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Meditation Continued

Geshe Dakpa Topgyal: Meditation - Continued Teachings
Dateline: Columbia: Aug 4, 2001

Meditation

In meditation, what is most difficult is not getting there, but staying
there.
Once your consciousness becomes deep, still holding the image of a rose
flower, you will see yourself in the rose and the rose in yourself. It
is not correct to say you become the rose or the rose becomes you, but
that you experience a visual consciousness that you don't interfere
with. Your contact is not actually with the rose, but with your mental
consciousness.
The rose, being pure and fresh, affects your consciousness at a physical
or emotional level. Not only your consciousness but subtle elements of
your consciousness come into contact for a deep experience.
The full force of spiritual practice in day-to-day life will bring
changes in your way of thinking and your ways of relating to the
physical, material world.
In order to gain those positive changes, it's very important to gain a
healthy intellectual understanding of the impermanent nature of reality,
how reality changes and why it changes, how we contribute to the changes
and how we fail to recognize our contributions and accelerate the speed
and movement of changes. It is also necessary to understand the empty
nature of reality, that things and objects and ourselves are ultimately
empty.
Instead, we cling to things and objects being substantial. We insist
there is an ultimate reality with one fixed, ultimate resting place.
When we see a glass and "glassness" in the glass, we make the glass
substantial. Seeing the "glassness" in the glass is our way of seeing
the glass as having a substantial reality. We are seeing it from our
side, not the side of the object itself.
Most teachers say, "No rush. No hurry. Study and learn. Study and
learn."
Here we are studying and learning and practicing meditation a little
bit, ten to fifteen minutes. But a mere intellectual understanding will
not alone bring positive changes.
We need to know how to combine our understanding with personal
experience. The only way is through the practice of meditation.
Through meditation your intellectual understanding becomes empathetic.
Without empathy, you become only a scholar and make your ego a little
bigger. An empathetic understanding is necessary; then teaching will
bring a positive effect to others and motivation will be pure with no
expectations of reward, money, power, or favors.
The teacher's empathetic understanding also results in a special impact
on the student.
If we are meditating on emptiness, we can study and learn the depth of
emptiness by meditating on and sharing an empathetic understanding with
one another.
Why do we need this? Emptiness can be explained only somewhat in normal
words. Some intellectual understanding can be reached. Beyond that, it
is almost impossible to put the final meaning of emptiness into human
language and human words.
First, human language is very dualistic. It becomes insufficient and
inadequate. Emptiness becomes inexpressible. Only through sharing an
empathetic understanding with a teacher or student or friend can we
reach a deeper understanding.
In order to share and learn this deeper, empathetic understanding, you
must have good experience with shamata meditation.
Shamata is a single-pointed focus. There is an absence of thoughts and
emotions. Nothing happens but single-pointedness. Once subtle analysis
takes place in the single-pointed mind, you are shifting from shamata to
vipassana meditation.
In vipassana, there is some degree of thought process. If you are
focusing on your breath, for example, you are analyzing the rhythm and
sensations of breathing in and out and the movement of energy up and
down.
However, first you must have a good, personal experience of shamata
meditation, why it's important and essential. You cannot perfect
vipassana, or insight, meditation without shamata meditation. Without
shamata, your spiritual practice is incomplete, and you cannot progress
on your spiritual path.
Shamata meditation is the root of all the rest, all other meditations
and also higher types of Yoga Tantric, which can be very complex and
intricate.
Shamata meditation is not difficult to understand. It is a highly
trained and alert state of mind. The mind remains alert and unbiased.
You have a distinct quality of knowing something without thinking, which
means a distinct quality of detecting without thoughts.
Once you combine this with vipassana, you can know an object as it
really exists in our reality.
Shamata meditation is highly trained, alert, skillful, with a distinct
quality or awareness of knowing something without thinking. In order to
perfect or reach that state of mind, you must control your mind, stop it
from thinking. Without preventing thinking, it is very difficult to get
there.
We choose one particular object on which we can focus. What we choose is
called the object of meditation. We stop the thinking by completely
occupying the mind with the object.
We rest in our awareness. When we are actively thinking about a rose, it
seems we are focusing, but that is not complete shamata meditation. It's
another form of creating thoughts. If we are holding the image of the
rose only through active thinking, the shamata meditation is not
complete. If we are actively thinking about the rose, we are creating
more thoughts.
Once you reach the stage where the rose is in you and you are in the
rose, the rose is no longer outside you, and you are no longer thinking.

In shamata meditation you are creating a mind like a mirror, and the
object of meditation is a reflection in the mirror. Our sense of
duality, one as the perceived, the other as the perceiver, is
obliterated, destroyed, gone, disappeared, no longer there. That clearly
shows we are no longer thinking. We have reached a resting place and
should remain there as possible.
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