Talks by
Chogyam Trungpa
The Nature of Mind: Berkeley, Ca
May 11, 1971
(1 Talk - Audio)
Talk on Meditation in Davis, Ca
May 10, 1971
(1 Talk - Audio)
C.U. Talks
Jan/Feb 1971
(5 talks - Audio)
Karmapas: Holders of the Mahamudra Lineage
April 1976
(5 talks - Audio)
Practice of Meditation
January 1971
(5 talks - Audio)
Battle of Ego
December 1970
(7 talks - Audio)
Jewel Ornament of Liberation
July-August 1970
(17 talks - Audio)
One Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa
August 1970
(13 talks - Audio)
Meditation and the Buddhist Path
October 1970
(5 talks - Audio)
Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism
December 1970
(6 talks - Audio)
Zen and Tantra II
February 1974
(3 talks - Audio/Video)
Zen and Tantra I
January 1974
(4 talks - 4 Audio/3 Video)
Life and Teachings of Marpa
August 1973
(4 talks - 4 Audio/1 Video)
The Question of Reality/Don Juan Seminar
August 1973
(4 talks - Video)
Tibetan Buddhism and American Karma
October 1973 (1 talk - Video)
Tibetan Buddhism and American Karma
October 1973 (1 talk - Video)
True Meaning of Devotion
August 1973
(4 talks - 1 audio, 3 video)
Message of Milarepa
July 1973
(7 talks - 3 audio, 4 video)
The Open Way
May 1970
(1 talk - audio)
Work Sex Money: Seminar Three
April 1972
(3 talks - audio)
Work Sex Money: Seminar One
September 1970
(3 talks - audio)
Journey Without Goal
(14 talks - video)
Tibetan Buddhist Path
(14 talks - video)
Community Talks
Mindfulness and Awareness
(three talks - audio)
Cynicism & Warmth
(one talk - audio)
Disappointment
(one talk - audio)
Techniques of Mindfulness
(six talks - audio)
Milarepa and the origins of the Kagyu Lineage
(one talk - audio)
Training the mind
(6 talks - audio)
Meditation:
The Path of the Buddha
(6 talks - video)
Jamgon Kongtrul
(6 talks - audio)
Six States of Bardo
(9 talks - audio)



These recordings are from the Shambhala Archives audio and video recovery projects. Â@ 2010 by Diana J. Mukpo. Used here by arrangement with Lady Diana and the Shambhala archives. All rights reserved.

Talks by
Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche
Online audio and video presentations of CTR's lectures and seminars

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These talks are presented in collaboration with the Shambhala Archives and the Chogyam Trungpa Legacy Project.

Thank you to the Shambhala Archives Audio Recovery Project for preserving these audio recordings of Chogyam Trungpa's teachings.

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Robert Walker will be the discussion leader for these talks. A new talk will be posted each Saturday through July 10. Robert and Jill Walker operate the Great Path Tapes and Books website, which provides recorded teachings of Pema Chodron and other Buddhist teachers.

Mindfulness and Awareness

New York City, March 1974


Listen to
Talk One


Listen to
Talk Two


Listen to
Talk Three

 

Discussion

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Jerome Petiprin

Incorrect linguistic attribution for dhyana

"So here, meditation (Tibetan: dhyana, Sanskrit: samadhi) is defined as a noun, not a verb, and in a somewhat fruitional way."

I believe this is an error. Both dhyana and samadhi are Sanskrit.

See Dhyana in Wikipedia below... Dhyana in Sanskrit or jhana in Pali can refer to either meditation or meditative states. Equivalent terms are "Chan" in modern Chinese, "Zen" in Japanese, "Seon" in Korean, "Thien" in Vietnamese, and "Samten" in Tibetan.

Robert Walkler

Thank you very much Jerome. I was a little confused about that, but it makes sense that dhyana/jhana could have more than one application. Maybe introducing that word just confuses things. I am interested in learning more, especially finding other uses of samten and dhyana by Trungpa Rinpoche. He does have a seminar "Development of Samadhi", which corresponds to this material, so maybe it would be better to stick with "samadhi" until I find out more. I'll look at my notes for that seminar as well.

