So, I will take a few questions.
Q1: Is there a middle ground between worldly concerns and the spiritual path?
A1: I think in the beginning is a middle ground anyway. You know, so you do not start with the one path and being extreme. Extreme is not really something that is very much needed.
Like I said before, you know, the renunciation is a philosophy of life, not something that you think of once or twice, and then you abandon. It doesn’t function like that. You have to carry on as a philosophy. And the right definition of the right rules and the principle in your life in the spirituality is more to do with the continuity of the awareness of the mind itself. And that makes a greater outcome, a positive outcome. Or at least a majority of the positive outcome can come from that sense of awareness. So that’s more or less the middle ground. And as you continue to practice, and then this ideas of ‘I need to sacrifice this in order to practice Dharma’, that weight tend to dissolve over time.
You know, so, in the beginning, we have a lot of weight. ‘I have this responsibility. I have that responsibility. I cannot abandon this. I cannot abandon that. Because I need to find a middle ground.’ So you start with a middle ground. So, at the end, you know, when you look back after ten or twenty years, the things that you view as a sacrifice, or some sort of heaviness tend to be no longer a heaviness as you continue to practice.
Because your perception of life, the perception of your own reality improves. The cloudy mind dissolves. The clarity becomes more strengthened. And then this so called ‘I need to sacrifice this because I need to practice Dharma’, that idea doesn’t even appear in your mind over the time. So that’s that. It is definitely the middle ground, but continuation of the Dharma practice is the key.
And that goes to people who finished the three years retreat. Like an example., they say, ‘Oh, I finished this retreat. I don’t need to practice anymore.’ But the reality is that three years retreat was just an experiment to oneself. The real retreat is the life that goes on. So, that also has a middle ground. That doesn’t have extreme views.
Q2: So, what happens to beings that fall into the hell realm or the lower realms who can’t practice dharma? How do they get out? Does an enlightened being help them out?
A2: Okay. The teaching goes like this. All the sentient beings whatever the current circumstance may be, every sentient being is bound to be enlightened, bound to be enlightened. Whether it’s sentient being of this universe, or sentient being of a different universe, or sentient being of other planet universe, doesn’t matter. Every sentient being is bound to be enlightened, no matter the circumstance. It’s just a matter of time. But that matter of time is a very long time.
Q3: Okay, so, one person was asking question, ‘I always feel very sleepy when I listen to the teachings or do meditation. Please give me some advice on how to overcome this. And also, a spirit in my own room. What should I do? Thanks.’
A3: How to overcome this? I think what you can do is that you can do the yoga a little bit. You can do some previous Kalu Rinpoche’s yoga. It’s free. It’s there, you know. I have some different yoga but then again that requires a physical presence, so that I can guide more precisely.
You should do some yoga, based on the physical breathing out, breathing in, with the mind and the body combined, synchronizing together in meditative level. And that can be really helpful.
And regarding your saying that you have a spirit in your room, just offer them some sort of གསུར་, like different powders mixed together in a small plate, and you burn them. Make sure there’s no fire alarm. So, just burn and say ‘I offer this one to all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas including you as a spirit. And I wish you all the best for your journey and I make the prayer for you to find the next life.’ Be compassionate. Don’t be fearful. Be compassion. Be generous with your prayers. It’s absolutely harmless.
Q4: Rinpoche, there was one attendant asking how to control the breath？You said at the beginning about the breath and the mind.
A4: Oh yeah, when I say control the breath, I don’t mean that control it in a sense like a balloon, keeping the air. When I say control, what I’m trying to say is that, I’m referring to the awareness of the mind combined together with the air breathing exercise, as well as keeping the air within both of these two in good balance. So, when you have these two in good balance, and then you have the awareness of the mind spontaneously. So, that’s something we have to think about. Because when I say controlling the air, it does not mean like forcing against your will. When I say controlling the air, it means continuation of awareness of air and then also capable of keeping the air in your body part and doing the yoga and synchronizing together and having a sense of awareness of the mind. So, that is very much helpful, I believe.
