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. © 2009 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

Sponsors

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 recording of Chogyam Trungpa's teachings.

MP3 downloads

The Chronicles is working towards a way for people to purchase MP3 downloads of selected talks by Chogyam Trungpa. For those of you who have been patiently waiting for this to be up and running, our apologies. We hope to have this working early in the Iron Tiger year. Thank you for your patience. Proceeds from the sales of MP3s will go to the Shambhala Archives to help support the ongoing work of the audio recovery project. We will send out an announcement when the downloads are available.

The Chronicles is delighted to welcome Robert Walker as the discussion leader for these talks. A new talk will be posted each Saturday through March 13. Robert is a long-time sangha member who has studied and worked with Trungpa Rinpoche's teachings on mindfulness and mind training for many years. Robert and Jill Walker operate the Great Path Tapes and Books website, which provides recorded teachings of Pema Chodron and other Buddhist teachers.

Training the Mind

Rocky Mountain Dharma Center; Red Feather Lakes, Colorado; August 1974


Talk One


Talk Two


Talk Three


Talk Four


Talk Five


Talk Six

 

Discussion

To post a comment or question to this page, please send an email to . To read these discussion posts in order, start at the end and scroll up.

***

Robert's reply to Attila:
March 16, 2010

That's an interesting one.

I first want to note that Trungpa Rinpoche's answer to the question was "I think you said it." When the student said "I didn't say anything" Trungpa Rinpoche said: "If you insist." The student's last words before that were something like, " I was wondering if you could explain a little better about how our imitation meditation works." My take on that was that the Vidyadhara took the student's question to be a statement, "imitation meditation works," and declined to comment further.

I'd like to invite Chronicles readers to comment. Also, if anyone out there can find the book reference for this story (perhaps it's in Cutting Through or Myth of Freedom, I think it would be useful for understanding the story of monkey imitating the monk, because it's likely that the Vidyadhara was using the story to illustrate something in particular. In general, it's always useful to examine teaching blurbs in their original context or contexts.

So let's see what we get back about this one, Attila. Also, your question begs the question -- what do you think? Do you have any first thoughts about this? And/or, is there anything in this talk or the previous talks from this seminar that would suggest an answer?

Robert

***

Let me ask you something.
March 16, 2010

I heard something interesting in Training the Mind, Talk 4, Discussion part. One of the participants asked the Rinpoche about the monk and the monkey. The monkey saw the monk meditating, sat by his side and started imitating him. Finally, when the monk got enlightened, the monkey also got enlightened.

How does that work?

Looking forward to your reply
Best regards,
Attila

***

Hi Danny.

Your understanding of first thought is in accord with mine. Yes, "it's always the original thought before we start to label it and try to act on it," or comment on it further in any way, for that matter. In this talk, first thought is presented as the starting point of practice, some quality of how we show up to begin, how we begin to place our minds in meditation, I do believe.

The book where Chogyam Trungpa talks about how a sense of separateness takes birth and the analogy of the grain of sand sticking its head up in the desert is in the "Development of Ego" chapter of Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, which many participants at the seminar we are listening to had studied. That's a wonderful chapter to study -- looking at the progression of how ignorance/form emerges out of open space: from blackout, to "birth of ignorance," to "the ignorace born within" to "self-observing ignorance."

Yes, mindfulness of form/body, in this presentation, is connected to Trungpa Rinpoche's presentation of ignorance-form, the first skandha, in Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism. But this is part of a presentation of how to practice; the commentary in the book is devoted more to presenting the view, the abhidharma or analysis of how mind works. This audio is not so much analysis but application, but it's fine to make that connection between the two teachings, which complement each other but have different functions.

Your statement that this view is in accord with Thich Nhat Hanh's "interbeing" is well taken. Buddhist's, in general, understand that there is no composite entity, mental or physical, self or other, that is independent, unitary, or permanent, but that all composite entities are characterized by interdependence, multiplicity, and impermanence. Both Thich Nhat Hanh's presentation and the view in this seminar and in Cutting Through ... are in accord with that.

Of course, both Trungpa Rinpoche's presentation and Thich Nhat Hanh's teachings, while not necessarily contradicting each other in an intellectual way, have their own implications, feelings, their own "juice," their own particular atmosphere or magic. Don't you think?

