The Women's Meditation Tradition in Tibet

Uploaded by GoogleTechTalks on 14.06.2010

TOM: Ladies and gentlemen, I'm pleased to announce Wangdrak Rinpoche visiting Google
from Tibet on his first trip to the West. Rinpoche is here to support the nuns of his
nunnery Gebchak Gonpa in Tibet. He's also here to support relief efforts for the recent
Tibetan earthquake that severely damaged regions in Tibet and particularly an orphanage that
his nunnery supports. So I'm very happy to have Rinpoche here speaking at Google today
about these things. I'd also like to advise those of you who will be in San Francisco
tonight that Rinpoche will be speaking at the Urban Dharma Center from 7:30 to 9:00
PM, that's the Dharma Punx, if you're familiar with that organization. And so this presentation
will begin with Caterina De Re giving a brief presentation about the nuns of Gebchak Gonpa
and then we'll turn over to Rinpoche for a brief presentation and then questions. So
thank you all very much for attending, and I'll turn it over to Caterina now. Thank you.
>> DE RE: It's really wonderful to be here. I know Rinpoche is very, very excited. And
it's like even an earthquake in Tibet wasn't going to stop him from coming here. So, I'll
just give you like a brief outline and try to put--give some context of the spiritual
practitioners in the Tibet and Buddhism lineage. So maybe some of you are familiar with this
English woman. Her name is Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo. And this book has become very popular
in the West in the last few years. It's a story of her life written by Vicki Mackenzie.
And Tenzin Palmo was, I think, the second Western woman ever ordained in the Tibetan
Buddhist tradition. And she did it very traditionally with her teachers. And actually did a 12-year
retreat in a cave in Lahul, and so this is a shot when she was actually in that cave.
Tenzin Palmo had really adept teachers. And she also had assigned for her meditation instructors
these very amazing yogis who came out of Tibet in about 1958. And when she was asking them
about her, you know, like, where did they get their incredible training from and how
amazing they were, these yogis told her, "Well, if you think we're great, you should have
met our female counterparts." And so, I think that was her clear guide that for the rest
of her life to try and revive this female lineage in the West and to start a nunnery
who could train in this incredible spiritual practice. And she's become renown throughout
the world for raising the status of nuns, you know. She often told me that Tibetan nuns,
in terms of the social status, were like at the bottom of the barrel. And it was hard
for me to believe her, but apparently this was very true. It's very hard for them to
get funding and to get any kind of status as the men would. So, nunneries don't get
funded as much as the male counterparts and very, very hard for them to get spiritual
training and philosophy and all these things. Of course, the Dalai Lama adores her and respects
her. And she has spoken at the United Nations and really, really doing so much to raise
the status of nuns throughout the world. Then she went to Tibet two years ago in search
of women who had a really strong practice in this yogi tradition that she was looking
for and that in her book talks about this. So she came to Gebchak nunnery in Tibet, she
met Wangdrak Rinpoche who is the abbot of this nunnery. It has about 350 women currently.
And so she was looking for one of the elder nuns who still kept it throughout time. And
here she is with one of the nuns from the nunnery. This nun was being noted for her
visionary adeptness. So let's go to where Rinpoche comes from. Okay. You have China
here. Rinpoche is in this area here. Yushu is where the earthquake happened. So you can
see how close he was. So this is where the earthquake epicenter was. His nuns come from
this region. So very close. So during the earthquake, the nunnery was okay but the temple
was cracked. Rinpoche was in his home village when it struck and he immediately jumped in
a car with a lot of the other monks and drove at breakneck speed to Yushu to literally pull
people from the rubble, which is what he did. This is the view from the nunnery. It's at
14,000 feet. In '59 when things changed in Tibet, the nunnery had about 800 to 1,000
nuns, from what I have been told. Most of them didn't survive. A handful were put in
labor camps and stayed all that time until the '80s, and some escaped to caves and managed
to survive and keep their practices going for 30 years. And in the '80s, when things
relaxed and they were able to do religious practices openly, these elder nuns grouped
together and started to rebuild their nunnery. It was completely flattened to the ground.
