Tag Archives: raccoons

37 practices: verse 29

29. To attain complete and stable meditation

To vanquish my emotionality / I need insight based in tranquility.

To understand this and to cultivate / a stable, focused meditative state,

Not getting stuck in the four formless realms: / This is the way a bodhisattva trains.

verse 29 audio above

This just in: Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche’s commentary on verse 29 consists mainly of a guided calm abiding meditation using visualization of the Buddha as its focus, which then segues right into insight meditation, thus perfectly illustrating the point of this verse. We will do this meditation in class instead of our usual “Two Wings of Awakening” meditation based on points 1 and 2 of the seven points of mind training.

Meanwhile, thanks to an email from Marilyn this morning, I now know there is a fabulous appendix in The Heart of Compassion that I had failed to notice, even though we relied on Appendix 1 in our discussion of verse 6 — quite a while ago. In Appendix 3, Dilgo Khyentse shares important instructions on meditation from Dzatrul Ngawang Tendzin Norbu‘s Vase of Amrita and from Dilgo Khyentse’s root teacher, Shechen Gyaltsap Pema Namgyal. Neither of these texts appears to be available in English translation, other than the excerpts presented here.

I am particularly happy to see Tendzin Norbu’s explanation of “the nine ways of settling the mind.” These are often presented in English as nine levels or stages of calm abiding, which may also be valid, but it sometimes leads to confusion about how the stages relate to each other and how to figure out which stage we’re “on.” The presentation here is easily understood and applied, and for that alone, this appendix is a treasure. But it also includes several other essential and very clear explanations that it is wonderful to have in one place so concisely presented.

The sole focus of calm abiding recommended here by Tendzin Norbu is visualization of the Buddha — and that explains why Dilgo Khyentse’s commentary is devoted to guiding us through that visualization and using the resulting state of calm abiding as a basis for the next stage of meditation: insight, aka vipashyana (Skt) or lhaktong (Tib). Et voila! Having distanced ourselves from the homeland of our habitual reactions way back in verse 2, now we have the method for  putting them to rest once and for all. Will we do it?

Sorry, these class notes have not been completed yet, but they are in the queue. It’s been a busy couple of months!

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Please, Sir, Could I Have … Less?

October 2009

Dear friends,

We passed the halfway mark of the three-year, three-month, three-day retreat during the summer, and are now speeding down the hill toward our re-entry into the world we left behind in January 2008. It is hard to believe so much time has passed, and equally hard to believe the rest will be over just as quickly.

Halfway through, I feel I know about half as much as when I came in—and hopefully the second half will be enough time to clear out the rest.

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Same Old Raccoon

August 2008

Lama Norlha Rinpoche, when he teaches meditation, sometimes illustrates his instructions with a classic example: If we become accustomed to sitting in meditation with a spaced-out, blank mind, it is said that we are sowing seeds for rebirth as a hibernating animal. The raccoon, says Rinpoche (via his ace translator, Lama Jamdron), disappears into its den in the late fall, and when it re-emerges in the spring: same old raccoon!

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Raccoon Story

August 2008

For the past few weeks, we’ve been entertained almost every day by a family of raccoons: a mother and five cubs.

The cubs are SO cute! They climb the chicken wire enclosure where the guinea hens used to live, engage in wrestling matches, and wreak general, adorable havoc on the property, as mom looks on to make sure they stay safe. Early one morning one of the cubs picked a green tomato (our only food crop, aside from a few herbs), and one of the retreatants, who happened to be outdoors just before the 6:00 a.m. chanting, hissed at it to discourage further destruction. It hissed back nonchalantly, and carried on.

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