The following is a Heart Teaching offered by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche at Palyul Ling Retreat in 2003 – lightly edited for posting on this blog:
Carry through the Guru Yoga practice with your body, speech, and mind in proper position and without having any conceptual thoughts. Place your hands in the meditative position and concentrate on the practice. If you start conceptualizing, it causes lots of negative problems. Always try to cut through past, present and future thoughts, and then try to abide in the nature.
Even if one’s physical body is in a meditative position, if one’s mind goes on creating thoughts and conceptualizing, then there is no benefit, because the mind is more important than the physical body.
In the past there were two lamas known as Drupa Sangye Khenpa and Drupa Kunley. Drupa Kunley normally traveled around all over the place. One day Drupa Sangye Khenpa told Drupa Kunley that he shouldn’t wander everywhere and that they both should try to do some retreat and settle down. They both carried on their retreat individually. Then Drupa Sangye Khenpa thought that after completing the retreat he would go to the city to beg for food. He had a horse to ride horse, but at that time based on one’s rank people would put a red feather on the horse, but Drupa Sangye Khenpa didn’t have one. So Drupa Sangye Khenpa thought, “I should go to the city and get that feather.” Meanwhile Drupa Kunley was in retreat, and somehow read Drupa Sangye Khenpa’s mind, so he went to see Drupa Sangye Khenpa. When Drupa Sangye Khenpa saw Drupa Kunley, he said, “Actually we haven’t completed our retreat. Why are you coming here?” Then Drupa Kunley told Drupa Sangye Khenpa, “Well, you are going to the city to get that horse feather, so I thought the retreat was over.“ It is in that way that if one’s mind starts giving rise to thoughts, it has its own activity.
Of course these lamas are bodhisattvas who have realization, and don’t give rise to any afflictive emotions. We are not equal to them, but still don’t let your mind wander. Externally we look the same, like human beings, but their enlightened mind is not the same as ours. Whatever thoughts we give rise to or verbalize or any action we take, are bound by afflictive emotions and have all kinds of grasping and clinging. We mostly have impure thoughts. It is very difficult to have even 1% pure perception.
Even when we carry through the generation stage of the deity, during the practice all kinds of thoughts arise. Even when we try to do some meditation, during the actual meditation itself, still thoughts constantly arise. That it is how our mind is.
The moment any thoughts arise, they naturally will be in the form of attachment or aversion. Even in our day-to-day lives, it is important to try not to give rise to many thoughts and to try to sit and have control over one’s mind. In the future when one carries through practices like Shamatha Meditation or Mahamudra or Dzogchen, one will need to have a single-pointed mind. If one’s mind is constantly giving rise to thought then it doesn’t really help.
In our normal worldly life we think of material wealth, our jobs, work and so forth. Our senses are more external, but when we are trying to apply our spiritual practices, then it is important to turn one’s mind inward, to examine one’s own mind to see what it is doing and how it is following the practice.