Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Kalachakra 2011: Day 8. Preliminary Empowerment of Students

HH continued his commentary on Kamalashila's The Stages of Meditation.

[What follows is my incomplete and probably incorrect interpretation]

Shamata and vipassana

Explaining sections on meditating on Calm Abiding (shamata) and Special Insight (vipassana) (pp. 43–45), he said that the key to shamata is to find a proper balance: if your mind is scattered and too agitated you have to calm it down but if you feel too low or depressed you have to lift your mind up by some joyous thoughts. Normally shamata meditation precedes vipassana meditation. Initially you'll be able to concentrate only for a few minutes but if you practice you'll be sustain your concentration for several hours. Higher-level meditators are able to practice shamata and vipassana meditations at the same time.

In regard to the section on Actualizing Special Insight (p.46, last paragraph). “Self” here is used in the sense of self-existence. Some schools of thought maintain that selflessness relates only to individuals while other schools say that selflessness relates to all phenomena.

In any case, the essence of Buddhism is:
  • infinite altruism [method] +
  • recognizing the nature of ultimate reality (whether objective or subjective) which is devoid of its own self [wisdom]
Understanding this give a person a sense of inner strength.

What is specific to Vajrayana (Tantrayana) is the possibility for its follower to unite and perceive method and wisdom in a single mental state (a single cognitive event) and then arise in the form of a deity during the meditation. More precisely, it is the ability for the meditator not only to perceive a deity but to identify with it.

In general, the highest-level Tantras are characterized by indivisible unity of
  • form and manifestation;
  • body and mind;
  • method and wisdom
these are two aspects of the same entity.

There are grosser and subtler levels of mind (or energy). In order to quiet the activity of the grosser mind and access the subtle mind one can employ techniques, such as meditating on pranas (energy channels).

On Vajrayana

The concepts of four types of nirvana (natural, with a residue, without a residue, and non-abiding), as well as the concepts of three kayas (Buddha bodies) can be explained only in the Tantric tradition. By introducing a notion of a clear light mind (basis tantra) Vajrayana brings out the hidden meaning of Buddhist sutras and fosters understanding of the Buddha's enlightened mind.

Evening dharma talk: Bodhicitta

HE Mindrolling Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche gave a talk on Bodhicitta. She is a wonderfully engaging speaker. Below are just a few points I jotted down.

Bodhicitta is awakening mind/loving kindness. The method is to reduce obstacles and increase conditions for happiness.
  1. Inner wakefulness (reflection) —not dependent on external circumstances.
  2. Strength of virtuous attitude (cultivate virtues).
  3. Strength of meditation/contemplation.
  4. The presence of a spiritual teacher.
  • Unconditional love: requires practice and repetition, has to be built up to be sustained.
  • Strong sense of awareness (of self-centeredness, selfishness).
  • Undiminishing aspiration to end suffering of other people.
  • Strong desire to reach enlightenment.
  • Devotion to mindfulness.
Meditation allows one to get in touch with inherent goodness of human beings. We have an ability to do something in order to achieve happiness.

Thoughts and actions:
  • Maintain aspiration
  • Realize the magnitude of suffering, see it, open yourself up.
  • Be joyful: find something good in another person rather than being critical. Cultivate an ability to glimpse something positive and maintain a positive attitude. Accept the world as it is, and not how it should be (in your view)
  • Maintained unbiased attitude. Curb your aggression and ambition.

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