VEN. PEMA RINPOCHE
(a teaching given at Palyul Center Bulgaria, Sofia, 20.01.2018 )
Meditation is the best way to attain balance
Balance is very important. We need balance. When there is no balance, there is always a problem. Meditation is the best way to attain balance. This is a more positive way to achieve balance. In this way, nothing can be mistaken. First, do mediation to keep your mind and bring it into your body. Your mind must be relaxed and calm. This is the middle way. You should stay neither on the positive side nor on the negative side. Too many positive things and always staying on the positive side is not always good for living life and being in this world. You can get hurt. If you stay too much on the negative side, you will always do negative things and think negatively. This is also not good. That’s why it is good to start the day in balance and to stay in the middle. In the middle, it is more comfortable. If you go to one of the extremes, you would fall down. If you start by meditating after you wake up, you will stay in the middle. This is very important.
If we search for peace and happiness, it is helpful to go for the middle way. Some people prefer negative thoughts, they compete and confront others. This makes them happy. Most people are like this. We cannot control and change them. This is how they are. Other people are always good. They are positive and they always talk about love and romance. This is how they operate. This looks and sounds nice, but it can also make your life difficult. That’s why it is good to meditate once you get up. You need this in order to calm down. Once you are calmer, you are able to choose which path you want to take: either to be more positive or more negative. During the day you can become good or bad, happy or unhappy. That is why the early morning mind is very important. It defines how you can handle the day and if you start balanced, everything will go more smoothly.
The evening mind is the seed of your next day
For the morning mind to become softer, peaceful and happy, it depends on how we are going to sleep. That’s why the evening mind and how you handle and keep your consciousness in the last moments before going to bed are also very important. This helps you to sleep more peacefully and then the morning mind is lighter, calmer and more balanced. In the night time, when you go to bed, you shouldn’t make your mind a mess. Don’t make your mind crazy. Your evening mind is the seed of how your next day will be. How beautiful or not your next day will be depends on this mind. For example, if a husband and а wife have an argument and then go to bed, they will lie down turning their backs to each other, not speaking and not being able to fall asleep because of many negative thoughts. Then, in the morning their mind won’t be peaceful and their next day won’t be good. There won’t be happiness or peace.
At night it is quiet, so your mind can fill this silence with many thoughts, which can disrupt your sleep. If you can’t sleep properly, the night is too long for you. For instance, single people keep thinking unnecessary negative thoughts. They think about why they are alone and why they don’t have friends. So many questions and thinking during the night! They can’t fall asleep and they can’t feel peace and happiness at night. Then their day won’t be good either. Or, for example, mothers – they worry so much: about their children, life and their family. Because they have nothing to do at night, they induce all sorts of unnecessary negative thoughts. For many hours they are thinking and thinking and in this way their night is not peaceful, their bed is not a cosy and relaxing place. They can’t sleep well and then they have a headache in the morning. They will be tired the whole day and it will be very difficult for them to feel energetic and happy and to take care for their beloved ones.
Anyone can bring up unnecessary thoughts during the night. Business people, for example, bring their job in bed and continue to contemplate – “If I do like this, will it be good? Maybe not?”. Others bring so many fantasies: “If I do this, I can get so many benefits!”. Nothing already exists and nothing is real, but they spend many hours in fantasies and plans. So many worries or fantasy dreams! Then, in the morning their mind won’t be fresh and their body will be very tired. Their mind will want to be lazy and to sleep more. There won’t be much willingness to do work or business and to fulfil their dreams. Then, their peace and happiness will be gone and the time that they share with their family won’t be well spent. They won’t to be able to give something good to their family or get something good from them. They will not have the energy to do so.
Heart is the inner bed of the mind
In the morning, in the first moments after you wake up and open your eyes, the mind is very soft and peaceful. That mind is very important. During the day you are very busy. In the evening, the moment you go to bed and put your head on the pillow, this mind is also very important. You can prepare, handle, and keep both minds. Then you get more energy. Otherwise, you will use your brain too much and you won’t be able to sleep properly during the night. Then on the next day you will feel a little bit tired, you will need energy drinks and it will become worse. You can use them for one or two days, but if you continue, they may affect your inner functions.
There is no need to go this way. You already have your natural energy and you can use it to improve your sleep. This energy is the best and it won’t harm you. You should use this energy both in the morning and in the evening before you go to bed. Don’t give too much job to the evening mind: too many ideas, fantasies and dreams. We all need to take care of our mind. When we are going to bed, we are just going to bed: nothing more, no extra work for the mind. This is applicable for everybody – ordinary people, students, business people, practitioners, young or old people, children – everyone needs this approach. Otherwise, we won’t have enough energy and will not be able to go about our activities and achieve our plans. If you need money, go this way – you will have more energy to make money. If you want to study and get good knowledge – go this way, you will have more energy, your mind will be fresher and clear, and more concentrated to go deeper into the subject. Everybody will benefit from this approach.
