There are plenty of places where you can learn how to meditate (such as here, on the excellent Kadampa Life blog), but once you can focus your mind, what do you think about? Most people begin meditation by meditating on the breath. This is very beneficial and can be a wonderful experience, but if we want to make spiritual progress, we need also to meditate on appropriate topics, or objects. These objects are actually feelings, or understandings. We need to follow correct ‘pointing out’ instructions in order to generate the correct feeling or understanding in our mind, and when it is stable and clear, we focus on it without letting our mind wander.
What should we meditate on?
A good place to start would be objects which have stood the test of time, and which have be found by generations of meditation masters as being worthwhile to meditate on.
I try to maintain a daily meditation practice in conjunction with special prayers, known as Heart Jewel. As part of these prayers, I do a Lamrim meditation, as given in How to Understand the Mind.
Lamrim is a Tibetan term, literally meaning `stages of the path’. The path in question is an internal path to enlightenment. External paths can be seen with the eyes and lead us from one place to another. Internal paths need to be understood with our wisdom, and lead us to more positive mental states.
The Lamrim contains all Buddha’s teachings in a form which is easy to understand and to practice. There are 14 linked meditations, which together form the stages of the path to enlightenment. By doing one cycle of Lamrim meditations, we are covering (directly or indirectly) all of Buddha’s precious instructions. It is very simple and effective.
The famous Indian Buddhist scholar and meditation master Atisha (982 – 1054AD) first presented Buddha’s teachings in the form of the Lamrim. This format has been used by meditators across the world ever since.
My teacher, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, writes in The New Meditation Handbook:
“If we genuinely wish to gain experience of the stages of the path, we should try to meditate every day. On the first day we can meditate on our precious human life, on the second day we can meditate on death and impermanence, and so on until we complete the whole cycle in twenty-one days. Then we can begin again.”
As time passes, I am gradually becoming more and more familiar with these objects of meditation. My aim is to eventually replace my deep rooted negative states of mind with the positive mental states given in the Lamrim.
Read my posts and let me know what you think! All comments are welcome. Are these experiences similar to your Lamrim meditations? If yours differ, tell me how. Let’s see how this very private activity works!