Ruling Your World -Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. Aspen Ideas Festival

Uploaded by officialsakyong on 09.05.2012

>> Richard Reoch: I’d just like to mention one or two points
that might not be clear from the other things that have been said;
Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche is one of the highest
and most respected of the incarnate lamas of Tibet.
His title "Sakyong" is a distinctive title which means "Earth Protector";
and it also denotes the fusion in the Shambhala tradition of the spiritual and the secular.
He’s regarded as what is referred to as a Dharma King,
tracing his lineage back to one of the great spiritual and warrior kings of Tibet,
King Gesar of Ling.
He’s also an incarnation of one of the great meditation masters of the previous century,
Mipham the Great;
and as such he is revered as an incarnation of the bodhisattva of wisdom, Manjushri.
But in addition to that impeccable Eastern tradition,
he is also a person who has been thoroughly raised and trained in the Western arts,
way of thinking, and thinking and thinking,
and is uniquely placed to talk to us about ruling your world.
Rinpoche, please address us.
>> Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche: So thank you and welcome.
I’m pleased to be here and delighted to have the opportunity to talk a little bit about my tradition;
and I’ve -- as Richard has mentioned,
I’m sort of kind of right on the cusp between these two traditions.
And these days there’s a lot of interest in meditation;
there’s a lot of interest in it in terms of alternate ways, in terms of how we lead our life.
And I think one of the reasons I chose this title of "Ruling Our World";
which has been pointed out to me on several occasions
that it’s not a very Buddhist sounding title; it sounds a little aggressive;
but I think part of it is is that I think there are many ways
that we can go about leading our life.
And I think one of the things that was sort of actually misunderstood in some ways
in terms of meditation tradition and Buddhism altogether
is that it is not just simply a passive practice;
and what I mean by that is that one has to be proactive in one’s life
and proactive in terms of not using aggression particularly.
And I think conventionally speaking what people do
is the way they go about trying to accomplish what they want
is with a sense of aggression;
and I think that’s very predominant obviously and it’s a lot of discussion taking place here.
But it’s really to do with how can we actually solve issues; how can we have a decent life;
how can I have a sane mind, not completely based upon on self-centeredness;
but based upon compassion, based upon wisdom, based on meditation;
and I think nowadays obviously there’s a lot of work;
and especially prominent obviously is the Dalai Lama in terms of somebody’s symbolizing this,
certainly for the Tibetan people;
but also that the fact that we’re here and discussing these topics
in terms of how we go about doing this; and can we really engage in our world now
using these systems of compassion and understanding?
And so you know obviously I’m here because I think so;
I’m not here to say, "By the way it doesn’t work";
and so I think it’s very much a system of that it is a time,
and I think there’s obviously a tremendous material development that’s taking place;
but ultimately what I found in, in my upbringing is that practices like meditation, so forth,
are very normal in terms of if we want to relate, if we want to have a good life,
if we want to be able to integrate into the world, we have physical disciplines.
And what I was always struck with is that we learn how to do many things;
we’re sent to school for many, many aspects;
but a lot of us do not have actually the training in terms of how to work with our mind.
And so that’s really what meditation practice is.
And the notion of compassion in these things... I think, often in the world what happens is
that people say, "You should be more compassionate. You should be more loving.
You should be more this and that";
and I think we demand that from each other to a certain point.
And within my tradition, really, it’s saying that one has to work on that, one has to develop that.
The compassion in these things are not -- they are there; they’re dormant;
and they’re definitely part of our basic being; but they have to be cultivated.
And that’s really the notion of meditation,
as opposed to meditation simply being time away from the world; it’s very much engaged.
In Tibetan we say "gom"; "Gom" is the word for meditation
and it really literally means familiarity or getting used to or accustomment.
And so what we’re doing in the process of meditating,
we are taking those themes which are valuable to us in our life.
So if, if mindfulness is valuable; if a strong mind is valuable; if compassion is valuable;
then the meditation session is very much that period in the day where we foster that.
And I think in this particular way, then we get used to it; so there’s a quality of integrating it.
And I think that one thing that’s interesting for myself, in terms of how we go about doing this,
clearly here in the institute and I mean just even the term, the ideas, and IdeaFest so forth
is that we have a lot of good ideas; there’s a lot of... that’s come forth;
but really within the tradition is that how do you actually cultivate it;
and how does it become a main thing in our life?
Because often what happens is that we do feel compassionate, we have that;
but then all of a sudden, somebody says something irritating or spiteful, whatever,
and all of sudden we get very angry and we kind of blurt out;
and you know all of a sudden the compassion is gone.
