Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s Online Advice Book
Meditation and Retreat Advice : Meditation and Visualization
|Bliss and Emptiness Meditation|
|A student wrote that she was experiencing bliss while in retreat. Rinpoche gave the following practice advice.|
My most dear, most kind, most wish-fulfilling one ,
Thank you very much for your kind letter. My conclusion is that it’s very good that you are able to experience bliss—that you are able to shoot bliss up to the crown, that you are able to experience the four blisses, and that you can do that by going through the channels inside. So now what you should try is generally more meditation on emptiness—the fourth bliss and emptiness.
Don’t let the I be lost totally, don’t escape from that or lose that. To go through that, to accomplish that, is like climbing Mount Everest or winning gold. The way the I has appeared from beginningless rebirth—what we believe as the true, real I—see the emptiness and abide in that. You should attend to that as the main object of meditation.
That’s the false I. What you believe real is the false I in reality, so try to look at that. After discovering that, then seeing it as empty, by thinking it does not exist at all and meditating on that. Meditate on that as long as you can last. Aim for four hours without disturbances, without break.
Otherwise without emptiness, then Hindus can also generate bliss, but not in the central channel. They can actualize the clear light, but not the extremely subtle mind understanding emptiness, realizing emptiness. General bliss, kundalini, Hindus also have that; it is not particular to Buddhists, but emptiness is not in Hinduism.
You need total renunciation, including of the form realm, the desire realm, and the formless realm, then these four: infinite consciousnesses, infinite space, nothingness, and the tip of samsara. In Hinduism they have the desire realm, the form and formless realm, and they see their suffering nature—these three categories they see are suffering in nature, but they don’t see the tip of samsara as samsara, because the way to realize it is by looking at a higher level, with more peace, then looking at the present stage, more suffering nature.
So the way the Hindus do meditation and realize the nature of suffering is different from the way Buddhists do it, therefore they see there is no higher realm than the tip of samsara, so that is how they get stuck. When the karma of that realm is finished, then they see that they have to be reborn in the lower realms, the desire realm and so forth. Then sometimes they get heresy because they believed before that they had achieved nirvana, but because the delusions are so subtle, at the end they realize they did not achieve that, so when they see that they have to be reborn in the lower realms, they generate heresy and then they have to be reborn in the hell realm.
When you do Vajrayogini sadhana, it’s good to keep the bliss if it happens easily. Keep it during the sadhana—while reciting the sadhana and doing generation stage meditation.
Follow the outline of the Six Yogas of Naropa, and try to have realizations one-by-one.
The most important thing is to have bodhicitta realizations, so every experience of bliss becomes the direct cause of enlightenment for sentient beings, so that means all your experiences become beneficial for sentient beings.
Of course, bodhicitta realization, but before that you also need total renunciation—seeing the whole entire samsara as suffering in nature, and you can’t wait [to be free from samsara.] Just as a prisoner doesn’t want to be in prison for even one second, or like being in the center of the fire, you don’t have the attraction to be in the fire even for one second, you only want to be free from the fire, without delay of a second, so like that, have the wish to be free from samsara.
Then there is the unmistaken realization of emptiness, for example, being able to see the I as empty. That means as a result you see the I exists in mere name, merely imputed by the mind, so that means it does not exist at all from its own side. It is totally empty of existing from its own side, so oneness, emptiness and dependent arising, that is Buddha’s, Nagarjuna’s and Lama Tsongkhapa’s way of examining emptiness. It is supportive to realize how the I is existing, not non-existing, it’s a subtle dependent arising. Thinking that way, realizing that way, helps you to see emptiness, that it is empty.
Then to have the realization of guru devotion, by meditating on that for however many weeks, months or years it takes to have realizations that your guru, who you have a Dharma connection with, is numberless buddhas, and one buddha is all the gurus. To have the effortless experience, without any difficulties to be able to see that, one hundred per cent, from your own heart.
That becomes the root, the success of all the realizations, which should be done by following the lam-rim outline, with the meditations. Here I’m talking about the result of the meditation, training the mind in the gradual path of lower capable being, for as many weeks, months or years it takes to train the mind, to have no attachment at all to this life, to the food, clothing, and reputation. So the most important thing is the happiness of the next life, not this life. Most important is the next life, so totally change from the previous thinking, that this life’s happiness is more important than the next life, totally change this.
That’s why Nagarjuna is saying comfort and discomfort are equalized, praise and criticism are equalized, good reputation and bad reputation are equalized, to receive material or not receive material is equalized. You should have that realization.
You can meditate on the perfect human rebirth and its usefulness, how it is difficult to find again, also meditate on impermanence and death, the nine stages of death, the lower realm sufferings and refuge and karma. Try to have realizations one-by-one. This is the gradual path of the lower capable being.
Then [meditate on] the gradual path of the middle capable being: the suffering of humans and the deva realm, etc, the six types of suffering, the three types of general suffering of samsara, then [develop] renunciation of samsara, as I explained before, thinking that being in samsara is like being in prison or being in the center of a fire.
When you have bodhicitta realizations without any effort, day and night, continuously, there is the thought to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings, even for each sentient being. It is explained in the texts by meditators, that generally when bodhicitta is actualized, then you can put your main effort into tantra—the generation and completion stages—that is general.
With much love and prayers…