Category: Meditation & Mindfulness

Seven-Point Mind Training

mindA talk given by H.E. Aenpo Rinpoche on 13 October 2000

Lord Buddha has given countless teachings with respect to Mind Trainings.

Later in Tibet it was put into a formal text by a Tibetan master called Jha Chekawa Yeshe Dorje. [1]

The lineage that that master was handed over from one of the great masters called Atisha. [2]

Generally when we teach the text, there are two different types of texts, one which we call the root text and the other one is the commentary.

The root text was composed by Jha Chekawa Yeshe Dorje and the commentary was written by one of the great teachers of my monastery in Tibet called Khenpo Naga.

This text, Seven Pointed Mind Training, is a text that anyone can practice, regardless of what your background is.

This text is designed to help sentient beings, specially human beings, to think better in terms of transforming our negative thoughts and emotions into something positive.

We as human beings all share one instinctive thought and that it to be free from suffering and to be happy as much as we can and to avoid or eliminate suffering as much as we can.

Despite having such similar thoughts we cling to ourselves and put ourselves into number one and because of this action, this is how we have suffering and this is how we bring suffering.

There is no one out there bringing you suffering other than yourself. This is why Lord Buddha stated

‘You yourself is the saviour of yourself and you yourself is the enemy of yourself.’

It is very much up to oneself whether we really want to be happy or whether we want to do the same thing repeatedly.

We wish to transform our habitual thoughts that we have been doing for the past many months and many years and many lifetimes. To transform this, since the habitual actions have been planted in the past we will not be able to remove it as it has already been planted.

Therefore we can try up to one’s ability not to do these habitual activities again. To do this, just by thinking that I don’t want to do this I would rather transform my mind, one will not be able to do it straight away.

Therefore we call it mind training, because we need to teach our mind not to be mislead by our own habitual thoughts and deeds. This is like the elderly people trying to teach the younger ones, saying what you are supposed to do and not supposed to do, trying to lead towards a better place.

However since we ourselves have got the authority upon oneself, rather than just having a choice of thinking I want to do this, why not try to put it into practice which means from today onwards I will try to practice mind training and I will try to train my mind.

To do this, just to attend a teaching is not enough. Attend the teaching, listen to the words and then the most important thing is to contemplate upon it and not necessarily upon the same topic, related topics as well, there are many other books on preliminary practices, we can read as many books as we can, the Sutras [3] because we need to have a solid foundation.

Whatever things we need to do we need to have a solid foundation, no matter how much knowledge and skill we have, to do the next steps one will always be in danger of collapsing.

Seven Topics of the Mind Training

Therefore one needs to build a solid foundation. In the Seven Pointed Mind Training practices, the seven different topics are:

  1. the Preliminaries,
  2. the training of the Two Bodhicittas,
  3. the transforming Negative Conditions into the Path of Enlightenment,
  4. the Synthesized Practices of One Life,
  5. proficiency of Mind Training,
  6. commitment of Mind Training,
  7. precepts or Advice of Mind Training.

When we say we need to train our mind, the most important thing we need to have is the enlightenment thought.

The definition or the meaning of enlightenment thought is generating an intention to help other sentient beings.

Thinking of helping oneself is not called enlightenment thought even though we think I would like to help myself to attain enlightenment thought, that mere thought is a cause for further suffering for onself.

Right from the beginning the motivation is called mistaken motivation because again we put ourselves into number one.

We have to have the intention at least to help others, and if possible every sentient being, as much as one can. Not an intention for oneself merely.

In Bodhicitta (the heart of enlightened mind) there are two different kinds of Bodhicittas, relative and ultimate and there are other Bodhicittas like wishing Bodhicitta [4] and engaging Bodhicitta [5].

The Four Common Foundations

First in the root text it says study the preliminaries first.

This is always very important, because without the preliminaries, jumping into the actual part rather than going through the preliminaries, this kind of process will not be successful because one doesn’t have the proper base. Generally whatever we do, and specially in Dharmic practices, the preliminaries which are called Ngon-dro in Tibetan which means something to go forward, without this as a base one will not be able to reach enlightenment.

Whether we are thinking to reach enlightenment or whether we are thinking to just gain liberation or whether we are thinking to just be free from suffering, you must have the preliminaries.

