QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

This is a copy of questions and answers I undertook to become a meditation teacher.

 

TEST PAPER ONE

 

  1. In your own words, what is meditation?

 

 

Meditation has two aspects:

 

  1. Methods for being at peace.
  2. ‘Being’ at peace.

     

    One is the path, and the other is the fruition. The path is uncovering the creations of a confused “I”. The fruition is the absence of a confused “I”. Meditation is becoming familiar with just ‘being’, which is pure, knowing, inner space. Meditation is being mindful of our ‘space invaders’!

 

 

  1. Provide a brief outline on the history of meditation.

 

 

The conventional idea of meditation probably originated 5000 years ago with the Vedantic traditions in India, and has been taken up many other traditions since then. It is now well established in the west. However, as meditation is naturally resting in ‘pure being’, it cannot be said to have been created. We are naturally beings of pure awareness, and methods have been developed to remove the obscurations that surround this pure awareness.

 

 

  1. How do we become aware of our awareness?

 

 

This is a huge topic, and has to do with clarity. Through meditation, we are simply aware of being aware. However, this is not the same as ‘awareness of awareness’. Being aware takes place as appearances of words and images in the mind. We can easily be aware of these – that’s simple. But this is still a duality – me and the observation – which is ‘my’ awareness.

 

In pure meditation, there is only ‘awareness’…pure awareness. To become aware of awareness, one simply becomes aware of that which is aware of this awareness. There is no claiming of that awareness, as there is no time. When awareness is realised, it is found to be empty. It is just ‘being’ there.

 

 

  1. How do we build concentration?

 

 

We build concentration through focusing, first on outer phenomena such as the breath, and then on inner phenomena, such as the thoughts and emotions. Gradually, everything slows down, and our awareness becomes more precise; we become aware of the gap between the breath, thoughts and emotions. Perseverance and discipline are also essential tools.

 

 

  1. What is mindfulness?

 

 

Mindfulness is remembering to be present…now. Once we are in the ‘present,’ we can drop mindfulness, and just ‘be’. If we hold onto mindfulness too tightly, we are trying too hard, and that will create an conceptual obstacle. Just let be.

 

In time, all outer phenomena can help us be mindful as a symbolic teacher, reminding us that everything is of an impermanent nature. We respect it but no longer react or cling to it – and this includes the emotions.

 

 

  1. Why should we meditate?

 

 

Before we can meditate we need to understand and recognise the need for meditation, otherwise we will not appreciate or value it. Meditation is a way to recognise our true natural being. It could be said that once we recognise our pure awareness, meditation is merely the continuity of that, which then reflects our conduct when mingling in the world.

 

The effect of this is that we will recognise our natural happiness, which has been there all the time. With that confidence, we naturally love others, unconditionally.

 

 

7.What is impermanence?

 

 

It is the nature of all things in the universe. Everything is created by causes and conditions. Everything has a beginning, a middle and an end, and so cannot be said to truly exist, as it is not constant and everlasting. The same applies to thoughts and emotions in the mind. Outer things and our self image only seem to be permanent and real: they are a relative/conventional truth. If there is a relative reality (seeming to to real), then there is an ultimate reality. That is what meditation is all about – that which is constant is our pure being.

 

 

  1. Briefly explain yoga.

 

 

Awareness of body and mind in stillness and in movement, allowing the subtle body, the winds channels and energies to flow freely and be in their right place.

 

 

TEST PAPER TWO

 

  1. Give a brief history of Buddhism.

 

 

On a conventional level, Buddhism started with the awakening of Siddhatha in India. The word ‘Buddha’ means Awake (Bud) and Pure (dha). Pure means that all karma is exhausted, as all fixated imprints in the mind are gone.

 

The Buddha taught what is known as the three turnings of the wheel, or three levels of teachings: Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana. Subsequently, the Mahamudra and Dzogchen teaching were introduced later.

