New from the bestselling author of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying--365 thought-provoking meditations on life, death, doubt, mindfulness, compassion, wisdom, work, and more!
When I teach meditation, I often begin by saying: "Bring your mind home. And release. And relax."
To bring your mind home means to bring the mind into the state of Cahn Abiding through the practice of mindfulness. In its deepest sense, to bring your mind home is to turn your mind inward and rest in the nature of mind. This itself is the highest meditation.
To release means to release the mind from its prison of grasping, since you recognize that all pain and fear and distress arise from the craving of the grasping mind. On a deeper level, the realization and confidence that arise from your growing understanding of the nature of mind inspire the profound and natural generosity that enables you to release all grasping from your heart, letting it free itself to melt away in the inspiration of meditation.
To relax means to be spacious and to relax the mind of its tensions. More deeply, you relax into the true nature of your mind, the state of Rigpa. It is like pouring a handful of sand onto a flat surface, and each grain setdes of its own accord. This is how you relax into your true nature, letting all thoughts and emotions naturally subside and dissolve into the state of the nature of mind.
How many of us are swept away by what I have come to call an "active laziness"? Naturally there are different species of laziness: Eastern and Western. The Eastern style consists of hanging out all day in the sun, doing nothing, avoiding any kind of work or useful activity, drinking cups of tea and gossiping with friends.
Western laziness is quite different. It consists of cramming our lives with compulsive activity, so that there is no time left to confront the real issues.
If we look into our lives, we will see clearly how many unimportant tasks, so-called 'responsibilities" accumulate to fill them up. One master compares them to "housekeeping in a dream." We tell ourselves we want to spend time on the important things of life, but there never is any time.
Helpless, we watch our days fill up with telephone calls and petty projects, with so many responsibilities-or should we call them 'irresponsibilities"?
Loss and bereavement can remind you sharply of what can happen when in life you do not show your love and appreciation, or ask for forgiveness, and so make you far more sensitive to your loved ones.
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross said: "What I try to teach people is to live in such a way that you say those things while the other person can still hear it." And Raymond Moody, after his life's work in near-death research, wrote: "I have begun to realize how near to death we all are in our daily lives. More than ever now I am very careful to let each person I love know how I feel."
One powerful way to evoke compassion is to think of others as exactly the same as you. "After all," the Dalai Lama explains, "all human beings are the same made of human flesh, bones, and blood. We all want happiness and want to avoid suffering. Further, we have an equal right to be happy. In other words, it is important to realize our sameness as human beings."
Despite all our chatter about being practical, to be practical in the West means to be ignorantly, and often selfishly, short-sighted. Our myopic focus on this fife, and this life only, is the great deception, the source of the modem world's bleak and destructive materialism. No one talks about death and no one talks about the afterlife, because people are made to believe that such talk will only thwart our so-called progress in the world.
If our deepest desire is truly to live and go on living, why do we blindly insist that death is the end? Why not at least try to explore the possibility that there may be a life after? Why, if we are as pragmatic as we claim, don't we begin to ask ourselves seriously: Where does our real future lie? After all, very few of us live longer than a hundred years. And after that there stretches the whole of eternity, unaccounted for...