Be Here Now

Be Here Now

Friday, 14 January 2011

The way to a quiet mind.

Here are some useful practices, as written by my late master Karma Tashi Thundrup. So sorry for the layout presentation of the writing; it was transcribed straight from a CD

We shall begin by creating a quiet place to sit, cross-legged if we can or on a low stool or straight-backed chair if we cannot. A firm cushion will help to provide a comfortable and stable seat. We sit completely relaxed with our back and neck straight, the spine balanced nicely on the pelvis. A straight back is necessary for the unobstructed passage of spinal energies when they arise.

The hands can be placed in the lap, palms upward, the right hand resting in the left and the tips of the thumbs touching. We can meditate with our eyes shut or open but outer distractions are more easily avoided with the eyes closed. The eyeballs should be perfectly relaxed as in sleep, just gazing, to the mind's eye down the length of the nose.

Some teachers insist that one should focus the closed eyes sharply upon the point between the eyebrows where the Ajna chakra manifests but I should warn against this. The muscular strain of such a procedure creates the nervous illusion of flashing lights before the eyes which can easily lead one into a fantasy of meditational success. If you wish to put this sort of thing to the test, sit quietly in a darkened room, close your eyes and watch the fireworks as you push your eyeballs back and forth with your fingers.

In sitting meditation we aim at a profound relaxation, any internal tension will defeat the object of the exercise. All we have to do is to watch our breath. Breathing through the nose we calmly con­centrate upon our breathing and just watch the breath moving to and fro.
As our concentration deepens we will find our mind, in a manner of speaking becoming one with our breathing.
Our concentration must be absolutely calm and without effort.
Absorbtion is the best word I can find to describe the required state of mind.

Thoughts will constantly arise to distract the attention. We do not try to block them off or shut them out in any way, but we observe them dispassionately from over our shoulder as it were, leading the mind, on a loose rein, gently back to the breath each time.
That is all we have to do.

There is no need here for a lengthy dissertation on the manifold subjective results of our meditations for that would arouse a vicarious anticipation of events which is most undesirable. Suffice it to say that gradually our awareness of being will become more detached from our thoughts.

During our sitting sessions the grasping egotistical nature of our thoughts will become clearer to us irrespective of whether these thoughts be considered good or bad. As our consciousness becomes finely tuned to the movement of the breath we shall in time develop an awareness of the currents of Pran Energy within the body.

This meditation is natural Pranayama (the Way of Pran).
There is quite an astonishing amount of boloney written about Pranayama. Rudolph Steiner for example wrote some fascinating rubbish.

Some Zen teachers recommend counting the breath in medita­tion, counting each in and out cycle of breath as one, two and so on up to twenty and then back to one, repeating the process ad infinitum.
The drawback with this method lies in the progressive nature of the counting. It can induce an awkward element of anticipation into the proceedings. We could become impatient or lose count or develop a record setting mentality, totting up the number of breath cycles accumulated at each sitting.
This kind of thing is not meditation.

From India has come a school of thought which strives through a process of counting to extend the breathing process for as long as possible. Inhaling, for example, to the slow count of thirty, retain­ing the breath for a count of thirty and exhaling in like manner.
The idea of course is to prolong the breathing process as far as you can without asphyxiating yourself. Perhaps there is a world champion lurking somewhere up in the Himalayas.
Nevertheless this is not meditation either.

If the simple Buddhist practice of watching the breath is perse­vered with, we will discover that as our concentration deepens and thoughts fall away, the breath will quieten and slow down quite spontaneously. Then we should begin to experience a true medi­tative state of mind.
If at this stage we should begin to congratulate ourselves our meditation will simply go for a Burton. We shall be exchanging Unconditioned Being for the delusion of achievement. Beware of the "How am I doing?" syndrome. It is a monstrous stumbling block in the path of meditation.
Our approach to meditation is as important as the meditation itself. One Tibetan teacher has this to say:
"Do not be consistent".

To summarise our meditation practice
A comfortable seat, a straight back,
hands in lap palms up, tips of thumbs touching. Eyes closed and relaxed, "gazing down the nose". Breathe through the nose.
Watch the breath.
Calmly concentrate, the reins held loose.
When thoughts arise do not resist them or block them off. Witness them from "over your shoulder",
and gently lead the attention back to the breath.
When you have done enough, rise calmly and slowly and go about your business. There you have it, a simple and very effec­tive meditation technique.

