In order to live deeply in the present one must maintain hope in the meaning of our suffering. We must act in alignment with our nourishment. Discovering the habits that will contribute to the growth of our soul. Concentrating on the status of our heart can be difficult when the world attempts to colonize our entire life.
Our hope is suddenly settled and tranquil once we learn to recognize the responsibilities of the hour. We can always walk towards the center when hope remains on our mind. Though we may stumble back into bad habits, and disparaging thoughts focusing on hope will lead us to Zhine. Living a life of joy, presence, and discipline requires effort, and intense consistent focus. Tenzin Rinpoche, the Author of The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep, teaches the three stages of Zhine. And how to overcome the obstacles that prevent our hope, and destroy our peace saying:
The first stage of practice is called “forceful” because it requires effort. The mind is easily and quickly distracted. It may seem impossible to remain focused on the object for even a minute. In the beginning, it is helpful to practice in numerous short sessions alternating with breaks. Do not let the mind wander during the break. Instead recite a mantra, or work with visualization. Work with another practice you may know, such as the development of compassion.
After the break, return to the fixation practice. If you are ready to practice but do not have the particular object you have been using, visualize a ball of light on your forehead and center yourself there. To become stronger keep pushing against your limits.
Enlightenment is a process of learning to listen to the internal dialogue of divinity; building our meditations practices brick by brick and setting fire to the thoughts that prevent our communications. Developing a state of natural Zhine requires us to leave behind the selves we cling to and enter a state of awareness that cultivates a vision of the people we wish to become. The aim of every spiritualist, yogi, story-teller, and humble soul is to develop a state of certainty through the power, strength, and discipline of bringing awareness into every part of our lives.
We must claim ownership over our new selves, and walk into our new bodies like a traveler coming into fresh, untouched, and unspoiled paradise. Like a yoga that learn to bend and stretch to the needs of the body our peace shall come to pass with the development of our awareness. As we journey to develop a home in our hearts one develops the skills of concentration, hope, and listening actively to the message given from divinity. We are more than workers, entrepreneurs, and every other term that encourages placing the body before the self; we are humans that require the conquering of the unruly mind. Tenzin understood our inner lives become harmonious as we develop the discipline and honesty required for spiritual adventures saying:
The elements of the body become harmonized and the prana moves evenly and gently throughout the body. This is an appropriate time to move to fixation without an object.
Abandoning the physical object, simply fix the focus on space. Remain steady and calm. Leave the body relaxed. Rather than focusing on an imagined point in space, allow the mind, while remaining in strong presence, to be diffuse. We call this “dissolving the mind” in space, or “merging the mind with space.” It will lead to stable tranquility and the third stage of zhiné practice.
We become our actions, and after many years of commitment, discipline, failures, and consistency one reaches the reason for our devotion–Peace. Our lives are purely walks of faith– trusting in the value of journaling, early morning prayers, and healthy eating to one day give birth to a loving and present life. This is a state Tenzin Rinpoche considers ultimate Zhine; or the pure non-dual awareness discrimination of the moving mind. Our agitation dissipates as we make a covenate to releasing fear, becoming patient, and concentrating on the divinity around us.
There are many obstacles to our spiritual health, and we cannot become one of them; we must devote every aspect of our lives to moving deeper into our inner selves and pulling wisdom from the world around us. Sleep is a neglected aspect of our lives in a world focused on productivity, for in order to live a peace, compassionate, and purposeful life we must learn to use sleep as a tool. Only by removing what disrupts our mind, and implementing practices that bring presence can we recognize the wisdom contained in dreams. Tenzin, rather eloquently, speaks on the three obstacles that are overcome when the mind is tranquil–drowsiness, agitation, and laxity.
Whereas in the second stage there is still some heaviness involved in the absorption in the object, the third stage is characterized by a mind that is tranquil but light, relaxed, and pliable. Thoughts arise and dissolve spontaneously and without effort. The mind is integrated fully with its own movement. In the Dzogchen tradition, this is traditionally when the master introduces the student to the natural state of mind.
This is the ultimate stage of zhiné practice, abiding in non-dual presence, rigpa itself. Agitation causes the mind to jump restlessly from one thought to another and makes concentration difficult. To prevent this, calm yourself before the practice session by avoiding too much physical or mental activity. The second obstacle is drowsiness or sleepiness, which moves into the mind like a fog, a heaviness and torpor that blunts awareness.
The third obstacle is laxity. When encountering this obstacle you may feel that your mind is calm, but in a passive, weak mental state in which the concentration has no strength. Once we have achieved a strong and reliable steadiness in calm presence, we can develop this steadiness in all aspects of life. Then, even though karmic traces continue to produce dream images after falling asleep, we remain in awareness. This opens the door to the further practices of both dream and sleep yogas.
Continue reading Alain De Botton on meaning.