So literally, stone for stone, started putting their nunnery together. And then slowly, slowly,
young women started to come and also join the nuns. There are about 30 of those senior
nuns. Now, there's only a handful left. So these are some young nomad girls joining the
nunnery. They do it of their own volition. No one makes them. It's like an honor to be
part of this nunnery. When they join, they do a lot of domestic work for about the first
years, so milking the yaks and tending to things like that and cooking. And as I was
saying, they're literally still putting together their nunneries, stone for stone. And that's
another project that Rinpoche is doing that he needs to rebuild their temple because there's
no electricity, there's no windows, and it's falling apart. What's unique about these women
unlike many other communities of nuns in Tibet and outside of Tibet to be honest is that
they do keep a very pure lineage that actually has been adapted for females. And there's
no other group of community of women probably in the world that has this. So they actually
run the rituals, they lead the rituals, they pass on the rituals to one another, and they learn philosophy but in a very, very
traditional way. The nuns also have a very rigorous form of practice, so most of them
would do a lot of their practices in these boxes, the whole three feet by three feet
for their entire lives. So they go to sleep there and they do their practices there. Of
course, they're doing other things during the day, and they also have refined yoga practices
that they do so they're not going to be harmed in any way. Tenzin Palmo also did this sort
of practice in 12 years staying in the box like that upright
and they're in tiny little houses, so you have--to each little house doing a special
practice is probably 21 to 23 nuns practicing like this in very close proximity to each
other. Sometimes for--like for their entire three-year retreat, their traditional retreat
and sometimes for the rest of their lives, they would practice like this. So it's extremely
rigorous but the results are stunning. These are nuns who are about two and a half years
into their traditional three-year retreat and they let their hair grow during that time.
Many of these nuns too are experts in a practice called Tummo, and that became very well-known
in the West in the '80s through experiments conducted by Dr. Benson, Herbert--oh, sorry--Herbert
Benson who did tests on these monks in Dharamsala and could tell that they could raise their
body temperature by about 40 degrees or something. And these nuns got tested in the winter when
it's about minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit. And they do this Tummo practice, this inner heat
practice, which can actually melt the snow. And they put like sheets on them and they
can dry five sheets in an hour. So they're very adept at producing this heat. And it's
interesting like in the West, the Dalai Lama had to really scramble to try and find practitioners--men
who could do this where at this nunnery, hundreds of them can do it and do it really well. I call these women the gold medalist Olympiads
of training the mind. These are probably the only remaining elder nuns from the pre-1959
days. And these ones hold the lineage. And there are some extraordinary stories on the
web about some of these nuns who--one in particular, Sherab Zangmo who passed away two years ago
who--Rinpoche claimed she was about 103 years old. And through her whole process of dying
remained completely alert, extremely happy, knowing exactly what was happening to her,
and teaching her nuns as she was dying. And then when she actually died sitting upright
in meditation, she passed away sitting up and managed to stay in meditation posture
for seven full days. In the middle of winter minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit, her skin remained
elastic and her heart remained piping hot for a full seven days after her death. Now
for an adept Tibetan Buddhist practitioner, this just happens. This is what they can do.
And it is a sign of the ultimate form of their realization of their meditations. I think
this one has also passed away since and she also had incredible signs of the passing of
her death. This elderly nun now is the head teacher of the nunnery. And this is the woman
I was telling you about who passed away two years ago with extraordinary signs. You can
see stories of her on the web. And I think there, I might just finish because I think
it's more important that Rinpoche actually talk more about these nuns and how special
they are. So I'll leave it over to Rinpoche. >> WANGDRAK: [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]
>> PETTIT: And
I'm really happy to be here today. And I understand that you--my audience here today are very
much concerned about culture and values, and specifically about the significance of this
nunnery and its traditions. And so this shows that you have a great deal of positive energy.
And thank you very much. >> WANGDRAK: [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]
>> PETTIT: Where I live in Tibet, it's really cold and it's also a very high altitude place.
And so now, I'm here in a completely different kind of climate.