The  Chakras
This exercise is a two-part meditation in which, in the first stage we project mind energy into the chakras. Using the breath as a bellows we can amplify the natural radiance of the Navel centre and direct it upwards to illuminate the higher centres.
In the second stage we shall bring the spiritually activated ener­gies back down the spine finishing at the navel centre to add a very high-frequency component to the radiating energies of this centre and projecting this where we desire to enhance our self ­awareness and heal ourselves.
We begin with the breath and we must, after a little practice, visualise the breath as moving in a large circle in one direction only.

Taking our meditation seat we breathe deeply in and out a few times and then exhale slowly through the nose visualising the twin stream of air as curving outwards and down to enter the body at the base of the spine. The air stream from the left nostril must be visualised as being green in colour and that from the right nostril as being red.
Then, as one inhales visualises the twin stream as rising up the spine to curve over the brain and down to the nostrils.

We visualise the breath in this fashion as moving in a continuous circle with the rhythm of breathing.
Practice this visualisation until it becomes easy.

Now for the meditation.
We sit watching the breath,
visualising its one way orbit for a while.
We then shift our attention to the spine and to the tiny hollow in the centre of the spinal cord, the Susumna.
Our breath entering the base of the spine is now used to enlarge the Susumna.
Each breath rushes up the spine forcing the walls of the tube apart until, after about seven breaths it is seen as a great living pipe wide enough to accomodate a rush of air like the draught of a blast furnace.
With the draught well in hand, we concentrate on the area of the spine just below the navel visualising it as a great ball of fire, which in many ways it is.

We begin by intoning the seed-syllable RAM with each move­ment of the breath, watching the rising blast of air kindle the Navel Centre into an ever widening, white-hot incandescence.
In seven breaths we magnify the area of the Navel Centre into a roaring furnace.

Our attention then moves to the area of the spine behind the breast bone, the Heart Centre, visualising it as a bright star.

In the next seven breaths we lift the fiery blast up the Susumna to swell the Heart Centre as large as we like, intoning the seed­syllable YAM with each breath.

With seven more breaths we raise the flame to the Throat Centre just below and behind the Adam's Apple, expanding its energy all the while whilst breathing the seed-syllable HAM.
For seven more breaths we blast the flame at the flashing opalescence of the Ajna chakra between the eyebrows with the
short syllable A internally resounding with each breath                 .

Then, at its maximum intensity we convert the A into AAUMNG (OM) for three more long breaths as the radiance of the Ajna chakra rises to bathe the brain in golden light.
Relaxed and internally silent we contemplate the result.

Now in the second stage we must bring the high-frequency energy down from the Crown Centre and here we will visualise it falling like a golden shower descending a terraced fountain.
The seed-syllables are now dispensed with.

In three slow breaths the golden shower rains from the head down and around the spine to bathe the Throat Centre.
Spilling over from there it floods the Heart Centre in three more breaths.

Then, in three more breaths the elixir pours down to swell the Navel Centre with a warm golden luminosity, ebbing and flowing with the tide of breath.

To conclude this meditation we can dispense with all counting, and breathing deep and slow we send streams of warm Pran Energy flowing from the Navel Centre, down into the legs and feet and up into the shoulders and arms and hands and fingers. After a little practice of this we can direct streams of life-giving Pran to any part of the anatomy that takes our fancy.

If we are suffering from any internal malady, directing the Pran streams in this fashion to the affected organs is very beneficial to the healing process, for, not only does it bring high vibrational energy to bear upon the disease but it also helps restore the balance of the thought body in the affected area thus providing a sound psychic foundation for normal medical treatment.

Should you be confined to bed and unable to sit up there is no problem. Anyone can practice this meditation lying upon the back or on the side. I have used a variation of this meditation myself when confined to bed and providing the spine is held reasonably straight there is no loss of effectiveness.