I think that in, you know -- in our tradition one of the things is that like the classic example is
that somebody’s gone into meditation, they’ve been sitting there for many, many months,
if not years, meditating on compassion, thinking about how, you know, wonderful everyone is;
and then as soon as they get out of the meditation cave, a dog goes running by
and they, you know, take the nearest stone and they throw it at... at the dog,
and saying, "Oh, and then you know twenty years of practice has gone out the window".
So, it’s sort of like, how, how do you actually do this; and how do you foster it?
And I think in this particular time and for myself being in this tradition, it’s very,
it’s very easy to have the idea and to feel good about it; but one really has to be proactive;
one has to engage and go forward in that particular direction.
And I think in this way it’s very much looking at seeing what the source is.
I think everyone in a sense has the desire to be happy;
everybody has the desire to want good things, and in, in the, in the process of looking at it
often we go about it in the... in the wrong way or reverse way.
So, you know, a lot of times in the meditation texts and so forth
they talk about this as kind of "göpa" or like we’re being a fool.
And the quality here is that when we go about it,
and I think a lot of us want to be happy, and how do we go about it? How is it that we foster it?
A lot of times is that we get up in the morning and we say, "I want to be happy".
And one of the things that I, I try to encourage here is that
often when we get up in the morning, as I was mentioning,
meditation literally means familiarity;
and people often say, "Oh, by the way, Rinpoche, I do or do not meditate".
And I say, "Well, I can see what you mean; but technically," I say, "everybody is meditating";
because everybody is getting used to or familiarizing
something with their mind as they go through.
It may not necessarily be the best thing; so, you know, in meditation people say,
"Does meditation work or not?". Of course meditation works in the sense
because what you do is you put your mind on something
and then you become familiar with it and you become strong with it.
So in the same way if you reverse it, you can say I’m getting mad at somebody,
and you think about it and you are meditating upon that person;
and then after a while what happens is you become a really good meditator;
and all of a sudden you blurt out something; and you, you say something negative;
and so in the same way you can reverse it. Say, if you want peace or if you want compassion,
how do you go about doing it?
You have to be able to reverse the process; at some point in the day we have to have that.
And the notion of rulership here is is that, when you know, it’s,
it’s almost like saying if we are able to rule our world
or if we are able to be able to have harmony in the world,
rulership here has more to do with harmony, a sense of accomplishing what we want.
And we say true rulership here or true accomplishment
is something that is not always sustained-- short term.
And we say anger and aggression is very short term.
It seems to be the most simple way to solve a problem; so we get mad.
But the thing it’s very high maintenance, the whole process;
so we have to get angry or somebody has to behave in such a way.
And when we begin to look at it we say, "Either I change my attitude
"or somehow develop some sort of inner idea of happiness or contentment,
"or when I get up in the morning in order for things to go well for me,
how many factors have to come into place?".
I mean, so many factors have to come into place.
We get up in the morning saying, "What’s going to happen?".
And essentially what we’re talking about is, is everything going to go well for me today?
And so the notion here is that that is not rulership,
in the sense, it’s just holding on and hopefully things go well.
And I think the notion of proactiveness is here is that we instigate it
and instead of waking up and thinking, you know, “What is my meditation?".
And for most of us, unfortunately, our meditation is, "What about me?".
It’s always about "What about me?".
And then you know if, if I go to the restaurant and so forth and I go out it’s very much,
"Is everything going to be OK for me?"
And when somebody doesn’t do something for me,
all of a sudden who is the person actually feeling the most pain?
It is I; I feel the most pain.
And so when I’m, I’m talking about this kind of quality and saying,
stepping back and looking at it and saying, "Where is happiness in this kind of context?"
And it’s not a matter of joy seeking;
but it’s a matter of just simply being able to be content and satisfied and happy.
In Tibetan we call this word, you know, satisfaction or contentment;
and it’s called "chok-she" and it means knowing enough, knowing what is good.
And, and in, in our tradition it is symbolized by the tiger.
And many of you who have maybe seen prayer flags in Tibet,
they’re raised to the top of the mountain, and on that you’ll see animals, such as the tiger,
the lion, the garuda, the dragon, these symbols. And in Tibet we call this "lungta";
it’s called "windhorse"; and it is like life force vitality, energy.
And what happens is that you take it to the top of the mountain and you -- it flies high;
and what it means is that I’m going to live my life based upon these principles of compassion,
you know, strength, understanding; but I know that I have to develop these.
And in this way we call this "Basic Goodness"; we call it fundamental goodness;
that if we sit and meditate, what do we find? What is it that is in us?