 

The Hinayana (now commonly known as Theravada) was established in Burma, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam regions. The Mahayana teaching spread to China and Japan. The Vajrayana were established in India and Tibet.

 

In Tibet, there are four main schools of Buddhism: Gelupa, Sukya, Kagyu and Nyingma. All school have a slight variation and emphasis. Mahamudra and Dzogchen teaching were prevalent in Tibet and contain secret teachings (in the sense that non-practitioners would not recognise the teachings as such – they are self-secret). Zen has a similar feel to these two, although it is a different tradition.

 

Within the Four school there are nine vehicle (levels). It is interesting that at each level, the same words are used but the meaning changes.

 

There are various forms of meditation in Buddhism: pure meditation, devotional meditation, compassion meditation and analytical meditation.

 

The main difference in the levels is perhaps their approach to the emotions. Simply, at one level emotions are to be avoided. At another level antidotes are applied, and yet another that the emotions are seen as wisdoms. Finally, the the emotions are seen as never existing in the first place.

All schools are now well established in the west.

 

 

 

  1. What is Zen?

 

What isn’t Zen?!

 

Paradox is a part of Zen, and the teaching of Zen. A paradox nudges our mind into a direction other than the routine, eg “Zen is nothing and yet everything”.What is the sound of one hand clapping?

Zen is not dependent on the written word. The teaching of directly pointing to one’s nature,
recognising it, and becoming Buddha is similar to Dzogchen, Mahamudra and the Tao.

3. Give your reasons why you do or do not believe in the existence of God.

I neither believe or disbelieve in the existence of God. I believe in the very nature of God.

The word – and meaning – of God may be seen from many aspects. We all are on a journey, or rather climbing a mountain, and there are different methods of climbing. When we reach the top it will be the same view…we may just use different words to describe it. That pure awareness = pure view = pure God.

The very nature of G o d is Compassion Knowing Emptiness/Purity. It is in all of us.

  1. Is meditation the same as hypnosis or deep relaxation?

From what I gather from the CD supplied with our material, the deep relaxation of awareness of the body on the disc seems similar, and is the basis for the stillness of mind.

However, there is no trance-like state in meditation because we are fully aware of our body and surroundings, and what is going on in the mind. Most importantly of all, we are in control.

  1. Give a brief outline of a guided relaxation process.

Become aware of the weight of the body sitting, on a chair or cushion. Feel the sense of touch and the play of air on the skin. Allow all the sense to be wide open; hearing, smell, taste, and the quality of light. This will bring you into the present moment…here…now. Notice the breathing, and how gentle it is – inhalation, a slight pause, exhalation, a slight pause. To be more precise, become aware of the air in the nostrils and that the fact that one nostril could be more open than the other: there is a direct connection between the breath and the mind.

The back should be straight and relaxed, not stiff; adjust it so it is comfortable Become aware of any tensions in the facial muscles. Relax the tongue, allowing it to just touch behind the upper teeth. Hands naturally resting on the thighs or lap.

When the body is straight, the breath is straight, and oxygen and energies will flow easily. This will allow the mind to clear and the heart to open. Rest naturally. Eyes slightly open, not focusing on anything in particular but merely having a wide peripheral view. Close the eyes if you wish, but be aware of the tendency to fall asleep. Adjust to suit.

Allow outside stimuli to come and go…come to pass. Thoughts will naturally arise; acknowledge them as a door man at a hotel, but do not follow them in – just say “Hello good bye”. The point is not to stop or block thoughts, but to be aware of them.

It is interesting that we cannot think of two things at the same time, and so when a thought arises that seems out of control, acknowledging it by saying in mind, “Thinking, thinking, thinking!” In that very moment, as two thoughts cannot appear in the same space at once, a gap is produced. We merely rest in that gap, that empty s p a c e.

We are now free, no longer limited to chasing phantoms. We can do that later. If thoughts seem to be getting worse, they are not: rather, you are just noticing more.