I agree with you completely, as you say, "this more general Mahayana usage of dhyana (chen, zen, seon, thien, or samten)/samadhi is what CTR is addressing in this talk."

Robert

Jerome Petiprin

Robert,

I appreciate your prompt and courteous response.

I do hope, however, that you will not over react regarding dhyana being cognate with jhana.

As the Wikipedia article makes clear, in a Theravadan context jhana/dhyana is likely to be used as a technical term referring to the six or the four jhana states, which CTR is not referring to in this talk.

However, the Wikipedia article also makes clear that in the foundational Sanskrit and Pali texts dhyana/jhana has a broader, more general reference which gets variously translated as chen, zen, seon, thien, and samten (all of which are used in various Mahayana traditions) and dhyana is often used as roughly synonymous with samadhi. And in a Mahayana context dhyana/jhana does not usually pull in connotations of jhana states. As far as I can tell, this more general Mahayana usage of dhyana (chen, zen, seon, thien, or samten) /samadhi is what CTR is addressing in this talk.

thanks,

Jerome Petiprin

Robert Walkler

Jerome,

I've done a little research on Trungpa Rinpoche's uses of dhyana and samadhi in the early 70s. Thanks for instigating this. You're right (see original correspondence below) both of those are Sanskrit words. And the Wikipedia references seem very good. And you're right, although dhyana must have an etymological connection to jhanna states, it's clear Trungpa Rinpoche is not talking about cultivating jhanna states. Here are some of Trungpa Rinpoche's uses of those words, including those related Tibetan, Chinese, and Japanese words mentioned in Wikipedia. First, from Myth of Freedom, the chapter on "Zen and Prajna" (p. 119, Shambhala Dragon edition):

"The paramita of the fifth bhumi is panoramic awareness. This meditative state has been called dhyana in the Indian tradition, ch'an in the Chinese tradition, and zen in the Japanese tradition. They all mean a state of total involvement, without center or fringe. If there is a center and a fringe, then our state of mind ceases to be one of total involvement because we have to keep track of both ends; a sense of polarity is always present.

So dhyana or zen is awareness without a watcher. In the superficial sense, when we speak of awareness, we mean egocentric watching, knowing what we are doing.....We have to keep track of ourselves and our situation....There are so many things to manage at one time that we fear losing control, so we have to be extraordinarily alert and careful....

Awareness in the sense of zen is much simpler. The Tibetan word for it is samten (bsam gtan): sam means "awareness," ten means "making stable." So samten means "stable awareness," sane awareness rather than neurotic awareness...."

So, that section seems to be cut from the same cloth as the New York Mindfulness and Awareness teachings we've been listening to especially, as well as the mindfulness seminars.

In March and April of 1974, Trungpa Rinpoche taught 2 seminars called Dhyana and Samadhi and Development of Samadhi, which are also in keeping with the understanding of meditation presented in these other sources. I haven't listened to the first one, but I have notes (not a transcript) from the Development of Samadhi seminar. Maybe we'll get around to listening to this Development of Samadhi seminar on Chronicles in the next year. From talk 1: rough notes, paraphrasing -- Samadhi, the word, is based on idea of certain state of mind which does not require particular effort, but which comes automatically, and you can tune in to that particular state of mind, not hassled by life situaitons. So often translated as "trance," even by great scholars such as Dr. Conze. "A buddha is eternally in state of trance." That is not quite true.

Samadhi is a certain state of sanity and certain state of clarity, extraordinarily wakeful and open. But at the same time, this does not mean losing the grips of reality in the ordinary relative truth level. The person in a state of samadhi can cook exquisite sunny side up... and could converse with people in very enlightened way. So that seems to be somewhat our goal or idea in some sense. When we talk too much about potential possibilities we might get into, that becomes an obstacle at same time because we are so involved with future expectations....Future orientation destroys nowness.