As for young babies, I think it would be a mistake to equate that mind with egolessness, or even first thought. More likely, I have been taught, that nondifferentiated baby-mind is a kind of absorption. Such absorption is not a kind of egolessness, selflessness, but a kind of ego, self, atman. One doesn't need an adult sense of self to be fixated, absorbed, holding on. Animals, without language, also have a sense of self/atman, in this sense.

Mindfulness is not so much an absorption in the present moment, where one doesn't know what's this and what's that. Rather, with first thought, this and that could be simple, direct. Whether pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral, the point is simplicity, directness. There is no attempt to bridge the divide between this and that.

You wrote: "So perhaps this sitting meditation is setting up a time and place for first thought, which at a deep level may be panic, to surface and be recognized and then accepted?" Could be. That openness could take some getting used to. Perhaps we are training in getting used to that simplicity, that directness, and the journey seems to include panic, fear.

Robert
March 10, 2010

***

Robert,

To follow up on your response, I would suggest that first thought then refers to primary, basic or original thought/sensation. It could be pleasant, a comfortable sensation or could be unpleasant, my legs are really hurting. It could be a feeling of fear or a fealing of happiness. But it's always the original thought before we start to lable it and try to act on it.

Getting back to the topic of mind, Chogyam Trungpa mentions the panic related to the feeling that we don't exist and trying to grab onto things that help us think we do. Looking for reference points and connections is how he describes are active mind I think. In one of Chogyam Trungpa's books he provides a brief outline of how the feeling of seperateness is born comparing it to a grain of sand that suddenly becomes aware. Am I right in taking this to mean that the delusion is that we don't exist as a separate entity that we are "interbeing" as Thich Nhat Hanh would phase it. We only exist because of the interaction between all the different elements of our world--light,air, water, atoms etc.

Young babies don't differentiate from their mothers but as they grow up they learn to distinguish between I and other which is necessary to development but it seems that at a certain point this becomes a problem and gets in the way of living or appreciating Basic Goodness. So perhaps this sitting meditation is setting up a time and place for first thought, which at a deep level may be panic, to surface and be recognized and then accepted?

Thanks, danny
march 8, 2010

***

Hi Danny.

There's no way to do justice to this first talk, but what the hell. Thanks for your nerve in presenting the first question. First question best question.

I agree, second thought is metacognition, thinking about thinking, Second thought is defined as "that which reviews first thought." The implication is: this review is not innocent, but born out of insecurity and panic, and lack of trust in the simplicity of first thought. As you say, it has to do with when you "analyze your sensation." An important point is, "why?" and "what comes of this?"

I love his discussion of the relation between our lack of trust in first thought and our reliance on professionals of all kinds. Not trusting our own intelligence, we always look for feedback, confirmation, experts, to really get it right. That starts with the compulsive need to review first thought, in order to secure our non-existent existence.

First thought is innocent.

"First thought" (in my understanding) is the simplicity of being with experience, the simplicity of this (mind) and that (object of mind), before reviewing happens, and trusting that simplicity as "the starting point of practice."

From the talk, quote:
"...first thought is not particularly regarded as egoless and enlightened thought necessarily, but first thought could be true thought of what is in you, that you're raw ruggedness, fucked-upness, confusedness as well as something greater...." As he says later, "first thought best thought" is not a reference to good or bad.

I think this has to do with relaxation, and confidence.

Mindfulness, also, has to do with not feeding the panic, but just being with simple this and that, which is fresh and present. Probably, first, it's the experience of being in the middle of the panic, the duplicity and confusion and lack of trust, and relaxing right there. We might find ourselves in an avalanche of second thoughts. But first thought could be any moment. Seeming moment. One places the mind on something simple, like breath. If one tries to analyze it, it's moved on.

By "first" he does not mean a point in time, like first in a sequence.
By "best," he does not mean "better than."
First thought best thought: the starting point of practice. When could that be?

The "original" first thought is lost in any case, not an object of inspection. Missed it.

Thank you Danny.

***

Hi Robert,

In the first talk, Chogyam Trungpa makes a distinction between mindfulness and first thought. Could you elaborate on that?