And I always find this interesting because, you know,
you may not find it interesting, but I find it interesting;
in that, in our tradition we have brilliant people, scholars and so forth;
and they go away and, they do, they’re, you know,
kind of, they understand metaphysics and everything and then they say,
"What is it that deep – what is in our mind, what is the heart of it?".
People meditate and have meditated for twenty, thirty, forty years;
and at the end of it, what is it that they find? You know, what is it that they come out saying?
They say, actually what? "At the base of the mind is that mind is good;
it has compassion in it; it has all these elements in it".
Now, you know, they don’t come and say, "You know, it's completely obscured
and I’m a schmuck " and all these kinds of things –
"Everything is going to go wrong", and so forth.
It’s very much that there is this kind of clarity and brilliance.
And what happens is that I think through the day; often we get distracted from this;
in a sense we know this; and, and I feel like, and, and there has to be some point,
especially in this modern time, where it is very busy, our, our, senses are constantly distracted,
and we’re unable to center. And I think this whole, you know...
part of I think why I was asked to speak a little bit is in terms of the well-being track,
and in terms of fundamental well-being, is that if we had a centered
and balanced mind in this way, that is, in a sense, to be expected.
I think here what happens to the people either meditate, people... if ...
I remember it used to be like, oh people say, people say,
"Do you meditate? There’s something wrong with you. Why would you want to do that?".
Right here, and my tradition is saying well, of course, if you want to have a...
I always look at it very practically; if you want to have a healthy body and somebody says,
"By the way I’m eating right and I’m exercising", nobody thinks they’re crazy.
In the same way, saying, "What are you doing to strengthen your mind?
"What are you doing to develop compassion? What are you doing...?
What are you doing to develop these things?".
It’s the same kind of thing; you develop the mind in this particular way.
And I think nowadays because there’s so much stress, you know, a lot,
a lot of times is that we’re unable to, you know, control’s not a good word,
but we’re unable to hold our mind, so that we, you know; we create conflict and so forth.
And it has come to the situation where what is it that we can do?
And we realize that the source of well-beingness does come from the mind.
From our tradition we say that the mind, because of the imbalance in the mind
and irritation in the mind, that it begins to actually effect the physical body;
so therefore illness comes about from that situation;
various things come about from that situation.
You can solve the exterior circumstances to a certain degree; but if you do not solve the in...
and if you do not solve the root of the problem, it’s a basic cause and effect situation.
How can you deal with the basic essence of what is going on?
And I think from this point of view what I feel like we need to do
is be able to support each other in terms of having a inner journey;
a journey which you know we call it a journey of "gewa", or virtue.
And virtue here is not necessarily meaning moralistic;
but it really has a quality of developing these aspects.
And one of the things we all say is that if we begin to look at how we engage in our world,
let’s see what works. And we say that if we want happiness, the root of happiness,
the fundamental root of happiness here is developing virtue;
virtue in the sense of generosity, patience, these aspects.
And from the meditation point of view, we say all happiness comes from virtue;
all suffering comes from non-virtue. Non-virtue here, and again, when I translate it into English
sometimes it has a little bit of a heavy, moralistic kind of connotation.
In Tibetan it doesn’t; it has a, has a more of a sense of fluidity and so forth.
So in a sense, when one, one is loving how does one feel? One feels buoyant; one feels open.
The result of that is happiness. When one is angry, how does one feel? One feels tight.
What is the result of that? It’s suffering; not only for yourself, but for the others.
And in this particular way the session of meditation, the session of self-reflectiveness,
which I think is very important to well-being, is a period where we have that.
And I think more and more as, as I’ve noticed, that more and more people,
more and more kind of engaging, we have to have some sort of personal understanding
or discipline or contemplation or practice.
So very much I encourage contemplation and how we contemplate,
how we use our mind this particular way;
because I think in the same way that we can be sitting here
and that a lot of our things that happened throughout our day
is a result of not being able to manage our mind in a particular way.
So I’ve noticed in meditation for example that if we... if we sit here, most people say,
"By the way, what is meditation?".
You simply put the body in a posture where you can relax,
where there’s least amount of distraction;
and then you begin to focus on breathing; which is a very basic technique.
And what we begin to notice is that we have a lot of thoughts and ideas.
And the notion of rulership, the notion of compassion, the notion of understanding
is that first of all we have to gain the ability to have command, to have...
in Tibet we call it "lesu rungwa", to be able to possess our mind.
And one of the analogies that I always like to use is riding a horse;
I know people like to ride horses here and, and I've... I grew up riding horses;
and the notion is that when you ride a horse, you, you,
you know, you tell it what to do and it does that.
But conventionally speaking when most of us, sort of our mind is more like a wild horse,
a horse that has not been trained. And so what does that feel like?