So from that point of view the meaning of samadhi in Tibetan, ting nge dzin, which means "holding still". ... "Ting nge" means stillness. Static is more accurate. Dzin means holding. So holding onto the stillness or the staticness of one's state of mind...It's personal statement. It speaks of no speed. You don't jump about. You just be, ting nge, static, there, not particularly solid as such, necessarily, but you just be there. And dzin or holding makes different emphasis. If you are there already, what's the point of holding. That describes the notion of trance-like, you have to acknowledge, but not in the sense of insecurity or in the sense of valuing what you've achieved and clinging to it, which would be grasping. This is a different kind of holding, which is more like acknowledgment, actually being, being in the static state, that's dzin holding. If you be natural, you are holding your naturalness. You you are angry, you hold your anger. If you're chaotic you hold your chaos. So it's a question of being, actually staying with it without possessing that particular state of being.

It is necessary to realize the meaning of samadhi, true meaning of samadhi etymologically. Sama in Sanskrit is binding. Binding factor. Unifying together. Dhi makes a state of trance, and state of intelligence. State of cognitive mind functioning. Dhi makes it the utmost and ultimate state of discriminating mind functioning, taking place. In tantric literatures, dhih with long ih is the seed syllable for Manjushri, the bodhisattva of wisdom. That's the prajna, intelligence. So samadhi could be said as the holding on to the intelligence, being intelligence... It is not a state of becoming a jellyfish...

In the Tibetan translation ting nge dzin, holding still, is different. Stillness is the prajna/sherap aspect here. Stillness is highly intelligent because you just become one, you don't have to seek. So stillness with intellect. ... So intellect in Buddhist sense is very restful, you already know, and you just expand your knowingness to situations, therefore you know.....

Best regards, and thanks again, Jerome,

Robert


Commentary

July 19, 2010

Talk 2, Mindfulness and Awareness Seminar:

The path is the goal and the goal is the path: engaging our confusion with the view and technique of meditation practice
Although this is a talk about meditation technique and path, the first 40 percent of the talk includes no direct practice instructions but is purely about the view, further defining meditation, peace, and mindfulness. The last 20 percent is mostly about vipashyana practice and combined shamatha-vipashyana practice, which is as much about experience and insight as it is about technique. Rinpoche also describes the confused attitudes of beginning meditators, how actual meditation engages with that confusion, the awkward experiences of beginning meditators, and what the real issue is with that awkwardness. (A clue: the awkwardness is not due to confusion about the technique.)
As much as any other meditation talk by Trungpa Rinpoche, this one illustrates the extraordinary emphasis he made on understanding the view of meditation, our confusion about that, and how that is engaged by the practice. The talk synopsis follows:
"Meditation involves a basic sense of continuity"; engaging with confusion from an enlightened point of view
Before one applies meditation techniques, one should understand that meditation, that state of being without object, purpose, or reference point (as defined in the first talk), is not aligned with our confused notions about spiritual path and meditating. In particular, meditation is not about fabricating states of mind, not even "peace" or "mindfulness." Attempts to achieve spiritual states generally manifest as aggression, rejecting one's current state of being. That is our confusion, how we generally misunderstand the purpose and technique of practice.
According to Trungpa Rinpoche, meditation is not about rejecting one's state of being in order to achieve another state of being, is not a self-reformation project, is not "becoming a better person" or even curing one's tendencies to be distracted. Rather, "the practice of meditation is a way of continuing one's confusion, chaos, aggression, and passion - but working with it, seeing it from the enlightened point of view." The arena of struggle, of ego-process, has already been established. Meditation practice is applied right in the middle of that confusion.
However, some understanding of enlightenment, of peace, of mindfulness, as our basic nature is necessary to orient practitioners to practice. It is necessary to have some orientation to the goal, even though meditation is not about grasping after the goal, because having conviction in the goal is the path. The goal is the path. Some appreciation of unconditionality, the goal, is necessary for the practitioner to be willing to be with confusion and look at confusion rather than merely perpetuating it by struggling further.
View: Shamatha peace and mindfulness
Trungpa Rinpoche defines meditation and mindfulness in this talk as a state of being. "Shamatha," basic meditation practice, is defined as "development of peace...harmony connected with accuracy." Peace, here, is defined as being "able to see ourselves completely, perfectly, beautifully, as what we are." It is not based on conditions such as pleasure or pain or on any kind of achievement orientation. Peace is "harmony, openness."
Rinpoche also states that this shamatha practice, development of peace, is "the vanguard practice for developing our mindfulness." Mindfulness, here, is not about being paranoid, overly careful or mistrustful of oneself or the world, or trying to overcome the tendency to be distracted. It is not "the naughty schoolboy mentality," but "it is regarded as more of a welcoming gesture. Mindfulness means that you could be a wholesome person...This is an entirely new angle, a new approach..."

