Thursday, September 23, 2010

Lamrim 2nd time around

The first time around with the lamrim my least favorite meditations were those where we contemplated lower rebirths and the hell realms.  I wanted anything but to think of being reborn in hell! Of course, developing renunciation inspires one to never do or think anything harmful to avoid future suffering, but, still it was unpleasant to think of hell realms and suffeing so much. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I have a confession to make.  I haven't been keeping up with my lamrim meditations.  After my 10 day retreat, I got busy with other activities and work, and although I did other meditations, I did not keep up with these specific lamrim meditations.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Retreat Reflections

Well, the ten day silent, solitary retreat is over. It was amazing.
Ten days alone with my mind...oooohhhhh....I have to say I learned so much.


What is covered in this blog is a lot to learn!  How do you absorb it all?  If you are overwhelmed, no worries.  It is almost impossible to realize these teachings without going into a retreat.  For over 1,000 years, the way these teachings were realized has been by going into deep silent, solitary retreat.   This is exactly what my teacher advised me to do after going through the Lamrim once as we did through these blogs.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Bliss of Emptiness

What more bliss is there than realizing your own emptiness?  It is liberating.  It's not that you feel free. You realize that you are free.  All those things that you think you are -- they are just projections. All those things that you think you should be doing -- also, projections, illusions.  What happens when you look behind the projections?  What do you find?  An absence.  Behind the images you project of yourself, there is an absence.  You are not any of those things.  The things you hold most dearly - you are not even that.  The things you think so strongly that you must do, you do not even have to do that.   With an ignorant mind, those projections, those feelings seem to be so real.  With a mind of wisdom, you see those images are illusions.  They are nothing more than projections.  Look behind the projections.  What do you see.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Med #16 Emptiness

We now train in the wisdom that realizes ultimate reality/emptiness.  
After we achieve tranquil abiding, we attain a suppleness of mind that allows us to fix our mind on Emptiness.  Since we grasp most strongly to ourself, we will meditate on the emptiness of the "I."

Friday, July 30, 2010

Med # 15 Preparing for Emptiness

Yesterday, we covered some basic instructions that can be used in any meditation practice.  Whatever object you choose to fix your mind on, you can use these instructions.  A few more tips before we get into today's meditation, are:

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Med #14 Developing Quiescence

This topic consists of how to train oneself in one-pointed concentration and insight, the essence of wisdom.  To accomplish the goal of cutting samsara's roots and achieving ultimate liberation, we need to develop the insight that realizes Emptiness directly.  It is not just the direct realization of emptiness that depends upon mental quiescence, we also need it to attain clairvoyance, miracle powers, spontaneous realizations and decrease in mental afflictions.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Med # 13 Giving and Taking

Once we have practiced Equalizing and Exchanging Self and Other, we can meditate on Giving and Taking, a practice which strengthens the attitude explained in Exchanging Self and Others.

Important Note: Love Yourself Too!

I feel a need to remind you beautiful meditators out there that Lamrim is a preparation for Tantra, the path of desire.  It is okay to think of yourself too. It is okay to want to make yourself happy too.  The best way to give to people is by giving them something that you love.  If you love to build houses, build people houses to make them happy.  If you love to write songs, write people songs to make them happy.   What you give will be most powerful if it comes from a place deep within your heart.

The power of Lamrim is it's teachings not only on love, but, on emptiness and karma.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Med # 12 Exchanging Self and Other

All our training so far is leading to this powerful meditation, one of the highest practices of yoga called Exchanging Self and Other.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Med #11: Equalizing Self and Others

The next type of mind training is called "Equalizing Self and Others," which is to cherish others as much as we cherish ourselves.  Shantideva says it all in his commentary:

"All the suffering there is in this world
comes from desiring happiness for oneself.
All the well-being there is in the world
comes from desiring happiness for others."

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Med #10 Love continued...

There are two methods of mind training designed to help us cultivate a sincere love for all beings.  Today, we will explore the first, the 7-fold instruction of cause and effect

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Med #9 Crack Your Heart Open

Generating warmth and love for all beings, also known as "Enlightenment mind," is not a practice like asana, mantra, and other meditations.  Generating enlightened mind is far more important and worth spending time on because we will gain very little from those other practices unless we have first cultivated a sincere love for all.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Meditation #8 The Great Scope: LOVE !