>> WANGDRAK: [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE] >> PETTIT: And also, I am particularly delighted having to
come here to see how the--how gender equality is an already established fact of the society,
and also that so many of you really hold this to be an issue of great importance, and that's
been a source of great joy for me. >> WANGDRAK: [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]
>> PETTIT: So in the nunnery, Gebchak Gonpa or Gebchak nunnery, there are about 340 nuns
>> PETTIT: And the nunnery was originally founded by a student of the first Tsoknyi
Rinpoche. Tsoknyi Rinpoche may be familiar to some as a teacher here in America. So his
previous incarnation's disciple by the name of Tsang Yang Gyamtso was the Lama who originally
founded the nunnery on its present site. >> WANGDRAK: [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]
>> PETTIT: Prior to the establishment of Gebchak Gonpa, the--in the Tibetan Buddhist region,
there was really not any well-established tradition or perhaps none at all of nuns living
in their own nunnery and in a self-sustaining and self-governing fashion like this. It really--this
was--the Gebchak Gonpa was the first nunnery to provide this kind of community haven for
>> PETTIT: And so traditionally in Tibet as it was and as it still is today, the opportunities
and choices that are available to men and women in general as well as those that are
open were available monks and nuns in particular are rather distinct. There is quite a large
gap in terms of the degree of opportunity and choice that is available.
>> WANGDRAK: [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE] >> PETTIT: So the Gebchak Gonpa was founded,
based, first and foremost, on the understanding that the potential for awakening or Buddhahood
that is Buddha nature is equally present in all beings and not to mention equally present
in both men and women. However, not withstanding that fact, the opportunities for women to practice meditation
for example, to live a lifestyle conducive to their spiritual aspirations without impediment
and so on were practically non-existent. And so it was an order to make that possible.
In other words, to make it possible for women to have the same opportunity to realize their
full inner potential, their Buddha nature that the Gebchak Gonpa was originally founded.
So, and traditionally, as in today as well, there have been and still are nunneries as
well as monasteries. And in principle, they are founded on the same principles and ordered
by the same ideals. But in Tibetan society in general, the interest that is shown towards
monks is much greater. They're much--people tend to be much more interested in the business
of monks that in the--than in the needs of nuns. And consequently, the tendency has always
been that monasteries become wealthy and influential in society whereas the nunneries tend to be
relatively deprived and much less easily sustained and supported.
>> WANGDRAK: [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE] >> PETTIT: And Rinpoche mentioned earlier
that, you know, the Gonpa is open to young women, older women, as well as girls of a
certain age. In other words, they're all free to join and take advantage of it's--of this
community and its traditions. And, now, Rinpoche says that the--one of the specific hardships
that nuns or unmarried women, for example will experience in Tibetan society is that
even if they stay at home and depend on their parents, for example, for support while they
pursue their practice. When their parents die, once they find themselves without a family,
then they're really vulnerable and don't really have anywhere to go.
>> WANGDRAK: [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE] >> PETTIT: For instance, if there's a son and a daughter
and the daughter is a nun or is unmarried and wants to practice the dharma, once the
parents have passed away and the brother, for instance, marries a wife then more often
than not, the new wife, the new family situation makes her life very--that is the sister, nun
or spiritual aspirant's life really difficult. >> WANGDRAK: [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]
>> PETTIT: And whereas the younger sister or the nun sister is likely to be--they asked
to leave the house if there are two brothers and one of the brothers is a monk, then he
is usually encouraged to stay and is well-attended. >> WANGDRAK: [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]
>> PETTIT: And since my responsibility is to--is to protect and support this community
of more than 300 women, I really have a lot of experience and a lot of sympathy, tremendous
sympathy and understanding for the needs, the plights, and aspirations of women.
>> WANGDRAK: [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE] >> PETTIT: And as far as the spiritual practice
of these nuns is concerned, they are really second to none. They are fantastic adepts
>> PETTIT: Also in terms of the type of Tibetan Buddhist practice that they do, they focus
specifically on three female divinities or divine archetypes in their meditation. The
first, being Tara, and the second being Dorje Pakmo or Vajravarahi, and the third being
Yeshe Tsogyal. So these are three feminine archetypal divinities that they meditate on
in their practice. And also their dharma protectress, that is the, you know, the angel or the protectress
of their tradition and their community is Ekajati who is a fierce feminine manifestation.
>> WANGDRAK: [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE] >> PETTIT: As the most famous woman saint
in Tibetan history, Machig Labdron once said that the--in fact, the nature of all women
>> PETTIT: And
also the Indian master Padmasambhava Guru, Padmasambhava said--and specifically with
reference to the future--the farthest and future situation of the world, so this is
1,200 or 1,300 years ago that in this world, women specifically are like the ground or
the source of all positive qualities in human life and in society itself, and that they
are like the ground of the earth itself from which all of the various fruits and medicines
of the earth are produced. >> WANGDRAK: [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]
>> PETTIT: Also in this tradition of Gebchak Gonpa, there are--there have been and are
many great Siddhas or highly realized adepts. >> WANGDRAK: [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]
>> PETTIT: The primary practice, the fundamental practice of their meditation is love and compassion.