When we talk about preliminaries there are different types on which you can contemplate. One of the most common preliminaries on which we meditate or contemplate upon are the four common mind trainings. They are:

  • first, the rarity of obtaining human rebirth;
  • the second one is impermanence and death;
  • the third one is the infallibility of the law of the karma;
  • the fourth on is the frustrations or defects of samsara.

These are the four most common mind training practices, we call them the four common foundations. These four are one of the most important preliminary practices, because we can practise these four everywhere, wherever we are, whenever we can think upon them again and again.

When we think upon the preliminaries constantly, the more things get clearer, the things that are happening within oneself and to others. It will help oneself to see things clearer.

Once we see things clearly then we know what needs to be rejected and what needs to be adopted.

In the text it was quoted from, a text called Bodhicaryavatara, in English it is called A Bodhisattvas Way of Life, written by one of the great Indian Buddhist masters called Shantideva, it says this rebirth is very rare to obtain and we need to utilize this body for the sake of other sentient beings.

If we don’t make use of this precious human rebirth, if we don’t capitalize upon or seize the opportunity that we have, then there is a big question whether we will obtain this human rebirth again very soon or not.

This life we have got is very precious and rare. Another text says the nature of samsara itself is impermanent. The analogy given to this is that it is like the autumn clouds, in autumn in one day sometimes there are clouds and sometimes there are no clouds, there can be so much difference, probably like the weather in Melbourne!

It is very impermanent, the weather can change very frequently. Then birth and death of beings are like watching the dancers playing in a drama in the theatre. It is one person but they can play so many different roles.

They can paint their face and disguise their clothing and change their faces the birth and death of being are like that. The life force of the sentient beings are like lightening in the sky, in a moment one can be alive and in a moment one’s life can be exhausted, it is so fast.

How fast? Like a river running from the top of a cliff, one’s life is like that.

Even though one has been born and we are grown up, we think we are growing up and we seem to be happy with our material or spiritual gains, we seem to be really proud, but in fact we are lost in this bit of gain that we have, we have been tempted.

Impermanence and Death

The moment that we are born means that we are nearing towards our death, there is nothing to party about because the impermanence and death is certain and the time of death is uncertain.

We can not guarantee that we will not die, but even though we have an intellectual understanding or sometimes even experiential as well, but do we think it from the head or do we think it from the heart?

Regarding impermanence and death, there are two things to remember, the certainty of death and the uncertainty of the time of death.

There are different ways to meditate upon this but one of the most effective ways, and at the same time one of the most difficult ways, is to reflect upon the uncertainty of the time of death as the same as the certainty of death.

We are not sure when we will die, but just by thinking that we are not very sure and thinking that the moment I am young I will die when I’m about 70 or 80 because I eat good food and take vitamins,?

Even though we have all these vitamins and good medicine maybe it will only help us to live maybe 5 years longer, but still everyday life is shortening. We must do something.

If we have this kind of intention that there is certainty of death but the uncertainty of the time of death, if we think these two things as the same thing then in the things that we do there will be a big difference. We will not plan so much, even though planning is important, we will not plan in a way that brings more suffering.

There are many people who have lived a very healthy life then at the age of about 50 or 60 they are struck with an incurable disease and without any kind of spiritual ideas they seem to be grieving immensely.

Only then do they ever think that they will die and because of that thought they get so frustrated and doesn’t allow the doctors to give treatment. It is all because they’ve not prepared. We don’t have to learn this from the texts, it is so obvious.

Even though there are many people who don’t go out, still just by sitting home and watching television you can see so many disasters. When we watch it as just another news but just by watching television there are a lot of chances to practice and remind us.

Sometimes we are lost in our own happiness, the temporal happiness that we have.


1. Jha Chekawa Yeshe Dorje

2. The great Indian Buddhist Master Atisha (982-1054 AD)

3. A Complete List of Buddhist Sutras

4. Also called aspirational, or aspiring. It refers to the uncontrived spontaneous mind that wants to attain total enlightenment for the well-being of all sentient beings.

5. This type refers to the altruistic enlightened mind that engages in drawing sentient beings to the Dharma.

6. Bodhicaryavatara: www

7. The Story of Shantideva

Photo by: Hartwig HKD

Filed under: Blog Posts, Meditation & Mindfulness

How to Practice Random Kindness and Genuine Compassion

kindness flower ~ From a talk given by Rinpoche given at California Institute of Integral Studies on Nov. 16th , 2005 ~

We have to think about integrating the compassion with activities, in other words compassion in action.