The mantric sounds associated with these chakras are thus:
The Navel chakra is RAM
The Heart chakra is YAM
The Throat chakra is HAM

And the Third Eye vibrates with the short A which naturally extends to produce AAAAAUMNG (OM),
thus raising our visualisation to embrace the Crown Centre.
The mantra of Vajrasattva for purification and healing.
We can incorporate this mantra with our breath after first preparing ourselves with a few slow deep breaths, right down to the abdomen; but back straight and shoulders relaxed remember.
Inhaling whilst mentally intoning "Om Vajrasattva", draw in to the throat centre all the suffering in the universe as a dark smoky cloud ... Then breathing out with a slow "Hum" send a stream of enlightened healing from your heart centre out to the world as a golden stream entering into the crown of the head of any sufferer one chooses,(That is how I do it).
Here I introduce some basic Buddhist mantra .. Note, When I am "at it" nobody hears a thing for it is all internal, and very effective that can be.

The mantra of Padmasambhava "the second Buddha", the founding father of Vajrayana "Diamond Path" Tibetan Buddhism.

He is revered by most Northern Buddhists as Jesus is revered by Christians. Devotion to Guru Rinpoche can open us to our Vajrasattva wisdom, the innate intelligence of our own inner (ati) Guru. The shortened powerful mantra OM AH HUM is central to our Guru Yoga.

Here we commence by just watching the breath, and then, when relaxed and alert we can visualise Padmasambhava before us. Slowly we breathe in intoning OM and AH as a stream of white light issuing from between his eyebrows ignite our own Ajna chakra and then red rays from his throat sets our own Visuddha chakra alight. Then, breathing out with a slow HUM a healing blue light shines out from his heart to our own Anahata chackra.

And so we repeat this simple meditational devotion, breathing in, OM(white) AH (red) and then breathing out with a long HUM (blue); our heart centre alive with the blue rays of healing wisdom.

This meditation is the kemel of our tantric devotions and can be repeated at will, even when walking about or doing simple work. This three syllable mantra is most effective for promoting mindfullness, "protecting the mind" as the Tibetans say.

As one becomes accustomed to this routine one can attempt to visualise the Tibetan symbols of Om (white) Ah (red) and Hum(blue) in the Ajna, Visuddha and nahata chakras respectively; should this prove too difficult at first there is no need for concem as the combination of mantric sound and colour rays is more than enough.

In time this practice will result in a deep intuitional relisation of the Trikaya the three bodies, the Trinity of realised mind; The Dharmakaya body of truth (Nirvana, Death) , the Sambhogakaya, the body of inspiration(Speech and ideas) and the Nirmanakaya the body of all accomplishing wisdom where human Buddha activities are seen as joyfull play.
Such simple devotions can completely change our tortured trammelled idea of human existence.
It has been written that meditating upon the syllable'A' is a champion way to realise emptiness, but it also is of great significance in that it is, and must be, the last outpost of meditation conditioned by concentration upon form and internal sound.

Having moved warily into the tantras by way of Zen with no encumbrances whatever, I find it a useful last stepping stone before moving into the natural land of pure contemplation, mindfullness or no mind, which is living Zen or, to be brutal, real meditation. Fortunately we are working with Dzogchen which frankly, is one of the few tantras which impress me, being, in fact, no tantra at all.
This is the end of my road of "method" meditation and a very simple one.
Visualise a green 'A', either Tibetan or English, at the throat centre. A brilliant emerald green the colour of Amogadhisi, the meditational Buddha of All Accomplishing Wisdom and Green Tara his missus, the mother of all Buddhas. Ah is the syllable of Amogasiddhi whom all Kagyu Buddhists aspire to emulate.

Our visualised 'A' is seen against a white lotus and radiates a rainbow nimbus.With our breaths we can expand the 'A' gradually to embrace the whole universe and then slowly diminishing back to nothing and then vanishing. We can do this with our eyes open or shut or if preferred we can visualise the 'A' at arms length in front.

Having vanished the 'A' we can continue with just the inner sound of 'A' in perfect time and at one with the tidal movement of gentle breath. At the same time we make it a musical mantra sounding a note for the inward breath and one a fourth above it for the outward breath, say G to C or 0 to G etc. That is a perfect fourth, a perfect musical resolution, and this sound at one with the breath can point the way to (U' perfect resolution.
If we find ourselves tiring of meditational "effort" we can just give up, forget about breath or anything else and merely rest for a while resting alert and content to BE.
At these times we could find ourselves Mindless, Mindfull and really Meditating.
Whoever is seeing God by ways
is finding ways and losing God, who in ways is hidden, But whoever seeks for God without ways
Will find him as he is in Hmself.
Meister Eckhart

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