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Quotations on: Meditation

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The Buddha

Though one were to live a hundred years without wisdom and with a mind unstilled by meditation,
the life of a single day is better if one is wise and practises meditation.

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.

In the same way that rain breaks into a house with a bad roof, desire breaks into the mind that has not been practising meditation.

Don't indulge in careless behaviour. Don't be the friend of sensual pleasures. He who meditates attentively attains abundant joy.

Verily, from meditation arises wisdom. Without meditation wisdom wanes. Knowing this twofold path of gain and loss, let one so conduct oneself that wisdom may increase.
Dhammapada v. 282

Ajahn Chah

Just know what is happening in your mind - not happy or sad about it, not attached. If you suffer see it, know it, and be empty. It's like a letter - you have to open it before you can know what's in it.

If you listen to the Dhamma teachings but don't practice you're like a ladle in a soup pot. The ladle is in the soup pot every day, but it doesn't know the taste of the soup. You must reflect and meditate.

Dhamma is in your mind, not in the forest. Don't believe others. Just listen to your mind. You don't have to go and look anywhere else. Wisdom is in yourself, just like a sweet ripe mango is already in a young green one.

Know and watch your heart. It's pure but emotions come to colour it. So let your mind be like a tightly woven net to catch emotions and feelings that come, and investigate them before you react.

You say that you are too busy to meditate. Do you have time to breathe? Meditation is your breath. Why do you have time to breathe but not to meditate? Breathing is something vital to people’s lives. If you see that Dhamma practice is vital to your life, then you will feel that breathing and practising the Dhamma are equally important.

We don't meditate to see heaven, but to end suffering.

If you have time to be mindful, you have time to meditate.

Sometimes it is difficult to find time to meditate each day. But we always have time to watch TV. We always have time to go shopping. We always have time to get a snack from the refrigerator. Why is it that the twenty-four hours run out when it is time to meditate? When we understand the value and effect of spiritual practice, it will become a high priority in our life, and when something is important, we find time for it. It's good to set up a daily meditation practice of fifteen, thirty, or sixty minutes in the morning. To do that, we may have to sacrifice fifteen or thirty minutes of television the previous evening in order to go to bed a little earlier. But compared to the benefit of practicing the Dharma, missing a little TV is not a big thing. In the same way that we always find time to eat because food nourishes our body, we will find time to meditate and recite prayers because they nourish us spiritually. When we respect ourselves spiritually, we respect ourselves as human beings. Nourishing ourselves spiritually then becomes a very important priority, and having time for it is easy.
Ven. Thubten Chodron, Taming the Mind

Why Meditate? Because It's Good Medicine.
Meditation is a quiet, simple technique that belies an extraordinary power to boost disease resistance and maintain overall health.
William Collinge, WebMD Medical News

Please don't be a dumb meditator, a thought-wiper trying not to think, falling into the extreme of trying not to do anything in life. This is quietism, not the wisdom of the Middle Way. This is much too simple minded. It is important to learn how to meditate, not to just do it without guidance or direction. That would be like throwing stones in the dark and hoping to hit a target. Learning and practice have to go hand in hand, or you'll find it as difficult as trying to climb a mountain either without legs and hands (practice) or without head and eyes (learning, guidance); for we actually need both on the spiritual journey. I mainly hope to educate people who really want to be authentic Bodhisattvas and Vajrayana practitioners and Buddhist practitioners seeking wisdom and enlightenment.
HH the 12th Gyalwang Drukpa

Dudjom Rinpoche

Even though the meditator may leave the meditation, the meditation will not leave the meditator.

Action is being truly observant of your own thoughts, good or bad, looking into the true nature of whatever thoughts may arise, neither tracing the past nor inviting the future, neither allowing any clinging to experiences of joy, nor being overcome by sad situations. In so doing, you try to reach and remain in the state of great equilibrium, where all good and bad, peace and distress, are devoid of true identity.

In meditation practice, you might experience a muddy, semiconscious, drifting state, like having a hood over your head: a dreamy dullness. This is really nothing more than a kind of blurred and mindless stagnation. How do you get out of this state? Alert yourself, straighten your back, breathe the stale air out of your lungs, and direct your awareness into clear space to freshen your mind. If you remain in this stagnant state you will not evolve, so whenever this setback arises, clear it again and again. It is important to be as watchful as possible, and to stay as vigilant as you can.

The more and more you listen, the more and more you hear; the more and more you hear, the deeper and deeper your understanding becomes.