Even though we may recognise that the mind can be thought-free, there is still a conceptualisation going on because there is remains a ‘me’ being ‘aware’. We need to go to the next stage of looking into that which is aware of the process.

  1. What is the meaning of the breath?

While there is breath, there is life. However, one day, we will have to do without it! The breath is used to deepen relaxation, as it slows down. There is also an inner breath or wind, and when one is anxious, a tension occurs in the upper body. We feel it in the head, throat, heart or gut. When we meet someone who bothers us, we can feel the energy rise: we may feel restriction or tension in part of our body. We can get a bit hot “under the collar”, and it’s quite a problem for modern humans, as we have become speedy people. This the inner wind rising, and this exercise is perfect for bringing down that energy.

We can use the physical breath to bring this subtle breath down to where it should be, just below the navel. We do this by mentally scanning the body for the tension, and with a gentle breath, take the awareness down to below the navel, where it should be naturally. The tummy area will slightly fill out: hold it for a few seconds, and then gently release, leaving a little breath down at the navel.

Do this for however long it takes to feel grounded. It really does work and is truly relaxing. On meeting someone who causes you to experience anxiety (normally a family member!), just observe the inner wind rising and try this exercise.

  1. How do we position and prepare ourselves for a meditation session?

With enthusiasm! This is time for ourselves. Choose a quiet, clean place in which to relax, to step out of normal busy routines. Loose clothing, a comfortable cushion or chair…and perhaps a nice blanket, just to stop draughts.

Have something inspiring at hand to read. Maybe an image that you like- a image of Buddha/Christ anything that inspires. A symbol, a candle for light, a stone – whatever brings joy to the mind and one can focus on.

As stated before, sit comfortably on a chair or on a cushion on the floor. The back is held straight but relaxed in order to allow the body to breath freely. Hands on the lap or thighs. Eyes slightly open to be aware of nowness and to stop sleepiness (or the eyes can close if you wish). The tongue is placed just behind the upper teeth, to relax the jaw. Senses wide open to allow awareness to expand.

Be kind to yourself, and just allow what happens to happen. The mind will automatically bring up images from the past, and just note and let them go. In that way no karma is produced. Now you are ready!

If you choose a time to meditate, stick to it. It instills discipline, completes an activity and avoids the temptation to give in to one’s fancies. There is a commitment to a time to start and finish: such a routine is beneficial because we are easily distracted. When you know it’s time for a meditation session, your mind and body fall in to that pattern.

  1. How do we deal with pain in a meditation session?

First of all, don’t be too harsh on yourself. It takes time for the body to adjust to just sitting. Normally, there is pain in the knees or back, but this will get better as we practice. No pain, no gain! If it’s acute, just stretch relax and return. Sometimes a pain can occur because we feel bored; in that case, we need a little discipline. Merely observe the pain, and let it be, so it does not become a habit.

If it persists, take a short break. It’s often good to break the meditation, as you might be enjoying the practice too much! That would means we are clinging to the practice, and any interruption might make us angry and would cause us mental pain. Everything can be part of meditation.

TEST PAPER THREE

  1. When is the best time to meditate?

Any time you wish! We cannot be dogmatic. However, if you are really keen, then just before sunrise and sunset are best, as it’s quiet then. Twenty to forty minutes is fine, but if that’s not possible, ten to twenty minutes. It does take the system a little while to slow down before we rush off again.

If you can find a few moment during the day, that really helps to maintain mindfulness. A short one session before bed, as just falling quiet can help us to sleep better and rise fresher in the morning. If you go to bed with things on your mind, or straight from the stimulation of watching TV, your sleep pattern can be affected.

  1. Briefly outline walking meditation.

Walking meditation is merely experiencing the precise (very precise) process of movement. Merely being in the present moment of observing the muscles and bones at each stage, from raising a foot to placing it on the ground. It’s similar to Tai Chi but cheaper!