I also wanted to check my understanding of his statements regarding 2nd thought and thinking twice. He made the statement that in thinking twice about something the questioner was probably on the 50th or 200th thought. And this whole process had other first thoughts in it so that the original first thought was completely lost. So in my understanding 2nd thought is like metacognition, thinking about thinking. When I start analyzing my sensation is that when 2nd thought starts?

Thanks, Danny Drotos

***

Dear Mr. Walker,

I do not know whether I could ask you things about the very technique of meditation. Anyway, I will and you'll see.

I do the simple sit and breathe meditation. Trungpa said: "follow your breath, go out, dissolve but do not go too far". If I do this way, there's always this comment going on in my head: go out, dissolve, etc. Do I need simply to follow the breath out and in without thinking what I'm actually doing or what do you think he meant by the above quote?

Something else. I have been thinking for quite a while now about creating a retreat for people with similar intentions as mine but it is not going to work without a teacher like Trungpa Rinpoche. Do you have any idea how to start looking for someone who could be invited for a couple of days/weeks. Of course, there are teachers in Europe (and in Hungary too) but I'm looking for someone as authentic as him.

Looking forward to your reply

Best regards,
Almási Attila

***

Dear Almasi Attila:

First of all, I think it would be best if you received instruction in person from a student of Trungpa Rinpoche, either connected to Shambhala, or not, who follows his oral instructions. The audio of him is superb, of course, and necessary, but receiving in-person instruction from some student in his lineage, who could also be a very good teacher, is also important. So I'm glad that you're interested in inviting someone to teach.

There is no one like Trungpa Rinpoche. He instructed the students he left behind to study and practice together, and to relate to the senior students as teachers. Personally, I relate to senior students of Trungpa Rinpoche who I connect with as reference points for my own practice, as well as Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, who was also a student of Trungpa Rinpoche, and inherited his oral instructions. Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche also has been presenting further instructions to old and new students of Trungpa Rinpoche, and I have been following these.

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche's emphasis, however, has not been on teaching these particular oral instructions we're working with here, leaving that to others in the Shambhala organization for the most part, so far. I feel like, within Shambhala, studying and practicing the instructions we're working with here are the job of senior students like myself.

There are great teachers out there, but if you're interested in Trungpa Rinpoche's oral instructions, it's important to receive them from someone in his teaching lineage, someone who actually learned from him, and/or who take his oral instructions as their main reference point -- these particular oral instructions on mindfulness-awareness practice.

There are teachers in the Shambhala organization who have this capability. There are also teachers in the Shambhala organization who do not, who have not gone deeply into this particular stream of teachings. Trungpa Rinpoche had many teaching streams, and it's unusual for anyone to master all of them. There are a few teachers outside of the Shambhala organization who are/were students of Trungpa Rinpoche, such as Rigdzin Shikpo in England, who know well these oral instructions.

You don't necessarily need someone who is as enlightened as Trungpa Rinpoche, in my opinion. I'm not sure that is even possible. But there are good teachers out there, who I believe could assist you. The lineage of oral instructions is important. There are also great teachers out there who do not practice or teach these oral instructions, and although they might be of benefit to you and others, you cannot learn these particular instructions from them.

You are in Hungary? Let me know where you are. We could research possible teachers who might be able to visit you (and others who might be interested). I suppose you would prefer someone who does not live to far away, to cut down on travel costs??

As for your question about technique -- I think Trungpa Rinpoche was addressing a student or students who may have been a little carried away with his words about identifying and dissolving with the outbreath.. Maybe they were fantasizing about dissolving out the window, into the countryside, into the cosmos. That would be overdoing it. The point is, at the end of the outbreath, allow a gap, just rest. There is no particular effort or fantasy show that needs to be cultivated after your breath goes out. As you contact the breath starting to go out, there is a slight effort, enough to engage with the outbreath, but no more than necessary for that. Just engage enough with the outbreath for the sake of awareness; don't analyze it. Then, as you ride the outbreath out (one analogy is like a boat oar going through the water), just have a sense of letting go, dissolving. And at the end of the outbreath just allow a gap, simply rest.

There is no particular effort of intention or engaging as you breathe in. Then there is a light touch of effort, identifying with the outbreath, as you breathe out. Light touch of effort -- gap -- no particular effort on the inbreath -- light touch of effort engaging and dissolving with the outbreath.