>> WANGDRAK: [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE] >> PETTIT: Since all their practice is founded
on the basic motivation and outlook of love and compassion, the ramifications of their
spiritual practice for their families and anyone else who is connected with them in
their present life is tremendous, has a very positive ripple effect.
>> WANGDRAK: [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE] >> PETTIT: And also even though the surrounding
world or the outside world and the local society of human beings is full of strife and difficulty
and so forth, the nuns are, of course, fully cognizant of this. And their work, their practice
is very much connected and involved with helping to resolve and heal the suffering of the world
at large and they--that they--there are many ways in which they can benefit people outside
of their own community through teaching dharma and saying prayers for people and that kind
>> PETTIT: And one unique tradition of this nunnery is that the practice of three-year
retreat, which is a traditional form of retreat practice or traditional length of time of
cloistered meditation practice in Tibetan Buddhism is done within the nunnery by groups
of about 20 women at a time. And what's unique--one thing that's unique about their former three-year
retreat practice is they all live in the same compound and they all practice as well as
sleep in the same room for the--for the full length of those three years. And even though
they are in such a concentrated situation, they are practicing based on love and compassion
and Bodhicitta or the mind that aspires to reach enlightenment or awakening. And it's
because of that grounding motivation that for the entire time that they're living together
in these close quarters, they're very happy and they get along extremely well.
>> WANGDRAK: [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE] >> PETTIT: And even though the conditions
that they live in are rustic to say the least and also their--the climate is really extremely
harsh for the better part of the year, their internal state, their psychological and spiritual
state is an incredibly blessed and happy one. >> WANGDRAK: [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]
There's a lot that could be told about, you know, what makes their practice in this three-year
retreat so special. But for now, given the time limitations, suffice it to say that what
they are most expert in and most justly famous for is their practice of the techniques involving
the subtle energy and nerve channels of the body.
>> WANGDRAK: [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE] >> PETTIT: And every year, the women who've
been practicing those techniques of the subtle nerve channels and energies and specifically
the practice of inner heat or Tummo, which allows them to survive and exist comfortably
in extremely cold conditions with a minimum of clothing. Every year, the public is invited
for a period of a few days to come and see the nuns demonstrate the level of their accomplishment
in this practice, so it's during the winter. It's very, very cold. It's well below zero
Fahrenheit, and the nuns are adept in inner heat, have a special cloth which they dip
repeatedly in a bowl of water and then wrap around themselves and they spend several days
of uninterrupted meditation drying out this cloth again and again, as a means of demonstration
of their accomplishment. And the public is allowed to come and witness that in fact they're
able to do this. So it's an actual fact that anyone can see.
>> WANGDRAK: [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE] >> PETTIT: So the point that needs to be made
here is that this is not just a legend or a rumor. This is something that anyone who's
able to make it to the nunnery at this time--at that time of year when they--the public is
invited to view the demonstration and actually see for themselves, can actually examine as
much as they want to determine that in fact they really do have this extraordinary ability.
anyone from any place, any country is welcome to come and visit at that time of year and
actually see how this is done. However, because of the sacredness and the rarity of this tradition,
we do not allow anyone to photograph or videotape the nuns while they're demonstrating their
meditative accomplishment of inner heat. That's something that we cannot allow given that
sacredness. However, as many people as wished to come in personally witness what they are
>> PETTIT: And last year, Akong Rinpoche who's a Lama who lived in Scotland came with a few
of his European disciples. >> WANGDRAK: [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]
>> PETTIT: And the reason that they came was the--was the stories that they had heard about
this, a very elderly nun that you heard about earlier. And that was what prompted them to
so here, you see her Sherab Zangmo the centenarian nun who passed away a few years ago. When
she was right at the end of her life and was apparently quite ill, they called in an important
reputed, well-reputed Chinese doctor to examine her. And he took her blood pressure and her
vital signs and said "I'm certain that she will pass away within about three days." And
as soon as she understood that this was a doctor's diagnosis, she perked up immediately
and she said "No, I feel fine." And she just seemed as if suddenly, she seemed to be looking
and feeling a whole lot better and she began to vigorously teach the nuns and she said
"Don't worry about me, I'm happy. I'm, you know, I'm already where I need to be and so
you don't need to worry about me. I feel just fine and I'm not going to die. I don't know
what that guy was talking about. I'm not going to die," and anyway, she--all of her disciples
gathered around her very concerned about what the doctor had said. And that was the--at
that time, that was the opportunity that she had to give her students a lot of important
>> PETTIT: And the Chinese doctor was completely flabbergasted. He couldn't believe his eyes.