  1. What food or drink should one avoid before meditating?

Alcohol is not useful, or eating a heavy meal. That is why early mornings are best, before breakfast.

  1. Briefly outline some factors that keep closing our hearts.

There are three factors: I want, I don’t want and I don’t care.

Basically, it is because of selfishness; we lack love at that moment. But we should avoid being too harsh with ourselves…we all do this. We are sentient beings (having mind), and this means that we have a strong sense of “I”. A self-cherishing identity of ‘me first’. We are naturally pure spacious compassionate awareness. This is our true nature, but we have learnt to fill this sacred divine precious space with “ME” in the centre of the picture.

Most conversation revolve around ‘me’; when people talk, often it’s ‘all about me’! Compassion and love is all about benefitting others: Love thy neighbour more than thyself.

The main factor of a closed heart is ‘me’ and ‘my’ feelings.

  1. What is a Koan?

Koans are statements or questions that resist being ‘solved’ by rational thought. Rather, they need to be experienced to create greater spiritual awareness. The famous example is, “What is the sound of one hand clapping,” They are inaccessible to rational understanding, yet may be accessible to intuition. Trying to solve a koan is intended to exhaust the analytic intellect and lead the mind into a gap of awareness.

At first a blank awareness, then just awareness.

  1. What is our soft spot?

Empathy! We all carry some sort of wound. We have all experienced suffering in the past which, if triggered, brings up feelings about that occasion. It’s our tender spot. However, this very experience can allow us to empathise with another’s suffering, with their tender spot. That empathy, or loving kindness, can meet another’s mind and help in the process of healing …that’s love for you.

  1. How do we face our demons?

First we have to recognise what these demons are. What is their nature? Because we have a strong self identity – our acquired mentally constructed image – we have to maintain it and defend it. That creates all our hopes and fears, and likes and dislikes – they are the demons! All we have to do is recognise that, and just let go. All our thoughts and feeling are products from our past, and if we react to them, we merely feed and strengthen our demons. If we just note them and don’t react, they have no power. It is that simple, but of course not that easy.

  1. What is procrastination?

I’ll put it off till later.” We all get a bit lazy and prefer comfort, so much so that we sleep “perchance to dream”. This is ego (ego is just consciousness clinging to ideas): ego – consciousness fixating on ideas about itself – wants to maintain its habitual concepts.

From a spiritual point of view, being busy can be considered laziness. We get so involved in our busy interesting lives that we cannot be bothered to stop, and just be: our business becomes an avoidance tactic. We may say to ourselves, “Meditation is so boring.” It’s important to realise that the world in which we are caught up, offers endless entertainment.

Boringness is such a relief from all those distractions. Meditation helps us value what is and what is not important. As nothing lasts for ever, it’s better to wake up now. Find your meditation cushion, put your bum on it, and get out of the dream and be free!

If we keep putting our spiritual journey off, we will be too old and tried to start!

FINAL TEST PAPER AND THESIS.

  1. How do we deepen our awareness?

By merely looking into that awareness. Awareness is perception – our basic consciousness that is aware of things out there, or in the mind. This awareness can name things, but it also has a claim to them: “my awareness” is not “pure awareness”.

In the absolute stillness of meditation, there is merely awareness, with no “I” present, in the sense of “I” being ideas about ourselves and our awareness. This pure awareness has a knowing quality: not in the sense that is knows ‘something’. There is just a knowing quality.

When there is a knower and a thing known, that is duality. This and that.

In absolute meditation, there is merely knowing. To be more precise, this is ‘barely’ knowing.

By merely looking into awareness, we realise the awareness of awareness, which is empty and untainted.

  1. How is form emptiness and emptiness form?

Form is emptiness:

All phenomena (forms) are of an illusory nature, being impermanent. They are empty of any true existence, and have only a seeming reality. Therefore, forms are empty.

