This is a quote from Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche’s excellent week-long teaching on Prajnaparamita in Nepal in 2017
“You are not your mind’s boss. Your mind is your boss. You cannot control it. I can’t ask you, “ in three seconds, get angry at me”. Similarly, if you are really angry right now, I can’t ask you “three, two, one, stop being angry”. It means your mind is rigid, so you have to make the mind more malleable. How do we do that?
There’s a trick. You choose an object to concentrate on. Anything. Your salt shaker, your breathing, doesn’t matter, just choose one. Then you focus your mind on that.
Concentrate on that. Don’t think about other things. Only that thing. You should try that. Do it now. In your meditation posture or not, doesn’t matter. Choose an object and concentrate on that.
Okay. More likely you will all come back and say you couldn’t. Maybe a split moment you concentrate and then you think about something else. Of course, I’m talking about beginners; there are more seasoned practitioners.
What do you do? Can’t concentrate. If I’m a good teacher, I would give you a medal. There’s an expression in meditation called nyam, which means experience. This is your first nyam. The moment you try to concentrate on something, you end up knowing you cannot, which is the purpose. So for most of you lazybones, for another 12 years if you will just keep on every day “I can’t concentrate, I can’t concentrate”, then good – very good practice! You are practising. You have a potential. If you come to me and say it was very good, blissful, I was concentrating, and all of that – light, experiences, sensations etc., I’ll be very worried. Remember, knowing that you are always getting distracted makes the mind more malleable. This is called Shamatha.
If you have time, do it, it’s not difficult. It’s just another habituating technique. The only problem is you are not 100% interested. If you are not interested, why would you look at your breathing for a few minutes every day and get frustrated? You might as well watch a video or have ice-cream or something else. A certain amount of revulsion towards this life is necessary. At least you should think that this life cannot be fixed permanently. It’s a bit like my car, always breaking down. Look at me, look at you. You are going to break down. The one you love the most you’ll probably end up hating the most. All of that is good to contemplate on.
How do we end up thinking an illusion is real? Because we are distracted. When the continuous distraction becomes so powerful, the illusion becomes “real”. Distraction is the key obstacle to understanding emptiness.
How to deal with distraction? Whatever you are thinking, just know. You’ll start with knowing very little. But if you keep on, noticing, aware, being conscious of this moment of mind, again and again, you will not become entangled by thoughts. The stream of thoughts will not flow easily. Right now it just flows easily. Don’t stop thoughts, put yourself there. If you keep on doing that, your grip on phenomena, such as good, bad, the right thing to do, the wrong thing to do, values… all this will become relaxed.
You can see some changes, if you do vipassana every day for half an hour for about three years. This will make others also happy. There are endless benefits.”
Watch the first teaching in the series:
This article is also available in Czech on Mantrajána
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