For the next few months I continued to visit my father every day, and he taught me more about the Great Perfection. Often times we wouldn’t talk at all as we sat together. My father would simply sit in front of the large window and gaze off into the sky as I sat quietly by his side and tried to meditate. I desperately wanted his approval, so I always did my best imitation of what I thought a good meditator should do. I sat bolt upright and tried to make it look like I was absorbed in some deep experience, while in actuality I was just repeating a mantra in my mind and trying not to get lost in thought. Occasionally, I would open my eyes and peek up at my father, hoping that he had noticed my good meditation posture and ability to sit still for so long.
One day, as we sat together in silence, I glanced up at him in the middle of my meditation and was surprised to find him gazing down at me. “Are you meditating, son?” he asked.
“Yes, sir,” I said proudly, filled with joy that he had finally noticed. My answer seemed to amuse him greatly. He paused for a few moments and then said gently, “Don’t meditate.”
My pride vanished. For months, I’d been doing my best to copy all the other meditators who came to be with my father. I learned some short prayers, sat in the right posture, and tried hard to still my turbulent mind. “I thought I was supposed to meditate,” I said with a shaky voice.
“Meditation is a lie,” he said. “When we try to control the mind or hold on to an experience, we don’t see the innate perfection of the present moment.” Pointing out through the window, he continued, “Look out into the blue sky. Pure awareness is like space, boundless and open. It’s always here. You don’t have to make it up. All you have to do is rest in that.”
For a moment, all of my hopes and expectations about meditation dropped away and I experienced a glimpse of timeless awareness.
A few minutes later he continued, “Once you’ve recognised awareness, there’s nothing to do. You don’t have to meditate or try to change your mind in any way.”
“If there’s nothing to do,” I asked, “Does that mean that we don’t have to practice?”
“Although there’s nothing to do, you do need to familiarise yourself with this recognition. You also need to cultivate bodhichitta and devotion, and always seal your practice by dedicating the merit so that all beings may recognise their own true nature too. The reason we still need to practice is that at first we only have an understanding of the mind’s true nature. By familiarising ourselves with this understanding again and again, however, it eventually transforms into direct experience. Yet even then we still need to practice. Experience is unstable, so if we don’t continue to familiarise ourselves with pure awareness we can lose sight of it and get caught up in our thoughts and emotions again. On the other hand, if we are diligent in practice, this experience will transform into a realisation that can never be lost. This is the path of the Great Perfection.” With these words, he stopped talking and we both continued to rest in pure awareness, gazing off into the deep blue sky above the Kathmandu Valley.
Moving Beyond Meditation