Seeing these illusions is reality. Believing these illusions to be real is delusion.

Emptiness is form:

There are two ways to look at this. One is that emptiness allows all temporary forms to arise and dissolve.

The other aspect is that, even though we say that emptiness is also form, emptiness is not a thing. ‘We’ look into emptiness and find emptiness – thus the emptiness of emptiness.

  1. What is a meditation retreat?

It is a place with boundaries. Boundaries of body, speech and mind. It’s a time for a real break from routine life, to just be. It is a place to practise being aware of our body, speech and mind. If we are doing this in a group, it’s normally timetabled, with certain times to practise, listen to a teaching or experience guided meditation. Silent retreats are a real break!

They are normally set in a quiet place, and are very restful periods in our life. The only problem is coming home…we have to deal with the re-entry shock!

  1. What are the various reasons people come to meditation?

There are two main reasons: one is to lead a better life, and the second is to realise the nature of mind. These are not mutually exclusive, as one leads to the other. We are all at various stages, inclinations and capacities, and we have to start from where we are.

‘Wanting a better life’ and ‘realising the nature of mind’ are phrases that describe the nature of the two truths – relative and absolute – and they work perfectly together.

There are also issues such as loneliness, doubt, health, fear, or just wanting to know more, but these will come under the first heading.

  1. How does meditation affect the body?

It certainly has an effect on the brain: there is much research being carried out in this area. Meditation can be a major factor in relieving some mental health problems, which can also have an effect on our immune systems.

The Dalai Lama granted permission for some monks, who are experienced meditators, to have their brains studied at the University of Wisconsin. The leaders of the study were amazed by what they found in the monks’ brain activity read-outs: during meditation, electroencephalogram patterns increased and remained higher than the initial baseline taken from a non-meditative state.

The body feels lighter and more supple, and tension is reduced…gone! The activity of sitting still becomes easier (and one’s buttocks become firmer!)

  1. Is meditation dangerous?

Yes…to the ego! To the body and mind, not at all.

Meditative awareness is one’s natural state, although as an instructor one has to be aware that people can tend to take things too seriously and try too hard, which will cause problems. That’s why humour is so important: meditation is no big deal, as it’s just being ordinary. Meditation will throw light on our fixations about ourselves, but is easily dealt with when we realise that it’s part of being sentient.

  1. In meditation, how do we clear resentment?

Resentment is disliking something that has happened: it is a product of the past. The past cannot be changed, but one’s reaction to the past can be changed. Obviously, the world is not perfect, and the person we think has wronged us was also subjected to wrongs. It’s called the vicious cycle of existence. Nobody intends to hurt another: mostly, they just lack empathy.

Everyone wants to be happy, but their search for happiness creates suffering because the happiness they seek relies on conditions. If we can understand this, we can acknowledge another’s ignorance, and not exaggerate the situation. If we hold onto the hurt, we are the ones who suffer, and so we create more karma.

Meditation is a matter of letting go…of everything. Letting go of some emotions takes a little time. At any moment our ‘peace’ may be disturbed, and that is precisely the moment to not re-act, but rather go with the flow, by dealing with the situation and then return to peace. Whatever appears in the physical, or the mind, is a product of the past. If we react, we deepen our karmic reactions, creating more karma. If we pause, and refrain from reacting, no karma is created. Then we can respond in a more balanced and creative way.

In real meditation there is no sense of ‘my’ time.

  1. What should we do if we get frightened during meditation?

There are many types of fear, and it will be different for each person. We all have something we would rather not face, but that could control our lives, so we need to take fear apart and face it.

Meditation will bring up all sorts of feelings – fear, hope, doubt etc. Fear arises from aversion to someone or something. Whilst meditating, that idea of fear does not exist…unless a rather large snake actually has you by the throat at that very moment! The fear only exists as an idea which we hold on to, and thus allow it a strangulation hold on our lives.