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Beginning shamatha practice for the novice: simple experience of being, bare attention. The first flash of feeling intimidated yet inspired by the romanticism of practice
"The practice of meditation, in the form of shamatha at the beginner's level, is simply being. It is bare attention..." The notion of mindfulness practice as a light touch, bare attention, rather than 100 percent focused concentration, echoes the Buddha's repeated words in the Sattipathana Sutra that mindfulness is established "to the extent necessary just for knowledge and mindfulness" (Thera translation) Mindfulness, in this scripture, does not imply too much focus, but "is established just "to the extent necessary." In this quote, "knowledge" would seem to refer to knowing what one is doing, "awareness within mindfulness" (Tibetan: sheshin).
Such "bare attention," according to Trungpa Rinpoche, "keeps a watchful eye, completely and properly," while at the same time distinguishing such watchfulness from being too careful or trying to control experience. He then goes on to say that it is "difficult to explain the nature of mindfulness," and that the first novice attempts to develop mindfulness brings the "first flash of thought that you are unable to do such a thing...You feel threatened. At the same time you feel very romantic... 'I feel a sense of renunciation, which is very romantic.'"
Further description of the beginning meditator: like "a heavily loaded pack donkey trying to struggle across a highly polished stream of ice."
Following is a graphic, humorous, and almost brutal description of the beginning practitioner's struggles having received basic meditation instruction. There's the analogy of the adolescent donkey with the heavy pack, the highly polished ice, the feelings of inadequacy and embarrassment. Further techniques are introduced, but they don't help. The practitioner may be faithful and brave, willing to submit him--or herself to "the ordeal of training," but the experience is completely clunky. Who hasn't been there?
The main obstacle: not identifying with the teachings as personal experience
The problem, as Rinpoche has emphasized in other contexts (such as the 1973 Seminary transcripts), is not that the person does not know how to meditate, but that the teachings and instructions are seen as a "foreign element" which one is "unable to deal with properly." The problem is seeing the practice and techniques as an external entity rather than "one's own conviction." "A lot of the problems that come up in the practice of meditation have to do with a fear of foreignness, a sense that you are unable to relate with the teachings as part of your basic being."
Techniques are not the problem, according to Trungpa Rinpoche. Our lack of understanding and faith is the problem. Because of that, we are unwilling and unable to truly understand and get into the motive for practice, truly identify with the teachings, or fully practice the techniques, whatever they are. It's as if he is saying that it doesn't matter what techniques are presented if we don't understand enough or are willing enough to truly get into it, get with it. Finally, before presenting the technique, Rinpoche reminds us that "this practice and technique was devised by the Buddha himself. We know that he went through the same experiential process. Therefore, we can follow his example."
Basic technique of shamatha: identifying with breathing or walking. The four wheels of the chariot.
Following is an elegant description of shamatha meditation. Just like the Buddha instructed a musician to tune his stringed instrument "not too tight, not too loose," the basic technique of identifying with breathing or walking (and he uses the word "identification" very deliberately) requires "the right level of attention... 25 percent of our attention on the breathing or the walking," with "the rest of our mental activities let loose, left open." Focus/concentration, on the object of meditation is recommended, but only "25 percent."
Why? "When you tell somebody...to concentrate 100 percent and not make any mistakes, that person becomes stupid...There's no gap. There's no room to open himself, no room to relate with the back-and-forth play between the reference point of the object and the reference point of the subject. So the Buddha quite wisely advised that you put only tentative attention on your technique, not to make a big deal out of concentrating on the technique (this method is mentioned in the Samadhiraja-sutra). Concentrating too heavily on the technique brings all kinds of mental activities, frustrations, and sexual and aggressive fantasies of all kinds."
This is in keeping with remarks in other seminars, where Trungpa Rinpoche noted the importance of a sense of balance in mindfulness practice. For instance, in the first talk of the Techniques of Mindfulness seminar (on Chronicles), "Mind cannot exist on itself alone, but on the other hand it cannot exist if it's completely crowded, overcrowded. Mind looks for a mate, a friend. Mind losing that survival game could become psychotic. Meditation practice is trying to save oneself from psychosis." And from the 1973 seminary transcript: "...in order to free ourselves from too much self-conscious involvement or deprivation of the senses or emotional playback, a technique is introduced."