In the evening, the mind just before going to bed is very important – don’t be careless with it. You should remember and take care of that moment. It is good to prepare to go to bed 1 or 1.5 hours before you do so. It doesn’t matter what you did during the day – shouting to your partner or to the children, worrying, having negative thoughts – you can do whatever you like before that time, but then your job is done, so stop it and don’t bring these energies to the sleeping time. It is not your working time. You may give your mind a job: “Shouting for one hour”, then that time is finished, your job is done, and you should decide to stop it. [Rinpoche, laughing] For example, if you decide to go to sleep at 10:30 PM, at 9:00 PM you should stop your usual activities. You should have the idea: “I need to prepare for sleep”. Use this one hour. Don’t bring in too many negative thoughts or plans about the next day in that time. Don’t use your laptop, smartphone or Internet. Whatever you do, you can stop it. Don’t drink too much water too because it will wake you up at night. Don’t eat too much either.
You need to prepare in a nice way. Stop your job slowly. In this one hour before you go to bed, in its last part, for a few minutes bring in your positive thoughts. Meditate a little to balance your mind. Attain a peaceful and calm body position so that your inner mind relaxes and comes back into your body, becoming also peaceful and calm, softer, and more humble. Then, like a small baby, you can bring your mind more easily to bed. Otherwise, if the mind is not in the body, its home, it will travel everywhere, will waste its energy and you can start thinking negative thoughts. Then, when you try to bring your mind back to put it to sleep, this will be a tough job and your mind will not enjoy obeying your request. That’s why you need to meditate for a few minutes in order to bring the mind into the body and let it sleep inside the heart.
Your heart is your main bed, the inner bed of the mind. You need one outer bed too, to place your body – it has to be soft and peaceful, so the body feels comfortable at night. But first you need to meditate, to make your heart a lotus heart and invite your mind there. This is how you can slowly fall asleep in a peaceful way. Just stay calm. Your position should also be calm. Don’t work with anything – not with your eyes, ears, nose, mouth, hands, legs – all the parts of your body should be calm and relaxed. Then, you can bring your mind into your heart. This is its bed. In this way, your body will become softer and more peaceful and you will be able to fall asleep more easily.
How to make the night precious
Most people don’t know how to go to bed. We spend half of our life in our bed. During the whole night we are sleeping, we do nothing – it’s just empty, a wasted time. Then the whole day we are losers. That’s why we need to learn how to go to bed and how to make the night precious. Animals can’t do this, but we can. Before you go to bed, you need 5 minutes or 3 seconds to think about all the beings in this world. Bring in your positive energy and good thoughts and wish all beings, all people to be free from suffering. You should really want this. We are all living beings, we all need happiness. It’s not only me, everyone else needs it. That’s why you want this for them. You want them to be free of suffering. Through your positive thoughts and your beautiful mind, your night and your sleep will become precious. You don’t need hard work, this will produce a lot of good luck and you can attain merit for your deeds. Your precious morning mind will be able to easily help others, yourself and your family. Then you can attain happiness and peace. Use this mind. I found this to be true for myself.
Or you can read a book that you like in your bed. This book can bring your mind in and keep it close to the bed where your body is lying. Then it’s easier for you to bring your mind into your heart. This can also help you, but it won’t make your sleep special and precious. It will not produce merit at night, but still it will help you to sleep peacefully. Or, for example, lovers can still spend some time meditating after they had spent time with each other. People find the night with a lover a romantic and well spent time, but we don’t get the chance to be with partner often. So spend some time with yourself and your mind before you fall asleep. Otherwise, if your lover is gone, you will be left alone and you won’t know what to do with your mind. Don’t go to your lover’s heart to sleep. If in his or her heart the space is very small, you will have a problem. You may search for shelter there and it will be OK for your partner for some time, but later it will become too heavy. That’s why go back to your own heart – when you are a child, when you are grown, when you are married. You may have your romantic relations with your husband or wife, but then bring your mind into your own heart. Meditate a bit and then fall asleep. It will be good for both you and your lover. If you do this, it will be very helpful for you and your connection will attain balance and can last longer, until your death. If you depend too much on the other person, this can bring tension to your relationship.
Stop all activities one, one and a half hours before you go to bed. Don’t watch TV. Prepare yourself before you go to bed. We are the supporter of our family and our own life, of all the society too. That’s why we need to become strong and have enough energy. If we don’t , forget about Dharma practice or achieving something – there will be only empty words or unrealistic plans, because we will not have the energy to make them happen. You don’t need to pay anything, no need to work hard. Energy is already there within you. Just we need a little preparing and organization, that is enough. Organize yourself before you go to bed and in the morning in order to get most of this energy. Your own energy is the best. Use this positive and stable energy. This is very important. You need to do it and not just hear about it or study it. You need to practice it.