You know it feels like in the morning you get up and you get on your horse and then you say,
"Horse...," you know, and if - the horse is your mind by the way,
and you can look at your mind and say, "Mind, what kind of day are we going to have?".
You know. And, and, and we can tell our horse, "I want to go right" or "I want to go left";
and if we do not have any command over the horse,
we just hope the horse goes in the right direction. And for most of us, you know,
when we say, "What is a good day?", by the way...
we say, "How was your day?". We say "I had a good day";
that’s the day that our mind followed what we wanted it to do.
You know, our mind kind of followed it. And a lot of times where we, what we,
what we feel like we just say, "That is just how my mind is. You know, my mind is just like that".
So, what we’re actually saying is
is that we should be able to have possession or control over our mind.
And the process of meditation is that synchronicity, is that ability.
And so what is a discursive mind feel like?
It’s a mind where a thought comes up and all of a sudden we’re gone with the thought.
We have no control.
And in meditation sometimes people say. "Oh you’re trying to not think".
And I say, "Well no, we’re not trying to not think, what we’re trying to do is saying...
we’re trying to say, "I have a choice whether I want to think or I don’t want to think".
"I have a choice whether I want to get angry or do not want to get angry".
You know, I should have that ability if it is my mind in this particular way.
So if we have that; if we have rulership of our own mind, then obviously... then in...
in terms of everything else that follows in terms of rulership, in terms of our whole life.
So it’s, it’s very much following this way, and from our kind of, you know tradition of this,
relating with this stuff, Tibetans again, obviously as I mentioned,
like to put animals with every kind of theme; so, the theme is that
once we have some synchronicity with our mind, how does that feel like?
We say it feels like the snow lion; and the snow lion is a, is a creature,
some people say it’s mythical, if you ask most Tibetans,
and next time you see the Dalai Lama you can ask him what, what he thinks.
And one of my teachers came here, very old teacher, and he said,
"Oh, do they have snow frogs over here?"; and I go, "What?" And they go,
"Do they have snow frogs?" And I go, "I don’t don’t think they have snow frogs".
And he goes, "Well, that’s too bad". And I say, "Why is that too bad?".
"Because where you find snow frogs you find snow lions."
And I go, "Oh, oh, OK. That, that makes a lot of sense". [laughter]
And you know the snow lion is in Tibet known as a, as a,
as a creature that is that full of joy and vitality.
And that notion here is that it is symbolizing the joy, and ...
contained within the mind, having been developed.
And I think this is very much the notion of well-being;
how is that we can accomplish this and how is it that we can do this?
And I think you know one of the things that, you know, out of this, time,
and I’m, I’m sure people here because of just curiosity; but also there’s a quality...
I really feel like that everyone has the ability and has the ability to be able to develop this.
And one thing that I always try to encourage people is that when you’re doing meditation,
when you’re doing these things, don’t overdo it.
I always tell people if you’re going to meditate, meditate very briefly,
very short amount of time.
A lot of people come to me and say, "I'm really excited about this", and they go off;
and it’s like eating too big of a meal. You know, you… you get a stomach ache afterwards;
and they say, "I’m, I’m not sure about that meditation; I’m not sure this".
But really what you have to do is manage it, manage it very briefly.
And I think within even this context, to center ourself, there’s a lot of ideas going on,
letting them sink, letting them develop, and then coming about.
And so a lot of the theme here is to do with compassion; it’s to do with understanding.
And why, why is it that we would do this?
We say actually one of the biggest secrets
is that a lot of times we go about trying to be happy ourselves; and the reason we go...,
the reason a lot of times we are unhappy in a sense, is that it is for ourselves;
and we say the secret of happiness is actually doing something for others;
you know, having it for others.
And it was very interesting because when I presented,
you know, to write a book, people wanted some more esoteric stuff;
and my publisher asked me, he said,
"You know, what’s the catch of the book, you know, what’s the sound bite?".
And I said, "I’m not sure if there’s a sound bite". And he said, "What’s the theme of the book?".
And I said, "Well, help others and you’ll be happy".
And they didn’t like that too much; they didn’t go for it too well.
And I said, "But the thing is that’s really, that’s really, you know from my tradition
and the people who I know, who, who are accomplished".
And I guess, it was interesting for me before because years ago
one of the first times that His Holiness the Dalai Lama came here,
I was with him and we were actually in different places in the United States;
and he was unknown; and he was talking about in a sense of compassion;
and people were saying, "That’s ridiculous; that’s not going to work".
And slowly over time his message has gotten out.
And one thing that I always say is that, "How many ...", you know, I tell this to the Tibetans;
You know, when I go back to Tibet I say, "Please continue your spiritual tradition.