It's okay not to be perfect with this. At first, it could feel awkward, like it's hard to engage, and you have to work too hard to bring your attention to the outbreath at all. That's okay. It's okay to be deliberate at first, set your intention, and really place your mind in a heavy way on the outbreath in order to get started. And if there is some running commentary at first -- you find yourself talking to yourself to remind yourself of what you are doing, that is not a big deal, at first. Be patient with that. No need to think that this will last forever. Or, if you do, just regard that as "thinking".

My advice would be to just be patient and persevering. Place your mind again and again on the outbreath dissolving. If thoughts come up that you are not doing it right, don't make a big deal out of them, recognize them as thinking, and go back to placing your mind, identifying, and dissolving out. You may not feel like you are dissolving. You may feel like your breath is going out, and you are following it, behind it. You could have all sorts of experiences. Whatever your experience, just include that in awareness; but don't make a big deal about that.

Practice like this for awhile, at least 25 minutes to a session. Experience could change as you become more familiar with the technique. But if you have the thought that you would like your experience to change, just come back to being present, and place your mind again.

At the beginning and occasionally, before you place your mind on the breath dissolving, connect with your posture and sense of being. Check in briefly with your mood, whether you are feeling heavy or light, busy or serene. Include that in your sense of being. If there is chaos, include that in your sense of being present, being there. Place your mind on breathing right in the middle of however you feel, however you are, at that moment. There is no need to reject your state of mind and body, or to pretend to be somebody else, somebody who is meditating perfectly. The technique can be applied right in the middle of whatever confusion or state of mind/body we have.

Feel free to write further, either about practice, or about searching for someone to teach where you are for a weekend.

Best regards,
Robert Walker

***

Hello there.

Discussion related to the first talk of the "Training the Mind Seminar" is now open. Please send your comments to . If you, by chance, already sent a post, please send it again to the "content" address. It is best to view this page in Mozilla or Internet Explorer, not AOL.

Robert Walker

***

 

