Book Review: Crystal Clear Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche

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Richard Zen, modified 8 Years ago at 11/21/14 1:55 PM
Created 8 Years ago at 11/21/14 1:40 PM

Book Review: Crystal Clear Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche

Posts: 1664 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
Crystal Clear Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche

I find the strength in this book is how to deal with thinking and pointing instructions:

Highlights:
  • ...when sitting we should deeply relax the body. The mind or attention should be left uncontrived and unbound. You should not focus on striving to achieve or avoid anything. That is all that being at ease means; it does not mean to resign and be careless or to be caught up in any thought that may come along.
  • How then does one sustain the practice during the post-meditation of daily activities? To this question the author provides another analogy: like a competent herdsman tending his cattle. When you take cattle to pasture you do not have to lead each one of them continuously; you let them walk on their own, guiding the herd in the right direction. Then you let them do what they want: eat grass, drink water, lie down, etc.; but if danger threatens, you have to do something. Similarly, if you start to drift into deluded patterns then you need to guide your attention back to the practice; but otherwise, just keep an eye on the cattle from a distance. If you are careless and turn your back, sooner or later, the cattle wander off, and you won't know what happened; so some kind of balance is necessary. Therefore, keep a constant, naturally aware presence of mind during the breaks.
  • ...it is useful and important to be mindful in all daily activities, whether talking, eating, lying down or moving around.
  • During our daily activities we should try our best not to let our attention stray and our thoughts run wild; but instead keep some presence of mind and be attentive. By doing so, it becomes much easier to return to the meditation state.
  • When not training in the state of samadhi, but moving about, talking, eating, walking and lying down, writing or reading, in every situation you should try to remember to look into and acknowledge the true nature of mind. By reminding yourself again and again, and growing accustomed to it, it becomes easier and easier to recognize the essense of mind.
  • Mind is intangible; therefore, when looking into what mind is, you are not expected to find an entity with a fixed color, shape or material attributes. Mind is invisible, yet at the same time, we can definitely see that this is so; we can see that there is a complete absence of anything possessing shape, color, concrete attributes and so forth.
  • When a thought or emotion occurs, simply look into what it really is and discover where it comes from, where it is located and where it goes. Also, what is the thought or emotion itself made of? Looking in this way, one discovers that it actually possesses no real substance; it is simply empty cognizance that has taken the form of a thought. In itself, the thought or emotion is actually no 'thing' whatsoever. Next, we need to discover whether this experience of empty cognizance only happens after the thought vanishes, or does the act of meditating turn the nature of thought into an empty cognizance? Alternatively, is the nature of any thought, whether we recognize it or not, empty cognizance, now and always? Or is it simply a matter of paying attention, of looking into its nature to see how it actually is? Which of these three is it? If it seems to be either of the first two of these options you must continue your investigation until discovering that it is actually the third case.
  • The real training is not to efface thoughts, but to see what is innate to thoughts when they are present and what is innate to the mind when they are absent. Whether or not there are thoughts, you can now continue the training uninterrupted by any obstacles.
  • All we have to do is look into our mind and recognize its originally empty and cognizant nature. Continuously recognizing this is called sustaining ordinary mind or self-knowing...
  • It is important, however, to be attentive. You are distracted when this sense of mindful presence slips and are continuing the training only when mindfulness is present. Therefore, regard mindfulness as very important. Later the nature of mind and mindfulness will become a single identity; but for now, "as long as your naturally aware mindful presence has not wandered off, it is still the meditation training, whether your state of mind is utterly empty, remains serenely blissful, whether thoughts flow in a rush or manifold perceptions appear vividly." The text continues, "This being so, you should sustain a presence of mind in stillness when calm, in thinking when thoughts occur and in perceiving when perceptions take place. Do not deliberately try to think when still or prevent a thought when it occurs. No matter what your state may be lucidly clear, totally empty, suffused with bliss or completely restless, simply remain undistracted. You do not need to modify or correct anything. In short, everything is meditation training when you have naturally aware presence of mind, and nothing is meditation when you are distracted. Therefore, understand the great importance of maintaining this mindfulness."
  • To put it simply: the meditation training is being sustained when there is awareness of the nature of mind, and it is gone when distracted. Therefore, it is important to remain undistracted.
