Buddhist Philosophy

What Does Meditation Practice Mean?


What Does Meditation Practice Mean?

We hear a lot about meditation practice.But what do we mean when we say meditation practice?  Is is a strenuous effort?

Practice means reminding. It is actually very simple.

What does practice mean?
Reminding gently like holding a small kitten.

The word practice often makes the process sound difficult and unpleasant.  But, that is not how it actually is. Meditation practice is really quite easy. Simply remind ourselves. How much do we have to remind? A lot! But we must remind very gently.

Meditation Practice: Treat the Mind Like a Kitten

Rinpoche uses the image of stroking a cat. We aren’t rough and aggressive with a small kitten. Similarly, we must be very gentle with our minds. And, we can be calm and comforting. Slowly, gradually, the reminding comes more easily. Reminding becomes a practice. Practice becomes a habit. The habit becomes experience. Experience becomes realization.

Practice with Gentle Openness

We approach practice gently. Also, we should remind ourselves not to have an agenda. Don’t have any expectations. With this gentle  approach, our hearts will relax.

Rinpoche reminds us we have to actually do the practice. He cannot convince us that practice is the answer. We have to experience it ourselves. We need to “hang loose” and relax. How? We need to let go of attachment. Remember to be gentle and gradual. Think again of the kitten.

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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.