Traveling on paths that pass through regions infested by bandits is a fearful experience fraught with dangers. The spiritual path, too, leads through difficult and dangerous defiles, and anyone making the arduous journey toward enlightenment must expect to encounter some formidable obstacles, especially desire, anger, confusion, pride, and jealousy. You may manage to avoid the ambush set up by desire, only to find anger lying in wait, ready to overpower you at the next crossroads on your path. Even if you escape that danger, it will be all too easy to fall into the clutches of pride and jealousy. The five poisonous emotions are merciless marauders who will not have the slightest hesitation in killing your chance of reaching your destination, freedom from samsara. To bring you through these dangers, you will need a soundly reliable escort. That escort is the spiritual master. Only with the master’s guidance will you arrive safe and sound.
This is something we can look at and see for ourselves. When we act with a kind heart and good motivation, without any greed or lust, without any aggression, and without any delusion, that is virtuous. If, on the other hand, we act with a bad motivation out of the greed that wants only to benefit ourselves, out of the aversion that wants to harm someone else, or out of delusion that does not know what to take up and what to give up, that is non-virtuous.
Since revulsion is like the feet or the guardian of your meditation practice, you should contemplate the suffering of samsara. Keeping in your innermost mind that this life is impermanent and without lasting substance, cut worldly ties and resolve to equalize life and practice.
Since devotion is like the head or the enhancement of your meditation practice, entrust yourself fully and make sincere supplications to your guru and the lineage masters, never parting from seeing them as buddhas in person.
Since mindfulness is the watchman or heart of your meditation practice, never forsake it, not only during sessions, but also train in keeping constant company by reminding yourself of the natural state at all times and in all situations.
Make compassion the activity of your meditation practice, so that you cultivate loving kindness, compassion and bodhichitta for all sentient beings and bring them under your protection with dedication and aspiration.
The mind is like a crazy monkey, which leaps about and never stays in one place. It is completely restless and constantly paranoid about its surroundings. The training, or the meditation practice, is a way to catch this monkey, to begin with. That is the starting point.
Realizing that everything is a creation of our mind is the most important discovery; it is the fundamental enlightenment meditation. It is the best, most immediate way to solve problems, because when we realize that every problem we have comes from our own mind, there is nothing to blame on others. Even if somebody is angry at us and abuses us, it comes from our own mind. Previously we have put the entire blame on other people, thinking that all our problems came from outside, not from our own mind.
When we find that there is nothing external to blame, there is nothing for us to do except to transform our own mind, to purify our own karma. We have to purify our present impure karma, which projects these unpleasant appearances, and accumulate more merit. Since everything comes from our mind, enlightenment also has to come from our mind. Our own mind has to create englightment.
One practice that I especially like is taking mental snapshots. You can begin by closing your eyes. Then turn your head in any direction — up, down, sideways. It doesn’t matter which way. The idea is that you’re not exactly sure what you’ll see when you open your eyes. Then, abruptly open your eyes and see what’s in front of you. Almost immediately, you will revert to labeling everything, but try to observe that moment before the labeling happens. In a relaxed and open way, try to take a mental snapshot of that instant, which is empty of imputed meaning.
No one is more agitated and anxious than the person who thinks money is everything. “How am I going to make my fortune? Then, how am I going to hold on to it?” He lives in constant fear of thieves, competitors, and catastrophes. When he ends up losing his wealth, he feels as if his own flesh were being cut off.
Look at how some people rush about night and day for the sake of their business or their career, wearing themselves out in the pursuit of success and the effort of preventing setbacks. They are suspicious of everyone and are constantly attempting to profit from their inferiors, outmatch their equals, and oust their superiors. They hardly ever enjoy a carefree, untroubled moment. What a simple joy it is not to have power or position in society and to have nothing to lose and nothing to fear!
Do not encumber your mind with useless thoughts. What good is it to brood over the past and fret about the future? Dwell in the simplicity of the present moment. Live in harmony with the Dharma. Make it the heart of your life and experience. Be the master of your destiny.
This true mindfulness is the single sufficient king. We can also call that equanimity, the meditation state. Equanimity literally means “placing evenly.” What is placed evenly? It is rigpa, awareness. Placing rigpa in evenness means leaving it alone. It’s not placing it as being aware of something other. Just leave your awareness as it is, alone. It’s not a sense of nowness, nor is it a sense of the past or the future. Rather it is something which embraces past, present, and future, which embraces the nowness but is not the nowness itself.
In a dream, whatever we’re doing — walking, sitting or eating food — is all labeled by our mind. It’s all labeled by our mind, but it’s not there, it doesn’t exist at all. We can dream of winning a billion dollars in a lottery, so we go there, we get a billion dollars, we put it in our bag and the bag becomes very heavy. But when we wake up, it’s not there. It’s like that. All this — the real I, the real action, the real road, the real eating, the real food — everything is false. So, we can look at it like a dream.