■ Like a dharma protector, an app can help you to build up a meditation habit
When you meditate, sometimes you may feel some energy movement. There are four types of energy movement.
1 Physical sensations. You may feel some movement at the top of the head, or some tingling at the back, or something is blocked in the chest area. Occasionally, there may be heat in your body, or your body moves and shakes. Some may cry or even make mudras with the hands. These are all energy movements and they are normal.
2 Sensory perceptions. You may hear sounds or see images. You may see buddhas and bodhisattvas coming to you and giving you special messages.
3 Emotional ups and downs. From time to time you may feel joyful and blissful, but after a while, you start feeling depressed or angry. You may even have physical pain in the body and your mind becomes unclear. Yet after a few days, the pain is gone and your mind becomes clear again. You may wonder "Wow! Maybe this time I have finally become enlightened!”
4 Perception of positive and negative energy. You start to feel "Oh! This person has good energy!" "That place has bad energy!" "I know what the other people are thinking..."
Among these four, two are real and two are not real. The physical sensations and the emotional ups and downs are real. However, the sensory and energy perceptions are not real, so don't believe in that. Generally speaking, you just have to understand that these are all energy movements, which may happen when prana, nadi and bindu are being transformed.
Actually, there are two kinds of such transformation. The first one is the transformation from the impure prana, nadi and bindu to the pure prana, nadi and bindu. The second one is the transformation from the pure prana, nadi and bindu to the wisdom of prana, nadi and bindu.
For the first one, energy movement often happens when the "impure" is being transformed to the "pure". However, during the transformation from the "pure" to the "wisdom", there will not be any energy movement. Sometimes, it is possible for both transformations to happen at the same time, but it is also possible that there is a sequence where the transformation from the "pure" to the "wisdom" comes after the transformation from the "impure" to the "pure".
However, an important point you must remember is the transformation from the "pure" to the "wisdom" is only possible through the nature of mind practice, because the nature of mind is beyond time, particle, big and small, near and far. Once you see the nature of mind, the perception of your own body will also be beyond time and particle, just like the moon reflection in the lake. The body is everywhere and nowhere. But, even though I tell you these now, you will not be able to understand. However, if you keep on practicing, these will happen naturally in the future and you will be able to experience them. During such a process, sometimes there may be "huge waves". So, don't grasp onto your experience, don't stop, and keep on practicing. Eventually, your nature of mind will become clearer and clearer.
The most important thing is to keep on practicing, but at the same time, don't set a goal too high and you must understand your capability. Don't try to compete with the others when you hear someone says he practices for six hours a day. Perhaps you can start from an hour, or even thirty minutes a day, and then practice diligently for a month.
After a retreat, in particular an 8-day retreat like this, you will find that meditating for an hour or half an hour a day is quite easy for the first week. Yet when the second week comes, you may start looking for your smartphone soon after you sit on the meditation cushion. "Oh! I took so many beautiful photos during the 8-day retreat, how many "likes" did I get?" You may feel restless, as if your hand is "itching", and finally, you grab your phone and start scrolling... "Alright, I will just browse for five minutes..." Soon, fifteen minutes, or even an hour passed by and you tell yourself "Okay, I will meditate for an hour tomorrow." When tomorrow comes, you start to yawn soon after reciting the bodhicitta aspiration prayer... Indeed, the practice of meditation becomes difficult soon after the first week. So be careful and don't touch your smartphone! Perhaps you can go to another spot to meditate, for example, go to the rooftop or the mountain. Play with your smartphone only after the meditation practice.
When the third week comes, you are getting used to the new habit, and when it is the fourth week, you may even feel good about your meditation practice. You have built up your daily meditation habit step by step, and it will become even more stable if you continue to do so with diligence for three months.
After you have returned home, sometimes you cannot continue your practice because you are sick or when you are travelling. Don't worry, but you must also continue to keep your practice close to your heart.
Apart from the formal practice, there is also the informal practice which you can do during your everyday life. This time, you can meditate while looking at your smartphone! For example, you can meditate whenever you see a "like", or you can look at the nature of mind whenever you hear the ringtone or sense the vibration each time you get a new message on the phone.
Recently, Tergar has developped an app which is free of charge and which you can download through the App Store. You can type in your own message to remind you of practice, set the time and frequency of practice, and the app will automatically send you the reminder. In the past, sometimes you might forget to write down the time you started to practice and after a while, you forgot how much time you have practiced and wondered whether you have to do it all over again. But now, this app can help remind you about the time and your practice.
After you have returned home, you all have homework to do. Actually, there is a "short cut" to finishing your homework and that is, set your schedule in the app! It will remind you to practice when it is the right time. For example, if you are in the Path of Liberation 1 and 2, you can set your reminder according to your topic and the length of time you would like to practice. It is also important for you to build up the informal practice habit. For example, you can use a small counter and press it once each time you think of the nature of mind. In the Joy of Living, we have also talked about using some images or words, and stick them somewhere in your home or in your office so that you will remember to practice everytime you see them.
Actually, the “best app” to remind ourselves to practice is when we are facing a problem. When I was young, I had panic disorder. As my panic gradually disappeared, what has remained is my meditation practice. I am very grateful to my panic because it helped me to practice. If I didn't have this panic disorder, perhaps I might have forgotten to meditate. Therefore, my panic disorder has really helped me in my meditation practice.
(Excerpt from Mingyur Rinpoche's teaching on 16 Sep 2018, on the final day of the Tergar Asia 8-Day Retreat)
■ To feel the sunlight, you need to walk under the sun; to receive blessings, pray
Now imagine Vajrasattva in the space before us. If you imagine him here in the space before us, he will be here, because for Vajrasattva, there is no difference between near and far, front and back, up and down. Awareness is everywhere and nowhere. Therefore, Vajrasattva is everywhere and nowhere. But you are not everywhere. You are in this tiny, tiny room, in this tiny, tiny body. When you are in this small room, you are not in another room. If you are facing front, you cannot see the back. For us, things are either black or white – very limited. But when we fully recognise nature of mind, we will be just like Vajrasattva.
So now we pray to Vajrasattva to receive the empowerment.
As you pray to Vajrasattva, know that Vajrasattva is not just the embodiment of awareness, but also compassion. Because of his compassion, he is always ready to bring benefit to sentient beings, just like the sun that is always shining. But even though the sun is always shining, to feel the sunlight you still need to walk out under the sun. This is why we pray to receive blessings. What are blessings? It is positive interdependence. If we pray to Vajrasattva, who has fully recognised nature of mind, we will receive blessings that will help us to further our practice so that we, too, may recognise nature of mind.
Remember what I said two days ago about the cause and conditions necessary for a flower to grow? There has to be a cause, which is the seed, and conditions, such as soil, fertilizer and water, for the flower to grow. The seed of our enlightenment is wisdom, and blessings act as one of the conditions we need – the soil, fertilizer and water of our enlightenment. Another way to understand blessings is: if you bring a lit lamp to one that is not lit, wick to wick, the unlit lamp will also be lit.
(Excerpt from Mingyur Rinpoche’s teaching on 15 Sept 2018 during the Vajrasattva empowerment at Tergar Asia’s 8-Day Retreat in Thailand) ... See MoreSee Less