You have to go out and reach other people in the world and practice cultivating loving kindness in action. There are many ways that you can practice action. It doesn’t always have to be a big deal like joining the peace corps or going to some remote area in Asia or Africa.

Of course it would be amazing if you have the opportunity to go to foreign countries and really help people and to be a bodhisattva. There are also many opportunities in our every day lives to practice compassion.

For example I told my story about getting angry at the dogs. That was a perfect opportunity for me to practice compassion in my relationship with the dogs. There is always a perfect opportunity to practice loving kindness, forgiveness, gentleness in our relationships with other people.

For example when you wake up in the morning you can try to practice loving kindness with the first person you run into. It could be your wife or husband or it could be your dogs or it could be your neighbors or it could be a stranger on the street.

The moment you wake up look around. Who is going to be the first person you meet, the first person of the day? You can vow in your mind, “I shall intend positive energy. I shall practice loving kindness to that person.

Then when we wake up to our husband or wife we might suddenly practice loving kindness. Instead of saying “Last night I couldn’t sleep because you were snoring” or “you didn’t flush the toilet last night and I’m utterly offended” or “who is going to cook breakfast today” and instead of having anger as a reaction to their behavior, you might start to practice absolute forgiveness, loving kindness, acceptance.

Or you may get into your car and start driving and notice a stranger in another car. You don’t know them and are never going to meet that person again in your entire lifetime. But at least you can practice loving kindness. You can imagine that you are sending loving kindness to that person.

I heard that sometimes the person in front of you pays the bridge toll for you. Imagine that you were going over the Bay Bridge expecting to pay money and you reach to get the money and then hear that the person in front of you paid for you.

You might want to do that for somebody else. That would make somebody’s day, right. It is very easy. It just requires three dollars. It would be quite nice to do that now and then. Not every day but how about Christmas or Thanksgiving or one of those holidays.

You can turn one of the holidays into a holy day by practicing random kindness, random compassion. It is very easy. It does not require lots of wealth or prosperity to make somebody happy and somebody joyous because they feel that they have received compassion. They are loved and they are cared for.

Try to remember a time when you showed genuine compassion to somebody and that changed you own life as well as the life of the other person. Recall a time, a place where you practiced genuine compassion toward another human being.

How about if we close our eyes and we try to go through the memories of our past and try to come up with a story. Not a fiction but a true story where we practiced genuine compassion without any other motive. Try to think of one event.

Perhaps you remember a time a moment in your life where you practiced genuine compassion. When you really think about that you may notice that at the very moment when you helped someone, when you showed genuine, true compassion it was actually effortless.

It was not coming from this small self, the I that is always filled with ulterior motives, looking for a reward, a payback, recognition. But rather it was coming from a very infinite source. You see that there is an infinite source in you, one that is way bigger than you can comprehend. It’s like you have the Buddha mind living in your consciousness.

And when you are able to awaken to that source you realize that there is this amazing rich source of wisdom and loving kindness, equanimity and joy within you. And most of the time you are disconnected from that infinite source.

But in your meditation when you look and you try to remember the time when you practiced genuine compassion for another person you see how marvelous, how miraculous it is to be connected to that part of yourself, this infinite source. How effortless it is. And when you experience that infinite source within you then you are no longer ordinary, you are awakened.

You are completely a bodhisattva. You don’t have to force yourself into practice. You are already a bodhisattva.

All you have to do is remember that you have this infinite source. In other words Avalokiteshvara resides in you. Your pure essence is Avalokiteshvara. In Buddhism they talk about realizing one’s true nature. The way you bring about absolute awakening is realizing your true nature, your Buddha nature.

That is none other than that infinite source that you have glimpsed at times in your life. You may have glimpsed it on a number of occasions. When you experience genuine loving kindness toward another without any ulterior motive, at that very moment you are glimpsing your true nature, your Buddha nature, your infinite nature, source; source of love, source of wisdom.

So now the question is if you want to know the truth, you must know your true nature. But if you want to know your true nature, you must allow yourself to experience genuine compassion. Through experiencing this genuine compassion then you are able to experience that inner, infinite source. And in that state of awakening you realize your true nature.

