Is the goal the same in different concentration meditations?

Oct 23, 2023

 

QUESTION

Greetings Venerable,

 

Sending you gratitude and love and very much looking forward to receiving teachings from you in October.

 

Can I please trouble you with one question?

 

I’m a little unclear on a simple point: if I’m doing a bare attention meditation, or a clarity-of-consciousness meditation, or a “mind like ocean” practice etc., are each of these meditations aimed at helping me reach the same goal or is there a different goal for each?

 

I’m finding that regardless of which meditation I do, I get to the same place which is (after the chatter dies down), an empty, open space that I can sit in for a few minutes with minimal distractions.

 

Should my experience be different with each practice or should I aim to “sit” in that silent, empty space regardless of the particular meditation I’m doing?

 

Hope this question makes sense.

 

Much gratitude and appreciation,

W

 

ANSWER

Good to hear from you, W.

 

There are many ways you can learn to focus the mind in meditation.

 

The long-term result of single-pointed concentration is to access a much subtler level of our mind, a level that we don’t even posit as existing in neuroscience or modern psychology.

 

Most of us living a regular life won’t achieve this; we need very specific conditions, both mental and physical, to do so.

 

But we can get benefit from sitting and focusing, no doubt about it.

 

In the short term if your clarity-of-consciousness meditation helps your chatter calm down, that can only be good.

 

Also in the short term these meditations are good because we’re consciously training our mind to step away from the chatter, not be absorbed in it, and a great benefit of that is that we can’t help but be aware of the endless thoughts. In daily life that is a big advantage. Normally we’re absorbed in the thoughts without any awareness and only when they become emotional do we notice them — and that’s too late.

 

So the advantage of a daily practice is we can bring this awareness of our thoughts into our lives once we get off the cushion and we can become aware of the thoughts before they become emotional, which means we can argue with them and change them: this is good day-to-day practice.

 

The bottom line is learning to lessen the attachment and anger and other neuroses, and we do that by grabbing them, hearing their stories, and arguing with them. And then we have space to grow the virtuous thoughts such as patience and kindness, etc.

 

In other words, experiencing a quiet mind is good, but it’s temporary. The job we need to do is eliminate the delusions, not just quiet them temporarily. And to do that we need to work with them. 

 

It’s a very proactive process. Being our own therapist as Lama Yeshe says!

 

All the best,

Robina

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