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The Eckhart Tolle of the 19th Century?

In 19th Century Tibet, there lived a wandering teacher of the Nyingma School, Dza Patrul Rinpoche. Among his legacies is one of the most accessible and directly intuitive teachings for anyone having trouble with meditation.

The essence of it will seem familiar: be present with the reality of the mind, whether you happen to be thinking or not-thinking.

Patrul Rinpoche then goes on to explain the many, many ways in which meditators screw this up:

  • trying to change the thoughts that arise

  • focusing exclusively on some outer or imagined object

  • trying to think only good and blissful thoughts

  • waiting anxiously in anticipation of thoughts arising

  • trying to prevent thoughts from arising

  • trying to delve into some internal or external reality

  • ... etc.

Those familiar with Tibetan meditation practice might be saying, "Hey, doesn't that rule out a bunch of the stuff they do?"

Well, yes. But Patrul Rinpoche's point is that to make progress, you actually have to sit and relax with your own mind, which is the only vehicle you have for enlightenment.

Until you do that, everything else is a distraction from that. Actually doing it can take a lot of practice for a mind whose every waking action is ultimately to avoid this state of presence.

This is why Patrul Rinpoche calls this practice Mahamudra, the "Great Seal", a name also attached to other major practices, some of which we've covered in the past.

There are many skillful practices that can point the way (and Patrul Rinpoche had done most of them). But in the end, realizing what the Dzogchen tradition calls rigpa, the inherently pure awareness that is the ground of mind, is the only way to attain the goal. That is impossible in a mind that is not present with itself.

For Patrul Rinpoche's teaching, read in a way conducive to meditation, check out the video.

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