You realize the truth, you realize the emptiness, whatever you are looking for. Some of you might be looking for the realization of emptiness. Some of you might be looking for the realization of luminous awareness, or godhead, or Buddha mind. Whatever you are looking for you find the firsthand realization of in that state of infinite source.

So now I’m going to ask a question.

Do you want to be liberated?

Do you want to experience spiritual ecstasy?

Do you want to be awakened?

Do you want to be awakened right now?

There is this shortcut to the great awakening or spiritual awakening, or liberation, or realization of truth. That is that at this very moment you invite yourself to embrace and to experience that inner infinite source of wisdom, love and compassion, at this very moment.

An extraordinary thing is that you don’t have to know anything. You don’t have to know anything.

You don’t have to have any introductions, any concepts, any systems.

Sometimes you might like to use certain techniques as a catalyst to open that door to awakening into that infinite source within you.

Therefore I recommend that each of you visualize a specific person, a group of people, an animal you love or a situation as a catalyst to remove all of the blocks, all of the defense mechanisms in order to experience directly that infinite source which is bodhicitta, the awakened heart. In that you will realize every principle. You will realize the ultimate truth.

I have often been asked if this type of meditation has an effect on the other person and in response to that I will give you some examples to show that meditation of loving kindness has a direct impact on other people. Imagine that somebody is suffering, experiencing internal confusion, either self-hatred, or loneliness or being mistreated.

If you actually meditate on loving kindness in front of that person and send the energy of loving kindness into that person’s consciousness directly, you will see that the person will begin to transform. That person will begin to experience loving kindness too.

In Tonglen meditation, we ask two people to face each other and practice loving kindness toward each other. It is one of my favorite meditations. When two people sit and face each other and meditate on loving kindness, people start experiencing Buddha mind, awakened mind, loving kindness whatever you like to call it.

Sometimes people start to cry and experience a breakdown as well as a breakthrough. So I believe that there has been a transfer.

Also when you meet an animal, say a dog and experience mistrust, fear or another negative force you can see that the dog senses that. But if you experience loving kindness, projecting that image to the dog or animal then you can see that the animal is actually touched by that.

Also, I have been in the presence of quite a few people who have dedicated their lives to loving kindness. The Dalai Lama for example is someone who I believe practices loving kindness. At his teachings there may be 20,000 to 40,000 or more people attending.

It does not mean that most people understand what he is talking about. But there is a common experience that everybody in his presence feels his love and compassion. And that is because his consciousness is absorbed in an ocean of loving kindness and that is affecting the mind of the group and the mind of the collective society too.

Therefore if you start practicing loving kindness at your home every day then you affect everybody around you. First you affect your family members. Then you affect your neighbors. Then they will affect their neighbors and eventually your practice of loving kindness has a great effect on even the collective mind too.

Similarly if you are meditating on evil, negative thoughts then you can have an effect on the mind of other people as well as the mind of collective society. If we have evil thoughts, hatred towards a group of people of a different race or religion, the negative thoughts are like a virus. They go around and start infecting the body of other peoples’ consciousness too.

Therefore we have to be quite mindful about what we are going to register in our minds. Every time we create negative thoughts like hatred, unexamined hatred, that has a tremendous impact on our own consciousness.

We call that karma in Buddhism. Karma is not simply action. Karma is more of a mind habit. If I allow myself to experience unexamined hatred based on evil and lack of loving kindness, then I created a very powerful imprint in my consciousness. And that is how I develop tendencies or habits of experiencing hatred in the future.

This also may lead me to commit negative karma by punishing somebody else.

Whatever I have resisted in my consciousness has a direct impact on people around me and also on collective mind. Therefore every time you practice loving kindness imagine that you are directing that loving kindness toward other people and then they feel that loving kindness too.

Sometimes when I talk with my mother who lives in Tibet she has lots of melodrama for some reason and experiences difficulty. When that happens I start to practice loving kindness right there while I am talking to her. And I notice that her voice starts getting softer and she starts experiencing peace.

In the beginning she will be talking about how difficult her life is and how people are dishonest with her. And then at the end of the conversation all of her problems are gone. I feel the same way when people practice loving kindness toward me. I believe that this practice has a direct, immediate impact on both people—the person generating loving kindness and the person receiving loving kindness.

I would like to sit for two minutes. The shortest meditation I have ever done, and to just generate love, compassion and then to send that to each of us. And imagine that we are sending that force of loving kindness and compassion toward everyone and all beings everywhere.

