BEYOND THE CUSHION - Meditation: The Journey Deeper into Pristine Mind - Our Pristine Mind: A Practical Guide to Unconditional Happiness (2016)

Our Pristine Mind: A Practical Guide to Unconditional Happiness (2016)


Meditation: The Journey Deeper into Pristine Mind


WE SIT QUIETLY while we are first training, but after we become more experienced and familiar with Pristine Mind, it doesn’t matter what posture we are sitting in. It doesn’t matter if we are sitting, walking, eating, or doing anything else. As long as we do not lose the present moment of Pristine Mind, we are meditating. As long as we leave our mind alone in Pristine Mind, we are meditating. That’s the key. We can apply these instructions under any circumstances.

Guru Rinpoche Padmasambhava taught Yeshe Tsogyal, his principal disciple:

If you don’t know how to incorporate your spiritual practice into your daily life, then your meditation session just binds you. Generally, the least effective meditation holds the body and mind in a prison. That self-imposed restriction and pressure tie you up like a lasso.

Yeshe Tsogyal asked him: “Then how do you solve this problem?” Padmasambhava told her:

Once you experience the ultimate nature of reality during meditation—abiding in that state that is completely free from all mental events—then you can take that experience with you after your meditation session. Whatever you do, you are not separated from that experience, whether you are walking, sleeping, resting, or sitting, at any time and during any activity. Then your meditation is free from the boundary of sessions.


There are only two choices for our mind. Either we are becoming caught up in our distorted mind or we are becoming familiar with our Pristine Mind. The terms samsara and nirvana refer to these choices. Samsara is becoming completely caught up in our mental events. Nirvana is becoming familiar with and aware of our Pristine Mind. The more aware of Pristine Mind we are, the more we remain in that state under any circumstance. Even when we are speaking or cooking, we can remain in Pristine Mind.

When we remain in Pristine Mind, things that once seemed boring or felt like drudgery now feel different. For example, many of us do not enjoy washing dishes. When we have become familiar with Pristine Mind and can stay in it, instead of feeling that we’re performing a chore when we wash dishes, we can just abide in Pristine Mind.

As we become more familiar with meditation, it becomes second nature to us. Then washing the dishes passes by easily because we are not resisting it. It is that resistance that makes us feel the task is so unpleasant. For ten or fifteen minutes we must do something we do not enjoy. But it becomes easier when we remain in Pristine Mind, because we do not have that mind-set that says, “Oh, this is tedious. I can’t stand washing dishes.” Without that mind-set and resistance, time passes very easily and pleasantly. We are not just being mindful about what we are doing; we are in our Pristine Mind.

Once we know how to remain in a pristine state, we can remain in it under any circumstances—when we are washing the dishes, talking with someone, or going out to dinner. If we are out at dinner or anywhere else and we feel anxious or uncomfortable, if we are familiar with Pristine Mind and have cultivated our access to it through meditation, we can simply return to Pristine Mind and remain comfortable.

There is less cloudiness and less discomfort because, as we engage in conversation, we are not constantly sifting through an overload of mental clutter. Our now-clearer mind is not fending off a bombardment of competing thoughts. Communication is clearer because the thoughts that are useful to express are not jumbled together with the hazardous materials of emotions, mental events, projections, and distractions. Someone whose mind is overwhelmed by mental events is running several simultaneous conversations with his or her own thoughts. Not surprisingly, it is hard to maintain any truly meaningful dialogue with anyone else. But if we are on a “low-thought diet,” then useful, intelligent, helpful thoughts are not obstructed at any moment; instead, they arise more freely. My enlightened master Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche says:

The five senses and consciousness are like the reflections of the stars and the moon.

Even though they reflect on the lake of clear, pristine awareness,

The lake remains free of the waves of all mental events.

This is the exceptional and effortless path of Dzogchen.

The meditator’s mind remains calm and clear, like that lake; at the same time, the meditator sees, hears, and experiences the world clearly, and engages in any number of activities, without any ripples or waves of mental events. If you have had a taste of this experience, that is wonderful. If you have not yet tasted it, just continue practicing and eventually you will develop this taste. It does not fall within our ordinary experience; it is something extraordinary and wonderful. In my experience, it is the best way to truly bring unconditional happiness and fulfillment into our lives.