He, you know, was asking everyone "What kind of practice is she doing?" I mean and he said
that his, you know, whole life of medical study and research and experience had basically
just completely collapsed. I mean the whole foundation of his understanding of the body
and of medicine was destroyed by what he saw. >> WANGDRAK: [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]
>> PETTIT: And from that point forward, this particular doctor had developed in a tremendous
interest and a research interest as well and trying to understand what the tradition of
their practices, what their techniques are, and how it works. That's become his kind of
a research obsession now. >> WANGDRAK: [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]
>> PETTIT: And
although--so, the doctor had predicted that she would pass away within three days. However,
she lived about--she lived about another week. And when she chose to pass away, she sat up--as
you heard before--she sat up in meditation. And when after she ceased breathing, she remained
seated upright for a period of seven days in the sub-zero winter temperatures of that
region of the area. And during that time, her--the flesh on her limbs remained elastic.
In other words, not frozen, which would have been the case otherwise. And also her heart
area remained warm for a period of seven days after she ceased breathing.
>> WANGDRAK: [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE] >> PETTIT: And so just before she passed away,
the last teaching she gave again and again was basically this, that everything, every
possible thing that exist in the universe depends only on the mind. And also every possible
experience of that mind is purified within the state or by the state of the mind's true
nature. And also that all of the possible qualities of the mind could ever manifest
arise from and that perfected within that ultimate nature of the mind.
>> WANGDRAK: [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE] >> PETTIT: So, this is just one recent individual
in a very long--a very old history of the nunnery which has enumerable stories of great
practitioners like this. But I'm tempted to go into it a bit more but we really don't
have time to do that now. >> WANGDRAK: [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]
>> PETTIT: And so this is what I know from my own direct experience here and you also
>> PETTIT: And so, I'm really, really delighted to have been able to share a little bit with
everyone here today about the extraordinary tradition of this nunnery.
>> WANGDRAK: [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE] >> PETTIT: And now, I'd be--would be happy
to field any questions from the audience. >> So the heating...
>> PETTIT: Inner heats. >> [INDISTINCT] that's the most tangible thing
for me to wrap on to but how much guidance can someone get for that? I mean do they really
[INDISTINCT] searching inside or are there steps they follow? [INDISTINCT] spiritual
contact [INDISTINCT] some kind of [INDISTINCT]? >> PETTIT: And so the question is the practice
of inner heat, is it something or how much instruction and training and guidance is required
for that? And also what is really the spiritual significance of that kind of practice? Does
it have--is it just a practice, practical practice, or does it actually have a spiritual
significance. [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE] >> [INDISTINCT] what is the amount of training?
Like kind of how much direct [INDISTINCT]? Something like you said where you just [INDISTINCT].
>> PETTIT: I've already sort of asked him that, so he'll explain. Yeah.
>> WANGDRAK: [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE] >> PETTIT: This is a really special, unique
practice. It is--there's a tremendous amount that needs to be understood in order to fully
grasp what it's all about. >> WANGDRAK: [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]
>> PETTIT: And
although it's a practice that can be--that the success of which where the mastery which
can be measured in terms of how much heat is produced in meditation on the surface of
the body and could be--and that could be tested in term of the external manifestation of the
practice. But the real purpose and meaning of the practice relates to the training and
purification of the mind. >> WANGDRAK: [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]
>> PETTIT: And specifically, it is a--the practice of inner heat is related to the nervous
>> PETTIT: The subtle body of the--the subtle body or the subtle energy aspect of the human
body is all pervasive wherever--throughout the body.
>> WANGDRAK: [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE] >> PETTIT: The presence or lack of mental
clarity and the level of intelligence on understanding--potential understanding of a person is entirely predicated
upon the state of those nerve--subtle nerve channels.
what tends to happen is that some of the nerve channels of the subtle body become blocked.
In other words, there's no energy able to flow through them because of their blockages
and whereas other channels will become--are become open and become the main conduits for
>> PETTIT: And so as it is often said that the straightening or the balancing of the
physical body causes the straightening and opening and balancing of the physical channels.
