Meditation Practice

It's very important to meditate on our precious human life. Life is precious and time is precious. So whatever we have is very precious. Life's purpose is to achieve happiness, first temporary happiness and then perfect happiness. During meditation we have to leave behind so many things. In existence there are so many things to do. If we follow our thoughts, we will never be finished. We have to choose what is important in our life for ourselves, our family and our community. When we see something nice we desire to have it. We have to restrain ourselves to take only what is necessary for our life. The dharma teaches us to lead a simple life. This doesn't mean we shouldn't have anything. But if we chase after everything, we will waste so much time. So this is very important. If you have a few minutes in the morning reflect on your precious life, precious time. Life is sometimes up, sometimes down. Everyone has an opportunity to free themselves in this life. If a difficult time arises, we should reflect that it is always possible to be free from the pain.

The purpose of meditation practice and study is to train the mind. Meditation is training the mind, mantra repetition is also training the mind. Whatever we do can be training the mind. There are many methods of meditation. They all exist so we can see our fundamental human nature. All the prayers, meditations, and studies are for the sake of the study wisdom. After study comes contemplation and meditation practice. All three are equally important. You cannot do one without the other. This wisdom can see the nature of emotions, positive and negative, and the nature of the phenomena external to us. Our study shows us that the nature of mind is clear and pure, without contamination, like a crystal that is totally transparent. But the nature of mind is covered by dust, so we cannot see the crystal's light. The covering is only temporary and we need to clean it. The way to clean it is with meditation practice. The dust is temporary, so it can be cleaned. In the beginning we may not realize anything is happening. But practice requires time. Even a poor practitioner like myself sees results from practice. Before we practice we do not see the dust, but practice lets us see it. Practice cleans the dust away and makes the crystal shine. The purpose of practice is to realize the nature of mind. Through understanding this, you will understand so many things. The purpose I have for my practice is to train the mind.

So precious life is important. We should always think about it. Putting our energy in the wrong place does not make sense. Milarepa met his student when sitting outside his cave. He talked to the hunter, explaining precious human birth. He explained to the hunter that a life spent killing was not precious. The hunter became a yogi and eventually a great master. Our next life will be totally different from this. This life is an intermediate state. If we realize this, then our next life will be easy. The most important teaching is precious human life. Ritual is important, but meditation practice is more important. The same is true of study. If you study all the time, it's hard to say if the result is positive. But if study is joined with meditation, the result will be happiness.

It's important to have the right information It took me a long time to find a worthy retreat master. I was ready for retreat in 1990, but I was not comfortable with the decision. The success of practice depends on both the student and the teacher. It's important to know many things about practice. It's important to develop the right motivation, loving kindness and compassion, at the start of a practice session. If you practice for a month or a year you will see some results.

Some emotions are very strong and hard to deal with. Positive thoughts can be transformed into negative thoughts. When that happens, you should be aware so you can deal with them. Your should meditate that your master is in front of you. If you can meditate that your master is inseparable from the Buddha, your mind will calm immediately. If you do not have a master, then meditate that you are inseparable from your yidam. Dissolve your master or yidam into light inside you. Mind is very changeable and can transform quickly, so you can lose your enthusiasm for practice. Thoughts always arise, but you can deal with them.

Do you have questions? The most important thing in practice is to keep your mindful awareness. Mind has to be uncontaminated always. Mind should be concentrated on the object of meditation. Meditation practice requires a quiet environment, so you can experience calm.

Q: Could you explain how to hold the vajra and bell?

A: Hold the vajra at the middle of your chest at the heart level. The vajra represents the male and the bell is the female principal. Hold the bell in the left hand, a little bit down from the vajra in the right hand. In the new traditions you only ring the clapper on one side of the bell instead of both sides.

Q: How about the damaru?

A: Hold it between your thumb and index finger and turn it slowly. Only hold it by two fingers, so the sound is not muffled.

Q: Is it better to recite the Vajrasattva mantra when ringing the bell?

A: You only ring the bell when doing the purification at the end of another sadhana, not while accumulating 100,000 recitations.

Q: Could you explain purifying negative karma and obscurations?

A: Generally there are many ways to purify karma. Developing loving kindness and compassion, if you look inside you will see the nature of mind. When negative thoughts arise, look at how you feel. Sometimes when emotions arise, they take a long time to heal. As long as loving kindness and compassion is there, things are easy to deal with. The meditation on Vajrasattva, reciting the hundred syllable mantra as negativities are expelled, is a very helpful practice. Our mind is like a huge ocean. A strong wind arises, and stirs the ocean, so waves arise. These are the thoughts. In reality they are not separate. At the ultimate level there is no positive and negative karma. There is no buddha and no samsara. Most karma is in the mind. So mindful awareness is important. Karma is hard to understand, but sometimes obvious.

Q: How do you visualize yourself as the deity?

A: Vajra pride is seeing yourself as inseparable from the deity. The two most important things in tantric practice are vajra pride and pure vision, seeing yourself and others as deities. And the other important point is not to criticize women, but to see them all as dakinis. There should be no negative thoughts or criticisms towards them. Then your mind becomes calm and peaceful. Everyone is equal and no one is higher than another.

Q: Should you do the four thoughts that train the mind before any sadhana?

A: Yes, you can do this. I think meditating on the first, precious human birth, is most important for new persons. With more practice and understanding you can meditate on karmic results and impermanence. When you practice your mind should be focused, but relaxed.

Q: What is the significance of the mantra "dza hum bam ho?"

A: The mantra "dza hum bam ho" represents the four immeasurables. The dza is a hook, hum is a lasso bam is shackles, ho is a bell.