Demo Rinpoche – Ancient Wisdom. Modern Times. #148 – November 20, 2022
We talk about how to start meditation. We try to retreat from regular thoughts, try to refuse all sorts of different thoughts, and consider that the starting point of meditation. We hear, “Do meditation, don’t think about anything, just sit on the cushion, stay there and meditate”. That’s one way. Then, some great lamas and gurus say the starting point is when you analyze your own mind. Both could be right.
The first is not thinking about regular things, like “what should I wear, where should I go, what should I eat today?”. Just staying away from planning minds and trying to focus on keeping the mind inside is the starting point of still meditation, which is related to Shamata practice. Analyzing your own mind is the starting point of analytical meditation.
Still meditation is like when you stay away from big cities and all the turmoil, the never-ending stories. You go to the woods and stay there. You try to retreat from all sorts of thoughts. That is a good start and it will help, but it is not the ultimate method. We can go farther.
Going to the woods, giving up your cows, your fields and businesses and just living in the woods, eating fruit and drinking the water from rivers, you get a little bit of relief. But if you are picking on people near you, nearby meditators, and feeding your own negative emotions, you could be jealous or angry or a very prideful person there. That person is doing a little better but did not improve that much.
Likewise, you can do still meditation for hours, just sitting there. Great. But without doing analytical meditation, you are not looking at your own mind. You are just sitting there doing nothing. If you don’t analyze your own mind, you could be very arrogant or ignorant; you could be very angry too. So, at that point, it is important to do analytical meditation. Instead of analyzing other people, we have to analyze ourselves, inspect ourselves in our three different actions of mind, body and speech.
For example, when you are a kid and get upset with somebody, you pick up a stone and throw it at their window and break the window. Then proudly tell your friends, “Today, I broke my enemy’s window.” So here you have mind, then action, and then speech afterwards. These three. First you hate that person, your mental action. Then the bodily action of picking up a stone and breaking their window. Then feeling proud of it and telling your friends, your speech action.
So, on the point of hating somebody, the first thing we analyze is to check for our hatred and anger, rooted in our selfishness or ignorance. Most times, when we hate other people, there definitely is a self-centered mind there. Most times, there is a huge ignorance. In Tibetan, when get upset, we say that we “eat anger” – kongtro sawa. Isn’t that funny? It is funny terminology, but it is meaningful.
When you get upset you are eating anger, and that hurts us. That’s the first thing. Hating people is not good for us at all. Most times we know it is not the right thing, but we do it often. If we analyze, we sometimes find we don’t know why we get upset. So, it is really important to analyze and find out why. It is not trying to find out why other people say those things but why that hurts us. If someone calls us an idiot and we are upset, we don’t analyze the words the person used, but why we get upset. If someone calls you greedy or arrogant or selfish, maybe you don’t get upset. But if someone calls you idiot, you get very upset.
If you call some people an idiot, they don’t get upset. But if you call them selfish, they get upset. People get upset about different things. It’s not about the words but more about why do those words hurt me.
So, analyze: how is that hurting me? When we get upset that’s something in us. It’s not the words. The words are not mantras. It has to do with our selves. So, analyze and think about that.
When you find the problem, you cannot solve it immediately. Nothing is fixed by just seeing it. The best is knowing. That’s the first thing. There are many people in this world who don’t know they made a mistake. Many people are making a lot of mistakes and never know they are making mistakes. They are sort of conceited. They think they are right; they think they have no problem. Then you cannot do anything.
Then there are smart people, a little better than that. They know, “Okay, I made a mistake, there is something there, but I don’t want to accept it.”
Then there is a third group who know about it and accept it, but they don’t want to fix it. They are a little bit careless, thinking, “Whatever” and leave it there.
And then the best are those who understand their own problems and try to fix them. They are very smart. It is not easy. Just understanding the problem will not fix it, but if you don’t understand your problem, you cannot fix it at all.
If you have no idea, you will make the same mistakes again and again. So, it is very important to analyze your mind and find out where our problem is coming from. Then try to fix it – slowly, slowly, slowly.
Then the same thing with our actions. If you are a mature person, if you try to harm somebody with your actions, that is deeply rooted in our ignorance. There are lots of other ways to solve the problem.
Sometimes in our actions, we human beings cannot express things nicely and skillfully. Because of our ignorance we start breaking people’s windows or swear at people and things like that. If you do analytical meditation on that, you see you can do better than that.
Then speech. There comes the pride. You tell others, “I broke my enemy’s window”. You are feeling proud, which actually is stupidity. If you do things like that in your life, it could come from the anger side, but it could also come from the attachment side. It could be a jealousy story.
Whenever you feel uncomfortable with your own actions, instead of living that way, do the analysis on your mind, on your actions, on your speech. In that way you will not fix the problem today, but you gain wisdom, and get smarter and next time you can avoid a lot of these problems by using your own experience from analytical meditation.