Guidance for daily practice:
In the morning your should reflect on the difficulty to obtain a precious human birth; in the evening you should reflect on death and impermanence, and throughout the day you should reflect on karma, cause and effect, and act according to the 37 Bodhisattva Practices.
Meditate in shorter but more frequent sessions to ensure the good quality of your meditation. It is best to just observe the nature of mind, the ordinary bare mind, and preserve it. When thoughts appear neither reject nor accept them. Do not try to stop thoughts, allow them to arise, but recognize their arising and do not pursue them. The goal is not to have no thoughts but for thoughts to arise and yet be rendered powerless. You must habituate this. Then later when negative thoughts and emotions arise you will not fall under their power. The energy of these thoughts may arise but will not affect you in one or the other way. Sometimes in meditation, there will be a time when there are actually no thoughts. In that instant you will know that this is the true nature of your mind - the mind that abides like space, vivid and empty, open, not grasping at anything. This alert awareness must be upheld throughout all activities.
So do not try to stop thoughts, just relax into the nature of awareness. Whenever you meditate, our minds will be together. If you understand this you will not feel tired of meditation.
Garchen Rinpoche

Meditation is participatory observation.
What you are looking at responds to the process of looking.
What you are looking at is you,
and what you see depends on how you look.
Bhante Henepola Gunaratana

His Holiness the Dalai Lama
While in a state of total absorption, like a tiny fish flashing about in a lucid pond and not disturbing it, intelligently inspect the self-nature of the person who is meditating.
--the First Panchen Lama, Lozang Chokyi Gyeltsen

How do we meditate here? While in a state of mind that is totally absorbed on mind, we employ a small part of that mind to inspect and scrutinize, intelligently, learnedly and discerningly, the nature of ourselves as the person or individual who is conventionally "me" and who is focusing with absorbed concentration on mere clarity and awareness. In other words, we supplement our serenely stilled and settled mind with the additional accompanying mental factors of inspection and scrutiny.
H.H. the Dalai Lama and Alexander Berzin; The Gelug/Kagyu Tradition of Mahamudra

For discovering one's true inner nature, I think one should try to take some time, with quiet and relaxation, to think more inwardly and to investigate the inner world.

Once the conventional nature of the mind has been identified, then, through analysing its nature, finally we will gradually be able to identify the ultimate nature of the mind. If that is done, there is great progress unlike anything else.
At the beginning we should meditate for half an hour. When we rise from the session and various good and bad objects appear, benefit and harm are manifestly experienced. Therefore, we should develop as much as we can the realisation that these phenomena do not exist objectively and are mere dependent-arisings of appearances, like illusions [in that they only seem to be inherently existent]. We should meditate in this way in four formal sessions: at sunrise, in the morning, afternoon, and evening.
The Buddhism of Tibet

The environment where you are doing the meditation should be properly cleaned. While cleaning, you should cultivate the motivation that since you are engaged in the task of accumulating great stores of merit by inviting the hosts of buddhas and bodhisattvas to this environment, it is important to have a clean place. You should see that all the external dirt and dust around you is basically a manifestation of the faults and stains within your own mind. You should see that the most important aim is to purge these stains and faults from within your mind. Therefore, as you cleanse the environment, think that you are also purifying your mind. Develop the very strong thought that by cleaning this place you are inviting the host of buddhas and bodhisattvas who are the most supreme merit field, and that you will subsequently engage in a path that will enable you to purge your mind of the stains of delusions.
Path to Bliss: A Practical Guide to Stages of Meditation

Howard Cutler: " I right in assuming that you would consider solitary meditation to be a productive activity? Would you consider to be productive our example of a monk who is a hermit, who has little contact with anybody else and spends his or her life just in meditation, trying to achieve liberation?"
Dalai Lama: "Not necessarily. From my viewpoint, there can be both productive meditation and unproductive meditation."
HC: "What's the difference?"
DL:"[Some] practitioners and other kinds of meditators practice different techniques, some with closed eyes, sometimes open eyes, but the very nature of that meditation is to become thoughtless, in a state free of thoughts. But in a way, this is a kind of retreat, like they are running away from trouble. When they actually face trouble, carry on their daily life and face some real life problems, nothing has changed. Their attitudes and reactions remain the same. So that kind of meditation is just avoiding the problem, like going on a picnic, or taking a painkiller. It's not actually solving the problem. Some people may spend many years doing these practices, but their actual progress is zero. That's not productive meditation. Genuine progress occurs when the individual not only sees some results in achieving higher levels of meditative states but also when their meditation has at least some influence on how they interact with others, some impact from that meditation in their daily life--more patience, less irritation, more compassion. That's productive meditation. Something that can bring benefit to others in some way."
The Art of Happiness at Work