Commentary

Talk 6: Vipashyana Awareness and Postmeditation

Posted March 16, 2010

As with all of these talks, the following notes should not be used as a substitute for listening to the talk, but could be helpful for further study of these teachings.
The relation between shamatha mindfulness and vipashyana awareness:
This sixth and final talk of the Training the Mind seminar is about vipashyana and postmeditation experience, particularlyonthe way to experiencing vipashyana from shamatha practice. The stillness and solidity of shamatha mindfulness practice (which is developed by the four foundations of mindfulness) is necessary. Such tightness gives the practitioner a basis from which to open out. The kindergarten level of mindfulness practice is a workable basis, simply using what we have available on this planet, body, breath, and mind.
The Vidyadhara describes the expansion towards vipashyana practice in postmeditation as continually emerging out of the tightness of sitting practice. Eventually, the practitioner develops a fuzzy boundary between sitting and not sitting.
Vipashyana postmeditation: definition and purpose:
Vipashyana awareness, defined as clear seeing, insight, is practiced in postmeditation in order to prepare the practitioner for the bodhisattva path, to practice the paramitas, and in general for working with others. Such vipashyana awareness practice, he states at the conclusion of the talk, comes from having first worked with ourselves, which is based on sabotaging the background of ego.
Vipashyana postmeditation practice instructions:
In this approach, the instruction for working with awareness in postmeditation begins with a memory of awareness, recollecting the perhaps vague intention to be aware. This brings a sudden glimpse of unconditional awareness, a microsecond short jerk. In the questions and answers, he states [to paraphrase] that just remembering awareness, the inadequacy of that memory, becomes a bridge to unconditionality.
From that short microsecond jerk or glimpse of awareness, the instruction is to not try to possess that short glimpse, or to be inquisitive about it. Trying to capture awareness would lead to artificial awareness based on a self-conscious watcher. That particular experience cant be captured or sustained.
The practice instruction is to disown that short glimpse. So, recollect and disown, and then (to paraphrase) continue with cooking or with whatever you happen to be doing.
The result/frution of such practice
Ground: As described in this seminar and in earlier seminars (such as the Naropa meditation seminar on the Chronicles), we live in a samsaric whirlpool, which is described as the activity of the skandhas (which includes the 8 consciousnesses).
Path: Not only do we live in that whirlpool of samsara, but we manufacture further samsara in the midst of it, such that samsaric chain reactions grow, giving ego something to hang onto. We manufacture our own future in the present of hanging onto neurosis, which is karma, karmic debt.
Fruition: The awareness practice presented here is the way to cut the present moment of planting further seeds of karmic chain reactions. This practice shortens the life of ego.
Further comment: It is impossible to escape the present, karmically created situation. Awareness practice sabotages the continual attempt and process of ego-self-administration.
How to regard various experiences that arise in postmeditation (which is life)
Trungpa Rinpoche notes that various experiences, ups and downs, arise in postmeditation, in particular, to paraphrase 1) experiences of excitement with progress, 2) disappointment at regression, and 3) the sense that nothing at all is going on. The suggested attitude is not to use these as the basis for evaluating ones practice, or to make a big deal out of such experiences, but to just regard them as temporary.
He then briefly introduces what are called the three nyams (temporary experiences) or boons as described in traditional practice texts: 1) pleasure/joy [bliss], 2) Emptiness [nonthought], and 3) clarity/luminosity [luminosity]. The instruction, as with the previous three, is not to regard these as signs of progress, but just as temporary experiences. When one or more of these arise, the instruction is to simply maintain ones practice.
Suggestions for practice
At the very end of the talk, the Vidyadhara encourages students to make a present to themselves of practice, including both daily practice and intensive practice, and to simplify their lives. He recommended longer sitting sessions once per month or once per fortnight in the form of day-long nyinthuns or longer.
In general, these teachings were given to relatively beginning students, with some experience in the practice of mindfulness, who were brave enough to venture up to the land after the 1974 Naropa summer session. Some had recently completed a dathun. It is important to note that such postmeditation instructions were public domain, not reserved exclusively for advanced students.
Study and practice
In the questions and answers, Trungpa Rinpoche speaks of how practice and study complement each other, a theme which is echoed in many other teachings. This talk in particular illustrates the importance of studying Trungpa Rinpoches teachings on the skandhas and eight conscoiusnesses to appreciate his mindfulness and awareness teachings.
The instruction of relating to sudden jerk can also be found in the talk on mindfulness of effort in the 1973 seminary transcripts, which was also folded into the Four Foundations of Mindfulness seminar in Heart of the Buddha and Garuda IV magazine. A discussion of nyams or temporary experiences can be found in the talk on mindfulness of mind in the 1973 seminary transcripts. Similar postmeditation instructions for working with awareness can be found in the book Myth of Freedom (anyone have the page number?) and in the Vipashyana Seminar which can be found in the book Path is the Goal. All of these teachings took place between 1972 and 1974.