The world is not a perfect place. We are constantly ambushed by our likes and dislikes that control us. Meditation is seeing clearly what is real and what is not real, although we still have to deal with the effects of our ideas. Gradually, we gain confidence that there is no thing to fear. This is connected with opening the heart.

  1. How would you introduce someone new to meditation?

Meditation is naturally being. Just being is our natural state. It is pure, cognisant and loving, and there is no thing beyond this. Just like a new born…just aware.

But we all learn to conform, to ‘better’ ourselves, to protect ourselves, to others. We create a nice fat “ME”! And it is this that gives rise to all our problems and suffering. Meditation is taking the control back in our lives, and not living other peoples’ dreams.

So meditation is to bring about a balance, and become more intelligent and wise. To realise that we are pure, cognisant and loving…and it was there all the time. We just forgot.

  1. Can you describe nothingness?

No! Nothingness is nothing. It’s the absence of any thing. Outer space is nothingness: it is unlimited empty space. However, there is also inner space, which is empty. This emptiness is pure and has a knowing quality and a unconditional loving quality. Once these qualities are realised and all karma is exhausted, that would be enlightenment.

However, we are held together by our sticky limited karma that was created by causes and effects, and to which we continue to cling. We fill up this pure empty space with our thoughts and emotions: these are the space invaders!

  1. What is your preferred method of meditation?

Dzogchen/Maha Ati/ Rigpa. If one has received the ‘pointing out instruction,’ one has received the ‘view’. This view is empty essence, cognisant nature and unconfined compassionate energy – the three kayas. Meditation is merely the continuity of the view.

This bring us to conduct: how we mingle meditation with ordinary life. The three kayas – Dharmakaya (empty essence), Nirmanakaya (cognisant nature) and Sambogakaya (unconfined compassion) are seen as the wisdoms, and the basis for the three poisons of desire, aversion and ignorance, which arise from our neurotic self-identity. It is the practice of the unity of the two truths. It is the practice of life being the teacher, the symbolic teacher.

I am also a student of Vajrayana, having completed the preliminary ngondro practices, and I engage in devotional deity practice.

  1. What is a good amount of time to sit for?

If I’m advising someone else, twenty minutes is fine at the beginning. Forty five minutes would be excellent as it would allow time for the mind and body to settle down. In actually, if we are being honest, there is probably only two minutes of meditation in a twenty minute session! I meditate for a hour, plus forty five minutes of deity and mantra practice.

  1. Do we sit with our eyes closed or open?

This will depend on the student. Closing eyes is fine if one doesn’t drift off. Slightly open and down is preferable so the awareness is open, this also get us used to being mindful and meditating in daily activity. Personally I have eyes open and looking straight ahead, aware also of peripheral vision, this is Rigpa gaze.

  1. When sitting what should we do when the mind wanders?

Review the importance of meditation, that meditation is the practice of waking up, instead living in a thought dream world. One has to remember one is training the mind so we need to focus very precisely. Perseverance and discipline always pays off. Like a musician we need to practise.

Watching the breath is an excellent method. Try counting the out breaths from one to ten, if we get taken off by thoughts, start at one again! But don’t be too tough on oneself.

Quite often one isn’t grounded enough, so the mind wanders. One can change this by bringing the breath down to below the navel as in the answer to question 6. test one.

We can use the physical breath, to bring this subtle breath down to where it should be, just below the navel. We do this by mentally scanning the body for the tension, and with a gentle breath take the awareness down to below the navel, this is where it should be naturally. The tummy area will slightly fill out, hold it for a few seconds, then gently release, leaving a little breath down at the navel. Do this for however long it takes to feel grounded. It really does work and is truly relaxing. “

  1. Are all things in the universe separate?

All things in the universe are inter-connected. Every thing realises on causes and conditions. From the big bang to our every day lives. In fact our present moment was created by our past action, it’s one long karmic chain reaction! If we do not change our present reaction our future will be the same as now, more or less. That is why we go round in circles!

