Buddhist Philosophy

Reflect Without Judgment and Expectation

Reflect without judgment and expectation when you meditate. It is very important and healthy to remind ourselves not to judge ourselves. We also try not to compare ourselves with others. Keep that in mind and then reflect on your own recent behavior. Ask yourself honestly

How did I speak? Did I act appropriately? How did I behave? Did I lose my own mindfulness? Was I aware of my actions?

When we reflect in this way we don’t just “believe” that meditation is going to “fix” something.

Begin With One Thing

In the beginning, we need to choose one thing as our focus. How should we pick a focus? We select the emotion that is most habitual in our own minds. We need to see how our minds behave. Understand this as slow training.

Rinpoche observes that many of us approach meditation as if we are interviewing for a job we really want. We know we want to meditate, but we are not sure if we will do it well. That may be because we compare ourselves and our practice to the stories of the great masters. Then, we become concerned and we get nervous. Why? We have expectations. With this attitude, we are going to experience difficulties. Instead, we simply keep reminding ourselves not to have too much expectation. Lowering expectation reduces fear.

Drop Judgment

First, it is important to feel that you are very fortunate and very content. Then, remind yourself not to judge. Judgment produces good or bad feelings. Rinpoche gives the example of someone having neck pain. If you go to the doctor and he operates on your head it will not help. He needs to do some procedures on the neck. Similarly, meditation needs to be effective. Meditation must produce some transformation in your thinking and in your behavior.

Rinpoche uses the example of pride. When we are proud, we are very vulnerable. We are very concerned about how others view us. If someone treats us poorly, we get a lot of pain. We feel we have “rights” to speak or to act. But, we need to understand that this attitude actually causes us pain. Many of us feel this way.

Reflect with Contentment

When we reflect on pride or any other emotion, we need to start from a feeling of contentment. We acknowledge our basic goodness, and then see how we’re progressing. Don’t hope to get good results, but just observe. Drop the expectations of results. Be fearless!

Rinpoche explains that this is how he personally stays motivated. He doesn’t miss a day of practice because he reflects. Self-reflection allows us to see how the practice is transforming us. That is how we practice mindfulness. Watch and let it happen!



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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.