Buddhist Philosophy

Learn to Meditate: It Is Simple!

Learn to Meditate: You Can Do It!

Rinpoche Meditating “You should learn to meditate.” –a friend has probably said this to you, right?  Everywhere we turn: doctors, therapists, physical trainers, lifestyle coaches, authors, and celebrities are all talking up the value of meditation.  These days, almost everyone we know has tried some form of meditation. But what are they talking about?

In this short video clip from Martha’s Vineyard in 2015, Phakchok Rinpoche explains the fundamental principles of meditation. 

How to Meditate?

How do we learn to meditate? What does it really mean? What are we supposed to be doing when we meditate? Maybe we have even tried to meditate before, but we got frustrated. Can meditation be simple?

What is meditation really? Rinpoche reminds us of the Sanskrit term– Samādhi. Samādhi means nature.  

The term meditation can sound very heavy. Or we might misunderstand and think that we are trying to zone out. But Rinpoche observes that we are not aiming for a blank and dull state.

Meditation: Mind Nature is Pure

Meditation, instead, means seeing the pure nature of our own mind. We can understand this by watching how naturally children behave. If we understand this, Rinpoche assures us that meditation is very easy.

Why should it be simple? We can remember that our own minds are always perfect by nature. If we don’t know this fundamental point, then Rinpoche explains that we will struggle with meditation. But, once we see this innate nature, then we are perfected!  That’s the meaning of the word Buddha–perfection.  And reconnecting with our own basic perfection forms the basis of genuine dignity.

Learn to Meditate: Reflection Exercise

This week, when you sit to meditate take a few seconds to remember nature.  Perhaps you want to repeat to yourself, “nature is perfect”.  Consider this carefully, and then begin your meditation.  When your attention wanders, simply notice that –and repeat to yourself, “nature is perfect”.  You can do this without judging–just remind yourself gently.

Once you finish your meditation session, go about your normal business.  But take some moments during the day to come back to this reflection.  When you pause to look out the window, think, “mind nature is perfect”.  You can do this in any activity–just repeat it silently to yourself.  After a week of doing this exercise–both in formal sitting meditation and off the cushion–what have you observed?

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Suggested Reading

Dudjom Rinpoche, The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, trans. and ed. by Gyurme Dorje and Matthew Kapstein (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1991), vol. 1, pages 468–474.

Ngawang Zangpo, Guru Rinpoche: His Life and Times, Ithaca: Snow Lion, 2002.

Nyoshul Khenpo, A Marvelous Garland of Rare Gems: Biographies of Masters of Awareness in the Dzogchen Lineage, trans. Richard Barron (Junction City: Padma Publishing, 2005), pages 41–48.

Padmasambhava, Legend of the Great Stupa, Berkeley: Dharma Publishing, 1973

Padmasambhava & Jamgön Kongtrul, The Light of Wisdom, trans. by Erik Pema Kunsang (Boudhanath: Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 1986-1999), pages 43-47 & Appendix 5.

Taranatha, The Life of Padmasambhava, Shang Shung Edizioni, 2005

Tulku Thondup, Masters of Meditation and Miracles, Shambhala, 1996.

Yeshe Tsogyal, Life and Liberation of Padmasambhava, translated by Kenneth Douglas and Gwendolyn Bays (Emeryville: Dharma Publishing, 1978, republished 2008).

Yeshe Tsogyal, Lotus Born: The Life Story of Padmasambhava, Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 2004.

‘The Life of Guru Padmasambhava’ in A Great Treasure of Blessings, The Tertön Sogyal Trust, 2004.