Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche - Stopping the Chain of Thoughts

A Guide to the
Dzogchen Preliminary Practices
compiled, translated, and introduced by
Cortland Dahl


Dharma Quote of the Week

Every time we begin to practice, it helps not to plunge in right away. Instead, take a few moments to stop your ordinary chain of thoughts. This is especially relevant if you are very busy and have only five minutes for your daily practice, but even ordinarily we have this constant stream of thoughts. Suppose that just before practice you have a fight with your fiancé. This will probably trigger a chain of thoughts about what you want to say to your partner. If you start your practice in the midst of all this, it is not going to go so well. This is why it helps to put a stop to this chain of thoughts for just a few moments.

I have found this to be very, very useful. There are actually countless methods for stopping the chain of thoughts, but for me, before I practice, I just sit for a while. Every time a thought comes along, I try to stop it by cultivating a sense of renunciation, and I do this over and over again. I think about how I am now forty-years-old and, even if I live to be eighty, I only have half of my life left. I think that out of this forty years, I am going to sleep the equivalent of twenty years. So now there are only twelve hours a day that could actually be termed living. If we then factor in watching at least one movie a day, eating, and gossip, we have maybe five hours or so left. Out of forty years that means eight years remain, and most of that will go to indulging our paranoia, anxiety, and all that.... There is actually very little time for practice!

This should give you an idea of how to stop the chain of thoughts. Don't immediately throw yourself into the practice; instead, just watch yourself, watch your life, and watch what you are doing. If you are doing ten minutes of practice every day, you should try to stop the chain of thoughts for at least two to three minutes. We do this to transform the mind by invoking a sense of renunciation. When we think, "I am dying. I am coming closer to death" and other such thoughts, it really helps.

--from the commentary by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche in Entrance to the Great Perfection: A Guide to the Dzogchen Preliminary Practices compiled, translated, and introduced by Cortland Dahl, published by Snow Lion Publications

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