Instruction on Attaining Inner Calm

By Mipham Rinpoche

The basis of all good qualities
is the cultivation of your own mind.

I respectively salute that young being who possesses the splendor of pure radiance, who knows both how things really are and how they appear, whose gentle nature pacifies the waves of mental fabrications.  Having done so, I here write this counsel on attaining the great truth.

Ideas congeal and cloud the stream of consciousness, which flows uninterruptedly like water.  From beginningless time until today they have accumulated, but as they are only waves of suffering, lacking in value, unthinkable, useless, and without certainty, there is only despair.

These fictional appearances, which arise within the expanse of all that is, are suffering.  Rooted in these heaps, you cannot obtain even the slightest good qualities of inner calm and wider perspective, nor the joy of a spontaneous mind.  This is the root of despair.

Once you know the way to escape from the noxious habits of mind by continually inspecting the objective reference and endeavoring not to waver from that object, the mind flows together into one-pointedness: like rolling a scroll.

With all the worldly joys and treasures available to gods and men, control over the mind cannot be attained by fighting.  Rather, it is by letting go of addiction to desired objects, as a child would let go, that the mind, naked and quiet, finds joy and delight.

The joy of the ocean of mind when it is untroubled is like that which comes at the eradication of a plague.  The splendor of unstained bliss like this is hard to achieve, even if you have some power; but pushed about by relative forces and phenomena - powerless - Who can experience the bliss of a liberated mind?

Because there is nothing more to experience than this, having achieved it, all the splendors and riches of the world seem like reflected appearances of the moon and stars in the clear ocean.  Though good things of various kinds - supernatural powers and the like - may arise, the basis of all good qualities is the cultivation of your own mind.  How can good qualities be found in an undisciplined mind?

Therefore, though it is very easy to waste the life you have in this body, for the sake of the world cleanse the mind through the process of continual inspection.  Whatever happens, do not let go.  Wishing and promising thus, do not slacken the effort.

First gradually loosen what is tight, and by more and more extending the effort, create the beginning of a habit.  Keeping in mind one-pointedly concentrated on the object of inspection, make efforts until that clear, untroubled calm is won.

Having gradually become so accustomed, examine the acceptance and the rejection, the good and bad qualities of the mind itself, making your own thoughts the path.  However long it takes - though months may pass - continue to make efforts.

A desirous and energetic mind and the four footholds of practice are the essence.  Surrounded by the chain of inspection, by the power of steadfastness, great joy will arise on the mirror of the mind, filling space to its circumference.

Getting involved with the objective reference means both examining its pure characteristics and following the flow of sensations in the body.  Whatever is used as a foundation (subtle hand-held symbols, letters, or the like), if you become settled there, success will come.

In this degenerate time, coarse emotions cloud the mind and the flow of energy.  Like a vicious snake that whirls about, coiling upon itself, wild fluctuations occurs: first restrictions, then the opposite.  The mind becomes very tired of all that, and immense rejection sets in.

Only by inspecting the nature of mind while it is in a relaxed and unaffected state, falling where it wills, can the stream grow steady.  Not following the moving wind of concepts, knowing the means of leaving them behind, the expanse of the mind gradually clears, the jungle of concepts gradually calms - the ocean of the mind grows untroubled, radiant, and clean.

This is the foundation of all good qualities, the unity of inner calm and wider perspective.  By the power of lasting peace, achieved gradually by being steadfast, you come to wider perspective, the expansive field of intrinsic awareness.  Having labored on the path of great joy and noble actions, you achieve that range of good qualities - the unity of inner peace and wider perspective.

The meaning of intrinsic awareness is radiance, pure from the beginning.  By understanding that within your own mind, and by inspecting continuously the objective reference, the flow of consciousness is steadied. This is the gift of all instructions on achieving calm.

Having become settled, the dynamic creativity of bliss, clarity, and freedom from fictional postulates arises in various ways, and as you approach the primordial experience of being, it is easy to understand.  Nowadays, this is the usual way to meditate.

But even though you understand the nature of awareness, if you have not grown accustomed to that reach and range, pure visions will not appear.  The practices will leave no impression, and your experience will be like that of ordinary people.  This is not meditation and the Buddha has not taught so.

On the other hand, if you do not understand the nature of awareness, but have only settled into a state of inner peace, although concepts may be cut off and some good qualities may manifest, you do not know the main point - the freedom that comes from allowing concepts to remain in their own place.  Still grasping, still bound, you only achieve the root of samsara - acceptance and rejection.

Therefore you must both understand your own nature and become firmly settled.  This is the dual foundation for understanding the mind and for practice.  The meaning of primordial experience is a field of self-arising radiance.  This is inner peace and wider perspective, ever spontaneous, ever unified.

These great teachings, explained in hundreds of Sutras and Tantras, are highly esteemed by everyone.  But just conjuring such things up within your mind is not meditation.  Such ordinary activities do not bring even a little improvement.

It is meaningless, though you look and look at your own mind, if under the power of overexuberant conceptualization you do not find the knowledge and qualities that are possible.  It is like the disturbance of waves in water, and it produces only greater weariness.

But having begun to follow this primary profound instruction, coming to know everything about taming the helmsman, your own mind, you rest in the happiness of having a great treasure, and you achieve benefits for both yourself and others.  So quickly strive to realize this!

The great significance of all effort is only this practice of the cultivation of your own mind.  This good vessel, this treasure of a wish-fulfilling gem, remains continually in the great and indescribable qualities.

By the good fortune of properly understanding the significance of this, by remaining devotedly within this yoga of mind, freed from all activities, the mind becomes one-pointed.  May all achieve the realization of this very meaningful teaching.

excerpted from Lama Mipham's Calm and Clear (Berkeley: Dharma Publishing, 1973)