The wish to escape samsara (cyclic existence), should be maintained day and night as this is the main path to liberation and the basis of more advanced realizations.

By eradicating all mental afflictions, we can attain liberation.  But, we can aim even higher.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Meditation #7 Cruising onto the Path!

Rejoice!  Today's meditation will complete our experience with the Intermediary Scope.  Tomorrow, we will move on to the "Great" scope, where we indulge in topics of love, joy, bliss...!

For today, we will go deeper into the type of human form and mind we need to cultivate to make this path work fast...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Meditation #6 Establishing the Path to Liberation

To escape samsaric human life and establish ourselves on the path to liberation, we have to understand what keeps us in samsara.   Mental afflictions are the root causes to rebirth in samsara.

Afflictions in our mind cause us to engage in negative actions or thoughts and thus collect negative karma.  As long as we have negative karma, we will be reborn in samsara - either as a human (if the negative karma is light) or as an animal or in a lower realm (if the karma is heavier).  We must understand these mental afflictions so that we can recognize them immediately and stop them!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Meditation #5: The Intermediate Scope

The meditations we have done so far combined with moral discipline (yamas, niyamas, avoiding the 10 nonvirtues) will free us from dangerous lower rebirths and ensure us to obtain a precious human life again in the future.  This completes the lower scope of this path.

Topic 7: Developing the Wish to go Beyond

Review and Glimpse of What's Ahead

By meditating and realizing the topics covered so far, we ensure ourselves that life after life, we will obtain a precious human rebirth (not a lower rebirth) and we will have all the conditions to continue a spiritual practice leading to the ultimate goals.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Is this Silencing the mind...or what??!

Silencing the Mind vs Training the Mind

I thought meditation was about silencing the mind…what is going on?!

You may have noticed by now that, in these meditations, the mind is working hard – one thing after another – this is not silence!  What’s up??!


Around the year 770AD, the great Indian Yoga Master Kamalashila was called to Tibet to participate in a debate with a Chinese monk.  The Chinese monk was teaching that students could reach enlightenment only by clearing the mind of all thought.  In the debate, Master Kamalashila proved him wrong and wrote the classic book, Bhavanakrama or “The Steps of Meditation.” 

Centuries later, we are still trying to reach high states of yoga – ultimate wisdom and lasting bliss - by simply sitting and silencing the mind.  Try it yourself…it does not work…we need some training! 

Meditation #4: Before the Bliss

Meditation topics for this session: The danger of lower rebirth, refuge practice, and actions and their effects  (Topics 4,5, & 6)

Ok...we are almost through the darker topics...stick with it, and remember topics of love, bliss, and truth are coming up...

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Please keep a daily meditation journal! 

Meditation #3: Impermanence

As you get more familiar with the prelim's and the flow to contemplation, meditation and dedication, you will enjoy the meditations more and more. This is the good news: Like yoga asana, meditation becomes more and more enjoyable and natural. The beginning is tough.


A Note on Preliminaries: Since the purpose of these two weeks is simply to get an overview of this path, if you are finding the preliminaries a bit overwhelming, you may just do the 7-limb practice (Preliminary #4 on the blog named "Preliminaries"). Just getting comfortable with these 7-limbs will be fantastic. If you have the time and the drive, go for the whole thing!

Topic 3: Impermanence

As you may have already experienced, it is hard to get to your meditation cushion everyday and work on the mind so intensively. It is hard for all of us.

One of the main reasons it is so tough to practice is because we are attached to worldly activities, and so may not have a strong wish to practice. To overcome this obstacle, we need to remind ourselves that everything in our lives, including our body, is impermanent.

The ways to make this life meaningful is to ensure that we will take a higher rebirth, we will attain liberation, we will achieve full enlightenment; realize ultimate truth, experience pure bliss and help others to do the same.

To motivate ourselves to work on the above goals, we meditate on impermanence and death. It may sound dark but again think of the long term. The purpose is to cultivate a strong motivation to pursue these intense practices. This path is challenging and we will need the motivation to be firm. Remember the power of realizations - once your have a direct uncontrived realization of something, it stays with you always and you don't ever have to spend a second contemplating the topic again.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Meditation Topic #2: Your Precious Life

Hi Dears,

We are all on different time zones, so please meditate in the mornings.


