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Lions Roar : September 2019
T HEMODERN WORLD HAS BECOME infatuated with the practice of meditation. Smiling meditators grace the covers of magazines. CEOs are bringing mindfulness into the workplace. We’re even teaching children to meditate at school. Seeing all the images and hearing the stories, it would be easy to think that the point of meditation is simply to sit in a certain posture following a certain technique. But the real power of meditation isn’t in the method. It’s in shifting our perspective. In Mahayana Buddhism, we call this “the view.” The view is not a technique. It’s how we see our- selves and how we relate to our own thoughts and emotions. Without a shift in our view, even the most powerful medita- tion techniques will just reinforce old patterns and habits. The essential view of buddhanature is as profound as it is simple: You are perfect, just as you are, in this very moment. The problem with this view is that it doesn’t feel real to us. Focusing on the negativities that obscure our buddhanature, we can’t seem to experience it for ourselves. I couldn’t . I grew up in the middle of the Himalayas, right at the foot of Mount Manaslu, the eighth-highest mountain the world. My family was filled with great meditators and I myself was recog- nized as a reincarnate lama, known in Tibet as a tulku, when I was just a few years old. I was born into a fairy tale. But that was just on the surface. Despite the beautiful environment I grew up in, and the lov- ing family and spiritual role models I was surrounded by, my early years were filled with anxiety. I was seven when I started to have panic attacks. Panic followed me like a shadow for most of my childhood. This was about the same time that I started hearing about buddhanature. My father, a famed Dzogchen master, told me about the view of buddhanature, but I didn’t believe it. At least, I didn’t believe it was true about me. My reality was fear and panic; buddhanature just sounded like a fantasy. It was some- one else’s experience, not mine. When I first learned to meditate, I hoped it would help me get rid of all my flaws and shortcomings. Everyone else I knew seemed so calm and confident, but I was filled with anxiety. I was attracted to meditation because I imagined a new, improved me. One without the fear and anxiety. One who wasn’t so sensitive and easily overwhelmed. I tried and tried to meditate my way to freedom. Meditation became my weapon in my battle against my own mind. But it didn’t work. There were times when my mind was calm and the panic seemed to disappear, but then it would re-emerge with even more force, and any small amount of confidence I’d developed would vanish like mist. The big breakthrough came when I finally gave up. I had been fighting my emotions for so long, with so little success, that I finally let myself entertain a new possibility: maybe I couldn’t be fixed—not because I was fundamentally flawed, but because I wasn’t broken. So I stopped playing the old game, and started a new one. Instead of fighting my panic and pushing away my fearful thoughts and anxious expectations, I let them in. I didn’t focus on them, but I didn’t ignore them. I dropped all the “doing” and finally gave myself permission to simply “be.” I’d like to say that this is when the earth shook and the clouds parted, but at first, letting go of the impulse to always be “doing” something was uncomfortable and unfamiliar. My impulses didn’t disappear, but I let them come and go without 3. BUDDHANATURE: YOU’RE PERFECT AS YOU ARE Why feel bad about yourself when you are naturally aware, loving, and wise? MINGYUR RINPOCHE explains how to see past the temporary stuff and discover your own buddhanature. YONGEY MINGYUR RINPOCHE is a teacher in the Kagyu and Nyingma schools of Vajrayana Buddhism and founder of the Tergar Meditation Community. His new book, In Love w ith the World, is reviewed on page 80. LION’S ROAR | SEPTEMBER 2019 47