"please continue this, the tradition where it is actually,
"Tibet is known for a place where you live your life upon the principles of helping others;
you know, thinking about others".
And when I talk to them I say, "How many Tibetans are there in the world?
Probably, maybe, at the most, six million".
And I said, "How many other kind of refugee groups are there in the world?
There’s many, many. And why is it that Tibetans so well known?".
And I always joke with them, and I say, "It’s not because of our food". You know.
Our food is like..., I always say, "Our food is like the Scottish food of Asia". [laughter]
It’s... there’s... there’s not much to it.
And when I see Tibetan restaurants I say, "Well, what are they serving?". You know?
It’s, it’s, you know, barley and, and boiled meat and, and that’s about it.
And ah you know I say "No, it’s because of our rich tradition". And not only that,
it’s based upon a tradition where people have been put to the most extreme situation;
their country has been taken away; they’ve been tortured and so forth.
I’ve talked to these individuals and when I talk to them, you know, when I go back to Tibet,
some of the old lamas, and they can tell me,
you know, in privacy if they are bitter, if they are angry.
No, they don’t, they, they don’t; I don’t feel that.
They don’t have to pretend to me; they say, you know, uhm,
"What we try to do is that we didn’t want to lose our dignity; so we have compassion".
And some people say, "Well obviously your compassion lost your country".
I mean you know there are many ways of looking at it.
But the thing is that in terms of the effect that it has had; and I feel like if there’s one message
it is in particular at this time at an individual level, and really one of the...,
one of the texts that I used to..., for this book on rulership
was actually an ancient Buddhist king who was being educated and his tutors were telling him,
"If you really want to have rulership, it has to be based upon compassion;
it has to be based upon helping others".
Because when, when, you don’t do that and it’s by aggression there’s always suppression;
people are always trying to get away; people are always doing things behind your back;
they’re gossiping, and doing all kinds of things.
But when you get up in the morning and your intention is to help those,
then people are loyal, they’re loving,
and when you have love and bondage then people work very hard, for... in both ways.
So, in principle, I feel like that is what we’re sort of trying...
what kind of world are we creating? What is it, what is the message we’re trying to send?
And there have been communities that have been based upon this;
there... there have been actually, you know, not just monks,
but they have been lay people, business people, and so forth.
And when we look at it even from a very, you know, technical point of view,
we say the mind - when you look at the mind those individuals who are compassionate,
what are... what do you get from them? They’re happier people;
they’re... they are individuals who have a bigger mind.
And nowadays what people are doing is they need scientific proof, which I think is important,
but they are saying when somebody’s in a compassionate state their mind is more nimble;
they’re able to understand more things, they’re able to balance more ideas.
They’re able to be... make better decisions.
You know, it may be all... may be in this day and age, it comes down to,
if you make a better decision you make more money or something;
but it comes down to this quality.
And so now they’re doing, you know, I’m sure some of you are aware,
scientific tests on this kind of stuff; which is very interesting. And people say to me,
"By the way did you hear that Harvard basically has agreed that meditation works?".
You know. [laughter] And, and, you know, "How does that make you feel?” [laughter]
and I said, "Well, obviously I didn’t need that level of proof; but I appreciate it". [laughter] You know.
But I think it’s, you know, for our day and age I think it’s very important because we...
we are very kind of material, empirical kind of tradition and, and we look at what works.
And I think part of what we’re talking about here is that there is inner development;
there’s a lot of ideas. How do we integrate it? How do we foster it?
And contemplative meditation, where we take our thought, whatever it is:
compassion, loving kindness, the thought, "May, may others not suffer", and foster that.
And for a lot of us it’s very hard. I noticed a lot of times when people go to India,
it’s you know, it’s either black or white.
It’s either they are overwhelmed by the kind of poverty that they see
and then they give away all of their money
or they’re... they don’t know what to do and they don’t do anything.
It’s like you have to have a middle road here;
you have to have a road where you can help; you, you foster it.
In the same way there’s so much coming at us we have to develop these ideas.
And I feel like compassion doesn’t have to be saving the world as such;
but it has to do with having enough understanding,
developing that open mind and heart, where we can see our family; we can see those around us.
Otherwise we become very, very isolated in this particular way.
And, you know, the only thing that I’d like to share is that a lot of this may...
you know there’s a lot of technical aspects to it, but I would like to say that the, you know,
the influence and on myself and why I’m here and so forth
is that the people who I’ve learned from,
they’re very kind of decent people and they’re very happy people.
And what I’ve noticed is that, you know, in my tradition there are a lot are older...;
and the older they get the more childlike they get.