It begs the question are all beings connected? If there is unconditional love, which is universal, then maybe we are all connected by love!

  1. How would you guide a newcomer/beginner into the meditative state?

Everyone needs a little warm up before they start to meditate to know why they are doing it and to value it. One would ask them what brought them to discover meditation. We need to recognise why we see the need to change. In a relaxed manner one would gentle explain the obstacles that obscure our well being. Meditation is merely training the mind, cutting through those perceived obstacle which never existed in the first place.

So we would go through the practice of body awareness to bring us into the present moment, then to noticing all those circling thoughts and emotions that arise in the mind.

The meditative state is the beginning of freedom from all those limiting concepts we have been taught to value too much. With meditation comes a new you, and a vast view!

17. Final Thesis.

Meditation is the first step to enlightenment. Enlightenment is recognising our essence as emptiness (pure), our nature is knowingness and our capacity as unconfined compassion. There is also the purification of karma, which is the exhaustion of the mental storehouse of fixated defilements we cling to in the mind.

Through meditation, we develop the skills needed to deal with the thoughts and emotions that obscure our view of our true essential nature. We learn how to love ourselves and others, and understand the true nature of everything. Above all, we come to know unconditional love.

Compassion is knowing emptiness. This compassionate emptiness has a knowing quality. When we realise pure knowingness and emptiness, confidence arises, and this gives rise to joy. This joy is compassion and love. However, this joy is accompanied by sadness: the observation that sentient beings, who also have this same essential nature, do not recognise it. This sadness is compassion, and empathy and love then arise.

However, along our path there are a few obstacles. The main obstacle is…you and me! These are relative terms for a mentally constructed “I”, a picture of ourselves. This is a relative reality seemingly real reality. If there relative reality there must be an ultimate reality: one is seemingly real, while the other ‘is’ real.

Meditation is recognising both realities, through pure perception. It is vital to see how they work together. We spend most of our time caught up in the seemingly real reality of ideas; it takes a clear mind to see what is actually going on. Our very nature is already empty and knowing, but we just do not notice it. We are sleeping Buddhas.

Here is what is happening now: FLOWER—–!?!?!MIND!?!?!—-ESSENCE

This is how it is in actuality: FLOWER—MIND—ESSENCE.

Our awareness has been caught up in our mind, and because of this we do not notice pure awareness – our essence – where we actually are. We are only aware of our thoughts and how we feel about them in relation to ourselves and the world around us. Thus we create our world and our suffering, because these ideas have to be maintained and defended.

Our greatest problems is our the emotions: fear, anger, pride, envy and ignorance, which are create by our thoughts and clinging to fixated ideas. These take control of the mind, and can affect our mental health, so we have to know how to deal with them. This is where the practice of meditation comes in.

We have spend many years living with our emotions. They tend to make life seem interesting, but there does come a time when we are fed up of being dragged up and down by them. So what do we do to correct this?

First, we have to go back the creation of “I”. When did it start? If we believe in reincarnation, then we have been hanging onto this “I” for a very long time. Fortunately this creation is constant and so is happening at every moment so we can see it going on now.

At every moment, our pure essence merely reflects like a mirror. It then gets excited by what is perceived, and desire arises. We get distracted – and this is the beginning of ego-clinging. An “I” is created, and pure space becomes solid. When this happens, judgement take place and dislike also occurs. This involvement with likes and dislikes has been going on for a very long time, so from zero we not only have “I want!” and “I don’t want!”, we create a multitude of likes and dislikes…we created our world we live in.

We created a relative truth from nothing, and in doing so, we forgot our absolute truth. Meditation helps us uncover the truth.

There is a secondary problem – the world in which we live. Our modern world is a corporate world of speed, expectations and disappointments. The media, entertainment, sport, films, politics, education, health information, advertising life styles all help to keep our expectations of life at a high level…an unreasonably high level.

