Meditation - Experience Your Own Mind


Buddhist meditations are practical exercises to recognize one's own mind

An important part of the  teachings on the mind that Buddha gave during his 45 years of teaching are the explanations about the methods of meditation. In Tibetan Buddhism Meditation is always connected with the explanations on basis, path, and goal. It is supported by positive actions, developing compassion and wisdom, and practicing a liberating view. The special posture one sits in during meditation helps one enter into states  deep concentration. The ultimate goal of Buddhist meditations is insight into the nature of mind.

Explanations on mind are sometimes called secret. The nature of mind can be called secret in itself because it is not a thing. It does not have a color, form, size or taste. Although one cannot find it, it is the basis of all experience. Mind, which sees through the eyes, hears through the ears, experiences, understands and is conscious of all experiences without seeing itself in the process. Meditation works in a way that it leads mind to a state where it can recognize itself. This can be compared to an eye that sees the world, but only sees itself when looking into a mirror.

All meditations work on two levels: on the level of Calm Abiding, as well as with Insight into the nature of mind.

The meditation of calm abiding directs mind towards one location, to calm it (Tib.: Shine, Skr.: Shamata). Consciousness is either directed at an item (e.g. a stone or a Buddha form) or it rests on the breath without a form. In this way, you abide in the „here and now” of the present without intention. Thoughts may arise, but you do not follow them. If it happens nevertheless and you slide into past or future, you come back to the object of concentration in a relaxed manner. With the help of this practice mind is calmed. It becomes like the undisturbed surface of a lake, which mirrors everything clearly. This is connected with the experience of clarity and joy. Practice shows its effects in more surplus energy and ease and the growing capability of letting go of disturbing emotions in one’s own mind.

On the basis of Shine/Shamata arises insight meditation (Tib.: Lhaktong, Skr.: Vipassana). It is directed at recognizing the nature of one's own mind. When distracted, mind has no chance to look at itself. Just like the eye, mentioned in the above example, it sees everything that is experienced, without being able to see itself (ignorance). From the state of calm – not being distracted – it becomes possible to look at one’s own mind, the one who experiences. One can see how thoughts and feelings arise in the mind, play around and dissolve like waves in the sea without being a thing themselves. On the level of direct insight, mind shows its timeless nature, free of all dualistic concepts that separate one from the experience. From this perspecitve thoughts, feelings and sensory impressions are recognized as the free play of one’s own mind.

Meditation on Love and Compassion in the Great Way.

One important practice in the Great Way is the meditation of sending and taking, called Tonglen in Tibetan. We first develop the strong wish to liberate someone very close to us from all difficulties and then expand this towards all sentient beings. With every intake of breath we take all beings’problems from them in the form of black clouds, and when breathing out we send them every happiness in the form of clear light. At the end of the meditation we imagine all beings to be happy and free from all limitations. After that we remain in the open nature of our mind for a moment. This meditation creates strong good impressions, develops love and compassion and deepens our knowledge, that suffering is not ultimately real (wisdom). The first phase of meditation is to concentrate and hold mind (Shine) and the final phase is insight into the nature of mind (Lhaktong).

Meditation on the Diamond Way

Phases of calm abiding and insight (Shine/Lhaktong) are parts of Diamond Way meditation as well. As a special means, the method of imagining Buddha aspects is added here. The meditation has two phases: the phases of developing and of completion. When Buddha realized enlightenment, he showed the absolute qualities of mind as forms of energy and light, and also gave corresponding Mantras which express unshakable joy, wisdom, and love.

In the developing phase the practitioner meditates on a Buddha Form as a translucent form in the space in front or above him or herself. Every detail has a beyond personal meaning and points to unconditioned characteristics of one’s own mind. By staying and interacting with the form with one-pointedness (Shine) mind calms itself. Moreover, something happens that can be described as awakening. By concentrating on the Buddha aspect and its vibration (Mantra), the characteristics embodied by the Buddha Form awaken inside our mind. What has always been our timeless nature is awakened and recognized through working with mind in this way.

In the completion phase, at the end of meditation, the practitioner dissolves the Buddha Form into light. Just like water flows into water truth outside and inside become inseparable. The practitioner stays in a state beyond all concepts. Consciousness rests in itself in order to recognize its own true nature (Lhaktong).

If enough good impressions have been created, and most veils have been removed from mind, then during the completion phase insight into the nature of mind is possible. Out of this experience, realized masters describe mind as open like space, radiant and clear, and without any limitations, and as well as a spontaneous expression of immovability, joy, and love, which expresses itself for the best of all beings.

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