Q5: Could you give some guidelines for walking meditation? Many thanks!
A5: I think walking meditation have to start with the sitting meditation first. If you don’t have a sitting meditation method or some sort of foundational skills, you cannot do the different movement.
Like an example, Taranatha teaching about Vipassana and Shamata. He said first method of training your mind is to breathe out three times from your nose and along with it. Absolutely detachment from the desire of wanting to speak, wanting to talk, wanting to interact. None of that. Just simply nothingness, but sense of knowing what you’re doing as you breathe out three times along with it.
And then the first step is that when you breathe out and breathe in, just simply witness the air when you breathe out, witness the air when you breathe in. And nothing more, nothing less, simply that. Not having an imagination of where the air went and how the air went and so on. If you have imagination about where the air went and how it went, where it should go and so on, then your mind is distracted. So you have to train your mind base on the breath. Not on the numbers, but base on the breath. That’s number one.
Number two is that, first you have to interact with the sound. Like an example, when you hear the river flowing, you do not imagine the river, you do not imagine where the water is coming from, where the water is landing to or what is the speed, what is the current, but rather just simply listening to the sound itself. Not the imagination of where the sound is coming from. There’s a difference.
Like an example, people who listen to some kind of relaxation music, and that brings their mind in a very relaxing way, that gives them the impression of relaxing, but at the same time, their mind is all over the place. It’s not really the relaxation. It’s more to do with imagination of relaxation. It’s not really, it’s not truly relaxation. So, the truly relaxation is that when you hear the sound of the waterfall or the river, you just simply focus your mind and that with a very gentle attitude. Nothing more than that, nothing less than that, simply the sound wave itself.
And then slowly, you interact when you are walking around, when you see other people talking, and then you simply listen to the echo of the sound, rather than the gossip of the words what they’re talking about. And then slowly after that, when you’re interacting with other people, you are able to continue and maintain your awareness.
And just like that, when you’re walking, when you’re eating, when you’re sleeping, having the awareness. So, the walking, doing other physical engagement meditation tends to start afterwards, not before. So, progress step by step is important. So, like an example, visualizing a syllable. Nowadays, when you say I’m a Buddhist, and then we just jump directly into visualizing 100,000 of this and 100,000 of that, and deities and protectors and so on.
But in Taranatha method and the Niguma method is to visualize the syllable, one syllable, two syllable, then you increase the numbers and the color and so on, over the time. So that’s it .
Q6: My renunciation mind and Shamata meditation is far from perfect, doesn’t mean obstacle for training my bodhicitta or can I practice them simultaneously?
A6: Yes, of course, you can practice simultaneously. You can practice Shamata meditation and renunciation, and then you can practice the bodhicitta as well. You can practice all of that. You have to keep in mind, like an example, a monk vow is not something you receive once and then you never receive again. Monk vow is something that you receive it and every 15 days you renew it, you receive again and again, you renew it. And like a bodhicitta vow, exactly the same, but much more intense. You do three times a day, three times a night, but at least once a day, in our capacity, at least once a day renewing the vow of the bodhicitta. And sometimes we will lose our bodhicitta vow. But that’s the whole point. We continue the bodhicitta vow as much as possible.
Okay, so I think that’s it for this time. And I want to say thank you to our Asian audience and also our European audience and the North American and South American audience and also from India as well. I want to say thank you to all your Dharmic dedication. Hopefully we will do just like this next month. And I have to think about the date because I will be traveling certain places in next month. So that’s it. Okay. So, I just want to say thank you to all our Shangpa Kagyu zoom organizer, Nick, and all that translators here from Asia to Europe, to South America, North America, I want to say thank you for everybody’s effort, to be here to help everybody, to translate my little experience. So, that’s it.
And I want to say thank you everybody and have a good evening. And be safe and many Tashi delek. And when I do my six Mahakala prayer, all of you are in my prayers at all times. Okay. Be safe. Thank you for your time. And see you soon again.
Teaching on Stages in the Path of Illusion，Lesson 3，Part 4
5th Nov. 2021