Listen, Contemplate, Meditate
We always hear about the three aspects of taking a teaching into experience: listening, contemplating and meditating.
The first two aspects seemed pretty self-explanatory to me, but I didn’t really understand how contemplation and meditation related to one another until Trolpa Tulku and Anya’s short course on mind-training this spring.
Meditation has two aspects, discursive and resting, so when meditating on a topic–for example impermanence–there comes a point in the discursive meditation where one says, “ah-ha, that’s really how it IS.” Its a small realization in the very ordinary sense of the word, but the problem is that I usually gloss over that part. I’m so into the mode of discursive meditation that I don’t normally take the opportunity to rest in that certainty which arises in that “oh, it’s actually true” moment. Resting in that certainty is the resting aspect of meditation (of course, that’s probably quite obvious to most people, but until now I didn’t understand that!).
Trolpa Tulku’s teachings clarified many points, but that was by far the most helpful. Without that, study seemed quite superficial to me. It was just a way of trapping myself in my thoughts and concepts. But I don’t feel that way anymore. Knowing how to listen, contemplate and meditate on a topic from class really helps to avoid frustration, and cultivate patience as well as diligence. When the teachings really sink into the heart they make quite an impact on how I look at very ordinary daily circumstances, which is exactly what dharma is supposed to do: help us to tame our minds.
~ Heather from the United States