Trying to keep up with all this is bound to make us a little depressed, to say the least. We no longer live simple content lives: everything has become quite stressful and exhausting. Meditation can bring about a balance.

So how do we do this? We find a teacher. Not just any teacher, but a teacher who can help us find our own inner teacher – intuition.

There are four types of teacher: the first type shows us the nature of our minds. The second type is an instructor. Together these two reveal the third type of teacher, which is our inner teacher – our pure knowingness. This brings us to the fourth teacher…life, known as the symbolic teacher. This fourth teacher is the understanding of the relationship between the two truths.

Through meditation, we finally see that life itself is meditation: being mindful and aware. There are two truths – life as it is, and our translation of life. Most of the time, this translation of life is living someone else’s dream or expectations, ‘they’ being caught in the very same trap! We learn that we have to better ourselves, when we are alright as we are.

Of course we have to play our part in society, but we have to know when we actually have enough, and be content with that. Not all of us need a fancy fast car, or a showroom house, then spend our lives polishing it! All this merely creates even more emotions – pride and envy come to mind.

So how does meditation deal with emotions?

Well, we have to go back to the creation of relative truth from absolute truth. If we live in a relative conventional world, when an emotion arise we have to use an antidote. For anger we arouse compassion, simple. But the anger will comes back again, and again. This anger arises because there is an “I” not liking what it sees, in it’s self-constructed world.

This is where absolute reality comes in. When one has a glimpse of absolute reality, that is pure empty essence, cognisant nature and unconditional compassion, and an emotion arises, in that very first instant the mind brightens. Let’s take anger. Something is seen that does not seem right. In that very first instance our essence works like a mirror, it just reflects. Now, because we have an inkling of essence that anger reveal wisdom…mirror-like wisdom!

However if we do not know essence then that anger turns into aggression, and we are lost…again! It’s the same with all the negative emotions. In fact it can now be seen that the negative emotion are actually wisdoms, and the emotions never existed in the first place! It is just the feeling of “I” that distracts us from wisdom.

To conclude, for me meditation and spirituality is logical. This is why I follow the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Everything can be taken apart and investigated to its simplest element, being a spiritual engineer, like Occum’s Razor.

There are many ways to map the mind this is but one. There are eight levels of consciousness with the mind. Five are of the senses, the sixth is perception, seventh judgement, and the eighth the storehouse of experience. Information comes via the sense to perception. Almost unnoticed it goes straight to the eighth for reference, then back to the seventh for judgement. This is why we go round in circles, we just re-act! All this can be observed. Meditation helps us break out of this cycle of circling existence. We meditation at the sixth level of consciousness- perception. When perception is clear, we arrive a pure perception!

Information remains information unless it is practiced, only then does it become knowledge. Once we gain knowledge, then wisdom can be realised. Philosophising just stays as philosophising.

I have meditated for over forty year, and am not an expert on this subject. However something has changed in perception, I call it blessings and one seems inspired. Divine blessings, has to do with opening the heart and devotion. When there is pure devotion no “I” is present, it’s the same with compassion. I really notice this when”I” turns the taps off!

There many forms of meditation: pure meditation, devotional meditation, compassionate meditation and analytical meditation. Meditation may not change the world, though that would be nice, but they will change our response to the world, and that’s a start!

There are two aspects to enlightenment: one is to know our true reality, and the other is to purify karma. Karma is a word used to describe the fixated imprints in the mind that we cling to. Karma create the filter we see everything.

Meditation, it’s nice to know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One very important aspect of introducing Eastern-type spirituality to Westerners is that when these methods were developed, in the old world, people were less alert. They also had fewer problems with their emotions. In our modern world, we are much more alert, but also heavily assailed by our emotions and therefore engaging in practices that make us more alert could make people a little crazy. That is why there is a need to be able relax and to deal with emotions: meditation is very important in this, and means that there is less reliance on drugs or other stimulants. 

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