If persons who have attained calm abiding keep their minds in calm abiding, not only does the force of their meditative stabilization remain but their other good qualities increase and do not degenerate. Similarly, persons who have achieved special insight have clear perception not only with respect to the object of observation on which they have been meditating but also with respect to any other object to which they turn their minds. Persons who cultivate calm abiding but not special insight will gain the factor of stability but not that of an intense clarity; they will not be able to manifest any antidote to the afflictive emotions. One must achieve an intensity of clarity in order for anything to serve as an antidote to ignorance, and to achieve that clarity one must cultivate special insight.
Geshe Gedün Lodrö from 'Calm Abiding and Special Insight: Achieving Spiritual Transformation through Meditation'

Deepening our meditative existence requires us to soften the harsh climate and structures of the reactive mind and live from an open heart. As our practice grows, it continues to refine our sensitivity to life, revealing the pathless destiny of our sacred inner being.
One of the first places we can begin to enter the heart of wisdom is by noticing how quickly the mind likes to judge. By softening the tendency of cold, egocentric analyzing we take an important step into the peaceful reality of knowing one another beyond our karmic and social habits.
Mahan Rishi Singh Khalsa

And what really happens the moment you say, "OK, thoughts, come up, I welcome you!" Suddenly there are no thoughts! What is
happening? "Come on, thoughts, where are you?" Except for an occasional blip, they stop arising.
Dennis Genpo Merzel

My teacher often likens meditation practice to a river flowing through our life. In the early stages, like a mountain spring, our practice is fleeting and undeveloped. There may be a fair few leaps and crashes before we settle into a more regular rhythm. Little by little our practice continues to grow and mature until eventually it becomes like a vast river, attracting everything else to it, no longer a small trickle in our life, but the most compelling force of it. The river may still encounter obstacles, but they are of little consequence. It will simply flow over or around them, having developed a smooth, calm, but unstoppable momentum.
David Michie; Hurry Up and Meditate: Your Starter Kit for Inner Peace and Better Health

If we develop inner awareness, which is like an inner space, we can ride the waves of life. People imagine that to be a meditator you have to always live in very tranquil situations and that you are likely to be inundated if a turbulent situation arises. This is true for beginners, just as it is for someone who is learning how to surf. At the beginning, they have to stick to the small waves otherwise they will be bowled over. But an expert surfer looks for the big waves. The greater the waves, the more fun, once you have your balance. The secret is to be balanced, to be poised. To be a good surfer you need to be neither too tense nor too relaxed, just balanced. This is what we need in our practice, too.
Ani Tenzin Palmo, from 'Reflections on a Mountain Lake: Teachings on Practical Buddhism'

When you begin to study Zen, you aim to attain realization. Your motive is good in so far as motive is concerned, but in your meditation you should aim at nothing. You may aim at realization to encourage yourself when you are not meditating, but beware of clinging entanglements. Encouragement is one thing, meditation is another. Do not mix them up. Carry your meditation as the eternal present, and saturate your everyday life with it.
Nyogen Senzaki, Excerpted from Buddhism and Zen

Following the instruction of a teacher, a practitioner may attain, in an instant, his true self, thereby realizing that he is ultimately no different from the Buddha. Hence it is said, “Originally, there is nothing,” which means simply that one must not underestimate oneself, and lack confidence. This is the teaching of “sudden enlightenment.”
Even after attaining some realization, however, one must always strive to cut off lingering mind-habits so that one can be fully transformed from an “ordinary person” into a “sage.” This is the teaching of “gradual cultivation,” emphasizing that we must “polish the mirror from moment to moment.” This is why pride can be such a hindrance. Lacking faith in one’s own nature is the sickness of those attached to scriptural authority, whereas pride is the disease of those who practice Zen meditation.
So Sahn (1520-1604), from The Mirror of Zen – The Classic Guide to Buddhist Practice by Zen Master So Sahn

Some people do not know the difference between "mindfulness" and "concentration." They concentrate on what they're doing, thinking that is being mindful... We can concentrate on what we are doing, but if we are not mindful at the same time, with the ability to reflect on the moment, then if somebody interferes with our concentration, we may blow up, get carried away by anger at being frustrated.
If we are mindful, we are aware of the tendency to first concentrate and then to feel anger when something interferes with that concentration. With mindfulness we can concentrate when it is appropriate to do so and not concentrate when it is appropriate not to do so.
Ajahn Sumedho, Teachings of a Buddhist Monk

