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Buddhadharma : Win 2012
46 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY WINTER 2 0 1 2 will realize the nature of the mind, and the nature of everything else. So instead of using reasoning and the analytical method to reduce everything to emptiness, you focus your mind on the mind itself and realize that the nature of the mind is emptiness. Then you realize that everything else has the same nature, which is emptiness. According to Mahamudra teachers, the sutric Mahayana approach uses external phenomena as the object of vipashyana meditation, whereas the tantric Mahayana approach of Mahamudra uses the mind itself as the object. However, the Mahamudra approach does not analyze the mind to realize that the nature of the mind is empti ness. Instead, the meditator uses contemplation. In this practice, the meditator allows the mind to be in its natural state, so that mind itself reveals its own nature. We do not analyze the nature of mind and we do not need to have a conceptual grasp of the fact that the nature of the mind is empty. If the mind is allowed to be in its natu ral state and all discursive thoughts subside, the nature of the mind will be revealed as empty of an enduring essence. In following the meditation instructions of sutric Mahayana, we employ different antidotes for different obstacles in the practice of sha matha. In contrast, according to Mahamudra, we should not become too concerned with the obstacles or with the use of antidotes to quiet the mind. We should have a general sense that all the obstacles that arise in meditation can be divided into two categories: the obstacle of stupor, or drowsiness, and the obstacle of mental agitation. When the obstacle of stupor arises, the mind is not disturbed by the agitation of discursive thoughts or emotional conflicts, but it lacks clar ity. The mind has become dull, and sometimes this is followed by sleepiness and drowsiness. Mental agitation, on the other hand, is easier to detect because the mind has fallen under the influence of discursive thoughts, distractions, and emotional conflicts. Instead of using antidotes to control the mind in these situations, the Maha mudra approach recommends two methods: relaxation and tightening. If the mind becomes dull, we “tighten” it through the application of mindfulness. We try to regenerate and refuel our mindfulness of the meditation object, whatever it happens to be. And if our mind is agitated, we must be careful to not apply too much mindfulness; we just try to relax the mind a little more. We can “loosen” the mind by letting go of mindfulness or whatever we are using to make the mind more focused. If our mind becomes dull, we could also straighten the spine, expand the chest, and tighten the body, making our posture a little more rigid. If mental agitation is present, we could soften our posture so that we feel more relaxed and focus the mind on the lower part of the body. In all situations, these two methods of either loosening or tightening are used. How to Practice Mahamudra In Mahamudra, beginners to shamatha medita tion should use an external object, such as a piece of wood, a pebble, or any physical object in your visual field, and concentrate on that. Whenever the mind becomes distracted, remember to go back to that physical object. After practicing that for a period, you can use your own breath as the object of meditation by applying mindfulness to the incoming and outgoing breath. To help with this process, you can even count your breaths. Counting helps the mind focus on the breath when that is the object of your meditation. Each outgoing and incoming breath should be counted as one. When you can do that with some success, move on to using the mind itself as the object of meditation. Try to be mindful of thoughts and emotions as they arise, without labeling them, without judging them, but simply by observing them. As this process of observation becomes stabilized, mindfulness will transform into awareness. If distraction arises, become aware of that distraction; if dullness or stupor arise, become aware of that; if mental agitation arises, become aware of that. When you contemplate the mind itself and let the mind be in its natural state, you will The nature of the mind is realized when the mind does not make any distinction in meditation between mental agitation and rest. By not making this distinction, the mind is left in its natural state, and thoughts and emotions become self-liberated.