Lama Zopa Rinpoche's Online Advice Book
Lam-rim Topics :
Meditation and Visualization
- Calm Abiding Meditation (Tib: shi-nä)
- Obstacles to Meditation
- Chöd Practice
- Meditation Practice
Calm Abiding Meditation (Tib: shi-nä)
|Rinpoche gave a nun the following advice on shi-nä practice.|
My Dear Claire,
Thank you very much for your letter.
Visualize Guru Shakyamuni Buddha on the tip of your nose, the size of your little fingernail or a grain. Do this visualization with your eyes open, understanding that the object of visualization is an object of the mind (mental consciousness) and not the eye consciousness.
In Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand the advice on calm abiding is very clear, also in Lama Tsongkhapa’s Lam-Rim.
With love and prayer...
|Object for Shamatha (Calm Abiding)|
|A student wrote to Rinpoche asking about an object of meditation and whether she should continue using the breath as an object. Rinpoche sent the following advice regarding which object to focus on in shamatha practice.|
My dear Jane,
Thank you for your letter about your practice of shamatha. I rejoice. It is very good to try. See yourself as the deity, so it becomes tantric practice as well as shi-nä.
To develop shi-nä, first go through all the details as mentioned in the sadhana. Then, if the deity has a third eye, try to concentrate and focus your mind on that. Later, on the basis of that, without losing it, add the details of the face. If that is clear, without losing it, add the simple aspect of the deity: two hands and legs. If this is clear, expand the arms and legs and after that, when you are clear as the deity, add the mandala. This is one way.
Another way, according to Lama Tsongkhapa, is to focus on yourself as the deity with one face and two arms. After going through this, focus on whatever comes, with remembrance and awareness. Remembrance here means remembering the object of meditation. Awareness means being aware of your mind, whether it is distracted or not.
You have to study the teachings on shi-nä well. The teachings in Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand are regarded as very helpful.
With much love and prayers...
|Advice from Lama Zopa Rinpoche about actualizing shi-nä.|
Also, you need good conditions to have success in shi-nä, so don’t plan to do this right away. First, you need to purify and collect merit and then you need to study, to have as much knowledge as possible.
When you have more experience in lam-rim, then do shi-nä retreat, based on Highest Yoga Tantra. If you can do it this way, then it can be very rich, like ice-cream with sugar, cream and many things. This makes your retreat very delicious, yum, yum. So, then your three-year retreat is very productive, it doesn’t become an obstacle, or a cause of lung. If one doesn’t have a lot of merit, then one becomes sick or obstacles can occur.
|After Achieving Calm Abiding
|Rinpoche gave the following advice to a monk doing a shi-nä retreat at a retreat center.|
My very dear Thomas,
Thank you very much for your kind letter and offering of $100.
Regarding your question on how to proceed after achieving calm abiding, put effort into realizing emptiness. It is good if you do lots of mandala offerings to collect merit and also meditate strongly on guru devotion in order to receive blessings. Put more effort into collecting merits in order to realize emptiness.
You can do this according to the Mahamudra tradition. You make prayers requesting to the Mahamudra lineage holders, then perform Lama Chöpa, and before the very end, before the lam-rim prayer, after you finish the request, before the guru enters your heart, watch the mind. Recognize the object of refutation; try to recognize the inherently existent “I” that doesn’t exist. Then, take a minute or a second to realize emptiness, and use emptiness as the object of your one-pointed concentration. Put effort here in developing renunciation of samsara – this is the door to the path.
Check well the teachings from Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand to check the stages that you have reached. Make sure there is no mistake.
Also, you have to put effort into guru devotion, until that realization comes all the time – that every single buddha is all the gurus and every single guru is all the buddhas. One is like all and all is like one, like the water, rain, river and oceans are mixed up and coming out of a waterfall. They are all oneness with the water, or like milk and water mixed as one. Your mind realizes this.
All the buddhas, bodhisattvas and sentient beings are thanking you for developing your mind in the Dharma to benefit them.
With much love and prayers and good luck...
|Which Practice to Concentrate On|
|Rinpoche gave the following advice to a student doing shi-nä retreat at a retreat center. The student had recently disrobed.|
By now you must be very close to practicing the special tantric conduct that comes just before achieving the unified state, enlightenment. Each person’s special conduct is not the same, it is different. Sometimes the conduct is being crazy (Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche gave examples like one practitioner’s special conduct was chopping up animals in many pieces, another built a multi-story house, which had absolutely no purpose). Maybe we need to ask His Holiness what special conduct you have to perform. I am sure yours will be very special….this is a joke at this moment, time wise.
Here is my advice – concentrate on the object of ahtung to complete shi-nä. The great advantage is that in one’s daily life you can keep the mind in virtue easily and naturally, without much effort. It helps to not create negative thoughts, which create negative karma, many of which happen in one day. It makes one’s life very stable and calm, very happy. The great advantage is one can easily generate realizations of renunciation and bodhicitta. This is the most important thing in this life, also emptiness. Also, it is easy to achieve the tantric path – gross and subtle generation stage, as well as the six yogas – the completion stage. That means it is easy to achieve the Dharmakaya and Rupakaya – after that, goodbye.
Do everything with your whole heart for the benefit of every hell being, preta, animal, human, sura, and asura being, including President Bush (so many hundreds and thousands of people hate Bush).
As I mentioned earlier, you need to put effort into renunciation and bodhicitta. Even if you are practicing shi-nä now, this should be the main aim. Without bodhicitta, whatever other realization you have doesn’t mean much, even the realization of emptiness.
Even tenth-level bodhisattvas can make mistakes in trying to benefit sentient beings.
With much love and prayers...