Thaye Dorje, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, giving a teaching about meditation at the Karmapa International Buddhist Institute, India.
“For proper meditation what you need to realise is that it’s like a supplement, or nutrition, or like a diet. Meditation is more like that. Just like our body needs exercise and proper nutrition, the mind needs the same thing. So meditation is the same thing. There’s no difference. If the mind lacks all of those things, then the mind will become…a couch potato. So therefore meditation is required.
And also, how to meditate. One should meditate properly. One should not, let’s say, suddenly feel that “Oh, meditation’s so great, that I should really start meditating”, and then do it over the top, in an extreme way. Then it would be… indescribable, the result. The thing is, it has to be maintained. The best example is to say that. . . it’s impossible to say that I will eat tomorrow’s lunch today. Or tomorrow’s dinner today. Never works. Never. So it’s the same case with meditation, that you can never meditate tomorrow’s meditation today.
So that’s why you have to meditate regularly. Every day. Not too much, not too little. Although if it’s towards the too much direction, it’s ok. But never disrupted, you know. Keep it a good rhythm. Then the mind is proper, and basically healthy.
Now, what to meditate on, that’s another question. And, there is nothing more to meditation that watching yourself. Watching yourself doesn’t mean watching what you do with your speech and body. But the puppeteer. Which is the mind. To watch the puppeteer, actually, more than the puppet. The body and the speech is really like a puppet. Whatever the mind says. they’ll do. Sometimes it’s the reverse, but ultimately it’s the mind.
So, the basic, and the deepest meditation is actually just watching yourself. The elaborate visualisations, all of those are a way to make this mind develop “mind muscle”. To make the mind develop good fibre, muscle, agility, flexibility, all of that. That’s why we meditate very elaborate, extremely elaborate, sometimes whole universes. Like an architect. Sometimes I think an architect could meditate quite well. [laughs] Next time I will make a group of architects, and make them meditate. And see, how well they do. I think that they will do well. So, the thing is, we have this habit of receiving something, and then needing something, we basically give and take. That’s why we have the elaborate practices of visualizations of yidams, like Chenresig, Manjusri, all that. But in the end, it’s really about watching yourself. Even those sadhanas have that particular benefit. But the most basic one is just watching your own mind.
If you take time to watch your mind, I believe that it’s fascinating. You will know so many sides or parts of yourself that you never knew before. And, accordingly, there’ll be room to develop respect for oneself, most importantly. Prior to developing respect for others one has to develop respect for oneself. It’s very important. If one has no respect for oneself, there is no way of knowing how to respect others. So, by watching your own mind you will know how to respect yourself, and also see what is not respectable in yourself. And, just by seeing, in some ways this phrase “Seeing is believing” is in some ways true, because when you actually see the truth, meaning your own state of mind by your mind, it’s like putting a mirror in front. The more you see of your own mind, the remedy is it – there is no other remedy.
That’s why in the different stages of teachings it says that there is nothing really to abandon. Relatively there is something to abandon – to abandon non-virtuous actions, to restrict oneself from many many things, but in the end, all there is to do is to know. Just to understand. Understanding is the absolute compassion. Understanding is the absolute remedy. Nothing more. So that’s the benefit that we will achieve or gain through meditating, and more importantly, meditating watching yourself. Watching your own mind.”