easy. Especially when you see the benefit, then you see the change in your life. I’m teaching everything to do with changing, because, through practicing, I am a very different human being to who I was 35 years ago. That is why I have so much confidence.
Every single one of you can change if you really want to change for the better. But, remember, even in the name of the meditation and Dharma practice, you have less ‘I’ and more about others. Because ‘I’ is not so useful. ‘I’ sometimes causes a lot of problems. When I look into every name we have, in that name we fight. But a name is only identification. Before I became Lama Yeshe I was called Jamdrak. So, now I am Lama Yeshe, and I don’t know where Jamdrak has gone. He doesn’t exist. So, that shows you that this name is just an identification card. All of you are given a name from childhood till you die, and you are trying to protect, promote that name. But, that doesn’t do you any good, see? What you need to look after is your mind. The root of good or bad or whatever you want to call it. The mind is the field, and the seed is compassion.
So meditate because you want to be a better compassionate person. A better caring person. Most important of all is a forgiving person. I’ve been teaching forgiveness to all of you for many years. When it came to me, I was actually very glad I was able to forgive something that normal people were unable to forgive. Someone who killed my brother I was instantly able to forgive, because I feel sorry for the person who killed him. When you practice properly, you can forgive. What benefit do you get if someone takes your friend’s life and you take someone else’s life? There is no benefit. You cannot bring back the person who was already killed. It just creates more misery, more suffering.
We need to use more wisdom. The Buddhist approach is not to look for faults in other people, or other civilisations or beliefs. We must always watch our own mind poisons. The ‘I’ that thinks ‘I want this, I like this, I don’t like this, I like the way this person looks at me, I don’t like the way this person talks to me’. Everything has to do with I, I, I. You have to work on where this silly ‘I’ is and if you don’t find this ‘I’ then you should be relieved. You are no longer going to be enslaved by this ‘I’.
As I said, definitely we are going to meditate for thirty minutes. Meditation is what I said I would teach so, first I want you to sit physically how you want to sit. Never think that you are sitting with so many people. You don’t think you have anybody else there except yourself, just think you are here. Once you are here, you learn to sit physically very relaxed, mentally very relaxed. Then we say your body must be in the right place - and this whole monastery is dedicated for practicing Dharma, so you are in the right location, in the temple.
Now you have managed to bring yourself here for your Easter Holiday. Your physical form is here in the shrine room. And your mind must be with the body. We call it prana-mind. Having your body anchored here and your mind jumping all over the place will serve no useful purpose. But when your mind and body come together we call it prana-mind. When our mind and body are together then we are powerful, awesome. We can change things. We can do things.
When mind escapes every minute then body is just a slave. You can’t do very much without mind. So, you need to remember, my mind and body must be inseparable. Now with Lama’s method, whether it is vipasana or whether it is zazen, whether it is shi-ney, we want to have a tranquil mind. We can visualise our mind right now as a glass full of very muddy water. With that very muddy water we are not able to see through very clearly. So, I would like you to always think, my glass full of muddy water is on the table for thirty minutes. I assure you that the mud in the glass will sink to the very bottom of the glass and you might be able to see something through the glass. This should be our goal.
So, when you are physically relaxed, mentally relaxed, being in the present moment, means not chasing and not leading. Then if your mind needs something to occupy it, choose an object. Simple or complicated is your choice. Then see if you can really be occupied with whatever your chosen object is. Then if you are successful, then you will know what to do in the future.
Ok, thank you.