Preliminaries (See blog labeled "Preliminaries)

Contemplation : Our precious human life

The purpose of today's meditation is to come to realize how incredibly precious this human life is because we have the opportunity to engage in a spiritual practice. We have teachings, we have teachers, we have our physical and mental health. Once we realize how precious this life is, we will have a strong determination to not waste one moment of this life and to use it to practice purely.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Finding your teacher

How do we find a teacher?

I. Teach!

Geshe Michael Roach reminds us that "Everything you want in life, give it to others first." Let this be our mantra, he says.

And, this is the teaching of the Buddha, of Confucius, and of St Francis of Assisi, who said, "It is in giving that we receive."

Meditation # 1 A Teacher

When listening to (or reading) these teachings, it is important to allow your mind to be open and supple. A great teacher Geshe Potowa went to the discourse of another great scholar, Geshe Chokyi Woser. Potowa benefited immensely from the teaching and said, "I didn't learn anything I had not learned before, but I did gain understandings I had never understood before." This is the the attitude we must also observe when learning these meditations. You may have heard about these realizations many times, but, have you understood them and realized them directly?

The magic of direct realizations is that once you realize them, the feeling never goes away - you never have to spend time doubting or contemplating these topics again because you have realized them directly - it is a permanent stage and it will save you so much may feel slow at the beginning...but in the long run, it will actually speed your progress substantially. If you stick with this, you will reach the ultimate stages in this lifetime; jivanmukti. (Remember Lamrim means Stages on the Path. The final stage will be realizing ultimate reality.)

The first topic: Relying upon a Spiritual Guide

A few years ago, I would have brushed aside such a teaching or rolled my eyes believing this path is really about tapping into our intuition, and letting our intuition guide us to perfection because in our hearts we know what is best for us. I relied on my intuition for years and it was amazing! My intuition led me to focus on this path, to excel in my practice, to release fears and travel to unknown places with unknown people, to live a really wonderful, beautiful life that I am so so grateful for.

But, my intuition can only take me so far. If my goal is to move beyond my body, see past the physical, be as free and unbounded as light itself, truly make a significant difference in people's lives, experience lasting peace and happiness and ultimate truth...then, without doubt, I need a guide.

Remember, every spiritual tradition on this planet shares one teaching: Our Ego will Stop us from progressing on the spiritual path. We must destroy our ego. We have so much to experience, and it is coming in the way. If we knew how to attain these goals ourselves, we would be there now.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Day 1 The Preliminaries


Pabongka Rinpoche wrote three books (Liberation in Our Hands: Volumes 1, 2 and 3) to cover the Lamrim Meditations. The first entire book (Volume 1) is dedicated to the Preliminaries. Having a solid practice of the preliminaries is the foundation for success in your meditation; a direct uncontrived realization of the topic of the day.

For now, I recommend 30-40 minutes per meditation session. The preliminaries will make up about 10 minutes of that meditation session, so you will have at least 20 solid minutes to rest your mind on that day's topic of meditation.

Today, we will use the entire meditation time to go through the preliminaries, so that they become comfortable enough for you to go through with ease over the following days and weeks.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Lamrim: The Big Picture

The most exquisite teachings of Meditation were translated into English for the first time in the 1990s. So recent!

These particular teachings, called the "Lamrim," were brought to Tibet from India by the Indian Yoga Master, Atisha, in the eleventh century. Atisha condensed all the mind training teachings of the Buddha (563-483BC) into the Lamrim because he himself felt that after decades of practicing yoga intensively, he needed specific techniques to train his mind to experience ultimate reality.

Lamrim is also the essential preparation for Tantra, the fast path to omniscience where bliss is the vehicle used to experience ultimate truth and permanent bliss for ourselves and all beings. The success of one's Tantra practice depends on the ability to gather and dissolve prana into the central channel through the power of meditation and subtle body yoga practices. You need a qualified teacher to guide you in the practice of Tantra. For now, our task is to master the Lamrim teachings.