Some sense of balance, of back-and-forth play is also implied in the mindfulness of mind teachings (see Chronicles, Training the Mind seminar, talk 5). Rinpoche describes a sense of touch, not just on the object of meditation, but the totality of experience, a broad but precise beam of mindfulness which includes the breath, but which also includes the highlights of emotions and bodily experiences, simultaneously. The analogy is that of "experiencing a sense of gentle touch all over the place, all your states of mind... like stroking a kitty-cat..." By contrast, too much focus on the object of meditation could produce an endless series of watchers.
In this talk, the sense of balance is described as "25 percent of your attention...on the verge of your technique...Another 25 percent is relaxing, a further 25 percent relates to making friends with yourself, and the last 25 percent connects with expectation-your mind is open to the possibility of something happening during this practice session." This last one, expectation, should not be confused with hope. It is more like acknowledging that the present moment is pregnant, is giving birth to the next one, so there could be some openness, some letting go.
There is a balance between tight and loose in these four: attention on the verge of technique is precise, relaxation is loose, making friends with oneself/touching emotions is tight, expectation/openness is loose. These are the four wheels of the chariot.
Trungpa Rinpoche goes on to praise the simplicity of the technique, that it does not permit us "to elaborate on our spiritual-materialism trip," and that these techniques, which many lineage masters have used to attain "a perfect state of enlightenment in one lifetime," is truly "the approach of the buddhadharma." In this way, identification with the technique itself is completely encouraged as the only path. The path is the goal.
Mixing mind and space, combining shamatha and vipashayana meditation practices, precision and totality, awareness as first experience of egolessness
Trungpa Rinpoche then extends this discussion of meditation technique to mention a commentary by Gampopa on the Samadhiraja-sutra, which speaks of the technique of "mixing mind with space," which is also referred to as "shi-lkhak sung juk" (Tibetan) meaning "combining shamatha and vipashyana meditation practices." Mindfulness, here, is associated with precision and simplicity in relating to the breath, to walking, to body sensations, thought processes and emotions. Awareness (vipashyana) has to do with "acknowledging totality," and is defined as "the knowledge that realizes egolessness through awareness."
"Totality" in the vipashyana sense is not quite the same as acknowledging the totality of experience in the mindfulness of mind teachings (above), which is still a kind of placement on a broad object of meditation. "A person who has achieved awareness or who is working on the discipline of awareness has "no direction, no bias in one direction or another. He is just simply aware, totally and completely." The description of vipashyana practice, or realization, is that since everything is included in it, "there is no room for anything else at all. Every area is taken over by meditation, by vipashyana practice. So there is no one to practice and nothing to practice. No you actually exists."
Also: "If you're smart enough, you might ask the question, 'Who is being aware of this whole thing?'...And the answer is, nobody is being aware of anything but itself. The razor blade cuts itself. The sun shines by itself. Fire burns by itself. Water flows by itself. Nobody watches-and that is the very primitive logic of egolessness."
The "watcher," which does have a necessary role in mindfulness practice, gradually dissolves or, rather, is crowded out, as the tightness of shamatha gives way to the openness and totality of vipashyana experience. Since there is no room for any watcher in the totality of vipashyana experience, there is no one to do anything. As Trungpa Rinpoche said in talk 1, dhyana/samadhi/meditation is a noun, a state of being, not a verb. Yet, even in descriptions of advanced meditation states, there is still precision. Somehow, shamatha does not become obsolete.
We hope to discover, study, and share other seminars by Trungpa Rinpoche that go into the development of samadhi -- the development of meditation experiences and realization. We are just scratching the surface of many aspects of Rinpoche's teachings, including those on meditation and samadhi. We could explore in greater depth Rinpoche's teachings on vipashyana, combined shamatha-vipashyana, mahavipashyana, and so on. These are realizations that go along with the four immeasurable qualities, the six paramitas, and the five paths in general. We ask students who are familiar with Trungpa Rinpoche's instructions and teachings on these topics, to please share their insights with Chronicles readers.


