Good evening it is very nice to see you here once again.
We talk about shinay, the shinay is a kind of foundation for meditation practise because if we don’t develop quietness somehow we can’t really do any kind of meditation because if we want to make a good painting we must have a clean canvas so we can make the creation on top of it. Like that if our mind is complicated and disturbed it is very difficult to work until it so the first step for entire meditation practise is to develop the state of quietness, calmness the togetherness.
The term shinyata is from Sanskrit it is translated into Tibetan language as shinay. Shin Nay is two words put in to one. Shi means shiwa that means peaceful, the peacefulness, and the quietness that is shiwa. Nay means naypa. Naypa is not moving just being there remaining sitting so remaining in peace or being at peace that is what shinay means in our language.
I am not experienced in Sanskrit but we had great experience of Sanskrit in the past so they translated shinyata into shinay so in Sanskrit it must mean the same thing.
As you know with anything to accomplish one particular thing there will be many ways and means through which we can appear so for shinay there is a large number of methods that were experienced in the teachings but all of those methods are simple method because it got to be. We have all of these neurosis and they manifest in a form of complication so the first method have to be simple one so all the method that involve with shinay that I know of all of them are very simple very direct for example one part method is involved with breathing so when you follow this method you are aware of your breathing and somehow you follow it and that is the principle and it is simple because we don’t have to look for any other methods of practise it is there. We breathe every moment of every day don’t we so we somehow use what we always have to involve without much choice. So this is one part method and this is shinay method involve which involves, looking it involves using your sight you look at a part image or form and try to focus on it try to see it clearly and we do it with part image or form and try to focus on it try to see it clearly and we do it with part image like image of Buddha or even if we do it we looking at a small only it can be anything or this is one other kind of method which is used in Vajrayana tradition. is visualisation, we visualise certain letters character or certain colours and we concentrate on them we try to see them clearly that kind of method. One-way or other to bring together our potential the basic potential, which is right now infinitely for most of us, scattered. It is like we have 200 pencils but they are everywhere so to write something we don’t have anything just like that we have such a potential but all of the parts of the potential are relatively scattered now there the method of shinay somehow bring together all of the method of these potentials and we are able to occupy sitting and at this point there the practise of dharma are able to attain enlightenment so the shinay thing it plays one of the most important role.
Now I cant really say this is a misunderstanding that I think it is a incomplete understanding maybe so most people think we have to do shinay at the beginning then we forget about it and do other things which is not true because although we call and on title particular method shinay method that every single method that involves meditation somehow involves shinay because if we do recitation it is always a means of shinay method you have to repeat each word clearly a possible not only once but twice three times and it goes on and on so in Vajrayana Buddhism you will find lots of counting 100,000 times million times 100 million times all of that counting goes on the recitation but that is also means of shinay and for example the entire practise or specific kind of life the monastic life the monks and nuns practise or rather extraordinary like people who will renounce everything even renounce the monastic life and just go for sort of exclusive retreat life for all of these individuals every single practise they involve begins with shinay. Without together with any type of family person how can that person be able to practise dharma both as a typical spiritual practise and in daily life practise. How a monk or nun can practise in monastery without shinay. I mean he or she have to begin all of their practise upon the foundation of togetherness foundation of clearness foundation of being one pointed you have to be clear with what you are doing and the same this with the yogis these individual who will live exclusive life they also have to begin everything upon shinay.
Although every single practise involves shinay still I personal experience that the practitioners should somehow do certain amount of of practise on specific method, which is quite, lets say seriously oriented around the shinay itself. You know there is particular shinay method. It is necessary because quiet few individuals go into more advanced practise (so called) without doing shinay practise. What I find is you are not able to concentrate on that particular method clear enough and as a result of that somehow you get certain kind of result out of your practise but it is not complete because the practise itself you are notable to complete. The reason is simple when you begin something your mind is there concentrated but after few minutes it is drifting around then after a few minutes it comes back and try to continue but then also you …… around so what happens is you don’t get the whole thing you just get the bits and pieces and as a result of that it causes the bits and pieces the result will also be bits and pieces. It will not be complete I have seen this and when that happens people come up with sort of confusion. One of the most common things that happens is people come up to you and say since e I did this practise once I feel things are going wonderful but other side I feel very disturbed and very confused and it sounded to me at the beginning rather schizophrenic, kind of two personality but everybody cant be schizophrenic few people can be but not everyone.