And when the physical channels are opened and straightened and balanced, the mind itself
becomes more open and balanced. >> WANGDRAK: [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]
>> PETTIT: There's a tremendous lore of information of relating to the practice that it takes
advantage of this subtle body that exists in all of us for the sake of spiritual practice.
But suffice to say for now that in the subtle body, that is the nerve channels of the subtle
body, there are two forms of energy. There is the pure energy of timeless awareness or
wisdom, and there's also enter energy of neurosis and emotional conflict. And so these exist
in a one degree of proportion or balance in everyone. Or one degree or another--both of
these exist in everyone. And so the final purpose of all of the practices and yogas
that relate to the subtle body and the nerve channels is to bring the energies together
in the center of the body in the so-called central channel. This is the basic objective
of that kind of practice, but this is only just a rough description. There's a tremendous
amount that needs to be understood to really be able to appreciate and practice and achieved
the results of that kind of practice. >> WANGDRAK: [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]
>> PETTIT: And so when it comes to this kind of practice and also determining what kind
of achievement that someone has, what kind of experience someone has had with the--the
easiest way to examine like, you know, as described before, there's a kind of annual
test that the nuns who were engaged in the training of this practice need to pass and
which is also open to public, but that's just, you know, in a really superficial kind of
test that they have to pass, the main challenge that they face and the main accomplishment
that they have to realize in order to be tested like that relates to the mind itself.
>> Thank you for being here and I apologize, maybe this was covered in the beginning. [INDISTINCT]
come in late, so I'm sorry. But I'm wondering the relationship between the men in monasteries
and the women in the nunneries and whether the viewpoint of--I mean it seems like there
is [INDISTINCT] from within the community for the nuns. And I'm wondering what kind
of relationship that is how they're [INDISTINCT] as often?
>> PETTIT: It means that if [INDISTINCT] >> Yes.
>> PETTIT: Well in general the actual kind of social relationship between the monasteries
in the region and this nunnery in particular is very little. I mean they really don't have
any particular social or institutional connection. >> WANGDRAK: [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]
>> PETTIT: Basically every monastery and nunnery has its own rules, has its own traditions,
and has its own means of sustenance or support from the secular community at large.
>> You mentioned that [INDISTINCT] there's a lot of [INDISTINCT]?
>> PETTIT: [INDISTINCT] and [INDISTINCT] so I don't think that [INDISTINCT] character
[INDISTINCT] I mean [INDISTINCT] >> Yeah, we didn't have a clue.
>> PETTIT: [INDISTINCT]. So if you'd be a little more specific [INDISTINCT]
>> You can just ask what [INDISTINCT] authors suggest meditating on not to something or
someone. You just [INDISTINCT] meditation [INDISTINCT] basis of it. Just clear your
mind emotions [INDISTINCT] meditates on, you know, consciousness, just [INDISTINCT] so
what could be [INDISTINCT] because you said [INDISTINCT].
>> PETTIT: And so in general, there are three different--the question has to do with the
methods of meditation. And Rinpoche stated before that in the nunnery, there are three
or more, many more but three most important kind of archetypal feminine divinities that
are the--that provide the theme and the visual content of the practice that they do. And
so the question is well in these days for example in the teachings of Osho and other
teachers, the emphasis is entirely different. In other words, some popular teachers these
days emphasize above all else the meditating on the mind itself or unconsciousness itself.
And so what does Rinpoche have to say to that. And Rinpoche says, "Well there are three levels,
in general, there are three different types of person or practitioner. There are people
of exceptional ability, people of average ability, and people of lesser ability. And
so the way--the proper method of practice for any given individual has to relate to
where they actually are, I mean what their present state of mind and knowledge and ability
is. So, in general, for most people, that is except for people of the very highest ability.
It is extremely useful, even essential to have some kind of reference point or thematic
content in spiritual practice. It is definitely not the case that simply to meditate on the
mind itself or unconsciousness itself without any reference point or any content or intention
and so on and whatsoever. It definitely will not work for everybody. It may work for a
very few special individuals to apply that approach but to say that "one size fits all"
approach of mind only, and mind itself without any objective is probably not going to work.