Talks four and five

Talks 4 and 5 of this Training the Mind seminar by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche are about Mindfulness of Effort and Mindfulness of Mind, respectively. Comments on the sixth and final talk of the seminar, whose subject is Vipashayana and Postmeditation, will come along in a few days. Although the talks, of course, are richer than these notes, perhaps the notes will be of help and serve as a starting point for further discussion.
Talk four has to do with exertion and discipline in meditation, the ground of which he discusses as (to paraphrase) bringing oneself back to square one, first thought. This recalls the discussion of first thought, simplicity, and the definition of mind (sem/Tibetan chitta/Sanskrit), in the first two talks. To review: mind is defined as that which experiences objects of mind. There is the separation between this and that, mind and objects of mind. The confused tendency is to exaggerate this separation out of hot boredom and insecurity to the point of panic. In that context, the beginning point of meditation is presented as trusting first thought and being willing to relate to first thought, the simplicity of this and that, rather than exaggerating. As we discussed, the simplicity of first thought could include pleasure and pain, awkwardness and openness
Ground: What does it mean to bring oneself back to first thought? How does one do that? One could say that meditation is not about effort but simply relating to things as they are, but Trungpa Rinpoche states that such subtlety, such effortlessness, could only develop through discipline. There is no true spontaneity without discipline, in life or in practice. He makes the point that this honest, primitive approach at the beginning is spontaneity.
Path: Based on that, Trungpa Rinpoche discusses exertion in meditation as becoming acquainted with working hard, and in that process becoming acquainted with blockages to meditation. Becoming acquainted with blockages is not about trying to remove the blockages or attaining enlightenment, which would be a nuisance at this point. The analogy: If you want to go from Fort Collins to Boulder, you cant start out in Boulder.
Fruition: Having become acquainted with blockages, the primitive approach is to remove them; the more sophisticated approach is to take the obstacles as path. Both approaches are necessary. With practice, effort could become effortless. One doesn't put forth that much effort, but one just be open and the reference point comes to you. You acknowledge the effort and go with it. Such development brings freedom from needing to rely too much on the teacher or on receiving too much feedback. It is a lonely journey.
In the questions and answers, he states that such exertion comes from leap. You cant be unless you let go, and you cant let go unless you push yourself, which is exertion. When there is doubt, you have to push yourself. This is not competitiveness or goal orientation just working hard.
Further discussion of this leap and mindfulness of effort as overcoming goal orientation can be found in the talk printed in Heart of the Buddha and the 1973 Seminary transcripts (which are the same talk) and in the Effort talk in the other mindfulness seminar, Techniques of Mindfulness, which is unpublished. Oral instructions related to this are further elaborated in the awareness seminars and other seminars, and are a necessary basis for Trungpa Rinpoches vajrayana oral instructions on the nature of mind.
Many have also commented on how these mindfulness of effort teachings complement Sakyong Mipham Rinpoches discussion of the two kinds of sheshin in Turning the Mind into an Ally, which have to do with the developing subtlety of the practitioners relationship to awareness within mindfulness practice. The terms trenpa and sheshin can also be found in the 1974 Naropa meditation seminar by Trungpa Rinpoche on Chronicles, and are explicated in the notes on that seminar by Carolyn Gimian.
Talk 5, on Mindfulness of Mind, is about how to relate to the totality of mental experiences -- objects of mind -- in meditation and postmeditation. Mindfulness of Mind, in these instructions, is about how to appreciate and enjoy, how to touch, the totality of experiences that arise to mind, including sense perceptions, emotional upsurges, and gaps of clarity.
Ground: simply being present both to emotional upsurges, emotional cloudiness, and experiences of clarity and to the totality of all the different perceptions, thoughts, and experiences that arise. For example, there is a tendency to want to hold onto experiences of clarity and to push away experiences of emotional upsurges. Or one may want to explore the cloudiness of emotional scenarios. How does one practice with that?
Its not about pushing oneself aggressively into some kind of full concentration on a limited object a single emotion or physical sensation -- the intensity of which, he states, tends to create an endless series of watchers. Concentrating with a narrow focus on limited experiences may be found in other, valid approaches to mindfulness taught by other teachers, but not here. It is also not a panoramic approach to experiencing totality (which he discusses in his vipashyana teachings). And getting lost in emotional storylines is also not the point.
Path: Here, there is a sense of touching the totality of experience. As in mindfulness of feeling, there is touch / touch and go, but the object -- the totality of experience is broader, and the mindfulness itself is not a narrow beam but a broad beam broad but still precise. Its experiecing a sense of gentle touch all over the place, all your states of mind. like stroking a kitty-cat, or seeing your toothbrush. You dont get caught in every hair or every bristle, although they are distinct, but one touches the highlights, Mindfulness of mind here, is mind in contrast to the too-focused or concentrated mind.
To paraphrases: Mindfulness of mind is the precision of cognitive mind which touches the highlights of emotions, bodily experience, and breath, simultaneously. Mind, here, is the binding factor which allows such precise experience of all of those as totality. One experiences touch on level of emotions, on sense of gap, on sense of other side of shore as well. The object is total, rather than selective.
Fruition: One could discover nonaggression and precision, actual grounded touch and presence to what is.

