Buddhist Philosophy

Why Meditate? What Does Meditation Offer?

Why meditate? What does meditation offer? There are so many ways to spend our time these days. So, what benefits does meditation bring? And why might we want to take the time for practice? Phakchok Rinpoche, in this video teaching from a talk at Rangjung Yeshe Gomde Cooperstown, New York, points out very concrete benefits.

Why Meditate?

Three Measurable Benefits

  • Our minds become calmerWhy meditate?
  • Good qualities increase
  • Our minds become more flexible

Calmness is easy to understand, and most of us prefer to be calm. We seek out places that provide that sense of peace.

When we speak of good qualities, we think of positive characteristics. Here, Rinpoche mentions compassion, wisdom, dignity, understanding, patience, and generosity. We value these qualities in ourselves and in others.

Flexibility: Minds as Well as Bodies

When our minds become flexible, we don’t suffer so much and we also don’t cause others to suffer. Normally, we operate with a lot of judgment. Because of that, we judge others and we also judge ourselves. We react emotionally and we operate with a lot of assumptions. But when our mind becomes flexible, we don’t hang on to all these things. That means that we don’t stay stuck in bad moods or negative thinking. Flexible minds allow us to deal with whatever comes our way — we’re less stressed and uptight. We learn how to let things go!

We have all come to understand the importance of keeping our bodies flexible so they don’t become stiff and rigid. In the same way, if we keep our minds flexible, then we can avoid tight, closed mental states.

Boredom Happens–That’s Ok!

When we start meditating as beginners we may feel bored. We should not feel surprised if that happens. Our minds are conditioned to crave distraction. In our busy lives, we often forget how to accept boredom. And that’s why it is important to know these three positive results of meditation. Knowing these results help inspire us to keep practicing!

If you are interested in exploring meditation, you may be interested in Samye Institute’s support program, Training the Mind: An Introduction. This short home-study program offers more video instruction from Phakchok Rinpoche and is suitable for all levels.

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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.