Tuesday, October 19, 2010

An Introductory Lecture to Buddhism (The 6 Yogas of Naropa & Meditation Practice)

This is the seventeenth entry from my fieldwork diary. The original date is 19.09.2010.


A lot of new people showed up to listen to Drupon Sangyas' introductory lecture to Buddhism on that Sunday.


"Tibetan Buddhism has a lot of information on how to meditate. We become more peaceful through meditation.
Having too many thoughts makes us lose our connection. So meditation helps to focus and calm your mind.

2500 years ago Buddha taught monks how to meditate. During Buddha's time, monks had to be calm and move carefully. Their speech had to be slow and gentle, and not loud. Monks had to control themselves constantly.

The great yogi Milarepa meditated all the time - during sleep, eating etc. So we must follow his example and meditate as often as possible. If you wish to improve in meditation you need to keep your mind stable. It is disturbing for the mind to desire too much.

We are connected to our past through Samsara. We have karma from past lives, which is why we are still here.
Negative thoughts give rise to suffering. We are too focused on negative things in our daily lives. Buddha said, "You must focus and control your body, mind and speech."

The channels of the body become blocked when we have negative emotions. Buddha said that we have a lot of mental sicknesses (jealousy, hatred etc). Buddha tried to become free from that by meditating for a very long time. He tried to explain this to people at that time but not everyone understood. Most people expected miracles from him.

Later on he decided to teach everyone, not just monks or the royal family because he came to the conclusion that everyone has the potential to be compassionate and kind. He opened his heart and so should we. If we open our hearts we can practice compassion.

Buddha's family was the richest in the country yet he said that we cannot help people just by sharing our material wealth, we need to share our kindness and compassion with them."


Drupon Sangyas showed us how to meditate and told us that there are around seven different kinds of meditation poses. The most well-known one is the lotus position. However, as Drupon Sangyas mentioned that day, you are not required to sit in a full lotus position, you can also meditate in a half-lotus position - either way is fine.

1. The spine should be as straight as an arrow.
2. The eyes can be closed or half-opened.
3. If you decide to have your eyes open then you should look down your nose.
4. Close the mouth softly (the teeth should not be clenched together).
5. The tongue should touch the top of the throat behind the upper teeth.
6. The left hand should be under the right hand and the thumbs should be pressed together (resembling a half moon; see the picture above of the position of the hands).


"When we have negative thoughts while breathing in the air becomes dirty and it goes straight to your channels. So you need to close your fingers (to remove ignorance).

In the next meditative pose you keep your thumbs under your fingers and the index fingers point down to open the channels of the body (see the picture below)."

"You shouldn't have any thoughts. The mind should be absolutely pure."


1. Then you make a circular motion with your right arm and the left hand goes under the elbow of your right arm.
2. Close the left nostril of your nose with the index finger of your right hand. It connects you to the central channel.
3. Inhale pure air (visualize this) through the right (open nostril) and when you exhale then you must imagine that you are breathing out all the dirtyness. This is called purifying.
4. Repeat this three times on both sides of the nose.


"This was taught by the great master Naropa in the 12th century," said Drupon Sangyas, "it is a great technique. We don't need to be Buddhists to do this. Everyone can meditate. It is very good for the health. Everyone in India meditate, even the prisoners (Vipassana meditation)."


He told us a story about one of the biggest businessmen in India. He had been suffering from a very bad sickness and he sought for help from Western doctors but nothing worked. So finally, he decided to try Buddhist meditation and through a lot of effort he became healthy again.


"So if you have a sickness then you must visualize that this pure air goes to the sick bodypart during meditation.

You don't need any items, clothes etc to look like a Buddhist. The most important thing is to be kind and compassionate towards other sentient beings, and practice meditation. Meditation is very powerful. Not even your enemies can cause mental suffering for you if you meditate daily.

At the age of 14-16 I didn't know how to meditate properly. When I was in the monastery there were a lot of little monks who kept talking during meditation practice, and some elder monks were snoring. But the teachers were undisturbed and completely focused. I myself used to fall asleep sometimes. I thought this was a bad thing but when I asked my teacher he replied that it was a good sign.

I also asked my teacher how I can reach such a pure state of mind and he explained to me that it is like a glass of water with dirty sand or mud. If you want to see the pure water you must not shake it. If you just let the sand settle slowly to the bottom of the glass then you are able to see the pure water."


*Important side note: These diary entries do not reflect every word the teacher said, and there may be some mistakes or misunderstandings, for which I am sorry and accept responsibility. In a few instances, I have interjected my own interpretation or explanation.

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