When Palriling Hsinchu was founded in 2009, the commodious and bright Buddhist hall impressed members and followers. The hall features a mandala of The Six Character Great Bright Mantra and engraved doors and window frames engraved in the Chinese Zen-style. It is an ideal place for meditation in a bustling city.
聽聞佛陀殊勝的教言，如果沒有經由反覆思惟觀察，淨化自己的身心，將難以獲得真正的法益。豐富的佛法知識，必須透過實際的修持，才能被心所吸收而成為自己的一部分。We understand that without repetitive contemplation and observation to purify our body and mind, it would be hard to truly benefit from the Dharma even if we learn the teachings of the Buddha. Only through actual practice can the rich treasure of Buddhism be absorbed and internalized.
As a result, the followers and members started a weekly meditation class when Palriling Hsinchu was founded in 2009.
II. Preparations before meditation
Imagine sitting down to take a break. The first step is to keep in a relaxed and happy mood.
Check each part of the body for any stress or uncomfortable feeling. From head to toe, begin to relax slowly. Make sure to ease the tension you feel, so as to get ready for inner quietude, peace, and pleasure.
It is advisable to take the Seven-Featured Sitting Position of Vairochana. If, as a beginner, you find such a sitting position difficult, it is okay to just sit comfortably with your back straight for a certain period of time.
III. Preliminary Practices of Meditation
Take refuge and evoke bodhicitta (altruistic intention)
Say The Kagyu Lineage Prayer and read The Heart Sutra
IV. Meditation Methods
(1) Breath-counting: Focus your attention on your breathing so that your mind does not wander but enters and stays in a state of equanimity. Just breathe in a normal, natural way. Count one after you finish an “in-breath, out-breath” cycle or an “out-breath, in-breath” cycle, and two after you finish another cycle, and so on until you reach seven or twenty-one.
(2) Brahmavihara (or Four Immeasurables)
Start with the Four Immeasurables: loving-kindness, compassion, empathetic joy, and equanimity, and practice reaching a state of perfect equanimity and awareness. Think of the immeasurable vastness of the benevolence and compassion of a bodhisattva for the immeasurable number of beings in the world. Practice the Four Immeasurables in this way, and you will become more benevolent and want all sentient beings, who could have been your parents in past lives, to come out of suffering and obtain happiness.
(3) Tonglen (or Exchange Self for Others)
It is a method based on The Seven-Point Mind Training. Visualize compassionately breathing in the suffering of all beings, and then visualize benevolently breathing out the joy that you may give to others.
The requirements to perform Tonglen are not easy to attain. We may not meet such requirements immediately. However, even a brief moment of unpretentious bodhicitta (altruistic intention) during meditation can bring about unimaginable merits.
(4) Sunyata (Voidness or Nonexistence) Method
The method is based on Understanding and Practices of the Four Seals of the Dharma taught by Khenpo Tsultrim Lodrö Rinpoche. Practice the Four Preliminaries, and then read and contemplate “The Seven Branches of Worship” (also called “The Sevenfold Services” of The Aspiration of Samantabhadra in front of a statue of Sakyamuni Buddha.
And then, make some analyses to comprehend that form is no other than emptiness…and feeling, thought, choice, and consciousness itself, are the same. Through repetitive thinking, analyzing, and deconstructive observation, we may come to understand that there is no reliable existence to anything. Then all our troublesome thoughts and clinging attachments will vanish without a trace. When you feel that you have come to this state, try to keep it for some time. This method can bring about the wisdom of selflessness. Also, remember to carry out Parinama (dedication or merit transference) when you begin and finish a meditation session.
V. Group Study of Master Milarepa’s Biography and Songs
In October 2011 at Chuan-Der Buddhist Art Co., Ltd., Tsulnam Rinpoche gave a lecture on Milarepa’s songs and biographical stories. Many followers were deeply impressed, and Palriling Hsinchu started a study group on Master Milarepa’s biography and songs.
Master Milarepa turned away from all worldly, mundane things and spent most of his life in isolated caves in the mountains. Such renunciation of worldly things and steadfast practice of the Dharma have brought many to self-reflection and self-awareness and inspired courage and resolve. Indeed, many consider Milarepa to be the greatest of all yogis, poets, saints, and gurus.
In one biographical story, when Master Milarepa decided to leave his home and go to Dragkar-Taso (also known as Kangtsu-Phug), he sang a song to make a vow:
我未證道前， 誓志常住此； 即令凍餓死，
不往覓衣食。 疾病寧至死， 不下山求醫；
乃至一刹那， 不以此色身， 尋求世間利；
祈請上師尊， 十方一發佛； 賜予大加持，
令此誓不違。 祈請勝空行， 及護法守者；
Until I have attained to Siddhi, unto this solitude will I hold fast.
E’en though of cold and starvation I die, I’ll not descend to begging for garments or food.
Though I fall ill, e’en unto death, I’ll not descend to seek one dose of medicine.
E’en though of misery and sorrow I should die,
I’ll not descend to join in pleasures of the worldly life.
And not one movement of my body will I give to any worldly purpose;
But body, speech, and heart I dedicate to winning Buddha-hood.
May the Guru, Gods, and Dakinis enable me to keep my vows,
And may they bless mine efforts;
May the Dakinis and Faith Protecting Deities fulfill my wishes,
And render me all needed aid to enable me to achieve my vows.”
Master Milarepa said, “…whatever kind of serenity meditation one practices, such as those with signs or those without signs, developing an attitude of love and compassion must precede them all. Whatever one does, it must be embraced by the attitude of enlightenment that aims to benefit others. Next, with a completely pure view one should train in meditation that lacks a reference point. Finally, one practices within a state free from reference points, sealed by prayers dedicated to the benefit of others.”
Many of Master Milarepa’s songs reveal the saintly state of his wisdom of voidness and universal compassion. He once sang to Rechungpa:
It is supreme to live and meditate alone;
How can a trance compare with this?
Samadhi is supreme, free from “this” and “that”;
How can common knowledge e’er compare with it?
“Essence” is supreme in the state of “After-Meditation”;
How can common practices ever equal it?
Mindfulness beyond all words also is supreme;
How can common actions e’er compare with it?
The unison of Love and Voidness is supreme;
How can common accomplishment e’er compare with it?
In the story of The Shepherd’s Search for Mind, Master Milarepa taught the shepherd Sangye Kyap about the primordial wisdom with this song:
My dear son, best of laymen, listen to me carefully!
When your body is rightly posed, and your mind absorbed deep in meditation,
You may feel that thought and mind both disappear;
Yet this is but the surface experience of Dhyana.
By constant practice and mindfulness thereon,
One feels radiant self-awareness shining like a brilliant lamp.
It is pure and bright as a flower,
It is like the feeling of staring Into the vast and empty sky.
The Awareness of Voidness is limpid and transparent, yet vivid.
This Non-thought, this radiant and transparent experience
Is but the feeling of Dhyiina.
With this good foundation
One should further pray to the Three Precious Ones,
And penetrate to Reality by deep thinking and contemplation.
He thus can tie the Non-ego Wisdom
With the beneficial life-rope of deep Dhyiina.
With the power of kindness and compassion,
And with the altruistic vow of the Bodhi-Heart, He can see direct and clear The truth of the Enlightened Path,
Of which nothing can be seen, yet all is clearly envisioned.
He sees how wrong were the fears and hopes of his own mind.
Without arrival, he reaches the place of Buddha;
Without seeing, he visions the Dharmakaya;
Without effort, he does all things naturally.