Taming the Mind

A talk by Lama Norbu Repa | Kuala Lumpur/2008

Being reborn as a human, we do enjoy special privileges such as explained in the teaching on “Precious Human Rebirth”. These privileges, once supported by the knowledge of skilful means, lead to the ability to achieve a state of long lasting happiness free from the ties of samsara.

The method for reaching this achievement relies on the practice of meditation.

As we consider meditation a bit more seriously, we come to find out how difficult it is to engage into effective practice. There are several kinds of meditation techniques and it might be quite confusing at first for the non-initiated.

This is the reason of existence of the various lineage gurus who have mastered the process of unfolding the true nature of mind. For this, they adopted a lifestyle conducive to the transmission and practice of the needed methods.

It is exclusively through relying on such Gurus that we will succeed. It is through following their example that we will attain similar achievement.

Therefore the initial step is to build up proper motivation and attitude to be accepted and receive the instructions and guidance so much needed for us to attain our goal: it is our attitude that will transform us into a proper vessel to practice the Holy Dharma; it is our motivation that will bring us clarity and luminosity as we progress.

The motivation must be set with lucidity. It is not enough to just be vaguely wanting to benefit beings.

We must be more precise and more to the point:

  • ‘to be more precise’ comes from learning and studying;
  • ‘to be ‘more to the point’ comes from practicing in accordance with the teachings received from our teacher. If we think that we know it all or that we can find it all out by ourselves, we will develop the main obstacle of pride and not reach any meditative experience whatsoever.

The teacher: is Sakyamuni Buddha who did practice and reach Enlightenment on this earth. This is not a myth but a fact that was witnessed by many. Following his Enlightenment, the Buddha taught extensively many disciples how to reach the same attainment. For most of us, we were not fortunate enough to receive these teachings from Lord Buddha himself yet our previous merit had provided us today with the presence of a guru who can present us these teachings and help us to understand them and to practice them.

The teachings: These are the teachings that we need to hear, study and practice if we want to achieve results. Of course, it is not easy to claim to have a direct access to the original teachings given by Lord Buddha; even if we did, we might not understand them accurately as they were given. Therefore we need to rely on our precious teacher who transmits to us the teaching of our lineage. These teachings represent the gateway to what we need to practice.

After having defined our goal, which is to free ourselves from the bondages of samsara, the first step is to turn towards a teacher, adopting the proper attitude that will have him willing to teach us and then we will need to learn to abide in the ethics of these teachings.

Adopting the proper attitude to be accepted as a disciple will be of course developed through practices such as guru yoga but the starting point is to acknowledge the Guru as being a teacher which owns and can provide the Dharma that we need, show him marks of respect and open ourselves to receive his teachings without arrogance or deceit.

To turn towards a teacher without this pure attitude might feed our curiosity but it leads to limited results and cuts us out from the inner and secret transmissions. Without receiving the Blessings from our guru, we cannot practice successfully and gain much realisation.

Abiding in the ethics of the teachings, thus assuring that we practice according to instructions, leaving no doubt behind, while adjusting our conduct of body, speech and mind to wholesomeness activities inspired by genuine bodhicitta.

This means that what we do, say or mean is to be beneficial to others rather than aim at the fulfilment of egocentric grasping such as boosting our personal meagre achievements.

It is like to have a target when shooting an arrow. Without it we cannot reach anything! So we need to acquire a clear understanding of Bodhicitta, “Jangchub Sem.” For this there are several ways based on listening, studying and meditating. To listen to some explanations given by the Lamas is much better than to read printed books yet even that is a good beginning. Then we need to study and clear our doubts through requesting the needed explanations from our Lama and from our vajra brothers and sisters. Finally we need to meditate to gain personal realisation.

In brief we can categorize Bodhicitta in three aspects:

1. Wishing Bodhicitta or the Bodhicitta of aspiration;

2. Enhancing Bodhicitta or the study and practice of the Paramita;

3. Ultimate Bodhicitta coming from the realisation of emptiness through the practice of meditation; Emptiness of self and emptiness of phenomena.

There are several way to realise emptiness and here again it will depend on our practice of “Tod-Sam-Gom”: After hearing or reading teachings on emptiness, we will need to study them and put them into practice.

Tibetan Buddhism have various methods to reach the result and while some are more straightforward such as meditating on the various aspects of vacuity from the practice of meditation on no object.

These can also be supported by more comprehensive methods such as the recitation of the Prajnaparamita sutra and mantra or more complex such as the committed practice of sadhana including “kye-rim” and “dzog-rim” such as in the yidam practices.

All these methods are revealed in accordance to the capacities of the practitioner and on his or her readiness to commit to formal practice.

The development of Bodhicitta is based on the practice of Paramita. This in turn is started though establishing a clear understanding of the proper attitude. The recitation of texts such as “The King of Aspiration Prayers” from Nagarjuna or “The 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva” are excellent to help us to develop this clarity.

Further on, having established a clear understanding of the proper attitude, the practice of the first five Paramitas are helpful to enhance our Bodhicitta. We access to the understanding and realisation of ‘Ultimate Bodhicitta’ though the practice of the sixth Paramita. This is done through the practice of meditation.



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