Talk three:
Mindfulness of life/survival

Three talks of this "Training the Mind" seminar have now been posted. Discussion related to all three talks is welcome. If you are new to this seminar, you may wish to start with the first talk. Theres plenty of time. Comments and discussion related to contemplating and practicing the teachings given in these talks should be sent to . Although this third talk speaks for itself, as they all do, following is a synopsis.
Synopsis of talk 3:
"Further required attitudes related to meditation and postmeditation practice are presented, going further with the simplicity of purely sitting on the earth, as discussed in talk two. The obstacles to meditation and postmeditation being addressed here include the tendency to reject the experience of ordinary states of body and mind, rejecting ordinary life situations. We struggle with discomfort and seek higher, so-called spiritual experiences. In particular, the attitude that anything good is connected with heaven, anything bad is connected with the sewage system is addressed. The aggression of rejecting ordinary experiences of mind and body, rejecting discomfort and trying to create pleasure, creates (quote from the talk) an enormous chain reaction of echo system, painfully nowhere, completely trapped in the bottom pit of hell.
In this third talk, the Vidyadhara speaks of a sense of survival, a sense of life force . a sense of being. In addition to the simplicity of being on the earth, of being grounded, we also experience liveliness: our heart-beats, body, sense perceptions, temperature. As well, we have our lives and relationships: our environments, families, traffic lights, jobs. Being with the discomfort of these, the ordinariness of these, brings a sense of life, of survival. Rejecting these in favor of higer, calmer, more so-called spiritual states of mind and body drives us crazy, and brings chaos.
It is good to note here that these second foundation of mindfulness teachings are not about the experience of purely physical pleasure and pain alone. They are also about how we work with all our ordinary life situations, the struggles with our families and jobs and friends and schedules, our attitudes of being with these as a sense of being alive, or rejecting them in favor of fantastic so-called spiritual alternatives.
Practice entails not so much preventing chaos, but with discovering that we are already in the midst of such a struggle, already driving ourselves crazy. This is the necessary ground: discovering the pain, wretchedness, foolishness, struggle, that we are already doing. Having done so, the basic attitude is to take such feeling experiences as livelihood.
We are encouraged to stay with the earth, stay with bodily and real-life reference points. Taking struggle, discomfort, and uncertainty as the experience of life/survival, sanity could be discovered in the midst of wisdom-chaos. From the talk: When you begin to sit and meditate, you find there is a lot of chaos, conflict, uncertainty, and also a sense of being a fool. But at the same time, you begin to hear more sound, you begin to see more sight, you begin to feel more body, sense of being ?alive. We are slowly approaching towards the notion of sanity. Slowly and slowly we are approaching toward the notion of sanity. And sanity in this case is having contact with reality.


Dear Chronicles listeners,

February 13
I'm initiating the discussion by sharing some main points of my understanding of these first two talks, as best as I can put into words, using Trungpa Rinpoche's words liberally. I don't mind being corrected or criticized, but please, in your responses or in your fresh comments on the talks, stick with the teachings (and related teachings, if you like), your experiences related to the talk, and comments or questions about practicing with these teachings. The purpose of my comments is to provide a bridge to discussion. If that doesn't work for you, please just dive right in to discussing the talks.
In the first talk of the Training the Mind seminar, mind (sems, chitta) is defined (as Rinpoche does elsewhere) as "that which experiences a sense of separateness," "That which feels a need for something." Trungpa Rinpoche goes on to describe how exaggerating this potentially simple mode of experiencing is used to "reinforce one's existence, reinforce one's strength," and how constantly looking for reference points out of insecurity and uncertainty manifests as the stupid, confused, aggressive aspect of ego-process.
The problem is not with having simple reference points. The problem is how we exaggerate those reference points out of panic, in the face of separateness and even loneliness.
The practice emphasis here is on simplicity, simply being with the experience of forms, and seeing all experience as experience. Unlike other mindfulness of body teachings, this is not an introspective project which includes body scans, or analyzing pleasurable and painful sensations in the body. The emphasis, rather, is on the simplicity of dualistic experience, the experience of the psychosomatic body, and simply being. Psycho (mind) Somatic (body).
This is not about overcoming psychosomatic experience, as one might find in philosophical approaches to Buddhism. It's about relating to the simplicity of mind-body, mind-form, "experience." It's not about trying to overcome having reference points, as if one could eliminate the basic structure of mind-body. That's a fantasy for philosophers. And it's not about future orientation, trying to create a pleasurable state free of grasping.
Simply sitting and being exposes the suffering of ego-process. One experiences hot boredom, anxiety, wiggliness, panic, grasping at forms, and just places oneself on the earth, simply, in the midst of that. One places one's attention on simply breathing, simply being. Experience could be simple, now, with "no big deals." Placing oneself this way, fantasies could come down to earth. This is not about making war on thoughts.
In general, mindfulness of forms connects with the experience (one could call it the obstacle) of hot boredom, panic, and speed.
Placing one's mind and body simply sees "first thought as best thought," and brings joy, expressed as appreciation. As Trungpa Rinpoche says at the beginning of the second talk, such appreciation and joy is not based on any contrast with unpleasurable feelings, and has nothing to do with building oneself up. It's just clicking in to "first thought best thought," nowness, wholesomeness -- unlike spiritual materialism, which feels hollow.
What is the appreciation? It's the appreciation that "one is a person committed to sitting practice and awareness in everyday life."... "Appreciation of a sense of being..." "Appreciation of a sense of commitment." These themes run all through Trungpa Rinpoche's mindfulness teachings and the 1973 Seminary transcripts as well.