And as they get older, they are less uptight and they are less kind of concerned.
And it was always interesting to me because you see these great masters
and you think they must know a lot of stuff;
and when you meet with them it’s like hanging out with a kid, you know.
And you know that they know a lot of stuff, and they... but they don’t have to prove it;
and they’re very buoyant in this particular way.
And if I was sitting there and I was meditating, all of a sudden
my teacher’s getting more and more uptight, it’d make me a little bit nervous, you know,
and so it’s interesting in this particular way. It’s, it’s, it’s how is it that it’s working?
And I think a lot of times in our society we learn a lot of knowledge;
but is that knowledge liberating? Is it making, is it making, bringing us more levity?
I mean, it’s not to do with it’s not serious; a lot of time things are very serious;
but it doesn’t mean we have to become down on ourselves in this particular way.
So I feel like here the notion of how we going about engaging in our world, we’re at a...
we’re at a time where these themes seemed very far fetched;
but now obviously some of you in your own fields and so forth, prominent and engaged,
it’s like here we are in a world where we’re trying to mix;
and I feel like it’s already inherent; I don’t feel like it’s an Eastern-Western thing.
It’s an inherent thing; how do we develop it?
And one of the things that I always try to do with meditation and these things
is demystify the process. How do you do it?
And one thing I don’t know like is like saying, "Well, that’s what they do".
I grew up in the tradition where again, like I was mentioning, it’s very normal.
And so I think the more we can relax and, say,
the more we can have the ability to work with mind, compassion, understanding, so forth;
and that we raise our children in this way; that they have the ability to do this.
You know it’s, it’s much...
it brings them to a world where we can interchange much more easily.
So again, you know I feel like there’s a level of...
we would like understanding to take place; but understanding, at least from my experience,
is something we have to work at personally too. We have to be able to listen to those next to us,
not only you know our spouses and our friends; but then we’re talking about a different culture,
a culture that doesn’t even agree with the same principles.
And then all of a sudden we’re testing at that level; it’s very difficult;
and I think you know it’s how you make those incremental steps.
So if we can listen a little bit to those around us and then...
and contemplate and develop those aspects; then it has a much more far reaching effect.
So I thought that just with the time that we have we could do a very brief meditation;
and it’s, it’s very simple. And I know that, I was given, three hours to do meditation,
I hope that’s OK with you. [laughter]
So we’ll just do it for one or two minutes.
And again, I don’t want to... as I said, demystification;
you don’t need to be sitting on cushions; chairs are fine.
Just basically what we’re doing is... it’s called familiarity;
and what we’re doing is familiarizing ourselves with what is helpful.
And generally speaking is... especially here, a lot of ideas and so forth;
we’re trying to center ourselves;
and the best way to do that is for our mind to be in the present moment.
So, instead of our mind drifting to the future or the past, of being present
and what is present is the breathing. The breathing is very present.
And so this kind of meditation is called "shi-ne", developing harmony, developing peace.
So you can just put your hands on your thighs;
you know, just, just basically having a correct posture so you can breathe.
There's a relationship between the breathing and the mind. If you change your body you’re...
you’ll begin to notice it will affect your thinking process.
So, just exhale;
and then inhale.
So it’s just simply going back and forth.
And again, just in the back of our mind, we know that there are many things going on;
but right now what’s helpful for us right at this moment is developing strength of mind,
clarity of mind, centeredness of mind.
Just appreciating being alive; no matter what’s going on;
we feel fortunate to be alive and to be here.
If we notice we begin to drift, our mind is drifting; it’s very normal,
we just bring it back to the breath we’re saying, "I don’t want to be thinking right now,
I just want to be going back to the breathing".
Even though there are sounds going on, just simply we're sitting here exhaling and inhaling.
It's important not to be fooled by our inactivity. We are not doing nothing.
We are doing something very prominent and important.
The mind is at the core of all our experiences.
Again if you find the mind drifting away, just come... feel the breathing, exhalation.
It's like being next to a stream;
it's not still; it's moving; but you're just present.
So thank you ladies and gentlemen.
I’m not sure how you do this; but if there’s time people can just ask questions or we just...
>> Participant: Thank you very much, it was a wonderful session. I am a scientist
and I do a lot of unconscious thinking, when I’m exercising, when I’m walking,
in matter of fact my daughter always says,
"Your mind is going so fast you better not trip over some... a piece of concrete or something".
So I appreciate the opportunity to quiet the mind and simply pay attention to breathing;
but do you think there’s a value to the unconscious activity of the mind
in the background while you’re concentrating on the breathing?
And how do you integrate the two processes?
>> SMR: Yeah, I think that, there’s uhm, there’s two kinds of meditation.
