Wednesday, August 5, 2015

How To Make Your Mind More Peaceful, Reduce Suffering and Increase Inner Calm ~ Geshe Lama Ahbay Rinpoche


Geshe Lama Ahbay Tulku Rinpoche
(Jigme Thupten Tender)

Tuesday, August 4, 2015
From notes taken during the teaching.

Rinpoche first explained that the 2 hour session would include an introduction to meditation, half hour meditation, Q & A, Green Tara blessing. The following is Rinpoche's introduction to meditation, selected Q & A and dedication.

I am very glad you are all interested in the dharma. Therefore, we meet here. What is dharma? Dharma means change. All human beings have three things: a human being's body, a human being's mind and a human being's speech. The mind is the boss. The body and speech are like servants. What do we change? We need to change the negative body to a positive body, to change the negative mind to a positive mind and to change negative speech into positive speech. The only method [for this] is meditation. In the world, there are different religions. All religions practice meditation. Today, I am very happy to share meditation. I hope we enjoy a few hours together in this beautiful Tibet House. I will try as much as I can that when you go back home you will bring something unique from me. Do not waste time. Time is very important. I know you are very interested to come here.

Negative body changes to a positive body by meditation. Negative mind changes to a positive mind by meditation. Negative speech changes to positive speech by meditation. Therefore, meditation is so important. Every Tuesday evening Tibet House has meditation. Today we will [learn and practice] meditation.

First, I will tell you five things:
  1. The benefits of meditation
  2. How we sit with our body when we meditate
  3. When to meditate? What is the best time? Morning, afternoon or evening?
  4. How long we meditate
  5. Concentration – How to improve our concentration
I will explain how to understand, study and practice meditation.

1. Benefits of Meditation
If we understand the benefits of meditation, then it is easy [for practice] to follow. Therefore, it is very important to understand the benefits. There are so many benefits. I will tell three of them:

  1. All human beings like us need peace and we do not need suffering. We need peace and we do not need suffering. Peace and suffering are not from the sky or the earth. Peace and suffering come from their own causes. We need peace. How do we get peace? We get peace from the causes of peace. We need to realize what is peace and what are the causes of peace and how to improve these things through meditation. What are the causes of suffering and how do we reduce the causes of suffering through meditation? We can reduce the causes of suffering and improve the causes of peace through meditation. Then, we will get more peace in our mind. Animals cannot do that. Our minds will become more peaceful and happy. When we practice we can create more causes of peace and reduce the negative causes.
  2. When we age, our eyes, ears, smell, taste, etc. All six consciousnesses become weaker and weaker. When we meditate, the mind consciousness gets sharper and sharper and our memory improves, through meditation.
  3. Normally, when we are tired, you come home from work to the house... When we meditate, human beings have three things, I said already, body, mind and speech. The mind will be more relaxed and more powerful.
Americans are interested in physical exercises. Today we [will learn to train] the mind.

2. Meditation Posture
When we meditate in Tibetan Buddhism, how do we do the posture? There are seven steps. Best [Rinpoche pointed to a cushion on the floor]. If you are not comfortable [on a cushion on the floor], a chair is also okay. (Rinpoche demonstrates each of these as he says them.)
  1. Feet – (cross-legged, lotus or half lotus position)
  2. Hands – Four inches below the navel (Right back of hand resting in left palm, thumbs touching and forming a triangle above them; People whose left hand is the dominant hand may put the back of the left hand in the right palm.)
  3. Spine straight
  4. Shoulders – (gently rolled back and relaxed)
  5. Head – (slightly forward; not stiff upward and back, not drooping down)
  6. Eyes – Not so open. If opened, can see different things and the mind goes there (distracted, follows the visual objects). If the eyes are too closed, sleep comes easily. Open slightly and see the tip of the nose.
  7. Tongue tip touches the palate
How we position the body is very important.

3. Best Time to Meditate
Morning is important. Why? Two reasons. 1. The mind is fresher. We slept well and the mind is fresh. In the afternoon and evening it is also good to meditate but the mind is a little tired. When we practice concentration earlier it is more beneficial. 2. Setting our motivation – In the morning it is easier to focus on a positive mind. It is easier to control our negative emotions. It is easier to remember – if I do this I make more suffering, if I do this I become more peaceful. Therefore, morning is best. It is easy to understand.

Rinpoche asked each and every person present how long we have been meditating (duration of session and/or how many months or years).

4. Duration of Meditation Session
Everybody is very interested and has been meditating for a long time (many years). Long time (duration) is not important when we start -- the quality is important. If we meditate too long we get tired and bored. That is not good. Short good quality [is good]. When we go back home from the meditation room, practice is so important. A quiet place is best for meditation. Quiet makes it easier to concentrate; it is easier to concentrate on one point (single-pointedly).