February 6

This six-talk seminar entitled Training the Mind took place in August of 1974 on the land, what is now called Shambhala Mountain Center. Many of the students at this seminar had attended one or both of the seminars given at The Naropa Institute that summer, the five-talk meditation seminar (the streaming video of which along with excellent notes by Carolyn Gimian are available on the Chronicles) and the 14-talk Tibetan Buddhist path course. Some of those students, even relatively new ones, had attended a month-long sitting intensive on the land (called a dathun) just prior to this seminar. The relatively more seasoned students were steeped in teachings by Trungpa Rinpoche on the nature and development of ego, spiritual materialism, commitment and path as discussed in Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, The Myth of Freedom and at the 1973 Seminary. Trungpa Rinpoche emphasized joining practice with study.
Meditation instructors of that era were strongly encouraged to study the teachings on the four foundations of mindfulness as presented at the 1973 seminary, which were considered to be a key for learning how to practice and instruct mindfulness-awareness meditation. When I was a new student in 1979, these teachings on the four foundations of mindfulness and related teachings on meditation practice (as found in The Path is the Goal, for instance, based on seminars given in March 1974 and September 1974) were the main reference points to understand why and how to practice for Trungpa Rinpoches students.
For the most part, after 1975, Trungpa Rinpoche did not repeat these exact teachings, but asked his students to rely on printed materials, audiotapes, and older students to share and help others access these oral instructions. From the very beginning, gathering with others and listening to recordings of teachings has been an important study approach for students of Trungpa Rinpoche. No one could attend every teaching Trungpa Rinpoche gave, and he made a point of having teachings recorded so that the sangha could study, especially in groups. In that sense, this Chronicles website is not so much an innovation as a continuation of this basic approach to contemplating the teachings and sharing them with others.
Some may be surprised to learn that the preponderance of Trungpa Rinpoches teachings on meditation are concerned with view and motivation rather than technique alone. He did expect us to know what we were doing, and why.
Spoiler alert: You may wish to listen to and contemplate this first talk and make your own outlines or logics before looking at the three-fold logic below. Three-fold logic is one of the main contemplative approaches used by Trungpa Rinpoche to train his students. Students were often encouraged to identify the ground, path, and fruition inherent in his lectures. When preparing to teach, student teachers were instructed to organize their talks according to these principles. Mrs. Gimians notes on the meditation seminar, streamed on the Chronicles site, are an excellent example of this approach.
An article in the practice and education section of the Shambhala website describes the three-fold ground-path-fruition logic in this way: Ground is the basic perspective; Path is how that is practiced; fruition is the realization that comes from that practice, the result of such practice. In this talk, I feel that the fruition is presented in the question and answer section of the talk.
Following is a possible three-fold logic for this first talk. Id like to suggest that you work with your own versions, your own logics. That makes the learning process more personal. We could discuss these if you like, or any other comments or thoughts you may have.
Possible three-fold logic for Talk One
Ground: Nature of mind (sem, chitta) as sense of separateness, that which has an other, the activity of minding. Exaggeration of this experience of separation brings desperation, a sense of hopelessness, feeling entrapped within samsara.. Awareness of this as the working ground is the motive.
Path: The willingness to expose this, the simplicity of abiding with this situation, and with basic dualism.
Fruition: Relating to first thought. Trusting first thought.
The second talk, going further with this understanding, will be about mindfulness of forms; mindfulness of body, which is the first foundation of mindfulness.
Respectfully submitted,
Robert Walker

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