One is the, what we call the peace meditation, harmony meditation;
and that has to do with centering the mind and calming it down,
developing the ability not to be dragged away by your thoughts;
and we’re talking about gross thoughts and fantasies, where you’re totally spaced out.
And as we, as we do that, our mind literally becomes stronger.
So I think this is something that again, as scientists, people are realizing
that people who have meditation, apparently part of the brain and organs they actually change
as you develop the ability for your mind to be stronger.
The way I like to think about it, because it’s a physical world,
is like weight lifting or something. Every time you do repetition and you get stronger
and in the same way, every time you bring your mind back,
your mind is actually getting stronger. And so there’s a sense of that you want that ability.
Now at the same time the mind is always, perpetually moving.
It’s a, you know, and it’s..., they say in the Buddhist terminology they say
it’s recreating itself at least 360 times in a second... in a snap of a finger; so it’s a movement process.
And so... but we don’t have that level of sensitivity to see that.
What we see is random thoughts and images coming.
And so what we want to have to do is first have the ability to have some space in the mind,
so that then you can bring your prominent ideas into your sphere;
so if you’re trying to you know contemplate certain, you know,
I’m not sure what area you’re dealing with, but you want to bring that in,
and that’s called contemplative meditation. In Tibetan we call that "tön gompa",
"tön" means meaning, or we call it "je gom", or analytical meditation,
so you’re analyze and look at something, and as you analyze...,
now if you analyze without a steady mind then you can draw very little conclusion to it.
So what you do is... but you need the first one in order to do the second one;
but it’s not necessarily a sequential step.
You don’t spend months and months just doing one and then you’re going to another one.
What you do is you develop a certain amount and you come back and forth.
So it’s a very cyclical process. You do one thing; you come back.
And as you’re mentioning, then once you have the ability, then when you are engaged
in gardening, walking, bicycling, whatever it may be,
you have the ability to remain focused and have an idea.
But what you want to do is make sure that those ideas are not in a sense, destabilizing,
because otherwise then what happens is the mind gets turned
and all of a sudden you get very random thoughts coming
and then you get totally distracted.
So I think it’s a balance; and I think one thing is is that you know in our tradition we say
(..??) gompa (..??), which means "He’s a good meditator".
And what that means is the ability of an individual to be able to determine
what’s enough in this sphere, so how to go back and forth.
So I think it’s very much... you know as opposed to
I think a lot of times people get too simplistic with meditation
and it is just they only know one technique;
you have to know a couple of techniques; because the mind is very clever, as you know.
Okay. There's one here
>> Participant: Yes, it seems when you talked about happiness and contentment
that possibly happiness and contentment is not a place to go to, but a place to come from.
>> SMR: Right. I think it’s, ... contentment is, is the, is the result, in a sense,
and you know intention is... intention is the cause.
And also what you’re saying in terms of that intention is out of happiness,
it's out of a good thought, you know, happiness, intention. When you have the thought,
an intention of wanting to do something, it provides...
and a lot of times when we use, at least in Buddhism we use a logic....
We don’t say it’s a particularly linear logic; it’s a cyclical logic in a sense;
so you’ll have a moment where you arise up and you’ll have a moment of insight and happiness
that comes about and then that creates further happiness.
And I think that’s what we’re really talking about.
But what I you know what... the only thing I wanted to present is that a lot of times
we think happiness is just sort of accidental; and really what we’re saying is that from...
when you look at the mind, every kind of experience you’re having
has to have a cause and a condition; so what causes and conditions are creating it?
And I think that... it’s just more to be curious about that.
>> Participant: You talked about meditation leading to compassion.
How does meditation lead to compassion;
and are there special processes that you use to achieve that?
>> SMR: Definitely. I think that... I think one thing that’s important is to understand
is that meditation is not the goal, it’s the path; it’s the process;
so, it’s the same thing, like for example, if...
those of you who know kind of the story of the Buddha, the Buddha meditated;
but after meditating for six years he got up and engaged.
So compassion... there’s you know, contemplative compassion,
generating as you’re meditating,
and then there’s engaged meditation.
So we say in order to have compassion, you have to have it at two stages.
You have to develop the intention, the motivation, and in Tibetan we call it "kunglong";
kunglong is a word that means "for the mind to rise up".
It’s kind of very closely connected to the English to be inspired or spirit.
When you have spirit, you are engaged.
And my understanding is also that the word spirit also has to do with mindfulness;
so the notion is when your mind is engaged to do something,
so then meditation means you just get more and more comfortable
and strengthen that quality of engagement of compassion.