~ ~ ~

The Importance of Meditation for Transforming Our Minds
Yesterday we understood that people are suffering from the negative emotions. What are the negative emotions? Anger, ego, jealousy. Those negative emotions give us more suffering and destroy our inner peace. Therefore, those negative minds change to a more tolerant person. [A person] who has more anger changes to a more tolerant person from meditation. [A person] who has more ego changes to a more humble person through meditation. [A person] who has more jealousy changes to a more compassionate person through meditation. [A person] who has more hatred changes to a more loving person through meditation. [A person] who has more impatience changes to a more patient person through meditation. Those negative emotions make more suffering and destroy our inner peace. Those are our enemies.

In the United States, people think enemies are outside. They are not outside. They are inside. [When we] change the negative emotions to positive emotions, then [we are] very peaceful and have a very happy life. One family – 10 people. Then ten families – 100 people. Then ten times ten families – 1000 people. Then [we create] a happy society. People [mistakenly] believe that happiness is only from material things. People have more material things, whatever they need, but they are not happy. People think a beautiful house, a beautiful car, a beautiful garden will make them happy. They only look outside. How can I improve? How can I practice? We do not practice, we do not improve, so [we have] more suffering.

It is important to understand that I am my own protector and I am my own enemy. We [need to] judge ourselves. In meditation, we talk about the mind. We have three [kinds of] minds: positive, negative and neutral. In 24 hours, if we cause our minds to be positive, negative or neutral depends on us. We try [to cultivate] a mind that is always positive. When we practice, it is a little difficult. When we wake up and it's hot and we come home it's easy to... Our mind goes to the negative easily. When the mind goes to the positive, we have good consequences. Therefore, meditation is so important.

~ ~ ~
5. Concentration
When we meditate, concentration is so important. Bodhisattvas1 have many practices. The main practice is the Six Perfections: 1. Generosity, 2. Ethics, 3. Tolerance, 4. Effort, 5. Concentration, 6. Wisdom. Therefore, when we meditate, concentration is so important. (The Six Perfections are the causes for enlightenment, for peace.) Mental concentration is so important. Many people are not good at concentration. How to develop good concentration?

We meditated in silence for about thirty minutes.
Q & A and Green Tara Blessing followed.

Selected Q & A

Q: How to practice?

Rinpoche: [It is different for] each person. [If one has] more anger, practice tolerance. [If one has] more ego, practice humility. [If one has] more jealousy, practice compassion; more attachment, practice impermanence. Different person, different method.

Q: (Someone described a difficult work situation, which had aroused both deep concern and anger.)

Rinpoche: Think: Today I have a great opportunity to practice tolerance. Because your boss is angry with you, think: I can practice tolerance with my boss. You cannot practice tolerance with the Buddha, the Dharma and these sorts of things. You must understand: Today I have a very great opportunity to practice tolerance with my boss. Today, I have a great opportunity to practice tolerance with my colleagues and to love and have compassion for them.

Q: (The same person describes a real threat in the work place.)

Rinpoche: Check the reality, if [there is] fear or no fear. (i.e., if there is a basis for the fear or not.) If [there is] no fear, then why are you afraid? Practice compassion. Fear brings anger more easily. You must improve your compassion. You have a great opportunity to practice compasssion. Then your fear will gradually reduce.

In reply to another question:

Rinpoche: First we love ourselves. Then we can easily help others. So, first we need to love ourselves.
~ ~ ~

Rinpoche explained and bestowed the Green Tara Blessing.

Now we dedicate. Motivation and dedication are so important. We dedicate the good karma from our body, mind and speech to the enlightenment of all sentient beings. From today, every day, our good karma will grow and grow and grow until we reach enlightenment. All the good karma from our body, speech and mind becomes good karma for all sentient beings.

 ~ ~ ~
Please support Geshe Lama Ahbay Rinpoche's meaningful and important work: 

1. A bodhisattva is a person who is cultivating the causes for peace for the benefit of all beings. 
From Wikipedia: “A bodhisattva is anyone who, motivated by great compassion, has generated bodhicitta, which is a spontaneous wish to attain buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings.” Bodhicitta is the mind of enlightenment, the pure altruistic wish or intention to attain enlightenment, buddhahood, for the benefit of all.

1 comment:

  1. Just a few minutes of meditation can reduce stress and lessen the effects of depression. A study conducted by John Hopkins University during 2014 showed that there is a relationship between meditation and the ability to reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety and pain.

    The scientist in charge of the research, Madhav Goyal, discovered that the impact of meditation is similar to that of medications to treat depression . According to him, “after all, meditation is a way of training the brain. Many people have the idea that meditation is sitting and doing nothing, but that is not true. Meditation is an active training of the mind to increase awareness. ”

    Scientists agree that meditation, while powerful, is not magical: But it is a powerful tool to help manage the symptoms of people with problems.