While the mind consciousness meditates on calm abiding, it moves wildly [sometimes]. In moving, it remembers the past, thinks ahead of the future, or finds itself within the present. It is shaken by many different thoughts: thoughts of happiness, thoughts of suffering, and many other kinds. When the mind does not continuously change in this way, but has instead become stable and is able to rest within itself, then it can be said that we remain within the meditative concentration of calm abiding.
Now, there are some sceptical persons who may think that when the mind is not moved by many thoughts, it will be in a stupid state. But stupidity does not arise just because the mind relaxes a little. On the contrary, the mind usually thinks too much. We are used to thinking uninterruptedly and continuously. If we look at these thoughts more closely, however, we discover that we seldom think meaningfully at all, and that most of our thinking is rather senseless. Such senseless thinking happens frequently and repeats itself over and over. In this way our many endlessly occuring thoughts are continuously going around and around in circles. If we are able to decrease this senseless thinking, meaningful thoughts will naturally increase all by themselves. And this is exactly the reason for the meditation on calm abiding: when the mind relaxes, senseless thinking will effortlessly diminish.
Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, from Everyday Consciousness & Primordial Awareness

With the achievement of quiescence, the attention is drawn inwards and is maintained continuously, single-pointedly upon its object. Tsongkhapa emphasizes that genuine quiescence is necessarily preceded by an experience of an extraordinary degree of mental and physical pliancy, which entails an unprecedented sense of mental and physical fitness and buoyancy.
In the state of meditative equipoise, only the aspects of awareness, clarity, and joy of the mind appear, and all one's other sense faculties remain dormant. Thus, while one's consciousness seems as if it has become indivisible with space, one lacks any sensation of having a body; and when rising from that state, it seems as if one's body is suddenly coming into being. When genuine quiescence is achieved, one's attention can effortlessly be maintained for hours, even days, on end, with no interference by either laxity or excitation.
B. Alan Wallace, Balancing the Mind: A Tibetan Buddhist Approach to Refining Attention

Different body postures open or compress particular energetic channels and influence the flow of subtle energy. We use this understanding to aid specific processes in the practice. The Tibetan tradition considers the negative emotions to be more closely associated with the primary channel on the right side of the body in men and on the left in women. When a man sleeps on his right side, the channel that carries mostly negative prana is forced a little closed and the left channel opens. Also the lung, the physical organ, on that side is a bit compressed so the opposite lung is a little more responsible for the breath. You are probably already familiar with effects from lying on your side: when you lie on your right side you find it easier to breathe through your left nostril. For men, we consider this position beneficial to the movement of the positive wisdom prana through the left channel. Women benefit from the reverse, opening the wisdom channel that is on their right side by sleeping on their left. This affects dreams in a positive fashion and makes the dream practice easier. Opening the flow of the wisdom prana is a provisional expedient, as ultimately we want the balanced prana to move into the central channel.
Furthermore, by paying attention to posture, awareness is kept more stable during sleep. Where I come from, most people sleep on a three-foot by six-foot Tibetan carpet. If one moves too much, one falls out of bed. But that does not usually happen, because when one sleeps on something small, the position of the body is held in the sleeping mind throughout the night.... Here, in the big beds of the West, the sleeper can rotate like the hands of a clock and not fall, but holding the position anyway will help maintain awareness.
Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, from 'The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep'

Lama Thubten Yeshe

At certain times, a silent mind is very important, but 'silent' does not mean closed. The silent mind is an alert, awakened mind; a mind seeking the nature of reality.

Through meditation, you learn about the nature of your mind rather than the sense world of desire and attachment. Why is this important? We think that worldly things are very useful, but the enjoyment they bring is minimal and transient. Meditation, on the other hand, has so much more to offer – joy, understanding, higher communication and control. Control here does not mean that you are controlled by somebody else, but rather by your own understanding knowledge-wisdom, which is a totally peaceful and joyful experience. Thus, meditation is very useful.

The Dharma center is an emergency rescue operation, like when police go in with sirens blaring, helicopters whirling - to rescue people in distress! Like that, the meditation center plays a very important role in the emergency rescue of people, human beings, using the seat belt and life jacket of the lam-rim.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche

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Last updated: December 11, 2016