With this post, we would like to begin to explore the vast and subtle topic of Tibetan Buddhist meditation. Since we are no experts ourselves, we thought that we would let the experts do the talking, beginning with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
In an interview with American journalist Dan Rather, His Holiness says that meditation is the best method for dealing with emotions — “Not for next life. Not for heaven. But for day to day’s well being.”
What is Buddhist meditation from a Tibetan perspective?
In Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism*, John Powers offers an elegant, concise overview of the role of meditation in Tibetan Buddhism:
Tibetan Buddhism has many different schools and lineages, with a variety of practices and goals. All schools of Tibetan Buddhism agree, however, that the final goal of Mahayana practice is the attainment of buddhahood for the benefit of all other sentient beings. A buddha … is someone who has awakened from the sleep of ignorance in which others live, who has broken through the cognitive barriers that impede understanding and become omniscient through a long process of mental training.
The key factor in this process is meditation (bsgom pa, bhāvanā), a general term that encompasses a wide range of practices and goals. Some of these aim at pacifying the mind and quieting the mental confusion that afflicts ordinary human beings. Other meditative practices are concerned with developing clear understanding of Buddhist tenets such as the four noble truths, impermanence, no-self, and so on, or with cultivating direct perception of the true nature of reality.
In Tibetan, the word for meditation is gom, and the first type of meditation, in which we calm or relax the mind, is called chogom. The second type, in which we investigate Buddhist principles, is chaygom.
In future posts, we can explore these different types of meditation and talk more about how to meditate, but in this introduction, we’d like to look at what meditation is, in a general sense.
Below you will find a series of video clips of Tibetan Buddhist masters talking about their perceptions of meditation. These clips come from Sogyal Rinpoche’s excellent website What Meditation Really Is, which is a great place to go for online information about Tibetan Buddhist meditation.
Tibetan Buddhist Masters Discuss Buddhist Meditation
Ringu Tulku Rinpoche
There are many Western Buddhist teachers well versed in Tibetan traditions as well, including Pema Chodron, Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach, all of whom we would love to spend more time with as we explore Tibetan Buddhist meditation further in coming posts.
*We are Amazon affiliates so if you purchase John Powers’ book from the link, we will make a small commission on the sale. The cost to you is the same.
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