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Meditation advice by Sogyal Rinpoche

The Spirit and Flesh World Religion and Spirituality Online Library.






                 excerpts from Teachings by Sogyal Rinpoche

When you read books about meditation, or often when meditation is
is  presented by different groups, much of the emphasis falls  on
the techniques. In the West, people tend to be very interested in
the  "technology"  of  meditation.  However,  by  far  the   most
important feature of meditation is not technique, but the way  of
being,  the  spirit, which is callled the  "posture",  a  posture
which  is  not so much physical, but more to do  with  spirit  or

It  is  well  to recognize that when you start  on  a  meditation
practice,  you  are  entering a totally  different  dimension  of
reality.  Normally  in life we put a great deal  of  effort  into
achieving  things,  and  there is a  lot  of  struggle  involved,
whereas  meditation is just the opposite, it is a break from  how
we normally operate.

Meditation  is  simply a question of being, of  melting,  like  a
piece  of  butter  left in the sun. It has  nothing  to  do  with
whether  or not you "know" anything about it, in fact, each  time
you  practice  meditation  it  should be fresh,  as  if  it  were
happening  for  the very first time. You just quietly  sit,  your
body  still,  your speech silent, your mind at  ease,  and  allow
thoughts to come and go, without letting them play havoc on  you.
If you need something to do, then watch the breathing. This is  a
very  simple process. When you are breathing out, know  that  you
are  breathing  out.  When  you breath  in,  know  that  you  are
breathing  in, without supplying any kind of extra commentary  or
internalized mental gossip, but just identifying with the breath.
That  very simple process of mindfulness processes your  thoughts
and emotions, and then, like an old skin being shed, something is
peeled off and freed.

Usually  people  tend  to  relax the  body  by  concentrating  on
different  parts.  Real  relaxation comes  when  you  relax  from
within,  for  then  everything else will ease  itself  out  quite

When  you begin to practice, you center yourself, in  touch  with
your  "soft spot", and just remain there. You need not  focus  on
anything in particular to begin with. Just be spacious, and allow
thoughts  and emotions to settle. If you do so, then later,  when
you use a method such as watching the breath, your attention will
more easily be on your breathing. There is no particular point on
the  breath on which you need to focus, it is simply the  process
of  breathing.  Twenty-five percent of your attention is  on  the
breath,  and  seventy-five percent is relaxed.  Try  to  actually
identify  with the breathing, rather than just watching  it.  You
may choose an object, like a flower, for example, to focus  upon.
Sometimes you are taught to visualize a light on the forehead, or
in  the heart. Sometimes a sound or a mantra can be used. But  at
the  beginning  it is best to simply be spacious, like  the  sky.
Think of yourself as the sky, holding the whole universe.

When  you  sit, let things settle and allow all  your  discordant
self  with  its ungenuineness and unnaturalness to  disolve,  out
of  that  rises  your real being. You  experience  an  aspect  of
yourself which is more genuine and more authentic-the "real" you.
As  you  go deeper, you begin to discover and connect  with  your
fundamental goodness.

The  whole point of meditation is to get used to the that  aspect
which you have forgotten. In Tibetan "meditation" means  "getting
used to". Getting used to what? to your true nature, your  Buddha
nature.  This  is  why,  in the  highest  teaching  of  Buddhism,
Dzogchen, you are told to "rest in the nature of mind". You  just
quietly  sit  and let all thoughts and concepts dissolve.  It  is
like  when the clouds dissolve or the mist evaporates, to  reveal
the clear sky and the sun shining down. When everything dissolves
like  this, you begin to experience your true nature, to  "live".
Then you know it, and at that moment, you feel really good. It is
unlike  any  other  feeling of well being  that  you  might  have
experienced.  This is a real and genuine goodness, in  which  you
feel  a  deep sense of peace, contentment  and  confidence  about

It is good to meditate when you feel inspired. Early mornings can
bring that inspiration, as the best moments of the mind are early
in  the  day,  when  the mind is calmer  and  fresher  (the  time
traditionaly recommended is before dawn). It is more  appropriate
to  sit when you are inspired, for not only is it easier then  as
you  are in a better frame of mind for meditation, but  you  will
also be more encouraged by the very practice that you do. This in
turn will bring more confidence in the practice, and later on you
will  be able to practice when you are not inspired. There is  no
need  to meditate for a long time: just remain quietly until  you
are  a little open and able to connect with your  heart  essence.
That is the main point.

After that, some integration, or meditation in action. Once  your
mindfulness  has been awakened by your meditation, your  mind  is
calm  and your perception a little more coherent. Then,  whatever
you  do,  you  are present, right there. As  in  the  famous  Zen
master's  saying:  "When I eat, I eat; when I  sleep,  I  sleep".
Whatever  you do, you are fully present in the act. Even  washing
dishes,  if  it is done one-pointedly, can  be  very  energizing,
freeing, cleansing. You are more peaceful, so you are more "you".
You assume the "Universal You".

One  of  the fundamental points of the spiritual  journey  is  to
persevere along the path. Though one's meditation may be good one
day  and  and  not so good the next,  like  changes  in  scenery,
essentially it is not the experiences, good or bad which count so
much, but rather that when you persevere, the real practice  rubs
off on you and comes through both good and bad. Good and bad  are
simply apparations, just as there may be good or bad weather, yet
the sky is always unchanging. If you persevere and have that  sky
like  attitude  of  spaciousness,  without  being  perturbed   by
emotions and experiences, you will develop stability and the real
profoundness  of meditation will take effect. You will find  that
gradually  and almost unnoticed, your attitude begins to  change.
You  do not hold on to things as solidly as before, or  grasp  at
them  so strongly, and though crisis will still happen,  you  can
handle them a bit better with more humor and ease. You will  even
be  able to laugh at difficulties a little, since there  is  more
space between you and them, and you are freer of yourself. Things
become  less  solid,  slightly ridiculous, and  you  become  more



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