Thank you everybody.

Resources for Further Reading

Mind in Indian Buddhist Philosophy Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Avalokiteśvara (Sanskrit: अवलोकितेश्वर, “Lord who looks down“)

Bodhichitta is the compassionate wish to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all beings: www

The Dalai Lama: www

What is Luminous awareness: Rupert Spira’s blog

Photo by Reginaldo Andrade

Filed under: Blog Posts, Meditation & Mindfulness

The Simplest Way to Use Mindfulness To Help Control Your Anxiety

mindfulness forest

mindfulness forestBefore writing this post I went on a bit of a research mission so I could describe in more detail how mindfulness can help in anxiety situations. Fat lot of good that did!

Details, facts and figures do nothing to help people deal with anxiety day to day, so what I am going to do is simply write this post from the way I see things and how mindfulness has helped me.

I hope that you can understand where I am coming from!

Have you ever faced a situation where your mind played out scenario’s in your head that had you all tense and stressed before the event had even occurred?

Maybe it was going for a job interview or facing up to someone that you had been arguing with or even stepping out the door and going about your daily life brings on these thoughts and feelings of stress.

Nobody is immune to anxiety and it does serve a purpose in life. If we were completely oblivious to it we could find ourselves in situations that may be life threatening but it is when the anxiety causes irrational thinking and behavior that it becomes a problem.

How we are able to cope with these thoughts and feelings determines how much it affects us, some people cope with it quite well and seem very confident and secure in themselves but some of us are unfortunately controlled by our feelings of anxiety.

How does practicing mindfulness increase our ability to deal with anxiety?

The art of living mindfully involves taking a break from the thoughts doing the rounds in our heads and seeing everything for as it is. That is not a great definition but it is a hard concept to put into words. In essence though what we try to do is to remove any emotion or feeling from the situation we are in and take everything on ‘face value’.

That’s great Craig, but how the hell do I do this? Glad you asked! (Sorry, I am in a particularly funny mood tonight. I have been struggling for a couple of days with my back pain and all my frustration is coming out here!)

The first skill we need to develop is to recognize when we start feeling uncomfortable or anxious. Once we can identify these feelings at an early stage we have a better chance of nipping it in the bud before it becomes an issue.

The next step is to remove yourself from the situation – not physically and certainly not when your complete concentration is required. All of this takes practice and mental strength, I have been applying these methods in my life for over six months now and I am nowhere near getting it right one hundred percent of the time yet but persistence does pay off.

Anyhow, back to the subject at hand.

Once you have the chance to ‘remove’ yourself it is time to take a few deep breaths in and out. Now for the tricky bit, pick something to concentrate on.

I like to concentrate solely on the rise and fall of my chest as I take the breaths. I also find that in the beginning I needed to close my eyes for this to work but please yourself. No falling asleep though!

As you focus your concentration on the one thing you have chosen you will notice thoughts come and go in your mind. That is perfectly OK, what we aren’t trying to do is suppress our thoughts.

What we are trying to do is let those thoughts come and go but not pay any attention to them what so ever. Certain thoughts will enter our mind and what we were concentrating on will be totally forgotten.

All of a sudden that thought of what Mr. XYZ really thinks of us will come flooding back into our mind and we are back to square one again.

The trick is to catch yourself before that happens and simply let that thought of Mr. XYZ come in and most importantly flow out of our mind without even a second glance given to it.

I have found that with practice I can clear my mind within a matter of minutes and once the feeling of calm and peace of the present moment comes back it is simply a matter of returning back to what you were doing. This exercise also slows me down quite a bit.

Make no mistake this does take a fair bit of practice and mental strength to achieve but I do know from experience that it does make life a great deal easier.

I truly hope that this post has made some sense to you, my writing skills are far from great but if even one persons life is made easier from this my job is done.

If you feel that you need a better explanation I recommend that you take a look at the Mindfulness for Beginners CD which will give you a far better understanding of the concepts involved.

If you are suffering from anxiety I wish you all the best in finding a solution that works for you, life is hard enough without having to deal with this type of thing. Keep you chin up and don’t ever forget that the sun will shine again and soon!

Resources for Further Reading

How to Overcome Worry, Anxiety and Panic: 3 Quick Mindfulness Practices

Mindfulness for Beginners CD: website

Photo by mindfulness

Filed under: Blog Posts, Meditation & Mindfulness