>> WANGDRAK: [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE] >> PETTIT: And Rinpoche is just wondering
what is the, you know, what is the rationale behind saying that that is the only way that
one should meditate. In other words, I mean let's just say, assuming that there is only
one method that should work that is without a particular focus or without a particular
content and without meditating on a divine archetype and so on. I mean what would be
the reason for saying that, that is the only way that it would work.
>> I'll agree to that when you meditate on some kind of divinity so then by the time
even after when you close your eyes, you can just see that image [INDISTINCT] and then
it's kind of that can be your goal. And when you're ready [INDISTINCT] when you tried to
[INDISTINCT] into yourself understand that like yourself and then [INDISTINCT]. So that
can be the wake so do you believe on [INDISTINCT] and then you [INDISTINCT] that it would feel
better [INDISTINCT] without [INDISTINCT]. >> PETTIT: So the rational, if I may repeat.
And please correct if I if my summary is incorrect--that basically that if one can just connect directly
with one's self or one's true nature, you know, one's real [INDISTINCT] true self or
true nature without this kind of mediation of ideas and concepts and images that that
is more direct and more sensible, has a more kind of a mediate felt significance than going
through all of the stages or other objects, right? Is that...?
>> And then, maybe when you reach that state [INDISTINCT] curve on your mind and emotions
[INDISTINCT] no matter what the religion is. >> PETTIT: Okay, that's good, thank you. So
you can correct you can connect more directly with God or with the truth by freeing the
mind of images, and ideas than through some other kind of image--imagery or idea content.
And so
as the case of the 100-year old nun that--whose photo you saw before--when she was at the
end of her life, the message that she gave basically was this. She gave--she's been saying
this pretty much the same thing to everybody again and again which is "Everything relates
to mind. Everything is perfected in terms of the mind itself." And so the meaning of
that statement that she made is basically this. It doesn't really matter what you meditate
on [INDISTINCT]. In other words, if whatever your style or practices in meditation or religious
practices and so on, everything ultimately it comes from the mind and everything dissolves
back into the mind when it's no longer visible or perceptible, and so in that sense, it doesn't
matter what kind of practice you do. The point is however, that if you do meditate on a [INDISTINCT]
for example if that is useful for someone that it's not the case that the [INDISTINCT]
somehow exist externally from one self. One should, and that sort of practice, it that
has a thematic content or archetypal image at its, you know, at its foundation and so
on, is to understand that that does not exist separately from oneself. That really is nothing
but an expression of the nature of mind. So since everything is an expression and it occurs
within the state of the mind itself, then whether such things are used or not is--doesn't
matter ultimately. In other words, everything--or anything that works, works.
>> DE RE: Okay, I think we have to sort of finish up here but just in summary, just seems
like it's very timely that now Rinpoche is here in a male form, talking about these extraordinary
women. And there is a documentary out called Blessings narrated by Richard Gere about this
particular community of women of which this nunnery is the mother nunnery. So there's
probably about 2,000 women in that area practicing like this. And this monastery of about to
30 women are really just extraordinary. And even many male Tibetan Lamas would say, this
is probably--in terms of percentage-wise, the greatest--probably the greatest group
of meditators we have in the face of this Earth. Doing it in the way that they are doing
it and they have really perfected two things: compassion and wisdom. We always hear his
Holiness, the Dalai Lama, and all these other Lamas talk about this that they really have
done it. I mean--and you could see from this happiness. I mean they're happy. These women
have been through 30 years of labor camps or living in a cave, and still come out radiating
this incredible joy and happiness for others. Not one micro-second for themselves. It's
they've really nailed it. They have nailed it. It's like we hear great Lamas talk about
it again and again and again to sort of have this altruistic motivation of thinking for
others. And in fact, just a presence of these women, many Lamas say they have transformed
that whole area, less hunting, less dispute, less addictions, less drunken behavior. These
sort of thing just having this sort of presence has transformed. And so I think this is where
it's really amazing and reasons why we need to have people like this. We really, really
do. And now that the whole community is eroding, the supporting community of Nomads that gave
them food that gave them shelter, this is all going fast. So we're also hoping that
maybe people in the West like us can be their substitute parents or brothers and sisters.
So I think Tom, you wanted to say something too.
>> TOM: So to that end, I passed around some flyers earlier showing some means of support
should be interested in doing so. So thank you all very much for coming. Let's thank
Wangdrak Rinpoche for coming and his translator John Pettit and Caterina De Re, thank you
all. >> DE RE: And thank you for having us...