  • "Now, if this natural state of mind is the main focus," one might wonder, "wouldn't it be enough simply to embrace whatever is experienced with mindfulness from the very first, without having to follow gradual steps of guidance? Why¬†wait until now? Why go through all the different steps of shamatha, inquiry, investigating how the mind is, how the thoughts are, how the mental images are, resolving them etc., before finally recognizing the state of Mahamudra?" Dakpo Tashi Namgyal replies that those who belong to the instantaneous type can immediately skip to this practice, but most people are neither stable nor sure without going through these steps. Therefore, it is much better to go step-by-step through the stages of the meditation practices, gain some experience and then proceed deeper and deeper on one's level of experience. In this way, one feels more confident at each step of the way.
  • Dakpo Tashi Namgyal says, "it is not enough that the meditation practice has taken birth; you must sustain it perfectly."
What keeps us meditating?
  • Seeing impermanence
  • Persistence
  • During our sessions and our daily life between, it is very important to keep mindfulness on guard at all times.
  • "make compassion the activity of your meditation practice."
  • "make modesty and the conscience the armor of your meditation practice." Conscience is the personal feeling of taking responsibility for one's actions and practice, for example thinking, "Since I have this opportunity it would be a shame if I didn't practice." It is more like acting as a witness to one's own actions, which then leads to increased self-confidence. Modesty, on the other hand, is how one behaves in the eyes of one's teacher and fellow practitioners, including the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. In front of others, you should be without pretense, instead of hypocrisy or the feeling that you are faking it. You should admit your faults and sincerely apply yourself to the meditation practice. By cultivating these two qualities, you will gain a sense of self-confidence and fearlessness. In fact, cultivating all five of these qualities will ensure that your meditation training will progress and be successful.
Now, the training in the flawless meditation state means sustaining the essence, and it is taught that you should remain in these three manners: fresh, artless and unbound; all of which have to do with not concentrating too tightly, being nature, free and relaxed. Dakpo Tashi Namgyal provides us with several analogies on how to be like this.
  • The first is to "elevate your experience and remain wideopen like the sky." Elevate means expand in all directions, let your experience open up, just as space is utterly open and unconfined. Space is not constricted or limited in any way, and when we sustain the meditation state, we should allow our state of mind to be very open, free and expansive, like the sky. Next, he uses the analogy of the earth, "expand your mindfulness and remain pervasive like the earth." Here, pervasive means constancy in all situations, being continually mindful. It is, however, extremely important that this mindful presence should not be forced or rigid; we should allow it to spreadout through our lives like the vast plains of the earth stretch in all directions. Though wide open with a feeling of expansiveness and vastness, one must still be grounded, therefore the third example is "steady your attention and remain unshakable like a mountain." The next two analogies concern how to avoid the shortcomings that can occur during our meditation training. The first is avoiding the feeling of dullness. Having achieved steadiness and a sense of being unperturbed one must be careful not to become absent-minded or oblivious; therefore, "brighten your awareness and remain shining like a flame." You should be utterly present with an empty cognizance.
  • The next analogy deals with avoiding agitation, involvement in thought activity, especially the kind that goes unnoticed, the undercurrent of thoughts. You should not let the bright awareness diffuse into various thought patterns but rather, "clear your thought-free wakefulness and remain lucid like a crystal", like a totally flawless, clear crystal.
  • Next, "Unobscured like a cloudless sky, remain in a lucid and intangible openness" concerns the quality of emptiness in the experience. Like a cloudless sky has a sense of being vividly awake, wide-open and empty, a state in which there is no thing to pinpoint. In other words, instead of clinging to, or fixating on, something called original mind or such, let it have the ungraspable, unidentifiable quality of open emptiness.
  • The next analogy refers to non-distraction: "Unmoving like the ocean free of waves, remain in complete ease, undistracted by thought." This means to be like a vast ocean, totally unruffled, undisturbed by the movement of waves.
  • The last analogy of the meditation state is "Unchanging and brilliant like a flame undisturbed by the wind, remain utterly clear and bright." Otherwise, the state may sometimes be clear and sometimes unclear, sometimes steady and other times unsteady. In its identity, our essence is empty and cognizant; it neither brightens nor dims, but has the steadiness of a flame undisturbed by the wind.
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Richard Zen, modified 8 Years ago at 11/21/14 1:56 PM
Created 8 Years ago at 11/21/14 1:56 PM

RE: Book Review: Crystal Clear Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche

Posts: 1664 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
BTW the indents don't seem to work.

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