So when reasonable amount of individuals come up with those kind of experience then it puzzles that they must be something which makes this kind of reaction happen so when I asked to those individuals most of them haven’t done any kind of basic shinay practise they somehow get inspired and out of the inspiration the just of course we are supposed to say fortunately sp fortunately come across with a very special method and then somehow get quite an inspiration out of that so go ahead with the practise of that. And itself involves somewhat the foundation of shinay but that wasn’t enough became there wasn’t the beginning. It is like I think this is quite close example somebody learns a sentence without learning the alphabet. That will be quiet difficult because you have to figure out the alphabet out of the sentence. So it becomes like that. So you have to get the result of togetherness through the methods, which are based on the foundation of togetherness. So the second step and the first step have to go together and it is almost that you have to get the result of the first step out of the second step.
And most people cant manage that so somehow (of course it is a learning process) always we learn from that kind of situation, making small mistakes we learn from them but somehow if we begin with the shinay and spend reasonable amount of time and effort on the particular method of shinay then later if we do some method which is not only for shinay then we will have better preparation for that method to work. So that is something I have seen with quiet a few people and sometimes I have been it with myself. It is something which we should not ignore that the beginners must start with the shinay method.
Now for example in Mahamudra, practise people usually think when you talk about Mahamudra it is something which is a sort of concept that occurs but in Mahamudra practise there are four steps which were introduced. Out of the four steps the first step is entitled one point, the one pointed ness so that is what really shinay stands for. Because one point means your well being your entire well being is concentrated directly one pointedly. So you will be able to somehow have maximum effect in anything you attempt.
Now this is in Mahamudra practise. The first step is one pointed ness then of course Mahamudra with the one point method will not use visualisation or breathing or any of that sort of method not so much of them. But just follows through the principle of being aware of ones own true nature.
In another way we can say Buddha Nature; other people like to say “Buddha Within”. The Buddha which lives within us, the Buddha Nature, the potential of the Buddha. In the Mahamudra method the one pointedness is, somehow you are able to see the Buddha Nature which is your ultimate essence in a clear and non dualistic way. You are able to have an experience of it; you are able to have a sense of it at the beginning. But later a deeper experience of it. So that is one pointedness. The first step the Mahamudra practise involves. This one of shinay is very advanced but still it is shinay.
Now I understand that in Tibet, lets say, when people practise Vajrayana, they practise shinay but not so much emphasis is placed on it. I can see the reason quite clearly because I went there.
In Tibet there isn’t so much to make you confused, it is rather simple and healthy in a simple way. There is not so much going on that could make your mind confused. The air, the land, the things which are happening around you are very much like shinay. That is what I found there because I drove (well somebody drove me) for days and maybe all the way through I saw 200 houses. There aren’t so many people, no cinemas, no television. I have not seen a single newspaper. I have never seen a single magazine; people don’t even know what the word magazine means. None of these things are there even after more than 20 years of communist occupation; they still have none of these things there.
So I understood, in the practise why there isn’t so much emphasis on shinay as it is really needed, in my experience, with the individuals who I have dealt with.
I have been dealing with Tibetans in India and Nepal, those westerners who came to India and now I am in England and I am dealing with individuals who came to me to learn meditation. But I see the shinay is one of the most important, definitely at the beginning. It is the most important thing. So before I went to Tibet I heard everything was simple. But still I was not sure why there was a difference. But when I went there I saw it.
But here, with all due respect, you need shinay. It does not mean you are bad, you are wonderful. Your minds are clear. You are very open. You are willing to understand. Willing to learn, which is quite rare in my country.
People not so much want to learn they are quite content with what is going on around them. So here all the people have such openness and inspiration to become a better person and to do something about it. They have real respect for their potential in a very nice way. Some people maybe take it too seriously!