We spend half of our life in bed. That’s why we need to buy a good bed and feel soft and nice. Don’t smoke in your bed. This is not good for you. It brings negative energy into your brain. You won’t be able to sleep peacefully and wake up peacefully. If you cannot stop smoking – there is no choice, do it, but you can try. We are protectors of human life – you protect me, I protect you. We help each other. The good ideas I know I am sharing with you and the good things that you have you are sharing with me.
Morning mind is your baby
You also need to meditate in the morning to keep your mind calmer, softer, and more peaceful. You can relax a little right after waking up or first do your morning hygiene, have breakfast and then meditate a little bit – it depends on you. Then, you will attain more balance during your day and this will keep your mind in the middle. So handle your mind carefully in the morning. Don’t let it go just like that, suddenly. If our mind is not prepared, many bad things can happen. We can start arguing with somebody. We can be in an accident. When your mind is not prepared, too free and not under control, there can be problems. If your speech is too free, or your eyes, or your body, you can offend someone. When you go back home, you bring all problems from the day back to your home and to your family. There won’t be peace there. Your nervous system will be affected.
Morning mind is your baby. Handle your mind during the day. Protect it. What people am I going to meet? How should I react to them? How much patience I need when they say something? When you are sensitive, you won’t be able to handle these things well. You need the protection of your mind. Then you can go out of your home into the public. This way, you won’t be hurt. In the public, people have different ideas and energy. They want something. They are searching for something. If you have not organized your mind, your sensitivity can hurt you. Others can say or do something and hurt you. Then, your whole day will be unhappy. You won’t be able to work, to do anything. That’s why you should meditate in the morning.
When you are already in the middle, it’s your choice if you want to be more positive or negative. The positive part is nicer and lighter. You can go this way. People who are more positive are happy. They don’t have darkness and hatred inside. Negative people are heavier. They look rougher. There is no happiness on their face. They are not so respectful. We can see these things in people in our society. We can go to the positive side. We have bigger chances to be happy there. However, always choosing the positive side is not good. For example, we can be careless to our family, but once we go outside, we can behave in a kind way. This means that your kindness and positive energy is not really genuine. It won’t help much. So first make your family happy and stable. Make it strong and create good energy for it. This is your positive job. Take care to make your family, mother, father, grandparents, sister, brother, feel nice. This is your positive job. If you don’t care for your family, it doesn’t matter how kind and positive you are in public. This is being too positive. We don’t need this kind of positive behaviour.
Observe your mind during the day
No one can control negative thoughts, of course. They come naturally. Many negative thoughts can come into your mind. When the first one comes – it’s normal; the second one comes and you miss it, it’s a mistake, but still it is normal; third negative thought too. The fourth one is still OK, but then there may be fifth, sixth and so on. If you have too many negative thoughts, it means that you may be wrong. If you don’t realise their presence, then your life won’t be happy. It’s normal to have a couple of negative thoughts. Don’t allow too many negative thoughts in your mind. Otherwise, you will bring a mess into your family and into society. Observe and question yourself: “Why am I always going the negative way? Maybe the base of my mind is not really pure? Maybe there is still a lot of confusion, maybe there is no peace and happiness there? Maybe there is something wrong.” Take care of yourself. Try to understand why you are thinking in this way. Find out why you are wrong.
Otherwise, if you haven’t realized it by yourself, even if somebody else says it to you, you will not accept it and you will always be fighting with others. Even the court may sue you, on the papers legally it may be an indisputable fact and still your mind may not accept it. Your mind has to legalise it, you have to observe and judge your mind. You should accept that sometimes you are wrong. Then, you can find out what’s wrong. If you do this, it means that you are great, smart, intelligent and that you have positive energy. If you don’t want to know what you are doing wrong, then your life won’t be successful and you won’t enjoy it. You can observe others too – negative people never enjoy life and never have peace and happiness. You need positive energy in order to find yourself and live well in your family and in society. This way you can feel happy and find peace.
Your own self is your teacher, your leader, your God. You can find the solution yourself and solve your problems. In this twenty-first century someone to tell others what to do and other people to listen him is very difficult. But to find it by yourself is a beautiful way. If you have one, two, three negative thoughts, it is normal. The fourth one is still OK, but if they are many, if you always go for the negative thoughts or if people say you are too negative, that means something is wrong there. You need some technique or some method to help yourself.
You need to find yourself. How much negative thinking you have. If you don’t know, you can ask a friend what parts of you are positive and negative. Or read in some Buddhist book and contemplate if there are negative thoughts that you use in public or in the family. Think about how much you make someone feel happy and how much pain you are causing. If I continually use negative thoughts, if I never try to share peace and happiness with others, then what kind of person am I? Ask yourself. Then, you need to start doing good things for your family and for others. Ask a best friend or read a Buddhist book, or a Hindu book or a Christian book which can also tell you what is happening with your negative thoughts, how they are hurting you and others and what you can do with them. That’s how you can attain some answers.