Monday, March 14, 2011

The Middling Stages of Meditation - Part 1

I and Jeenal are in Mcleod Ganj/Dharamshala since past two weeks. For those who don’t know, Mcleod Ganj is the residence of his holiness the Dalai Lama and the headquarter of the Tibetan Government in exile.

After submitting an application form and getting a teaching pass few days ago, we were blessed today to attend the lecture of the Dalai Lama in the temple complex. We saw him passing nearby while coming inside the temple. We set just outside the main hall where he was to deliver his lecture.
He started by presenting in brief the main tenets of the Buddha’s teachings:

From the Dhammapada:
Commit no evils; engage in virtuous deeds; subdue one’s mind thoroughly. This is the teaching of the enlighten one.”
This short verse can be considered to have the essence of all the teachings of the Buddha.
He then proceeded by explaining in short the way out of suffering. The path to liberation as taught by the Buddha is also known as The Noble Eight-fold Path divided in three sets of practices: the practice of morality; the practice of concentration; and/leading to the cultivation of wisdom (thought insight meditation).
At the request of his students he was then discussing on a scripture about The Middling Stages of Meditation. A bit of it I’ll introduce to you here:
It is not possible for omniscience to be produced without causes, […] from among these causes and conditions, you should cultivate correct and complete causes. If you put the wrong causes into practice, even if you work hard for a long time, the desired goal cannot be achieved. It will be like milking a (cow’s) horn. Likewise, the result will not be produced when all the causes are not put into effect. […] Therefore, those who desire a particular result should cultivate its complete and unmistaken causes and conditions.”
This is a warning to people who think that one can practice meditation without a previous preparation. So this is especially pertinent regarding the practice of Yamas and Niyamas in Yoga.
In the context of the Buddha teachings and as per the system of Mahayana Sutras the following is presented:
"Therefore, if you are interested in achieving omsniscience, you need to practice these three: compassion, the awakening mind of bodhichitta and skillful means.
On compassion
With reference to the Boddhisattvas, who moved by compassion take the vow to liberate all sentient beings, the practice of compassion is exalted:
Having entered into this practice they will certainly complete the collection of merits and insights. Accomplishing the accumulation of merit and insight is like having omniscience itself in the palm of your hand There, since compassion is the only root of omniscience, you should become familiar with this practice from the very beginning.
The Buddhisattvas have already achieved all their own goals, but remain in the cycle of existence for as long as there are sentient beings. This is because they possess great compassion. Therefore, great compassion alone is the unavoidable cause of the non-abiding nirvana of a Buddha.
How to meditate on compassion and how to proceed further I’ll share in my next post.
Till then.. Namaskar !!

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