If we are to do only one thing in our spiritual practice it is this: always maintain the recognition of our guru at our heart mixed inseparably with our root mind. The rest will flow naturally from this. My goal for this series of posts is to explain what I understand to be the essentials of a successful daily practice.
The main theme of the whole series of posts is: learning how to rely upon the guru’s mind alone. Every single thing I discuss will have this as its common denominator, and everything should be understood to support this idea. This series of posts will be a commentary to how to engage in the heart practice of the Kadampa tradition: the practice of Heart Jewel conjoined with our Lamrim practice. This is our daily spiritual bread.
All of Dharma can be condensed into one purpose: gaining complete control over our mind. Since everything that exists is nothing more than a projection of our mind, if we gain control over our mind we gain control over everything. Samsara is nothing more than uncontrolled projections of mind, and Nirvana is nothing more than controlled projections of mind.
We talk a lot about how we have choice of mind, but actually we only have the potential to have complete choice of mind. At present, our mind is almost fully out of control. This is why we suffer. An uncontrolled mind projects an uncontrolled world.
Meditation is the supreme method for gaining control over our mind. Meditation is essentially exercises for the mind. We exercise our choice of mind, and gain control over it so that it obeys us. It becomes our tool, instead of us being a slave to it. It is actually impossible to gain control of our mind without a regular meditation practice, thus if we want to gain control over our reactions to things, then we must gain control over our mind. The only way to fully do this is through a regular meditation practice. There is no other way. Just as we find time to exercise our body, how much more should we find time to exercise our mind. Just as we find time every day to clean our body, why can we not find time to clean our mind?
Meditation is the internal technology which enables us to reorganize our mind on a subtle and deep level. Whatever we mix your mind with we will become. Meditation is the internal technology which enables us to access and then purify our very subtle mind. There is no other way. Since it is only by accessing and purifying our very subtle mind that we can attain liberation or enlightenment, if we are serious about wanting to be happy and sincere in our wish to help others, then we need to begin to meditate.
Meditation is the principal cause of inner peace. Meditation is mental karma whose effect is inner peace. Since inner peace is the cause of happiness, ultimately meditation is the principal cause of happiness. Meditation is the principal means by which we proceed along the stages of the path. With this we can ultimately fulfil all our own and others wishes.
To me, meditation feels like I am plugging into the guru’s mind, receiving instructions, and then I put them into practice throughout the day. Meditation is the supreme method for mixing our mind with our guru’s mind to the point where his mind becomes our mind and our mind becomes his mind.
Meditation enables us to take control of our life by taking control of our mind. We put all of our effort into changing the external world, isn’t it much more sensible to simply change our mind. We can consider the example Geshe-la gives of imagine we need to cross a large rocky surface, we can either cover the entire surface or we can simply cover our feet. If the same way, we can try change the whole world or we can simply change our own mind.
Meditation prepares us in advance for our day, and therefore enables us to respond positively when difficult circumstances arise. Meditation has physical benefits of reduced stress, tension; longer, healthier life, greater physical flexibility and stamina. Meditation makes us more productive in everything that we do. The reason we are not productive is because we approach our work with a distracted mind. Meditation enables us to focus on the task at hand with laser like precision. It is actually good fun and relaxing. I look forward to being able to take a moment to collect my thoughts, recharge my batteries, and then engage in the world in a positive way.
What matters is the consistency of our practice. We cannot boil water by turning it on and off. It is by making repeated and consistent meditations over a long time that great results happen. The ocean is filled one drop at a time. If we miss one day of practice, it usually takes a few days to get back to where we were before. One of my favourite sayings is, “if I miss my practice once, I notice. If I miss my practice twice, my family notices. If I miss my practice three times, everyone notices.” This is very true.