July 3, 2010

Talk 1: The Shila of sitting like a rock and the development of samadhi and wisdom

Beginning at the beginning
Trungpa Rinpoche begins by emphasizing the importance of our understanding the Buddhist approach and attitude to meditation practice, enlightenment, and path, how Buddhists think about such things. Although the three yanas, three vehicles of Buddhist path, are not described fully, he points out the necessity of beginning at the beginning, the narrow hinayana path. Otherwise it is like "building a castle on an ice block, or an apartment on an airplane." And that "beginning at the beginning" also includes the practice of meditation, "the only way," "the only path to liberation."
This echoes the words of the Buddha in the Sattipathana Sutra: "This is the only way, monks, for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow and lamentation, for the destruction of suffering and grief, for reaching the right path, for the attainment of Nibbhana, namely the four foundations of mindfulness." (Thera translation).
Two ways of talking about meditation
Meditation is talked about in two ways — as a journey which includes all sorts of dualistic experiences, pitfalls, and possible insights — but also as a state of being, a noun. The first sense, as journey, fits in more with a discussion of meditation as gom (developing a subtle mind) or kom (a process of growing familiar with the nature of mind). These have been well-addressed elsewhere by Trungpa Rinpoche, as well as by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche in his mindfulness teachings. The second sense is meditation as samadhi, dhyana.
Meditation as journey, the only way
In the first sense, as a journey, that "only way" is described as a process without which there is "no way out and no way in," an unmasking process. Before one can be in meditation (in the second sense), before one can simply be, one imitates meditation, so to speak. One discovers and wears out ego-process, "unmasking deceptions of all kinds." One's practice is "sometimes playmate," "sometimes devil's advocate," "sometimes fundamental depression," "sometimes encouragement for birth, sometimes for death." Slowing down and sitting oneself down is described later in the seminar as basic shila, discipline, out of which samadhi and wisdom may grow.
This first sense of meditation suggests the starting point of the four foundations of mindfulness seminars, which begin with the definition and discovery of dualistic mind, the definition of mind (sem) as "that which has an other" and a description of how that gets exaggerated, causing confusion and suffering. Here we begin not with the definition of conventional mind, but with meditation itself, as a state of being. Starting with simple being, conventional mind arises in response as resentment, insult, anger, boredom.
Meditation (samadhi, dhyana) as a state of being, a noun, being without purpose
So here, meditation (Tibetan: dhyana, Sanskrit: samadhi) is defined as a noun, not a verb, and in a somewhat fruitional way. One doesn't meditate on something, but meditation is a state of being, without object, purpose, or reference point. You be in a state of meditation. Just being, simplicity, is contrasted with "hanging out," or "grooving on the scene." Rather, one sits "like a rock," or "a disused coffee cup." Being told this may bring up anger, resentment, or the sense of being mocked. Still, Trungpa Rinpoche states that to "just sit" is best.
The merit, punya, power of meditation
In fact, sitting like a rock, simple being, dhyana, is praised. "There is merit in this, fantastic and powerful... overrides the atom bomb". Later, he discusses merit, punya, as the "richness and reward that comes about by not creating further complications on our confusion." In that way, confusion and complexity become the expression of simplicity. It is "powerful" to sit and not "perch;" it's "brave;" "magnificent commitment;" "exceptionally sane." "Feeling bored and preoccupied, we might have hung out occasionally...But we never sat. We never sat like a rock. We never did. How about that? Here, this is the first experience in our life of sitting..."
Just sitting is also contrasted with driving a car, which is similar. But when driving there is speed, and purpose, and simple being knows none of that. "This is what we actually miss in this world. When we sit, it is always for a purpose. If we are sitting in a car, we are thinking, "How long is it going to take...?" "...We can actually sit on a cushion without any purpose, none whatsoever. It is outrageous. Nobody would ever do that. We can't even think about it. It's unthinkable. It's terrible—we would be wasting our time."
Wasting time, creating virgin time, pure time; sitting and purity
Wasting time creates an experience of time that is pure, â˜time that hasn't been hassled by aggression, passion, and speed. Let us create pure time. Sit and create pure time." Rinpoche goes on to say that this is how the Buddha taught us to tame passion and aggression. "It's the first message of the Buddha," to slow down and sit like a rock.
He goes on to say that millions of sane people have been produced by the Kagyu lineage, "the practicing lineage," in this way.
In other contexts, Trungpa Rinpoche discusses purity (I don't think he uses this word indiscriminately), the first of the four categories of buddha nature, as the complete absence of indulgence (1975 Seminary transcripts), which is also how he talks about mindfulness of body in the four foundations of mindfulness seminars. Since mindfulness of body, in traditional contexts, is often linked to contemplating the impurity of the body, this notion of body as pure — beyond pure and impure — free from indulgence, suggests a direct connection between his mindfulness teachings and his buddha nature teachings. But that discussion may be for another context.
Shila, samadhi, prajna
This sitting like a rock is presented as the basic discipline, shila, that is the basis for describing the three-fold Buddhist path of shila, samadhi, prajna, discipline, meditation, and wisdom. Before we actually get into samadhi, meditation in the second sense, this basic attitude of slowing down and being is necessary, applying the basic technique of sitting practice.. First we "learn to behave in a buddha-like way," in sitting practice, "then...we develop meditation, samadhi, and knowledge, prajna. Before we learn to spell words, we have to learn our ABCs. We have to be actually willing to accept the boredom of sitting."
This last part of the talk, I believe, reveals the overall logic of the talk as a whole.