When you take something too seriously it becomes something not serious at all. It becomes like a joke. Then it freezes so nothing happens, because you hold onto it too hard. You have to let go of a couple of things to be able to take a few steps.
So all of these wonderful things are here but then one thing that is noticeable to me is so much is happening in your head. You are so intelligent, sometimes too intelligent. So that makes you need shinay to start with.
It is quite interesting. In my country I have never heard anybody say “I hate myself”. I have never heard this.
Maybe some really crazy really sick, mad people have said this otherwise if you say to someone “do you hate yourself?” the other person will not understand what you are talking about.
Because how can you hate yourself? They will never understand that, you are the most dearest thing to yourself, it is almost impossible.
But in the west I can find so many people who hate themselves, really hate themselves.
It’s quite a shock to me at the beginning. Of course in Tibet people commit suicide but all of these are involved in a very serious matter. For example if they have done something really wrong and their enemy catches them, they could be cut into pieces or something like that. They don’t want that to happen so they kill themselves.
Or certain pains are so unbearable, because of that they kill themselves. It is neurotic, but they kill themselves for that kind of reason.
But in the west, in Europe, in America, now in Japan and certain parts of south East Asia lots of people learn somehow to hate themselves. I really think it is because of thinking too much. People think too much. Somehow they see something and it gets twisted.
Methods like shinay are a remedy for it. The shinay will balance you and if you are intelligent and you have done shinay practise then your intelligence will become wise, not just wild.
Your intelligence is very important, but it can also go beyond the limit and make mistakes. So the practises like shinay will eliminate that danger or that process.
An example with peoples reaction toward particular things, like for example drugs. Drugs are very harmful and destroy people’s lives. If someone is supposed to live for another 50 years and they take drugs maybe they live only 2 more years. That is kamikaze. Committing suicide, without honour of course.
So why do people do that? There is something – the confusion. The activity of the mind is so intense they can’t take it so they take drugs. Because of the drugs their mind activity somehow changes. So for that temporary comfort they don’t mind destroying their life. They destroy their life, most of them know that will happen, but they don’t mind. They still go for it. Because people feel their pressure, they feel their confusion.
Now Transcendental Meditation (TM) this method was introduced not too long ago. And how it went to people and how it was developed is amazing, so fast. The method, the technique, the way it was taken by people is just like opium. People used it like aspirin.
When I went to the Philippines its amazing. I came across one TM organisation and the guru said this year (1986) they brought 2000 TM teachers from all over the world to the Philippines. One country. Each centre sponsored their expenses for one year and each person is then to train 10 people to be teachers. After one year there will be 20,000 teachers to teach TM. So that kind of demand is there. Maybe not so much in the UK I have not heard of it so much here.
Why does that happen? People need it. Developed countries like Europe and America and countries on the stage of developing like the Philippines and south East Asia countries; they need these teachers because the pressure, the confusion is so much.
When it comes to shamatha the method is the most effective way to deal with individuals’ emotion. But not only that. It is the most effective way to deal with an individuals potential. When I introduce shamatha meditation to individuals I don’t tell them that you have to sit 3 hours a day facing a wall, I say you can spend how much time you are able to spend. Half an hour, an hour, concentrating on a particular method. It can be looking at a wall, breathing or anything, but this is up to the individual. At the same time if you are only doing half an hour shamatha meditation then you have 11½ hours of daytime and 12 hours of nightime. Then the rest of the time whatever you do, you may be talking, resting, walking eating, sleeping, any situation. Whenever you are able to do your best to preserve mindfulness and awareness of every single thing. If we do this then somehow the shamatha in a particular time and space of your everyday life and shamatha in every single activity you do is somehow used properly.
So that way your development becomes faster and it also becomes efficient. You yourself become more efficient, happier and there is less opportunity and less chance of becoming neurotic. This way I myself fell very strongly that every single Buddhist who wishes to practise firstly gives some time and some effort to practise shamatha meditation and study about it. Even if you have done that, later when you study further practise you do not ignore it. Still you continue. Every single practise has some sense of shamatha and you have to acknowledge that and follow it through.
That much I can say about shamatha in general.