And compassion here... you know, I mean in terms of what this process is saying is
compassion is the thought and intention for the suffering of others to cease.
So when you see a dog like being hit by a car, when you see that, your first reaction,
visceral reaction, before you know the reasons, is that you just want it to stop;
you don’t want that pain to take place. That is deep rooted compassion.
That’s an immediate aspect of our mind.
Our immediate aspect is not, "Good I’m glad the dog is gone", we don’t think that, later we say,
"Well, it was an obnoxious dog"; whatever it may be, but initially it’s that.
And the notion is that’s an aspect of the mind. It’s you know, it’s innate part of the mind.
So we say that in order to bring that about we become more familiar with it;
but often what happens is that we are two or three or four thoughts ahead of that;
so when we see somebody, we don’t see their suffering.
So later when we’re more relaxed, we say,
"You know the reason the person cut me off in traffic
was because they’re late and their child is home sick". You know.
And then we have compassion, we have more understanding.
But initially all we see is, you know, is that something’s wrong.
And then the next stage really here is developing that aspect, you know;
and then once you have that, then your, your, you know, your,
your, ability to actually want to help and... then I think then your life begins to change;
because all of a sudden it’s much more, much more open.
And they say the mind that is compassionate is a more open mind, in a sense;
it is a mind that sees more what’s going on, because that’s the reality of what’s actually taking place.
We’re not saying... we’re not creating suffering; suffering is already taking place;
we are noticing it.
What is the obvious reaction we should have toward suffering?
We would like it to cease. You know? And then, how do you do that?
>> Participant: I wanted to ask a bit more about how meditation can be used
as a process for achieving compassion and ultimately social justice.
I work in the, in the field of human rights where I work through networks
where we’re trying to achieve social justice; but often times we found in these networks that,
while we’re trying to achieve social justice through human rights,
we’re not actually applying human rights to our own relationships with each other;
because there’s so much competition over resources, and recognition, and so forth;
and we’ve talked about that: how can we apply human rights to our own personal relationships?
And so I’m wondering how, how... what meditation can teach us about,
about achieving compassion and in our personal relationships with each other
in a deeply competitive world and how that can be a step toward achieving social justice?
>> SMR: Well I think you know one thing is that compassion allows for the individuals
to be more content and happy; and so when that happens, we say a compassionate mind,
a personal mind of compassion it’s much more strong and sustaining.
So an individual who’s compassionate has more fortitude;
so you actually will be in the long run being able to sustain and be more active and to continue.
So one of the things... it’s just very practical in a sense, that we need to develop ourselves;
because if you want to accomplish what you want, social justice, that is a long term goal.
And I think one of the things we’re talking about here is is that we say, you know,
compassion, the path of peace is slower; but it’s ultimately stronger, and it’s more sustained.
So I think the quality here is that we need be able to internalize that and see that
and through the process of ourselves working with our own mind.
And when you do compassion, you know, you, you bring up images in your mind, saying,
"I was an idiot, why did I do that and do this?". As you work through this
you develop compassion for yourself; you understand your mind more;
so when you begin to relate with other people
and they do stupid things you have much more basis of understanding,
as opposed to just being very tight and all of a sudden bouncing back.
And then all of a sudden you create a bad image for your cause, you know,
because all of a sudden, "Well they’re, they’re upset,
why should we listen to them; what do they have to offer us?".
And I think really here it’s a process and I think it’s a quality of where,
you know we’re not going to do it perfectly ourselves, but we do need that basis.
And you know, I think that it’s, it’s a quality of you should be happy
and the more kind of, not ha-ha happy, but the quality of synchronicity
and enjoyment of what you’re doing.
And what I’ve noticed is that in a lot of social causes that people get burnt out.
And you know all of a sudden they’re fine, but four years later they’re no longer doing it
or they get used up.
And, you know, the thing is that what I’ve noticed with at least talking about people
who I learned from they’re... they keep going,
it’s very... you get this very strong sense it’s not going to run out.
And I think that has to be integrated. And that’s true, genuine under...
like that’s not just thinking it’s kind of real, but it’s feeling it’s real;
and there has to be, you know, that quality.
So meditation, again, just take that word away from what it is; it’s like saying,
"I would like compassion. What is the process I need to develop it?".
And we say if you are very skilled you can develop compassion as you do it,
but thus... those individuals who are very skilled...
the rest of us who are a little slower have to take time and meditate and develop it,
quietly, and then apply it; and then it gets tested and you go back and forth.
>> Moderator: Thank you. I think that’s the end of our time,
but I’d invite you to join the Sakyong at the bookstore [indistinct] for a book signing.
Thank you very much. [clapping]
SMR: Thank you. [clapping]