Summary

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This meditation seminar was given in New York in 1974, just a few months after the end of the first Vajradhatu Seminary in 1973. That seminary, which included topics such as the five paths, the ten bhumis, commitment, samaya, and the 9 yanas, also included the first comprehensive presentation of the 4 Foundations of Mindfulness. This seminar would also be about five months before the two seminars on the four foundations of mindfulness and the Naropa meditation seminar already streamed on this Chronicles website. In 1973 and 1974, there were also quite a few other seminars on mindfulness, meditation (samadhi), and path.

A lightly edited version of the seminar has been published as the first part of the book The Path Is the Goal: A Basic Handbook of Buddhist Meditation, edited by Sherab Chödzin, Shambhala Publications, 1995. Students, of course, are encouraged to listen to the audio, which brings emphasis to many words which cannot be captured completely in print. However, the book is very helpful, and does good justice to the spoken word. It leaves out only a few questions and answers.

Talk 1, like many talk 1s of meditation seminars by Trungpa Rinpoche, is not about technique but view, answering questions such as "What is meditation?" "Why meditate?" "What is the purpose of meditation?" "What does meditation have to do with a student's path?"

Talk 2 defines mindfulness and discusses the practice of meditation, actual meditation technique, as the "four wheels of the chariot," drawn from the Samadhiraja-sutra, as well as a discussion of combined shamatha-vipashyana practice drawn from a commentary by Gampopa on that same sutra of the Buddha. In this talk, Trungpa Rinpoche also recommends the four foundations of mindfulness as being related to understanding meditation and meditation technique, and which he teaches on elsewhere.

Talk 3 addresses the student's path further. In particular, it explores how the reference point of unconditionality ("The Star of Bethlehem"), a mere glimpse of enlightened mind, presented through the agency of the spiritual friend, can become the reference point for our conditional practice and journey as practitioners.


 

Discussion

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